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Excerpt of Lord of the Keep by Ann Lawrence


Ellora's Cave
March 2013
On Sale: March 7, 2013
Featuring: Lord Gilles d'Argent; Emma
395 pages
ISBN: 1419945173
EAN: 9781419945175
Kindle: B00BR070L4
e-Book (reprint)
Add to Wish List

Romance Historical

Also by Ann Lawrence:

Christmas in Savage Bay, December 2013
Lord of Swords, October 2013
Virtual Warrior, October 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Virtual Desire, August 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Virtual Heaven, July 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Lord of the Hunt, June 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Lord of the Mist, May 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Lord of the Keep, March 2013
e-Book (reprint)
Do You Believe?, May 2005
Lord Of The Hunt, January 2003
Virtual Warrior, August 2002
Mass Market Paperback
Lord of the Mist, July 2001
Virtual Desire, August 2000
Mass Market Paperback
Paradise, August 1999
Virtual Heaven, May 1999
Mass Market Paperback

Excerpt of Lord of the Keep by Ann Lawrence

A chill wind whistled down the chimney of Hawkwatch Keep. The hunting birds lifted their wings to protest the disturbing eddies of air. His dog moved closer to the fire.

"What is it?" Gilles demanded without turning to see who approached him. The fool would receive the sharp edge of his tongue for disturbing him. He lifted his tankard of ale and drank it down as he flexed the stiff fingers of his cold right hand.

"My lord?" a soft voice said behind him.

Gilles recognized the voice. It drifted like a gentle visitor through his dreams. He rose from his seat and turned. "Mistress Emma." Gilles swept her a courtly bow, his ill–temper banished in one instant. "How may I be of service?"

"My lord, I do not require any service. I have brought you a gift to thank you for saving my life and that of my daughter."

"A gift?" Gilles, nonplused, groped for words. He could count on one hand the gifts he'd received in his many years.

"Aye, my lord." She extended a package wrapped in clean linen.

He stepped down from the dais and took the bundle. For a moment he just stroked his thumbs over the coarse wrapping.

"I hope it will be pleasing to you, my lord," Emma said into the silence.

As Gilles plucked off the twine that bound the bundle, he sought to excuse his curt behavior. "Forgive me my churlish nature. I've had a most unfortunate day. One of my men wounded a horse in careless play with a sword––a prized horse's tendon was severed. What seemed but a careless accident resulted in the destruction of a valuable mount." He ground to a halt, unsure why he explained his foul mood at all.

The wrapping parted. Gilles did not know how to describe the pleasure he received from the length of intricately woven cloth in his hand. He unfolded it and saw that one end was stitched about a humble iron buckle. Humble could not describe the belt itself.

His gaze skipped from the belt, to the woman before him, to the floor. Words lodged somewhere in his throat.

She stepped forward, her child on one hip. "I tried to capture the carving of your chair, my lord, and the decorations of your chimney piece." Her voice dropped. "I hope you're not displeased."

In fact, she'd taken the Norman motifs found on his chair and painted about his whitewashed chimney piece and woven them in the colors of fire and storm clouds. The colors were more vibrant and alive than any he'd ever seen. He turned the belt. The interwoven designs became a string of hawks in flight. "Displeased? This is your work?" How could he be so stupid? She'd just said as much.

"Aye, my lord." She bobbed a low curtsy.

"I'm more than pleased. This is beyond fine. I've never seen the like." Gilles held the belt in both hands and stroked his thumbs over the intricate pattern. Each motif entwined and linked to another, endlessly. An unfamiliar feeling came over him. A gift linked the giver and the recipient as the designs linked along the cloth. Did she intend such a thing?

He turned the belt in the light. The shades of color changed and shifted as did the color of her mantle as she moved.

"You must join my weavers." The words barely made it from his mouth. He raised his gaze to hers and thought he saw in her eyes what he felt coursing his own blood. No matter the sounds that might surround them, no matter how many men and women were busy in the hall, only the two of them existed at that moment. "You must join my weavers," he repeated. "Today."

"Do you mean that, my lord?" Emma asked. "You offer me a great honor."

"On the contrary, the honor is mine."

Emma's heart raced, her palms dampened. To weave for him! She and Angelique would never starve, nor feel the chill of a winter storm blowing beneath their door. Angelique would grow with straight bones and a full belly.

She need not fend off Widow Cooper's son and his marriage offers.

Then she frowned, turning away from Lord Gilles and looking down the long hall at the folk who lounged about on benches to avoid the bitter wind outside. Just as the harrowing of the coming winter wind would be a torture, ‘twould be a torture of another kind to be near William Belfour and feel his contempt and ugly scorn, to be within reach of his displeasure.

And to be within hearing of his words. It was his poetry and song that had first drawn her. Poetry he'd composed just for her. Words that she had thought were a window to his soul, a soul she'd mistakenly believed was as golden and fair as his face. Instead, they'd been false words raising false hopes. The thought of listening to his poetry and song would be unbearable.

Starving would be unbearable. Marriage to Widow Cooper's son would be unbearable.

Emma lifted Angelique's hand and studied the dry tips of her little fingers and the chapped skin upon her downy cheeks. A mother should not put her fears before the health of her babe. She squared her shoulders and looked up at the man who offered her the world, frightening though it might be. "I will weave for you."

Excerpt from Lord of the Keep by Ann Lawrence
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