I was reading the newspaper this morning and I read the tragic news that a New Zealander has been killed while walking through Kew Gardens in London, England. It was a terribly stormy day and a large tree branch snapped off and killed her.
Now if you know anything about New Zealand, it’s that we get a lot of wind. A lot of WIND. I live in the Wellington, nicknamed the windy city. My last two flights into Wellington airport, this month, have seen us landing in 80kph and 100kph winds. I feel so sorry for this unnamed woman and her family. How ironic to travel to the other side of the world to be killed by a falling tree in a storm.
One thing we strive for as authors is to ensure we have believable story lines. How believable would the above situation be if I’d simply written that story line in a book? I hear you using the word, ‘contrived’!
In my latest Brava release, Invitation to Scandal, May 2012, I had to find a way for my hero, Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, to find my heroine Rheda Kerrich, with a barrel of unstamped (smuggled) brandy. Hmmmm–without looking contrived.
I came up with the idea of her trying to deliver a barrel to her friend, widowed Meg, and wouldn’t you know it, ironically she gets trapped by the barrel. Here’s the scene…
Like every other aspect of her day, Rheda was denied her wish. The rider pulled on the reins, and the powerful steed came to a sliding halt in the middle of the road, gravel spraying through the air.
Her shoulders drooped. “Perfect,” she uttered to no one but herself.
The stallion pranced on the road in tune to the pounding surf, its owner stroking its neck with a large gloved hand. He took in her situation and seemed to whisper something in his horse’s ear. Rheda licked her lips nervously. Would he be friend or foe?
The pair trotted across the field in her direction and halted in front of her.
“Are you in need of assistance?” His voice was velvety smooth, yet commanding.
She saw two dark eyes rimmed with lovely long eyelashes, and a wide soft mouth. With a mouth that soft he would be very responsive. She might even be able to control him. The stallion before her was impressive. He would make a fine mate for her mare, Desert Rose.
“He won’t bite,” the man added, misinterpreting her interest in his horse as fear.
With some reluctance she lifted her gaze to the owner of such a beautiful piece of horseflesh. Her heart tumbled in her chest, flipping and flopping as if caught in the thundering surf behind her.
She shook her head. The word applied equally to the stallion’s rider. She had never seen such an arresting man. Her pulse hitched as she drank him in, the pain from the barrel momentarily forgotten. When she reached his dark eyes she shivered. He had a look of danger about him.
His eyes were almost the same color as his horse’s glossy coat, a luminous rich brown. His breeze-swept chestnut hair was fashionably cut and softened the hard planes of his handsome face. His countenance screamed he was a man not to be messed with.
Like his regal mount when he sought his mares, this man could mesmerize any female he chose to conquer—she was sure of it.
Rheda tried to move her foot so the pain would distract her from the knowledge that this man’s beauty disturbed her more than it should.
To hide her reaction to him she bit out a reply. “Of course I need some help.”
His good looks sharpened as anger washed over his face. She bit her bottom lip anxiously. Pain did not lend her to manners, but with nothing more than a blink his anger disappeared to be replaced by a heart-skipping smile. He looked truly splendid.
“You appear to be stuck.” His expression turned curious and his voice held amusement. Yet underneath his cool, refined composure there simmered a dangerous, exciting energy.
She would not be intimidated. She raised her head in a show of daring. Rheda Kerrich did not frighten easily. Besides, the man wore the appearance of a gentleman, not the uniform of a Revenuer. Rheda usually found gentlemen easy to handle. Men rarely kept up with her sharp wit, and her intelligence baffled them. They could not tell if she was joking at their expense. It was enough to drive most away.
Fueled by this logic, she uttered, “Oh, well done. What great powers of deduction.” He still did not move. “Do not just sit there. Get off your fine mount and help me move this barrel.”
Her boldness hid the small tremors of fear pulsing through her blood. They were alone on a deserted road. She was now at the mercy of this stranger.
He dismounted in one graceful move. Standing, he stood head and shoulders above her. His broad shoulders were garbed in an expensive riding coat that looked like he’d slept in it, but the covering could not camouflage the muscled physique hidden beneath. The cut molded and enhanced. He radiated strength. This man was not a typical aristocratic fop.
She should be careful.
Her gaze dropped and took in his powerful thighs. She followed them down to where they disappeared into knee-high boots, covered in a fine layer of dust. He must have ridden some distance. Where was this beautiful stranger from?
Her breath seemed to catch in her throat.
She glanced back to his face, held speechless for once in her life by the power of his beauty.
He finally spoke. “You are uncommonly rude to a person who has stopped to offer assistance.” His tone implied hurt.
“You have been here several minutes,” she said between clenched teeth, “and yet you still have not made a move to help.”
He walked toward her. “How rude of me. I’m Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, at your service,” and he bowed low.
I’m sure ironic things happen around us every day. So, I’m no longer going to read a story and say, ‘that would never happen’, or ‘that sounds a little too neat’. Life isn’t neat. It’s messy and unpredictable.
What’s the most ironic thing that’s happened to you lately? Or that you’ve heard about? Share a story and be in to win a copy (either book or eBook format) of Invitation to Scandal. Open internationally, closes Sunday 30th September.