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Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Lady Gisborne Chapter 19, Part Two


Do not weep. Do not weep.

As she watched Simon’s figure growing smaller in the distance, Evelyn’s mind told her to refrain from tears. He would be back soon, and they would both rejoice at their reunion.

If only her heart could be convinced.

The tears in her eyes spilled over. She wiped them away, feeling foolish for being so emotional, when she had just assured Simon of the hope that was giving her strength. That feeling had not faded, not in the least. But she felt his absence already. There was a hole in her heart, an emptiness that only he could fill. She wanted to be strong...but her longing for him was already conquering her valiant effort.

As she took in a trembling breath, she felt her mother’s presence beside her. Thea was quick in joining them. They all stood together, teary eyed. Thea held Gabriel against her shoulder, gently rubbing his back. He slept peacefully, unaware of the distress shared between his mother, his grandmother, and his aunt. Thea sighed despondently.

“I do not know how you endure these separations, Mama.”

Cassia sniffled, rubbing away a tear. She hugged herself, resting a protective palm on her belly. “Experience does not ease my suffering, nor will it. Were it not for the perils of the road, and the delicacy of my condition, I would be at my husband’s side. But matters being as they are, I shall live in anticipation of his return.” She turned back towards the house, leaning on Celeste for support.

Thea and Evelyn followed. As they came through the entry way, Evelyn noticed Owen. He was headed upstairs, rather than to the barracks, where he spent most of his waking hours. Seeing him earlier that day, looking so poorly, she had been concerned. Now, she felt she must know what was ailing him so. With a concerned air, she approached him.

“Owen, are you unwell? You seem out of sorts this morning.”

He flinched, as if struck. And he shook his head...but not in denial.

“I am in hell,” he mumbled, leaning a hand on the wall to support himself. His other hand supported his head, which hung heavy. “Plagued by a head that is split in two, and a stomach that seems intent on turning itself inside out.”

She started to ask him a question. But taking his hand from his forehead, he waved her away.

“I beg you...no speaking. No noise. No disturbance. I must find a silent and dark place, or I swear I will die.”

Evelyn watched him go, wondering at his behavior. He was obviously ill, and in need of nursing. But he wanted to be left alone. And now was not the time to start an argument, or to make accusations.

He disappeared into his room, and she moved a few doors down to her own chamber. Violette was not far behind, attentive as always to her mistress. But Evelyn kindly dismissed her, wishing to be alone. In her room, she closed the door and walked to the window seat. Sitting there, pulling her knees up, she looked out on the sunny day. The sky was blue and cloudless...a good day for travel. She hoped that the men would have such weather all along their way.

But what of matters worse than weather? She thought, suddenly fearful. What of bandits? The Duke’s carriage would indeed be a rich target for thieves. And what of wild beasts? They were not unheard of. Wolves, bears...who knew what other manner of hungry animals were lying in wait?

She closed her eyes, shaking her head to lose those dreadful thoughts. Her father, Simon, and Lucien were all competent warriors and huntsmen. Each man was a strong man on their own, but together, they were a force to be reckoned with. They would be safe. She was sure of it.

Her thoughts turned to other matters...the quiet being one of them. It had been weeks since the house was so still. But there was no serenity in the silence...no joy in the calmness. Everything seemed so empty now, as if the very soul of the house had fled. She sighed, trying to recall what she had done in the days before Simon. In former times, when her father had gone to court, she had missed him terribly, but she had occupied herself with various tasks to pass the time. For a moment, she considered going out to the garden or the orchard. But those places held new memories now. A deep meaning that had taken root there, among the trees and fragrant blooms. In the orchard, they had shared their first real kiss. Among the garden flowers, under the evening stars, they had shared a tender and romantic night. Even the great hall would hold reminders of him. He would be everywhere she turned. She sighed, deeply and raggedly. The man she loved had not been gone half a day, and already she missed him.

Lord, she thought. How does Mama do this? How does she not go mad with missing Papa?

Perhaps it was unwise to remain alone in this way. Perhaps it would be better to commiserate with someone who understood her suffering. She rose from her seat and left her room, moving toward her mother’s chambers.

She knocked, and a moment later she was surprised by the sound of Thea’s voice, bidding her to enter. When she came in, she found Thea and their mother on the bed together, resting against the pillows. Thea was leaning on Cassia’s shoulder. They were both sniffling, and teary eyed. Evelyn was hesitant to add her own misery to theirs...and yet, she was hungry for their comfort. She took a small step back.

“I am sorry to disturb you,” she said, turning away. But Cassia called her back.

“Evelyn, do not go. Come, my darling, and sit with us.”

She needed no encouragement. She crawled into the big bed, moving carefully as she found a place beside her mother. It was just the three of them. Her, Thea, and their mother... huddled together and bonding over their shared heartaches.

This, Evelyn realized, was the source of her mother’s strength...to rely on those they loved. Not to suffer in solitude, as men would do, but to find solace in one another, assuring themselves that soon, their men would return to them, safe and sound.

*****

Simon looked around at the colorful circle of nobles gathered together. With a deep sigh, he brought his goblet to his lips, sipping his wine as he went through the motions of being a court member. His expression was calm, belying the edginess he felt bubbling inside. They had all been summoned here to discuss the possibility of a conflict. And yet, here they stood...partaking of wine and food, conversing gaily amongst one another. Minstrels played while eligible young maidens danced, displaying their charms for the eager men who might be seeking a bride. It was all a haughty show of grandeur...and it bothered Simon to no end. He clenched his jaw to keep from cursing.

But Sir Guy had no qualms about speaking his mind. His face was dark with anger, and he stood with his arms crossed, muttering his displeasure.

“Bloody foolishness. If there is to be a war, why can it not be discussed without this useless display of show? My remaining years are few, and yet I must give a portion of them to this?”

Simon was not surprised by Guy’s reaction. From the moment they had set out, he had been this way...ill of mood, saying very little except when prodded, or when he failed to contain his temper, as now. The other court members were careful in approaching him, if they tried to approach at all. Their questions were mostly met with silence and frosty looks. Simon understood Guy’s anger. The earl had a family at home, one he had been forced to leave behind. The wife he loved most dearly was carrying a child, and he could not be there. It was no wonder that he chafed in angry helplessness. Looking around at their fellow nobles, Simon felt a similar sense of unhappiness.

There were many ladies present, and not just those seeking attention in the hopes of finding a match. Many of the women were wives who had accompanied their husbands. Seeing some of the couples together, he could not help wishing that Evelyn was among the ladies in attendance.

