Week 2 Finalist

Title: THE WOODSMAN
Author: Belle Scarlett
Category: “Romantica” /Paranormal

An autumn breeze ruffled the massive male wolf’s fur. Its thick pelt shone glossy under the moon rise that crested the treetops. In the midst of stalking a juicy rabbit, the predator froze. Catching a whiff of something far more interesting on a current of air, it lifted its nose and inhaled, hardly daring to hope. A delectable scent wafted into the dark creature’s sensitive nostrils.

A maiden was close by. In his wood. And the harvest moon above would wax full on All-Hallows-Eve tomorrow night! Fortune was spreading Her shapely legs for him this night. At last…

Pricking his ears forward, the wolf padded in and out of the tree shadows, turning his proud head this way and that. His keen hearing detected the creaking, jangling sound of a moving carriage. It was rattling along on the north road, just before Troll’s Bridge! His blood raced when he realized his maiden would pass by the Hexed Waterfall and directly through the heart of his territory very soon.

She would never leave the boundary of his lands, vowed the wolf silently.

The powerful, dark creature pointed his nose toward the silver moon and unleashed a fearful howl that slashed through the night air.

***
What a lovely night for a carriage ride through a cursed wood, thought the Lady Lily Rouge grimly as the dying notes of the lone wolf’s eerie baying shivered through her.

For some reason, the feral sound triggered an answering response deep inside Lily that was as old and as primal as the forest itself. Her body tightened. Under the heavy skirts of her traveling gown an odd warmth spread from her belly to tingle between her thighs.

The brute sounded quite nearby. But then, she comforted herself, did not all noises sound closer and more menacing in a forest reputed to be populated by loup-garou and haunted by le gobelin?

“Pah,” Lily scorned aloud to the empty seat across from her. “I give a flying fig for werewolves and goblins!”

Lily pulled her long, hooded cloak more securely around her shoulders. She was grateful now for the warmth the heavy crimson brocade provided against a sudden mist that crept like a dragon’s malignant breath along the marshy ground.

Lily admitted to herself it had been unwise to order her driver to take a detour through the forest. It would not do to keep the elderly Marquis d’Evreux waiting for his bride. The rich, thrice-widowed Marquis, who had a seeming talent for outliving young wives, had somehow obtained a miniature of Lily’s fair likeness and couriered a marriage offer to her parents at their crumbling rural estate. The note was penned in the Marquis’ own spidery hand and included the magic sentiment: No bride price required. Lily’s parents had their reluctant but dutiful daughter ready for travel in less than a day.

To take her mind off her impending nuptials, Lily thought again of the wolf that lurked somewhere nearby in the mist. There was no denying the animal’s predatory cry affected her oddly. Lily did not fully comprehend her own arousal, but sensed it had something to do with the way she suddenly welcomed the bumps in the ill-tended road that added a pleasurable jolt to her increasingly sensitive nether regions.

Her breasts beneath her chemise ached and their tips tightened into hard little buttons, the hot place between her thighs still throbbed. Just like when the man with the shadowed face appeared in her dreams. The man with the hard, hot kisses and solid, large body. Lily marveled how, for a dream man, he seemed more real to her than other people did when she was awake. In her dreams, he was always watching her with those hungry eyes the color of a robin’s egg.

He was not real, of course, her dream man. So it was utterly fruitless for her to be right now wishing so hard that she was traveling to share a wedding night with him instead of the ancient Marquis d’Evreux.

Her musings were broken when the swaying carriage slowed and came to a dead halt in the road. Lily opened the door and leaned out.

“Driver! Why do we stop?”

No answer from the front of the carriage.

Then a chilling howl sounded, mere feet away in the darkness. Lily instinctively recognized it for what it was, a demand for surrender, ownership… possession. In answer, she felt a gush of fresh moisture cream the tops of her inner thighs. What was happening to her?

Then a man screamed.

Lily stared hard through the growing fog and watched in shock as her portly driver’s shape disappeared on foot through the marshy landscape dotted by eerie willow’th’wisps. An enormous black creature chased him, running on all fours.

She tried wildly to recall the old, superstitious stories about this wood. Something about a huge wolf, dark as the night who walked as a man in daylight. He was consigned by a mystical something or other to reside inside an enchanted forest because he committed some infraction until…until… Lily could recall no more.

She shifted uneasily. Well, she could not sit here forever. The beast could return at any moment and then she would be trapped inside for who knew how long. She would have to attempt driving the carriage out of this damnable wood herself!

Muttering an unladylike, “Merde,” Lily alighted from the carriage. Her red cloak swirled around her ankles as she struggled forward to calm the horses while gathering the fallen reigns.

The carriage suddenly swayed slightly, as though jolted by a mild wind. Both horses beside her suddenly whinnied, straining their harnesses.

Lily felt a chill go through her that had nothing to do with the temperature.

Slowly turning her head, she looked up at the coachman’s seat. Staring down at her with mesmerizing eyes the color of a robin’s egg was the biggest, blackest wolf that Lily ever imagined could exist.

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23 responses

25 09 2007
Week 2 Winners Announced « Chase the Dream Writers Contest

[…] 2 Winners Announced 25 09 2007 Welcome back to the Chase the Dream contest. Our second finalist and second mini-critique have been posted, and it was truly a wide field to choose from — […]

25 09 2007
leighmichaels

Hi, Belle — I love your entry, especially the many ways you evoke the senses — four of them within the first paragraph. I also like the foreshadowing — Lily dreaming of a man with robin’s-egg-blue eyes, then showing the wolf with those same eyes.

