Authors: Michelle Willingham
Tags: #England, #Historical Romance, #Ireland, #Irish, #Love Story, #Medieval England, #Medieval Ireland, #Medieval Romance, #Norman, #Normans, #Romance, #Viking, #Vikings, #Warrior, #Warriors
|The Warrior's Forbidden Virgin|
|MacEgan Brothers [5.50]|
|Tags:||England, Historical Romance, Ireland, Irish, Love Story, Medieval England, Medieval Ireland, Medieval Romance, Norman, Normans, Romance, Viking, Vikings, Warrior, Warriors|
Sir Ademar of Dolwyth does not think beautiful Lady Katherine of Ardennes would ever consider him for her husband -
especially since she is in love with someone else!
But when Katherine's heart is broken, Ademar is there to offer her comfort... and passion.
For though the Norman knight cannot tell Katherine how he feels, he can show her without using any words at all....
Sir Ademar of Dolwyth does not think beautiful Lady
Katherine of Ardennes would ever consider him for her husband—especially since
she is in love with someone else!
But when Katherine's heart is broken, Ademar is there to
offer her comfort...and passion. For though the Norman knight cannot tell
Katherine how he feels, he can show her without using any words at all....
loved strong, silent men, and
gave me an opportunity to explore a
very different kind of hero. It tells the story of Sir Ademar of Dolwyth and
Lady Katherine of Ardennes. They share a forbidden liaison on a night when
Lady Katherine’s life is falling apart. She finds comfort in the arms of a
knight who worships her, and discovers that he’s the man she’s been hoping
for all along.
The story is connected to my Harlequin Historical romance novel
Taming Her Irish Warrior
. If you want
to learn more about Lady Katherine’s dilemma with her sister Honora St.
Leger and Ewan MacEgan (part of the MacEgan Brothers miniseries), the book
will be available in October 2009. While each one can be read separately, I
do hope that you’ll try both stories, to experience romance to the
I always enjoy hearing from readers and
you may e-mail me at
or by mail at P.O. Box 2242,
Poquoson, VA 23662 USA. Visit my website at
or on Facebook at
She stood on the battlements, while heavy rain spattered upon the stones. The woman whose heart he had no hope of winning, Lady Katherine of Ardennes.
Sir Ademar of Dolwyth stood at the doorway, watching her. He couldn’t understand why she was alone on a night such as this. The darkened sky had unleashed a downpour, and yet she stood with her hands clenched. A torch sputtered in an iron sconce, flickering its light upon her pale face before it died out.
He could hardly form two words together when she was near, for she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on. Black silken hair, and eyes so deep blue they were almost violet. Innocent of the world, too, though she would soon enough become a wife. Her father had decreed it so.
And though the Baron of Ardennes had invited him here, along with the other suitors, Ademar knew Lady Katherine would never consider him for her husband. She was so far above him, it was like reaching for moonlight.
He should leave her to her thoughts. She wouldn’t want him here, stumbling idiot that he was. But the low rolling of thunder caught his attention. It was dangerous for her to remain out of doors. Especially alone.
The summer rain was cold, dampening his hair as he stepped onto the stone walkway. As he drew closer to her, he rehearsed his words, over and over. All he had to do was suggest that she come inside for shelter. Nothing more.
She turned toward him, and anger flashed in her eyes. “I’d rather be alone just now.”
There’s a storm,
Ademar wanted to warn her. But his tongue grew thick in his mouth as he tried to form the words. He could only shake his head, the warning tangling up inside him.
He was a man of few words. He’d never been much for speaking, and when he did have something to say, it was an ordeal to get the words out. Often he stammered or spoke words he’d never meant to say. Were it not for his strength in battle, men would have mocked him. Even his father loathed the sight of him.
At last, he took a deep breath. “It—it’s raining.”
As if she didn’t already know that. What kind of a fool did she think he was? Heat warmed his cheeks, and he started to leave, but she called him back.
“Wait, Sir Ademar.”
He froze, almost afraid to see the pity that would surely be upon her face.
Katherine let out a heavy sigh. “You can stay. I’m just not in the mood to converse.” She folded her hands upon the stone merlon while staring out at the inner bailey below.
Neither am I,
he thought. Keeping a safe distance from her, he leaned a hand against the back wall, feigning an interest in the soldiers patrolling the castle. A length of black hair slid from beneath her veil and rested against her neck. The forbidden glimpse led his imagination into places it should never have gone. Her cream-colored bliaut molded to her breasts from the rain, and he could almost imagine what it would be like to touch her.
