Cross-posted from Stormy Night
Full of adventure, great characters, snappy dialogue, and a great plot, this book will have you begging for more Loki! Once you get your first taste, you’ll be hooked, so buy your copy today!
“The world is changing, Martin.”
“The world is not changing. We are. Soon you will be married and I will be married and we will have families of our own.”
“Yes,” she said softly. Soon he would be married, to a second cousin from Cheshire. The marriage had been arranged when he was but four years of age. Now that he was three and twenty, it would take place in the coming year.
As a child, Mary had once wished that she and Martin could marry one another, but Martin had never spoken of such sentiments and as time passed she had stopped her innocent declarations of love. Now there was only the silence between them to be shared, the touch that soothed but could not satisfy.
“Soon you will be married and have a brood. Soon you will have a pot belly and a thick beard with meat stuffed into graying pelt, and soon you will have gout in your big toe,” she laughed with merriment at her own jests.
Martin’s lips twisted slightly. “Your imagination will get you into trouble, sweet Mary.”
“Will it? I think not.” She turned her back to the balcony and looked sidelong at him. “Will you wear double breeches to stop the sagging of your manhood?”
“Mary!” Martin snapped her name. He had always been given to censure, and she to teasing.
She did not feel tired any longer. Instead she felt quite wide awake, glee flashing through her blood as Martin’s dark eyes flashed warning. “You say my name so sweetly,” she laughed.
“I will thrash you just as sweetly if you insist upon this rudeness,” he said, glowering in a way that would have made a less familiar companion wither.
Mary leaned over and placed a chaste kiss on the tip of his nose. “You will never thrash me.”
“Perhaps I will not thrash you,” he admitted. “But I will not hesitate to bare your hindquarters, m’lady, and spank them until they burn brighter than these torches.”
“All for a little jest?” Mary feigned shock. “My, what a brute you have become, Martin.”
“I know you well enough, Mary. I know that after your innocent jests come actions not nearly so innocent.”
“And what trouble could I possibly find on this balcony?” She gave him an arch look, her green eyes sparkling with daring.
“Mary, you could find trouble in a sack,” he said. “You may fool your father and those about you, but I know you for what you truly are, a wicked miscreant who all too often escapes folly without the punishment she so deserves.”
He spoke quite sternly, though not without affection. It was not the first time Mary had heard such sentiments from him, but as he had never acted upon the words, they did not unduly concern her. She laughed again.
“You had best be careful, Martin. Your scowling will create so many wrinkles your bride will think she is to marry an old man and refuse you on the wedding night.”
“As I understand it, my bride is most eager in that regard,” Martin replied, seemingly unthinking.
Jealousy welled in Mary. It was not that she wished to marry Martin, at least, not that she could admit to herself. But thinking of another woman in his bed, under him, bearing his children plagued her mind most horribly.
“I am sure she is eager. Eager with the squires and the stablemen and no doubt the mail couriers and…”
“Mary! I will not hear another foul word out of you. It is not becoming, nor is it respectful. You are speaking of the future Lady de Stafford.”
“Lay de Stafford, mayhap.”
“You test me, Mary.”
Mary froze as he reached for her wrist and wrapped his large hand about it. He pulled, and she found herself pressed against his body, so close that their lips almost touched.
“If you test me further, I will not hesitate to lift your skirts and do as I have promised.”
“Test you, as half of Cheshire has tested your bride?”
There was no further discussion. Martin held her firm, reached down, swept up her skirts and tucked them into the hand that held her. She was all but bared there in the moonlight, her drawers offering little coverage for the ties had worked their way loose during the dances and now sagged open, displaying the pale curve of her virginal cheeks.
Red bloomed across her bottom as Martin de Stafford made good on his promise. He clapped his hand hard against Mary’s buttock, thrusting her against his body. She cried out, but he ignored the sound and laid another, then another blow until she was dancing yet again, this time against his masculine frame.