Hazel Osmond  has written this brilliant short story especially for FLY HIGH! as an original way to present  the fascinating protagonist of her "Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?" to our readers.
Discover more about Hazel Osmond at the end of the post or visit her site. Read her short story and discover who the 3 men talking about love are. Leave your comment + e-mail address to win a signed copy of her book (see the giveaway details below).

Early morning in a forest glade.  The birds sing and sunlight shafts down between the ancient trees.

But all is not as tranquil as it appears - sitting on a tree stump is a dark haired man dressed in black leather and in his hand is a dagger. He is repeatedly stabbing at the tree trunk as if the wood had offended him. The only thing that stops him whittling the trunk to nothing is the appearance of another man in the glade, a man in a top hat and sombre suit, who strides purposely towards another tree stump and sits, straight- backed, upon it.

‘Guy,’ the newcomer says with an abrupt nod.

Thornton,’ Guy growls back, glowering as if he would like to move his attention from the tree to the top hat and possibly the head underneath it.

There is silence while the two men eye each other. It is Guy who breaks the silence first.

‘This better be important and quick. I’ve had to break off from intimidating peasants to come here.’

Thornton’s expression suggests he is not impressed. ‘Mere dabbling,’ he says, with a wave of his hand. ‘I had a full morning planned too – striding manfully among the looms, beating up a sixty-a day-mill hand, struggling bravely on with a failing business.’ He pauses. ‘I was going to do some yearning too, in the snow, for Margaret.’

‘Don’t talk to me about yearning,’ Guy says directing a particularly vehement stab at the stump. ‘Or women whose names start with M.’

Thornton wisely remains silent until Guy stops stabbing and then says in that low tone of his, ‘I’ll be brief. It’s happened again. Another woman has been inspired to write a book.’

Guy gives one of his best sardonic laughs. ‘I see. So that’s why you’ve  called me here - to boast about how it’s all down to you wafting about with your shirt sleeves rolled up and your cravat off –‘

‘No. It’s down to both of us this time.’

Guy looks bemused, then confused before settling on smug. When he speaks there is a swagger in it. ‘It was the leather trousers, wasn’t it? Those and my way of leaning against things with my arms crossed and my head slightly down?’

‘No. It was your portrayal of the ‘wounded Alpha male’, evidently. Although I’m sure they…’ Thornton waves uncomfortably in the direction of Guy’s trousers, ‘…played their part.’

Guy looks down at his trousers and smirks.

‘Would you care to know what she liked about me?’ Thornton asks with a scowl.

‘If I must.’ Guy is still looking at his trousers.

‘She particularly liked the way my tough exterior hid a courageous, cultured and intensely sensuous nature.’

Guy rolls his eyes. ‘So… what’s this book called then?’

‘Who’s Afraid of Mr Wolfe’, it’s a romantic comedy and the lead male has a little bit of both of us in him. She says he’ll he paying us a visit…’ Thornton takes out his pocket watch and looks at it, ‘… very, very soon.’ He puts his watch away. ‘He’s called Jack Wolfe.’

‘Wolfe?’ Guy’s gloved hand goes to one of the wolf’s head buckles on his jacket but then his attention is taken by the sound of a twig snapping underfoot. They turn to see a tall, broad shouldered man walking towards them. He is wearing a suit that is quite as smart as Thornton’s, only about two hundred years more up to date.

‘Either I’m drunk and seeing double,’ the man says, ‘or you’re John Thornton and you’re Guy of Gisborne.’ There is more than a trace of Yorkshire accent in his voice and his grey eyes show he is amused. He goes straight up to Thornton and shakes his hand but halts a few feet away from Guy and looks at the dagger.

‘Hell of a toothpick, Guy.’

Guy narrows his eyes but does not get up.

‘So,’ Jack Wolfe says, ‘bit weird this, isn’t it? We could be triplets…’

‘Except you have grey eyes,’ Guy says.

‘And a Yorkshire accent, whereas I’m from Lancashire,’ Thornton points out.

‘But apart from those differences,’ Jack presses on, ‘we could have been separated at birth. And she says we have other things in common…’

‘Like?’ Thornton and Guy say in unison.

‘Stubborn, bit moody, sardonic at times, go-getting, hard working, loyal.’ Jack pauses and glances at the other two. ‘Carrying a lot of hurt around that we try and hide.’

Both Thornton and Guy look uncomfortable.

‘Yeah, well,’ Jack says quickly, ‘moving on.  She just wanted me to come and say thank you… for the inspiration. You, Guy, got her into fanfiction and it spiralled from there.’ He glances at his watch. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t stay much longer. Got to go and oversee a pitch to a client, something one of the women who works at the Agency has come up with…. Singing knickers… hell of an idea.’ He is oblivious to the way Thornton and Guy have just exchanged worried glances as if they fear he is mad… he is too busy frowning, ruffling his dark hair with one hand and absentmindedly smoothing it back down again.

‘Yeah, hell of an idea and hell of a woman too - Ellie.’ He looks back the way he has come. ‘Got a bad feeling about her. I mean I normally go for the ones who know the rules, no strings attached… but she’s… oh, I don’t know - funny, kind, doesn’t miss a trick. I’ve started thinking about her outside work. Trying to look after her. And the other night I went round to hers, she wasn’t in so I ended up playing obscene scrabble with her great Aunt Edith. Cheats like hell, but I really, really enjoyed it.’

‘Thornton,’ Guy says, ‘you speak funny English too, what’s he talking about?’