Her image came to him at that moment. He envisioned those exquisite, almond-shaped eyes...such a lovely shade of blue. He could see the elegance of her face, oval-shaped and pale, and the petite mouth. What soft, rose-colored lips she had. Sweet, tender lips...far better to taste than any wine. And the thought of it sent a surge of heat through his blood.

But there was more to his excitement than the memory of her beauty. He loved the remembrance of her soft voice...especially her laugh. He had always thought of life as a serious business, seeing no need or reason to partake in levity. But being around Evelyn, his eyes been opened to something new. She was warm and vibrant. She was a proper lady, and yet she possessed an unbridled spirit, unafraid of finding joy and expressing it.

What a joy she would be at this moment. He could imagine her at his side, looking so elegant and regal, carrying herself so proudly. She would put all of these women to shame. If they could see her in all of her beauty and delightfulness, it would make him the envy of all men. They would wish for such a bride.

Bride, he thought, his bright mood dimming. It would be nearly two months more before he could call her that. She would turn sixteen in late September, and they would be married a fortnight after. It seemed like such a long time to wait.

And what if, in that span of time, other events transpired?

The thought of it rattled him to the core. This pretense that surrounded him...this putting on of airs...would soon give way to real matters. If the call to arms came, he would have no choice but to answer...and in answering, he would prepare to give his life.

He had long been ready to find honor in death, should it be required of him. But he had never counted on a desire to live...a need to love.

How could he leave this life, when he was just discovering what joy there was to be found? He had found it in Evelyn. They had only just begun to know one another. Would he be forever denied the promise of her smile and touch? It tore at him to think that he might never again know the sweet intimacy of her company...or discover the bliss of their marriage bed. He had imagined it night after night, thinking of how he would school her in the ways of pleasure.

If he was called away, there was no promise of his return...no guarantee that he would come home to her and begin their life together.

He wanted to know his wife...to love her, even if he was only permitted a brief span of time. He wanted Evelyn, and he did not want to wait.

*****

A knock came on Evelyn’s door. She came to her feet quickly, full of expectation. It had been nearly a fortnight since Simon had gone. She had kept busy with various projects...weaving rush mats, helping her mother make medicines, and sewing clothes for the new baby. It had not kept her from thinking of him, but it had quickened the passage of time. And over the last several days, she had taken to hoping of some word from him. Her father had sometimes written a letter home while he was away. It would be no great expense for Simon to write her, and when she heard the rapping at her door, her heart went wild with anticipation.

“Come in,” she called.

When the door opened, it was Violette. In her hand was a rolled parchment...but from the look on her face, it was clear that something was amiss.

“Ma Dame, alors que je marchais, un garçon m'a approché. Il disait qu'il était un valet, travaillant pour son maître. Il m'a demandé de vous remettre ceci. Il m'a dit que c'est très urgent.''

“My lady, while I was walking, a boy approached me. He was a groom, he said, working on behalf of his master. He requested that I give this to you. He said it is most urgent.”

Evelyn’s eyes filled with curiosity.

''Urgent? A-t-il donné le nom de son maître?''

“Urgent? Did he name his master?”

Violette shook her head as she replied. ''Non, ma Dame. Il m'a seulement dit de vous donner ceci, à vous et à personne d'autre.''

“No, my lady. He said only to deliver this to you, and no one else.”

With a cautious hand, Evelyn took the parchment, feeling a strange stirring of tension as she accepted it. Looking at Violette, she tried to put on a careless face.

''Merci, Violette. Je suis certaine que cela n'a pas grande importance. Alors, s'il vous plaît, ne dites rien à Maman ou qui que se soit d'autre. Je ne désire pas éveiller de la curiosité pour rien.''

“Thank you, Violette. I am certain its significance is small. So please, say nothing to Mama or anyone else. I have no wish to rouse curiosity over nothing.”

Violette nodded and curtseyed. As she left, Evelyn examined the message in her hand. Carrying it to her bed, she sat down with it. This was not from Simon. She knew, without opening it, whose hand had written to her. Taking a deep breath, closing her eyes, she tried to still her beating heart. And then, pulling the cord loose, she opened the message...and with a sharp intake of breath, she began to read...


My dearest Evelyn,

Words cannot fully express what I wish to convey. But you must know that I painfully regret any heartache my actions may have caused you. You must believe that my feelings for you were, and shall always be, more pure and sacred than any feelings I have ever known. Your tender influence has touched me deeply, forcing me to reexamine certain aspects of my life, some of them long forgotten. Wherever my path may lead me, please know that my thoughts will turn to you often. I shall always think of you with great fondness, high regard, and deep affection.

Your humble servant,

René-Jean Bastien


For a moment, she started at the paper in disbelief. How had he sent this? Was he near? Oh Lord, if he dared to make another appearance...

She rolled the parchment up, clutching it in her hand. He wanted her forgiveness. He had dared to write her a letter filled with heartfelt sentiments. Troublesome sentiments. If Simon were to discover the letter, she hated to imagine what he would think. He had been so understanding thus far. But how could she expect him to accept this?

She could not risk it. She would not.

Crushing the message in her fist, she hurried over to the hearth, where there was a fire burning low. For a moment, she held the paper suspended in front of her...and then she threw it into the flames. The edges turned black, and Evelyn watched it burn. She told herself she was happy to see it turn to ash.

Why, then, did her heart suddenly feel so heavy?



Friday, March 25, 2011

My Lady Gisborne Chapter 19, Part One


The entire house was in a state of deep quiet, except for the occasional footstep of a servant. But even those noises were few. Isabella made her way along the upper corridor, moving towards her room. She had visited the chapel one last time before seeking her bed. The stillness of the house was a comfort, for there was no one about whom she had to face...particularly not Owen. After the incident out on the practice field, she had not seen him all day, not even at supper. From what she could gather, Sir Guy had ordered his son to remain behind while the other men journeyed to court, and Owen was not at all pleased with the decision. He had hidden himself away in some part of the house, and no one seemed to mind his absence.

Who can blame them? she thought, as she neared her door. Detestable boy. They have enough concerns without having to endure his callousness. She sighed at the thought of him, wondering how he had come to be so malicious. His father was aloof, but from what she knew of him, Sir Guy was tolerable of others, even when he did not like them. He had, at first, been displeased with the idea of her being here, but he had softened soon after. Why could his son not be as gracious?

