Friday, March 29, 2013

Lost in Time: His Lady in Green, Chapter Twenty-One

by Barbara Monajem

Back in the corridor with all those doors, Eve slumped against the wall. She tried to remember which of the Daubenays she hadn’t seen for a second time.... Ah. Thomas, the 12th Earl.  She didn’t even know whether it mattered. Since she’d been unable to take the large emerald from Tristan, how could she recover the entire necklace? The quest seemed doomed.
But she couldn’t give up now. Nor could she risk meeting the wrong Daubenay. If she chose the wrong door, she might have to stay in some other time and place... Which, though tempting, was also quite, quite wrong. Not only because she didn’t belong there or with any of them; she belonged with Sebastian in the twenty-first century. But it wasn’t just that—it was what might happen to him if she didn’t fulfil her quest.
Thomas was her only hope, but how could she tell behind which door she would find him? She dredged up that scene from her confused memories... The violin! She pushed away from the wall and crept down the corridor, putting her ear to each and every door.
At last she heard it, that solitary wail. What if some other Daubenay played the violin? She eased the door open, keeping her feet firmly planted on the passageway floor, ready to slam it shut.
The music ceased abruptly. “Come in, dame en vert,” said the same smooth, mellow voice. “I know why you’re here.”
Heart thudding, she eased her way inside. “You do?”
There he was, as compelling as the first time. He laid the violin and bow on the bed and crossed the room to a dressing table. The room smelled different now... A hint of feminine perfume lingered in the air.
“I hoped to be the one to break the curse,” Thomas said, “but I cannot ask you to return a third time, however beautiful and courageous you may be. I have fallen in love with another woman.”
Eve let out a long breath of relief. “That’s wonderful, my lord. I’m very happy for you.”
His smile was rueful. “I’m happy for me, too, if a little regretful that it couldn’t be you.” He opened a chest on the dressing table and removed two gleaming green stones. “Still, I can play one small part. I believe these are the last of the emeralds you seek.” He pressed the emeralds into her hand.
She gaped down at them. One was the large emerald she had left with Tristan Daubenay. It made no sense, none at all, but time had twisted and warped so much tonight that nothing made sense anymore.
 “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you so much...” She wanted to say more, to congratulate him, to wish him the best, but he was already disappearing. Mists swirled around her...
“Eve!” Sebastian strode toward her, dear and strong. “Darling, I’ve been so worried. You recovered the necklace!”
She followed his gaze...and there it was, whole and perfect upon her chest. She grinned, happiness filling her. “I did! I did it!”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard. “I love you, Eve. Thank God you’re back, safe and sound.” He pulled away. “You don’t need that dagger anymore, sweetheart. The curse is broken. The danger is over.”
She stared down at her hand. Only a few seconds ago, she hadn’t been holding Richard d’Aubenay’s weapon. Her heart plummeted as its significance dawned on her.
The danger wasn’t over. She had recovered the necklace, and maybe the curse was indeed broken, but her quest wasn’t complete. She had made a promise to the first Daubenay and to the poor fortune-teller. She had to return to the England of William the Conqueror.
She didn’t want to. She wanted to stay here.  
Sebastian went down on one knee. He took her free hand in his. “I’ve been waiting all evening to ask this, and it felt like the longest evening of my life. Will you marry me, Eve?”
The one wish of her heart...but she couldn’t stay with him. Not yet. A whiff of the blood and filth of that long ago time reached her, beckoning horribly. Inescapably.
Tears sprang to her eyes. “Yes,” she said, “oh, yes, but I can’t.” Talk about the ultimate sacrifice. She’d always thought that meant death, but...not in this case, at least. Living was the true sacrifice. Placing honour before love... Perhaps sacrificing love altogether.
Sebastian’s face fell. “Why not? Don’t you love me?”
