Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
A new theme for Medieval Monday begins today.
Betrayal is often a turning point. Will what the hero or heroine has worked so hard for end in success or will it fail?
Join me for the next 8 Mondays for these glimpses into the sometimes heart-wrenching moments of these featured stories.
Today's moment of betrayal is an excerpt from Ruth A. Casie's story, The Druid Knight Tales.
* * *
He stood by the stone altar. The mist thickened in deep pools and drifted to the bottom of the great sarsen stones. Churning like a phantom stew, fingers of mist crept up the stones, leaving a shimmering outline in its wake. The silhouette thickened, revealing the hooded forms of the Ancestors.
“Grand Master, who do you bring to the sacred circle?”
“The healer—” his voice boomed.
“Only you, the Grand Master, are permitted to approach us for our guidance.” The angry voice of an Ancestor reached his ears. “But we are forgiving.”
“I come to seek—”
“Before you tell us what you seek, tell us of your quest.”
A flicker of apprehension pulsed through him. He was certain Ellyn didn’t have much time and the full red moon hung large in the sky. Only a thin arc of sun remained on the horizon.
He removed the wrapped cloth from his pouch and laid the package on the altar stone. “I have passed your test.” He did not expose the mistletoe. He didn’t want the Ancestors to see the dead plant, not until he had Ellyn safely back to Avebury. After that he didn’t care.
“You have found your mate?”
Max hesitated. “Perhaps. I have much to tell you, but before I begin I ask for a boon.” He glanced over his shoulder. She waited for him.
“What do you seek?” the Ancestors rumbled with a cold, hard voice.
“Ellyn of Brodgar is ill. I ask you to help her. She is honorable and has served the people well and denies no one at her own expense.”
“You are the people’s Grand Master. She is your responsibility. We can only guide and help those who have passed on to our world.”
“No,” he insisted, pounding his fist on the stone altar. How could this be? For the first time in his life he felt helpless. He could not lose her. He knew if he did he would lose a part of himself. “She has done everything—”
“It is not for us to interfere.” The voice was calm and without empathy.
“You do not interfere? You demanded I find a mate.”
There was no response.
He tried to keep his control. “She told me she was compelled to come here. Why?”
Still they did not respond.
Anger surged through him. “You brought her here. She needs your help. She’s dying.” He pointed to where he left her.
“Only you can help her, Grand Master.”
“Me?” He stopped short. “How? If I could she’d already be cured.”
“Why do you care what happens to her? She is just a simple Orkney witch. Nothing else.”
Ideas flashed across Max’s mind. If he was the only one that could help her the answer must lie in his greatest gift. His magick. He must get her back to Avebury, back to his magick, before the sun set.
“Here.” He unrolled the mistletoe. “Here is your talisman. Send us back to Avebury,” he demanded.
“So, you found your mate,” the Ancestor said with a satisfied voice.
Max looked at the healthy mistletoe and gaped in astonishment. The plant was dead when he’d last looked. How could it now be alive? Icy fear raced up his back. He glanced at Ellyn on the far side of the circle. Her kisses. He had teased her and it was her kiss all along.
“You hold her destiny in your hands.”
* * *
After a year of searching, Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, finds the sacred mistletoe destined for his soul mate shriveled and dead. He must journey to the Otherworld and tell the Ancestors of his failure.
Ellyn of Brodgar is an exceptional healer. But each healing kiss depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Ellyn needs to find her own healing power before it’s too late.
Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld and have until the third sunset to appeal to the Ancestors or be lost forever. Together they find love, and as the last rays of the third sunset slip away, both are willing to sacrifice their hopes, dreams, and lives for the other. Do they have what it takes to escape the Otherworld and begin their life together?
* * *
Medieval Monday's first kiss spotlights Jenna Jaxon's book, Time Enough to Love.
“It has been decreed by His Majesty that on the first day the festivities will begin with a procession of ladies and knights of King Arthur’s court, starting at the Tower of London and winding through the town out to the lists. There are to be twenty-five knights on the king’s side who will joust and fight in a pas d’armes. So there needs be twenty-five ladies as well, to escort them to the field.”
She nodded again. “Princess Joanna rides in this procession.” Her part in the festivities had been determined last week. Did he have anything truly new to impart?
“You have been chosen to be one of the ladies.”
Alyse’s mouth dropped open and a thrill coursed through her. “But I am only Princess Joanna’s attendant, Sir Geoffrey. Usually such honors are reserved for the queen and Princess Isabella’s ladies, or the Duchesses and Countesses in the Royal Family. Why did they choose me?”
“Because I am to be one of the knights, and I begged a boon of the king to allow you to be my lady.”
She stared at him in shock, almost unbelieving, though she knew he would not lie about such a thing. To think she owed such an honor to the man she would soon call husband, that he had asked the king himself to grant the favor, made her heart beat an unsteady march in her chest. Alyse parted her lips to thank him when he swooped forward, secured her chin in his hand and kissed her.
Strangely soft, yet very sweet, his touch sent a searing bolt straight to her stomach, setting it afire. After moments that seemed an eternity, his mouth slackened on hers as though he would release her. Then he flicked the tip of his tongue across the hard-pressed seam of her mouth, testing for another invitation.
With a gasp she jumped back, drawing a chuckle from Geoffrey, who had the grace to glance around to make sure they had not been observed. “Be not discomfited, sweet. We are safe in our conversation.”
“’Twas not in our conversation that I feared harm, my lord.” Lord, ’twas difficult to sound outraged when she could still feel his lips on hers.
BLURB FOR TIME ENOUGH TO LOVE
When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?
I'm visiting with Mary Morgan today, chatting about writing and The Highlander's French Bride.
Come visit with me!
Nun meets mercenary in this first kiss excerpt from Barbara Bettis' novel, Silverhawk.
Lady Emelin tucked her heavy brown wimple beneath her chin and watched the wounded knight.
Swollen eyelids, a puffy cheek, and bloody scrapes couldn't hide his handsome features. Waves of midnight hair fell across his wide forehead to brush one side of his square, stubble-darkened jaw. Grit clustered on the high bridge of his nose. What shame such a strong, rugged man should be cut down. Her pulse fluttered, and she sucked in a sharp breath. Ashamed of such reaction, she squeezed shut her eyes.
Would Stephen have been so handsome, had he lived? She hardly recalled what her youthful first betrothed looked like when he joined his foster father on King Richard's crusade. If only he'd returned, she'd be wed now, with the family she craved.
She sighed, reached for a leaf on her patient's cheek—and found herself staring into the palest gray eyes she'd ever seen. His mouth moved; she leaned forward.
“What is it?” she murmured.
“Before...I...die,” came the hoarse whisper.
“Yes? What would you like before you die?” If it were in her power, she would provide the poor man with his wish. Drink? Food?
A strong hand gripped the back of her head, pulled her forward. That close, she saw his eyes weren't gray, but layered like a winter pond winking with ice. They were silver.
“To...kiss...a nun,” came the outrageous reply before his lips met hers.
His warm mouth robbed her of breath for an instant. Then she snapped back with a gasp. And, with inborn reflex, slapped him. His head jerked, his eyes closed, and he lay motionless.
“Oh, Sweet Mary,” Emelin whispered, “I've killed him.” Leaning close, she saw his narrow, beautifully molded lips relax. His mouth curved at the corner.
At least he died with a smile on his face.
Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.
Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape
Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate. But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
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