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Into the Pale
To season himself as a knight, and test his mettle in holding onto his celibacy, Sir Gilbart of Fellswick accompanies Richard Strongbow's invasion of Ireland. Sir Gilbart hopes to prove himself worthy of his noble birth and prepare himself to be a Knight Templar. But a clever Irish noblewoman challenges not only his prowess as a knight, but his resolve to keep himself chaste.
Lady Eilish of Tinnancarew demands that her brother to hold to his promise to wed her to a man of high rank. Her skill with a spear is uncanny and her will to protect her twin sister from their brother's wrath is strong. How can she make her brother understand that siding with Strongbow's army risks the very lands she's already suffered to protect?
She crept along the passageway. Purposely without slippers, without clothes of any kind, only wrapped in a thin mantle of wool. He would not refuse her, she was certain of it. She stopped and hitched a breath when she saw a heap of man outside the door. She studied the man's form. He was asleep and just far enough beyond the door that she could slip by if she were careful. She closed her eyes and made a silent prayer. The door complied with her wishes, opening and closing soundlessly, but there was a soft click as she set down the metal latch.
The man inside the chamber wasn't asleep. She could see by the brazier that he lay watching her. He must have seen her open the door. She'd taken her time with it, fearing it would creak. His look was a solemn frown. Her heart leapt along like a frightened hare, but courage had not abandoned her. She reached her right hand to undo the clasp of the cloak. His face changed and he spoke in a whisper.
She stepped towards him and let the cloak fall from her tense fingers.
He rose up from the bed, his naked skin golden in the faint light. She didn't realize how cold she was until his arms were around her, his warm, solid body against hers. Lord forgive her, he was warm. Deliciously heated and warm like broad sunlight.
"It was beyond my hope that you would come to me this way," he said in a breathless voice. "I would beg your forgiveness…beg to be in your favor again…"
He kissed her face with moist, soft lips. She murmured contented sounds and put her arms about his neck. Skimming her hands over his solid shoulders, she slinked her fingers into his hair. Short as it was she had wanted to do that. It felt like soft tufts of wool. No, softer! Like the pelt of a young hare.
His tender, probing lips were on hers, tasting slowly. Being tasted was wondrously strange. It made her feel weak and she wavered, clinging to his shoulders. When he applied his tongue to the feast she opened her mouth for him and her knees disappeared. In a dizzy moment, she was on the bed. In the bed. With him. And he was still kissing her. How did he do that? When he kissed her neck she could feel it all over her body. And his warm hands were stroking slowly everywhere. Bliss! Then suddenly he stopped.
"Hugh…" she breathed at him, urging him to continue, watching his glistening eyes as he scanned her naked body slowly.
"God, you are so beautiful!"
He was touching again, caressing with rough hands that felt like wet sand moving lightly against her skin. It felt so wonderful. Like the first time she'd been in the sea. Washed by something elemental and far more powerful than herself. She pulled his head towards hers, seeking to sear the eager features of his face into her mind.
"I love…" she whispered.
"Do you? Sweet God. I swear. I'll never touch another woman as long as I live!"
"Yes…yes! Only you…"