Olivia Davenport’s plan is destined to fail.
She is going through with it anyway, of course. After all, it is the chance of a lifetime. The unreasonable rules of others should not stand in her way.
In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. He has indulged her passion so far, but they both know a simple fact – girls may not attain knighthood. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, she makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself as a boy in order to sneak on a mission. The consequences are not at all what she anticipated.
When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace; however, an unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, yet these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.
"I came to offer the young lady one of my guards as an escort home."
That is not part of my plan! And besides, my father could not seriously consider sending me off into the woods with a strange man, royal guard or not. It takes every ounce of my restraint to not jump up and protest.
"That is gracious of you, Your Majesty," my father answers. "However, I am concerned about the propriety of that arrangement. Not," he adds hastily, "that I would expect anything less than the highest scruples from one of your men."
Good. So Father has a grasp on the situation. Sending me back with any strange man and no female chaperone is entirely inappropriate. And there are no other women on the trip. Too bad Puck isn't here; my father would trust him with me. Now, they will all have to work out the only viable option—that I continue on the trip. I merely sit quietly and wait for them to come to this inevitable conclusion.
"Well, I certainly understand your feelings. Especially since the young lady in question is your daughter," King William agrees. "I am sure if I had a daughter of my own, I would feel much the same way."
They discuss me as if I am not sitting right here, as if I have no capacity for thought—or hearing. I am actually quite capable of taking care of myself and could get home without help from any man, thank you anyway. Not that I will suggest this as an option, of course.
Time drags into a prolonged silence. Birds chatter in the trees, the river bubbles happily by, the men are all packed and ready to go. They stand in a huddled mass waiting for instructions from their superiors. Come on guys, surely one of you can figure out the answer. My father must be aware of the only solution, so why isn't he saying anything? Perhaps he is waiting for the King to suggest it, so it appears he thought of the idea and can take credit for it.
"If I may make a suggestion, Sir Jack…" Prince Liam begins.
I am so happy someone is finally going to state the obvious, I don't even care that it is coming from his egotistical mouth. But then, he decides to become the next person to throw a wrench in my plans.
"Why don't I accompany the young lady home along with one of the guards. I give my word that everything will be handled with the utmost discretion."
I dust off and grab my bags, intending to fetch the horses. Only one short step later I hear an angry voice yell, "Peter! Where are you?"
It is Sir Michael. He is not happy. Freezing in my tracks, I spin around to him, as does nearly everyone else.
"Get over here, lad," he yells in my direction, "this stupid lace has broken."
In an instant, I am at his side. Indeed, the end of the leather lace that secures the left side of his jerkin has snapped off. His supply sack sits nearby. I rummage through it, hunting for a replacement cord. Surely, Puck packed an extra lace or something that can be used as a reasonable substitute.
Dread drifts in, envelops me in its icy claws. My stomach becomes lead. Puck had spoken about replacing the laces of Sir Michael's jerkin in the armory the other night. Obviously, he had planned to do it before the journey, but he did not get the chance—because I had interrupted him with dinner and…
My heart races, sweat beads on my brow. I am paralyzed with fear until a boot toe jabs my side. "Look alive, boy!" Sir Michael orders. Mechanically, I resume groping through the bag hoping to find something—anything—that I can improvise with. There is nothing.
"What I don't understand is why these laces were not replaced prior to this trip. They clearly needed to be," he snaps.
Unsure what else to do, I mumble an apology.
Sir Michael takes this as insolence and yanks me up by the armpit. Spinning me around to face him, he roars, "I am speaking to you, Peter, and therefore require your undivided attention. Do you understand?"
I stand there mutely, aware that his yelling has drawn the attention of everyone. Certainly, they all try to act as if they are not listening, but I am sure every ear is perked up in this direction. Before I can think of a way out of this situation…
"And take off that blasted helmet so you can look me straight in the eyes when I am talking to you!" In one fell swoop, he reaches out and knocks my helmet to the ground. "Surely I have taught you more respect than…"
His words abruptly cease.
Under different circumstances, his expression would be quite comical. He has stopped yelling in midsentence, his mouth agape, eyes wide and disbelieving. His face resembles those painted masks some gypsy vendors sell at our city's festivals. Lydia has one; she always tries to scare Grace with it. Since no response from me seems to be required, I stare at the ground and wait for all the pieces to fall into place for him. To my surprise, he draws his sword and points the tip right at my throat. For some reason, at this stressful moment, my brain manages to register that this is the second time in three days I have had a sword to my throat. Not such a good track record. His next words surprise me even more.
"Who are you?" He scowls. "Speak quickly!"
"Olivia," I say in a strangulated whisper. It dawns on me that Sir Michael does not have the first clue who I am. For all he knows, I mean them harm, particularly the King, whom he is sworn to protect with his life.
"Who?" The point pushes painfully into my neck.
This time the voice isn't mine. It is my father's. He rushed over at the sound of the commotion and now stands with much the same expression Sir Michael had a moment ago.
"How…? What are you…? Explain yourself, young lady!"
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Reading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Over the years, creating stories developed out of this love. Finally, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.
She lives in New Jersey in a house full of boys, including one over-indulged cat. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with a good book and said cat. It is her belief that a good book, a loyal pet and anything made of chocolate can brighten just about any day.
You can visit her online at: www.janemcgarrybooks.com .