I thought you might like to get to know a little about Charlotte and how she came about being disguised as a lad.
A Warrior’s Promise available April 2012… pre-order now if you’d like.
“Yes, Charlotte,” Idris Semple said and took hold of his daughter’s slim arm and hurried her out of their cottage. “The king’s soldiers will be here soon. You must hide and no matter what happens you must remain hidden.”
Charlotte hugged her da. “I will find you.”
“You will keep yourself safe as you have been taught.” He pushed her away. “Go and stay safe.”
Reluctantly, Charlotte ran into the woods, though not very far. She found a spot where she could remain concealed but where she could also watch the cottage. She had barely settled herself when a troop of soldiers came into view.
What happened over the next few minutes tested Charlotte’s willpower beyond endurance. The soldiers slapped, pushed and kicked her da after knocking him to the ground. It took all her strength not to burst from her hiding spot and defend her da. But that would be unwise and if her da had taught her anything it had been to be wise in her choices. Something Charlotte was not always successful in doing.
This time, however, she knew no good would come of such rash actions. As much as it hurt to do nothing, that is what she did… until the soldiers carted her da off, then she sprang into action.
She would track the group and free her da, but she could not do that in her present garb. She hurried to the cottage slipping her tunic off over her head as she went. Once inside she shed all but her leggings and boots. She reached for her da’s shirt, tunic and vest and slipped them on for the first time glad that her da was slim and short much like herself. She then grabbed for the dirk in her boot and without hesitation started chopping her hair. Her mum, God rest her soul, would have been horrified. She had always commented on how lucky Charlotte had been to have such a lovely blend of colors; soft brown, shades of honey and streaks of gold.
She ran her fingers through her short locks, dusted herself off and slipped the dirk back in her boot. There was no time to gather food. She could not let the soldiers get too far ahead. She would keep herself fed with berries and whatever else she could forage along the way. She doused the hearth fire with a bucket of water and hurried out the door.
Charlotte and her da had moved around so much that she had learned not to grow attached to homes. Her home, she had realized, was where her da was and her da was an uncommon man. He was a scholar not a warrior, which was why she had trained herself to protect him as well as herself. She was limber and lean from her daily excursions into the woods and up some of the steep hills and could run a distance without tiring.
She counted on those skills now as she followed the soldiers’ tracks, though she stopped suddenly and hunched down scooping up some dirt. She smudged her face quickly then brushed her hands and continued on. Her da had often told her how pretty she was and it would not do to pose as a pretty lad. She could hide her creamy complexion, though there was nothing she could do about her long lashes or wide eyes that her da claimed were not only lovely but much too inquisitive for her own good. Charlotte would remind him that she took after him and his curious mind and he would smile proudly.
Charlotte picked up her pace, the need to rescue her da growing ever stronger.
She completed her disguise with a lad’s name, testing it on her lips. “Charles.”
After several hours of tracking she turned along a bend on the trail and dropped down to examine the tracks. Her heart slammed in her chest and she felt close to tears. The tracks divided and she would have to make a choice of which one to follow. If she chose the wrong one… she didn’t want to think of the consequences.
She made her decision and took off, praying it was the right one.