Authors: Evie North
Copyright © 2013, Evie North
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from the author except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Cover Design by The Killion Group
A KNIGHT OF DESIRE by EVIE NORTH
(KNIGHTS OF PASSION
There were five of them, boys, whom Stephen the would-be-king had gathered together for safety. Their fathers were his strongest supporters, lords and barons who had been killed in the battle for the throne between Stephen and his cousin Matilda. He placed them in an orphanage connected to a monastery and there he trained them to grow into knightly warriors. The tattoo upon their arms proclaimed their allegiance to the king and each other, and their determination to win back their destiny.
A KNIGHT OF DESIRE
(KNIGHTS OF PASSION)
Annalise slipped between the chattering guests in the White Tower and paused a moment as she caught sight of her quarry. Her heart began to beat a little faster. He was handsome, and his smile drew her like a moth to a candle, but she reminded herself to take care. Not to underestimate him.
Fitzallen was a clever man, and he had been King Stephen’s man for many years now, since his family was killed in the early wars between Stephen and his cousin Matilda. Annalise had heard that there had been five orphans, brought together by the king, and trained to serve him. The other four were wed now, with lands to guard, but Fitzallen remained solitary.
Not that he didn’t have women.
Annalise had seen the ladies swoon over him. In fact she was counting on his lusts to lure him into her trap. Many a man had turned his coat for the arms of a woman, she reminded herself, and Matilda and her son Henry were reckoning on her to be that woman. A man so close to the king, so important, could be crucial to their plans.
looked up at that moment and caught her eye.
darkened, and he smiled, the side of his mouth tilting up. It was a blatant invitation, and Annalise smiled back.
she told herself, heart beating faster, as she watching him move toward her.
said, his voice low and husky. “Will you join me at the feasting?”
She realised then that the servants were calling for them to move toward the eating area. “Have we been introduced?” she retorted, with a lift of her slim dark eyebrows.
“Fitzallen,” he gave a bow as he said it, and then looked up at her with a teasing grin. “But you know that, don’t you? I was told you asked for Fitzallen earlier, and I was pointed out to you. It just so happened the man you asked is a good friend of mine.”
gave a little shrug. “Your reputation precedes you, my lord. I was curious, I admit.”
“Curious about what, Lady Annalise.”
She hesitated, then rested her hand upon his arm as they moved toward the tables. “You know my name.”
“If a beautiful woman asks after me I am inclined to seek her out.”
They were seated, but Annalise hardly noticed her eating companions, her entire attention focussed on Fitzallen. He was the sort of man a woman couldn’t help but feel drawn to, as if he had an aura about him that was slowly and inexorably pulling her toward him. A sexual aura, certainly, because this close to him Annalise was beginning to feel her body hum in response.
The silk cloth
of her under-tunic brushed against her breasts, sensitizing them, making her nipples stand up in invitation. She wondered if he could see, whether he knew. Whether he could smell the scent of her arousal even in this place, where perfumes were strong and the feast overpowering. She wriggled a little on her wooden seat, squeezing her thighs together tightly.
Soon, she promised herself, she would have him in her bed.
A servant filled their goblets with red wine, and Annalise sipped, smiling sideways at her companion when she saw him watching her mouth. She lapped a droplet of spilled wine from her lips with the tip of her tongue and felt him grow tense, his eyes fixed on her movement.
“You are married, my lord?” she ventured.
He shook his head. “I’ve never met a woman who was a perfect match for me, my lady. They are either too eager to please me, or too difficult for me to please them.”
“So you remain single and alone.”
are married?” he asked, smiling to hide the new sharpness in his tone.
She could not blame him for being wary. Jealous husbands could be awkward.
“No, Lord Fitzallen. I am a widow and plan to stay that way. I have friends and relatives who are kind enough not to press me to marry again, and I live modestly on my estate.”
He was intrigued
. Good. And he wanted her. She felt the brush of his arm against hers, and the rub of his thigh as they moved closer on the bench seat. If there had been less people about them she might have ran her fingers along his well muscled leg, caressing the bulge she was sure was even now growing within his breeches. If they were alone, she would have knelt before him on the floor as she unlaced him, slowly, taking her time, and then leaning forward to cover the hard length of him with her mouth. . .
Annalise blinked. The servant was holding out the wine jug, asking her if she wanted more, and here she was having carnal daydreams. It had been many months since she’d had a man, almost a year. On her estate, as she’d told Fitzallen truthfully, she lived quietly and modestly. It was only when she came to court, or when Matilda asked for her help, that she allowed herself the pleasure of being with a man and satisfying her lusts.
Annalise had grown to realise she was a woman with a great deal to satisfy.
reached for his own goblet, his hand pressing momentarily against her breast. It was cleverly done, no one would have noticed, but Annalise felt a tremor of desire, her breasts growing heavy, her nipples tightening painfully hard.
“You are flushed, lady,” he murmured in her ear
, stirring her veil.
“I am a little
. . . hot, my lord.”
gleamed. “I am weary of the noise in here. Perhaps, if you feel faint, I should help you to somewhere quieter. More private?”
smiled and reached to take his arm. “Please, my lord, if you will be so kind. I may even need to lie down.”
His body was well muscled, apart from the myriad of nicks and scars from the battles he’d fought. Annalise murmured praise of this big strong man, letting him see her growing desire, touching him, stroking him. She was one of Queen Matilda’s spies, and she’d learned to play a part, to put her real thoughts and feelings in a little place far to the back of her mind.