Congratulations on being a finalist!

Best wishes,
Leigh

25 09 2007
Marie writing as Belle Scarlett

Thank so much, Leigh, for your encouraging comments about my entry! Your thoughts on my work coupled with being picked as the Week 2 Finalist – suffice to say, today’s been a romance writer’s Christmas morning at my place. I’m excited to read more finalists’ and critique winners’ entries!

Thank you again, to both you and Rachelle (wherever she may be on the globe today! 😉

25 09 2007
Becky

Hi Belle,
I loved this story. I like the paranormal riff on the Red Riding Hood tale, and the suspense elements, especially about the Marquis somehow outliving his young wives and the reveal about her dream lover’s eyes matching those of the wolf! I am impressed about how much visual and internal story information you were able to instill into only 1000 words. Just like with the first finalist, I wish there was more!

Becky T.

26 09 2007
Diana M.

Can you evoke provocative visuals or what?! Sexy phrasing and love the paranormal angle. Leaves us on a breathless cliffhanger. Can’t wait to read more!

26 09 2007
rachellechasebooks

Belle – Nice twist to the beginning of the story – I thought the wolf was only after food until you threw that bit in about the maiden. 🙂 And I love the sensuality you wove throughout the story. Plus, it flows nicely and ends at a page-turning spot. Great job!

Best,
Rachelle

26 09 2007
Sandy B.

Hey Belle;
I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed your piece. You were able to invoke much into such a short piece. I have to work on that myself and it’s much harder than it look,,,
Don’t want to sound like a broken record here but will we ever get to see the entire completed works? A fan!
Sandy.

26 09 2007
Sara A.

Well I’m hooked! When do we get to read the rest of the story? Really liked it a LOT!

Sara

27 09 2007
Vivienne Westlake

Congratulations, Belle. I really liked the part when Lily is talking about the forest filled with loup garou and le goblin… I also like this mysterious wood… the Troll’s Bridge and the Hexed Waterfall. There could be a lot of interesting things going on in this enchanted forest!

The Woodsman is coming along quite nicely.

27 09 2007
Marcia James

Belle — I agree with Becky that you layered an amazing amount of plot into 1,000 words — setting up a great premise filled with sensuality!
— Marcia 😉

27 09 2007
Nicole T.

You definitely know how to leave a reader wanting more! What a powerful story. Not only do I like and feel for Lily straight away, I’m itching to find out what happens between her and the wolf. Fantastic!

27 09 2007
Marie writing as Belle Scarlett

Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind insights and I’m very glad you enjoyed the opening of THE WOODSMAN. As for wanting more, you may have already guessed the Woodsman and the Big Bad Wolf from the Red Riding Hood story are the same, shape-shifting hero who is under a curse until a maiden finds her way into the enchanted wood, in this case a repository for all things magically cursed, and offers herself willingly. Again, I’m thrilled to be a finalist am looking forward each week to reading more authors’ work and learning from you all.

Warmly,
Marie writing as Belle Scarlett

25 10 2007
Darlene

You definately know how to leave a chill with your reader and still leave them wanting to read more.

9 11 2007
Greta

Belle,

Wow! Lots of vivid, evocative language here. I am thoroughly convinced that the night is dark and dangerous, and magical things are waiting on the very next page …

18 11 2007
Susan Lee

Great imagery, really beautiful. I think we all dreams of wolves…

20 11 2007
Miv Evans

I’m there with Lily every step of the way. Intriguing.

20 11 2007
Sirod

Belle, Your imagery took me to the darkness and the smell of the wolf.

22 11 2007
Robin le Fey

Excellent imagery. “Fortune was spreading Her shapely legs for him.” …”penned in the Marquis’ own spidery hand”. How exciting. When is it due out?

3 12 2007
Paula Eykelhof and Megan Long (editors, Harlequin)

Definitely atmospheric. Not appropriate for any of our Toronto lines. Perhaps try Nocturne?

5 12 2007
Elaine English (agent)

This is definitely a dark and atmospheric piece. Some how I felt there was too mjuch telling rather than showing what was happening through most of this and as a result, the emotional component was not as strong as I would have liked. I did think the ending (about the last 5 or 6 paragraphs) was really good. It definitely made me wish for more.

12 12 2007
Cheryl Ferguson (agent)

Lush and evocative while using the setting as a character; but runs the risk of dragging in future scenes. In this case, “less is more”.

10 01 2008
Belle Scarlett

Just a belated footnote for anyone still watching the thread… Raelene Gorlinksy contracted THE WOODSMAN for Ellora’s Cave on New Year’s Day! I accepted! (duh) This dream’s been caught! Thanks so much for the great exposure this contest provided and thanks to all of the wonderful readers and their comments. To Rachelle and Leigh, I can’t wait to participant in next year’s Chase the Dream contest, it’s the most fun learning experience ever.

Best wishes (and Happy New Year)
Belle Scarlett

13 01 2010
LilyRose

Congrats. Make sure you fix the mistake about the Harvest Moon; since the HM is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, there’s no way a full moon on Halloween could be a Harvest Moon. That one would be called the Hunter’s Moon. ^__^




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