‘I’m talking about love, Guy,’ Jack says simply. ‘I remember what it was like before and it feels an awful lot like this. Come on, you must understand love. You’ve both been in love, haven’t you? Thornton?’

‘I’m burning with it now,’ Thornton says softly, ‘but she won’t have me.’

Jack looks down at his upturned face and smiles. ‘It’ll come right, John. Sometimes you have to look hard for a happy ending… and believe me; women will never view stations in the same way again because of you.’

For a second time Thornton looks at Jack as if he thinks he’s mad, but Jack is already moving towards Guy.

‘And you, Guy, have you ever been in love?’

‘Once,’ snarls Guy, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

‘Ended badly, eh?’

‘An early experiment in body piercing that went horribly wrong,’ Thornton explains, drily, and Jack looks puzzled but obviously decides to let the matter drop.

‘OK. Well, gotta go. Nice to meet you both. If you’re ever in London, I’ll buy you a beer. Oh, and give my regards to that mother of yours, Thornton… and to your sister, Guy… although, word of advice, watch your back with her.’

With a wave of his hand he turns and walks away and they watch him until he has disappeared and all they can hear is the sound of his footsteps moving over the twigs and leaves.

‘I quite liked him,’ Thornton says, standing up.

Guy grimaces. ‘Yes. And Marion would have liked him too.’

And then, with another brief nod at each other they go their separate paths back to their stories.

Hazel Osmond

Who's Hazel Osmond?

I've been an advertising copywriter for over 20 years, but had never written any fiction until I was rocked back on my heels by Richard Armitage in North & South and then in Robin Hood. This inspired me to write two fan fictions based on the Guy of Gisborne character and a spoof of the BBC re-telling of Robin Hood.

Encouraged by the response to those, I started writing a full-length romance and short stories.

I've won a number of competitions with my short stories, including the 2008 ‘Woman & Home’ short story competition sponsored by Costa and in 2009 my first book 'Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?' was picked up by Quercus and I secured a two book deal.  to write witty, sexy romances. In July of 2011  I secured a contract for another two books.

'The First Time I Saw Your Face', my second book is out in August 2012 and is set in the place I live - Northumberland.  

Enter the giveaway contest to win two signed paperback copies of "Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe". Leave your comment, add your e-mail address. This giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 22 April 


Margay Leah Justice said...

Yeah, I have to admit that Richard Armitage rocked my world the first time I saw him in North and South (and every time since). Okay, so it's not so hard to admit.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious spoff - love it!


Anonymous said...

Would be nice if this keyboard could spell, though.


Faboamanto said...

Yeah, those two wounded alpha males ;)amazing what they can inspire.

Loved this! Loved your personal story Hazel and congratulations on your success.

IngeD3 said...

What a lovely story! It continues to amaze me how many people have been inspired to write because of the talented Mr. Armitage...

My e-mail: inged3@hotmail.com

Natasha said...

Great story! Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Krista said...

This book sounds wonderful judging from the excerpt. I cannot wait to read and already looking forward to 'The First Time I Saw Your Face' in August. Thanks for a chance to win!

Suwaida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suwaida said...

I have to tell you, Hosmond, I have both those stories on my hard drive but Guy Meets His Match is a particular favourite. As for the RH spoof, my sister and I turn to it whenever we need a laugh. The strawberry incident always makes my stomach ache. Very intriguing introduction here. 'Body piercing experiment' indeed! Looking forward to reading both your published works. Congratulations on the deal.

BeckyC said...

This is Awesome! (and hilarious!!) Guy and Thornton in the same place is more than a dream, but then add Jack....I just cannot think straight! lol. I am very intrigued! Thank you for the giveaway!! cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

Trudy said...

Brilliant, Hazel! Loved the bit about Aunt Edith's games of Scrabble - on that alone, I have to read your book. Lol!
Armitage authors are so darn witty. I love it!
Congrats on the second book. August will be here in the blink of an eye.


Preet said...

I loved this book and am eagerly looking forward to the next one in August, but can not resist the chance to get a new copy signed by Ms.Osmond! It'll save me a trip to the UK to buy it! :P Thank you for the giveaway and the short story! :)

kaur_chanpreet (at) hotmail (dot) com

Cailin said...

Count me in! I gotta say that RA in Spooks really did it for me - kick-a spy running down baddies in one moment, then softie caressing his ex-wife's hair in another.
I'd love to see how he manifests himself in this book.

cmcc at mccloskey.org

Anonymous said...

Very clever! Thornton and Guy bonding over being foiled in love and having to deal with a new romantic hero.... Too much fun!

email: aelarsen@ucdavis.edu

Fanny/iz4blue said...

Hilarious! Count me in! How did I miss both respective love interests names start with an M. I do think Guy can brag having more fanfiction out there but it's Thornton who can have the honors of inspiring publications :)
fannythornton - at - gmx - dot - com

Malvina Beatrice said...

I would absolutely love to read this book, like the whole idea of the story. Thanks.


aurora said...

I have to admit I am also smitten by Richard Armitage. He is really interestingly and undoubtedly handsome. His voice is magical.


Literary Chanteuse said...

Loved discovering this book and giveaway too! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading her "Guy meets his match" on DF, so I'd like to enter this contest (for once ;-)

mrskarenblixen at gmail.com

Vava, A country dreaming mum said...

Shame I was a day too late! This was really enjoyable reading. Vava

Trudy said...

I bought the book. Loved it! Keep sneaking back to read the super-charged moments. :)