I don’t do what a lot of people describe as love scenes, and certainly not the erotic stuff. I long ago decided I didn’t want to win any literary ‘bad sex’ awards and anyway, my readers either know how this sex business works or they don’t, and if they don’t, then they’re probably too young to understand words like ‘Cartographer’ and ‘Ostensibly’
In Swords for a Dead Lady we do have a description of what might be described as the beginning of a courtship. Here we have Kirisch, a young Urlan knight, who has ulterior motives for talking to Virinal, a servant of Madame Afflagar. Nothing to do with getting her into bed, far more to find out what has been going on in the house, but as usual in these situations, the girl in question is probably sharper than her interrogator.
Benor, now awake, opened the door to see Kirisch and the downcast young lady who had been serving the pasties at Madam Afflagar’s the previous evening.
For want of a better plan he waved them both in and led the way to the kitchen.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name last night.”
The young woman smiled at him, “I am Virinal, and to some extent the cook for Madame Afflagar.”
Benor offered her a hand to shake: “A lady whose beauty is only matched by her other accomplishments.” She raised an eyebrow and he subsided somewhat. “To what do we owe the honour of this visit?”
Virinal looked around the room as if to assess the audience and addressed her next comment mainly to Tillie.
“If a person who is apparently a gentleman of means starts paying court to a young lady with neither breeding nor fortune, the young lady would be wise to question his motives.”
Tillie nodded and Virinal continued. “Kirisch here is perfectly presentable; he is handsome enough, courteous, and judging by his clothes, accessories and everything, he is obviously not short of an alar to two. I mean, the sword belt alone would buy my mother’s house.”
“But it was my grandmother’s.”
She smiled at him, “And a charming sweet old lady she doubtless was, but let us be clear here, I am not what you would call the perfect catch, am I?”
She turned back to Tillie.
“Well, that silence lasted a little too long for my self esteem. I admit I don’t know a lot about the Urlan, but they are supposed to tell the truth.”
Tillie answered after a brief hesitation, “Yes, but you have to know how to phrase the question.”
“I can imagine. Still, when Kirisch bumped into me by chance for the third time whilst I was shopping, and suggested we meet up somewhere for a bite to eat when I finished work, I decided that I had to know what was going on. So I asked him. Pointedly.”
“She did,” admitted Kirisch, “she can use short words in short sentences at times.”
“So he told me about the dead girl, the peddler, everything.”
“Well, she did promise to sit and have a drink with me while I told her.”
“A good tale he made of it as well. But it is true?”
Then in ‘Dead Man Riding East’ I do push the boat out and write a genuine love scene. Well the love is genuine. As with all conversations between lovers there are allusions to previous conversations and events, and it would be utterly tedious to explain exactly why these people say what they do, but should you ever buy the book, all will be clear. However these two are husband and wife and Alina is their daughter.
Benor was sitting in bed, making a few notes in a small notebook. Alissa tucked Alinia into the cot by the bed, glanced at him, muttered ‘Cartographers’ and, throwing a robe over her shoulders slipped out of the room. A few minutes later she came back carrying two glasses on a tray.
Benor blew on the ink and closed the notebook carefully, placing it on the table by the bed. “A drink?”
“Hot toddy,” she said meaningfully. “I was told you couldn’t get to sleep without a pretty girl bringing you one, so I thought I’d better take over the role.”
She handed him a glass and kissed him, then sat on the side of the bed. She sipped her own drink, and said, “You are looking tired. I don’t think Talan agreed with you.”
Benor finished his toddy in silence. He put the glass down on the table next to his note book. Alissa ran her fingers up the side of his face. “Demons, monsters and unsuitable women; you’ve not had an easy time of it have you?”
“Unsuitable women?” Benor tried not to sound guilty.
“Well, stealing people’s concubines for a start.” She climbed into bed and snuggled up against him.
“Anyway, we’re going to have to start north soon.”
“One minute I’m looking tired, the next minute you want to be back on the road.”
“Alinia is not many months from having a brother or sister. Delightful as your nephew Maurshott is, I am not going to spend another winter in a Ranger post.”
“You’re pregnant?” Benor sounded both shocked and delighted.
“Not yet, so I thought it was perhaps time to do something about it.”