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trust him. She drew in a deep breath and nervously licked her lips.  You re far too
much a man to ever be my friend.
 Then let me be your lover.
It was a velvet temptation, a honeyed lure. She dug her fingernails into her palms as
she struggled to resist.  I cannot.
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Cyndi Friberg
 Aye, you can. He reached across the rock and took her wrist.  You should. He
pulled her around to stand before him.  You will. He wrapped his arms around her.
Rowena felt as if he cast a spell. Her rational mind was screaming Beware!, but her
body went willingly into his embrace. Heat radiated off him, beckoning her, attracting
her.  I will not lie down with you. She turned her face aside.
 Then we will not lie down.
He lowered his face, but she twisted away, shoving against his broad chest.  I will
not be your lover. Not tonight, not ever!
Slipping under her wimple, he grasped the back of her hair. His eyes burned into
hers, and his expression promised no mercy.  We will be lovers, Rowena. If not tonight,
then soon.
Before she could argue, he kissed her. His lips pressed against hers, moved over
hers, molded and contoured until she finally opened to him. His tongue sank slowly
into her mouth. It was an act of possession, a deliberate penetration that clearly staked
his claim.
Rowena trembled, overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught. Her hands clutched
against his shoulders, neither pushing him away nor drawing him near. Every nerve in
her body hummed with awareness and anticipation.
His face shifted, his lips angling so he could stroke her tongue with his, dance along
her teeth and taste every surface of her mouth. Rowena allowed his intimate
exploration for a time, but soon she was returning each caress, stroking and curling and
learning his taste.
He wouldn t let her breathe except from his breath. Her head spun and her legs
wobbled. He threaded his fingers through hers and pushed her arms behind her,
pressing their joined hands down against the rock.
Rowena couldn t think. She needed more of him. She needed all of him.
She arched her back and murmured his name.
 I could take you now, Rowena, he whispered against her moist lips.  But I want
more than a frantic moment, stolen in the shadows. I want to see you and touch you
and taste you. I want to take you over and over until we are both too weak to move.
His words cut through the haze and Rowena opened her eyes. He was right. She
would have wrapped her legs around his waist and allowed him anything.
Shame and fear intertwined. Rowena dragged great gulps of air into her burning
lungs. He still held her hands interlaced with his.  Let go of me.
 Not yet. He moved in closer, crossing her arms behind her back.  I would have
your word first.
 My word? she echoed, shaken and confused.
 Tell me I am welcome in your bed.
She glared at him. Why was he pushing her like this?  Release me.
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Tears of the Dragon
 Nay. I would have this settled between us. We are meant to be lovers. You feel the
fire, I know you do. Can you deny it?
She stared at him in mutinous silence.  Why did you defend me to Sir William?
Even in the darkness she could see confusion in his eyes.  Would you rather I
didn t?
 Nay. You rescued me from Edwin, and for that you have my gratitude, but I ll not
allow you to take his place.
He made a harsh, scoffing sound, and Rowena arched away.
He leaned in closer, pressing her against the rock.  I am not Edwin. Do not ever
compare me to him again. His grip eased and his expression changed.  This is not
about your holdings. It s about the fire you ignited the first time you touched me.
His mouth hovered above hers, part promise, part threat.
 You know why I behaved that way, she objected.
 And you know why I cannot stop thinking about you. Why you torment my
dreams and burn in my blood. We will be lovers, Rowena.
Her body stiffened. She refused to be bullied.
His expression softened, and Rowena saw her opportunity. She raised her knee into
his groin with just enough force to startle him. He groaned and staggered back a step,
immediately releasing her hands.
She didn t pause or look behind her. She ran back to camp and ducked into the
tournament tent. With an exasperated curse, Rowena tore off her wimple and threw it
across the tent.
 Now that is not a nice word at all. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Rowena turned on Thora with all of the emotional combustibility building within
her all day.  I will not do it! I will not bow and scrape every time a man tells me to. I
will not sacrifice my freedom and surrender the only power I have ever known! Each
declaration brought her closer to tears.  I do not care if I must remain cursed. Men
cannot be trusted. They lie. They manipulate. They cheat and& seduce. The last word
ended on a sob.
Thora s arms closed around her as Rowena surrendered to the tears.
* * * * *
Brother Leland no longer feared the dark. It had become part of him. Not like the
bleak, empty blackness of an evil man s soul, but the velvet tranquility of a starless
night.
The long, mournful moan of rusty hinges disturbed the silence, drawing his head
toward the door. A cool draft curled around him and he inhaled the blissful scent of
untainted air. But the fetid stench of his barren cell quickly corrupted the breeze,
making it rank and putrid.
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Cyndi Friberg
 You look rather peaked, Leland. I thought you brothers were used to confinement
and want.
He recognized the voice, yet the features had faded to shadows, lost forever in the
mist of his memory.  Edwin, Brother Leland rasped, turning his sightless eyes in the
direction of the voice.  Why do you persist in this foolishness?
 Because you persist in your denials. You need only open your mouth and I will set
you free.
From somewhere deep within his frail form, spirit bubbled to life. Brother Leland
parted his lips and defiantly opened his mouth.
A silence as absolute as death fell upon the room. Would Edwin beat him? Would
he finally release him from this purgatory? Leland was not afraid to die, but he was [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]