Summer with Medieval Romance!
#Escape into #Romance and #Magic with the #RomanceNovel A SUMMER BEWITCHMENT (THE Knight & the Witch 2)
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“I am the troll king of this land and you owe
me a forfeit.”
Elfrida glanced behind the shadowed figure who
barred her way. #KU #HistoricalRomance #MedievalHistoricalRomance
#Sequel to THE SNOW BRIDE
A SUMMER BEWITCHMENT
The Knight and the Witch 2
Copyright © 2013
“I am the troll king of this land
and you owe me a forfeit.”
Elfrida glanced behind the shadowed
figure who barred her way. He was alone, but then so was she.
I turn and run along the track? Should I flee into the woods or back to the
river? He is close, less than the distance of the cast of a spear. Can I make
it hard for him to catch me? Yes.
But catch her he would.
“Indeed?” she asked, using one of
her husband’s favorite expressions, then sharpened her tone. “Why must I pay
“You have trespassed in these woods.
In my woods.”
The nagging ache in her shoulders
and hands vanished in a tingling rush of anticipation. Elfrida dropped her
basket of washed, dried clothes onto the dusty pathway, the better to fight.
“King Henry is lord of England.”
“I am king here.”
A point to him. “I kept to the path,
and then the river.”
“That may be so, but I claim a
He had not moved yet, nor shown his
face. The summer evening made his shadow huge, bloody. Her heart beating harder
as she anticipated their final, delicious encounter, Elfrida asked, “Are you so
bold? My husband is a mighty warrior, the greatest in all Christendom.”
“That is a large claim.” He sounded
amused. “All Christendom? He must be a splendid fellow. The harpers should sing
Elfrida raised her chin, determined
to have her say. “I am proud of my lord. He is a crusader. He has seen
Jerusalem and he has learning. He can whistle any tune. He defends all those
weaker than himself.” Should I say what I
next want to say? Tease him as he has teased me? Why not? Are we are not
playing? “Go back to your woods, troll king.”
She heard the crack of a pine cone
as he shifted. In a haze of motion the troll king was out of the tree shade and
into the bright sunset, dominating the path in front of her. Taller than a
spear, broad as a door, he had a face as stark as granite, of weathered, broken
stone. Heavily scarred—many would say
grooved—he had the terrible beauty of a victor, a winner wounded but
A ribbon of heat, like hot breath,
flickered across her breasts. He was so magnificent , so handsome. She both
loved and hated defying him, even in jest. Striving for calm, she said, “You
will come no closer.”
“Or what, little laundress?”
That tease irked her. “The clothes
and bedding do not wash themselves. Not even for you, troll king.”
He smiled, a daunting unfurling of
that scarred, sword-cut face. The churning heat in her belly swept up into her
cheeks and down to her loins.
“I am a witch, besides,” she added,
though not as coolly as she would have liked. She saw the gleam in his large
brown eyes pool into molten bronze.
“You would put a spell on me,
elfling?” he challenged.
“Perhaps I already have.” Her tone
and mouth were as dry as the summer. How
much farther can we stretch this sweet foolishness?
He raised thick black eyebrows,
while a breeze flicked and flirted with his shoulder-length curls. “Is that
She wanted to cross her arms before
herself, to shield her body from his bold stare. At the same time she longed to
strip herself naked for him, unlace his tunic and caress him. Unsure how he
might react, she armed herself with words instead. “I am a good witch, Magnus.”
“Indeed.” Again he looked her up and
down, glanced at her buckets, basket, and clothes. “Should you not have an
I tell him I sent Piers off to help? Are we still playing now or is he truly
Looming over her, he was close
enough for her to touch him. To caress
his strong body will be like stroking sun-warmed stone. Distracted, she
shook her head. “There is the sheep shearing…”
“Done.” He tossed a stack of rolled,
lanolin-scented fleeces at her feet. “I did my share and more and, as I have
said already, I claim a reward.”
He winked at her and she found
herself smiling in return. “Forfeit and reward, too, sire? Is that not greedy?”
“Are we in Lent, that I should
fast?” He raised his hand, cupping her face with supple fingers. “But you are
too dainty to linger alone, witch or no.”
He traced the curve of her lips with
his thumb and, as she trembled, he gathered her firmly into his arms. “Any man
will try to spirit you away.”
“Hush!” She made a sign against the
evil eye and wood elves, but he shook his head at her caution.
“I have faith in your magic craft,
Elfrida. But a passing knave or outlaw? He is quite another matter. He would
see you as a tempting piece, my wife, my lovely.”
“I am not helpless,” she protested,
but her heart soared at his loving words. His mouth, as crooked and scarred as
the rest of his face, stole a kiss from hers.
He smelled of lanolin, salt, and
summer green-stuff, and tasted of apples and himself. Elfrida closed her eyes
under his tender onslaught, her thighs trembling.
“Troll King?” she murmured, when
they broke apart slightly. “Is that how you wish me to address you in the
“‘Sire’ will do, or ‘greatest knight
in Christendom.’ Those will do very well.” He kissed her again.
“You rob me, sire,” she murmured, a
breathless space later.
“Of kisses?” He sounded delighted at
the idea, the beast, and grinned when she pinched him.
“Even one-handed I can do that
better than you.”
He demonstrated, squeezing and
lightly slapping her bottom, chuckling as she thrust her hips back against his
fondling fingers. A shred of modesty remained as her wits dissolved into a
sweet blaze of need. “Magnus, what if someone comes?”
* * * *
“Mark knows to keep them back.” Safe
in knowing his second in command would let no one disturb them for the rest of
the evening, Magnus sat down in the middle of the path and pulled his wife onto
his lap. She was pliant in his arms and as eager as himself, kissing his throat
and caressing his back while she murmured endearments in her own local dialect.
