With Her Kiss (Swords of Passion)

BOOK: With Her Kiss (Swords of Passion)
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A Total-E-Bound Publication

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With Her Kiss

ISBN # 978-1-78184-440-3

©Copyright Cerise DeLand 2013

Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright August 2013

Edited by Stacey Birkel

Total-E-Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2013 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.

Warning:

This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
heat rating
of
Total-e-burning
and a
sexometer
of
2.

This story contains 99 pages, additionally there is also a
free excerpt
at the end of the book containing 10 pages.

Swords of Passion

WITH HER KISS

Cerise DeLand

Book Three in the Swords of Passion series

Defying his king, Geoffrey St Claire invades a dungeon to save the woman he loves from cruel death. This time, he vows, he will save her and make her love him—or die trying.

Countess Katherine Harleigh knew her refusal to become King John’s lover courted his punishment. But she never thought he’d try to starve her. Cast into a dungeon—widowed, alone and disgraced—Kat fears no one can save her. Not even the one knight who always promised to love and protect her.

Geoffrey St Claire serves his Sire as loyally as a sane man can. But when John imprisons the one woman Geoff has always adored, he risks his lands and his life to ride to her rescue. Yet he knows she will never welcome his aid. She hates him too much for deserting her years ago. But he will not leave her this time.

Now, Geoff plans to save her from death and despair, nurse her back to health and then persuade her to love him as wholly as she once did. Seduction in her bath, her bed, her chamber is his only method and he prays he can restore her love for him before John appears with an army to take her from him once more…this time, forever.

Dedication

I hail the publishing team at Total-E-Bound for their good humour,

efficiency and boundless enthusiasm for a good story!

                                                                                        

Prologue

Castle Harleigh

South Wales, The Marches

March 1211

Shuddering, bone cold, Kat huddled down into her cloak. She rocked, her teeth chattering, her jaw aching. Her fine wool cape caught on the jagged points of the dungeon’s walls as she slid to the damp earthen floor. The chill shot up her spine. Her toes curled and she clamped a hand over her mouth to fight back a cry. Her guards must not hear her despair. Cringing, she turned her face to the rough stones to stifle her outrage.

She understood why she sat here in this miserable hole. Of course she did. She had refused her king. A noblewoman close to his own blood, she had denied his requests to give him land and pay higher taxes for more than a decade. Then, when he had returned to demand more, she had rebelled with disdain for the vain tyrant he had always been. She recalled him on his last visit to her in the autumn, standing in her own solar, shaking with indignation, self-righteous—the cur—to his bones.

“You will not yield?” John had bellowed at her, then backhanded her to the wall. “How dare you!”

“It is my right to deny you,” she had managed, her hand to her bleeding lips as she struggled to her feet.

“Mine to take from you what I want!” he had sneered at her.

“You may try.” She had cast her eyes towards her two guards, who had been subdued by two of his. She needed to preserve the lives of her men. They would spread word of what had happened here and the audacious orders of her king. Her men’s loyalty was her last bulwark against John’s outrageous demands that she go to his bed. “What comfort will it gain you?”

“I could have you persuaded by each and every one of Ferrer’s men, followed by my own,” he had threatened with a grin.

Her head had spun at the threat of being raped by so many. Ferrer was but John’s toady, attempting to bully her, take her land for John and take her body for the notoriety. As for the submission John required of her, she knew how to best him by brandishing against him his
droit de seigneur
. “Women should love you, should they not?”

“By all means,” he had agreed.

“A noble lord is our king,” she had said, purring as if she were truly complimenting him. “Worthy to climb between any woman’s legs.”

He had nodded.

“Ah. Of course. A lady should welcome the royal cock inside her.”

“‘Tis an honour to be well fucked by such a man,” he had preened.

“I see here no such creature.”

One of his men had gasped at her insult.

John had glared at her, his black eyes demonic. “Your blindness may kill you.”

A smirk had thinned her lips. “Better to live in the dark than have my eyes assaulted by a monster.”

“You prefer the dark? Do you? We shall order it,” he had bellowed, his nostrils flaring. He flicked her away with his hands as if she were no more than a fly.

And here she was, thrown into this dank and miserable dungeon by his royal machinations.