“Yes, with all my heart, but I made a promise to return once again to Richard d’Aubenay. He was about to kill a fortune teller for predicting two futures, one great, one dreadful. I have to save her life. I may even have to convince him to stay in England, or nothing will be the same.” She shuddered at the memory of the fortune teller’s vision—Sebastian in a crumbling castle, his head in his hands. Across the vastnesses of time, she heard the woman’s pleas and Richard’s harsh voice.
“And you may not be able to return here,” Sebastian said. She could hardly bear to look at his stricken face.
She took a deep breath. “If I’m meant to return, I will.” That long ago time reached for her, tugged her into the mists. She gazed longingly at the man she loved, perhaps for the last time.
His mouth twisted. “That’s how the legend goes. The Lady in Green comes a third time to her true love. Since this nightmare began, you’ve only returned to me twice.” He swallowed. “Very well, my darling.” He squeezed her hand. “Hold on to your love for me, and it will prove true.”
The mists blew in and away, and she stood once more at the top of the staircase, breathing in the odours of a thousand years before. The wooden door stood open, but when she tried to go through, she couldn’t move. Sebastian was still holding her hand! She turned, glimpsing his beloved face in the mists.
His whisper came to her across the reaches of time. “Your true love gets to help you.” Yes, someone had told her that—Dougal MacKinnon, the Scot. Strength poured into her. She gathered her courage.
“My lord Richard!” she cried. “I have fulfilled my quest, and the future is bright once more.” She held out the dagger. “Here is your weapon, with my thanks.”
Richard d’Aubenay strode forward, peering at her. “I can scarcely see you, Lady in Green. Why have you not returned in the delightful flesh?” He accepted the weapon, then frowned, gazing past her shoulder. “Who waits behind you in the darkness?”
 “He is my true love, your descendant of a thousand years hence.”
Richard cocked his head to one side. “A comely enough fellow, but why not remain with me? We need not stay on this godforsaken island. I have lands enough in Normandy.”
Sebastian’s grip seemed to loosen, and panic suffused her. She had to get this right. Stay with me, Sebastian. I need you. “The future shines brighter in England. Here, you will found a noble family that lasts a thousand years and more.”
Richard wrinkled his nose sceptically. How much of the future could she reveal? She had tried to warn the Jacobite-turned-Chevalier...
 “In Normandy and the lands thereabout, the future is dim,” she said. “As the centuries pass, tyranny will replace justice, and in the end the people will rise up and kill even the noblest and best of men.”
Richard whistled. “Then I must stay here, weary though I am of battle. The Saxons hate us, and who can blame them? No one is content to be of the vanquished.” He gestured to the fortune-teller. “Begone, wench!” The ragged woman scuttled past them and vanished.
“Stay with me then in England, oh Lady in Green,” he said. “I lust after both your beauty and wisdom. Forget your lover and come to me.”
No! She clung to Sebastian’s hand. Help me!
From afar came his whisper. “Saxon wife.”
Of course—she had read the accounts of Richard and the local gentlewoman he had married. “I cannot stay, my lord. I belong to a different time,” Eve said. “Seek yourself a Saxon wife, one who understands the ways of the people you have conquered.” The future pulled at her, the warmth of Sebastian’s love stronger with every second. “One with lands to add to yours,” she called across the mists of time. “Woo her with love and kindness, and show justice to the people you rule. In good time, peace will come.”
“He’s gone,” Sebastian said.
She turned. They were in a modern-day corridor with electric lights. The necklace glowed upon her breast.
“And you have returned for the third time.” He grinned down at her. “Which proves that I’m your true love. So I’ll ask again: Will you marry me?”
 “Yes!” Eve flung herself into his arms, and their lips met. For a brief moment, it seemed as if she was in the embrace of each and every one of the Daubenays, and then their presences faded into the dark, unreachable past. She claimed Sebastian with her lips and heart, and he claimed her.
And they lived happily ever after.

