Read Stranger in Camelot Online
Authors: Deborah Smith
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General
#468 STRANGER IN CAMELOT by Deborah Smith
#469 SECRET KEEPER by Victoria Leigh
#470 MEMORIES by Joan Elliott Pickart
#471 EARTH ANGEL by Linda Cajio
#472 ROMANCING SUSAN by Theresa Gladden
#473 HOT PURSUIT
by Patt Bucheister
“You’re perfect in that bathing suit,” John said. “This sort of body made Marilyn Monroe a star.”
Agnes smiled. “I could learn to enjoy your brand of flattery.”
“Please don’t think I’m flirting.” He hesitated. “It
flirting, but it’s sincere.”
She moistened her lips. “I never heard of anyone getting into trouble for kissing on a public beach.”
He put a hand on the center of her stomach, caressing the small patch of bare skin the two-piece suit revealed. She trembled under his fingertips.
“We’re very secluded back here by the dunes,” he agreed. “No one’s paying any attention to us.”
“I don’t feel like Marilyn Monroe, I feel like Doris Day in this suit—and all she ever did was kiss.”
The hot breeze drew a strand of red hair across her face. He lifted the hair aside and let the pad of his thumb caress her cheek. “I’m trying to decide which corner of your mouth to kiss first. You have sexy lips, Agnes. I can’t tell which lip is nicer. I think it’s a tie.”
She grinned. “Just kiss me, and I’ll help you decide.”
When he lowered his mouth to hers, she mewled softly and opened her lips, at first playful as she kissed him, then so intense it was all he could do to keep from snatching her into his arms. A sudden rush of emotion made him feel like a teenager again.…
STRANGER IN CAMELOT
A Bantam Book/May 1991
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Copyright © 1991 by Deborah Smith
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For Ann White and our phone bills
This is the last farewell my lady, my love
The tender words of a doomed English knight reached across more than eight hundred years and once again filled Aggie Hamilton’s eyes with tears. Dismayed, she brushed a calloused fingertip across her damp cheeks. Her reaction was beginning to worry her.
The powerful story of Sir Miles of Norcross, and his love for his wife, Eleanor, had taken over Aggie’s imagination for the past month. But Sir Miles’s diary and prayer book were worth a small fortune, and she couldn’t afford to let her infatuation with him get out of control.
She jumped as another round of thunder bowled across the black sky. Beyond her bedroom window the sultry Florida night was filling with heat and electricity, and the wind rushed through her white curtains like boiling ocean surf. She could imagine the white breakers flinging themselves against the beaches in St. Augustine, ten miles away.
Her emotions were in the same fever.
Her hands quivering, she placed the notebook pages covered with her grandfather’s neat, scholarly translation back into the metal security box along with its
more precious contents, Sir Miles’s original diary and his prayer book. She’d never suspected that her grandfather was capable of harboring such an unnervingly valuable possession. Or of bequeathing it to her. Every time she thought of how much the books must be worth, her mouth went dry.
Because she didn’t want to sell them.
When lightning flashed outside her window Aggie jumped. She turned up the volume on the small radio beside her bed to catch more details from the announcer of tornado warnings for St. Augustine and the surrounding areas.
A chill ran up her back. She had to check on her mares. Sliding out of bed, she shoved the tail of her short nightgown into cut-off jeans then laced hiking boots on her bare feet. She carried the security box to the room next to hers and dropped it into a bottom file drawer of a scarred old desk. She locked the drawer hurriedly, using its tarnished key, and tossed the key into a flower vase filled with silk begonias.
No time, no time. The thunder seemed to rumble the message to her, and she wondered why she wasted precious time on daydreams.
She ran to her front porch. A half dozen ugly, fat, adoring dogs huddled around her legs as she stared anxiously into the storm.
Trouble was brewing in the night.
Aggie grabbed a flashlight from a porch shelf. As she crossed the sandy yard past the outbuildings, large raindrops slapped her face. Behind the main barn the pine trees swayed wildly. She climbed a pasture gate and stumbled when her boots sank into the churned sand on the other side.
She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled into the tempest.
Squinting, she saw her six mares galloping toward her from the pasture’s far
side. One ran slightly ahead of them. Valentine, undoubtedly. She was always the leader.
With a rider on her back
Astonished, Aggie shook her head to clear the phantom from it. Her imagination had been overloaded lately. The darkness absorbed the mares again. Aggie’s heart pounded. She whistled and called toward the racing shadows. “Val-en-tine! Come here, Val-en-tine!”
When a burst of lightning whitened the darkness, Aggie was already running down the pasture’s edge along the pine forest, drenched and shaking with fear. Moving from tree to tree in the pouring rain, she gritted her teeth when the wind threw a small limb against her side.
It tangled in her nightgown, and when she jerked it loose it tore a long gash in the cotton material. She tried distractedly to cover her exposed breast, then gave up.
The limber pine trees bent like flowers in a stiff breeze. At the edge of the pasture the flat Florida landscape stretched into infinity across a universe of tall grass. Aggie peered helplessly into the blackness as streamers of her long hair plastered themselves over her eyes.
She tripped on a clump of sharp palmetto grass and fell to her hands and knees, while the flashlight tumbled into the grass, turning off as it rolled. Her dogs hovered nearby, whimpering in the cover of the pines.
Aggie’s raspy breaths were lost in the slashing rain and wind. The thunder crashed around her as she slung her hair back and staggered to her feet.
The night snapped open as lightning flared. Aggie gasped, both hands raised defensively, her fingers knotting in her torn gown.
Yes, someone was riding Valentine
The phantom was tall. A cape flared around him in the tearing wind. He was riding straight out of the night toward her. Sir Miles would have been this dramatic,
Aggie thought, riding out of the darkness. Then she shook her head furiously. She was losing her mind over a medieval fantasy.
Within the space of a few frantic heartbeats the man and the horses closed in on her. Aggie broke her stunned stillness and waved her arms to halt them. She wouldn’t let herself be run over by a phantom or trampled by her own imagination. She was too practical for that.
The other mares fanned out and kept running when they saw her, but Valentine began to slow, as if controlled by the apparition astride her back. Lightning illuminated his outstretched arm as the mare loped the last few paces toward Aggie. Her blood thundered like the storm.
He was reaching toward her
Then her ears filled with the moan of wood being ripped apart behind her. Aggie pivoted blindly in the darkness and rain, staring at a pine that had broken in the middle. The top lurched crazily.
The mares brushed past her on either side, snorting, flinging soggy clumps of sand with their hooves. Valentine slid to a stop and bumped her in the back. Aggie lost her balance and nearly fell as Valentine twisted sideways, prancing.
The horseman reached down and grabbed Aggie’s shoulder.
Terrified, she whirled toward him. What was happening to her simple life? She’d been waiting for something or someone to break the spell that had captured her. To break it, or make it real.