The Countdown Continues!Days 'till the Summer Solstice: 18
Today, for your pleasure, another Great (Late) Summer Read, coming Aug 25th! Geez. Wish I didn't have to wait that long for this one - I love hunky knights!To Tempt a Knight by Gerri Russell
In the light of the moon, the pale woolen cloth nearly glowed. But it was the bloodred cross sewn onto the fabric at the side of the cloak that riveted her attention. A Templar’s cloak.
Siobhan’s gaze shot to William’s. “Yours?”
He nodded as he settled himself on the ground next to the opening.
“How long have you been …” She hesitated, not quite certain how to phrase what she wanted to know.
“Hiding?” he provided for her.
“It feels like a lifetime, but in reality it’s been only four years for me.”
Sorrow lingered beneath his words. “Do you miss your home?”
He averted his gaze, hiding any emotion the darkness might not conceal. “I never truly had a home. All my life I’ve lived by my sword. It shelters me, feeds me, and protects me.”
“It sounds very lonely,” she said, casting a glance at his profile in the darkness of the cave.
“It gives me what I need.”
Siobhan hesitated from asking more because of the dour tone of his voice. She’d touched on something that he didn’t want to discuss. As her eyes adjusted to the pale moonlight, Siobhan looked around the small cave. Nothing but bare, damp rock surrounded them. The soft surge and retreat of the waves sounded below. She crossed her arms over her chest, hugging the scroll close to her, trying to ward off the chill of the night.
“We can’t risk a fire,” he said as though he sensed the shudder that raced through her just then. “Come, sit beside me.”
She sat, leaning back against the shale wall, then held the leather casing that contained the scroll in her lap. With hesitant fingers, she brushed the leather surface.
“What’s on the scroll?” he asked, his tone even now.
“I’m not certain.”
Even in the darkness she could see his puzzled frown. “You risked your life for that scroll and you do not even know what it contains?”
She frowned down at the leather that protected the contents inside. “My father sent me to retrieve this moments before he was abducted.” She turned toward William. In the half-light his face was a study of dark planes and angles. “I can’t help wondering if he knew something would happen to him today.” She bit down on her lip as she fingered the container’s cap. “This is all I have left.” She didn’t expect him to understand.
“Open it,” he said softly with no accusation in his tone. Did he understand? Or was he anxious for her to reveal the scroll’s secrets for another reason?
Could she trust him? William had saved her life today … Her own curiosity forced doubts about William’s interest aside.
She forgot about the cold. She forgot about the tragedy of the day. She forgot about everything as carefully, almost afraid to breathe, she opened the leather casing and gently shook out the papyrus scroll inside. She unrolled the papyrus. Straining her eyes in the half-light, she stared down at line after line of her father’s dense code. Even if she’d been able to see it clearly, she doubted she could identify the words he’d hidden in the strange code. She angled the paper toward the cave’s opening, trying to catch what light she could. Dark shapes appeared. A map? She sighed. “It’s too dark. I can’t make anything out.”
“Then any discoveries will have to wait until first light.” He shifted beside her and with a rasp of sound, drew his sword. He set the weapon across his lap, his hand on the hilt. “Just in case,” he said as he settled back against the wall. “You had best sleep. Who knows what challenges tomorrow will bring?”
She knew he was probably right. She rolled the scroll and placed it back in its protective leather casing, then held the treasure close to her chest, protecting what she had left of her life with her father.
She tried to block the sound of the surf, but the further darkness only made her more aware of her surroundings—especially the man sitting next to her, a sword gripped in his hands. “Why did you come to see my father today? Did you know de la Roche would come as well?”
He shifted, turning toward her in the darkness. His face was cast in complete darkness now. And for a moment she wondered if he’d planned that, secluding himself in darkness. “Nay. ‘Tis mere coincidence that de la Roche appeared when he did, although there were those of us who suspected he would show himself sooner or later.”
A gust of cool wind touched Siobhan’s cheeks. She pulled the cape he’d given her closer around herself. “Those of us?” she prompted.
She could feel his gaze upon her. “The Templars. Your father has information we desperately needed.”
“And now that he’s gone…?”
“I am hoping you have that information. Or that the scroll we saved from the fire contains something we can use to find what it is I need.”
Siobhan’s hands tightened on her father’s work. A surge of hope moved through her. Today’s events had taught her one thing. She needed this man’s help if she were ever to rescue her father from de la Roche’s clutches. Could the scroll help her secure his aid?
“What do you need?” she asked, trying to temper her growing excitement. This man was still a stranger. His motives were unproved.
“The Holy Lance. It’s the one piece of the Templar treasure de la Roche wants above all the rest. Your father was the treasure’s guardian.”
A shiver rippled across her nape. Her father had told her stories of many legendary treasures over the years, but she’d had no idea he was so intimately connected to them.
“My father called it the Longinus Spear …” Her voice trailed off in wonder. She shifted, trying to see his face in the darkness. If only she could see his eyes. Then she’d know whether he was being honest or not. “How do you think I can help you?”
“It’s how we can help each other, Lady Siobhan.”
“Please, just call me Siobhan. No one ever refers to me as anything more.”
“Siobhan. Help me locate the Spear, and I’ll help you find your father and get you both to safety.”
She knew nothing about this man, except that he had saved her from de la Roche earlier and that he had gone back into her burning home to rescue the scroll without fear for his own life. Were those things enough to trust him with her father’s life? His deepest secrets?
“Do we have an agreement?” he asked, his voice deep, expectant.
She nodded. Then realizing he could not see her any better in the dark said, “Aye.”
“Then you had best try to get some sleep because tomorrow will be another difficult day if I know de la Roche.”
Instantly, her mood sobered at the reminder of the dangers outside of their dark cave, no doubt the reason he’d drawn his sword. “Will you be able to sleep?” she asked.
Siobhan released a soft sigh. She doubted she’d find sleep this night either. Her lack of sleep wouldn’t stem from the ever-present danger, even though she knew she should be more fearful of discovery than she was. Instead, her mind filled with a million possibilities of what secrets the scroll might reveal.
She shifted her gaze to what little she could make out of William. Did her father truly have something to do with the Knights Templar?
Coded text … Drawings …
What could her father be involved in?This week's prizes: Comment on any post from Monday June 1st, through Sunday June 7th for a chance to win one of two prizes:
- Winner's choice of Gerri Russell 's backlist - Warrior's Lady, Warrior's Bride, or The Warrior Trainer.
Winners chosen at random and posted on Monday June 8.
- Winner's choice of one Joy Nash Druids of Avalon backlist books - Deep Magic, The Grail King, or Celtic Fire.
Oh! Almost forgot - another fun contest.
Author Emily Bryan
is holding a contest on her blog - and the winner will get a chance to name a character in Emily's summer 2010 book Stroke of Genius.
Wonder if you get to pick whether the character you name is good or evil? lol :-) Details at emilybryan.blogspot.com
See you Friday!Joy Nashwww.joynash.comAvailable NOW!A Little Light Magic
Summer at the Jersey Shore has never been so hot!
Labels: countdown to summer, Gerri Russell, joy nash