Beginning Anew by Alyssa Dean Copeland
Pearl Heirloom Collection
Published: November 21, 2015
Published by: Alyssa Dean Copeland
Thieves attacked the Maycott caravan, abducting Seanna’s older sister Bethany. Instead of waiting for help from her father or the Earl of the nearby estate, Seanna sets out to save her sister.
Compelled by dreams, James Bryant returns to England after three long years, ready to confront his father and ghosts of his past. But before he has a chance to make amends, he is besieged by bandits and rescued by a spitfire of a girl who wields a sword unlike anyone he has ever seen.
Unlikely companions, Seanna and James find themselves stumbling down a path of destinies intertwined . . .
~Gloucestershire, England 1567~
“Humph!” Seanna Maycott crossed her arms and slumped back in the seat of the carriage. “Why must the two of you decide my future as if I am not in your presence?”
Her older sister Bethany patted her leg. “Seanna, do you want to live your life as a spinster?”
“Aye. Better to be a spinster than ruled by a man. Besides, you are almost nineteen summers, and if father waited much longer, you would be an old maid.”
“Seanna!” Bethany scorned, “You are a lady, not a commoner. Such improper speech will not gain you a suitable husband. Besides, you are only one summer younger than I.”
“I do not wish to marry.” Seanna brushed back a strand of her long, blonde hair.
Jonas gave his youngest daughter a curt look. “While the queen might approve of your sentiment, you will marry; in this you do not have a choice.”
A fortnight ago they left their estate, just south of the Scotland border, to attend a ball in Bristol. Though they had never before traveled more than twenty miles to attend a ball, their father insisted—and, even though it was the biggest ball in Bristol, Seanna guessed his reasons had more to do with having missed a grander affair in London. Even so,
Seanna didn’t understand his decision to travel by carriage. If they had sailed from Berwick-upon-Tweed to the Bristol Harbor, they would have shortened their trip by a week. When she pointed this out to her father, he countered that he wished to meet with merchants along the way; but from what Seanna overheard on the rare occasion they actually stopped and met with a merchant, it seemed he could have easily sent a courier to deliver the message. And the weather had delayed them even longer. The intermittent rain softened the ground enough to slow the wheels of the carriages, but not enough to stop them altogether.
She heard the light patter of rain begin again, and groaned. “Since when is it that you have taken this new interest in finding Bethany and I suitors? You have hardly responded to the many invitations we have already received. Every time Bethany speaks of court, you change the subject. She could have married the wealthiest man in all of England, and yet, because you did not acknowledge his inquiry, he married someone else.”
Bethany leaned over and whispered, “Seanna, do not make father upset. He has other matters in which need his attention. But he is working on the matter now.”
Seanna picked at a loose thread on her sleeve. “Our brothers have married and moved away. Father found a suitor for our sister Clare, yet he has not appeared to have an interest marrying off his two youngest daughters.”
“Be grateful that he is taking an interest in our welfare.”
“In your welfare,” Seanna muttered and looked up at her father. He was staring at the carriage door, lost in thought.
She noticed he’d been preoccupied since they’d had left the estate, but at the moment she wasn’t really interested in the reason.
The wheels of the carriage bounced along the ruts and occasional stone of the ill-repaired dirt roads. The constant wobble added strain to an already awkward conversation. At times she wondered if the carriage would totter over into a ditch before her sister could again pester her about the importance of social graces. And if it didn’t stop raining or if they didn’t find an inn soon, the wheels of the carriage would get stuck in the mud.
With a sudden jolt, the girls were thrown across the carriage, toppling upon their father. They heard a scream and then the ringing of swords clashing and sliding against each other.
Their father helped them back into their seats, then gently lifted the curtain and peeked out the window. Seanna handled a bundle beneath her seat, rapidly untwining the fabric.
Her father firmly placed his hand over hers. “You must stay inside, Seanna. Let the men deal with the situation.”
Seanna stood up, fumbled with her skirt, and stepped around her sister. “I shall not. The men need me.”
Her father stood up. “Seanna! Set aside your weapon! I have given you leniency to train under the safety of our home, but ’tis not appropriate for a woman to fight alongside men!”
Seanna reached for the door handle. “I have bested most of your men. And I shall not sit here waiting for one of them to come to my rescue.”
Her father reached for her arm. “Enough of this childish behavior! You will obey me and stay inside!”
The carriage jolted again, throwing her father backward. Seanna fell against the door, grasping the door handle for support. The door opened and she swung out of the carriage onto the muddy ground.
“Seanna!” Bethany and her father cried out.
It was too late to get back into the carriage, even if she had wanted to. She took a deep breath and surveyed the situation, pulling out her Florentine sword, tossing the sheath aside. Her father’s men barely held off more than a dozen bandits in brown leather armor, red cloth hanging from their belts, blood streaked on their swords.
Connor, a loyal huntsman of her father, slipped on the mud in front of her. One of the bandits held a sword above his head with both hands, preparing for the kill. Seanna thrust her weapon into the bandit’s side, taking him to the ground. She pulled it back out and turned to meet her next opponent.
To her left, a man twice her size turned her way, looked her over, and laughed.
“Touch my family and it will be the last thing you do,” Seanna threatened.
He bowed. “As you wish.”
He stepped toward her, striking the first blow. Seanna met his weapon, pushing it back with the weight of her arm. He baited her, teased her with each blow, never using his full strength. His actions reminded her of when she began to train with her father’s men.
She stepped backward just out of reach of his swing. He stepped forward with a smirk and swung again. Dodging his next blow, Seanna bowed to one knee and thrust her sword upwards, piercing his side.
“Two down.” She took a deep breath and scanned for her next adversary. Seanna caught her breath when she spotted Bethany peeking out the carriage door. “Back inside, Bethany! Lock the door!”
Bethany didn’t hear her over the clamor of the fight. Lifting the skirt of her gown with one hand and holding her sword in the other, Seanna raced toward the carriage. A man grabbed Bethany and pulled her out, making her stumble to the ground. He held Bethany by the hair and placed his blade to her throat. Seanna slid in the mud when she tried to stop.
“Unhand my sister or you shall rue the day.” Gritting her teeth, Seanna pointed the tip of her sword at the man’s chest.
Bethany fainted, slipping from the arms of her attacker to the ground. With her free hand, Seanna pulled a dagger from her belt, stepped forward, and threw the dagger into the man’s chest. With his last intake of breath, the man fell to the ground. Immediately, two new bandits took his place and yanked her sister back toward their horses.
Seanna chased after. A white charger flanked her. Its rider, a man in black leather armor with a thick scar on his left cheek, pointed his sword at her. At her glare he smiled.
“Look around, little one. The odds are no longer in your favor.”
Meet Alyssa Dean Copeland ~
Born in Kansas and raised in Lakewood, Colorado, Alyssa Dean Copeland’s fascination with historical romance began when she hit her head on a filing cabinet.
Her first heroine did the same, traveling to the past to find her one true love in "A New Ending." She's expanded the storyline to develop a series of books exploring the Tudor Era entitled “The Pearl Heirloom Collection”. Her second book," Beginning Anew", is now available.
Connect with Alyssa~