Authors: Evie North
Copyright © 2013, Evie North
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A KNIGHT OF HER DREAMS
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 HER DREAMS
(KNIGHTS OF PASSION)
Lady Rowena closed her eyes in the hot, swaying litter that was carrying her home. Her days at the London royal court had been hectic and it was always nice to see friends, but now she felt rather low. That was because Rowena had loved Lord Wulfrich for what seemed forever and now, finally, it was over. Wolf had found another woman to love, one
who obviously loved him, and Rowena must relinquish any hope she’d had in that direction.
did she hold on to her flight of fancy for so long? In her heart she’d always known he was not for her and yet still she’d hoped. Nights spent dreaming of her life with him, days longing for a smile, a glance, a word from him to show he cared.
Rowena shook her head in disgust, capturing the attention of her maid, Nell. For a moment the girl watched her, narrow eyed, before turning back to the curtains that protected them from the dust and the weather, but trapped the heat inside with them. Nell had made a little hole in the heavy cloth and when she put her eye to it she could watch the soldiers of the guard riding by.
There were times when
Rowena wished she was more like Nell. The maid was content with her lot. She laughed when she was happy and cried when she was sad, and when she saw a man she admired then she thought nothing of sharing her bed with him. “Because who knows if I may live to see another day,” was her reply, when Rowena spoke to her about the possible consequences of being so free and easy with her favours.
expected Nell thought her cold and unfeeling, perhaps even unable to feel! But it wasn’t true. Rowena’s upbringing had been full of rigid rules and frigid distance, and with very little love, and now she was wed to a much older man who was unable, or unwilling, to bed her. She was lonely and untouched, a beautiful woman with no prospect of being loved unless she found herself a lover.
Well, her most recent p
ossibility had preferred to love someone else, and the odd thing was she wasn’t all that heartbroken—had she loved him truly after all? Or had she loved the idea and not the man?
“Lady, you don
’t need to be miserable.”
turned to her maid, and saw that Nell had given up watching the men at arms go by and now had her attention focussed entirely on her mistress.
Of course you don’t. Have you thought on what I said when we left home for the court, my lady?”
“What was that,
Nell?” Rowena said pleasantly.
“For me to find you a man
for the night, lady. One glorious night of love. I reckon that would do you for a while.”
knew colour was staining her cheeks. Now she remembered that Nell
spoken some nonsense about Rowena needing a man and Nell planning to find just the man she needed. Rowena had played along, bored with her own company and the pretence that she was content with her lot. But she hadn’t meant it. Such a thing was impossible, and she opened her mouth to say so.
“I found one,”
Nell said matter of factly, before Rowena could utter a word. Her dark blue eyes grew wide and she saw the echoing sparkle in the maid’s dark eyes.
What do you mean you
The perfect lover for you, my lady. One glorious night, remember?”
I won’t ask,
Rowena told herself firmly.
I just won’t ask!
But it seemed that her mouth had other ideas. “Who is this man, Nell?”
grinned, unrepentant. “Oh no, my lady, no telling. You’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll bring him to you tonight to get acquainted.”
“You will do no such thing!” she gasped. And then
once again, as if her blasted tongue had a life of its own, “Do you mean he is
, riding with us? Now? This man? He is out there somewhere?” She waved her hand vaguely at the curtains that surrounded their litter.
nodded. “Aye, that’s right. And he’s not the sort to blab and boast, my lady, I swear, so you don’t have to worry about that. You’ll see.”
Rowena swallowed. “
Nell, I know you mean well but . . . if my husband were to discover this . . .”
“He won’t my lady. And don’t you worry, I’ll be there.
And if you change your mind then I’ll bed him for you.” She spoke the last in a rush, obviously trying to please her mistress.
Rowena didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Thank you,
Nell,” she said gravely, “but that won’t be necessary. None of it will be necessary,” she added firmly.
appeared crest-fallen. “But lady, you are not happy. I can see it and it grieves me. You are kind and beautiful and good, and you deserve happiness.”
Rowena felt tears sting her eyes. Was it so obvious? And what did it matter if she took a man to her bed or not? The idea had planted a warm seed
inside her, a tiny glow of longing. Oh if only she was as free as Nell to say yes! But if she were found out then her actions would jeopardise her position, and perhaps even her life. Lord Bigod, her husband, had never shown himself to be a jealous man but he was a cruel man, and Lady Rowena was very aware that if he turned on her she could be cast penniless from the gates. Or worse, taken down to the dungeon where Bigod tormented many a poor soul.
I don’t care!
Quite suddenly she felt reckless. She’d always done the right thing, abided by the rules, but now she wanted to do the wrong thing and break the rules. Wolf had found love and she had no one. Why not enjoy one night, one single night, of passion? As Nell had said, one glorious night.
Nell,” she heard herself saying, “I will meet this man you speak of. I don’t promise I will allow him to . . . that is, I may change my mind, but you may bring him to me tonight.”
’s grin split her face from ear to ear. “Oh yes, my lady!” Her smile turned lascivious. “You won’t regret it.”
Rowena had bathed and dressed in a loose robe, her hair braided into a long rope at her back. The hostelry was clean but far from luxurious, and her bed was narrow and hard. Well maybe that was just as well, she thought with grim humour. She would not want to spend long cavorting upon it with this stranger. In fact she may not want to cavort at all, and the more time that passed, the more doubts were crowding her head.
