The Wild Rose Press
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Ambushed as he approaches the English estate promised him by William the Conqueror, Lord Cort Dornogard dares trust no one…least of all the spirited Gaelic healer, Alexis Fallon, who fascinates even as she defies him.
The magnificent Norse warrior threatens both Alexis’ heart and cherished autonomy, for she harbors a secret about the ambush she cannot reveal. Honesty will cost her her freedom. But silence may cost her far more.
Cort harbors a damning secret of his own—one guaranteed to foment rebellion among his new subjects. Escalating attacks and accidents on the estate confirm that fear. His foes, both English and Norman, will exploit what he hides to destroy him, his dreams, and the woman he’s grown to love.
Snared in a web of castle intrigue, passion, and betrayal, Cort and Lexi are far more than either suspects. And if they do not learn to trust, their enemies will destroy them both. Will they discover too late that truth is a double-edged sword?
Hair spilling over the floor beneath her bed, Lexi lifted her buttocks and rocked back on her hands. The sight almost dropped Cort to his knees. To imagine her thus was his fondest dream; to see her thus and be unable to have her, his worst nightmare. In what had become a habitual reaction of late, he leaned his head against the doorframe and closed his eyes.
When he reopened them, the view had not improved. Or improved too much, he thought with a tormented grimace. She’d levered herself back on her elbows to peer beneath the bed ropes, elevating her backside even more in the process. Cort stifled a groan at the sudden heaviness in his groin, sure he was about to disgrace himself.
“Where could it have— Ouch!” The pained exclamation punctuated a sharp crack as Lexi’s head connected with the bed frame. “Goat gonos.” Rubbing her scalp, she sat back on her heels.
Amused by her inventive vulgarity, Cort barked a laugh and stepped into the room. She swiveled around with an injured expression.
“Your pardon,” he managed, relieved that humor had somewhat allayed his passion. “I never heard that…phrase before. Are you all right?”
Delightful color rose in her cheeks as she touched the bruised spot and winced. “Aye. My mother claims I inherited my father’s thick Gaelic head.”
“Good thing, lady. You’ve certainly put it to the test several times recently.”
Her tongue inched halfway between her teeth before she apparently reconsidered and withdrew it. Cort was tempted to tell her she was welcome to stick out her tongue anytime. As long as she used it on him. In any proper—or better yet, improper—way she chose. He shivered at the thought.
“Are you cold?”
“Hardly.” He had to force the word through a throat grown noticeably thick.
She cast him a perplexed look, then rose and slapped the wrinkles from her sea-green tunic and ivory underblouse. “Did you want something, my lord?”
My poor, provocative innocent, you have no idea.
“Need I remind you again, lady, it’s Cort, not my lord? Come here,” he growled.
She glided toward him, though her eyes reflected bewilderment at his tone. “Have I done someth—”
“No, but I hope you will.” Cort swept her against him, uncaring that she must feel his arousal hard against her belly.
Lexi gazed up at him, translucent gold eyes startled. Then a shy smile curved her full lower lip. “What do you hope I will do?” she whispered.
“This.” Making no attempt to disguise his desire, Cort took her mouth in a blatantly sexual kiss. Hungry, possessive, his lips flowed over Lexi’s, demanding a response. But there was no need to demand. She yielded with exquisite sweetness, melding her generous mouth to his, seeking his liquid heat with every bit as much urgency as he did hers.
Her slender hands kneaded his shoulders, feathered up his neck, thrust into his long hair, stripping away the leather thong that confined it. Loose strands teased his jaw, his cheekbones, drifted and held at the edges of their heated mouths.
Did she sense, he wondered, all that he offered, all that he was? Power. Control. Tenderness. Danger.
Reality receded. He knew nothing but the honeyed-almond mouth, the rose and woodland perfume of her incredible hair. Well and truly lost. And glorying in every decadent moment.
Drawing her into the cradle of his now-spread thighs, his fate was sealed when she rotated her slender hips against the dire ache between his legs. Leaning into her lush, welcoming body, he slid his hand beneath her hair and turned his wrist to wrap its wealth around his forearm. His tongue plunged and retreated in desperate imitation of what he yearned to do to her body. What he would do if he didn’t—
About the Author:
Diane O’Key can’t ever remember not reading—or writing, for that matter. By the end of eighth grade, she’d written numerous poems and short stories and won an award for having read over 500 books grades 1 through 8. Her lifelong love of storytelling, classical literature, and history—inspired by incredible and demanding teachers—propelled her into a 22-year secondary language arts teaching career, in which her students and colleagues immeasurably enriched her life…though one of her great points of pride—and greatest fears—is that they remember her as OCD about grammar, spelling, and syntax….
Raised on the Jersey Shore, she discovered a deep love of theater (for which she won several awards) and gymnastics in high school. Aided by scholarships and loans, she worked her way through Georgian Court University, and upon graduation with honors and 42 English literature credits, taught high school in Pt. Pleasant and Pt. Pleasant Beach.
Then, she and her high-school sweetheart, now husband, moved to Southwest Florida, where she continued to teach. Married for 40 years, she and her better-half, a retired firefighter, have one grown son, a talented airbrush artist, and divide their time between we-love-winters-in Florida (though they’re there—at least for now—most of the year) and their beloved South Carolina Upstate lake home as often as they can get away.
Her interests include making custom jewelry and bookmarks, snow skiing, baking, and anything to do with the water. A member of SW Florida Romance Writers and RWA for eighteen years, she has two wonderful, multi-published authors as critique partners: the self-dubbed Three Musketeers. Diane writes medieval historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense.
Writing as she does “in the mist,” without absolute direction or outlines, is both a challenge and a joy. She delights in those moments when the characters pop full-blown into her head, carrying on a conversation. As that pop is rarely the first chapter, however, the struggle begins to write from that point-first backward, then forward. Keeps her awake at night…and life interesting.