| "Whatever is happening?" Even Aunt Dora was curious as to why they were slowing to a crawl.
"I cannot see." I popped out the wrong side.
She started to scootch back inside, but happened to notice the Blue Moon. It was huge! And it was beautiful and blue. Mostly Blue Moons were really white, but this was one really blue. Her gran said on the night of a Blue Moon charms could be cast and enchantments woven. The huge blue ball surely called faeries out to dance.
"Oh, I wish something wonderful would happen to me. If not something wonderful, may I please be ravished once before I am too old to enjoy it!"
"Ashlyn, you shameless hussy!" her aunt hissed.
The carriage rolled to a standstill, but she couldn't see anything but the back of the driver's balding head. She could hear John Coachman, whose real name was Horace, talking to someone, but their words were low, murmured. Curiosity biting, she pushed all the way back inside, intended on finding out what was happening, when the opposite door swung open and a man leaned in.
He motioned with his gun. "You, Lady Ashlyn, shall come with me."
"Ashlyn is my charge. I shall guard her with my life," Aunt Dora declared. Her mouth formed on O as the muzzle of a pistol was pressed to her nose, almost going cross-eyed as she tried to stare down at the barrel.
"I take it you see my point, Madam."
Dora blinked. "No, I see your gun, sir. This is nothing short of rude."
Ashlyn wondered if all Blue Moon wishes were granted so promptly. Could one make more than one wish? Patting Dora's arm to reassure her aunt, Ashlyn finally took measure of the man on the other end of the gun. She had only the moonlight to see by, just enough to make her think she wanted to see more.
His hair was dark, midnight under the moon's pale rays. A swatch of black material covered his eyes and nose, with holes cut for them and fastened at the back of his head. Dressed in black and in the heavy black cape, he was little more than a phantom.
A phantom with a sensual voice.
"I have no money, you despicable varmint. And I shan't give you my wedding ring. It's all of have left of my poor George." Dora sniffed. "So off with you. We have nothing for your likes."
Ashlyn rolled her eyes. 'Uncle George' only existed in her aunt's imagination. She hated being an old maid, and thought it better to have a dashing husband who died in his youth fighting for Wellington. Thus spent her time 'pining away' for no man would ever measured up to her saintly George.
"Madam, I am deeply sorry for your loss, but I am not here to rob you."
The note of humour in his deep voice gave Ashlyn pause. It sounded to her if he knew George Fitzgerald only existed in the pretend world of Dora. She squinted, trying to see the eyes behind the mask. She knew that voice. It haunted her. Something about it made her think of...
Dora fell back on the cushions fanning herself. "Oh, dear! Have mercy! My niece is a virgin. You shall ruin her where the Duke shan't offer for Ashlyn's hand."
Ashlyn turned her face aside and muttered, "Thank God."
The masked man' s head snapped around. "Pardon?"
"If you must have your wicked ways with a female, then I sacrifice myself," Dora proclaimed in bad thespian fashion.
The highwayman trained the gun on Dora once more. "Keep your distance, Madam. The only sacrifice would be on my part."
Ashlyn giggled discreetly, as Dora spluttered in outrage, "Well, I never― "
"On that I have little doubt. He grabbed Ashlyn' s upper arm and pulled. "As I said, you are coming with me."
Ashlyn caught the edge of the door and stiffened her elbow to stop him from hauling her from the carriage. "Wait!
"No. You are coming with me. His statement was threaded with total resolve.
Ashlyn nearly growled through gritted teeth. He was strong. Very strong. And determined. "I know you are a highwayman and all, but must you be so precipitous? I merely asked you to wait."
"Do not force me to shoot your aunt," he threatened, renewing his effort to drag her out.
Ashlyn used her foot to brace against the inside of the coach to enforce her resistance. "You...will...not...shoot...anyone―
"Shall I plug your coachman to prove I mean what I say?"
"Oh, gor!" Horace fell on his bony knees, hands clutched together in supplication. "Please, Mr. Devil in Spurs, I do not want to die." He groveled at the highwayman's knees.
"Get up, man. Have some pride."
Horace kept repeating his plea, inching closer. As the highwayman gave one strong tug, dragging Ashlyn out the carriage door, two things happened in the same breath. The bony coachman in the guise of begging for his life wrapped his arms around the robber's knee and Aunt Dora latched onto the arm he used to control Ashley. Dora fell forward and began to gnaw at the man's wrist, trying to break his hold.
"Damnation, woman, do you want me to club you down?" He shoulder butted Dora to get her to remove her teeth from his flesh while shaking his leg to force Horace to let go. "Bloody hell!"
He lifted the pistol with his left hand and discharged it into the air. Instantly, Dora and Horace fell back, mouths agape, eyes wide.
Ashlyn frowned, as he released his hold on her. She was quite willing to go with him, be ravished―maybe more than once if she liked it―but she wasn't going anywhere without her basket.
©2006 Deborah MacGillivray
a short story from
Once in the Blue Moon Anthologies
Blue Moon Enchament - Book 2