Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 -

The Wrong Way

by Rue Chapman
Published: May 05, 2013
Words: 27,906
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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The coach rocked wildly from side to side as it hit a particularly deep hole in the road. Della crawled back onto the seat and glared at her cousin. "Maggie, I told you this was a mistake. Father said we must take the coast road."

Maggie laughed as she bounced on the seat. "But this inland road is much shorter. We'll be home in time to get our hair done extra nicely for tonight's ball. It was your idea to go to the shrine."

Della blushed. "Well 'tis supposed to be good luck for brides to visit."

"As if you need luck! You've got the kindest, sweetest, most handsome man in the district making cow-eyes at you, and you want more?"

"Oh Maggie, he is wonderful, isn't he? I just hope you meet someone as nice."

"I'll be on the lookout tonight. I promise I'll meet someone special before the ball's over."

Della glanced out the window. "If we get there in time. 'Tis getting dark."

"Well, you were the one who wanted to pick all those flowers." Maggie grimaced as another large pothole almost bounced her onto the floor.

"I wanted an offering."

"I think the offering's supposed to be smaller than the shrine - oooff!" This time the coach came to a dead stop, the two girls falling to the floor together in a tangle of skirts and petticoats.

Della's father was Lord Malcolm Kincannon, one of the most powerful lairds in the region. He'd named his beloved daughter after his mother, a woman of great charm and wisdom called Magdelena. A few years later his sister and her husband died of the fever, and his young niece came to live at Kincannon Castle. She had also been named for Magdelena. Two cousins, two little Magdelenas. Lord Malcolm's daughter became Della, his niece became Maggie. Della was like moonlight with ash-blonde hair, soft blue eyes and a gentle nature that nevertheless hid a stubborn streak. Maggie was sunlight, with her bright golden hair, steady green eyes, quick laugh and explosive temper. The two girls were closer than most sisters, and had spent years getting each other into - and out of - trouble.

And then Bryan, youngest son of another local lord, came home after five years adventuring at sea. Maggie swore she heard the sound of bells when Della and Bryan met for the first time. Both fathers were delighted to ally two such noble families, and the wedding festivities began. Tonight was a ball for all the local notables, then there were three days of relative peace before the wedding itself.

Maggie grabbed for the door and half fell onto the road. "Donal, what's the matter now? Please don't say we've broken a wheel." She looked down as she righted herself. The wheels on this side showed no problems. As she looked up she realised they weren't alone.

Two men on horseback flanked them, each holding to Donal's throat a sword gleaming in the dying light.