Debbie Lynne Costello is with us today to tell us about her new book and share a chapter of it with us. You won't want to miss her giveaway.
The Perfect Bride
Avice Touchet has always dreamed of marrying for love and that love would be her best friend, Philip Greslet. She’s waited five years for him to see her as the woman she’s become but when a visiting lord arrives with secrets that could put her father in prison, Avice must consider a sacrificial marriage.
Philip Greslet has worked his whole life for one thing—to be a castellan—and now it is finally in his grasp. But when Avice rebuffs his new lord’s attentions, Philip must convince his best friend to marry the lord against his heart’s inclination to have her as his own.
Bio: Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.
Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Bride-Debbie-Lynne-Costello-ebook/dp/B07CJT7R8Y/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1524542659&sr=1-5&keywords=the+perfect+bride
Connect with Debbie Lynne:
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May 8th http://theengraftedword.net/interview-with-debbie-lynne-costello-giveaway/
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May 24th MaryLu Tyndall
Cumberland, England, 1399
Avice Touchet plopped a hunk of dark rye bread on the table before her father who sat on a stool before she darted out the door to get the pitcher of cool water she’d just drawn from the stream. She’d risen early to bring him fresh water, and had set the pitcher on the wooden box outside the cottage. She thrust her little finger in the jug and was disappointed that it was not as cool as when she pulled it from the brook nearly an hour ago. The sun rays speared through the trees letting her know she needed to hurry. Pitcher in hand, she returned, snatching up his tankard from the end of the table as she passed.
With his cup now full, she kissed his cheek and dashed for the door.
“Where you be off to so early and in such a hurry, my dear?” Her father turned his upper body from his perch on the stool to look her way since his neck would not turn so well anymore.
“I am off to the keep to see if Mother needs my help.” Her heart skittered as she answered. Her words were true but her mother was not what, or rather who, drew her to the castle.
“I had hoped to get your help today.” His words stopped her at the door.
Her shoulders fell and she turned around. He’d not given her a choice. Oh, it sounded like she could decide for herself but the truth was he was telling her she could not leave. “What is it you wish me to do, Father?”
“A fox got one of our chickens early this morning. He dropped it when I chased after him with a stick.” He turned back to his bread, ripping off a piece with his teeth before continuing. “’Twas a moment I thought the animal would challenge me for the meal, but he turned away as me and me stick grew closer to his dinner.”
“Yes, Father. I will see to that straight away.” If she hurried she still could make it to the keep and watch Philip and the others practice.
“And when you finish that, go down to the Huguette’s. He has some ale for you to bring me.”
“What do I pay him with?” She steeled herself. She hated to go and ask for charity or to borrow. The family struggled to put food on the table more than her family. They were not fortunate enough to have someone working in the manor.
“He owes me it. Just bring it back.”
With a sigh of resignation, Avice walked back to the door, not in as much of a hurry. Once outside, she glanced around, looking for the dead animal. Seeing the large pot of water over the flame but not the bird, she peeked her head back in the cottage. “Where is the hen? I do no’ see it.” A small part of her hoped the fox had come back and taken its prey, but she pushed the selfish thought away, knowing it would mean a hearty meal for the family.
“’Tis in the trunk. I did no’ want the vermin to come back and steal that which is mine.”
Avice flipped the top of the wooden trunk up and pulled out the yellowish bird by its feet—a little relieved that it was the old hen that would peck at her feet and not the younger one she liked. She scooped up a stick that lay beside the near-boiling water and plunged the chicken in head first while still holding its feet. She pressed the stick against its body to keep it under the hot water as she slowly recited the twenty-third Psalm. When she’d finished she counted to ten for good measure and pulled the sopping chicken out of the water.
Rolling a log with her foot, she pushed it over to the trunk that had held the bird, tipped the log on end and sat on it. If she worked quickly she could have the job done and be on her way to the Huguette’s for the ale. The feathers slipped from the bird’s skin and she tossed them into the chest so they’d not blow away when they dried. If she worked swiftly the skin would remain loose and all would come out easily. Her hands made quick work of the feathers. Throwing the last few in the box, she glanced in to see how big the pile had grown. Her father wanted a pillow—an indulgence. There had been enough—for one—but she wanted her mother to have one, too. With these feathers there would just be enough for two. They may be small but they would be soft on the head.
The sound of footfalls on the ground drew her attention away from the trunk. She dropped the lid as the middle brother of three, all older than she, strolled up. “Good day to you brother.” He had been named after her father, Chester, and the family called him Chet.