“Steady, lovely.” He stroked to soothe her, uncaring that such a tender act
made his desire more urgent. “Steady. We shall not be troubled by anyone, I promise.”
Daily he thanked God for her, his
Elfrida. They had found each other two seasons back, striving and facing
countless dangers together to free three brides from a deadly necromancer. He
had watched her push herself to her limits and beyond for others and, even more
strange and terrible, had seen her protect
him from spirits and curses.
Snug and close as she was to him
now, his fiery witch revealed another side to her nature, passionate and
sweetly submissive. She could dispute like a scholar from Bologna, argue any
point, but in bed with him, or sitting on his knee now on this dry woodland
path, her loving trust in him was absolute.
He kissed her narrow palms, marveling aloud how smooth they were,
in spite of her scrubbing clothes in the river all day.
“’Tis only a little charm and some
ointment I use.” She smiled at him. “But I regret, Magnus, that not even my
strongest magic can persuade a laundress to remain with us.”
He knew that well enough and he knew
why. Of all the women in the world, only his Elfrida and a few others could
look beyond his mess of ugly sword scars, his missing hand and foot, and not be
afraid. Aside from a constant shortage of maids he no longer cared about his
looks, but to have his wife pound washing was another matter. “It is not
“Maybe so, husband, for a lady born
and bred, but I am a witch.”
a peasant lass, her eyes added, though she was
wise enough not to say that. He disliked reminders of their difference in
class. To him it no longer mattered, indeed had never mattered. “You are my
wife,” he growled.
“I am and proud of it. But see, you
helped with the sheep shearing today. Washing sheets and stuff is nothing I
have not done before. And now you and Mark and the rest are always clad in
clean linen and woolens. Do you remember the stinking heap of filthy clothes I
discovered at your manor when we first arrived?”
Magnus knew he was losing this. “Let
me pay a laundress in gold.”
She tugged on his chest hairs, a
tingling reproof. “And then our woman cook would be offended, and my own
spinning maid. They would demand more, and so would the male head cook and the
He kissed her before she named every
servant in the place. “Can you not give me a philter to make me less ugly?” he
“Hush, you.” She wormed a soft hand
through his tunic laces and touched his strongly beating heart, flesh against
flesh. “As I have said before, you are most handsome, especially from the
She laughed up at him, her amber
eyes bright with mischief.
“Have a care, or I might say the
same—and do more.” Cupping her backside again, he savored how her lashes
trembled and her face flushed in response to his caress. He spanked her lightly
on her nether curves and she wrapped her arms tight about his neck.
“Magnus,” she breathed, snuggling
into the crook of his arm, clinging as he drew her scarlet skirt up her legs
and tucked it round her slender middle.
He could wait no longer. Aching,
hard and more than ready for her, he sank his fingers into her, finding her
warm and open and more than ready for him.
“Sir,” she whispered, as he rolled
her off his lap and onto her back, taking care her head was pillowed by the
sheepskins. Sinking into her was the greatest luxury in Christendom and having
her move with him an infinite pleasure. Feeling like a pagan storm god, he rode
and gloried in her, savoring her moans, her blushes, her growing heat and that
final long, harp-string-tight shudder of delight. Dimly he heard his own wild
shout as he plunged after her into a heart-hammering, thunderous release.
* * * *
“We should move,” Elfrida managed to
say, some uncounted time later. Languid, almost sinfully relaxed, she lounged
on top of her husband, wishing they could stay as they were.
“Not yet,” grunted Magnus, trapping
her legs with one of his and hugging her. Matching her mood, he only opened his
eyes when she leaned up on him. “Watch those needle elbows, wife.”
“I need more of those.”
“Needles. Christina wants me to make
her some clothes.”
“For her and her coming babe, no
doubt.” Magnus yawned and kissed her elbow. “Your sister and Walter are still
visiting for the midsummer?”
Elfrida nodded. “Just after Saint
John’s day. Unless you do not wish it?”
He shook his head, showing his
crooked smile. “Christina and her husband are always welcome at our house,
though she chatters endlessly of babies, as she once used to gossip about her
wedding-day. Magnus was too gracious a host to
admit that. For an instant he did seem about to say more, but then he tipped
her off him and rolled swiftly to his feet.
“Get behind me,” he whispered. “We
are no longer alone.”
did Magnus hear and sense that when I did not? True, he is a warrior and these
are his woods, yet I am the witch! Am I so transported and undone by our
lovemaking as to be half blind after? Should I be? Is that a fault? Has my
marriage diminished my powers of magic?
Faster than quicksilver the
questions rushed through her as Magnus stood and straightened, standing before
her as a shield. She reached out beyond him with her mind, seeing Mark dashing
along the track, the low sun glinting on his ginger hair. She heard his panting
breath, caught glimpses of his thoughts and understood his alarm.
She touched Magnus’s shoulder. “Mark
comes with news of strangers. Not knights or crusaders, pilgrims or travelers,
some others. One is a woman.”
“A lady, I think,” Elfrida replied,
feeling as nervous as Mark looked. A
lady! How do I greet her? Is the hall swept and clean? Is there enough food,
enough fine bread? “She and her companion want your help. They will ask you
for it soon.”
She tried to smile, but Magnus knew
her too well to be fooled by her calm words. Without taking his eyes from the
careering Mark, he reached behind himself and took her hand in his.
“Our help, Lady Elfrida. Ask for one
of us and they will have the pair of us, yes?”
“If the cause is just, for sure,
As she spoke, a sweet-sour taste
filled her mouth, as if she had bitten on a crab apple. Elfrida swallowed the
bitterness and checked her skirts, smoothing her clothes and ensuring her mass
of red hair was hidden beneath her veil. Wishing she was wearing something
better than her faded scarlet, she prepared to hear more.