Read an Excerpt
A Legend Arises
“Emma!” Ailig Bennett bellowed as he left his horse in the care of his squire and rushed into his keep. Behind him, the ocean crashed against the shore at the foot of the hills where his keep had been built. He cared little for it or the oncoming storm. He pulled off his leather gloves as his eyes adjusted to the dim interior of the great hall.
Servants scurried around, lighting torches to break the oncoming darkness.
“Emma,” he called again. He headed towards the doorway at the back of the wall which would lead to the stairs spiralling to the upper chambers housed in the north tower. The solar was there and no doubt Emma, as well, as she bent over her stitching. He smiled at the thought of pulling his new bride into his arms and unravelling her carefully braided hair.
Would she welcome him with as much vigour as that which coursed through his veins? He’d left her behind on their wedding day, answering the urgent call of his king. On that day he’d hated his liege, but with King Henry’s contingent of messengers waiting, he had been unable to tarry.
Today, finally, he would be one with his bride.
Reaching the floor above the great hall, he strode towards his thinking chamber. Another set of stairs within it lead to the solar. “Emma,” he called more gently as he crested the top of the stairs.
His bride stood in the large chamber, her back to him as she stared through an arrow slot at the waves below. His breath caught at the sight of her long brown braids cascading to her slim waist. He could not wait to give the bride gift he had purchased for her on his journey.
She spun at the sound of his voice, a smile lighting her face.
Perhaps he could wait to gift her. He would wait until after they’d united. His manhood stirred beneath his heavy knee-length mail, lengthening and thickening in his need for his wife. He had waited so long for her, more than the months this latest call to duty had required. Emma had long ago caught his eye. He had curried her favour in the ways he had learned in the king’s courts until her green eyes shone with the love he felt in his middle.
“Ailig,” she exclaimed, dashing towards him. Her arms closed around his neck as he lifted her into his embrace. His mouth took hers as one hand lifted to bury in her hair, already pulling loose strands free. She tasted of honey and Emma. He groaned as his lips pushed hers apart and his tongue delved inside, scraping along hers as he reclaimed her sweet mouth. How he’d dreamed of the pleasure while he had been away, this one pleasure he had indulged before they were wed. This one pleasure he’d taken many times after they were wed, the last moments before the king’s messengers had dragged him away to his duty.
Emma made a small sound and pressed into him, her arms tightening around his neck. Unlike many noble marriages, theirs was a love match. Indeed, Emma had not been a noble until he’d taken her to bride. She’d been the daughter of a merchant in the village a short distance from the keep. Though he was noble, it had taken some time to claim her. Emma had feared marrying a knight and losing him to battle. As if to feed that fear, the king had called him away immediately. It had ripped at Ailig’s gut to see the terror in her eyes.
<strong>A Legend Accomplished</strong>
Emily Harteger looked up from the text she’d just scrawled in her notebook, glancing around her as a powerful wave surged up the shore and puddled around her bare feet. She smiled, the warmth of familiarity creeping over her. Before long, the water would surround the stone where she sat. How many times had that happened when she’d been distracted?
She blinked. What was she thinking?
That had never happened to her. She’d never been to this beach before today.
Being here was like déjà vu or something equally weird. For the last fifteen minutes, it had seemed as if she’d finally arrived home. She knew this place.
Everything was familiar—the crash of the waves on the rocks jutting from the ocean. The trees lining the shore. The castle overshadowing the beach as it stood high above her on a rocky hill. Even the wind seemed to carry a familiar scent of ocean and wood smoke.
Yet she’d never been here. She’d never been out of the United States before this week.
She looked up at the shadowy castle, wondering if the interior would be as she’d seen it in her head. Likely not. She was just a romance writer with an overactive imagination. Wasn’t it that imagination that had drawn her here to the northern shores of England?
Another wave engulfed her ankles while she watched the water hypnotically lap at the shore. She breathed in the heady scent of the salty sea air and closed her eyes. This was the sort of place where Ailig and Emma, the hero and heroine of her latest novel, had fallen in love. She imagined what it had been like for young Emma when she’d fallen in love with Ailig. Emily could see her sitting on this rock, waiting for him to arrive so they could have a few stolen moments before her parents realised she was missing.
“My love,” he’d whisper as he knelt beside her knees and cupped her cheek with his work-roughened hand.
Emily jerked as her imagining became so vivid she felt his hand. Her eyes popped open, and she choked back a surprised scream as she stared into a pair of dark blue eyes.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, his voice a deep rumble of concern. “The tide is coming in, and I was afraid you’d fallen asleep.”
Hastily, she stuffed her notebook in the bag beside her and yanked the tote’s strap up her shoulder. “I’m fine. Thanks.” She attempted to smile and soften her snapped words. She didn’t mean to be abrupt. It was just—
He was the very embodiment of the man she’d envisioned as Ailig. Tall and sturdy with dark brown hair and blue eyes. Full lips, prominent cheekbones, muscles made to make a girl feel safe…he had it all. Granted his hair was shorter than Ailig’s whose hair fell to his shoulder blades, but aside from that difference and the modern jeans with a knit shirt, he could be her knight.