She shook her head at her musings, wondering why she should concern herself with him. He was an ill-tempered youth, and he had much growing to do, as far as his manners and temperament. Perhaps one day, with time, he would grow into a decent young man. But that, it seemed, was a long way off.

After she had stepped into her room, pushing the door to close it, she heard an odd noise coming from somewhere nearby. Judging from the sound, it seemed like someone was shuffling along. There came a thud, as if someone had fallen...and then came a soft curse. She knew it wasn’t right to pry. It would be better to ignore the noise, whatever it was. But curiosity got the better of her. Peeking through the opening of her door, she looked out in the hall, her eyes searching for the source of the disturbance.

She took a slight step back as she realized who it was. Owen, walking along in a clumsy fashion, passed her door. She kept her door open only by a tiny space, not wanting him to see her. It seemed he was aware of very little, her least of all. He stopped within her line of sight...still, and yet not still. He seemed to be wavering on his feet. He attempted to take a step...and he lost his balance, falling against a chair.

The foolish boy, she thought, horrified at the realization that he seemed to be drunk. She knew what a drunkard looked like, and this was a sure sign of it. For a few moments she observed him, wondering what he might do. His movements were deliberately slow, as if he was making an attempt to control his actions. At first he gripped the chair, trying to steady himself. And then, sensing that his balance was beyond his control, he sat down in the chair. He hung his head...and a moment later, he was as still as death.

Good heavens, Isabella said to herself. Has he fallen into a stupor?

She took a step away from the door, thinking that it would serve him right to be found that way, passed out from an overindulgence of drink.

But what if his mother found him in such a state?

Lady Cassia had been such a devoted friend. With all that she was enduring...pregnancy, the departure of her beloved husband...it would be cruel and heartbreaking to find her son in so embarrassing a situation.

Isabella sighed heavily. Heaven help me, she said, crossing herself. Slowly, she opened her door. Looking carefully about for anyone who might be passing, she softly crept over to where Owen sat. He was emitting a light snore...and with a hesitant hand, she reached out to shake him. He mumbled, but didn’t lift his head. She shook him again, and this time, he seemed to come to his senses. At least, he looked up at her. His eyes closed, and then opened again, as though he wasn’t sure who he was looking at. His speech was mumbled.

“What are you doing in here?”

She turned her head away from the smell of his breath. It reeked of alcohol.

“You have a reputation,” he muttered. “You should not be in my room.”

She shushed him, concerned by the volume of his voice. She whispered in reply, “You are not in your room, you fool. I would advise you to find it before you mortify yourself further.”

He looked to his left, and then to his right. He returned his eyes to her. “Which room is it?”

With a frustrated shake of her head she replied, “I do not know.”

“Well I do,” he said, pushing himself up on wobbly legs. He mumbled, mixing his words. “I know the room to my own way. I will get there myself, without help from you. Good night, madam.”

He took a few steps forward...and nearly fell on his face. Without thinking, she rushed forward to keep him from collapsing. He leaned on her, while she clasped his arm to steady him. He mumbled again, more softly this time.

“I am not so very drunk. The fellows in the barracks...they are the ones who partake. I never do. Except tonight. They talked me into having a sip, and I had one. And then another one.”

Realizing he would never make it on his own, she put his arm around her shoulder. Walking slowly with him, she guided him towards the family quarters, praying every step of the way that no one would come out and discover them. By some miracle, she managed to get enough out of him so she would know which door was his. Opening it carefully, she helped him in, and was thankful to get him to his bed before his weight sapped her strength completely. He fell to his back on the mattress, and she tried to step away...but he would not let go of her arm. His grip was tight, and she tried to pry his fingers away.

He suddenly grasped her other arm, and before she could stop him, he pulled her down and placed a hard kiss on her mouth. She cried out in surprise, trying to free herself. When at last she broke away, anger and disgust raged through her...and without a second thought, she reached out, slapping him hard across the face. Her rebuke caused his eyes to widen in shock...and his verbal reaction caught her completely off guard.

“Ow!” he cried, as if he had no notion of his offense. “What was that for? I will have a mark on me now.”

She moved away from him, wishing to be gone before something truly scandalous happened. At the door, she heard him mumble softly...

“I think I will sleep right here. Good night.”

She shook her head, pressing her hand to her lips as she made her escape. Good Lord, she thought. Is there nothing so sad as a drunkard? And worst of all, a young drunkard.

She said a short prayer for his soul, and hoped to heaven that no one would discover what a fool he had made of himself.

*****

Under the hands of Violette, who worked her mistress’s hair into braided coils, Evelyn sat as still as she could. But it was a difficult effort. Though it was hardly past sunrise, there was a great clamoring just outside her door.

The men were about to depart. Belongings were being carried...instructions were being given. And among all of the commotion, a household was still in need of keeping. Everyone was preparing for morning Mass, and then breakfast. But who would have an appetite on such a day?

She could feel the weight of sadness upon her. It forced down the corners of her mouth, and she knew that no amount of effort would return the smile to her lips. When Violette had come to wake her, the burden of sorrow had kept Evelyn pressed to her bed. Thoughts of Simon saddened her...and rallied her at the same time.

What manner of wife would she be if she thought only of herself? What selfish sort of creature would lie about, wallowing in their own misery, and not have the fortitude to bid him a proper farewell?

Violette must have sensed her lady’s trouble. The young girl was quiet and shy, saying very little except in response to questions. But she paused now in her work, speaking in a meek tone of voice.

“Peut-être son voyage ne sera pas long, ma Dame. Il est le fond de vous. Peut-être il fera hâte de retourner.“

Perhaps his journey will not be long, my lady. He is fond of you. Perhaps he will make haste to return.

Evelyn gave sudden thought to Simon’s words of a few days past, when they had sat in the orchard together. He had told her that this journey was a simple gathering of nobles to discuss politics...really nothing more.

A surge of hope ran through her. She reached up to touch Violette’s hand, thanking her.

“Je vous remercie, Violette. Qui aide à penser ainsi.”

The maidservant smiled kindly, hurrying to finish her work so that Evelyn could be on her way.

