Published by Harlequin on May 22nd 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
He’s her enemy…
…and she must not fall for him!
When her mistress is claimed as an enemy knight’s betrothed, handmaiden Aelfhild knows it would be too dangerous for her lady; she must go in her place. But there’s more to the scarred knight than she first thought—she isn’t expecting to fall for him! As the line between friend and enemy blurs, Aelfhild realizes she might be protecting her mistress, but not her heart…
‘What do you intend to do now you have found me? Am I to be taken back to Byland to receive my punishment and suffer Hilde’s disapproval?’ She allowed her lips to tremble plaintively.
‘I’d rather not,’ he said, ‘and I doubt you’re really eager to return to face a whipping.’
‘So you’ll let us leave?’ Aelfhild asked hopefully. Their eyes met. She reached a hand out in supplication and laid it on his broad chest. She had intended the gesture to stir his heart, so was unprepared for the jolt of desire that raced through her body at the feel of his firm muscles beneath her palm. His eyes widened in surprise, then he blinked and shook his head as if waking from a sleep.
‘Absolutely not! I’m certainly not going to let you out of my sight now I’ve found you!’ His expression hardened. ‘And while we’re on that matter, how stupid are you to be running in the middle of the night with no one to protect you! You’re lucky it was me who found you rather than someone intent on causing you ill.’
A scolding about her well-being was the last thing Aelfhild had expected. Anger simmered in his voice. Her heart ceased to beat, then raced at double speed to make up for it. She forced her face to show nothing, but wanted to run. His brown eyes now looked as though they belonged in the face of a wolf about to devour a lamb. She would not be the lamb he slaughtered. His concern was motivated by his wish to see his bride safe after all. She gazed back unblinking, determined to appear unaffected by his attempt to intimidate her or the intimacy they had unexpectedly shared.
‘No one is causing me ill except you by trying to take me back against my will.’
He laughed, then his expression darkened. ‘Is that what you think? Shall I show you otherwise?’
He seized her by the upper arm and tried to pull her after him. When she resisted he bent and lifted her off her feet, hefting her over his broad shoulder with ease. He marched back along the riverbank, ignoring her protests, and set her on her feet.
‘See for yourself, my lady,’ he commanded. He spun her around so that she had her back against his chest, his voice rasping in her ear. ‘You thought you were alone, but you were far from it.’
A man lay twisted in the grass. At first Aelfhild feared he was dead, but he gave a rasping breath and she realised he was merely unconscious.
‘Who is he?’ she asked.
The Breton released her. He gave the prone man a kick in the stomach. ‘His name? I don’t know. He was watching you, too, and his intentions did not appear as honourable as mine. I saw to it he had no chance to try them and took this from him.’
Aelfhild hugged herself. She had not been aware that anyone was watching them at all. The Breton pulled a seax from his belt, the blade rusted and the handle wound round with twine, and held it in front of her eyes. ‘I’ll leave it to you to decide how he might have used this on you.’
Aelfhild recoiled instinctively then reached out and took hold of the weapon. She was annoyed to see how her hand trembled, causing the weapon to quiver. She tightened her fist around it and slipped it into her belt.
‘What are you doing?’ The Breton’s voice was sharp. ‘I didn’t mean for you to keep it.’
‘I need something in case I need to defend myself.’
The Breton reached out and deftly removed it from her belt before she could prevent his theft. His hand brushed against her waist, causing her stomach to contract where his glove skimmed across her belly. His eyes never left hers. He stowed the seax downwards in his belt like a dagger rather than across as it should be worn. He gave the man a final kick.
‘If you have a weapon it can be used against you, especially one so easy to steal. If you need defending, I’ll be the one to do it.’
For a chance of winning a digital copy of Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight,
comment with the answer to this question…
Aelfhild and Gui have to take a road trip together through Yorkshire.
If you were going to go travelling who would you choose to accompany you?