Authors: Margaret Mallory
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Historical
Green eyes sparking with fire, she raised her sword and said, “Teach me.”
Oh, what he would love to teach her! God help him, she was breathtaking like this.
“You should carry a short blade as well,” he instructed as he fended off her attack.
“Why? You think you can knock my sword from my hand?”
“I can.” He saw a half-empty sack on the floor behind her. “But I will not have to. You will drop it.”
She fought better angry, a good quality in a fighter.
Still, he was better. Much better. He forced her to step back, and back, and back again. One more step and her heel caught
on the sack. She threw her hands up, sending the sword clattering against the wall as she tumbled backward.
The next moment, she was lying back on her elbows, her hair loose about her shoulders, skirts askew, chest heaving.
He could not move, could not even breathe.
She looked like a goddess. A wanton Venus, sprawled on the dirt floor at his feet. Then she threw her head back and laughed.
Not a light trill, but a full-throated, joyful laugh that made his heart soar.
What he would not do to hear her laugh again!
“I’m afraid you have the advantage of me,” she said, her eyes dancing. She reached her hand up for him to help her to her
He took it and sank to his knees beside her. “Not true, Isobel,” he said in a harsh whisper. “ ’Tis I who am at your mercy.”
His eyes fixed on her lips, full and parted. Well beyond thought now, he gave in to the inexorable pull toward them. The moment
their lips touched, fire seared through him.
He tried to hang on to the thin thread of caution tugging at his conscience. But she was kissing him back, her mouth open,
her tongue seeking his. His ears roared as she put her arms around his neck and pulled him down.
He cushioned the back of her head with his hand before it touched the dirt floor. Leaning over her, he gave himself wholly
to kissing her. He splayed his hands into her hair and rained kisses along her jaw and down her throat, then returned to her
The sweet taste of her, the smell of her, filled his senses. He was mindless of anything except her mouth, her face, her hair,
and his burning need to touch her.
He ran his hand down her side to the swell of her hip. When she moaned, he knew he had to feel her beneath him. Beneath him,
pressed against him. Skin to skin.
Slowly, he lowered his body until he felt the soft fullness of her breasts against his chest. Sweet heaven! Oh God, the little
sounds she was making. He let himself sink down farther and groaned aloud as his swollen shaft pressed against her hip.
There was a reason he must not do what he wanted to do, but he could not recall it. And he did not want to try.
He buried his face in hair that smelled of summer flowers and honey. “Isobel, I want you so much.”
The breath went out of him in a whoosh as he cupped the rounded softness of her breast in his hand. It fit perfectly. And
felt so wondrously good he had to squeeze his eyes shut.
He froze the instant he felt the prick of cold steel against his neck. All the reasons they should not be rolling around on
the floor of an empty storeroom came flooding back to him.
“You are right,” she said so close to his ear that he could feel her breath, “ ’tis wise to carry a short blade.”
“Forgive me.” He breathed in the smell of her skin one more time. Then he made himself get up.
As soon as he set her on her feet, she set to vigorously brushing off her clothes. She was quite obviously embarrassed, but
did she regret the kisses? He wished she would speak.
“Isobel?” He stepped close and touched her arm, but she would not look at him. “I cannot say I am sorry for kissing you.”
Kissing seemed hardly to cover it, but he thought it best to leave it at that. “But I do apologize if I have upset you.”
“The blame is not all yours,” she said, her face flushed and eyes cast down, “though I might like to pretend otherwise.”
Ah, an honest woman. And a fair one too.
“You know I am soon to become betrothed.”
“I did forget it for a time,” he said, hoping in vain to draw a smile from her.
“It was very wrong of me,” she said, lifting her chin. “It shall not happen again.”
“If it will never happen again,” he said, “then let me have a last kiss before we part.”
He thought his outrageous request would cause her to either laugh or shout at him. When she did neither, he put his hand against
her soft cheek, then leaned down until his lips touched hers. This time, he kept the kiss soft and chaste. He would not upset
But when she leaned into him, he was lost again in deep, mindless kisses. When they finally broke apart, they stared at each
“I must leave now,” she said, backing away.
He caught her arm. “These things happen between men and women,” he told her, though it had never happened quite like this
to him before. “Please, Isobel, you must not feel badly or blame yourself.”
The huge eyes she turned on him told him his words had done nothing to reassure her.
