#writerwednesday This is from the first chapter of my WIP, the Cost of Belonging. The year is 1783, the place, a village called Lesser Blackwater in England. Gabe’s a blacksmith and a virgin who’s come to terms within himself that he desires men instead of women. Eliot has 2 secrets to hide from the world: he’s gay and he’s a vampire. The two have planned to slip up to Eliot’s room at the Duck and Swan shortly so that Eliot can teach him a few things. But things don’t always go as planned. They’ve had to go back to the smithy to see to “Da” as they call Gabe’s father, who’s taken rather too much medicine. The others believe Draven has attacked Da. Gabe’s little sister Jennie is the “she.”
She nodded mutely, cutting her gaze between her father and the horse.
Gabe followed her line of sight and then noted his brother and a couple of village men were quietly picking up sharp tools. “Here, Nate, you lads, none of that. The horse ain’t touched him. You can see that.”
“’Tis a stallion, Gabe. There be no telling what the great monster mought do. We’m’ll stand ready when you must approach it.”
“You’re daft, Nate. The horse will not hurt me. Eliot, you see to my father, and I’ll see to making sure Draven’s taken proper care of.”
“We’ll take care of it, Gabe, just you see if we don’t,” Nate snarled.
Gabe moved between the others and the horse. “Eliot?”
“Aye, Gabe. Perhaps your brother and his friends could help me with Mr. Rodgers, since Draven doesn’t seem to trouble you.”
“A smith troubled by a stallion?” Gabe spat. “I know how to handle all manner of beasts. I can ring the nose of a full-grown bull and come away unscathed, so I reckon I can get a right well-behaved stallion settled into a decent stall, away from the heat and noise.”
Eliot nodded and scooped the old man into his arms, standing easily, as if he were carrying a child. “I believe you. Now, Miss, the privy, if you please, and the water? And if you lads would come along of me, I would appreciate it. We’ll need to walk him around after he’s vomited the stuff up.”
Gabe was already clucking softly to the horse. Eliot stopped at the smithy door and said, “When I’ve seen to your father, I’ll come back and check on Draven, if you please.”
“Aye. I’ll shoe your horse in the morning. The old man’s let the fire near go out.”
“Of course.” Eliot turned and left, with the small crowd trailing along behind him.
“Damn,” Gabe muttered to Draven. “I was looking forward to—”
“Father will be all right, won’t he?” Jennie, the youngest, asked him from the shadows.
“I reckon so, Little Jig. Mr. Eliot’s a fine man.” Gabe tried to calm his racing heart. Jennie had no need to know she’d startled him almost clean out of his mind. To say nothing of what would have happened if he’d finished his sentence.
“Aye, he is.” She moved closer.
“Aren’t you afraid of Draven?”
“Why should I be? He’s just a horse.”
He smiled at the sister who looked so much like him, unlike the stouter siblings who looked more like their father, more nearly blond and hazel-eyed. “Aye, you’ve always had a good head about you, Jennie. Bring me a halter, will you? He’s pulling at these ropes and tearing his mouth with the bit. The old man should have taken the bridle off.”
Gabe laid a hand on Draven’s neck. “There, pretty boy, there. ’Tis all right, you can trust me. Your master’s me friend.”
Jennie handed the halter to him. “A bit more than friend, you’d like him to be, I’ll be bound.”