As some of you may already know, my latest novel, Copper Girl, was released on June 25, setting off the typical maelstrom of promotional activity, including but not limited to interviews, blog posts, retweets, and all-round nervous energy. As if that wasn’t enough, I got hit with edits for Copper Ravens, the sequel to Copper Girl, right on release day.
These events have left me precious little time for reading.
Since my summer reading has thus far consisted of what I myself wrote, I thought I’d treat you, loyal Scene 13 readers, to the first ever excerpt from Copper Ravens. A little background for the scene: Micah has agreed to teach Sara a few moves with a sword, only they have quite different ideas of appropriate fighting gear. Sara puts the Lord of Silver in his place in her own way.
Regardless of the dirty hands that forged it, the sword itself was a thing of beauty. It was perfectly balanced, and I held it as effortlessly as if it was an extension of my arm. Delicately engraved ravens and oak leaves swirled down the length of the wickedly sharp blade, and the steel hilt was accented with incised copper filigree.
“Ash knows that I’m of copper?” I murmured, tracing the delicate hilt that had somehow been wrought by that oafish man. Micah and I had retreated to our bedroom, since I felt that meeting one’s first sword was a somewhat private matter. “And a Raven?”
“All know that the Lord of Silver has lost himself to a copper girl,” Micah said. “And, all know that the Raven clan was instrumental in Ferra’s demise.” He stood behind me, his arms wrapped around my waist while we admired the sword—my sword—together.
“Let me change, and then you can give me my first lesson,” I said as I wiggled free of his arms.
“I advise against changing out of your lovely clothes,” Micah said. “You should learn sword fighting while wearing one of your gowns, so you will understand how to compensate for their restrictions.”
“Micah, that’s ridiculous!” I suspected he was having some sort of damsel in distress fantasy that featured me waving a sword while my skirts whipped around my legs. “And I hardly ever wear dresses.”
“You know I wish you’d wear them more often.”
Good gods, if it wasn’t babies it was pants. “Okay. I’ll let you teach me sword fighting while I’m wearing a dress, on one condition.”
“Name it, my Sara.”
“You, Mr. Silverstrand, must wear a skirt.”
His smile faded, and his eyes glazed over in mingled horror and disbelief. “Why would I do such a thing?”
“Well, you seem to think it’s no big deal for me to wield an edged weapon while dressed to kill,” I explained. “Prove it.”
“Your argument is flawed.”
“As a man, I would never don such a garment.”
“In the Mundane realm there are entire countries where men wear skirts. All the time.”
“Are you insinuating that your consort is lying to you?” My hand flew to my breast in mock outrage. “How could you ever, ever, suggest such a thing?”
Micah stared at me, his mouth smushed into a crooked line. “When next I venture to the Mundane realm, I will verify this claim,” he warned.
“Go ahead. The place is called Scotland.” After a bit more glaring and grumbling, we fashioned a passable kilt from one of our bed sheets and Micah’s swordbelt. (He outright refused to wear one of my gowns. Spoilsport.) He wouldn’t even put it on in front of me, but retreated to his dressing room, muttering curses that would make even Mom blush. And I think I heard him throw a few things.
When Micah finally emerged in his skirted glory, he proclaimed that that our lessons should take place in the gardens, as much for the open space as the soft ground to land on. And, you know, the fact that it was somewhat removed from the manor so no one would see his bare knees. Being that I had no reason to dispute his logic, off we went.
The walk through the manor was entertaining, to say the least. We encountered no one but silverkin, yet Micah’s eyes darted after every noise. Who would have thought the confident Lord of Silver could be so undermined by a simple garment? I felt like I’d won already.
The ideal sparring location turned out to be the far side of the maze, both for a lack of stone benches to stumble over, and potential onlookers to witness Micah’s humiliation. It really was a shame that we didn’t have an audience; what with Micah’s sword, black boots, and white lace-up shirt, he was totally rocking the sexy pirate look.
“Pie rat?” Micah repeated. “First, you trick me into donning this humiliating garment, and now you compare me to a rat that eats pies?”
“No, not a rat.” I sighed; he was just tormenting me. I hoped. “A pirate. Buccaneer. Sailor of the high seas.” Silver eyes stared blankly at me. “Have you ever been to an ocean?”
“A pirate drives a boat on the ocean.”
“Sara, one does not drive a boat. One sails a ship.”
So he did know what I was talking about. “Can you start teaching me now? I don’t want your legs to get chilly,” I added, smiling sweetly.
Micah’s eyes narrowed, but he began my first real sword fighting lesson. After a few brief instructions about the proper way to hold a sword, and a few terrible (even for me) pirate jokes, I stood back and affected the stance Mom taught me. Based on Micah’s expression, I would have been better off with the yoga pose.
“En garde!” I waved my new sword with a flourish. At that, Micah shook his head and smiled, and our lesson began.
Perhaps it was because the sword was made for me, or maybe I really had inherited some of my mother’s warrior-queen blood, but swordplay seemed to come naturally to me. Before the wars, and our lives taking the express route to hell in a hand basket, I’d taken classical dance lessons. Swordplay turned out to be quite similar, with the feints and jabs like a graceful dance between opponents. Micah said as much, complimenting my fast learning after a successful parry that neither of us thought I’d make.
“It must be the skirt slowing you down,” I teased. “What have you got on under there, anyway?” I used my sword’s point to lift the edge of his makeshift kilt, but Micah knocked the blade away. “Oh, so you’re modest now?”
“I am nothing of the sort,” he snapped. “This is… unnatural.” He gestured at his decidedly unmanly getup.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! Really, Micah, this dress obsession of yours has got to go.”
“A wager, then?”
The man in the skirt wants to make a bet. Intriguing. “What sort of wager?”
“One more bout. If you win, I will never speak ill of your man’s clothing again.”
“And if you win?”
“You’ll wear that dress for each and every one of our lessons.” He was grinning as he spoke, and, being that I was panting like I’d just run a marathon, I couldn’t figure out why. Then I followed his gaze to my heaving, sweaty, pushed up by a corset bosom.
The poufy haired bastard really was having a damsel in distress fantasy.
Oh, now I was mad.
Copper Ravens releases in May 2014
Get your copy of Copper Girl, available now, wherever books are sold