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The Heat of the Knight [NOOK Book]

Overview

Can a man be jealous…of himself?

Beckett de Saxby, Earl of Dareford, believes he is doing the right thing by blackmailing his childhood friend Christiana to live under his protection. Even though she can never be more to him than a servant, no matter what his heart wants. He is not the man she believes him to be, and his secrets are best kept hidden behind his titled façade.

Christiana soon discovers that the lad she once adored has grown into ...

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The Heat of the Knight

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Overview

Can a man be jealous…of himself?

Beckett de Saxby, Earl of Dareford, believes he is doing the right thing by blackmailing his childhood friend Christiana to live under his protection. Even though she can never be more to him than a servant, no matter what his heart wants. He is not the man she believes him to be, and his secrets are best kept hidden behind his titled façade.

Christiana soon discovers that the lad she once adored has grown into a formidable stranger, a soul-hardened veteran of the Alexandrian Crusade with an appetite for debauchery and little else. She resolves to use his weakness by offering herself in exchange for freedom. But Beckett masters her body with a skill that makes leaving him seem a punishment—until his intended bride enters the picture.

When Christiana is abducted by masked horsemen, her rescuers are even more frightening to behold. They are led by a mysterious knight in blackened mail. With little thought of the consequences, Christiana rewards the dark knight’s gallantry.

Too late she realizes whose heart she’s broken.

This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605044644
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 3/6/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 425,828
  • File size: 625 KB

Read an Excerpt

The actor, a scarecrow in a greasy velvet surcoat, took a couple of giant steps and wrapped his hand around Christiana's arm. She attempted to wrench free, but the man dug in his fingers.

"Humphrey," he shouted over his shoulder and was soon joined by a fellow actor who barely reached his waist.

"Maud, the little swine, has made herself sick on drink. We need a new mistress of Dareford."

"Inspired," his mate exclaimed. "'Ave you seen the way the master watches her? Like a man possessed."

"She'll have to wear the mask and headdress. He won't even know who the devil she is."

"Aye, but we will know, and it will earn us a cup of ale when we spread it 'round."

Christiana had only to see the ridiculous hat of horns to know what play they were trying to recruit her for. 'Twas only a little comedy, a harmless jibe at the landowner, to bring the master goodwill from his villeins.

The lord was made to play the cuckold for a few moments, and she had been selected to put the horns on him. Old tales claimed that the horns had once been part of a pagan ritual, meant to represent a bull's fertility, a sowing of the fields with lush crops. But it had soon developed a double, much more sordid, meaning. The silent pantomime involved the seductive female capping her poor, betrayed husband before picking his rival from the crowd with a teasing, chaste kiss.

Maud's machinations should have warned her off. How, she wondered, did Maud manage to get sick on cue? It was as if the conniving girl spent all of her waking hours plotting against her. Still, ridiculing Beckett held allure. Though he wouldn't recognize her beneath the costume, being the one to place thatfool's cap upon his head would give her a measure of sweet revenge.

"Well, lass, we haven't all day. Are you game or not?" The performer held out the headdress.

After a few more moments of hesitation, she snatched it from his hands. Quickly knotting her hair, she tucked it into the velvet snood. She obscured the rest of her hair beneath the wide headband. The mask was made of cheap material and frayed on the edges. Only a few sorry sequins adorned it. Inside the performer's tent, she stripped to her chemise. The dress was a façade that was slipped into from the front and fastened in the back. One of the female servants helped with the laces. The woman must have been given instructions to tighten the bodice until it barely contained her--Christiana's breasts were balancing on a precipice. One wrong move and her nipples would be exposed.

Her father had told her that originally a male had clothed himself in feathers and satins and pranced and pursed his lips, all to the hilarious acclaim of his audience. But when a particularly goatish de Saxby ascended to the lord's seat, he insisted on having a female don the revealing costume. She supposed Beckett's wenching ways were an inheritance from that ancestor.

Christiana gulped down another cup of mead as she waited for the performers to go through their well-worn repertoire. She spotted her victim, as always head and shoulders above the crowd. His arms crossed over his chest, he appeared more than bored; he looked as if he were asleep on his feet.

Suddenly, it felt as if a starling had taken up residence in her stomach. She was quickly losing her nerve. True, his high-handed ways infuriated her, yet how could she put that ridiculous hat on his head? Another swallow of the honeyed drink for courage. She would simply walk over, plop the thing on his head, and then plant a chaste kiss--on whom? That part she hadn't considered.

The opportunity for retaliation suddenly took on an interesting dimension. Colin was standing very near his cousin. His tousled blond hair gave him a boyish quality. Her gaze shifted to Beckett. There was nothing boyish about him. He was all hard masculinity.

Christiana was so mesmerized by him, she twirled languidly around. Suddenly, she sensed the performers circling her. Theatrical throat clearing jolted her into action. She felt as though a million eyes were trained on her in her borrowed gown. The overlong skirt dragged through the dust, and the sleeve slipped off her shoulder. She tugged it back up. Though she took great care to keep her pace slow, her breasts jiggled. Beckett no longer seemed to be in a daze. He'd lifted his heavy lids and was now staring unblinking at her bouncing breasts.

A mead-induced notion occurred to her as she approached. Who would she really like to kiss? This was her chance to taste him while she was concealed.

Of its own volition, her body moved through the crowd until she stood before Colin. Her whole body trembled. He quirked a quizzical brow, but he bent his neck so that she could set the humiliating crown atop his head. She could hear the jeers of the performers and the surprised muttering rolling through the crowd.

Beckett laughed. "Suits you, cousin. Perfect fit," he chided.

The lute player's lyrics could barely be heard above the noise of the crowd. She picked out the few words that cued her to the second part of her act.

Beckett's laughter stopped immediately when she curtsied deeply before him. Her arms were shaking as she stood on tiptoes and interlaced her fingers around his neck. His stiff, stubborn neck was as rigid as iron. His gaze skipped from her lips to her breasts and back again. She knew that lifting her arms had exposed slivers of her nipples to his eyes alone. He was refusing to kiss her, refusing to follow the ancient storyline.

Feeling the heat of humiliation flood her cheeks, she started to loosen her grip. Startling her, he suddenly dipped his head at the same moment that his hands made a shelf beneath her bottom, lifting her so that her feet barely grazed the ground. The starling had flitted upward from her stomach and seemed to lodge in her heart, its wings beating furiously. His big hands molded her bottom, pulling her hard against him as his mouth covered hers with a fierceness that made her gasp. His tongue plunged into her mouth. Warm and thick, it felt alien yet completely delicious.

The crowd began to cheer him on. She was caught fast in her own trickery and enjoying every exhilarating second. Unable to remain passive, she captured his tongue and began sucking gently on it. Her bold move seemed to shock him. He released her suddenly, and she wobbled a bit as she landed on her heels. His apparent bafflement did not prevent him from acting the protector as he pinched the sides of her bodice and yanked upward to cover the tops of her nipples.

Quivering from head to toe, she ran and hid in the tent. Relieved to find it empty, she quickly shed the ancient costume. The canvas opening was pushed aside. Beckett ducked beneath the tent's ceiling. His chest heaved as he stared at her.

"Woman, you are driving me to madness."

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2012

    Good Read

    If you like these kind of books, you won't be dissapointed. I enjoyed it and liked the characters, which for me is what makes the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Hot,hot,hot bechett

    Could NOT put this down....holymothetofgod.....ladies, grab a towel, a fan, the dog will want a smoke after this one....PLEASE NOTE
    this is a rewrite of an earlier version.sooo worth it

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