We hope you enjoyed this round robin story. We had fun writing it and will make it available for download soon. Should we do another of these round robins? What sort of story would you like to read here on our blog?


Barbara Monajem's new novella, The Magic of His Touch, comes out April 1st. It's the first in the May Day Mischief duet.

The Magic of His Touch (May Day Mischief, Book 1)

England, 1804 

Tired of being paraded before every eligible bachelor, Peony Whistleby decides it's time to find her true love—through the ancient custom of rolling naked in the dew on May Day morning. But the magic goes awry when she is caught in the act—and by an entirely unsuitable man. And yet, the way his eyes linger upon her flesh ignites a sensual craving that can only be satisfied by his touch…

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

His Lady in Green: Chapter Nineteen

Stars winked in the broad expanse of sky overhead, and the scent of tobacco drifted on the humid night air. Eve lay on her back in soft matted grass, and for a moment she only wanted to close her eyes and drift into blessed sleep, forget the mania of this night and wake more able to face it in the morning.
But she didn’t have all the emeralds, so she sat and took stock of her surroundings. Below the riverbank where she sat, a brightly lit riverboat was moored at the end of a dock. Tinny music and laughter floated on the night air, and couples dotted the deck. The American Captain Carson Daubenay’s riverboat, she recalled with apprehension. She’d fled from the man who had threatened to lock her up for her imagined crimes.
She patted the bag on her wrist, assuring herself her precious attainments had made this last journey safely. It was just as well the knife remained on the floor of Tristan’s chamber. She could hardly steal aboard the paddlewheel boat carrying a jewel-encrusted weapon without suspicion. She brushed bits of grass from her rumpled dress, took a comb from the little purse and ran it through her hair. After a quick glossing of her lips, she made her way down the hillside, no easy jaunt in the stilettos which by now had her feet aching.
 Her ruined shoes made a racket on the gangplank, but she strode forward as though she belonged there.
‘Don’t see many unescorted ladies of an evenin’,’ the balding man seated on a keg at the top said around the stub of a cigar.
‘Captain Daubenay is expecting me,’ she said and continued past. ‘Point me to his cabin please.’
‘Down the stairs at the end of the corridor.’
Eve followed his directions until she stood before the last door in the narrow corridor. By some twist of fate no one had stopped her. She reached for the knob. The door was soundly locked.
‘Looking for something?’ The aromatic scent of tobacco enfolded her, as did the Captain’s heat along her back. With her trapped before him, he inserted a key into the lock, turned it and pushed her into his dark cabin. ‘I’ve been waiting for you. I did a little research.’
Her heart beat furiously.
A match lit, illuminating his features as he lit a lamp and turned up the wick.
Eve glanced around the tiny room. A wide bunk fastened to one wall, a trunk against the other and a small sturdy writing desk were the only furnishings.
‘Research?’ she asked.
‘I vaguely recalled some talk of a legend, so I contacted my brother and inquired. I’d cut myself off from the family, but I suppose that doesn’t matter to the Lady in Green. If you don’t mind a test, let me ask you this. Why have you come back? Have you returned for me? To stay perhaps?’ He approached and reached to skim the backs of his fingers along her cheek. ‘You are surprisingly real.’
Eve’s skin tingled where he touched her. His black hair shone in the lantern light, and his eyes pierced her with intense scrutiny—and regret. She let her eyelids drift shut and enjoyed the caress against her cheek, stole her hand to the front of his jacket.
A swell moved the boat ever so gently, but the movement reminded her where she was and of her mission. ‘I’ve found a love in the not-so-distant future,’ she told him. ‘His name is Sebastian, and he’s heir of the 14th Earl of Meryngham.’
‘This Sebastian will make you happy?’
‘I believe he will, yes.’
‘Then why are you here?’
‘The emeralds you saw me wearing when we last met are missing. I can’t go back without them.’
Carson dug into his vest pocket. He opened his palm, revealing one of the brilliantly cut gemstones. ‘I found it the night you fled and disappeared before my eyes. It is yours…’ he closed his fingers over the stone. ‘For a kiss.’
Not an unappealing price by any means. Eve leaned forward and met his warm lips with her own. Carson kissed her with a sad sweet finality, and she wished she had time to stay and learn more about this man and the life he had forged in a new land. She ended the kiss and looked into his eyes.
‘What’s your name?’ he asked.
‘Eve.’ He took the hand she had splayed against his jacket over his heart and pressed the emerald into her palm. ‘I wish you every happiness, Eve.’
The boat moved again—or so she thought at first. She clutched the emerald and reached with the other hand to steady herself, but Carson was gone. Again she saw stars and felt the humid night air. Wind struck her like a gale force and she couldn’t keep her balance.
 * * *
Cheryl St.John is the author of nearly fifty books. Her most recent releases are available as ebooks in most digital formats.

In this tale of hope and love, too-tall spinster Thea Coulson wants to be a mother to a child who arrives in Nebraska on an orphan train. When Booker Hayes shows up to take his niece, a marriage of convenience suits them both. Thea’s nights are filled with dreams of the tall, dark army major, but she guards her heart. Booker’s first taste of home and hearth has him longing for more, but first he must win the trust of his niece..and the heart of the sun-kissed farmer's daughter.


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