Authors: Karen Michelle Nutt
Tags: #vampires, #paranormal romance, #knights, #sensual romance, #medieval legends
Karen Michelle Nutt
Love’s Eternal Embrace
Publishing by Rebecca J.
Digital ISBN: 978-1-4657-0661-4
Copyright © 2011 Karen Michelle Nutt
Cover Art Copyright © 2011 Karen Michelle
Produced by Rebecca J. Vickery
Design Consultation by Laura Shinn
Smashwords Licensing Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this ebook with other
people, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you
are reading this ebook without purchasing it and it was not
purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com
and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.
Love’s Eternal Embrace
is a work of
fiction. Though some actual
locations may be mentioned, they are used in
a fictitious manner and the events and occurrences were invented in
the mind and imagination of the author except where actual
historical facts are interwoven within the story. Similarities of
characters used within, to any person, past, present, or future,
are coincidental except where actual historical figures were
And a deadly dark secret...
A fiend dwells in the forest and Sir Liam
Cantwell sets out to slay it. Only the fiend is a fair maiden named
Glamis Drui. Will Liam fall prey to her deadly embrace or will his
knightly charms be her undoing?
October could be cold and wet in Ireland, but
the weather held out with little or no rain as Sir William
Cantwell, Liam to his friends and family, traveled North with his
squire, Cormac. After seven years, he fulfilled his obligation to
the Knights Templar, who had relieved his family’s estates from
financial burden in exchange for his services. It was a sacrifice
he had gladly undertaken to save the family from financial ruin.
The crusades were bloody and long, and for the most part
disheartening. He went into temporary service as a boy and came
back a man haunted by the horrors he’d witnessed.
He’d written to his family of his return, but
he found he was not ready to face the duties required of him. In
truth, he had no wish to be Lord when his father passed the duties
over to him. His father thrived on being in control. He was in the
front lines when petty clan wars broke out. He could shout commands
and men jumped to follow him. Liam could be just as forceful. He
proved it time and time again during his service, but in his heart,
he knew his destiny lay elsewhere.
The lush wooded area born of legends was a
welcomed reminder of his youth and he cherished the uneventful
ride. The church, along with his Norman father, frowned upon the
old stories born of druids and the Sidhe. His mother’s family may
have taken on the Christian beliefs, but the old ways were kept
close to her heart and she shared them with her sons.
The sun sat low in the horizon, the sky
darkening and looking like a sodden wool blanket. Rain would drench
the land tonight. He glanced at Cormac, who barely held onto the
reins, his lids heavy with wanted sleep. If he did not find shelter
soon, he would be picking up his squire from the ground.
He thought they would rest beneath the trees,
but as the mist cleared the path had led them to the Village of
Dunnloch. The Tavern Inn, which stood in the center of the village,
near the town square, beckoned to his tired bones. The wind blew
cold and he was thankful for the thick fur mantle he donned over
his shoulders in replacement of the templar’s thinner garb. He was
no longer obligated to dress the part of one of Order and could
return to his native attire. “We shall stay here for the night,
Cormac.” The lad straightened in his seat and blinked up at him.
“Once you have secured the horses, come to the inn and I shall have
food and drink waiting for you.”
“Thank you, Sir Cantwell.” His squire was a
bony lad, lanky and long limbed, but he proved stronger than he
appeared and a good companion.
Liam stepped down from his trusted mount. His
hand slid across the horse’s sleek black coat with affection. “If
at all possible, I shall return with a sweet for you, Loucetios.”
His horse nuzzled against him as if understanding his words.
Liam honored the codes of the Knights Templar
and took pride in doing so, but his rebellious heart could not be
tamed completely. The men he rode with were not Irish and they did
not know the Gaelic word. A sin for certain, but he took great
pleasure in naming his mount after the god of thunder.
Upon entering the tavern all eyes turned
toward him, the room falling silent as a tomb. He was a tall man,
broad shouldered from his years of wielding a sword, but he never
thought his appearance would frighten anyone. On his travels home,
the wenches in the pubs claimed he had a comely face and they liked
his thick dark strands and moss colored eyes. Then again, what did
he know about women? He never spoke to one for the seven years of
his service. It was forbidden. His experiences with the fairer sex
were limited to his mother and a young girl he once kissed before
he left home. The women who wanted his coin could not be a reliable
source. It was why he remained polite in the pubs, but did not
follow them upstairs to a room. They thought him odd, but he waited
this long to bed a woman, he would choose one he wanted for a
His gaze caught a young lad eyeing his sword
with reservation. Perhaps it was his weapon that unnerved them and
not his intimidating stance.
“I have traveled far and wish only to have
something to eat and drink for myself and my squire.” He kept his
voice even toned, hoping he sounded friendly. “Once the lad has
taken care of the horses, he will join me.”
The man standing behind the wooden bar forced
a smile and nodded his head. His hair had grayed, but he stood
tall. Age had not robbed him of his strength. “We have lamb stew
and ale aplenty.”
