My friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl has graciously agreed to guest post for me while I’m on my missions trip! Here’s her post:
It made perfect sense to me.
When he came striding into the fencing gym, his long winter coat flapping to his ankles, looking like someone stepped out of a gas-lights-and-hansom-cabs novel, my first thought was, “He must be married with five children. Because no one that attractive could not be.”
So that’s what I did. After exchanging names and shaking hands, we took place on opposite ends of the Mid-South Fencers’ Adult Saber class, assumed position, and advanced up the strip, weapons at ready, with no intention of speaking to each other ever again.
Two months of this went by . . .
Let me backtrack a little by letting you know what I—an art-teacher, Barnes and Noble bookseller, former English major—was doing at a fencing club. Having recently signed a contract for my first novel, Heartless, an adventure fantasy complete with swashbuckling sequences, I felt I needed a bit of experience “wielding a blade,” as it were. I mean, how else could I hope to write a convincing sword-fighting scene?
So with research in mind, I signed myself up for a beginners fencing class, liked it, and decided to progress to the adult class. The same class a certain Mr. Rohan de Silva had joined three years before.
I was so out of my depth! Not the most athletic cookie, with long skinny arms and no muscle, I stumbled my way through those two months, learning to advance and retreat, to parry and riposte, struggling to keep pace with the far superior fencers in the class . . . especially handsome Rohan, who maintained an intimidating reserve throughout.
And at the end of term . . . tournament!
I suffered illusions neither for my skill nor for my chances. And when I saw who was listed as my first opponent for the evening, my stomach dropped in dread: None other than the taciturn Rohan. I might not be the greatest fencer, but I recognize talent when I see it . . . and this man had talent! Quick and athletic with an assured technique, he constantly surprised opponents with his ability to score hits.
I was, in a word, toast.
So I decided to even the odds . . . .
Sidling up to Rohan, I looked at him slyly and said, “I want your blood.”
Rohan blinked. “Pardon?”
“You need to be afraid,” I said, straight-faced. “We’re listed to fight first, and I think it fair to warn you that I intend to eat you for lunch. Metaphorically speaking. You should be afraid.”
And Rohan laughed. After all, what had he to fear from the skinny little book-seller chick with two months (and a beginners’ class) worth of experience under her belt? Chuckling, he replied, “I’ll be trembling so hard, they’ll have to duct-tape the saber to my hand!”
And that was that. We were called to the strip. We faced each other. We assumed position. We dueled.
And I won.
Yes, you read that right. Beyond all possibility, I walked off the strip victorious! Against the brilliant Rohan! This was such a surprise, I even dared ask him if he’d let me win! But he insisted, “I never let people win.”
I’ll have you know he won every other match and went home the champion of the evening, while yours truly was thoroughly creamed by every other member of the club. But this did not matter. I was the real winner . . . .
Because, you see, between every match for the rest of the evening Rohan sat and chatted with me. As it turns out, despite frumpy fencing clothes, helmet-crushed hair, and sweaty-no-makeup, a girl with a sense of humor caught his eye!
The next week, he asked me out. He tells me now it was during that first date, as we chatted over coffee, that he fell in love with me. I learned he had avoided conversation those two months for basically the same reason I had: “She’s attractive, so I’ll ignore her.” Made perfect sense at the time!
But the ignoring was over. Rohan says it was “love at first conversation,” and he went home from our first date convinced I was the girl God had for him to marry.
Sure enough, we were married just six months later!
Who would have thought God’s plan for us would involve fencing sabers and a duel? Who would have thought I would meet a kind and godly young man while researching for my novel with no thought of romance in my head?
Who would have thought what wonders threats at sword-point might work?
Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic Fairy Tale style. Her titles include Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and soon-to-release Starflower. Her debut novel, Heartless, won a 2011 Christy Award. Her second novel, Veiled Rose, was a finalist for the RT Inspirational Novel of the Year and is a finalist for a 2012 Christy Award.