With effort, he snapped his gaze back to the bailey.
“He doesn’t want to marry me,” she half whispered.
He didn’t ask whom she meant. Lady Katherine had lost her heart to Ewan MacEgan, the brother of an Irish king. He’d seen the infatuation in her eyes, and he’d known that she would never look at him in that way.
But what in God’s name did she mean, the Irishman didn’t want to marry her? Only yestereve, she had announced her desire to wed MacEgan.
Had the man refused her?
Ademar didn’t voice the question, for it was clear she didn’t want to discuss it. He wanted to tell her that the man was a fool, to offer her sympathy in the selfish hope that she might look upon him differently. Instead, he removed his cloak, and handed it to her.
Lady Katherine met his gaze as she accepted the garment. She wrapped the wool around herself, and he supposed it was as close to an embrace as he’d ever get. “You don’t have to stay,” she said quietly.
“I want to.” It was the truth. And though he didn’t know how he dared come closer, he moved beside her. He rested his own palms upon the wet stone wall, wishing he had the courage to say more.
But he would only sound like a stuttering fool. And so he held his tongue.
“My sister is going to wed Ewan MacEgan now,” Katherine said softly. She kept her gaze averted from his. “I suppose she told you.”
He shrugged. Though he’d briefly entertained the idea of marrying Honora St. Leger, Katherine’s older, widowed sister, his courtship had lasted only a few days. Honora had been visibly embarrassed by it, claiming she didn’t want to wed any man.
“I was never the…the sort of man she wanted.” He shielded any expression on his face, for he didn’t want Katherine to pity him. Though he’d admired Honora, she’d been unable to go through with the betrothal. At least she’d had the honesty to break things off between them, apologizing for what she’d done.
He should have resented her for it. But he felt nothing. Only a strange sense of relief.
A cold hand covered his, and he almost jerked away in surprise. Lady Katherine ventured a chagrined smile. “We are a pair, aren’t we? Both of us cast off by the ones we loved.”
Out of rough instinct, his fingers closed over her small palm. Like a delicate shell, one he could crush without thinking. He felt ham-handed, awkward. And yet, he didn’t want to let go of her.
Katherine glanced down at the stones below. Frustration tightened her features. “Which of us should jump first?”
An unexpected laugh escaped him. “It would be a mortal sin to take our own lives.”
“They’ve been ruined anyhow,” Katherine muttered. She started to pull her hand away, but his fingers couldn’t quite let her go.
Palm to palm, skin to skin, he grasped her other hand. And Katherine didn’t pull away.
She was going to let go of his hands. At any moment now.
Katherine lifted her gaze to the Norman knight standing before her. Exceptionally tall, with blond hair and a tightly honed form, she wondered what in the name of Heaven she was doing with Sir Ademar. She barely knew him, though they had spent the better part of a fortnight in each other’s company. He was one of several suitors who had come to ask for her hand in marriage.
But he wasn’t the man she’d wanted.
Oh, Sir Ademar was a kind enough person. He rarely spoke, and he was by far one of the most skilled fighters. If she hadn’t let herself be so caught up by Ewan MacEgan, she might have considered him.
Just the thought of Ewan made her want to strike her fist against the stone wall. He’d apologized, saying that he’d wronged her. He said he’d never meant to fall in love with Honora.
Her sister was a woman unafraid of anything. Legendary with a sword, Honora could fight against any man and win. Katherine had envied her strength.
Silently, she wished that she weren’t the good sister. What had that gotten her, but a broken heart? Bitterness bled through her veins like acid.
Only last night, she’d seen her sister and Ewan embracing each other. Touching one another as though nothing else in the world existed. Certainly not her.
Katherine didn’t care that it was raining, that her entire body was frigid with cold. Never before had she been so furious, so intent on striking out at the two people closest to her. She wanted to punish both Ewan and Honora, to do something wicked. To hurt them, the way she was hurting inside.
Without thinking, she tore her hands from Ademar’s grip. She took his face, pulling him down into her kiss. His mouth was warm and wet, something she hadn’t expected. She tasted the wine of his breath, mingled with rain. Her skin warmed immediately, while something forbidden awakened within her.
Ademar kissed her back, dragging her against his hard body. It didn’t seem to matter that their clothes were soaked, that he was hardly more than a stranger. A rush of longing roared inside her, wanting his touch.
Was this what it felt like, to betray someone? Wanton and hot?
He broke free, and her cheeks burned scarlet. What in the name of all that was holy had she done?
