First Encounters–featuring first meetings between heroes and heroines…

Happy Wednesday boys and girls. I’m starting a new feature called First Encounters. Every month I’ll spotlight first meetings between heroes and heroines from an array of talented authors. Do you like high-spirited debutants? The girl next door? Women unafraid to pick up a sword? Alpha males with big hearts? Vikings? Highlanders? Cowboys? Whatever your taste, first encounters can be sweet, steamy, shocking, or even uneventful. Regardless, I’m drawn to this part of a story… How about you?

 

Please welcome romance authors Gina Conkle and Ally Broadfield.

 

Author Gina Conkle knows how to write Vikings… Here’s a first encounter from Norse Jewel

 

Norse_Jewel-800px

 

The encounter…

“What happened to that one?” Hakan asked about her.

 

A flush of warmth poured through Helena, alert to his

attention. She stiffened and couldn’t look higher than the

chieftain’s silver armbands, where a blood-eyed beast carved in

silver winked at her, a trick of morning light’s reflection.

 

“An unfortunate mishap.” Magnuson shrugged a massive

shoulder under his bearskin pelt. “One of my men…she fought

him, his knife slipped, caught her jaw…” The Dane slid his finger

from jaw to ear, mimicking her wound. “…but, if ‘tis old you want,

come this way.”

 

The chieftain turned his back on her.

 

Helena dropped her forehead to her knees. If she met him as

a freewoman, would he have lingered? Or asked her name? The

unbidden questions faded as the overbearing Magnuson spoke,

and the men moved away. She scolded herself for her lack of

courage in failing to meet the Norseman’s stare. Was her cheek

truly awful? Her fingers gingerly tested the scab.

 

“Stop,” she whispered and lowered her hands.

 

Beside her, Sestra greeted a be-ringed Castilian merchant,

whose rich robes boasted silken tassels. Near the Dane’s camp,

rough warriors emerged from a tavern. Their crude jests abraded

her ears.

 

Greater is the need to flee this place than feel sorry for myself.

 

Her stomach growled and Helena checked the bread nestled

in her lap; best she ration the fare. Her fingers pulled a bite-sized

morsel from the loaf, as Magnuson’s rumbling voice played in the

 

“Older, quiet…women who know their place…” He extolled

the virtues of the poor woman whose name he didn’t know. “…

give you a good day’s work.”

 

Half listening to his merchant’s pitch, she rolled her eyes. So

disgusted was she, Helena almost missed a rarity. But she didn’t.

Her hand stopped mid-way to her mouth.

 

 

The chieftain, the one called Hakan, spoke gently to the older

captive woman.

 

The slave, huddled and silent on the ground, failed to respond.

He knelt in the dirt and touched the woman’s shoulder with

care—an odd thing for a warrior. The captive had been too far

away for Helena to render aid when the Danes first brought her

to camp. Yet, she was close enough to see that she stayed curled in

a tight ball, sometimes rocking and moaning.

 

Drawn to the scene before her, Helena’s gaze followed the

Norseman’s large hands as he cradled the silent woman’s head.

She leaned forward, straining against her tether for a better look.

He could have been holding a newborn babe, so tender was he.

Then, his thumb cautiously brushed open the corner of the thrall’s

 

“No tongue?” His hard look shot accusation at Magnuson.

 

“You’re trying to sell a woman who cannot talk.”

 

“Not always a bad thing.” The Dane shrugged at his weak jest.

 

“Not when I need her to speak Frankish.”

 

“She is the oldest here.” Magnuson waved his hands over the

array of women.

 

The chieftain stood up and silenced Magnuson with a

thunderous glare. He did not draw his sword as other affronted

warriors might have done. Instead, he opened his coin pouch and

counted a few gold pieces.

 

“For the goats and sheep already on my ship.”

 

The Dane closed thick fingers around the coins dropped in his

hand and joined the Bear Man and the Castilian, both charmed

by Sestra. The whole camp, a blend of voices and laughter, played

background noise to the interest threading from Helena to the

chieftain. All faded to a hum. Her bread slid to the ground,

forgotten. She sat up taller, studying the Norseman as his long

fingers retied his coin pouch.

 

Embers of attraction flared for the unusual warrior. He moved

with fluid ease for one so large. Or was it simply his care with the

older woman that made him appealing? One could even call him

kind. Hope of finding strength and kindness in one man poured a

balm on her soul, and left her curious for more.

 

Her guarded survey inched upward to his broad shoulders,

the sort that promised safety and protection. ‘Twas an odd notion

about a man who came solely to purchase a woman for labor.

