Starting over

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After getting good advice and feedback from a couple of awesome people I scrapped all of what I wrote. Here is the bit I have so far!

Chapter One

Marten stood with his hands clasped tightly behind his back. He kept his shoulders hunched forward, although the shoulder he had dislocated still twinged painfully, and his face was set in a grim and expressionless mask. Ordinarily it was merely a mask that lent him an aura of menace, along with the padding in the shoulders of his coat that gave him a hunched and looming presence – a tool in the kit of his trade. This morning his forbidding expression was all too real. He truly wanted to murder the woman before him, and not the one she had hired him to kill.

The woman affected a simpering expression, laying a white manicured hand upon her stepdaughter’s dark-curled head. “Dear, this is our new gamekeeper,” she had a smile on her face, it even crinkled the edges of her eyes like a real one. She was a wonderful actress, he had to admit. Anyone would take her for a doting mother, beautiful if not very bright. No one would believe that this lovely guileless creature could buy the death of one child, while bringing another into the world. He had a feeling that the little girl would have believed it, the way she shied away a fraction at the touch.

“He’s come to show you something wonderful,” she continued, “He’s found a nest of little baby rabbits in the forest.” Her voice was high and bright, and she spoke slowly as if to a very stupid toddling child although her stepdaughter looked to be at least seven.

The girl’s eyes flitted in his direction, the deep forest green of her irises was startling in her pinched brown face. He kept his bleak visage carefully neutral, while devising and discarding various retributions for the Huntmaster’s idea of what was amusing.

She pushed the girl forward into the space between them, still smiling beatifically while resting a hand on her swollen stomach. “Now, run along and play darling.” Her voice sounded strained for a moment, and the lines around her mouth thinned. He wondered if she had already taken the herbs to bring on birth, although none of the servants would be back until nightfall.

He waited for the child to reach him, then took her hand and led her out. Down the back steps of the sumptuous country estate, onto the wide clipped lawn, and past that into the wood; all in silence. They met no one, doubtless all the servants thought their mistress kind to release them for the afternoon to attend the first harvest fair of the season.

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