A Knightspell Tale
A Knightspell Tale
A twenty-first century woman transported to medieval times is forced to accept the protection of a beast of a sexy warlord as they struggle to survive in the middle of a war-torn land
With proportions that would make Xena weep, Jacqueline Frazier despairs of ever finding a lover she can’t intimidate. Until the day she ignores a warning regarding use of a family heirloom, and finds herself swept off her feet by a knight in not so shining armor, back to the twelfth century. Forced to accept the protection of an overbearing, beast of a man, Rufus of Rathburn, Jacq struggles to find her place in the past while seeking a way back to the future. In the meantime, she aids Rufus’s war cause with a little 21st century ingenuity, shaking up the warlord with lessons in bomb-making, guerilla tactics, and the joys of sex.
At first unwilling, and ungrateful, Rufus begins to see merit in Jacq’s odd ways. Through Jacq’s eccentricities and willfulness, Rufus learns she is a woman to be reckoned with, as well as a lusty handful in bed. Will his admiration of her cunning, strength and uninhibited sexuality grow into a love that breaks the barriers of time? And will their love be strong enough for Jacq to plot a different future in the past?
“… an exciting action-filled story that never drags and makes great escape reading. Kudos!”
Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“This book is a "must read" and definitely earned a place on my "keeper" shelf!”
Rathburn Keep, England
“Move yer bloody arses!”
The priest winced, not at the coarseness of the command, but rather at the shrillness only a six-year-old girl could achieve.
He wedged his corpulent body through the narrow window of the chapel. “Watch your tongue, young Annie, or you’ll be reciting the rosary ‘til Easter,” he bellowed.
Long, stringy curls fanned over her slender shoulders as she whipped around, eyes wide with fright. Momentarily chastened, Annie muttered an almost unintelligible, “Pardon me, Father,” and scurried away.
The priest watched the goose girl’s progress as she herded her charges, stick waving above their downy heads, across the keep’s bailey and out the open gate toward the pond at the bottom of the hill.
No doubt the grubby little urchin would rain curses on his head as soon as she drew out of earshot. Her vocabulary was surprisingly large and lurid for one so young. Too bad she hadn’t been born a boy. Intelligent and facile, she’d have made an excellent acolyte for the Church.
As she passed through the gates and out of sight, he glanced around the now quiet courtyard. There was the usual bustle of activity as the castlefolk went about their daily chores, but he missed the sounds of their good-natured complaints and laughter.
For other than Annie’s shrill exception, all the inhabitants of the courtyard spoke in hushed tones, worry for their absent loved ones apparent on their solemn faces.
When the Duke of Albermarle had openly pledged his support to Matilda’s son, Henry, in his bid for the crown, he’d issued a call to arms to those who owed him fealty. Rufus, Lord of Rathburn, most of his knights and soldiers as well as the bulk of his arsenal, had departed over a week ago. They stood ready to support Albermarle as he moved eastward to join Henry’s forces.
As the first fat drops of rain began to fall, the priest stared sadly at the people, his friends, rushing for cover. They would all suffer in the name of war. He was an old man and understood the consequences of civil conflict. Whether it visited them directly or not, there would be deprivation, disease and death.
Wearily, he walked through the small church that had been his charge and his home for nearly twenty years. He knelt before the altar, made the sign of the cross and prayed. “Dear Lord, I beseech thee to protect these simple folk. Watch over and protect Lord Rufus from harm. And if there is anything this humble servant might do to serve thee, let me be wise enough to see thy direction.”
He sketched a cross on his chest and rose to his feet, grunting with strain. Glancing upward, he was startled by a single ray of light piercing the gloom of the dark chamber. His gaze followed its path to where it fell, illuminating a beaten metal cross nailed to the door of a small cupboard built into a recess in the farthest wall.
The hair stood on the back of his neck.
Was this a sign from God? He wasn’t sure he was ready. “Oh my, oh my.”
He’d tried to forget the niche’s existence over the years. Resting behind the small locked door was a leather-bound tome, old as the history of the family of Rathburn.
Passed down from one generation to the next, some said the book had magical properties—a claim he’d dismissed as ignorant superstition. But the legend said whosoever wrote a prayer in its pages would be granted the request.
He walked toward the cupboard and light continued to shine brightly on the door although he passed between the window and the niche. He stared down at his chest only to find the ray passed right through him! His first instinct was to step aside and check for singed flesh, but he mastered his panic.
