THE SWORD AND THE PEN
Was she nothing more than a crazy fan, or had Brandon finally cracked?
This warrior woman whom he knew so well, so strong yet vulnerable, was both fantasy and reality. She was an invitation to rediscover all he once knew–that life is an incredible, magical journey and, for love, any man can be a hero.
She poked him in the arm with the tip of her sword.
“Ow!” Brandon scooted back, nearly under his desk.
“Warrior? Priest? Sorcerer?” She crouched down to rest on her heels, and stared at him. The position put her full breasts nearly in his face. “Definitely not a warrior.” She pinched his arm. “You have muscle, but not enough to wield a sword in battle. No courage, either. Priest? Unlikely. They don’t fear the sword. Only their god makes them cower. Wizard? Perhaps, but not one of any power, or else I’d be at your feet. So…you’re the wizard’s assistant most likely.” As if satisfied with her conclusion, she rose to her feet.
“Get up. I’ll not harm you. I wish to speak to your master. He and I have business to discuss.”
Brandon eyed the woman warily. Though her speech and clothing were odd, she sounded and looked extremely familiar. Why? Was she a crazy fan he’d somehow communicated with before?
To be honest, she bore a striking resemblance to Serilda, if shorter. She was five feet seven or eight inches, rather than six feet, and she was less buxom and had softer features than the character he’d ultimately developed.
Despite the trampy clothing and hard scowl, she was attractive. Short reddish blonde curls framed an elfin face. Dark lashes fringed large, cat-like green eyes. Sun-kissed skin covered high cheekbones, and her lips, though currently set in a hard line, were full and red.
“I said get up!” She grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.
He was surprised that, when he stood, he topped her by a good six inches and probably outweighed her by sixty pounds. That size difference gave him a bit of confidence, but the nasty-looking sword she held with such self-assurance negated it. One could never trust the actions of a crazy person.
“Who are you?” She looked him up and down then seemed to dismiss him.
“Brandon Alexander Davis. This is my home.”
Unimpressed, she laughed. “Brandon? What kind of name is that? Bran is what I eat to ease my bowels.”
Heat crept up Brandon’s neck. “Who the hell are you? And what are you doing here in that ridiculous costume?”
“Who I am and” — two spots of color stained her cheeks — “what I wear is a matter I will discuss with your master. Where is he? Has he run to hide from me? It will do him no good. I’m determined to find him and solve this.”
“I don’t have a master. I live here alone.” Damn! Why had he told her that? He eased back from the lunatic toward the phone. Could he wrest the sword away from her before then?
His size would be an advantage, but even standing at ease, the woman radiated strength and skill. The odds seemed against him. To win he’d have to hit her– hard– and he doubted he could bring himself to do so. The lessons of chivalry his grandmother had taught were too deeply ingrained. In that way, he and Donoval were of one mind. No matter how greatly provoked, men didn’t hit women.
Although, the thought of wrestling with this woman was appealing.
“No master? Do not lie to me.” The lunatic’s fingers flexed around the hilt of her sword.
“Why would I lie?” he snapped. “It’s obvious your beef is with someone else. If I knew who and where he was, why would I protect him?”
“Because you’re a coward. A powerful sorcerer inspires fear if not loyalty in his minions. But you should fear me more than him,” she warned.
“There is no him! I’m the only one here. And I’m not a coward.” Being called one triggered something inside him. Having phobias about crowds, insects and small furry animals didn’t make him a coward. Not really.
She gave him a thoughtful look. “Is it possible? Are you the one?”
“The one what?”
She ignored his question and studied him. Her intense perusal made him squirm.
“Why didn’t I see the resemblance?” she murmured.
“What resemblance?” He didn’t like the turn of this conversation. Come to think of it, he hadn’t liked the original direction, either.
“To Donoval. You are him– in form at least.” A bit of fear crossed her features, though anger quickly erased it. “I’m loath to believe it, but you are the wizard. Did you construct me so you could play God in my world? Does it give you pleasure to toy with me?”
“What the hell are you talking about? Play God? I’m just a writer trying to make a living. I write stories for people to read and enjoy. It’s just entertainment.”