Tuesday 1 August 2023

Celebrate Summer with the Medieval Romance "A Summer Bewitchment".

Celebrate Summer with Medieval Romance!



A Summer Bewitchment.


#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


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Here is Chapter One of A Summer Bewitchment.



The Knight and the Witch 2



Copyright © 2013






Chapter 1


England, summer, 1132


“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.

Do 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.

Play for time.

“Indeed?” she asked, using one of her husband’s favorite expressions, then sharpened her tone. “Why must I pay anything?”

“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 kiss.”

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 of him.”

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 unbowed.

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 Christian?”

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 escort, wife?”

Do I tell him I sent Piers off to help? Are we still playing now or is he truly angry?

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 future, husband?”

“‘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 seemly.”

“Maybe so, husband, for a lady born and bred, but I am a witch.”

And 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 farrier.”

He kissed her before she named every servant in the place. “Can you not give me a philter to make me less ugly?” he teased.

“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 back.”

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, elfling.”

Even 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.”

How 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 laundress?”

“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, yes.”

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.

 Lindsay Townsend