Morning came too soon. I woke to Tomas’ absence. When I ventured a hand out from beneath the covers to look for him, the bedding was cool to the touch. The soft shuffles of someone moving about in the predawn darkness brought my attention to the only light source in the room. The recently revived fire outlined Tomas easing his under-tunic over his head. Chainmail lay in a heap at his feet. His breastplate and other armor leaned up against the wall.
Memories of last night urged me from the warm cocoon of covers. Frigid air greeted me as I climbed out of bed to join him. My bare feet against the icy wooden boards brought my breath hissing in through my teeth.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Getting dressed.” I pulled the top blanket off the bed with me to wrap around my chemise as I searched for my clothing.
He crossed to catch my arm. “I don’t leave for hours.”
“Time I don’t want to waste.” I looked up into his face. The now familiar planes of his cheeks, the firm line of his mouth, the inky depths of his eyes, even the riot of his dark curls called to my fingers. I wanted to spend more time exploring them. They were mine to memorize; just as the rest of him was mine to explore. If only he didn’t have to leave. “I know you will come back, but I don’t want to lose a moment…” in case you don’t return. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t speak the words. They caught on the lump of fear at the back of my throat. Kurios, please be merciful. Bring him back to me.
“I am only going to train. I will come back for you so we can break our fast together.”
“Let me come.”
The surprise in his eyes made me laugh.
“I would love to watch you spar. I might learn something.”
He smiled and released my arm to brush the side of my face. His fingers radiated tempting warmth against my cold skin. “I forgot how many noses you have broken. Dress warmly, the water in the wash basin iced over last night.”
I nodded and looked around for my gear. After finding it beneath a chair in the corner, I chose my practical brown woolen leggings, a rust red tunic that fell below the knee, and a forest green surcoat slit at the sides for ease of movement. The red accented my hair, or at least that was what Loren claimed when she dyed it last spring. Once I belted my weapons about my waist, I set to combing my hair. I separated the strands for a braid.
“What?” I turned to find him watching me intensely. Now dressed in padded jerkin and most of his armor, he lacked only his mail, breastplate, and helmet to be completely ready for battle. He gestured to where my fingers were entangled.
“Leave it loose for now. I like it wild and down around your shoulders.” His gaze skimmed me from head to foot. A half smile pulled at his mouth as his focus settled on my face. “In fact, I think I like you just as much in leggings as I do in a skirt.”
Dropping the mail in his hands to the floor with a thump, he crossed the space between us in two strides. Catching my face between his hands, he pressed his mouth to mine. Visions of the night before flooded my head as my senses honed in on the sweet pleasure of his kiss and the delightful possession of his fingers in my hair. My arms encircled his neck, pulling the rest of me up to meet him. For the first time in my life I was thankful for my height.
Duty to King
Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.
Duty to Others
Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?
Duty to Each Other
Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.
Genre – Fantasy, Romance
Rating – G