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Diana's Books

Awakening His Lady (ebook)

Awakening His Lady (ebook)

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Passion, hot enough to scorch the icy flints of a medieval castle, contained within.

"She would never be married...But she remembered the cravings of her body for this man... She felt them still as he touched her, awakening within her feelings that she must forever suppress if she were to be in control of her life. Should she submit to this one weakness, this one night? One night in which to indulge herself, to explore herself, before closing down that side of her forever..."

It is the year 1213 and Lady Angelique Gresham is a wealthy widow who is determined to remain free of the cruelty and control of marriage. Angelique has arranged to buy her freedom from the King and is awaiting his envoy to pay the last instalment when her first and only love returns, wanting to marry her.

Sir Guy, a noble but impoverished knight, wants three things: land, peace and Angelique. But it's Angelique he wants the most. She refuses to marry him but he tempts her with a night of passion in which she can realize her fantasies for the first and last time before she leaves for a remote northern castle.

But is one night enough for Angelique to find the strength to trust not only Guy, but her own heart?

Awakening his Lady is a 17,000-word novella, and was previously published as Awakening, book 3 in the Gresham Chronicles.

--Norfolk Knights--
Book 1--Claiming his Lady
Book 2--Seducing his Lady
Book 3--Awakening his Lady
Book 4--Defending his Lady
Book 5--Honoring his Lady


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North Norfolk Coast, England, 1214