A bird song lilted on the air outside the confines of her cell. Was it dawn? Lifting her gaze to the arrow slit in the wall so far above her, she narrowed her eyes. But she did not glimpse a ray of sun. The greys of her cell blended with the black night of her misery. Aye, above this cellar, beyond this fortress, it might be spring. The rains might come and seeds of harvest might sprout. But she would not witness any of that. She would moulder here. And die.

No. I must not. Cannot. Many depend on me to sort the seeds and order the planting. But how to survive the chill? By eating the meagre gruel the guards give? Bah! How to even hope when no one will come for me?

“Never doubt,” her fondest champion had once promised her, “that I will protect you from all who would harm you.”

That had been twenty years ago last Christmas when he had ridden out of her father’s gates, across the drawbridge towards London and service with King Richard. The day he left, she had promised herself to stand stalwart against any despicable demands asked of her. In many instances, she had succeeded. Alone. Always alone.

She laughed, a bitter cry.
I did my best. But not quite good enough, was it?

She had given up castigating her beloved for his failure to aid her. Neither he nor she had been able to keep her father from marrying her off to a loathsome man. Not able to keep King John from his demands on her purse, then after the death of her husband, his repulsive advances on her person. Not able to change the course of her life with its multitude of sorrows, the death of her younger child and the taking of her older as hostage to by that wretch who called himself King.

“Can you save me now, Geoff?” she called out to the only man she had loved. She glanced about her tiny cell and dropped her forehead to the wall. “Not from this king. Not from his dog, Ferrer.”

What minutes of joy Kat had had in her life, she had oft counted on her fingers.
The most delightful of those times were spent in your arms, Geoff. The most outrageous of them naked on my maiden’s bed, wrapped in your embrace as you stroked my swollen
chat
and kissed my nipples to frantic delights. Those sensuous moments of rapture are among my most fantastic joys, though I feared for the morrow and the hideous creature my father demanded I wed.

Two new fat tears dribbled down her cheeks. With shaking hands, she dashed them away, then barked in pain. Her fingertips, cut to tiny ribbons by Armand Ferrer’s dagger, still smarted from his torture. Her failure to sign his demands for her land had merited his cruelty. Curling her poor fingers into her palms, she bit her lip to hold back her moans.

The sting of her bodily wounds was nothing compared to the barbs of her own self-incrimination. If she had not insulted John when he had come last autumn to demand again her obedience to his sexual advances, she would not be in his disfavour. Then—was it days ago that once again she had grossly miscalculated? She had raised her portcullis to Ferrer and his guard. If she had not met Ferrer alone in her great hall, Ferrer’s men might not have had the advantage and killed her retinue. If she had maintained her wits, she might not have been appalled that so many, even her maid Old Bess, had deserted her. If she had foreseen Bess’s disloyalty, she might have anticipated others’, such as Ferrer’s. Then she would not have been dragged away. If, if, if.

Her litany of her miscalculations infuriated her more, adding fuel to her heartache. Each failure, each point had gone to John and to the usurper’s advantage. When had she become such an imbecile and failed to anticipate everyone’s treachery?

After the death of her little eight-year-old son at Michaelmas, her heart lay broken by his untimely demise. That loss had been the crueller for the one she had suffered eight years ago when her darling older boy Matthew had been ripped from her bosom by John, taken as hostage to his cruelty. Word had come back to her that her sweet young man had not been fostered to a knight as was his due, but had been made a lowly house servant to one of John’s favourites. How she had lived to this day here in this hole was beyond her understanding. How she would survive beyond it was unfathomable.

The frail ghost of herself as the Countess of Harleigh walked through the maze of her memories, taunting her with a ghoul’s smile, speaking of warmth of fires and food and friends no longer here. Water dribbled down onto her shoulder, striking her frozen flesh like lightning. Turning towards the source, she licked the drops. Too salty, too foul, too little to satisfy her.

“Once,” she croaked, her throat thick, “I had more than enough.”
Wine, silk, jewels, fires in my hearth. A man. A lover. Young and lusty. Forbidden to me, but all mine. Geoffrey, what happened to your promise to save me? Was passion like ours one you matched with another?

“Never doubt,” he had vowed as he had pulled his cock from her body and kissed the tips of her breasts, “you are my only love. I shall never take another.”

She laughed now. The sound, high and screeching, bounced around the circular walls. Mad, aye. She would be soon. Why not allow herself the pleasure of such escape? And why not do it quickly? But would that be enough to shield her from the hours to come?

