Lungs burning, Andrew stretched his legs as far and fast as he could on the dirt road. It was nothing short of miraculous that the much shorter lady Felicity was keeping stride next to him. Though slim and small, she seemed fit enough, but to keep pace with the Captain of the guard’s squire, who’d been in daily training since his twelfth year? His comrades would mock him for sure. The fear of what she’d just witnessed must have drained to her legs, pushing them beyond their limit. It had been a gruesome sight, even for fully trained knight. But a lady? He cast a sideways glance at her, noting the unladylike attire of her tunic and tights and even less ladylike ferocity of her expression. Hate sparked in her sky blue eyes and emanated off her with every puff of air from her mouth.
The low thunder of hooves sounded from the manner behind him. Without breaking stride, he grabbed the lady’s wrist and lunged into the brush on the side of the road. She stumbled as the thin saplings slapped at them, but rightened herself. After a few yards, the woods cleared enough for easier running and the lady pulled away. They ran until the hooves sounded distant as they passed down the road. His anxiety eased a little at that, but as he was considering which direction to turn their escape route, the lady Felicity suddenly went down. Her hard gasping quickly turned to retching and he paused sympathetically beside her. Instead of calming, however, her anger seemed to burst from her. Her angry yells were something between sobs and retching, as she leapt up and started beating her fists against a tree. Instead of tears, her face was red with anger and she shouted loud enough for any pursuit to hear. He grabbed her around the waist as she lunged past him towards a larger tree. She seemed to forget that he was her rescuer, not her enemy, as she directed her anger at him.
“Lady Felicity, please,” he said, pulling her struggling body against his chest. “Calm down.” Instead, a feral growl tore from her and pain erupted on his arm where she bit him.
“Hey, hey, hey.” He struggled to keep his voice soothing instead of reproachful. Pinning her against him with one arm, he reached around to his pack and grabbed the water skein. She was pitching her weight against him, growling and snarling savagely when he doused her face with a drenching splash of icy water. She froze, blinking and breathing hard in his arms as he recapped the water skein. All at once, the fight went out of her body and she melted against him like wax near a flame. Her tears mixed with the water running down her face. Andrew all but rolled his eyes as he awkwardly wrapped an arm around her and rubbed her back. He had no experience with females, and after all her yelling and raging he was worried about their pursuit discovering their trail and the last thing he felt like doing was pausing to console a half mad female. But as her tears wet the muslin of his tunic he felt a hitch in his breathing, as his own heart rate slowed to match hers. He barely knew the girl, but his Captain had trusted him with her safety and indeed, the security of the whole realm hinged on her safety. His arm tightened behind her shoulders. If she needed to cry, who was he to object? His heaving chest calmed as he inhaled deeply, smelling the incensed soap from her golden hair. “It’s okay,” he murmured falsely. “You’re okay.”