*****

Despite the renewal of hope, given by Violette’s words of encouragement, Evelyn felt swallowed up by the melancholy hanging over the house. As she knelt beside Simon during Mass, hardly a word was spoken...by him, or anyone else, except for the priest. Her mother sat in a chair, with Guy kneeling beside her. She had not seen them since the afternoon before, and their expressions were a shared mask of unhappiness. The feeling was shared by Thea and Lucien, who knelt beside Simon and Evelyn. The only one in the room who seemed beyond the sadness was Owen, although he seemed to be enduring some misery of his own. Though he was groomed and tidy as usual, he looked quite wretched when viewed more closely. His eyes were bloodshot, as though he had not slept. He seemed to be in terrible pain, at times furiously rubbing his temples. She thought to ask him what was wrong. But her concerns were with Simon. Her brother would endure without her interference.

After a tense and quiet breakfast, the dreaded moment came. The Duke led the way, walking out to the front courtyard. The reality of everything began to fall on Evelyn. The Duke’s carriage, surrounded by his servants as well as his hounds, stood in wait. Guy, Lucien, and Simon’s horses were prepared. All that remained was the goodbye. The servants stood in observance as Basil made his farewells to Guy and Cassia, and to Evelyn, Thea, and Owen. He then climbed into his carriage, while the other men took their moments for last words.

Each couple stood a distance apart from the other, each saying goodbye in their own way. A groom held Simon’s horse, standing just behind the Duke’s carriage. Simon stood beside his mount. He held Evelyn’s hand, caressing it gently. In the light of day, in front of others, they were not permitted more. The tension was strong between them. He longed to embrace her...to take her in his arms and relish the taste of her lips. She wanted the same. It was so evident in the way she looked at him. There was a deep longing in her blue eyes...a spark that stirred his own feelings of longing.

And yet, she was oddly stoic in her behavior. He had expected a wave of tears to be shed. Last night, she had pleaded for him to stay...and it had taken little convincing to make him do so. But this morning, beneath the sadness in her expression, there was a sense of calm. He wondered at the change.

“I see a difference in you, my lady. There is a light in your eyes. Tell me, Evelyn. What causes it?”

She looked down at his fingers as they held her right hand. With her left, she brushed her fingertips gently over his. “I am filled with hope,” she replied. “Hope of your return.” Taking his hand, she held it against her heart. “I will pray for it with every breath I take.”

His leaned closer to her. His words were spoken with a soft tenderness. “I will always return to you.”

More words formed on his tongue...words of affection, of caring. Of love.

He knew it now. He had fallen, madly and deeply. She had made him love her without trying. How had she so easily conquered him? He could not understand it...nor could he express in words what he felt so profoundly. He feared to attempt it, afraid he would be reduced to a stammering fool, and standing this way before her, he was too near to making that error. He could feel his resolve weakening...and slowly, he pulled his hand from hers. It was best to go now, before his discipline crumbled. As he climbed up in the saddle, he watched her as she stroked his horse’s neck. She spoke gently to the animal.

“Carry him safely on his journey. I will see you well-rewarded for it. I promise.”

She lifted her eyes to Simon one last time...and they were shining with unshed tears. She stepped back, her eyes still holding his. It was impossible to remain this way, knowing what he had to do, but struggling with a relentless desire to do what he wanted to do. He was grateful when his father’s carriage moved, for it gave him the motivation he needed to begin his difficult task. Giving his horse the heel, he rode away without looking back. To look back was to see her in pain, and it was an image already branded on his heart. It would be with him from this very moment on, until he was on his way back to her, and he needed no reminder of it. It was enough...more than enough...to feel it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another Book Giveaway!

Hello, everyone! Goodreads is doing a giveaway promo for my book Finding Grace. This was the first book I ever had published, way back in early 2008. It has undergone a re-write, and if anyone is interested in a copy, here is your chance.

Happy Reading!






Goodreads Book Giveaway







Finding Grace (Paperback) by Sarah Pawley





Finding Grace


by Sarah Pawley


Giveaway ends April 20, 2011.


See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.



Enter to win


 




Monday, March 21, 2011

The Last Day of FanstRAveganza

So we've come to the last day. It went so quickly!

A big thanks to everyone who participated! I've had so much fun reading all the blogs and see how many people joined in to comment. I'm looking forward to next year, and I know there will be lots more to talk about. :)



Have a great day, everyone!

My Lady Gisborne Chapter 18, Part Two


Evelyn looked at her father’s chair, which sat empty at the head of the table. It struck a tender, delicate chord in her heart, for there was great meaning in his absence.

Cassia had been in her room all afternoon, resting. Just before supper was served, Guy made a brief appearance in the hall, requesting a meal to be brought to his room. A moment later he had departed, and had not been seen since. Evelyn, and the rest of the household, knew this ritual well. The lord and lady of the house were secluded in their chambers together, and they would not be seen again until morning. It was their way...their ritual...to spend many hours alone, to ease the pain of separation before Guy departed on a journey.

Evelyn sighed, mindlessly stirring her bowl of soup. At dawn, Simon would depart. Who could say how long he would be away? The duration of his stay at court was dependent on the whims of King Phillip, who could keep his subjects gathered for as long as he wished.

Simon’s voice broke her reverie.

“Evelyn?”

He was seated beside her, and she looked at him. There was concern in his eyes...a softness in his features that pulled at her heart. After tonight, she would not look up to see him gazing at her, his handsome face and beautiful green eyes full of tenderness. She felt as though she would break down in tears on the spot. The gentleness of his voice was nearly too much.

“Are you unwell?”

She fought the urge to cry out. Yes, I am unwell. How can I be otherwise? But instead, she answered as calmly as she could, even managing a little smile.

“Mama and Papa’s absence saddens me, that is all.”

She looked away, worried that he would see the pain shining in her eyes.

They had spent the remainder of the day riding, and she had listened quietly as he talked of cities he had seen on his many journeys. He took her by surprise that afternoon. Usually so reserved, he suddenly came to life when he spoke of his travels. In his twenty-three years, he had seen more parts of the world than she would ever know, and she could hear in his tone the anticipation of future endeavors. He was ever a man of loyalty, of duty. His service to his king and country were at the core of his being.

So where did she factor in his heart?

He cared for her. He had made that quite clear. But would he think of her when he was away? Or would his return to the high aristocracy, a circle of power and politics, turn his thoughts to matters more important than her?

He was so warm and compassionate. There seemed to be little left of the aloof creature that had stood in the hall before the gathered masses, announcing his vow of loyalty to her as if he had repeatedly practiced the speech before hand. She had not doubted his word then, and she was even more certain of it now, for she sensed that she had become more to him than a contractual obligation. For that, she knew she should have been grateful. It was a rare thing for a woman to be more to her husband than mere chattel...more than just the mother of his heirs.

