Celebration of Nature
is our theme for this round of Medieval Monday!
Please welcome this week’s guest Barbara Bettis with her romance
(Lady Emelin has chosen a stormy night to launch an escape from her tempting kidnapper, Sir Giles)
She shivered against the increasing cold and hunched forward to search the path ahead. Why hadn’t she thought to bring one of the blankets? Clouds scudded across the sky. Still she urged the horse onward. She had come too far to turn back now.
Had Silverhawk regained consciousness? Discovered her absence? Imagine the surprise, when he awoke alone. She’d shown him she was not helpless. Satisfaction lightened the oppression she was feeling—from the approaching storm; that had to explain the growing dread.
Then, carried on bursts of wind, came voices. At last. She’d found them. She straightened, the discomfort of the cold and riding bareback forgotten as she urged the mare forward. Onward down the trail she rode. Once she called out, “Lord Osbert, Garley, I’m here.” No answer came.
In the distance, thunder rumbled, and white light knifed across the ominous sky. Please, not rain. Surely the good Lord wouldn’t be so cruel. Her throat constricted. She gulped. She would not panic.
Concentrate on deep breaths. If only her heart would stop clamoring to get out. A cold, fat drop struck, followed by two more, a dozen. Then the downpour hit.
A jagged streak snapped in front of her. A rolling crash shook the earth. The mare tossed its head, danced aside. Emelin murmured, petted the animal’s neck in an attempt to calm it. But at the next sharp crack, it reared, and shot down the path.
Fisting the reins, she clung to its mane as the mount veered through the underbrush, away from the sharp zigzags of light. Branches struck her face, snatched at her skirts, nearly dragged her off. How she managed to keep her seat, she didn’t know. All she could think was, Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.
At last the mare slowed. Emelin squinted through wet eyes, reached out to knock aside a soggy branch, dripping leaves. Finally, the animal stopped, blowing hard, trembling. Emelin shook.
Breath came in gasps. Her mind could not form a coherent thought as cold wetness dripped from her hair to ooze down her back. The frightened flight of the horse had carried her far from the path. She was hopelessly lost.
All around, wind-whipped shadows dipped, lunged forward, then back. Another spear of lightning wrenched into a nearby tree. Her shout of surprise was swallowed in the earth-shaking roar that followed. The winded mare only shook harder.
Could they survive this nightmare?
Then through the rain-drenched night a huge black object hurtled up, rearing as it just missed her. Emelin screamed.
The monster swung around. Wet black tentacles wrapped around her, dragged her off the exhausted mare. She tried to struggle, but the iron hold wouldn’t allow it.
At last her feet touched ground, and the tentacles embraced her until she couldn’t breathe. It took a moment for the roar to dissolve into understandable words. “Are you hurt? Are you hurt? Tell me if you’re hurt.”
Her arms flew around his waist and she nodded against his soaked tunic. Thank God, thank God. She was safe.
He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.
Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape
Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate. But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.