by Samantha Holt
44,000 words (eBook format)
Erotic Historical Romance
Contains Elements of Action
Heat Level: Steamy
A medieval story of love and betrayal.
As a rebellion sweeps
Annabel finds her home overrun by rebels. Much to her relief, a dark knight
comes to her rescue, claiming to have been sent to protect her by her uncle.
“What is your name?”
He stared at her as he paused mid-bite. Withdrawing the bread, he shifted uncomfortably.
“My name is of no import, my lady.”
“I would know the name of my rescuer.”
He looked to the floor. “I am no rescuer, just a lowly knight doing his duty.”
“Your modesty becomes you, Sir Knight, but I would still know your name.”
Annabel awaited his response, the air between them growing uncomfortably thick.
He heaved a sigh, wondering how it was that a diminutive woman had got the better of him.
“Nicholas,” he grated out reluctantly.
“Nicholas,” she repeated softly. “And I am Annabel.”
“I know, my lady.”
“Nay, Annabel. Not ‘my lady’. You have surely earned the right to address me as such.”
He shook his head, dropping his gaze to the ground once more. He could not bring himself to utter her name, not when he knew what was to come. “Nay, my lady, I am your servant and I will address you as a servant should.”
Annabel must have sensed she was fighting a losing battle as she protested no more and fell silent. Nicholas risked sideways glances at her as her as she nibbled delicately on the hardened bread, and he realised he took far too much pleasure in the sight of her ample lips moving with each bite.
Brushing the crumbs from her skirts, Nicholas watched, mesmerised, as she twisted her long braid over her shoulder. Tugging on the red ribbon that tied the end of the braid, it loosened, sending the length of her hair shimmering across her shoulders. It brushed the dirt and Nicholas felt his mouth dry as she touched a finger to his arm. Surrounded by a halo of hair, she glanced up at him, her mouth curling. Without a word, she tied the ribbon about his large arm and fussed with it until she was satisfied.
Nicholas touched tentatively at the ribbon and gave her a perplexed look.
“You saved my life, Nicholas. ‘Tis a favour from a lady to a knight.” She grinned at his confusion. “You have received favours before, surely? I would expect a knight of your valour to have championed many a lady.”
He wondered if she was teasing him but her expression was completely guileless. He groaned inwardly. This woman probably believed wholeheartedly in courtly love. From his little experience he had come to conclude that it did not exist.
“For fear of disappointing you, my lady, I am sorry to admit that there you are mistaken. I have championed no ladies.”
“Well, ‘tis no matter,” she told him with a tender smile, “For you have championed me.”
Unable to bare her dazzling eyes any longer, he stood abruptly. Champion? He laughed inwardly. She had no idea of the kind of man he was, and he was thoroughly aware that he was far removed from the heroic knights that minstrels and poets spoke of.
He felt a pang of something, an uncomfortable sensation settling in his gut. Nicholas couldn’t name it but he didn’t like its implications. For all her naivety and gentle manners, this woman was going to be trouble. He felt threatened by her somehow, as if she had directly challenged him rather than quietly accepting his every word without question.
“Are you ready to continue on, my lady?”
Annabel sighed and stood, in spite of her obvious weariness. “I am in your hands, Nicholas. I will do whatever you command.”
Nicholas tried to tamp down on the desire stirring in his loins at her words and failed. Instead, he grunted and turned away, stomping off without checking if she was following. The sooner this job was over, the better.
He ran. Aware only of the need to keep her safe, he sprinted until his thighs burned and his arms ached from her weight. Not that she was a heavy burden, for she lay limply in his arms, only the faint throb of a pulse assuring him that she was still alive. She wore just her chemise and it had taken a while for him to notice, his fear stricken mind consumed with other thoughts. When he had finally noticed, he wrapped her tightly in his mantle.
Continuing on, even as the dark of the following night consumed them, he narrowly avoided tripping and spilling her onto the ground. Only his resolution to keep her from harm prevented him from giving up as he stumbled across the uneven terrain, lit by little more than a half moon.
Nicholas’ steps faltered as the exertion took his toll and he was forced to a sluggish pace, his body screaming for respite. As the sun began to flicker over the horizon, it hurt his eyes, in spite of the cloud amassing in the sky. Fearing a downpour, he staggered his way into the protection of the nearest forest, unsure now of where they were.
The forest closed about them but his anxiety refused to wane. Why were they trying to kill her? If Lord Benedict had intended to kill Annabel himself then why go about this charade of hiring him? Nicholas could not fathom what he was trying to achieve. He couldn’t have possibly known that Nicholas would never go through with his sinful duty.
His legs began to shake as his lungs throbbed, but a look to Annabel’s soot covered face fortified him and he forced his legs to do the unthinkable.
He had to gain some distance between them and Godfrey. He was undoubtedly on horseback but he thought it likely he would not have risked journeying at night. Nicholas had little idea as to what to do next, but he resolved to keep pushing forwards until exhaustion claimed him.
After a day and a half of no rest, it finally did. He stumbled one final time and realised that it was unlikely he would recover again should he fall once more. Annabel lay peacefully in his arms and he did not want to risk hurting her. Pressing his back against a broad oak tree, he sank gratefully to the ground, Annabel still stretched across his arms.
His head slumped back against the bark and he shifted her head against his chest, settling her into his lap. His arms closed in around her, determined that even in sleep he would protect her. His leaden eyelids dropped and sleep quickly claimed him as his hands remained gripped around Annabel.
About the Author:
Samantha Holt resides in
England, with her twin
girls, having followed her soldier husband around the UK for nearly
10 years. Growing up in Hampshire, she was inspired by the authors Jane Austen
and Elizabeth Gaskell, both of which lived and wrote only miles from her home
Samantha loves the romance genre and has been devouring romantic literature for as long as she can remember. History is another passion of hers and she loves to combine her love for history and romance into exciting and passionate tales.
Contact Samantha at:
Website - http://www.samanthaholt.org.uk
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/romanticfiction