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Diana Fraser

Honoring His Lady: Medieval Romance (PAPERBACK)

Honoring His Lady: Medieval Romance (PAPERBACK)

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A knight who will do anything for his lady—except let her go.

As a boy, William de Vere knew two things truly—that he loved the land, and that he and Alice de Courcy would one day marry and have a family. But his plans are thwarted when Alice is betrothed to another.

As the only daughter of ambitious parents, Alice is used mercilessly as a pawn in other people’s games and learns she can trust no one. To protect herself she creates a beautiful, cold façade to hide behind. It’s a place where no one can hurt her, or touch her, not even those she loves.

Can William not only rescue Alice from her parents’ schemes, but find in her the girl he once knew, even if it means he has to let her go?

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Item Weight: 7 ounces
  • Size: 6 x 9 inches

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


Excerpt from Prologue
Norfolk, 1198

Thirteen-year-old Lady Alice de Courcy ran through the field of barley beside her castle home without a backward glance. Her unbound, fair tresses flew behind her, rivalling the golden barley in their brightness.
Despite the fierce summer sun, she continued to run until she reached the woods where the sunlight became dappled and the air cooler as she reached the stream where she always met her best friend, William. He was there, waiting for her as usual.
“Alice,” he greeted with his customary brevity, and shy smile. She often wondered how he managed to convey so much in so few words. She’d decided it was because his eyes were so expressive—a deep brown, as brown as the soil in winter, fringed with thick dark lashes. They were eyes you could trust.
“William,” she said, placing her hand against her chest as she tried to regain her breath. “Goodness! It was not easy to get away today. The castle is in an uproar, and Mother is even more bad tempered than usual.”
She waited for him to ask why, but he simply continued to lean against one of the gnarly old oaks, and watch her, a slight smile playing on his lips.
“Are you not interested to know why?” she asked.
“Aye, if you wish to tell me.”
She shrugged. “Nay, if you don’t wish to know, then I shall not tell you, even if it is most interesting,” she teased.
She took a few steps away, as if she might wander along the stream, before dropping to her knees to admire a clump of bright wildflowers. She stroked the buttery yellow petals, aware of William moving behind her. He knelt beside her and plucked a flower and offered it to her.
“What should I do with it?” she asked, wanting to provoke him into something more than distant admiration.
“Place it behind your ear. It will look pretty.”
“You should place it there for me.” She didn’t know who was more shocked, her for uttering such flirtatious words, or the very proper William who had never touched her other than to hold her hand when they were younger. For the last few years, though, even that had stopped, much to her frustration.
Their gazes locked as he did as she bid, and brushed her hair aside with his long, calloused fingers, and gently slid the flower behind her ear. She watched his throat convulse as he swallowed. He stepped away and sat, his back against a tree, his eyes still on her.
“So?” she asked.
“So?” he repeated in query.
“Does it look pretty?”
“Alice,” he said with a warning narrowing of the eyes. “You know it does.”
“I know nothing of the sort.”
“Well, now you do.”
“I suppose I do. So”—she spread her skirts prettily around her—“now we’re here, what shall we do?” She knew what she wanted him to do. She wanted him to kiss her like she’d seen the stable boy kiss her maid.
“Talk?” he suggested.
She sighed. “I suppose so. Of what shall we talk?”
“You can tell me what you wanted to tell me earlier.”
“Oh, that. It is nothing. Simply my father’s cousin, Sir Roland, coming to stay while my father is in London.”
William frowned. “Why is your father in London?”
Alice shrugged, hesitated and then turned to William. “He says he’s needed there. But I heard my mother tell her sister that it was good riddance.”
“But what about the land?”
Alice laughed. “That is so like you, William. Your first thought is always for the land.”
William smiled too. He wasn’t like the other youths who hated to be laughed at. She’d told him that once, and he’d replied that indeed he was, but somehow she could say anything and he didn’t mind.
"As it should be, Alice. For it is the land which gives us life.” He dragged his fingers through the rich earth and rubbed it between his fingers, letting it shower down to the ground.
For some reason the way his fingers rubbed the soil so tenderly, stirred her.
"Anyone would think you love the soil more than people, more than a person,” she couldn’t help adding.
He raised those dark eyes to her, and her heart stopped.
“More than most, that much is true, but not more than you.”
She turned away to hide her smile. She liked it when he said things like that. She’d always known he’d liked her best of all girls. It would have been hard not to know, for he’d been telling her thus ever since she was a child. But in recent years, although he’d never tried to kiss or caress her, his admissions of love made her feel something else, something quite different.
She lay on the soft grass and closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his eyes upon her. “Listen to the birds singing! Isn’t it glorious? Like the choir in Norwich Cathedral.”
The grasses rustled as William lay beside her. She stretched her fingers out and held her breath, wondering if he would do as she wished. When she felt the tentative touch of his fingers upon her own, she let out a long breath and opened her eyes. He curled his fingers around hers and swept his thumb along the side of her hand, circling twice around the nail of her little finger. She’d never known a sensation like it. It was as if he touched other parts of her. For one long moment neither moved.
Later, when she remembered that moment, she could have sworn that the birds had stopped singing, that the leaves, high above them in the tree’s canopy, had stopped moving, that the air had been sucked from her body. And later still, she’d wished, with all her heart and soul, that her life had ended then, with such sweetness.
But, instead, a darkness came upon them. A cloud slid across the sun at the same time as they became aware of the sound of a horse’s hooves drumming into the ground upon which they lay. It was William who jumped up first, looking toward the woodland path along which a horseman was riding.
Alice stood behind William as the stranger approached, spotted them, and pulled his great destrier to a savage halt. Alice shivered as the stranger’s eyes swept over her.
“You must be Alice.” His voice was no friendlier than his eyes.
She swallowed. “Indeed, sir.”
“I am your uncle Roland. I volunteered to come and find you when your mother said you were missing. I was eager to meet you.”
The chill Alice felt didn’t leave her but she curtseyed as she’d been taught.
“Come,” he said, “we can ride together back to the castle.”
“Thank you sir, but I can walk.”
He leaned down and she didn’t like the way his breath smelled of brandy. His hand came around hers and grasped it tight. “Back to the castle with you, little maid.” He pulled her up in front of him and she clung to the horse’s mane.
She turned to William, who glowered at her uncle, his fists clenched. It wasn’t like him. Her world seemed to be turning upside down.
“Alice, I—” shouted William.
But whatever William said was cut off as her uncle grasped her around the waist with one hand, and shouted at his horse to canter away.
William watched the only girl he’d ever loved taken away from him by a stranger. He was panting with anger. Sweat beaded his face and yet he felt chill, from the hands which were still fisted, to deep inside of him, his gut, twisted and sick. Something was wrong, and he knew not what it was. But, the same feeling he had about the soil which he loved so much, told him the truth about Alice.
There were three things he knew without words: one the land, and two, his beloved Alice. Something threatened Alice, but he, as a mere 16-year-old youngest son with no prospects, was powerless to either identify it or remedy it. But he’d do as he always did, he’d watch out for her.
One day she would be his. That was the third thing he knew.

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