“Sounds splendid.” He removed his mantle as
he took the empty table near the back of the room where his back
would be to the wall and he could see the coming and going of the
men. They were Gaelic farmers by the looks of them. Most had dark
hair, darker than his, and their skin was weathered from the sun
The innkeeper brought him a tankard of
“Your name?” Liam asked, meeting the man’s
The man seemed nervous and on edge, but he
could not fault him. He was a stranger to this region of the
island. “Jarvis Hearne, kind Sir.”
Liam lifted the tankard to his lips, taking a
generous swig. The ale went down smooth with its sweet full bodied
and fruity taste. He leveled his gaze on the innkeeper. “Thank you,
The man nodded his head and scurried away
only to return a few moments later with two generous plates of
stew. There was even bread for dipping. He ate in silence and the
room began to return to normal with low murmurs of conversation.
They barely glanced at Cormac who strode in like a shivering
He waved to the boy and he hurried over to
“Sit, and eat. The food is good and hot.”
Cormac shoveled his food in his mouth like it
would be his last meal.
“Slow down.” Liam chuckled. “I promise you no
one will steal your plate.”
Cormac wiped his face with the back of his
hand and grinned. With much effort, the boy managed to take smaller
Liam had planned to stay the night here, but
with the odd welcome, he thought it wise to continue on his
Just as he was finishing the last of his ale,
a man placed another tankard before him. His face was weathered and
his beard straggly. “’Tis not safe to be wandering so close to the
forbidden forest.” He was not stating the name of the forest in
question, but warning him in some way to stay clear of it.
Liam’s lips curved as he stared at the old
man over the rim of his tankard. “And why is that, may I ask?”
“The nights belong to
especially this time of the year when the otherworld is stronger.
Not that it matters to her. Her strength is like ten men.”
He assumed the old man spoke of the
approaching Samhain as the time of year in question. Christianity
may be practiced, but the people here still held onto the pagan
superstitions. “Her? You speak of a woman then?” His gaze traveled
over the men in the pub, large men who may not know how to swing a
sword, but they were not idle men. Strong and daring, but yet, they
sat there crossing themselves at the mention of the forest and who
dwelled in it.
Cormac paused in his eating, his dark eyes
looking too large for his face as he stared wide-eyed at the old
The old man glanced over his shoulder as if
asking the other patrons’ permission to continue. No one came
forward to stop him and his gaze returned to Liam. “She is a
beautiful lass with dark strands and a face of an angel, but you
must not be fooled. She is one of the undead, a creature who feeds
off the blood of men.”
“Surely, ye jest.” Liam chuckled, but
realized no one shared in his mirth. They truly believed some lass
lived in the forest devouring men’s blood. He was only four and
twenty, but he had heard of such talk about these creatures on his
quests, but he had brushed the tales off as nothing more than
fanciful stories. He had no wish to offend and would indulge the
old man, letting him tell the tale about the fallen angel who drank
The man waved to Jarvis, asking him to keep
their tankards full.
By the time Liam downed more than a few
tankards of ale, he became boastful about his bravery to fight off
“Are you not afraid to die?” One man braved
“I served with the Knights Templar. If I
should die during a battle, my passage to heaven is secured.” His
plans to go home seemed a distance memory as his declaration to
destroy the fiend took precedence.
He withdrew his sword and held it high above
his head. “No fiend shall terrorize Dunnloch this day forward.”
Cheers and stomping of feet greeted his pledge. He glanced at
Cormac who looked unsure, but his squire raised his tankard to him
as the men ushered him to the door.
“A superstitious tale is all this is.” Or so
Liam believed until he stood at the entrance of the forest with
only a lantern for light. The cool night had sobered him enough to
realize what a fool he was for venturing out in the dead of night
to slay an imaginary fiend. He slowed Loucetios to a stop. With a
snort, his mount’s nostrils flared as if he picked up an unpleasant
scent. He shook his mane, pinning his ears to the sides of his
Liam held his lantern high, hoping to shed
some light within the dark void. “Go, Loucetios,” he encouraged his
mount to move forward with a swift kick of his heels, but Loucetios
refused to budge.
The oak and birch trees stood before them
like an ominous wall of limbs, swaying in the wind as if to lean
down and capture them within their grasps. He murmured a curse,
refusing to be intimidated by trees. He jabbed his heals into
Loucetios’ flank again. “Go now, trusty companion, and I’ll have an
apple brought to you on a daily basis for a full moon cycle.”
Loucetios snorted and stomped his foot on the
ground as if to convey his thoughts on the matter of stupidity, but
in the end he obeyed and trotted forward.
Instead of the trees supplying shelter from
the wind, it blew cold around them like icy fingers trying to grab
hold. The trees loomed toward them the farther they ventured forth,
becoming thicker and taller as if they stood centuries in the earth
and didn’t appreciate the intrusion. Perhaps he should turn around.
He pulled back on Loucetios’ reins and turned in his seat. The path
they’d taken looked nonexistent with a wall of tree trunks lined
like a fortified wall of defense.