Today’s Sunday Story Sample is from Loving Eliza where I introduce John, my mute hero. I didn’t explain that he was mute until a little later, but from the moment he came into the story, he was very real with a strong personality, and he wasn’t about to let Eliza go. :D
She quickly regained her composure and looked into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. She blinked in surprise, for they were beautiful. The man in front of her stood a foot taller than her and had dark brown hair with bangs that fell neatly over his forehead. The man had dressed in a clean blue shirt and black slacks. He even wore a tie and a nice black vest.
Considering that he was better dressed than the other men she’d seen in town, she found him to be a strange curiosity. “You look pretty fancy. Are you getting hitched?” As soon as she said the words, she wished she hadn’t. She needed to learn to bite her tongue. “Sorry, Mister. I meant no disrespect.”
She tried to move around him but he blocked her. She frowned and gave him a good look. She’d had her share of difficult men in her time. She placed a hand on her hip. She didn’t care if he was built like a tower. He wouldn’t intimidate her.
“What do you want with me?” she demanded.
He motioned to the letter in his hand.
She rolled her eyes. Great. The strong silent type. “Look, I don’t have time for this, Mister. I came to find Melissa Peters.”
When she took another step to the side, he moved with her.
She took a deep breath. “You are annoying me.”
Her face softened. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be harsh. What is it you want me to do? Read that letter?”
He nodded and handed it to her.
“You could just tell me what’s in it.”
He shook his head and pointed to his throat.
“Oh. You’re sick. I see.” Not that she believed him. He didn’t look ill. “It’s a good thing I know how to read.”
She hesitantly returned his smile before she read the letter. As she did, it became clear to her that he thought she was the woman who had agreed to come out west to marry him. No wonder he wouldn’t let her go around him. He assumed that she was his mail-order bride. Well, now that was easy enough. She’d set him straight. “I hate to break this to you, Mister, but I’m not Daphne O’Conner. My name is Eliza.” She paused. She couldn’t recall her last name. It’d been so long ago since she used it. “I’m not your bride.”
He frowned as she handed the paper back to him.
“I’m sorry. I realize she was due to come in on the same stagecoach that I did, but my only traveling companions are over there.” She motioned to a very happy looking Charity and her aunt. The marshal looked just as pleased. As well they should, she reckoned. They all seemed nice enough. Turning back to him, she shrugged. “I’m sorry. Maybe she’ll come in on the next ride.”
He folded the paper in slow, methodical motions.
There didn’t seem to be anything else to say, so she took a step around him and headed for the houses lining the next road. Wilkins Pike was the name of it, and that was the name of the road she needed.
To her surprise, he tapped her on the shoulder.
She stopped and stared at him, wondering what in the world he could possibly want now.