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Authors: Diane Darcy

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She Owns the Knight

BOOK: She Owns the Knight
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She Owns the Knight

by

Diane Darcy

Copyright © 2012 Diane Darcy

www.dianedarcy.com

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Cover art by Dreamstime/Alvaro Ennes

Cover Design by Kaylee Young

Formatting by Melody Chase eBook Formatting

Dedication

To Grandma Murphy, with love.

And also for Brent, my own knight in shining armor, who is just as wonderful and clueless as Kellen.

Book Description: She Owns the Knight
 

Why does she have to travel seven hundred years through time to find a decent guy?

Broken-hearted Jillian Corbett finally finds the knight of her dreams... in

the past. Unfortunately he’s bossy, overbearing, and...betrothed! Fortunately,

he thinks she is his affianced, which keeps her from garderobe duty. Or worse,

being hanged as a spy. She knows she has to get back to her own time before his

real fiancé shows up and the truth is discovered. But until she finds a way,

she’s going to squeeze every bit of enjoyment she can out of this situation. As far as

she’s concerned, this is one relationship in which she gets to call the shots,

not the other way around. The dowry provided by his betrothed bought him, lock, stock

and barrel. She’ll gladly whip him into shape for the girl who ends up with him. No thanks

required. In the meantime, Jillian owns him, and as every twenty-first century

girl knows...ownership has its privileges.

Why can’t he find a lady who is obedient, submissive...or at least not tryingto kill him?

After a horrible first marriage that ended badly, Sir Kellen Marshall is

determined to protect what is left of his dreams. He needs an heir, an alliance,

and a chaste bride who has never loved another. Would that he’d been choosier in

his specifications because what he’s ended up with is a loud, bossy, demanding

female who will drive him daft at every opportunity. So why does he feel he’d

like to lay the world at her feet if she’d simply give him the chance?

When modern meets medieval, can there be a happily ever after?

Prologue

England, 1260

“Is aught amiss?” Brows drawn together, Lord Kellen Marshall reached a hand to steady his wife. “Is it the babe?”

Catherine set her goblet on the sideboard, but seemed unable to take her gaze from it. “You switched the cups?”

“Aye. To give you the less cloudy, more pleasing drink. I’ll not have you drinking the dregs.” He gave her a smile, hoping,
aching
to receive one in return.

Her face turned ashen.

Kellen quickly set his drink aside, lifted her slight weight, and carried her swiftly to the bed to set her among quilts and pillows. He ran to the heavy wood door, threw it open, bellowed for help, then hurried back to where Catherine lay sweating, clutching her swollen belly. In the distance, people scrambled and orders thundered as Kellen lowered himself to her bedside.

“’Tis Cowbane,” she whispered to him.

“What?” Mouth gaping, he shook his head. “No. That cannot be.” Who would do such a thing? Who would dare to poison his wife?

“You have ruined everything.” She turned away from him, pressing her face into the pillows, gagging and shuddering before rolling back to grip his surcoat, her face taut with fear. “Please. You must save me. Please.” She put a hand to her stomach. “The babe.”

Several knights appeared in the doorway, “Find the midwife! Bring the healer!” Kellen roared the words.

A wide-eyed servant rushed out of the room as others filled the entrance.

Kellen gripped his wife’s cold hand as her breathing quickened and resignation set her face. “You cannot save me,” she said, tears filling her eyes. “’Tis not possible.”

Her breathing became labored, her throat violently clenched, and her entire body tightened, head thrown back.

Kellen, every muscle in his body constricting with panic, shook her shoulders. “Catherine!”

She took a loud, gasping breath, then relaxed for a moment. Kellen wiped sweat from her brow with shaking fingers. “Catherine, you must be well.” His voice broke. “Perchance the babe comes early?”

“The drink was meant for you.” She breathed heavily, drawing breath an effort.

“What are you saying?”

“My daughter is not of your seed.” Again, she convulsed violently, foam gathering at the corners of her mouth, then relaxed once more, placing a hand to her belly. “Nor is the one in my womb.”

Kellen studied her face, the swelling of her body. He swallowed and gripped her hand. “You are out of your head.” His voice roughened, low, deep, and pleading. “A devil has overtaken your mind.”