But that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy herself.
Even so, this felt different. More intense. This man seemed different. For the first time in her life she felt a little out of her depth.
“You are very beautiful, lady,” he murmured in his rich deep voice.
“You should come to court more often.”
A widow must be careful, my lord. She must preserve her reputation.” She said it modestly, her eyes downcast, and yet her lips were smiling.
He’d removed her
over-tunic, and admired the silken under garment. Her breasts were plainly etched beneath it, and he made a sound in his throat of pleasure and admiration. Annalise was well aware she was beautiful, and attractive to men, and she’d learned that they preferred boldness to her playing at being the coy innocent. Now she cupped her own breasts, fingering the hardening buds of her nipples, and smiling up at him.
very lonely, sometimes,” she said huskily.
His expression had hardened with
his passion, and he took a step toward her and then another, pressing his body to hers, forcing her to move backwards to the bed. She felt the mattress against her thighs and then he was running his hands down her half clothed body, while his mouth came down heavy and hot against hers.
kissed him back just as strongly, tangling her tongue with his, but a part of her was aware of what was happening. She could not afford to lose herself in the moment, no matter how passionate it was. She must always be on the alert. Perhaps that was why she rarely felt completely satisfied. There was always a part of her that remained separate from the act.
He slid his hand under her skirts, stroking her thighs, fingers finding her slippery sex. Annalise moaned as he slid them inside her, at the same time circling her clit with his thumb. Her head went fuzzy and she took a shaky breath, but he wasn’t about to give her pause. He was removing her clothing with practised ease, and a moment later she was on her back on the bed.
Annalise let him touch her, his tongue circling her nipples, his hands busy between her thighs. This was as she’d expected, she thought with relief, and when he was done and they were both sated, he’d be ready for her to whisper into his ear how much better off he would be if he was Matilda’s man.
His fingers drove deep inside her
core, stroking the hot, tight flesh, circling as if he were seeking something . . .
cried out as pleasure shot through her, white hot pleasure, making her arch her back.
When she was able to see again he was watching her with a smug masculine smile. “What did you do?” she whispered.
“There is a place inside you, lady, that gives much pleasure.”
shook her head. “I have never heard of it.”
grew even more smug and she wished the words unsaid.
He began to kiss her
once more, hot heavy kisses that seemed to drain her of the power to think. And then he stroked inside her again, and she felt like a puppet with no will of her own. This time her cry was more of a scream and her body arched and her muscles tightened, before she went limp.
“I have never known one so
responsive,” he said. “You are truly a passionate woman, my lady.”
She felt the nudge of his hard cock against her thigh, and then he was
sliding deep inside her, filling her with his heat. Annalise tried to clear her mind, to think about what she was doing here, what her instructions were, but he was moving inside her, and every brush of his cock against that secret spot made her push back, eager for more of the bliss he’d shown her.
She dug her fingernails into his taut buttocks, and he grunted, moving harder and faster.
A great whooshing wave of pleasure caught her, carrying her along with it, and Annalise gave herself up to it, everything forgotten in the pursuit of ecstasy.
When she could breathe again, when she could think again, she turned to stroke his chest, running her tongue over the firm skin.
He had a tattoo on his bicep and she traced it with her fingertip, feeling him relax. Soon she was ready to begin.
I had heard that Lord Fitzallen was wealthy beyond dreams, but I am a little disappointed by your lack of prominence at the court. You could be so much more.”
His eyes were half closed and he grunted a reply.
She went on, praising him, suggesting he could be treated better, that he should aim higher. She was subtle, clever, and he listened. Finally, when she thought she had wound her spell about him tight enough, she spoke plainly.
“There are those who would pay you well, if you were to take their part. You could hold high office when the king is dead. Everyone knows how ill he is. It won’t be long now until his cousin returns at last to take her proper place.
Will you not stand at her side?”
He said nothing to that.
Annalise looked up and realised he was watching her with wide awake eyes, and there was a coldness in them she hadn’t seen before.
“You are Matilda’s spy,” he said
with certainty. “There were rumours. I wondered. Now I know it for a fact.”
“I have given my
allegiance to Matilda; that is no secret, my lord.”
He sat up,
looming over her, and suddenly she remembered how big he was. He could pick her up and fling her against the wall, or put his hands about her neck and squeeze. Annalise had to work hard not to show her panic when he leaned down even closer, his breath warm on her skin.
You are wasting your time with me, my lady,” he whispered. “I am no traitor.”
“And yet you came to my bed,” she said
before she could stop herself.
He smiled his half smile at her. “I did come to your bed,
but that was because I heard that you’d turned several of the king’s supporters, and I wanted to see for myself what tricks you used. But there are no tricks, are there? Just a beautiful and passionate woman satisfying her own desires, and when he is replete, working on that man’s greed for money and power. You spy for Matilda, and pretend your work is all that matters, but I think you are lonely. I think you need the closeness of a man to make you feel alive, and even then you have never found the right man.”
ow could he know her so well? Her brain went fuzzy. She rolled from the bed and stood up, naked before him. “Go,” she commanded. “I will not be spoken to like that.”
He slid his legs over the mattress so that he was facing her, and once more his closeness did something to her usually
rational behaviour. When he reached out to cup her hip, she did not move away, and neither did she push him away when he trailed his fingers down over her belly to her mound, brushing through the dark hair there and slipping inside her slippery sex, wet from their recent adventures.
still go, lady?” he mocked.