God had chosen him for this task—He might frown on his cowardice. But if his innards were being cooked, he should take precautions. “Hail Mary, full of Grace…” Or should he confess? “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…” Bloody Hell!
Convinced God was omnipotent and therefore understood the great hunger that led him to filch a tart from the kitchen that morn, he fell silent. His hand shook as he drew a key from his pocket and raised it to the rusted lock. He inserted the key and turned it, his heart hammering loudly inside his chest.
As if the mechanism were freshly oiled, the lock sprang open, and he hastily lifted it from the hasp. Before his hand returned, the door opened on creaking hinges to reveal the book nestled within.
Sunlight bathed the tooled leather cover with its gold and enamel cross. The red cabochon stone at its center refracted the light, bright as a tiny sun, and the priest blinked. He lifted the heavy book from its resting place and carried it to his makeshift desk beneath another narrow window.
He arranged his quills in a row atop the desk, unstopped his inkpot, and then having no other excuse to delay his task, he seated himself before the book. With a trembling finger, he traced the ornate cross on its cover like a benediction.
Legend stated that only the ladies of Rathburn should ever touch its pages. The book had passed from lady to daughter-in-law in an unbroken chain—until now.
The priest remembered the words the last dear lady of the keep spoke as she lay on her deathbed five years past. “My friend, you must protect this book from others who might seek its power without thought for the consequences of changing destiny. It belongs to the next Lady of Rathburn and no other. She will be given but one opportunity to enter her prayer. God will not gift her with another. Help her understand how carefully she must measure the worth of her request.”
A sensible man not given to believing mystical tales, he’d silently scoffed at any power the book might have. Yet his admiration for the late Beatrice compelled him to give her his promise.
Another priest, if he had allowed the possibility the book had magical powers, might wonder if they were gifts from God or if the book’s origins were something darker. Such power held by women might be deemed blasphemous and sinister. But the priest had sworn to protect the book with his life, if necessary. The secret of that promise and of the book’s existence had eaten away at his conscience, for keeping that confidence betrayed his vows to the church.
He hesitated while a certainty grew inside him that God had placed him in Rathburn Keep all those years ago so that he would be here, at this very moment, to perform this task. The future of Rathburn and its occupants lay in his hands.
Was he wrong in believing God meant for him to be the one to take up this duty?
Beatrice had said the book belonged to the next Lady of Rathburn and no other. Yet, he reasoned he had no intention of keeping the book for himself, only of recording one prayer in hopes it would bring salvation to everyone in his care, including the keep’s stern master.
Surely God had guided him to the cupboard.
“Forgive me, Lord.” His palms grew moist. He couldn’t make a ballocks of this challenge.
He took a deep breath and turned over the cover of the book, laying open the first page. Long ago, a talented scribe had adorned the thick parchment with a border of sinuous shapes rendered in rich-hued paint. Brightly colored jewels studded an intricate braid of azure blue and deep ochre. The first letter of the text filled a third of the page, each point of the “W” decorated with the face of a small animal. A pointy-snouted fox leered from the upper left corner at a frightened hare on the right. Ornate script filled the rest of the page, and the last period was followed by a tiny, symmetrically rendered cross.
Taking the cross as a good omen, he read the first page aloud.
“Within these hallowed pages lie
the hopes of those who’ve passed.
When worthy prayers herein ye scribe
the will of God is cast.
Naught will change, nor shall occur,
for words are but a token;
unless from the heart love doth pour
and the words aloud are spoken.
Then thy world will disappear
in dense and shrouding mist.
The path to destiny will clear,
‘tis then ye shall be blessed.”
With his heart pounding in his throat, the priest turned the succeeding pages, one by one, skimming through years of prayers. Those at the beginning of the book were written in the careful, elaborate lettering of the first, probably by scribes. But later prayers were often written by an unpracticed hand.
There were appeals for love, and prayers written to give health back to those who had fallen ill. There was even a request from one barren lady to help her conceive.
The next page was blank.
Sending a silent plea heavenward for inspiration, he crossed himself and dipped his quill into the ink. Slowly and precisely, he recorded his prayer on the page.
He created a labor of love in flowing script—each word carefully chosen and considered for hidden meanings. There could be no misinterpretation to unwittingly bring harm to the people he sought to help.
When at last he reached the end of his request, he stared at the parchment in front of him and watched the ink dry. He exhaled heavily and sought the statue of Christ nailed to the wall behind the altar. With eyes brimming, he clasped his hands together and read the words aloud, his voice gaining confidence and power until it boomed loudly against the walls.