Copyright 2014 by Dee Ann Palmer ISBN-13:978-0-9891237-4-7 Cover Design by Winterheart Design
Christiana, only child and heir of the Earl of Glastonbury, binds her chest and often dresses as a boy in denial of her womanhood. She longs to be a knight.
Should the earl die in battle while Christiana is unwed, she and Glastonbury would be at the mercy of the king. It’s not only time that she marry, but that she learn a noblewoman’s tasks of managing as well as defending a castle. Hoping to awaken her sensuality, the earl assigns her for defense lessons to his most eligible knights—Guy de Bere and the mysterious new arrival, Rowan du Veau, known as the Dark Knight. What the earl does not know is that Guy’s heart is tainted by lust and greed; he wants Christiana only because he wants Glastonbury. Rowan’s heart has been captured by a distant noblewoman; he needs land and wealth in order to become betrothed to her.
Under their tutelage, will Christiana discover the true nature of these strong men? Will the earl’s hopes that his daughter learn to revel in the power of her womanhood come to fruition, or will she, like many women of her day, become just a pawn for one man’s greed or another man’s need?
EXCERPT – The earl has been wounded and Rowan suggests they pray for him.
Christiana paused at the doorway to the chapel to drop a coin in the box to pay for a candle for her father. In turn she and Rowan dipped their fingers in holy water from Jerusalem and made the sign of the cross—mind, heart, shoulder, shoulder. Then they passed down the aisle in the dim lighting of the small room, genuflecting in adoration mid journey and rising to continue walking to the altar railing. Because Rowan was taller, when they reached the railing he took the candle and touched it to the burning taper in the gold candelabrum at the side of the center gate to the altar. The wick flared red as it lit, then settled into yellow.
Incense filled the hushed chapel, its scent as familiar and comforting as the ritual use of the holy water and the sign of the cross.
Christiana’s upturned face as he turned to hand her the lighted shaft glowed in the soft light, as angelic as a fine painting. Their hands touched as he passed the candle to her, and he felt a small hot rush jolt through him that had nothing to do with the heat of the candle’s flame. He felt her start and knew she’d felt it too for her gaze locked on his own for a moment, her face a study in surprise. He held her gaze, fighting desire as it welled up inside him, creating the need to taste the sweetness of that innocent mouth, brush her eyelids with his kisses, crush her tight against him so she could feel how his body swelled with wanting.
Would her naked skin feel like silk beneath him, if he took her here, now, would the holy stillness be broken by her keening cries as his body brought her to heights of love she’d never known?
In the flickering candlelight and the scent-filled room hazy with smoke from the tapers, it was as if they were caught in their own moment in time, as if they were the only two people in the world.
He thought neither of them breathed.
A slight wafting of the candle flames caused by a draft as someone else entered the chapel shattered the mystical moment and brought him to his senses.
He released his hold on the candle and moved behind her to kneel on the hard stone floor and bow his head over clasped hands. Christiana placed her candle in one of the holders on a small table in front of the railing, then knelt on the gold brocade cushion of the prie-dieu in front of the gate.
At the moment, his thoughts were not on his prayers or his God. What sacrilege to think thus in such a place. By the holy saints, he told himself as his manhood thankfully subsided, you’ve been too long without a woman.
COMING IN SEPTEMBER TO AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLE, APPLE, AND SMASHWORDS
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