Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
Ruth A. Casie treats us today with an excerpt from her book, Knight of Runes, and our new theme, 'Conflict'.
Lord Arik swears to protect the strange woman he finds on his lands. But Rebeka can take care of herself.
England ~ May, 1605
I should not have stayed away from the Manor so long. Something stirs. Lord Arik’s eyes swept the surrounding area as he and his three riders escorted the wagon with the old tinker and the woman. They sped through the forest as fast as the rain-slicked trail would allow. Unable to shake the ominous feeling of being watched, Arik remained alert. At length, the horses winded, he slowed the pace as they neared the Stone River.
“The forest is flooded. I suspect the Stone will be as well. Willem, ride on ahead and let me know what we face at the crossing.”
Willem did his lord’s bidding and quickly returned with his report. “The river ahead runs fast, m’lord. The bridge is in disrepair and cannot be crossed.”
Arik raised his hand and brought the group to a halt. “Doward,” he said to the old tinker. “We must make repairs. There’s no room for the wagon at the river’s edge. You and the woman stay here and set up camp. Be ready to join us at the bridge when I send word.”
Logan, Arik’s brother, spoke up. “I’ll keep watch here and help Doward and Rebeka.”
Arik nodded and, with the others, continued the half mile to the bridge.
“I am not pleased with this new delay.”
“It can’t be helped, m’lord. We would make better time without the wagon,” said Simon.
“I’ll not leave Doward and the woman unescorted through the forest, not with what we’ve heard lately. We’ll have to drive hard to make up the lost time.”
The frame of the bridge stood solid, the planks scattered everywhere, clogging the banks and shallows. Arik leaped from his horse onto the frame to begin the repairs.
“Hand me that planking.” Arik pointed to the nearest board.
Simon grabbed the plank and examined it. “Sir, these boards have been deliberately removed.”
Arik took the board and lifted it before him. An arrow whooshed out of the trees, and slammed into the plank’s edge. Willem pulled his axe from his belt as Arik and Simon drew their swords. In a fluid, practiced movement, Willem spun and found his mark. He sent his axe flying. The archer fell into the river and was swept downstream, Willem’s axe still lodged in his forehead. A dozen or more attackers broke through the stand of trees.
Arik tossed the board into the river and readied his sword. The enemy was poorly dressed carrying clubs and knives. There was only one sword among them. The leader. Arik’s target.
“They plan to pin us here at the river’s edge. Come, we’ll take the offensive before they form up.” They moved forward, driving a wedge through the enemy’s ragged line, forcing what little formation they had to scatter and fight, each man for himself.
A man, club in hand, rushed at Arik. Before the attacker could bring his weapon into play, Arik pivoted around him. He raised his sword high, and slammed the hilt’s steel pommel squarely on the man’s head. Arik moved on before the man’s lifeless body dropped to the ground.
Willem and Simon, on either side of Arik, advanced through the melee. Their swift continuous swordplay moved smoothly from one stroke to the next, whipping through the air. They slashed on the downswing and again on the backswing, sweeping their weapons back into position to repeat the killing sequence. The knight and his soldiers steadily advanced, punishing any man who dared to come near them.
“For Honor!” Logan’s war cry carried from the small camp to Arik’s ears.
Arik stiffened. Both camps were now under attack. He pulled his blade from an attacker’s chest. The body crumpled to the blood-soaked ground. Arik breathed deeply, the coppery taste of blood in the air. “For Honor!” he bellowed in answer. His men echoed his call, arms thrown wide, muscles quivering, the berserker’s rage overtaking them.
The remaining attackers paled and fled headlong into the forest.
Motioning to his men to follow, Arik raced toward the camp. He could hear the shouts, and cursed himself for not seeing the danger. He crested the hill and came to an abrupt halt.
Logan’s sword ripped through the air as he protected Doward. The tinker drew his short blade and did as much damage as he could. But it was the woman Arik noticed. Her skirt hiked up, she twirled her walking stick like a weapon with an expertise that left him slack-jawed. She dispatched the attackers, one by one, in a deadly well-practiced dance. A man rushed toward her, knife in hand. The sneer on his face didn’t match the fear in his eyes. She stepped out of his line of attack, extended her stick to her side, and holding it with both hands swept the weapon forward, striking the attacker across the bridge of his nose. Blood exploded from his face in an arc of fine spray as his head snapped back. Droplets dusted her face creating an illusion of bright red freckles. As he fell, she reversed her swing and caught him hard behind his knees. He went down on his back, spread-eagled. She swung her stick over her head and landed a precise and disabling blow to his forehead that knocked him unconscious.
