A Handsome Hindrance by Elizabeth Brigard
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
1,060 words. Male/Female. Historical Romance.
The carriage ambled through the countryside with a gentle rocking that hardly jostled the occupants. It was a large and extravagant which showcased its owner's wealth. Jayne sat poised and attentive as she listened to her companion talk. Mr Pembroke was an older man, not ugly but hardly handsome. He was a little overweight, rich but without nobility. He ignored the etiquette of polite society when it suited him and he thought he’d ensnared Jayne.
He was perfect.
They were on their way to his country home. Jayne widened her eyes in gleeful fascination as he described the manor house. She was a young lady with no family or fortune. Blissfully ignorant of the world and high society. Her father was English, her mother French. She'd lived in a small village until he'd found and rescued her.
Mr Pembroke was describing the many rooms his estate held. A sly glimmer entered his eye when he spoke of the bedrooms. Jayne pretended not to notice.
“Are we soon to arrive?” she asked, her English heavily accented.
“Yes,” Mr Pembroke agreed eagerly. “We are halfway there. Soon we-”
A gunshot broke the peace. The carriage jolted and they flew forward in their seats as it came to a halt. Shouting and the sound of horses carried to their ears.
“Highwaymen,” Mr Pembroke breathed.
His face had drained of colour and he gripped the seat with fear. The words had barely left his lips when her side of the carriage was yanked open. Jayne shrieked and leapt away and towards Mr Pembroke as the man loomed in the door.
He looked the same as any landed gentleman only he had wavy black hair tied back in a ponytail. He wore a dark coat and wore material over the lower half of his face. He had a gun in hand and another at his waist. His dark brown eyes locked on Jayne’s. Her breath caught.
The other side of the carriage opened and she tore her gaze away.
“Get him out,” the first man ordered, his voice a low growl.
Mr Pembroke was dragged from the carriage. His pleas falling on deaf ears. The highwayman climbed inside and shut both doors. Jayne caught the man’s eyes again. She glared.
He chuckled and used his free hand to pull down his mask. He was smiling. It brightened an already handsome face. He was the finest looking man Jayne had ever seen, much to her annoyance.
“Didn’t expect you today,” he remarked. He extended his gun, letting the tip brush her skirt. “This looks French.”
Jayne batted his wrist away in disgust. He laughed again and finally slipped his gun into his belt.
“When did you get back in the country?” he asked.
Jayne pressed her lips together, refusing to answer. He raised his eyebrows.
“I could oust you to the boys," he pointed out.
Jayne gritted her teeth, but finally answered, “I do not see how it is your business, Liam."
Her words were crisp and sharp, her French accent disappearing for the proper English vowels of her upbringing.
Liam clicked his tongue. He leant a little closer and Jayne’s pulse spiked. Liam always had been able to get under her skin like no one else.
And under my clothes too.
“I care about you, Jayne,” he said.
Liam placed one hand over his heart to present sincerity while his other took hers. He used the hold to tug her forward. Jayne ended up inches from him, his lips so close to hers. Jayne mustered her concentration and kept her gaze locked with his.
“You care about what I am stealing from him,” she rebutted.
Liam grinned roguishly.
“True,” he agreed. He moved a little closer and brushed his mouth over her jaw. Jayne’s eyelids fluttered. “But, it hardly matters if I steal it first.”
Jayne’s eyes snapped open and she drew back, shoving at his shoulder to push him away. Liam grabbed her other hand and held her firm. Jayne glared. Liam could overpower her, but she had never been scared of the highwayman.
He was a thief who had the country running scared, but Jayne knew the soft, human side of him - just as he knew the gentle, vulnerable side of her. She had conned more men than she could count, but it had never been that way with Liam. Just as he had never stolen from her.
“You wouldn’t do that to me,” Jayne said.
“I have highwaymen to appease,” Liam pointed out. “You’re just a woman.”
Jayne leaned towards him. “If I am just a woman, why are you still here?”
Liam grinned. He tugged her forward again and she came willingly. His lips caught hers and she gasped. She’d almost forgotten what this was like – but, it was over too soon as Liam pulled back.
“Pity we met like this,” he said.
Liam let her hands go and pulled out his gun.
He didn’t point it at her but requested, “Your necklace. And the rest.”
Jayne didn’t try to argue. She scowled at Liam as she undid it, along with any other jewellery she was wearing, placing each item in his extended palm. He placed it all in a pouch at his waist.
“Always good to see you, Jayne.”
“I cannot say the same,” she bit out.
Liam grinned. “You don’t mean that.”
He shifted out of his seat and she fell silent. His lips brushed her ear as he murmured, “You’ll be shaken and cry. You’ll stop at the next town. He’ll tell the story, but you’ll find the blacksmith.”
Liam pulled back and winked. He pulled up his mask and opened the carriage door. He dropped his voice to the unrecognisable growl and pitched it to carry, “Pleasure, madame.”
Jayne tried to be angry, but her lips twitched with fondness.
Liam had taken her jewellery but he hadn’t stolen from her. She knew that everything she’d lost would be waiting at the blacksmith.
He might be waiting too.
Jayne nearly smiled outright, but she quelled it just in time. She focused on calling up tears and hysteria. Her delicate countenance had been through a shock and she needed Mr Pembroke to cater to her every whim.
At least until she disappeared on the wind with the help of her highwayman.
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©2020 by Elizabeth Brigard. All Rights Reserved. This story is a work of fiction and is the author’s original work. Any resemblance to real people or locations is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be used or reproduced without written consent from the author.