It’s the second Tuesday of the month! And today we have a lovely excerpt from author Kris Kennedy! Enjoy!
England, 1215, the eve of Magna Carta
Jamie Lost is the king’s most renowned commander, an audacious knight ordered to kidnap an exiled priest before rebel forces close in. The mission is simple–until he comes up against a mysterious woman on a mission, a thief who will first steal his quarry and then his heart.
Eva is also seeking Father Peter, but she intends to protect him from a secret that endangers his life, even if it costs her own. She is well aware danger lies everywhere, especially in the knight showing too much interest in her activities. But deep inside, Eva knows the danger lies not in Jamie, but in her, in the desire he awakens in her body and her heart.
When a mysterious band of armed mercenaries upends both their plans and abducts the priest, Jamie and Eva must form an uneasy alliance, and as civil war unfolds around them, they embark on an epic journey that betrays the truth about their identities, their unexpected loyalties, and the dangerous attraction that could seal their fates forever.
The hero and heroine have already had a few encounters as both of them search through the darkened city streets for a renegade priest whom King John wants brought in for questioning.
Each has outfoxed the other, and they shared a single, unplanned, head-spinning kiss. Jamie now thinks he’s outwitted her for good, but he’s about to learn he is not quite finished with the grey-eyed waif who has done what no one else has ever been able to: distracted him from his mission.
Jamie stood in yet another alley, midpoint between the tavern and the top of the hill that lead down to the waterfront, shifting his gaze between the docks and the door of the tavern and the docks.. Hard darts of rain slanted down, shoving stinging prickles into collars and loose boots. A dull, chilled breeze lurched through the city streets, up from the river.
The docks were coming alive; the ebb tide was nigh. Men were climbing aboard little boats. Ropes flew from ship to shore, men shouted, dogs barked, cats stalked. It might be midday on a Saturday down at the quay.
And halfway down the line, amid the scramble of sailors, soaking wet in the rain, were the five squint-eyes.
I am using the waif’s terms, he thought dimly.
Two of them supported the priest between them, so he looked like a drunken companion. The other three stood in a protective semi-circle around, dressed in thick capes that were dark with rain.
All five, plus a deckhand.
He yanked his hood up and looked back to the tavern impatiently, blinking through the rain. Where the hell was the accursed captain?
Why, there he was, walking out of the tavern right now. With the grey-eyed waif at his side.
He felt an oddly commingled urge: to grin in admiration and throttle her slim, wet neck.
The captain put out a weather-roughened, almost protective hand, directing her though the door, then kicked it shut behind. It squealed then slammed with a hollow, damp thud.
Eva’s pale face was tilted up as she spoke in low tones, and passed him a small, bulky pouch of what looked like coin. Jamie’s coin.
He drew a long breath, calming himself. Impatience had never been his weakness. It would not become so now. He was accustomed to switchbacks on a route. His entire
life had been about readjusting course. Eva was an unexpected curve, a steeper climb, nothing more. He would simply crush her on the way by.
“. . . as your daughter,” she was murmuring some plan or instruction to the captain.
“That’ll only get you so far, bairn,” the captain replied in a gruff voice, grey bushy eyebrows furrowed over hard eyes that were scanning the streets ahead. “You’ll be needing more of a plan than that. Especially if there’s a rogue knight out here like you’re saying–”
Jamie stepped out of the alley, directly in front of them, sword out.
“What a coincidence,” he said, looking at Eva. “I was just thinking of you.”
Eva gasped then and looked to the captain, but he was wisely keeping his gaze on Jamie. Or rather, Jamie’s sword.
“I realize now I ought ne’er have left you with all that coin,” Jamie said in a scolding, affectionate tone. “Whatever have you spent it on?”
“Jamie.” The rain spit down on Eva’s shocked face, making her pale cheeks gleam.
The grizzled seaman looked between them.
“My wife,” Jamie explained kindly, then indicated the pouch of money with the tip of his sword. The captain thrust it out on his upturned palm, presenting it like a platter of food, muttering out of the side of his mouth, “You made no mention of a husband.”
“That is because he is a very bad husband,” Eva snapped. Her hood, tugged up for the rain, revealed a white face and dark brows running in a stern line above her angry eyes. “And that is not his money. His money is down here.” She touched her belt.
The captain glanced down very briefly, before putting his gaze squarely back on the tip of Jamie’s sword.
Jamie smiled. “I rarely give her the coin. She spends it so recklessly. Bolts of fabric, spices, ship captains. ” He nodded to the pouch still squatting damply on the man’s flattened palm. “I am happy to allow you that, sir, and a good deal more, if you aid me but a piece. ’Twill take but a moment of your time.”
The captain brought the sack of coins back to his chest.
Eva seemed to regard this as a discouraging development. She took a small, evasive step to the side, and Jamie snapped his hand out and closed it around her neck before she could put her foot back down. He kept looking at the captain, but he felt Eva’s swallow slide under his thumb.
The captain looked at Eva. Or rather, at Jamie’s hand around her throat. He cleared his own. “What were ye needing, sir?”
“Those men are abducting a priest.”
“That’s what the lass said.”
“Did she? I wish to stop them.”
“So does she.”
Jamie smiled. “Then our interests are aligned.”
“What do ye need me to do?”
A sudden shout at the end of the road made them all turn. There, at the far end top of the hill, stood three of the five kidnappers, looking wet and angry. “God’s bones, cap’n, the tide’s ripping out. What the ‘ell is the hold—”
They stopped short at the sight of their captain with a pouch of money in his hand and Jamie blocking his way, a sword in one hand, Eva’s throat in the other.
For a moment, they gaped.
It was the sort of long, still moment that allowed shock to translate into action. Jamie was fairly certain what the action would be. Four against one, if he put the captain in the squint-eyes camp. He felt Eva swallow again. Make that five against one.
“Jamie,” she whispered.
His mind was hurtling through options.
“I can help,” she breathed.
He loosed his fingers and pushed her backward into the alley, then stepped in behind. The men started thundering down the road. The captain ducked in after them, backed up to the wall on the far side. Jamie bent his elbows out, holding his sword hilt before his chest in both hands, the blade trembling so close it almost touched his nose, ready to be swung up and to the side, the backswing to a mortal blow. He put his spine against the wall.
“There were three of them,” she whispered.
“I noted that.”
His heart hammered, his hands opened and closed around the hilt, minute readjustments to perfect his hold, every sinew in his body screaming for release. Fight, maim, slice, destroy. It was what he was built to do.
He kept his gaze on the empty corner. “How are you with that little blade of yours, Eva?”
“Sticking, beyond middling,” she said promptly. “But I made a promise not to kill anyone today.”
He absorbed this in silence. The sound of running boots came closer.
“A most solemn vow,” she assured him.
“Eva, you should have something else exceedingly helpful planned, or you should run. Now.”
The bootsteps reached the alley. Eva crouched low as the first man rounded the corner, sword out. Jamie pushed off the wall and Eva . . . launched herself forward.
Curled in tight, she crashed into the first man’s knees like a boulder. He was bowled backwards and smashed into the soldier close on his heels. It knocked the two of them to the ground in a sprawling, boot-kicking mess.
Jamie leapt into the fray.…
So what’d you think? Do you like historicals from this time period? And you can read an additional excerpt here.