The soft tap on the door made her mouth go dry, but she
told herself that it must be one of the hostelry staff bringing her a message from the guard. Or warmed wine to help her sleep?
And then the door opened and all her thoughts fled.
She could see Nell behind him, made tiny by his bulk, and she could hear Nell’s words, “Roget wishes to speak with you, my lady, on a matter most urgent,” but she could make no sense of them.
Her head was filled with the
sight of the man before her, just as he filled the doorway into her room. Broad shoulders and powerful arms beneath the plain brown tunic, his leather sword belt strapped about his narrow waist, lean hips and long muscular legs. Remembering herself, her gaze jerked up toward his face, and found dark eyes gazing down at her, a hint of a smile in them, despite his grave expression.
“Lady,” he said, his voice sending prickles along her skin.
“I have something of importance to discuss with you.”
She tried to find her voice but it seemed to have lodged in her throat. She managed a jerky nod instead, and turned swiftly, putting distance between them. Behind her she heard the door close.
“Lady, there is no need for unease,” he said, and he hadn’t come any nearer. “I am your man, heart and body, no matter what passes between us this night.”
Her man, heart and body?
The words, spoken in his low, husky voice, made her melt inside. Rowena gathered her courage and turned to face him, and saw that Nell was gone. They were alone.
Suddenly she was panicking.
“I am sorry,” she said in a rush, “but there is a mistake. I never intended . . .”
“My name is Roget.”
He reached to unfasten his sword belt, slowly, letting it slide from him, before placing it on the chair.
“What are you doing?” she asked breathlessly. “You must not stay. I cannot—”
“I have been your man for almost a year, lady.
How could I not have noticed your beauty? But it is more than that. I have watched your courage in adversity, your grace while you are ignored by your husband, your loneliness when you deserve so much more. I want to please you. I want to make you happy, even if it is only for one night.”
Rowena knew she should say no, she should push him from the room, and yet his words caught at her heart like jagged
fingernails in woollen cloth, and she could not free them.
He was moving toward her, so big and strong, so handsome with his curling dark hair and smiling mouth, and there was gentleness
and tenderness in his eyes, and . . . oh god, there was desire, too. A hot spark of desire for her and her alone.
“Roget,” she whispered, as his hands came up to cup her cheeks and he bent his head. His breath was warm against her lips and she instinctively leaned
toward him, desperate to feel him, to touch him.
Beautiful Rowena,” he murmured, and then his mouth was on hers.
Gentle, at first, but
soon becoming almost rough in his desire to possess. And Rowena found she didn’t mind that at all, in fact she was clutching at him roughly herself, her body humming with need and all the unfulfilled longings of all the years she’d been alone.
His hands were on the tie of her robe, pulling it undone, and she felt the cool night air on her naked body as the garment pooled on the floor at her feet. Just for a moment she hesitated, making up her mind to put a halt to it, but the expression on his face as he gazed upon her almost made her heart stop beating.
He stepped back, dark eyes caressing her breasts, which swelled and tingled, the tips tightening into hard little buds. His knuckle brushed one and then the
other, and she couldn’t help but gasp with the sensation. Her stomach clenched, and she felt herself growing wet between her thighs, something that had never happened to her before.
He reached to grab hold of his tunic and tugged it swiftly over his head.
He was so strong, so sleek and muscular, a man formed by a lifetime of war games and fighting. Naked now apart from his breeches, he moved in again, his hands brushing her skin, stopping to measure the span of her waist with his two big hands, then bending his head to lick at the tips of her breasts, which seemed to beg for the heat of his mouth.
“Roget,” she whimpered, and his name on her lips was erotic, making her body tremble.
He dropped to his knees before her.
Startled, Rowena nearly jumped backwards, but he held her hips to steady her. She found herself gazing the short distance down into his dark eyes, mesmerized by their warm glow, the promise in his face of pleasures to come.
And it was as if her body responded to his, the sensation between her legs growing stronger, as if her sex was swelling, making itself more prominent, begging for his touch.
“You want me, lady,” he purred, and there was
male satisfaction in his deep voice. “I can smell your need.” His eyes still on hers, he reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers down over the soft hair on her mound. Rowena quivered, and her breath quickened. Her thighs trembled and she wanted to widen them, give him better access, but she felt suddenly shy.
Again he seemed to read her mind.
“Rowena,” he said, “this is your night. You can do whatever you want to do, and no one will ever know.”
“You will know,” she whispered shakily.
“I will have forgotten by morning.”
She searched his face, looking for the trick, the lie. “Do you swear?”
He took her hand in his, bringing it to his lips. “I swear.”
He could be lying, but Rowena didn’t think so. He would keep this to himself, and she could be safe in the knowledge that no one would ever know what had taken place here this night.
His fingers were back against her mound, but now he was delving within the slick flesh between her legs. He wiggled his way to her clit and brushed it, back and forth, making her shake and arch her back. Now her legs were open, and he bent his head and incredibly she felt his mouth and then his tongue, sliding along her most intimate places, and then inside her, deep into her core.
Her shaking hands were clutching his head, holding him in place, and she pressed her hips toward his mouth, urging him on
, wanting more. His tongue touched the sensitive bud again, and she felt a jolt go through her, heard her voice moaning his name.
His big hands were clasping her buttocks now, squeezing the flesh, bringing her closer to his mouth and tongue,
tilting her so that he had complete access.