But she wanted his feelings to be deeper.

She thought of her mother and father. Right now, they were spending every last moment together. She knew, without seeing it or hearing it, that her mother wept.

Mama always weeps for him, she thought, Just as he grieves for her.

Her father made no secret of his feelings. He abhorred the thought of leaving his beloved, even for a short while. Were it not for the possible threat of treason, he would have ignored the invitation to court and remained at home, taking pleasure in the love of his wife and family, who were more important to him than his duties to the crown.

But Simon was not such a man. His loyalty was first and foremost to his sovereign, and despite his growing feelings for her, he would do his duty with little hesitation. It broke her heart to think that his feelings for her might fade, even a little, when he left.

She was shaken from her thoughts when Lucien rose to his feet.

“It grows late,” he said. “We must journey at dawn, so I will say good night to you all.”

Thea rose at his words, bidding all at the table a good night as she took her husband’s arm. Simon stood next, and Evelyn felt a sharp pain in her heart, wishing so much to delay the inevitable. If she let him go now, he would leave her at her door, perhaps with a kiss. He would say good night, and she would go to her bed, where she would have to endure sleeplessness...and eventually, the cruel coming of dawn. It was too much to bear. Reaching out, she grasped Simon’s hand, uncertain of what to say to him...but unable to let him go. She searched her mind for something, some reason to keep him.

“Simon, will you walk with me? Please?”

He seemed curious, offering her a slight smile. Before he could question her, she found her incentive.

“It seems to be a clear night. Before I go to bed, I would like to look at the stars.”

His smile grew. “And you would like me to accompany you?”

She felt a great sense of relief at his question. He would not leave her yet. And she replied, with a loving expression...

“I would be so pleased.”

*****

The night was clear and without a moon, allowing the stars to shine brightly. Walking side by side, Evelyn and Simon moved in silence, neither knowing just what to say. Looking to the sky for inspiration, she spoke softly.

“I have always loved the night. The moonlight when it shines, and the brilliance of the heavens when filled with starlight, like now.”

“There is something of you in those stars,” he declared. “Are you aware of it?”

A smile came to her lips. Warmth flooded her. “You flatter, my lord. To compare me with such a wonder.”

“Tis more than mere compliment,” he said. “You play the lyre, do you not? Are you not familiar with its place in the heavens?”

She shook her head. They were in the garden now, walking slowly. As they came to an alcove, he paused.

“Here,” he said. “We have found a seat. Sit beside me, and I will tell you of it.”

She did not hesitate. He seemed eager to please her. She wondered...and hoped...if he wished to take pleasure in these last hours together. Sitting beside him, she moved close, enough so she could feel the warmth flowing from him. When he began, his words were enthralling, spoken with such eloquence and beauty. With a poised hand, confident in the story he was telling, he gestured towards the night sky.

“It is perhaps difficult to see without the aid of a chart. But there, in the southern sky, is a collection of stars called Lyra, which represents the lyre played by Orpheus.”

Evelyn smiled. “Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope.”

There was a note of surprise in his voice. “You know of the tale?”

“Only vaguely,” was her reply. His surprise was not unexpected. Men were the recipients of nearly all learning. Though she was eager to know more of everything the world could offer, her education had been quite limited. But now, looking at Simon, she saw the opportunity to share the wisdom of men.

“I would dearly love to know the tale,” she said. “Will you tell it to me?”

For a moment she waited, anticipating his answer. Then, his arm went around her shoulders. She melted against him as he leaned back into the alcove. Her head came to rest upon his shoulder. She closed her eyes, listening to the soothing sound of his voice as he told her the story.

“Apollo gave his son a lyre as a gift. Orpheus played it so well that the wild beasts, the rocks, and even the trees were charmed by his music. He fell deeply in love with nymph called Eurydice, and they married, but their wedded bliss did not last long. One day, Eurydice was wandering in the fields with other nymphs when she was seen by the shepherd Aristaeus. He was struck by her beauty and pursued her, but as she fled, she was bitten by a serpent in the grass and died from its poison.”

Evelyn gasped, lifting her head. “Oh, how sad,” she cried, looking at Simon. His expression was rather concerned, and so was his reply.

“The tragedy to come is more so. Shall I spare you the rest?”

She shook her head, answering quickly. “No, please...tell me more.”

“Very well,” he replied. She returned her head to his shoulder, and he began again.

“Orpheus was devastated by his loss. He decided to seek out his wife in the underworld, and gained an audience with Pluto and Persephone. The king and queen of the underworld, like all others, were charmed by his music and granted him permission to take Eurydice back to the land of the living with him. They summoned Eurydice, who was among the ghosts who had but newly come, and walked slowly because of her injury. Orpheus received her, but on condition that he must not look back until he had emerged from the valleys of Avernus, or else the gift he had been given would be taken from him.”

She tensed, preparing herself for the worst. He paused, as if to gauge her reaction, but went on.

“Up the sloping path, through the mute silence they made their way, up the steep dark track, wrapped in impenetrable gloom, until they had almost reached the surface of the earth. Here, worried that his wife's strength might be failing and eager to see her, he looked behind him, and Eurydice immediately slipped back into the depths. Orpheus stretched out his arms, straining to clasp her and be clasped, but he found only air. Eurydice, dying now a second time, uttered no complaint against her husband. What was there to complain of, that she had been loved? Giving a last farewell which hardly reached his ears, she fell back again into the same place from which she had come.”

Tears welled in her eyes. Whether from the sadness of the story, or his masterful telling of it, she was uncertain of the cause. She only knew she was deeply moved, and mesmerized.

“According to Ovid, Orpheus was so heartbroken that he rejected every woman he met from that day forward. One day, a group of Thracian women, infuriated by his rejections, hurled rocks at him. The rocks, tamed by the sound of his lyre, at first fell harmlessly at his feet, but the shrieks of the infuriated women soon drowned out the music. The women dismembered Orpheus, throwing his lyre and his head into the river Hebrus.”

He paused in his telling. Thinking he had finished it, she reached up to wipe a tear from her eye. “That is perhaps the saddest story I have ever heard.”

There was a hint of amusement in his voice. “There, you are wrong,” he replied. “You see, the Muses gathered up his limbs and buried them, and Orpheus went to the underworld to spend eternity with Eurydice. And Jupiter himself cast the bard's lyre into the sky.”

A deep sigh escaped her. “How very beautiful and romantic.”

