I've shared this story before, a long time ago and I have new followers now, plus I'm working on the story to edit it. If you've read the story and have no interest in reading it again - with or without the improvements and commentary - please feel free to move on and ignore it.
If you've not read the story or you feel you'd like to re-read it and are perhaps curious about the comments and adjustments I'm making, please, grab a cuppa or a glass of wine, sit down, and enjoy the journey.
The cover image for Deadlier Beginnings as seen on Amazon.com Link
After a lunch of stew with Ruth, she had a wander around to the closest neighbours to warn them about the fox. No one else had heard anything and no one had lost chickens in any attacks.
On her way back home after alerting the majority of her neighbours to the fox problem, she saw Luke walking away from her cottage.
"Luke! Did you want to see me?" she tried not to sound too eager.
"Hello Hazel, yes, I have been to call on you. Ruth told me you had moved back home this morning. I wondered if you needed help with your wrecked fence." Luke carried a hammer and other tools.
"That would be lovely, you are thoughtful." Hazel led Luke round the back of her cottage and showed him where she needed the fence rebuilding.
"I shall get on with this then while you make supper; I suppose you will not object to feeding me for the work I put in?" Luke smiled and started over to the chicken pen area.
"Of course I don't mind. You're very welcome to stay for supper."
Over supper of leek and cabbage soup and chunks of dark rye bread, they talked about anything and everything.
Image 1 Source
Luke said his father had lived near the village before he married, but he met a woman from a different area and she couldn't settle there so they moved away. Luke was visiting friends of his father in the hamlet, closing business because his father had recently died and his mother wanted everyone informed of his death. It was almost thirty years since he had seen any of his friends and so it was understandable that some of those friends had died too, or moved on; Luke had only had a limited amount of success in finding them all. He was staying for only a few more days then he had to return home. The welcome he had received in the village was testament to the high regard that the older people had had for his father and Luke was deeply moved by the way he had been treated. Even though he had never met the villagers, when he told them whose son he was, he was greeted as though it were the father returning, rather than the son.
The pair of them chatted long into the evening. Mika scratched to be let in, he was fed and let out again and still Hazel and Luke talked. The sound of Mika scratching to be allowed back in for the night finally made them both realise it was past a decent hour for Luke to be visiting Hazel alone, so to save her any discomfort, he bade Hazel goodnight.
Image 2 Source
"I shall visit again tomorrow if you like, we can talk about you next time - you have only listened to my ramblings tonight." Luke smiled and kissed Hazel's hand.
Hazel blushed and after another goodnight he finally left, waved at her and made his way to the other side of the hamlet where the inn was situated.
Hazel was humming as she went back inside and when she'd closed the door, she twirled around, dancing. Mika started bounding around her, barking at her, his tail wagging. Laughing, she began settling everything ready for bed; she stoked up the fire using the last of the wood.
Image 3 Source
She grabbed her wrap from behind the door where it usually hung. She didn't even notice that it was the same wrap that she had lost the other night and she had not been to look for it. Pulling it around her shoulders, she made Mika stay. He did not want to, but she closed the door behind her, leaving him whining inside the cottage.
The moon was very bright and made everything look colder than it was already. Hazel went round the back of the cottage, past the newly built fence that Luke had been working on all afternoon, to the woodpile.
As she crouched down to pile logs on her knees to enable her to carry more, she was knocked forward, into the log-pile. Her face smashed against the stacked wood and her nose started pouring with blood.
Her hair was grabbed and her hands clawed at her attacker's hand to free her hair from his grasp.
She could hear Mika barking amid crashes from the cottage which suggested he was bounding about inside, trying to get to her. The attacker's other arm went around her throat, tightening, and she began to drift away from Mika's barking. The arm loosened before she blacked out but the other hand still had her hair.
She was whimpering as she was dragged along, away from her cottage and the noise Mika was still making. She was hoisted into the air over a strong, broad shoulder and carried away as though she was a bag of grain.
A strong loping gait took them towards the woods. Hazel was almost unconscious again as her head was jolted against this man's back and shoulders. Her nose had stopped bleeding, but her cheeks and chin were sticky with drying blood and her whole face was throbbing. One arm was free, the other trapped under her and against her abductor. She tried pounding his back with her free arm, but the momentum of his running, her position over his shoulder and her dizziness made her efforts ineffective; he either did not notice or easily ignored the punches.
He started slowing down to a fast walk just inside the woodlands. Hazel was trying to escape, but he had too tight a grip and she could not get any purchase with her feet. When they approached the large rock formation, she came to her senses a little and began screaming.
"Let me GO! Get off! Get off! Get off! Get off! NO! MIKA! Luke! HELP ME!" She was thrown from the man's shoulder with unnecessary roughness it seemed.
Hazel landed heavily on her back, knocking her head hard on the soft ground and expelling the breath from her body, exchanging her shouts for a grunt. Dizziness enveloped her again and she rolled over in order to throw up her supper.
When she had vomited, she rolled over to her other side, away from the pool of puke, onto her side and put her forehead on the cold ground. She waited a few seconds, all the time listening for any sign of her attacker or any rescuers. All was silent.
Image 1 This picture reminded me of the timeline I'm trying to convey. It also reminds me that there are so many anomalies with the story that re-writing is an absolute must!
This shows the more likely scenario. The cottage would be filled, with hardly room for lying down in. I'm seriously thinking that I need to re-evaluate Hazel's relationship with Ruth and William - perhaps make them her parents?
The more I learn about current writing and storytelling practices, the more I realise this will not do and how much work I have left before it will be anywhere near close to good enough to send to a professional editor so I can then submit it to an agent.
I can see my summer mapped out before me and it's going to be hard work!
Are you staying for the journey?
I hope so, I enjoy reading your comments and advice.