I took up archery eight years ago. It was something I’d enjoyed doing as a child when I made my own bow and arrows, played at Robin Hood in the woods by our house. And I guess it never really left my thoughts. So when I discovered there was an archery club nearby, I signed up for the next beginners’ course.
It seems fitting then that in my eighth novel, Calling Home, I’ve managed to include an archery reference. One of my characters, Galen, is taking a sabbatical from her vet’s practice to work at The Lodge on the Lake, a writers’ retreat. Her role is to take care of the gardening as well as providing outdoor activities for the guests. She gets permission to set up an archery range in the woods. Like myself, she is a longbow archer and whether or not any of the writers in residence wish to take up the sport, it will give her the chance to keep her hand in.
There is an attraction developing between Galen and Berry, the general manager of the Lodge. In this scene, Berry has followed her to the range, initially staying out of sight. Galen is aware of her presence though and invites her to try shooting a few arrows.
Excerpt from Calling Home:
Berry’s appearance hadn’t taken Galen by surprise. Knowing she was there, Galen’s concentration had wavered, so she was pleased when the second arrow hit the centre.
What did surprise her was the strange feeling that took over her body when she was standing close to Berry. Her fingers tingled from touching her briefly to attach the arm guard and then to guide her when she was drawing back the bow.
Berry seemed to tighten up and Galen didn’t know if it was the fear of doing something wrong in handling the bow, or if it was Galen’s presence that unsettled her. She couldn’t think of anything she’d done to upset the woman. They had worked together easily enough the day before when setting up the afternoon tea.
They walked back to the house together after Berry shot a few more arrows. She needed to get the chicken in the oven so that dinner would be served on time.
“I wonder if Lois has surfaced yet?” Galen thought this was a safe topic with which to break the silence.
“There was no sign of her all morning. Bit of a relief.”
“Do you often get trouble with people drinking too much?’
“Occasionally. But it’s usually with the larger groups. I didn’t anticipate having any problems with this lot.”
The closer they got to the house, the more relaxed Berry seemed to become. Galen hoped she’d enjoyed the archery session but she hadn’t given any indication that she wanted to do it again.
Yelps of outrage reached their ears as they approached the house. A croquet match was in progress and when they reached the edge of the lawn, Lois could be seen giving Pamela a filthy look.
“That was unnecessary.”
“It’s part of the game. I’m supposed to stop you from scoring.”
Lois stomped over to a ball that was hovering on the edge of the path. “Can I move it onto the grass?”
“No, you have to play it from there.”
“Don’t be so picky. It’s not fucking golf.” Lois placed her ball a good foot away from the path.
Pamela caught sight of Galen and Berry who had stopped to watch.
“Hey, did you catch anything?”
Galen was going to respond but Berry got in first.
“No, the fish aren’t biting today. It’s too calm.”
As soon as they got inside, Galen looked at Berry and they both burst out laughing.
“That was a good line,” she said as soon as she managed to stop.
“Yep. They fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.”
Galen loved the way Berry’s smile transformed her face. The shadows under her eyes had lightened since she’d first seen her in the woods.
“I’ll put the fishing rods away and then I can help you with dinner.” She didn’t want their time together to end.
“There’s not much left to do, but you could set the table. There are only six of us tonight. Sarah and Magda have gone across to the Inn.”
“Really. I wouldn’t have thought pub dining was Mrs Frost’s style.”
“Looks are deceiving. It has a very fine restaurant.”
“Maybe we could go sometime.” Galen felt a hot flush of embarrassment. “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with your cooking, but…”
“Actually, tomorrow would be good. I’m going over in the morning to pick up supplies. We could have lunch. It will give you a chance to meet the landlord there and Alfie’s wife.” Berry gave her another smile.
“Does she have a name? I’ve only ever heard anyone refer to her as ‘Alfie’s wife’.” Galen hoped that Berry couldn’t hear her heart pounding.
“Sorry. Bad habit, I guess. Her name is Zofia. Like Sophia but spelled with a Z. She’s Polish, but she speaks English better than me.”
Berry turned to go into the kitchen and Galen hurried off to put her archery equipment in her room. The idea of having lunch with Berry the next day was both exhilarating and scary.
Where Berry is a complete novice at archery, Galen has no experience of relationships. Feeling an attraction is one thing, but will she be able to take it to another level of emotional and physical involvement?