Helena’s lips twitched at such foolishness, and her gaze drifted

higher to a square jaw and firm lips, then higher still.

 

Ice-blue eyes stared back.

 

Helena froze.

 

A strange enchantment mesmerized her. She had once

crossed paths with a lone wolf in the forest near home. Such a

beast would devour the weak. To her relief, that wolf had turned

and disappeared. Though dangerous, she willed this two-legged

wolf closer. The price was tension coiling inside her.

 

Like a predator measuring prey, the Norseman’s hard stare

traced her frame, lingering at the curve of her hips. Peculiar

warmth poured through her as she stared back. He did not leer as

other men had, but Helena recognized male interest.

 

Sunlight broke through mist, bouncing off the sword strapped

across his back. A large, red stone glimmered from the hilt.

Something of a smile crossed her face. This chieftain’s clothes

were faded and well-used, but his armbands and sword were

finely crafted with matching designs and matching red stones.

 

The chieftain scowled and crossed his arms.

 

Her smile wilted. Was she over-bold? Her manner was nothing

like Sestra’s. Helena swallowed hard and licked her lips, working

to put her smattering of Norse words to work.

 

“Smiles…you do not like,” she said in soft, faltering Norse.

 

“A woman’s false smiles, no.” His voice was deep and smooth

to her ears. “You speak Norse.”

 

“Some, but I smile…friendliness only.” She cleared her throat

and dared to say, “I seek freedom…nothing more.”

 

The chieftain’s head tipped with interest. “Strange words for

a thrall.”

 

“I wasn’t born to this.” She held her head high, ignoring that

she sat in dirt at his feet.

 

A light flashed behind the Norseman’s eyes. He loosened his

stance, and Helena knew she had penetrated some unseen shield,

drawing him closer.

 

“Status of birth matters little. How you live each day…that’s

your true measure.”

 

A breeze blew thick blonde hair that fell past his shoulders.

The stoic chieftain stood like a rock, staring at her with unnerving

intensity. A kernel of interest sprouted betwixt them, but she

needed to nurse this cagey conversation. Her hair blew across her

face, a momentary mask.

 

“A warrior who speaks like a…” She paused, searching for

the right word. “…a wise man…’tis rare.”

 

“Fools don’t live long.”

 

Helena motioned to his belt. “Marks of a warrior?”

 

“I have…been places.”

 

“I have not.” Her bound hands tapped her chest. “But, you

need one who speaks—”

 

Suddenly, wild bellows cut her short. The chieftain pivoted,

alert and ready, facing the clamor. Danes emerged from red-striped

tents, cheering and pointing at a dark rider who came from

the forest. Iron battle rings clanked across the horse’s chest, a

nerve chilling noise to raise the dead. The rider’s bulky frame and

bald head were familiar. Helena’s heart pounded hard and fast

long before Magnuson raised his fist and roared her worst fear.

“Gudrud returns!”

 

Cold flushes gripped her as the old woman’s singsong words

played in her head.

 

Night’s when he’ll get revenge.

 

Staring at the menacing warrior, Helena’s hands squeezed

together as a worried supplicant. She would beg this Norseman,

this one called Hakan, to take her. He was her only hope.

When she turned around, the chieftain was gone.

 

Fabulous, Gina…

 

Gina

 

Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations. Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

 

Where to find the book…

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1lurENx

B&N: http://bit.ly/176y4kk

 

Where to find Gina…

Website: http://ginaconkle.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GinaConkleWriterhttps://www.facebook.com/GinaConkleWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/gloveshistory/

Newsletter: http://ginaconkle.com/contact/

 

 

 Next up, the lovely Ally Broadfield and her latest release, Just a Kiss (such an elegant cover)….

 

Just-A-Kiss_750

 