“Come, you will want to put this on,” he said, picking up the simple headdress he saw lying on the ground.
She snatched it from his hands, slammed it on her head, and began shoving hair into it.
“ ’Tis a shame to cover such lovely hair.” Unable to keep his hands from her, he helped push loose strands under the headdress.
He let his fingers graze her skin as he worked and tried not to sigh aloud.
“Let me go first to be sure no one is near,” he told her. “Watch for my signal.”
He felt her close behind him as he eased the door open. “I am happy to practice with you whenever you like,” he said as he
looked out into the yard. “Sword fighting or kissing.”
He spun around and gave her a quick, hard kiss, looking straight into her open eyes.
Where authors give you the inside scoop!
From the desk of Kate Brady
One of the first things people want to know when they find out the nature of the books I write is, “What’s
with you?” I confess, for anyone acquainted with Chevy Bankes in ONE SCREAM AWAY (on sale now), it’s a valid question. Here
we have a villain with serious mother issues, bizarre sister issues, and a folk song driving him to kill. Forget the fact
that he stockpiles screams and travels all the way across the country to obtain the final entry in his collection.
So please, folks, allow me to go on record: I am generally a nice person. I am not prone to violence. I don’t have any deeply
buried hatred toward my parents, nor do I have any deeply buried skeletons in my gardens. I have basically healthy relationships
with my husband, children, sibling, in-laws, colleagues, friends, and neighbors. To be frank, my life is pretty darn dull.
I love it that way—heaven knows I wouldn’t want to face the type of excitement my characters face on every page. But maybe
my basic normalcy is the reason I spin tales about larger-than-life characters. In most cases, they are people I would never
want to meet, doing things I would never want to do. (Except for those Sheridan men… I admit it would be nice to meet one
of them but, alas, they’re engaged with heroines far more beautiful and exciting than I.) When you write about people who
don’t exist, the possibilities for perilous physical exploits and heartrending emotional journeys are infinite, and far more
exciting than shopping for groceries or weeding those gardens.
So when I started writing ONE SCREAM AWAY, I knew I wanted three things: (1) a smart villain who would hunt down a heroine
in some really creepy way for some really twisted reason, (2) a smart heroine with a secret past too horrific to contemplate
and chutzpah from here to the moon, and (3) a smart hero so drop-dead gorgeous and profoundly tortured that you couldn’t help
but cheer for him, even when he was being a jerk. Beyond that, I didn’t know much of anything and decided simply to follow
the hero, Neil Sheridan, step by step, as he tried to solve a murder. I didn’t know so many innocent people would die before
he succeeded, or that he’d unravel the truth about his own tragic past along the way. That’s one of the many joys of writing:
I hope you’ll enjoy the first of the Sheridan stories as Neil tracks down Chevy Bankes in ONE SCREAM AWAY. And I hope you’ll
be inspired to come back for more when his brother Mitch makes his debut in the next book!
Please feel free to visit my Web site at
From the desk of Margaret Mallory
While writing KNIGHT OF DESIRE (on sale now), I discovered how much I enjoy writing part of my story from the hero’s perspective.
After years of guessing what men are thinking, I found it profoundly satisfying to
what was in my hero’s head and heart. I loved being able to show the reader why William does the things he does. (Men do
have their reasons.)
The more surprising thing I learned about myself as a writer is that I like tortured love scenes. The hero and heroine’s misunderstandings
and conflicts can be revealed with such high drama in the bedroom. (My parents and children will miss these scenes of wrenching
emotion, since I am razorblading them out of their copies.) Of course, the hero and heroine eventually are rewarded for their
Speaking of heroes and tortured love… Stephen, the younger brother in KNIGHT OF DESIRE, is the hero of my second book, KNIGHT
OF PLEASURE (December 2009). Stephen is in Normandy fighting with King Henry (Prince Harry in book one), when he crosses swords
(literally) with Isobel, a woman he wants but cannot have. Although we know Stephen has a hero’s heart beneath all that charm,
our serious-minded heroine dismisses him as a knight of pleasure.
KNIGHT OF DESIRE is my first published book, so I would dearly love to hear from readers. I hope you will visit me at my Web
. Readers may be interested in photos I’ve posted there of Alnwick Castle, the Percy stronghold where my hero William grew
up, and a wonderful statue of Hotspur, William’s famous half-brother. Hotspur, in full armor on a rearing warhorse, looks
exactly as I imagined him.