“I despise you.”

He tried to convince himself she was not herself, yet saw in her clear eyes she spoke true. And he was well aware the poisoned drink had been meant for him as he’d switched them himself. Why would she dishonor herself this way? It was senseless. “Why?”

“You sicken me.” Her face twisted. “I hate your disgusting, overlarge body. Your vile face. My lover is wonderful, slim and beautiful as a knight should be. Handsome and without scars.” She smiled, her face relaxing. She laughed once, then stopped breathing.

His wife, eyes open and staring, lay dead in his arms. He shook her, rage and despair welling within him.
“No!”
He clutched her to him.
“No!”
She’d swallowed poison meant for him? She’d meant to kill him? Surely he’d misunderstood. She was no poisoner. She could not be.

Kellen’s eyes filled with hot tears and he gently shook his wife once more. “Live. Live, curse you.
Live!”

She didn’t move.

His wife was dead. His son, as well.
His
son.

Kellen’s head pounded. He laid his wife gently on the bed, stood, and backed away. His head, suddenly heavy, bobbed up and down as dizziness overtook him.

Air finally filled his lungs and he threw his head back, and howled like a madman. He clenched his hands in his hair and, heart pounding, every muscle constricting to the point of pain, Kellen turned and grabbed the long bench from against the wall.

With a yell, he heaved it into the fireplace and watched as pieces of heavy wood, ashes, and smoke burst into the air.

Next, he gripped a chair and dashed it against the stone wall, once, twice, until the heavy wood shattered. He ripped a tapestry Catherine had fashioned from the wall. He smashed her writing table with his fists. Threw a basket of knitted baby clothes into the fire. Tore and pulled the linen hangings from the great bed and cast them to the floor.

Breathing hard, searching for something else to destroy, Kellen stood still in the middle of the room. He looked to the doorway, where only a few of his knights remained, and a few more beyond, out in the hall. The servants had run off.

Only the midwife, Catherine’s old nurse, the one come from Corbett Castle, had dared enter the room. She covered Catherine’s body with a fur coverlet, knelt on the stairs beside the bed, crossed herself, and wailed.

Kellen watched her wipe foam from Catherine’s mouth, and turned away.

His dream had died with Catherine. With the babe. His marriage, the chance to continue his line, to build a family, was the one thing that had kept him alive through all the petty wars, the politics, the tournaments, and his dangerous allegiance to King Henry.

Who provided her the poison? Who turned her against him? He knew she could not have done this on her own.

Her lover, no doubt.

Kellen’s teeth ground together, and a guttural sound escaped his mouth. The babe was not his? The girl child not of his seed? There lived a man who did not have long for this world.

“Mamma?”

Kellen turned to see his three-year-old daughter lingering in the passageway with her nurse, and pain twisted his guts. She should not be there, and he did not want to look on her. He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Take the girl away from here.”

He would not be cheated this way. His eyes narrowed. He would marry again. He would petition the king and remind him of his loyalty and—

No. That could take years and numerous favors. At a score and ten, Kellen could not wait. Would not. He sucked air into his lungs. Corbett owed him an honorable daughter. He had seven. Six, now. He would demand another, the youngest, and most trainable, or Corbett would pay the price for his daughter’s treachery with a war. Any betrothment on the girl’s part would needs be broken. He would show no mercy. He’d have his heir within the year, or else.

He grabbed the nurse still kneeling beside Catherine, startling her, and hauled her to her feet. “Give me the name of her lover.”

Rigid with terror, the woman gaped. “My lord?”

“Catherine’s lover. His name?”

The woman trembled, shook her head, and her head-cover slid to reveal gray hair as fear widened her eyes. “Nay, my lord. She would never play you false.”

Kellen forced himself to release the woman before he gave into the desire to shake her. “She admitted such. Doubt not that I will find and kill him.”

Teeth clenching, he nodded toward Catherine. “Finish this. After, go home to Corbett. Tell him of his daughter’s infidelity, of her attempt to murder her lord. I want another daughter in reparation, or there will be war. You will leave directly after the burial.”

He would have a wife and heir. But he would never make the mistake of trusting another woman. With one last glance at Catherine’s white face, he turned and strode from the room.

BOOK: She Owns the Knight
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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