PG13. A KNIGHT'S CAPTIVE. Historical romance from Zebra. New Excerpt
- Hi, this is a tense moment from my A KNIGHT'S CAPTIVE, where the heroine, Sunniva, tries to leave the hero Marc. As an English maid, she feels she should leave the Breton knight who has journeyed with her from the north of England, especially now, in 1066, when no one is sure who can trust who and invading armies are tramping all over England.
Here's the excerpt.
She dared not watch him stalk away in case she broke down completely. Listening, tense and unhappy, she heard his footsteps fade into a muddled crashing of undergrowth as he and the girls wandered off to the river. She realized she had only moments but moved slowly, her limbs stiff and unyielding, her mind frozen.
Should she take her horse? Yes. Should she saddle it? Her fingers were icy, clumsy; she could not make them work for her.
Leave the saddle, she thought. In her distracted state, she was afraid she would drop it, alert the others. She patted her bay mare, longing to be comforted herself. If she left now, was she doing the right thing?
Marc was not English. Marc might be a woman-killer. Marc would always be a stranger to her people. She had to return to Cena's homestead: it was her duty.
Slowly, falteringly, she slipped a bridle over the mare's tossing head. "Easy there, girl," she whispered. "We need to be quiet."
She shook from head to foot as a large hand closed over the bridle.
"What do you think you are doing?"
Wordless as a bird she stared up at Marc. She had not heard him return - because she had not wanted to listen? Or because her heart was drumming so fast?
"Are you an utter fool?"
Tears flooded into her eyes at his harsh tone and question. His features seemed carved from granite, his eyes dark pools of fire: truly the face of a murderer. Moving with a jerky rigidity that showed his anger, Marc clamped an arm about her and hauled her against him.
"Do you think so little of me? I would have taken you to your wretched home and left you there - you need only have asked! If that is truly your wish. Ha, King Christ! Why do I even try to speak? You have made up your mind!"
It was like being driven against stone, all the breath was knocked from her. Her hands raised in a silent plea. He took both wrists in one hand and glowered at her.
"Why did you never tell me about Caedmon?" he demanded. "It was Edgar who told me the truth, while he was dying on the battlefield! Why did you never say that you had no betrothed? Do you trust me so little?"
"No!" Sunniva felt desperate: so Marc knew that Caedmon of Whitby was an invention! How could she justify it? How would he understand?
"Why did you not tell me? Why?"
"I do not know!" Sunniva burst out. "There was never a good time to speak of it! I am truly sorry, Marc, sorrier than words can say, but I was afraid -"
"Of your reaction! Of losing your good opinion! Please -"
"Enough! I believe you." Something changed in Marc's eyes; there was a brief softening in his face, as if he understood. But her relief was short-lived: in another instant he had acknowledged her apology and then returned to the attack.
"Believe me, Sunniva, I can understand why you acted as you did: no doubt it seemed prudent to invent a male protector and then once created, Caedmon took on a life of his own. But do you know what is out there, right now? Armed men, desperate men, greedy men - and those are just the defeated English!"
Driving the mare's picket back into the earth, Marc tipped her over the horse's back. Her belly and breasts bounced painfully against the horse's flanks but as she tried to raise her head he held her in place.
"I should tie you thus; that would stop you from straying!" He slapped her bottom, once, twice, his hand stinging her fiercely. Ashamed, she began to weep, her tears glistening against the horse's rough pelt.
"Enough!" Marc dragged her off the horse and back into his arms again, forcing her head up so she had to look at him.
"We shall speak no more of this for now," he growled. "But later, Mistress -"
It was both promise and threat.
Now they rode on - the bathing idea had been a ploy, Sunniva realized, a test to see where her loyalties lay that she had dismally failed. Now Marc ensured that she did not attempt to "stray" as he put it, by the simple expedient of suggesting that Alde rode with her on her bay mare. Alde gave a whoop of joy at the prospect and talked at Sunniva's back for the rest of the afternoon.
Light-headed with anxiety, her stomach coiling about itself, Sunniva rode where Marc directed, oblivious to the track they were on or the countryside about them. Her bottom stung where he had smacked her, fading quickly to a low level throb of heat that was unnerving in another way, because it put her in mind of love-making. Her loins burned and itched with desire, even as her mind despaired. He despised her now.
And there was still the night and "Later" to come....
Details of my covers, excerpts and buy details can be found here:
A Knight's Vow:
A Knight's Captive: http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com/2008/04/knights-captive.html
A Secret Treasure: http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com/2001/01/secret-treasure.html
Best wishes, Lindsay