Jon sat bolt upright, awoken by the sound of steel being pulled from a sheath. He pulled on some trousers and his hat and peeked outside. The farmyard appeared deserted; the only place an intruder could hide being the barn. Jon crept from the tent and across the wet grass to the barn and slipped inside.
Standing by the door in the dark he was virtually invisible, the only light coming from a small window above him, letting the moon shine in. A slim figure was dancing across the ground, her feet flying and sword swishing through the air in graceful arcs. Jon watch in awe as the girl finally came to a standstill, balanced on her toes, sword raised. Jon began to clap, slowly and purposefully, and the girl whirled to face him.
“Bravo, bravo,” Jon said, snatching the sword from her hand and scraping it gently down her cheek bone, cool metal whispering across her skin as he circled her.
The girl stood perfectly still, staring straight ahead as Jon came to her side. He grabbed her chin and turned her face to look him in the eye.
“I thought so,” Jon said, throwing the sword down on the hay, his face centimetres from hers as he observed her fine features. “What are you doing out so late? You could fall prey to any number of things, wild beasts and even men.”
“I can take care of myself,” she growled, giving him a steely glare.
“Oh?” Jon said, lowering his hand to her neck and leaning in close to her ear. “I don’t see you doing much right now.”
She latched onto his wrist and snuck behind him, pulling his arm up behind his back. He laughed through the pain and kicked her in the shin, causing her to loosen her grip. Jon spun around and crashed into her, sending the two of them sprawling into the hay. The girl glowered at him angrily while Jon gave her a charming smile.
“Nice try,” he said. “But there is something I must tell you before you try and escape. No one gets away from me.”
“Why, because they are timid, innocent little girls?” she grabbed his bare, muscled shoulders and hauled him over so she was on top.
“Nothing of the sort,” Jon replied. “Men don’t get away either.”
“That’s all I would expect of the sort who sneaks about in barns and night.”
“That’s not what I meant,” they rolled over again and he cocked his head at her. “I’m Jon Piquet,” his French accent twisting the words so he almost purred. “And no one beats me in a fight.”
“Do not think everything will always go your way,” the girls said with a twinkle in her eyes as she landed on top once again. “Or you are a fool.”
She jumped up, leaping onto a pole that spanned the width of the barn, supporting the roof. Jon sat up on his elbows to watch as she swung up into the rafters and balanced her way across a beam before turning back to him, hands on hips.
“Come and get me,” she said.
Jon threw her sword up to her, which she caught neatly in one hand, before he followed her route upwards, landing perfectly balanced, sword out and ready. He approached her slowly.
“You dare to fight with the master of Bruche?” Jon asked, raising an eyebrow.
The girl gave him a cocky smile and sashayed towards him as easily as if she were on solid ground. Jon was unprepared for the barrage of blows she unleashed, her sword glinting in the moonlight. He parried a few strokes before he jumped backwards, landing on his hands and then completing the flip by leaping to his feet in an amazing backwards handspring. He pulled his gun from his holster and levelled it at her. The girl froze mid-stride.
“What did I tell you?” Jon said. “I’ll always win in the end.”
The girl grinned and began spinning her sword so fast it was no more than a blur.
“I dare you to shoot,” she retorted. “I dare you.”
She’d barely finished speaking before Jon let loose a frenzy of shots, each one easily deflected with a twang by the girl’s rotating blade. He stared for a moment, before stuffing the pistol back in its holster, the sword back in its sheath and plucking his hat from his head.
“Alright, I surrender,” he said, looking crestfallen.
Behind the wide black hat his fingers worked deftly with a piece of rope tied around his waist as a belt, the long red feather ruffling in the draft. The girl’s sword stopped spinning, but it was still raised in caution. She eyed him suspiciously, but didn’t notice the coil of rope drop silently to the beam. Jon’s bare feet set to work, trying knots in the rope as if his toes were fingers.
“Jon Piquet would never surrender,” she said, taking a step closer. Her eyes narrowed. “You’re not really him at all, are you?”
“Never underestimate Jon Piquet,” he said with a wave of his hat, before he jumped off the beam.
The girl gasped and stared down at the hay littered floor, but saw nothing. She whipped around, just in time for her mouth to be smothered and an arm wrapped around her waist.
“If you move and we fall, I won’t hold on,” Jon purred, leaning in close to her ear. “Now tell me, who are you?”
The girl raised an eyebrow and Jon slipped his hand to her cheek. She lashed out, trying to bite his ear, but he held her back.
“Now, now, don’t do that. It’s a simple question.”
She glared at him.
“Pretty name,” he purred. “Now, what are you doing here?”
“None of your business.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“No? When do you consider it my business? After I let you fall to your death?”
She levelled a steely glower at him.
“It’s the best place to practice.”
“And you think it’s alright if you trespass in this man’s barn? What if he hears you, like I did? He already thinks there’s bandits around, which is why he hired me. He’d have shot you on sight.”
“I can look after myself,” she growled.
Jon tightened the arm around her waist.
“I suppose you could call this looking after yourself,” he said, giving her a cocky smile.
“You’re a prime example of why I’m not married,” she snarled. “Get off me.”
“Why, because your husband would be jealous? I suppose he would.”
He leapt from the beam, slinging her over his shoulder, and landed lithely on the ground. He slipped out the barn door and set her on the ground, keeping and arm around her back.
“Now, you’re free to go, but I suggest you don’t come back.”
“I’ll be back,” she hissed, pulling away.
“I hope you mean that you’ll be coming back to me,” Jon purred, fixing his hat upon his head and peering up at her from under the brim.
“In your dreams,” and with that she slipped away into the night.
Jon watched her go, his bare chest shining in the moonlight. She looked back once, and then she was gone.
“Well, well,” he sighed. “I suppose not all women are the same, but she’s certainly different.”
Nothing bothered him again that night.