He matched her sigh with his own, and his words took on a tender nuance. “Love defies all things, so say the ancients.”

Quiet fell over them. She closed her eyes again, basking in the tender silence...until she felt the warmth of his breath. It rushed against her temple, rapidly. Slowly raising her head, she soon felt his breathing against her ear, and shivers rippled over all of her skin. He whispered words to her...but not ones she was prepared to hear. His words were soft and strained, as if he fought to say them.

“It grows late,” he said. “We should return to the house.”

Panic gripped her. How could he leave her now? Turning to him, she could hardly see his face in the darkness...but she could sense his struggle.

“Please, Simon. Stay with me.”

She heard his outlet of breath. There was a plea in his tone. “Evelyn...”

He was denying himself what she knew he wanted...what they both wanted. Blast your principles, she thought. Reaching out, she grasped his face firmly in her hands...and drew his lips to hers. It took only a moment to gain the reaction she craved. He was soon kissing her back with great abandon. She felt the strength of his arms as they wrapped around her, and she pressed herself against him, thrilling at the wild waves of pleasure it brought to every part of her body. She could feel his power, his strength...and the rapid rise and fall of his chest. His excitement was undeniable.

But he wrenched himself away. Grasping her by the shoulders, his words rushed in a flow of struggling breath and acute frustration.

“Evelyn, you play with fire!”

Stunned by the sharpness of his voice, she lost her ability to speak. He was angry. Truly angry. She felt a lump forming in her throat, fearing that her thoughtlessness had ruined their last hours together. But when he spoke again, his voice was calmer, though clearly his frustration had not ebbed.

“You set a fire in my soul, Evelyn. Each time I kiss you, a primal part of my being is unleashed...and you cannot fathom the danger of it.”

He released her, setting her back a distance. He turned away from her. She watched as he ran his hands down his face, in a clear attempt to gather his senses. She hardly knew what to say to him. But when he rose to his feet, she found her voice. She reached out, clasping his hand.

“Please, Simon. Do not go.”

She heard him make a sound of frustration. He reminded her, again, of the lateness of the hour. But she did not relinquish her hold.

“Stay with me, for just a few moments more. I promise not to forget myself. Tell me one more tale. Just one, and then, I shall go willingly.”

She feared that he might refuse, and she could not bear the thought of his going. Perhaps tomorrow, in the harsh light of day, she would have the strength to endure their goodbye. But not tonight. Not when they were alone in this haven, with the tranquility of the night settled over them. She wilted with relief when he slowly returned to her side.

“Do you know of the princess, Andromeda?”

Wagging her head, she smiled, relieved beyond words that he had chosen to stay...and closing her eyes, leaning her head against him, she listened as he began the story.

*****

Mid-way through his story, Simon paused. He had been going on, he realized, without allowing Evelyn to speak. To be truthful, it was what he intended. Moments of silence were a danger...to himself, and to her, for if he let a silence fall, he knew what would come next. Lord, it had already happened once, and if he let it happen again, he wasn’t certain he could control his actions.

But his pause was triggered by a sense that something had changed. Evelyn seemed to lean more heavily against him. And, after a time, he had noticed that she was hardly making a sound. He looked down at her, seeing the reason for her silence...and he smiled.

She was asleep.

He attempted to wake her by saying her name, whispering it several times. But when she was unresponsive, he became hushed. Looking at her, he resisted the urge to wake her up. Instead, he adjusted her position so she became cradled in his arms. How lovely she was. The starlight was dim, but he could make out the delicate shape of her face, so peaceful in sleep. It was tempting to lean down and taste the sweetness of her lips, for the memory of that last kiss was still fresh in his mind. But no. He would not ruin a beautiful and tender moment such as this. He had fought his selfishness and won, and he would not betray himself, or her, with a stolen moment of passion.

Placing one arm under her knees, and the other beneath her back, he cradled her gently and rose to his feet. She was so light and slender in his arms. Walking along, he felt no strain from the weight of her. Only a heartfelt wish that he could keep her in his embrace.

Soon, he told himself. Someday soon.

Crossing the threshold of the house, he was quickly greeted by several servants, including Evelyn’s maidservant. He shushed the girl when she began to ask questions...and ignored the curious eyes of the others.

“Your lady has exhausted herself. I will not disturb her now, so take me to her chamber. You will see to her there.”

The maid looked stunned, but with a stern look, she did as he requested. He turned a blind eye to those who looked at him. They were servants, and their opinions were of no matter.

He carried her up the stairs, following the girl down the hall to Evelyn’s chamber. She opened the door for him, and leading him into the room, she gestured towards the bed, where the covers were already turned down. Gently, he deposited her on the soft sheets. To his amusement, she instantly turned on her side and adopted a curled pose, much like the one he had witnessed not long ago. It was so difficult to leave her, and he could not keep from at least touching her one last time. He found a sense of mourning coming over him as he realized they would not be this way, alone, for a long time to come. Reaching out, he brushed a loose curl of dark hair away from her forehead. He longed for more...so much more.

But the maid was standing nearby, as if to remind him of his limitations.

I need no reminder, he thought. And I shall never forget this moment. Not so long as I live.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday's Featured Writer of the Day

 Today’s writer is the wonderful Trudy, who can be found on Wattpad and C19.

Trudy’s contribution to the fanfic world is a lovely story called “A Heart for Milton,” which of course features our favorite couple, John Thornton and Margaret Hale from the BBC’s “North and South.”

As most people know, my favorite RA character is Guy of Gisborne, so I tend to read more Guy fic than anything else. But occasionally, I've taken time away from the dark knight to read about other Armitage characters. This was a story that I had heard mentioned several times by other readers, so I decided to look at it for myself, and I'm so glad I did.

We know the characters well, of course, and Trudy paints them so beautifully it’s as if we are watching another film version, made with the author’s own talented hand. While the film ended with the famous kissing scene, this story takes it a step beyond, even adding a slight twist to John and Margaret’s meeting at the train station.

I can’t give too much away, because it would spoil the story. But I will say that if you love North and South, you will really love this.

Trudy’s work can be found here. I hope you'll stop by and have a look!



Happy Reading!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's Featured Writer of the Day

For today’s post, I’m featuring a lovely writer named Siouxsie Sioux, who offers three wonderful RA stories to choose from.

