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Felicitations on this lovely WIPpet Wednesday. I hope your week has been enjoyable, or at least tolerable, so far. Mine seems to be improving.

As always, let us salute the Grand Mistress of the WIPpeteers, K.L. Schwengel, before we return to Arvid’s world. She’s always glad to have new subjects, if you wish to join. Simply post an excerpt of your WIP that corresponds to today’s date and add your standard (link) to the Hall of WIPpeteers. Or, if you just love to read, the Hall offers samples of novel excerpts of various genres.

My excerpt today is… well. It’s the length it is. Because to cut it would be silly, but to post more would be excessive. I believe it’s about 23 lines. So, I’ll call it 21 for the day + the 2 from 2014. Or, if you prefer, it’s 18 paragraphettes. So, I could say, that it’s 23-18=5, for the month. Either way, it is under 500 words for your reading convenience. Arvid and Oya are spending the night in a village, but first there’s the problem of where to keep the donkey…

The gatekeeper winked at Oya and sauntered off to his post. Arvid watched him until he reached the small hut nearest the gate. Most of the villagers who’d been within earshot of the gatekeeper milled around in a failed attempt to look casual while they studied Arvid. One man scrutinized her openly. His eyes swept over her face and body several times. She waved awkwardly at the man. He waved back, smiled, and disappeared into one of the huts. Arvid turned back to the old woman. Oya was speaking slowly and loudly, trying to determine where to put the donkey.

“Excuse me.”

Arvid turned to look at the speaker. Mahogony eyes smiled at her from a frame of dark brown, almost black, curls that spiraled elegantly past a handsome face and flowed over broad shoulders. The stranger’s softly pronounced brows and aquiline nose coupled with high cheekbones and an effervescent smile formed a curiously manly baby-face. Sweat gleamed over muscles well-accustomed to heavy labor.

“You can put the donkey behind my hut, if you want.”

Arvid watched his mouth form the words, listened to his smooth tenor voice.

“There’s plenty of grass and we got a nice crop of carrots if he wants a treat.”

Soft lines edged his eyes, but only served to lend his youthful face a hint of wisdom.

“And there’s a stream close enough that I can just tie him with my long rope and he’ll water himself.”

Such pretty eyes…

Oya nudged Arvid. “Thank you. As soon as we unload him, we’ll bring the donkey over.”

Arvid felt her cheeks reddening.

“You want help bringing the stuff in?”

Oya smiled charmingly at the man. “Thank you, but we prefer to do it ourselves.”

For the first time in her life, Arvid felt a pang of irritation over her friend’s easy manners. Men as handsome as this one did not often take the time to speak to her at all, and here this one just said… how many sentences was it? Not enough. She wanted him to keep talking to her for a long, long time.

She stepped forward, slightly in front of Oya. “Thank you. I’ll bring him to you as soon as we’re ready.”

“Alright. It’s that one.” He pointed to a hut on the opposite side of the road, three houses down. “I’ll let my wife know you’re coming.”

Wife. Right. Arvid decided Oya could take the donkey and do the talking after all. She watched wistfully as the man jogged up the street. He even had a handsome, er… stride.

Oya nudged her again. “Good looking, isn’t he? Next time you see a face you like, smile at it.”