Here is an excerpt from The Red Lady.

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Elder Rathman stood smugly watching from the stoop of the town hall as the carriage rolled by.

A stately, sombrely black affair, understated yet oddly showy for all its lack of ornamentation, rather like the woman riding within. Both far too grand for this little town. At least far too grand in her arrogant mind, he thought with a sneer.

A cold-hearted, snotty-nosed woman who rarely deigned to show her face in town. A woman who behaved as though she were royalty. All those airs and graces. Too good for the town. Too good to attend its important functions. Too good to sit down to dinner with those who courted her affections.

Rathman shifted slightly, uncomfortable in his uncustomary position. He was much more at ease when sitting or reclining but with the oh-so-grand lady passing by he had to be seen to be standing tall. She had looked down on him for many years and now was the time to repay her discourtesy.

But could she see him through the thick drapes pulled tight across the windows? Was she even looking for him? He growled softly, very much doubting it. Even now when she was on her way out and needed all the friends she could get, he doubted she would spare the slightest thought for a man who could have given her the help she probably did not think she needed.

Such an infuriating woman. Rarely seen about town yet always on people’s minds, her aloofness only adding to her mystery, increasing the town’s desire to know her better. Her family had taken a scrub bit of earth and turned it into a flourishing farm. A ramshackle house filled with dust and old memories had become a home grander than that of the mayor himself. At least from what people could tell from looking at the outside. Few if any had been permitted entry to the oh-so-grand lady’s house. And the woman’s children were never seen in old rags or having to make do with scraps for meals. Neither were any of the town’s children but there was something about the lady and her family that made the townsfolk feel like peasants bowing and scraping in the dirt.

The woman had a serving maid, as did many of the richer townsfolk, but the oh-so-grand lady’s maid was not some dowdy girl who scowled and grumbled while doing half a job. Her maid was a beauty, an exotic dark-skinned woman who though a servant was far from servile.

The oh-so-grand lady had had a fine husband. One of those men who possessed integrity, honesty and compassion. Rare qualities for a soldier, and of course he had not been just any old soldier. Rumour was he had served kings. Only the best for that woman, Rathman snarled.

But now the soldier was dead and despite all her skill the oh-so-grand lady had not been able to withstand the might of the town.

They had wanted her out since her arrival and now finally she was going. The fire in the barn had been the last straw.

The little harassments had been going on for years. Kid’s stuff mostly, but had become more serious once it became clear the soldier was not coming back.

Rathman sneered as the carriage momentarily slowed to a halt and just sat there, motionless, as though the woman inside had ordered the coachman to halt so that she could take one last look at the town she thought not good enough for her.

Coachman! Rathman sniffed. Even that was not a grand enough term for the young man perched up on the driver’s seat.

An elf. An immortal. One of the fair folk, the shining ones, a child of the ageless graces. Oh yes. Only the best for the oh-so-grand lady.

The young man, if indeed he was young (who knew with elves?) sat serenely on the seat, holding the reins of four pure white stallions. Rathman had never seen the animals before. Had the grand lady purchased them simply for this little show? He would not have put it past her to do such a thing. She had obviously decided to go out in style.

The elf was dressed in black and silver, trousers and tunic with knee-high boots and a cloak flowing from his shoulders. He was astoundingly beautiful, as all their kind seemed to be, and Rathman tasted bile in his throat.

Such a disgusting display. The grand carriage, the blindingly attractive elf designed to make even the prettiest of humans feel like a wrinkled old hag, and the purebred snow white horses who themselves seemed to look down their noses at the small crowd amassing to watch the departure. Why could that woman not just skulk away in the middle of the night? Why could she, even now, not admit defeat?

She was going. They had won. They had pushed and pushed and pushed, and finally she was going. They had won so why could she not allow them their victory? Why this? Why this show?

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Choose any of these links below to purchase a Kindle copy of The Red Lady.

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To purchase a copy of The Red Lady from Smashwords, available in various digital formats, choose this link.

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