My first selection is an intriguing Guy of Gisborne fic called “Ismay of Aquitaine.” Taking place after the end of series two, it involves a young female apothicary named Ismay...a woman with a dark past and a desire for revenge. On her journey to find the man who did her a terrible injustice, she encounters a wounded Guy of Gisborne. After aiding him with her knowledge of healing, they form a bond of friendship that slowly blossoms into love, and together they set out on a quest to right the wrongs of the past.

This was a romantic and sometimes sad story, and we get a most nasty villain in the form of Prince John. I couldn’t help but imagine Toby Stephens in the part, and it was interesting to see a different foe for this story besides the Sheriff. The author also offers some different endings to choose from, which was something I really enjoyed.

Siouxsie Sioux’s other RA offerings are two North and South fanfics, both of which I’m still in the process of reading. (My to-be-read pile is always adding stories.)

The first is a modern telling called “Come Back to Me,” and the other is a tale called “Bluebirds,” set at the outbreak of World War II. Since I’m still reading these, I won’t try and jot down a false description, as I’m just discovering them for myself. But I’m loving what I’m reading so far, and I hope you will take a look at these stories and enjoy them just as much.

You can find these lovely works on C19 and Wattpad. Here are the links...



Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Lady Gisborne Chapter 18, Part One


This is not part of the RA fest, of course. Just one of my regular postings. Hope no one minds!

*****

Poetry in motion.

Evelyn could not think of another way to describe her husband-to-be.

She sat in the family box, along with Thea and Isabella, watching the soldiers at practice. After breakfast, they had coaxed Isabella from her room, urging her to come out and enjoy the sunshine. She had, at first, refused. It would not do, she said, to be seen in their company in her physical state. Both sisters had declared such a statement to be nonsense. If she was concerned about her bruises, they could be easily be disguised by a head scarf. After much persuasion, she had reluctantly joined them on a stroll through the garden and across the grounds. Eventually they all found their way to the fields where the soldiers were training. Evelyn took to the viewing box, and the other ladies soon followed. Isabella sat quietly, lowering her eyes occasionally and having small interest in the men. But Evelyn and Thea watched their mates with great delight.

She marveled at how splendidly Simon moved, with power and confidence. It was thrilling to watch his muscular figure in motion, moving with animal-like power as he charged his opponent. It was incredible to think that this man before her, who wielded his broadsword with such strength and ferocity, was the same man who could overwhelm her with his gentleness and passion. She sighed, a pleasurable sound...heard by Thea, who gave her a knowing smile.

“You openly admire your fiancé,” she said. “Who would have thought you would be so taken with him?”

Evelyn shrugged, a careless gesture. “Time changes many things, you know.”

“And some things,” said Thea, “Remain the same, no matter the passage of time.” She has turned to attention back to the field, and Evelyn wondered what her sister’s eye was fixed on. She asked, curiously, “Do you speak of something particular?”

Thea’s amused tone took on a familiar sound of dislike. “Owen,” she replied. She gestured her chin towards their brother, who stood waiting to rush in Lucien require him. “Look at him, how he frowns so. I do believe he is incapable of being pleasant. And today he seems darker than usual, which is a difficult task to accomplish.”

Looking at Owen, she could see what Thea meant. Some of the men were taking a rest now. Owen stood to the side, drinking water from a gourd. Occasionally, he raised his eyes to where the ladies were sitting. What was there to cause so sour and expression?

And then it dawned on her. She recalled the scene of yesterday morning, between Owen and their mother...about Isabella. He had made his feelings clear about her. Now he was bitter because he was being forced to accept her in their household. And it seemed that, if he could not be rid of her, he would make her feel as unwelcome as possible by way of his hateful demeanor. His motives had their desired effect, Evelyn realized, when Isabella suddenly rose to her feet.

“Forgive me, Lady Evelyn...Lady Theodora. But I must return to the house.”

Evelyn attempted to sway her. “Isabella, please stay. Do not let our brother concern you.”

“Quite right,” said Thea. “Owen is a boar and a cur.”

Isabella tried to smile, but it was a sad expression. “I am tired,” she said. “I think I shall lie down for a time.”

She turned away, heading for the house...and Thea huffed in anger. She came to her feet, stepping down from the box. Evelyn watched her with a curious eye, seeing the familiar set of her sister’s shoulders.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

Thea replied, most firmly. “I will speak to Mama. Isabella is no innocent, ‘tis true. But she has endured enough cruelty.”

She went, hurrying to catch up with Isabella. Evelyn sighed, wondering if she should follow them. Simon was engaged in conversation with a fellow soldier. Judging from their expressions, and the movement of their hands, it appeared to be a topic of importance...perhaps something related to battle tactics. He had not looked in her direction once, which disappointed her. But she knew that this training was quite important. It required concentration...not distraction. Perhaps it was best if she did join Thea and Isabella. Reluctantly, she turned to go.

“Evelyn!”

Delighted, she turned at the sound of his voice. As he came towards her, she wondered...

How can I look at him and not be overwhelmed? She tried to suppress her smile...to manage some sense of herself. But it was in vain, particularly when he looked at her in that warm way of his.

“Does my training displease you so that you depart most hastily?”

She shook her head. “Not at all,” she replied. “I was just going to join Thea and Lady Isabella.”

Simon nodded. “I observed her for a moment. Her displeasure is quite evident.”

“That is Owen’s doing. He speaks most harshly of her.”

His eyes searched her face. “Does that displease you?” he asked, to which she nodded.

“I must confess it does. I certainly do not approve of her behavior. But in my opinion, it does not warrant such ill treatment from my brother. No one is beyond redemption, not even she.”

“Between you and I, it is somewhat understandable. I found the Baron LaCroix to be most disagreeable. He is foul in body and spirit.”

“I have often thought so,” she agreed. “His appetite for food and drink is quite extraordinary. Repulsive, at times. Papa has sometimes bristled at the notion of the baron making a visit.”

“I can imagine.” Simon took a sip of his water. Lowering his cup, he sighed. “I can hardly blame his wife for seeking better company. Who would wish to lie with such a fat, disgusting tub of guts?”

Evelyn could hardly contain her sudden laughter, despite covering her mouth with both hands. Simon’s only response was a little grin, as though he was amused with himself but was containing it. Evelyn, feeling slightly bold, reached out to playfully swipe his shoulder. She knew it was improper to strike him so, even in jest, but she could not help herself.

“You speak cruelly of a fellow nobleman, my lord. That is the height of impropriety!”

Simon snorted. “A nobleman he may be, but that hardly makes him worthy of his title. To raise a hand in violence against a woman, or a child, is an act of cowardice.”

