The King's Captain (eBook) - Merely Players #2

223 pages | eBook | 6x9"
Date of publication: 08/25/2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-943528-93-6
  • Model: 45997 words

Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Heat Rating: 4 Flames


Paul, Hayley's leading man and lover, learns he can be a real-life hero when life overshadows art. His trust in Hayley and her best friend Becky is threatened by a secret. Maybe it's braver to walk away than take a chance.

Paul is Hayley's lover and now her leading man. But acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He's totally out of his depth, personally and professionally.

Help arrives with dramatic lessons in leadership and courage, when strange events put him and his friends in harm's way.

Hayley's happy when her best friend Becky books hotel rooms with a bed big enough for three, which confuses Paul. Sorting out their relationships is even scarier than acting, jousting, and stunt fighting in front of the camera.

Life doesn't imitate art. Life shoulders art out of the way. Discovering a secret threatens Paul's trust in Hayley and Becky, and forces him to face his doubts and fears. He must decide if it's braver to walk away, or ask for honest answers. Even if they may break his heart.




I worked my way through the crowd and got right behind the nicely-dressed blonde without her spotting me. "Lady, perchance you invite mischief upon yourself in this market, I beseech you to remain within my compass."

She turned and stepped forward, her forehead almost close enough to bump my chin. She raised one eyebrow, and looked at me in a way that combined amusement and strained tolerance. "Pray tell me, Captain, art thou a mewling puppy that must trail your mistress the day long?"

"Lady, my duty is to vouchsafe your person." We were so close together that, as I looked down, her low-cut top revealed an appealing aspect of the person I was so keen to safeguard. I couldn't resist taking a brief peek, which was spotted, of course. She instantly gave me an icy glare and I fought an instinct to take a step back.

"Guard that your interest in my person does not exceed your writ, sir," she said through gritted teeth. "Mayhap thou wouldst follow me to the privy, should I desire relief?"

My nephew Daniel laughed. "Uncle Paul, why are you and Hayley talking funny?"

My sister Claire had been enjoying our banter for the last hour or so. "They're practicing acting for the TV show."

My three-year-old niece Vicky held both arms up, so I picked her up and sat her on my shoulders. She didn't really have me wrapped around her little finger.

"What's a privy?" she asked.

"Old word for toilet," I said. "We want it to sound like we're in the olden days."

Daniel grabbed my hand and leaned back, hanging from my arm. "Say something from the olden days."

"Gadzooks, young Master Hatherleigh, thou art truly a most vile spitling."

He laughed, then turned to Claire. "Mum, I'm thirsty. Can I have a drink?"

Claire gave him her special mother's stare. There had been yet another discussion about the "magic word" not that long before.

"Please?" he added.

Hayley slid under my arm and slipped a hand into my back pocket, an intimate and welcome gesture. "Becky's talked about teaching him the other magic word," she murmured.

I looked at her in surprise. "There are two?"

She nodded. "Yup. 'Please' and 'now', apparently."

I grinned. "She'll be in real trouble for that. I won't save her from Claire." I wouldn't put it past Becky. But as fond of her as I was, she could take the rap for that.

The craft fair was busy but, as we got to the refreshment area, a group of people were just vacating a table, which Claire pounced on. I bought drinks, then we all sat and enjoyed the sunshine. The children had fun gurgling loudly through their drinking straws, which Claire and I pretended not to notice.

Claire leaned her chin on her hand. "You seem to have your characters and a plausible relationship for them. Suppose they fancied each other something rotten, but both wanted to hide it? You might worry the captain's not posh enough to marry. And at the same time, he could think you're out of his reach? He'd probably feel embarrassed about his feelings and be overanxious about his duty."

Hayley nodded. "It'd fit the storyline better than only realising they fancy each other when she gets the marriage offer. And we can have some fun acting around that." She squeezed my thigh.

Claire snorted. "Acting? Just try hiding it. Just remember how it felt the first day or two you spent together."

Hayley looked puzzled. "How come?"

"Jeez, you two. You were gawping at each other anytime you could."

I remembered how I found it difficult not to spend all my time looking at Hayley and her best friend Becky when we first met. I thought they were both very attractive women. For the present, at least, I could concentrate on discreetly admiring just one of them.

"What's gawping, Mum?" Daniel asked. Five-year-olds can get away with questions like that.

"It's what your Uncle Paul did yesterday while I gave Hayley a riding lesson."

Hayley rearranged her ponytail. "He was very complimentary about my seat."

Claire struggled not to snigger. I kept a straight face.

"Mummy, I want the privy," Vicky said.

"These kids learn too quickly," Claire muttered, then led her daughter to the nearby row of temporary toilets.

Hayley squeezed my hand. "Did I overdo the icy glare? I thought you looked a bit surprised."

"It was really good," I said. "I wanted to take a step backwards. I'm just not used to being with someone who can turn it on and off like that."

Daniel pointed to a stall about thirty yards away. "Uncle Paul, they're selling toy swords and stuff."

"I'll take him, if you want," Hayley said. "We'll only be a couple of minutes."

I glanced around, but no one nearby was obviously infirm or pregnant, so I didn't feel guilty about sitting alone at the table in the sunshine and enjoying a little peace and quiet for a couple of minutes. The last few days had been great fun, if slightly mad. Hayley would be starring in a medieval-themed TV show and my jousting display team, the Knights Errant, had agreed to be stunt performers in it. Somehow, I'd agreed to be her leading man. As the start of recording was getting close, I'd started feeling more and more nervous. I'd enjoyed improvising mock-Shakespearian conversations with her, which had been a great idea to help me get into character. We had an outline script, and would improvise our dialogue. So far, no one at this craft fair had recognised Hayley as the star of a very popular children's TV series.

I rummaged in a carrier bag and pulled out my purchases. I'd spotted a dichroic glass pendant which looked fabulous in the sunshine, as the colours sparkled in a fascinating way. Hayley had said Becky would love it, which was all the reason I needed to buy it. Hayley had obviously admired a rather striking coloured anodised aluminium pendant, which I'd bought while Claire had distracted her.

I checked my phone, wondering if my brother-in-law John had sent me a text. He was also my best mate and the tacit leader of our jousting team. He was expecting to hear the results of his police inspector's exam today, but no news so far.

Claire and Vicky were back first. "What's he talked Hayley into?" Claire asked.

"Looking at a stall full of toy swords. Don't worry, she won't buy him any."

Daniel ran back a minute later and climbed on his chair. "They're brilliant," he declared.

"I'll make you a wooden one."

He shook his head. "I'll wait until I'm big enough for a real metal one. Then I can chop people's heads off."

Claire sighed. "I've brought a monster into the world."


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