Lady Angelique Gresham barely felt the chill rain that descended through the ruined chapel roof onto her upturned face. She blinked her eyes to clear the water that clung to her lashes, but dared make no further movement, other than to tighten her grip around the silver dagger.
Someone was out there, on the black, rain-soaked marsh. No one should be.
It was too wild a night for man or beast to roam the desolate land between castle and sea. Only a foolish woman would have ventured forth for sentimental reasons—only a foolish woman, whose regret at her impulsive behaviour deepened with each pounding beat of her heart.
Angelique focused all her senses on locating the shadow that had just passed by the window. She strained to hear any sign of life above the whine of the wind as it caught the jagged edges of the chapel’s flint walls, but she heard no other sound. Her eyes scanned the darkness for movement, but she saw nothing but shadows of stone, black against the charcoal sky.
She exhaled shakily—not realizing she’d been holding her breath—and edged her way to the gaping hole where the door had once been. She had to return to the castle. No one would hear her cries from here. No one knew where she was. It had been a mistake to come.
She hesitated under the stone arch, narrowing her eyes in an effort to give form to the shadows outside the chapel walls. Suddenly, the shadows coalesced and before she could raise her dagger, her hand was clamped by a man’s hand, and her body was brought tight against a man’s body. She struggled to draw breath to scream, but a calloused hand closed tight against her mouth.
“Angel!” His voice was low, strong and insistent. “By Christ, will you be still!”
Despite the blast of energy that gave her the strength to struggle against his vice-like grip, she suddenly stilled, responding to his voice before her mind had time to inform her body of what it was already aware. She knew this man.
He loosened his grip and she twisted around, hardly daring to believe what her senses were telling her. In the darkness and rain she could see nothing: only feel his warm breath upon her face. Her nostrils flared as her body reacted to his scent. It was him.
She raised her hand to his face, touching it hesitantly, still unable to believe that he had returned after all these years. His hand slipped from her mouth and rested on her shoulders.
“Guy?” Her hushed voice was swept away by the wind, but she knew he’d heard. She could feel the heat of his fingers, despite the thick, fur-lined cloak, as they pressed briefly against her shoulders. His hand covered hers before he twisted her palm to his lips and kissed it. A shiver of desire rippled through her body.
“The same.”
A cry emerged from some hidden place deep within and she dropped her head to his chest, squeezing her eyes tight shut, finding the reality of him stronger that way, fearing he would disappear like he did in her dreams. But he didn’t. Instead, his arms swept around her and pulled her close.
For one long moment she allowed the warmth of his hands to penetrate her body, too long cold; for one long moment she absorbed his presence as if it were an extension of her own, and for one long moment she felt as if anything were possible.
But then reality filtered through her shocked senses. She shook her head and slid her hands up against his chest holding him at bay. He would go from her, like he always had, her dreams reflecting his disappearance nine years before. She couldn’t allow his leaving to hurt her again. She couldn’t risk losing herself in him.
“Why are you here?”
“To see you.”
His powerful voice had softened and she could hear emotion in the timbre of his words. But she shook her head once more and stepped away. His fingers slowly unfurled from her cloak, as if reluctant to release her.
“Why? What do you want with me?”
“I wish to see you, to talk with you, to find out how you fare.” He reached out to touch her cheek but she shook her head, tilting her face up to his in an attitude of defiance she hoped would make him keep his distance. If he didn’t, she’d be lost. It must have worked because he let his hand fall back to his side. “But not here. Come, I will escort you back. The marsh is a chill and pitiless place to greet an old friend.”
An old friend. That was all she was to him. “Of course.”
She turned and walked swiftly down the narrow path that led to the castle, aware of his presence just one step behind. Her mind raced, trying to catch up with the surge of emotions and reactions that flooded her body. Was he really here to see her? If so, what did he want from her?
They entered the castle by the postern gate, which she’d left unbarred for her return. There was a small group of guards talking and drinking by the gatehouse but they didn’t notice them pass. She led him up the outer steps of the keep to the Great Hall.
Once inside the dimly lit Hall, she scanned it to see if Guy had brought others, to see if anything had changed. But it was just as she’d left it. The fresh rushes, laid by the servants before they’d departed to attend the Charter Fair earlier that day, the dying embers of a fire and an old, deaf dog, half asleep, who flicked his tail in lazy welcome.
“Where is everyone?”
She started at the closeness of his voice behind her and walked away, busying herself with lighting the other rush lights, her hand trembling as she held up a lighted taper to the tallow. It sputtered into life, the flames flickering over the unadorned whitewashed flint walls. She drew in a deep breath and turned to face him.
“My steward, Sir Richard, and the rest of my servants are celebrating in the town after the Charter Fair. Probably sleeping it off by now.”
“Leaving you alone? Why did you allow it?”
She plucked off her cloak and draped it over a wooden bench to dry, still with her back to him. “Because I am safe. My guards are at the main gate.”
“They didn’t even notice you coming in through the postern gate.”
“They assumed it was barred. I’d slipped out for a few minutes only and at high tide the castle causeway will be impassable. Anyway, I think it is a little late for you to worry about my safety.”
She glanced at the trestle table on the dais where supper for one was laid out. “I’m sorry, I’m not prepared for company.”
“I want nothing, Angel. Just to talk.”
“You must have wine.” She opened a large solid chest and plucked out another mazer cup, keeping her eyes down, still unable to meet his gaze. “The silver cups are already packed, I’m afraid.”
“Packed? You are going somewhere?”
She nodded, but refused to elaborate. “Are you hungry? You must have been riding long and hard. I have some supper here. I hope it’s enough.” She brought the food to the table before the fire and laid it out, her eyes cast down, as if busy checking that all was in order for their supper.
“Stop, Angel, turn to me.”
She returned to the chest and took her time searching its contents. “There is more food in here somewhere. You should have told me you were coming. How far have you travelled, did you say?” She could hear herself babbling but she couldn’t stop. Never in her wildest dreams had she expected to see Guy de Lacey again.
“I didn’t.”
“Well, it must have been far. We are so isolated here. You—”
Suddenly she felt his hands run up her arms. She closed her eyes tight and the lid of the chest slipped from her hands and banged shut.
“Stop, Angel.” He turned her to face him and brought his hand to her chin and lifted it. “Stop. Look at me.”
Slowly she opened her eyes, keeping her gaze lowered to his mouth—the softness of his lips was separated by a firm, uncompromising line. She frowned. That sternness was new. Her gaze lifted to his cheeks, roughened with stubble. He must have been riding long hours, not to have shaved. She touched his face, she couldn’t help herself.
“The texture of your skin, your hair, it’s different, it’s changed.” Her fingertips scraped against the stubble, tracing a path that took her back to his lips.
“Nine years brings changes to a man.”
“And to a woman.”
His head moved under her hand. “No. Not to you.”
She looked up into his eyes then. Hazel eyes that glowed golden, reflecting the jumping flames of the rush lights that were beginning to lick into the cold air, consuming it and giving them strength. Just like him, she thought. If she let him, he’d consume her. And she couldn’t risk that.
She turned her back to him—drawing a deep, ragged breath as she went—and busied herself pouring wine into each cup. “I’ve changed, Guy. And you mustn’t think otherwise. Please, be seated. You must be hungry and tired.”
“I was, but am no more. Not now I have you to feast my eyes on.”
She heard him step behind her and she froze, unable to move, even as his hands captured the long strands of hair that had escaped her widow’s coif. She closed her eyes as he wrapped her curls around his fingers, drawing his hand closer to her head with each sinuous movement. She tensed as his fingers fumbled briefly with her coif and net before her hair was freed, and tumbled into his waiting hands. He lifted her hair to one side, his breath, hot against her neck.
Heat pooled in her stomach revealing a long-forgotten desire that she’d presumed dead. That it was still alive shocked her into movement. She put down the cups of wine that her trembling hands threatened to spill and turned to him, her hair falling around her face, untamed and tousled by his hands.
“It’s your turn to stop. Now! Don’t you dare turn you charm on me again, Guy. You think you can return here and seduce me after all these years? You think I’ve been waiting for this?” Her breathing was coming in short, sharp pants, aroused by his proximity and by the frustration that he’d waited so long to come to her.
A faint smile flickered on his lips and in his eyes. “Maybe.” He brushed his thumb across her cheek. “Your face is flushed, your eyes bright.”
She took his hands and flung them away. “Through anger, Guy. Anger! I want no one. There’s only one thing I want now.”
His eyes narrowed but his smile lingered. “Just one thing? You are easy to please, my lady. Tell me what it is you want and I’ll give it to you.”
She bit her lip and shook her head. “’Tis not so easily given.”
His smile faded. “Tell me. What is it you want?”
“My freedom.”

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