If not for the presence of the other men, she would have dared to kiss him. He was more than a noble knight. He was a most noble man. And she had a fierce desire to tell him, and show him, how strongly her feelings for him were growing.

But such sentiment was better reserved for private moments. She smiled tenderly.

“I should allow you to return to your duties, my lord.”

She spoke of his going. And yet he seemed to hesitate. She liked that uncertain behavior...as though he wished to remain with her. But it would not do to distract him so. She attempted to move away...but his hand moved over hers.

“Shall I see you in the hall? At noon day?”

Her eyes sparkled. “Of course,” she replied.

He gave no reply...barely offered a smile. In front of the other men, he could offer little in the way of affection. But it was there, in his eyes. And it was enough to warm her heart as she left him to his duties.

*****

Guy stood at the window of his bedchamber. With his arms folded, he stared out at the sunny day, his grey eyes shining with the sunlight...while his mind concentrated on the soft voice coming from nearby.

Cassia was reclining against the bed pillows, stitching a small blanket. Plagued by swelling feet, she had taken to her bed just after the mid-day meal...but not without requesting a private word with him, regarding their son.

“I leave this matter to you, husband. I have made my feelings known about his behavior. But I feel this must now go to a higher court.”

Leaning his head back, he expelled a heavy breath. “Must fatherhood always be such a taxing affair? Why must it be difficult to raise a decent man?”

There was a hint of amusement in Cassia’s reply. “A parent must be a parent, my love.”

She was right, of course. She was always right. It was his duty, as a father, to see that Owen was corrected. His own opinion of Isabella had little to do with the matter at hand. He thought of himself in years gone by...how, at one time, he would have condemned Isabella without a second thought. He would have encouraged scorn of her, for who was there to question his judgment?

But now, there was someone who was quietly watching him, wondering if he would choose to do the right thing...and knowing, in her heart, that he would not disappoint her. He resumed his gaze out of the window.

A knock came at the door.

“Come in,” said Cassia. A moment later, Owen stepped into the room.

“Papa, I am told you wish to speak with me?”

Guy said nothing. He set his jaw, firm with determination. Turning towards the door, he gave Cassia a glance as he came towards Owen. He walked by him, heading for the solar. Owen did not have to be told to follow. He did so without question, walking closely behind.

“Close the door, Owen.”

As the door clicked shut, Guy sat down in a familiar chair. He crossed his arms, watching as Owen pulled another chair close, sitting down slowly. He saw in Owen the very picture of himself as a younger man...impulsive, quick to anger. His features were a perfect match as well. The same black hair, lean build, and angular features. The same grey eyes. There was wariness in those eyes now, as if he sensed this meeting would not be pleasant. It seemed best to get right to the point, to avoid further concern.

“You will not go to court with us tomorrow.”

Owen’s eyes grew wide with shock. “I beg pardon, father?”

“Another squire will accompany Sir Lucien. You will remain behind. To care for your mother and your sisters...to be my eyes and ears while I am gone.”

Owen quickly came to his feet. He was disciplined enough not to voice his anger, but it was evident on his face as he made short strides back and forth, his hands clenched at his sides.

“I do not see the reason for this. Why I am being so punished?”

“You have caused your mother offense.”

Owen stopped in his tracks. His expression was drained of its anger, replaced in a moment by a most wounded look.

“Never would I offend Mama,” he said. “I would sooner take a dagger to my own heart than to ever wound her.”

“You offend her with your disrespect. She has asked for your hospitality towards Lady Isabella, and you refuse to give it.”

The anger returned to Owen’s face. He turned away, crossing his arms. “How am I to endure such a woman? To be generous to such a sinner is to go against all of my principles.”

“Then you do not know your true principles...your duties as a knight.” Owen started to protest, but Guy stood, stern and fatherly in his manner as he spoke. “One of your chivalric duties is to respect the honor of women. It matters not their status, nor their sins.”

Owen stood in mute anger. Guy could see how badly the young man wanted to express his outrage. It was impossible not to pity him. Reaching out, Guy put a hand on Owen’s shoulder.

“You have much to learn, my son. In time, you will see the wisdom of this decision.”

Owen gave no vocal response. He managed a slight nod of his head. Guy could see him clenching his jaw, trying to contain his fury.

Poor lad, he thought. The impulsiveness of youth was strong, but it too often led to trouble. In his heart, he knew this was the right decision. He released his hold on Owen’s shoulder. Walking away, he left the room and allowed Owen to be alone for a time, to contemplate his actions.

Returning to his bedchamber, Cassia looked up at him with curious eyes. He exhaled through his nose.

“It is done,” he said. “A most unpleasant business.”

She gave a calm, quiet reply. “Yes, but it is for the best.”

He nodded, knowing that she was right. As always.

Thursday's Featured Writer of the Day




Harry and Geraldine
 in
"A Christmas Wish"

 Today’s writer is a real treat for Richard Armitage fans. It’s my pleasure to introduce the work of "Khandy," who can be found on C19, Dreamerfiction, and Wattpad.

 The great thing about her? She’s managed to cover a multitude of RA characters in her fanfic, including Guy of Gisborne and Lucas North. My personal favorite is a story called “The Gruinard Project” but we’ll get to that momentarily. 

 Khandy’s list of stories include some characters that aren’t often seen in RA fanfic, which I think is wonderful. It gives readers something a little bit different, which is always nice. 

Lucas North in
"The
Gruinard Project"
 Most of her stories contain adult content, and the ratings vary between the different fanfic sites. If you don’t mind something a bit mature in nature, I think you’ll really enjoy these works.
 

John Standring in
"In The Bleak
Mid-Winter"
 “The Gruinard Project,” starring Lucas North, is at the top of my favorites list. It’s got  everything you could want in a Spooks story, and then some. The storyline could have been a season in and of itself. Lucas becomes involved with a lovely and spirited microbiologist, who soon finds herself unwillingly wrapped up in the buisness of MI-5. There is plenty of action and suspense in this one, as well as a spicy romance that I was completely hooked by. I often found myself thinking that Khandy should become one of the writers for the series...it was that good. :)

 You can find Khandy’s work at the following links. I would suggest Wattpad for easy access, as it doesn't require a membership to be a reader. But the other sites are great as well. Khandy also has some of her non-RA work over on Wattpad, so stop by and have a look. She would love the feedback!
Dr. Alec Track
in
"A New Track"
 
John Porter
in
"Absolution"


  http://www.wattpad.com/

Happy Reading!