The encounter…

Charlotte studied the man standing next to Elizabeth. Something about him instantly drew her to him, something in his confident bearing and the way a mischievous smile played across his lips. Laughter danced in his eyes.
Elizabeth smiled brightly. “Lord Marley, may I present Miss Charlotte Lightwood.” She gestured to Charlotte. “Charlotte, this is Lord Marley.”
Lord Marley took her hand, sending an unfamiliar sensation buzzing through her. They both froze for an instant before he bowed. “It is a pleasure to meet you. Lady Lightwood has assured me you are available for the next dance. Please soothe my nerves by confirming she is not mistaken.”
Elizabeth nudged her, and in a whisper that could surely be heard on the other side of the ballroom, said, “Lord Marley is one of the most eligible bachelors on the market this season. He requested the introduction, though I can’t imagine why.”
Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I am not engaged, my lord.” She surreptitiously glanced around them to see if anyone had heard Elizabeth.
 Lord Marley clenched his jaw before leading her onto the dance floor. When the warmth of his touch penetrated the fabric of her gown, she inhaled the scent of sandalwood with a hint of citrus, and her pulse thrummed. She couldn’t prevent herself from flashing him a smile. The noise of the ballroom faded into a harmonious cacophony as they settled into the waltz.
Overly wealthy, overly charming, overly good-looking, he could have any woman he desired. As she lacked both title and dowry, she could think of no reason why Lord Marley would have any interest in her. She narrowed her eyes.
Lord Marley nodded to the couples surrounding them, but when he met her gaze, his serene countenance disappeared. “Why do you look at me with such abhorrence? I assure you I have no nefarious designs upon your person.”
“I’m certain you have no designs, nefarious or otherwise, upon my person.”
He smiled widely, but made no response.
She lifted her brows. “Which begs the question, my lord, why did you request to dance with me?”
He deftly swung her away from a collision with an encroaching couple. “Miss Lightwood, you are one of the most beautiful and sought-after ladies in attendance. I merely seek my turn to be the object of your attention. You must stop frowning at me or everyone shall think I’ve said something inappropriate.” His knee brushed against her leg through the thin silk of her gown, and the intimate touch sent a shiver through her.
Though she couldn’t discern what he might want from her, she knew she couldn’t afford to alienate one of the richest and most powerful men in London. She softened her expression and immediately became lost in his clear blue eyes.
His gaze captured and held hers for several heartbeats before he cleared his throat and spoke again. “I have a proposition for you.”
Her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t fathom anything he might offer that would be proper for her to accept.
“I thought perhaps we could be of assistance to one another.” He studied her face as if waiting for a response.
Charlotte swallowed. “Please continue.”
“I have heard that you are coming out under less than ideal conditions.” He inclined his head, and she nodded in agreement. Less than ideal was certainly one way to put it. “I propose to show you my favor, which will attract the attention of other suitors.”
She stiffened. “They will think you are courting me.”
His smile widened. “Exactly, and they will view you as a potential match because of my regard.”
 An image of Horace popped into her head. “I agree to your proposition.” She held her breath, hoping her quick response hadn’t made her appear desperate.
Lord Marley laughed, a sound as crisp and refreshing as the first autumn breeze. “Wait. I haven’t finished yet.”
Her stomach dropped, and she took a deep, steadying breath. “Of course there’s more. What do you expect from me in return?”
“You needn’t look at me with trepidation. I saw you speaking with Princess Tarasova earlier, and thought you might be willing to assist me with my plans to court her.”
His words left an indelible gash on her heart. Of course he couldn’t actually court her, and the princess was an obvious choice for him, but it still hurt to hear him say it so pragmatically. “What, precisely, do you expect me to do?”
He shrugged. “Give me some insight into her, what she likes and dislikes. Provide me with the type of information that will assist me in winning her hand. Information that other suitors won’t have.”
She studied him before responding. She would be foolish to refuse him, but she felt a pang of guilt over feeding him information about the princess, the only person who had made any attempt to show her friendship since she’d arrived in London. In fact, if it hadn’t been for her kindness, Charlotte would have run from the ball after those girls made such disparaging remarks about her. On the other hand, Lord Marley’s attention would attract the notice of other men and could be her only chance to avoid having to marry Horace. “I believe I shall need more time to consider your proposition.”
“Naturally,” he agreed.
The music had stopped, and they were the only ones still standing on the dance floor. Lord Marley took a step back from her, tucking her arm through his and escorting her to Elizabeth.
“Until we meet again, Miss Lightwood.” He bowed and kissed her hand. Excitement fluttered in her stomach.
The moment he left her side, three other gentlemen approached Elizabeth for an introduction. After more than an hour of nonstop dancing, Charlotte had to acknowledge that Lord Marley’s plan could work.
The talented Ally…
Ally
Ally has worked as a horse trainer, director of marketing and development, freelance proofreader, and a children’s librarian, among other things. None of them were as awesome as writing romance novels (though the librarian gig came closest). She lives in Dallas, Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband.
Ally likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head looking for an opportunity to escape onto paper. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.
Where to find the book…
Where to find Ally…
Thanks for sharing your favorite first encounters ladies. Hope to see you again soon!

2 thoughts on “First Encounters–featuring first meetings between heroes and heroines…

  1. Good stuff ladies!!! I tweeted.

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