Excerpt Sunday ~ Stranger In His Bed

Constance Sterling slapped the reins against her mount and prayed she would not meet her maker this night.  
     Skeletal trees loomed like tombstones.  She zigzagged between them, kicking up a cloud of rotted leaves in her path.  The air was as cold as a corpse’s breath, and she had no idea if she were still behind enemy lines. 
     Fear, raw and relentless, tripped her heartbeat.  She swallowed the knot of bile at the base of her throat and tried not to panic.  Tonight was nothing new.  She’d taken chances before.  Not to say she’d never been in predicaments, never had her back forced to a wall, but never this close.  Tonight fear did not bring an anticipated rush, no challenge, nor thrill to the chase. 
     Tonight had scared the hell out of her.
Quick breaths escaped her in clouds of icy fog.  At least three of Schuyler’s henchmen had been naught but a horse’s length behind her.  She heard no trace of them now. 
     She slowed, pushed the hood of her cloak back, and rose upright in the stirrups as her horse pranced nervous circles beneath her.  Nothing but fog and forest.  No sign of the enemy.
     Her mount stomped, pinned its ears back, and snorted protest.  She would have bent to stroke his neck had the pain not been so great.  Every breath clawed her insides, burning throughout her chest and into her shoulder.   She didn’t know how much blood she’d lost. 
     Regret was undeniable and cut like a dull, rusted blade.  She’d survived the massacre in Boston, had escaped enemy fire countless times, had served as escort to some of the wanted men amongst the King’s Regiment. Tonight had been all so needless.  She’d gotten cocky in the six years she’d been working, which had resulted in failure.  Failure was unacceptable, intolerable, better to die than accept.
     If she died this night, she would deserve it.  At least Eric would never know of her failure.

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