Icy Streets and Treacherous Footing
I intend to become a better writer, using strong verbs, making a little game out of it. Today’s strong words are prevail, measure, distort, minimize, solve, entail, contradict, rupture, recur, and focus.
Then shifting her weight, Tammy lifted one boot. Balancing on her other, she minced, not trusting her footing. She glared at three young men watching her. Hating her impractical three-inch heels, she readied for her next step in the new snow.
Not only did she risk falling and making a fool of herself in front of them, she was cold. Had reason prevailed, she would have worn a coat over her Chateau uniform. Instead, she shivered in penance for her foolishness.
Gazing into shop windows she saw little, trying to measure her feelings. She knew his interest in her. Something about him attracted her. But she dared not let hormones distort her reason and logic. Lesser in stature to him, she stood to gain much if he chose to favor her. But she could not minimize how dangerous it had become for her.
Everyone heard those rumors of maidens succumbing to his charm. Plied with his attention and gifts, they lost their heads. Enraptured, they soared to heights unimagined by them. Then, without warning, they found themselves bundled off to some convent.
From inside, bespectacled eyes peered at her.
Tammy giggled, hand to her mouth, realizing she stood before Hannah’s Rare and Curious Books. Someone, perhaps Hannah, held up her hand, and opened his shop door.
Tammy had never been inside. Smiling, she crossed the threshold. Her nose wrinkled as she tried to solve mysterious smells and scents. She glanced at tall shelves boasting nearly ordered books. Whatever else she smelled, she found no dust or mold in this tidy little shop. She stamped her boots. Snow slid of her purple boots into little white piles. Still hugging herself, she smiled. “If you don’t mind, I’m just—”
“Calm yourself, child.” The shopkeeper looked Tammy up and down. Chuckling, Hannah ushered Tammy toward her stove. “Offering you warmth costs me nothing, and entails no obligation on your part to buy anything.”
Prompted by Hannah, Tammy stepped closer. Putting aside her embarrassment, she let waves of heat wash over her, starting with her face and throat. Almost before she could shiver, her exposed legs heated. How cold she felt. She peeked at Hannah and smiled. “You are so kind.”
“How could I let you stand there, shivering?” She stood to one side. Nothing in her voice or stance contradicted this vision of gentle kindness. “You had been there so long, I wondered if I should intrude on your thoughts. I worried I might rupture your deep contemplations.”
“Was I there long?” she asked. Had others noticed? Who else might have seen? She giggled, again, seeing herself, seeing herself pause before shop windows, seeing nothing. She would move on to another, and her pattern would recur. How many shops would she stare at? At some point, she would have focused herself, and gone on home.
She knew she must decide how to comport herself with the Count. Part of her wanted his undivided attention, soaking up his energy and devotion. Yet, she feared giving her most precious gift to him. Once lost, she could never again be modest and demure.
She must talk to someone. But who?
Tammy turned and regarded her gentle, diminutive host.
“You have lived here long, yes?”