As she spun to face the next threat her eyes captured Arik’s and held. In the space of an instant, time slowed to a crawl. Her hair slowly loosened from its pins and swirled out around her. His breath caught and his heartbeat quickened as a rapturous surge raced through his body. Something eternal and familiar, with a sense of longing, unsettled him. In the next heartbeat, she tore her eyes away, leaving him empty. Time resumed its normal pace. Another attacker lay at her feet.
Arik joined the fight.
When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he's intrigued.
Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she's travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return to her own time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what's killing Arik's land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.
As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik's household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.
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A dark moment of betrayal from Jenna Jaxon's Time Enough to Love.
Abruptly, he gripped her face, pulling it up until she peered into the dangerous dark eyes of her husband. Terror surged through her at the sight of his snarling countenance.
“Why so amorous this morning, my sweet?” he growled, his eyes snapping with anger. “Were Geoffrey’s kisses not as satisfying as you remembered?”
Oh, God. Oh, God. He saw--
Thomas flung her toward the bed. She huddled at its foot in a heap, shivering, while he strode to where she lay, towering over her. Alyse cringed before him, head bowed, too frightened and ashamed for tears.
“I believe I may have misspoken earlier, madam.” His voice dripped sarcasm. “I had, in fact, gone in search of you, to invite you to an intimate breakfast with your husband. Imagine my dismay to find you engaged in one already, albeit with someone else’s husband. From the exchange I saw, I can scarce credit that you hunger still. Yet you enter our chamber apparently unsatisfied. Pray tell me, how many more husbands would you devour ere the day begins?”
His voice rose to an excruciating volume, and Alyse clamped her hands to her ears lest she be deafened.
“I have played the tender lover these past weeks. Petted and cajoled you, like some simpering green boy in an effort to remain true to the vow I made you, despite my right as your husband to demand your obedience in bed. I have been patient, kind, and true, madam, and I am repaid in treachery!”
“Nay, Thomas!” Quite suddenly, she found her tongue and raised a resolute face to her livid husband. She rose from the floor and stood facing him, breasts heaving in indignation. “Whatever you saw, whatever you think, I did not betray you with Geoffrey.”
“You were in his arms, your mouths locked together as though nothing could pull them asunder. Do you deny that?” He spat the words at her.
“Nay.” She pitched her voice low, her resentment of his accusation ebbing. “God forgive me, I kissed him and held him, and he held me. And the world ceased to exist for a little while.”
* * *
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?
AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ACF9L98?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
This week's Medieval Monday spotlight is on Barbara Bettis' book, The Heart of the Phoenix.
EXCERPT: (Sir Stephen has just escaped attack as he returned from a secret meeting.)
This had been no random assault. The trap had sprung for him alone. But only three people knew of his rendezvous this night. His mind worked the trio of relationships. All friends—he’d thought. Which one had betrayed him? Bitter regret burned his throat, and he forced a swallow. Hadn’t he learned long ago not to trust anyone? Especially friends.
The ringing in his ears died, and he heard silence once more. Not until the rustle of a hare whispered through the brittle dry grass did he move. He settled back against a tree to gingerly unkink his leg, then brush his knuckles across his aching thigh. The thick blood had clotted. A sigh fought free of his clenched lips.
The bay was long gone, leading the others on a futile chase to the river. It would find its way back later. Stephen was on his own for now. And it was a damned long hobble back to St. Anselm. He’d best get started if he wanted to make it before dawn.
The eastern horizon glittered pearl before he espied the monastery’s roof outlined against the night sky’s fading pitch. He limped toward the narrow opening obscured by a tangle of grape vines so ancient no one recalled when they last produced. A muted grunt escaped his throat when he tugged at the warped wood. The old door creaked, then gave a few precious inches.
He squeezed through sideways and hauled it shut.
