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from The Hunt for Bheanoira by Dacia M Arnold

Chapter 4

A loud crash woke Jude from his puddle of drool. His eyes focused with a keen clarity he was not expecting. No pain accompanied his consciousness. Perhaps he had simply been exhausted. The state of his personal effects said otherwise. The contents of his satchel laid in a careful spread on a small run in the middle of the room. The door was open just a crack. Jude sat up fast, his senses sharp and his belt still heavy with Diamont, the magical sword cut from a solid diamond, the only weapon powerful enough to slay the monster. 

Far more annoyed than angry, Jude wobbled out the door to grip the balcony railing with both hands until his vision straightened and his head stopped swimming. A full on brawl commenced in the bar area below. A bloody blond pile of curls rested unmoving in a lump at the bottom of the stairs. If she had stolen anything from his room, she did not have it anymore.

Jude made his way down slowly, two steps further than where Annabella laid. Her breasts rose and fell soft and shallow. Alive. He gently scooped her up and clung to the wall as he made his way to the exit.

“Where’s the barber?” he asked a young man sweeping the wooden planks of the short porch, who seemed unperturbed by the commotion inside.

“Oh no, Annie! Ummm, the boughbaw! Take huh to the boughbaw!”

“Yes, boy. Where is the damn barber?”

“Oh, uh this way!”

Something jingled while the boy walked ahead of him. Studying his clothing, the young man did not dress like a local, but he had been working and knew the bar keep. Shooting constant long nervous glances back at the woman Jude carried, with every other step some kind of metal clacked together. Step. Jingle. Step. Jingle. Not coins in his pocket. The sound came from his foot. Or his ankle. Then the sound and the boy stopped.

“They-uh.” He pointed down a dirt alley.

“Lead the way, kid.”

“Umm the boughbaw got it out faw me. I stole fom em.” The boy lifted his pant leg to reveal a golden ankle restraint. “Ms. Annabella paid my debt and I wooks for huh now.”

“What’s wrong with your words, boy?”

“I’s got a shoit toungue. See?” He peeked his tongue just barely passed his pursed lips.

Jude raised an eyebrow at the simple kid, then jerked his head back to the alley. “Which door is it? Also, why you taking through the back way?”

“It’s the way Ms. Annabella always goes. Just the thewd doo-ah on the wight. Knock thwee times.”

Looking down Jude realized he had walked the girl through town with an entire breast exposed. He shifted the sight way from the boy. No wonder he kept looking back. He was far more concerned with his view than getting her to the barber quickly.

Kicking a f...

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