“I’m sorry,” she managed to say. “I was angry for what happened today.” Tears thickened the back of her throat, for she wasn’t at all sorry about kissing him. The only thing she was sorry about was that she’d used him.
Thank Heaven, he didn’t speak. With his thumb, he brushed a wet lock of hair out of her eyes, guiding it behind her ear. She trembled at the touch of his hand. The rain continued to batter at both of them, clinging to her gown. It felt as though the drops were pounding against her bare flesh. Her nipples tightened, rising from the cold.
He was staring at her, as though he’d never seen her before.
“Sir Ademar?” she whispered. “What do—”
He grasped her nape, tilting her face up to meet his. He kissed her again, slowly. His lips took hers in a sensual onslaught, and she leaned in, letting him learn the shape of her mouth.
She had kissed men before, but not a man such as Ademar. He kissed her as though he couldn’t stop himself, as though he needed her. When his tongue gently edged her mouth, she opened to him.
His tongue slid inside, sleek and wet. Her body yearned for more, and she gasped as his hands moved down to her hips. He pulled her against himself, and she felt the hardness of his desire for her.
She wound her arms around his neck, and his mouth drifted down to her throat. Teasing, tasting him, she moaned. His knee nudged between her thighs, as his palms cupped her bottom. Fire. The rush of need made her desire him.
He brought his mouth to her ear, whispering, “I’ve never…kissed a woman before.”
The admission stunned her. A man as handsome as Sir Ademar? Easily one of the strongest men she knew, he’d nearly won the tournament her father had hosted.
“I find that hard to believe.” Especially given the way he made her feel. Her heart thrummed inside her chest, her body restless and unfulfilled.
But when she saw the embarrassment on his face, she realized he was speaking the truth. He’d forgotten himself, just as she had.
“Y-y-you need to come out of the rain,” he stammered. His cheeks reddened at the error in his speech, and she understood then that his usual silence was not from a stoic demeanor. In the past, he had muttered his words, struggling to speak. She’d thought it was nervous behavior, the mark of a shy man.
It intrigued her, for his kiss was anything but shy.
“I don’t want to return to my chamber,” Katherine told him. She did not want to exchange more words with her sister, nor hear Honora’s excuses. She needed time away, time to gather her thoughts.
Ademar held out his hand. “I’ll find a place for you.”
“For us,” she corrected. “You need to dry your clothing as well.” His garments were as soaked as her own, his tunic, braies, and chausses plastered to his body. Lean and muscled, his body showed the signs of training. Beneath his clothing, there would be scars as well, for all warriors bore such markings.
Even her sister. Troubled thoughts welled up inside.
You aren’t like Honora. And you never will be. You don’t have her courage or her strength.
And once Katherine chose a husband, he would see the truth: that beneath her industrious air and smooth ability to run an estate, lay a woman who let fear dominate her.
“Will you come with me?” Ademar asked, his hand still outstretched.
She hesitated, for she sensed that it wasn’t a wise decision to make. She should return to her own chamber, to her own bed. Just as a good daughter would.
Her frustration flared up again. Obedience hadn’t served any purpose. She’d lost the man she’d wanted and now faced the humiliation of having to wed a different man. Whereas Honora had defied all the rules and won Ewan for herself.
Ademar saw her hesitation and let his hand fall back to his side. Upon his face, she saw the same dejection she felt. And though it was wrong, though she would regret her actions come the morn, Katherine nodded. “I’ll come.”
Ademar wasn’t certain how he managed to build a small blaze without burning his fingers. It took all of his effort to keep his hands from shaking. He’d ordered his men-at-arms to leave, not allowing them to see Lady Katherine. She deserved a chance to warm herself without any idle tongues questioning why she was here. But even so, it was dangerous, being in this chamber alone with her.
What had possessed her to kiss him? Never in a thousand years had he expected such a thing. He couldn’t understand her reasons why.
It was true; he had never kissed a woman before. As a young man, his father had made sport of him, taunting his speech difficulties until none of the women looked upon him with desire. Due to his rank, he could have had any of them, but he didn’t want a woman who considered him an object of scorn. He had no idea what Katherine thought of him. But at this moment, his senses were captivated by her.
She stood before the fire. Her silhouette was visible under the wet gown, and her rosy nipples were hard nubs beneath the fabric. The undeniable instinct to touch her was starting to wear down his honor.
Ademar turned his back, trying to hide his physical reaction to her. God above, he needed to stand outside in the rain for another hour, just to quell the unbidden response.