The scriptorium lay ahead on the right. He’d wait for Brother Gerald there—if his double-cursed leg continued to move. He limped forward, neck and jaw locked rigid in his struggle to remain erect. Perspiration plastered shirt and aketon to his body, soaked through to the plain tunic he wore over a finely wrought chain doublet. But in his chest, a block of ice lodged where his heart belonged. During the long walk back to the monastery, he’d worked out which of his three closest comrades bore the title of traitor. Bile rose in his throat at the answer.
Inside the copy house, Stephen dropped to his knees, numb to the explosion of pain in his thigh. He prayed. He prayed he was wrong. And if his reasoning proved right, he prayed for the strength to act. Tomorrow he’d confront Brother Michael. God help the monk if harm befell even one of the men because of his treachery. Why had Michael turned, now of all times? The Phoenix Brotherhood hadn’t been this close to uncovering the treacherous Dragon for years.
Whatever happened must be quick. They must either find the leader of the murdering mercenaries before the Dragon escaped Normandy, or they must move operations to England. Stephen had promised to be home before the conclave to support John’s claim as Richard’s successor. His father may have recovered in the past months, but he needed Stephen’s help. And
Stephen had vowed to assume duties at Riverton Castle or die trying.
Although that was a distinct possibility.
* * *
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.
Memories Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.
And deadly When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.
Welcome back to the dark moment of betrayal in this week's Medieval Monday post.
I have a heart-breaking excerpt from Mary Morgan's book, Dragon Knight's Axe:
Panic gripped Fiona. Something wasn’t right. Why would he leave her? She thought he cared with all the time they’d spent together. “Why in the hell did Alastair leave?” she choked out, holding back the scream.
“He didn’t want to watch you die. Each day that passed took you further away. There was nothing he or any of us could do,” replied Brigid.
Her voice quivered. “Got it….umm…he abandoned me.”
Brigid sighed. “I believe he cared for you so much, he could not stand to watch you leave him.”
Fiona’s tone turned bitter as she clutched the furs. “When you care for someone, you stay with them until the very end. No matter what happens. What? Did he say good-bye, kiss me, and then just walk out of here? I hope to God our paths never cross again.”
“Do you really mean that, Fiona?” asked Aileen in a soft voice.
Closing her eyes, she didn’t want to look at either of the women. Her head throbbed, and her heart weighed heavy knowing that the only man she would ever love had walked away from her.
“Please leave,” she murmured.
When the door closed, she finally opened her eyes. She refused to let the tears fall, so she bit her lip and swallowed. Digging her hands into the furs, she kept trying to breathe. Everywhere she looked there was something that reminded her of Alastair. The plaid he had given her to stay warm, a sgian dubh for protection, and glancing around the room slowly, her eyes caught sight of something on the chair by the head of the bed.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she counted to ten. Yet, when she opened them, there was no denying it any longer and sadness engulfed her. As she tried to reach for the object, her vision became clouded, the tears streaming down her face, as she was unable to hold them back.
Grasping the chess piece, she clutched it to her chest. “Why, Alastair?” Sobbing uncontrollably, she realized that he had given her the Dragon King as his parting gift to her.
And Fiona’s heart shattered completely.
Alastair MacKay, a battled-scarred Dragon Knight flees to the sea to separate himself from his fae-given power connecting him to the land. But it is on land that he rescues a woman from a slave trader in Ireland. It is through Fiona he steps back inadvertently into a world filled with magic—taking on the role of protector and at the same time leading him on a journey to confront his greatest regret and fears.
Research assistant, Fiona O’Quinlan loves translating ancient artifacts at Trinity College. When she falls asleep on an archeological dig, she awakens in another time. She soon discovers a Dragon Knight’s relic has been entrusted into her care. Determined to return the artifact to the Great Glen, Fiona is unprepared for the danger ahead—losing her heart and soul to Alastair “Beast” MacKay.
Will their love be strong enough to soothe the beast and heal the man? Or will Death swing its axe, leaving them lost for all eternity?
* * *
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragon-knights-axe-mary-morgan/1122070231?ean=2940151305426
Apple ibooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dragon-knights-shield/id1067612279?mt=11
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=242_177_139&products_id=6263
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