Would that she could dispatch herself with haste. Even that was denied her. Kat writhed at the knowledge that her most trusted lady’s maid, Old Bess, had turned on her and taken the weapon by which she might have ended her own life.

“Bess,” Kat asked herself, “why steal my scimitar?”

Now she could only will herself to death. “Before I suffer more.”

She beat the floor with a weak fist.

Her mind was too damnably strong. A testament to how she had tended her duties with a harpy’s iron will. A mockery of how she had made the most of her circumstances. Irony that she given up the one man she had wanted for the one she was commanded to marry. And what a rare prize her husband had been, the lout. A whoring bastard. A braggart and liar. He had been no reward for a woman who had worked so diligently with her serfs to raise their crops, for one who had brought land and a title of her own to a husband who squandered the profits on his whores. She had deserved so much more from her husband. So much more from her father than the mate he had arranged for her. So much more from her king than his rapacious lust and this bitter imprisonment.

She chuckled, this glee as absurd to her own ears as the truth that came to her lips. “King John will starve me to death.”

Fitting, that, eh?

I starved myself all my life, giving others what they required. Rebelling from men’s power, but never conquering any of them.
Her powerlessness roiled her guts.

She had failed herself. Failed to keep her lands from King John’s greedy grasp. From Ferrer’s grasp of them for John. Worst, she had failed to save her lands for her older boy to inherit or for her younger boy as his home.

She pressed her body flush against the stones of her prison. Could she burrow inside their all-too-solid mass? Could she be done with this misery, this yearning to be free?

She could not ransom herself. All her coin, her lands, her jewels belonged to those who had thrown her like so much rubbish into this dank hole.

There was no one to aid her. No one who cared to risk his life, his position, his title to countermand the king.

Another vision walked through the mists of her muddled memory. This one wore chain mail and chausses, black leather boots up his massive thighs. This vision was as she had last seen him in London more than a year ago. So changed, so mature. So different from the rangy youth who had taught her the arts of kisses and caresses. So much more man than the ardent lover who had spread her thighs, licked her
chat
and plunged through her maidenhead to declare her his.

She huddled into her agony, recalling with a heated mind how the very sight of him last year had set her heart to flight, her body to wet desire. Her nipples had peaked in want of him. Her core
had swelled and wept to have him. What a lover he had been. What a one he must be now. Knight of Sin, the wags had dubbed him for his conquests of innumerable ladies. A mighty slab of manhood, at forty years of age still tall, mighty and fierce. With eyes of green fire and hair the copper hue of autumn leaves, legs like tree trunks, hands of power.
Geoffrey. Geoffrey.

Once, he would have helped her. God knew, he had tried. She had rejected him to please her father. Turned from him when honour and young love had demanded she remain with him. She was certain he hated her. Then, eight years ago, at John’s command, he had appeared at her castle gates and taken heartless revenge. With a retinue of five knights, Geoff had seized her older son and delivered the boy to one of John’s retainers to make him a body servant to his most menial needs. After such a monstrous act, how could she possibly desire Geoffrey? Why should she still remember him as her most darling lover? Her first. Her kindest. Her most scintillating.

She was certain he had changed and hardened over the years. She had seen the iron in his spine that day he had demanded her son be handed over to him. As adviser to John, Geoffrey St Claire, Baron Winton, resembled not one whit that boy who had ridden with her on the hillside, played chess with her in her solar then undressed her to play with her breasts, kiss her cunny and drive his cock deep inside her. Once, that boy might have come to save her. But the man never would. He was too close to John, too well rewarded for his loyalty to the king, and aye, too devoted to punishing her for spurning him.

What irony. What torment.

What good had honour done her to accede to her father’s wishes to wed Mortimer Harleigh? That marriage had been a sham.

Where was her hope now?

Ground beneath her feet, her frozen toes, her faint heart. Long gone to that self-same man who once had pledged to love her eternally though she commanded him to leave her.

“Never another,
ma petite
,” he had promised as he had ridden out of her father’s gates twenty years ago to serve King Richard.

“Leaving me alone,” she muttered. “As ever woman was meant to be in this godforsaken kingdom.”

Here, only death freed a woman from her duties. Only death took a woman beyond the hands of men who would abuse her mind, corrupt her body and seize even her children, her precious babes, for their overweening pride and power.

BOOK: With Her Kiss (Swords of Passion)
11.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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