Thursday, March 28, 2013
My Lady In Green
by Ann Lethbridge
Smoke. Thick in the back of her throat. Choking. Causing her eyes to smart. Where was she? More to the point, who was next? Which one? Surely she was close to finding the last of the necklace.
Feverishly, she peered through the gloom in what looked like a pub. A very old pub. All oak beam and rough tables and an enormous roaring fire. There! Playing cards with three others. There was no mistaking the broad Daubenay shoulders even if they were encased in silver-embroidered velvet. Ah yes, the dark handsome features she’d last seen in a moonlit garden. Older now, with a more desperate edge to his card play than she’d seen earlier in his play with the sword at his hip.
An emerald winked in the silver lace at his throat. Dry-mouthed, she left the safety of the shadows and crept closer.
Daubenay threw down his cards with a dark laugh. “Without bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. ‘Tis the curse of the Lady in Green.” He tossed off the remains of the drink in his glass while his opponent gathered in gold and pieces of paper from the middle of the table.
“’Sblood, Meryngham we’ll have no more talk of this ghost of yours,” one of the others said dealing another hand.
So he now held the title. Eve drew closer as this Meryngham scribbled on a scrap of paper.
“No more of your notes, man,” the dealer said. “You owe me a King’s ransom already. I wouldn’t say no to the emerald, though.”
Meryngham’s head whipped around. Blast, she must have spoken aloud.
“You,” he breathed. His lip curled. “You return to torment me do you?” He pulled her on to his lap, his velvet-covered thighs, muscular and large beneath her bum, his hand firm on her hip holding her in place. “Come to finish me off.” His laugh was reckless as he pulled the pin from the tie at his throat and tossed it to lay in the middle of the table winking balefully.
“Truly, I mean you no harm,” she said, desperation filling her. “But you can’t—”
The man on the other side of the table pushed the pile of gold at his elbow into the middle. The pile tumbled and buried the emerald.
“The emerald,” she gasped. She’d never get back to her own time if it was lost.
Meryngham looked down at her then, and darkness filled his eyes, and recklessness. “Kiss me for luck, good or ill, my green lady. All rests on this last wager.”
His sculpted lips descended, covered her mouth, gentle yet fierce with passion and longing. He tasted like Sebastian, nearly. And he tasted of loss. Heat spread up from her belly. Her head spun, desire almost overwhelming her reason. It felt so right and so wrong.
To the sound of cheers from the other men, he broke the kiss, his chest rising and falling on ragged breaths as he gazed down at her with a hard edged smile. “I think I love you.”
She gazed back at him wordless, her heart pounding in her chest. She could scarcely remember her name, let alone why she was here.
When she turned back to the table the cards had been dealt.
The man opposite put down his hand. Four Kings. Eve’s stomach fell away.
An ill-disguised shudder ran through Meryngham. “It seem luck rides on your shoulders, St Cyr.”
The other man leaned forward to gather in his winnings.
Almost as an after thought, Meryngham flipped over his cards with one finger.
Eve gaped. Four aces. The house of Meryngham was apparently saved.
Her noble captor kissed her soundly again. Her heart skipped a beat. He was so handsome, and delicious and gave heavenly kisses. Longing filled her. She wished....
He finally released her and laughing, gathered up the gold. The emerald caught on the wood. He picked it up and pressed it into her palm, closing her fingers, raising her hand to kiss her knuckles with heated fervor. “Yours, my sweet Lady in Green. I swear I’ll never risk the family fortune again.”
“Good,” she said.
The room started to disappear.
“Don’t leave,” he said. But it was already too late.
“Don’t leave me, my heart, my soul,” was a whisper in the dark. Her heart squeezed painfully.
For more information about Ann and her books check out her website http://www.annlethbridge.com