“And to you, Avice. Is father inside?” He inquired.
“Aye, that he is.” She smiled at her brother, the most handsome of all three with his straight nose, square jaw, and honey-brown eyes.
When he’d gone in the house and closed the door behind him, she peeked back in the wooden box to get one more look at the feathers. ʼTwould make the grandest gifts she’d ever given her parents. She patted the top as she pushed off the stool. Later, when they’d dried, she’d put the feathers with the others she’d hidden away. Right now she wanted to finish the tasks given to her and be off to Rosen Craig before the day wore on.
As she turned to leave, her father’s worried voice pierced through the wooden door. “Are you sure?”
She waited where she stood, knowing she should not eavesdrop. But the concern she’d heard held her in place.
“Aye, ʼtis sure I am. What troubles you, Father?” Chet asked.
Her father had lowered his voice and she strained to hear but only caught “revolt and recognize him.” She frowned, wishing she could hear more. The exchange went on, both men dropping their voice to not much more than a whisper. Her belly knotted.
She crept over to the door and pressed her ear against the crack. She leaned in trying to hear better. Her brother spoke, “…only passes through.” She still could not hear most of their words so pressed in more and the door, that had not closed tightly, snapped shut. Hurrying back over to her stool, she pressed her hands into her back and gave a moan for good measure as her brother pushed open the door.
She looked at him with her most innocent face. “Do you need something? I was just about to head to the Huguette’s for father.”
“Nay, you go on your way.” Chet answered then pulled the door shut.
Her heart pounded in her chest and she didn’t like the feeling in her gut. She did not believe in deceiving a person. But they would tell her she did not hear what she heard and then they would waste her time trying to convince her of it when she only wished to be on her way.
Fortunately for her the Huguette’s were not far. After pouring the clean water into a bucket, she took the clay pitcher and headed out. Choosing the shortcut, though she’d have to try and evade the nasty thorns that grew along the path’s edge, she hoped to save time. Even if she could see Philip for a few minutes, it would be worth the rush.
Nearly out of breath when she reached her destination, she paused to regain her composure before knocking. As she waited for her breathing to return to normal, Mr. Huguette came around the corner of the cottage and nearly dropped the tools he carried when he saw her.
“Ye startled me, miss.” The dark-haired man who didn’t stand much taller than she gave her a toothless grin.
She dipped her head. “ʼTis sorry I am. I did no’ mean to give you a fright. My father sent me for some ale.”
The wrinkles in the man’s tanned face made him look older than his forty-some years. “Aye, I just finished making it yesternight. Planned I had to bring it to yer father today. Tell him many thanks for helping get me crops in.”
“I will.” She smiled and handed him the pitcher, all the while wondering why her father had helped the neighbor before he’d brought in their own crops.
“Tell him, me back is much better. In a sennight I will be back to me nimble ol’ self.” He turned away and let himself into his cottage.
Heading back from whence she came, she was careful not to spill any of the ale. Her father never ceased to amaze her. Never to boast, never to complain, and always seemed to be hard on himself as if he was undeserving.
When her home came into sight, she picked up her pace and glanced heavenward to see where the sun rested. Still high in the sky, she grinned. She just might have time left.
Philip Greslet fought a mock battle with Simon, one of his fellow knights. The two swung blunted swords at each other in an attempt to outwit and outmaneuver their opponent. He had just lunged and pressed when the motion of an arm swinging back and forth, off to his right, caught his attention.
Avice. The recognition of the lass had no sooner registered when the blunted end of Simon’s sword pressed on his neck.
“You, my friend, have been impaled. Are there any last minute confessions you wish to make?” Simon’s grin reached from one side of his freckled face to the other. His cheeks, reddened from exertion, nearly matched the color of his hair.
“ʼTwas luck.” Philip grumbled.
Simon let out a guffaw. “No, ʼtis the pretty little lady that brought your demise. You allow yourself to be distracted.”
“We shall have a rematch on the morrow.” Sweat rolling down his back, Philip gave him a friendly shove as he passed. The clanking of swords from other practice battles continued on as he made his way toward the young lady standing beneath the shade of an oak tree.
Avice clasped her hands together in front of her. “Hello, Philip. I hope I did no’ cause you grief.”
He smiled down at her, enjoying the coolness of the shade. “My little bird. You could never cause me grief.”
