The rapier sliced through his right sleeve and seared the flesh of his sword arm even as he tried to parry. Lorenzo fell over the frozen wheel rut as he clamped his left hand over the cut. Fabris struck again and the hidalgo watched his espada fly across the road and clatter against the frozen face of a snow drift. The cold of the road beneath him stabbed up through his heavy coat to sting his legs and back as the Italian stood over him, his rapier hanging at his side.
Fabris exhaled, his breath dancing and swirling in the cold night air. “And where is your God now, Don Lorenzo?”
Lorenzo shrugged. “Everywhere, nowhere. Same as always. He hasn’t written lately. Some people are beginning to worry, actually.”
Salvator snorted as he pointed his sword at the hidalgo’s throat. “And what does a man of God think at a moment like this? Do you curse your lord and savior for abandoning you, for spurning your devotion? Or do you cling to your sad faith right to the last moment, praying for the heavens to open and a host of angels to save your worthless skin?”
Lorenzo said, “No, not at all. I just—” A movement in the shadows off to the right behind the Italian caught Lorenzo’s eye. “—I just find myself feeling very grateful. Grateful for all I’ve been given. For my life, my health, my friends. And for cats.”
“Cats?” Salvator frowned.
“Yes.” Lorenzo smiled faintly. “I’m feeling profoundly grateful for cats right now.”
Behind the Italian, Atoq padded softly across the covered bridge, his massive body weighing heavily on the old, frozen planks. The wood creaked and groaned with his every step. Salvator stepped back from the hidalgo to look over his shoulder at the enormous beast walking toward him. Atoq’s claws clicked on the ice and his long white fangs shone in the starlight as he emerged from the bridge and proceeded up the road.
“What the hell is that?” Salvator pointed his rapier at the saber-toothed monster.
Lorenzo stood up slowly, still clutching his right arm. “Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it a heavenly host. My wife calls him Atoq.”
Eight hundred pounds of carnivorous flesh and fang thumped up the road toward the two men. Atoq’s eyes flashed in the starlight, two bright silver coins in the dark. The cat ran a long black tongue around his mouth as he came alongside Lorenzo and butted his huge head against the hidalgo’s leg. He swung his head up on his massive, powerful neck to stare at the Italian, and then he sneezed.
If you email Joseph to subscribe to his mailing list and promise to post a review to Amazon he will send you a copy of one of his books! Your choice which one!