She ducked her head, causing her long dark lashes to brush her upper cheeks.
He swiped the sweat from his brow as he admired her. When they were children the two spent much of their time together. He was a few years older and she’d liked to follow him around no matter where he traipsed. He began looking forward to seeing her and enjoyed teaching her things. He’d especially enjoyed showing her how he trained a starling to talk. Her fascination with the talking bird still made him smile when he thought about it. She had always been his biggest encourager—always amazed at his ability no matter the task. Even when he failed she found ways to make him feel like he had accomplished something grand.
“Ye make me think of the starling I once owned.”
She glanced up at him, eyes sparkling with mischief. “Philip Greslet. Are you saying I talk too much?”
He chuckled. “Nay, ʼtwas no’ where my thoughts were—although, ʼtis a thought to ponder.”
She gave him a playful slap.
He gazed into her honey colored eyes. Their friendship and grown over the years. A rather unusual friendship when it began—a boy and a girl. But they shared a bond that Philip really couldn’t explain. At a time when boys had nothing to do with girls except annoy them, he welcomed her company like his own shadow.
Once off squiring for a new lord and his keep, his time at Rosen Craig had become infrequent at best. His first trip back gave him a glimpse of a gangly girl, no longer a child and not quite a woman, making him realize their friendship would not always be the same. Yet to his pleasure, still she hung on his every word as he embellished stories of his bravery on the battlefield. He smiled in remembrance of the tales he’d tell. All had truth to them but her attentiveness, he supposed, caused him to enrich his stories for her. Sometimes he could tell she knew he embellished them, but still she sat listening as if he were the greatest squire of all.
“Do you remember when we were young and dreamed of a better life?” He waited, anticipating her answer.
She smiled. “Aye, I do. But our lives are no’ so bad. We had dreams of grandeur—a child’s dreams.”
“Nay, Avice. I still work toward those dreams.” And he would reach his goal, having his own keep, marrying and having children. But Avice’s only chance for a better life was to marry a man of means.
“I ken you do. And I pray for you, Philip, that God will give you the desires of your heart as well as give me mine.”
He knew her desire. To marry for love. Once he returned to Rosen Craig to serve, their friendship continued to grow. She shared her heart with him as he did his. He supposed he was a bit of a protector. She had brothers and a father to do that and he had to admit to himself that she really didn’t need another, but there was this innocence in the way she looked at him that kept him drawn to her—made him want to shield her. Much like she looked at him now.
“Why do you smile?” Avice tipped her head to the side.
“Because you are here.”
A beautiful pink flush crept into her cheeks.
At an age when a man’s best friend should be a fellow warrior, he found himself drawn instead to his childhood friend. Though his fellow knights loved to goad him, he could not bring himself to discourage her visits. He supposed when he got married or when she married they would go their separate ways, live their lives, but until that day, he looked forward to seeing the smile on her face and the child-like bounce in her step whenever she approached him.
Soon, he knew, this would have to come to an end. The lass was well into her marrying years and he knew the time would come sooner than later. Her dark bronze-brown hair that often fell from its braid in little curls around her face drew many a knight’s attention. But thus far none were deserving of her and they knew to stay away.
Avice’s eyes opened wide, exuding the energy inside of her. “Why do you stare? Is there something on my face?”
Her comment jarred him from his thoughts. “Aye, you do. What has my little bird, or should I say my little starling, been up to so early?” He pulled the tiniest fluff of a feather from her forehead and showed it to her.
She shoved her fists on her hips in her impertinent way. “A fox killed one of our chickens, I will have you ken. I had to see to its care before I left.”
“Ah. I thought perhaps my little bird was about to grow wings to fly away.” He pulled another two feathers from her hair this time, before turning her around and looking at her back.
“Dinna tell me I have feathers back there, too.”
“Nay, I was only making sure there were no wings.”
Avice turned around and gave him a playful push and shoved her fists back on her hips. “You be nice to me or—”
“Or you will tell Bruce?” He couldn’t help but grin. Bruce was her oldest brother who’d never liked the idea of the two being best friends.
She gave him a saucy grin and raised her perfectly arched eyebrows. “I just might, sir.”
He shrugged. “And here I was looking for the sign of angel’s wings.”
Her grin softened as did the look in her eyes.
“But then I realized, nay, those were definitely chicken feathers. No angel here.” As soon as the words were out, he regretted them. For the flash of hurt that shot through her eyes pained him more than a lance piercing his heart.
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