Hi there, Ellie here again.
I can’t believe that a month has gone by since we last got together. Now, I hope you all took my advice and got to know Rhys in my book Prince of the Three Mountains. If you did I’m sure you’re haven’t got over it yet can't wait to have more of the same, so come and say hello to Philip d' Apremont, known to his enemies as the Saracen !
He is the hero in The Price of a Sword and he has a special place in my heart. Before I wrote the Price of a Sword, I had no idea that I had the ability to tell a story. The book was gone through many changes since it first came to life on my computer, but Philip has remained the hero throughout. It is through writing his, and his feisty heroine Rosawyn’s story that I first discovered that I could write. And as they say, you always remember your first!
As I said, last time, you can keep your pretty boys in their low slung jeans and designer hair cuts just give me a real man on a horse with a sword in his hand and I’m lathered up and ready to go.
I’m sure after you read some of the positions Philip and Rosawyn get themselves into during their fight to regain her father’s land you’ll feel the same way.
Just so you can have a sneaky peak I’ve posted the first chapter of the book to get you in the medieval mood.
Enjoy and I’ll see you next month
North Cornwall, 1156
Rain lashed the stout wooden doors of the convent as the party of horsemen drew up. The front rider slid off his mount, dragging the smaller rider beside him down too.
“Open up!” he bellowed above the noise of the storm.
The small peephole in the door opened and a pinched, white face peered through.
“Tell the Reverend Mother her brother is here, and open up, I say, open up,” the rider shouted at the soaked wood.
The shutter snapped closed, and the sound of iron grating on iron ground out.
The other riders dismounted, and as the gate creaked open they led their horses through the high stone wall and into the courtyard of St. Neave’s convent.
The leader of the band propelled the shorter rider forward and up the granite stairs towards the main refectory. The party followed with their shoulders hunched against the sting of the icy rain. Before they reached the dining hall entrance, it opened and a nun stepped out, and the tails of her wimple swirled in the blustering wind.
“Is that really you, Hugh?” she shrieked over the storm.
“That it is, Nell. Now for the love of the Saints, let us in before we are washed away by this accursed rain.”
The nun stood back and the party entered the relative warmth of the tall chamber where the holy women took their sparse meals.
Nell grasped the head rider’s arm. “What brings you here in such weather, brother?”
“I want you to hide this for me, Nell,” Sir Hugh Noirville said to his elder sister as he yanked the cloak off the second rider.
Lady Rosawyn Liskard stood dripping water onto the tiled floor. She shivered and then glared at her captor and his sister.
“You’ll pay for this, Noirville,” she spat at him, wringing out her hair, its usual chestnut sheen now almost black with rainwater. “How dare you drag me out of bed and haul me across the country?” She ripped off the sodden cloak and dropped it with a plop on the floor.
Drawing herself up to her full five foot three inches, she glanced around. “And where, in the name of all that is Holy, is this place?”
Hugh’s gaze slithered over her and the corners of his mouth lifted a fraction.
“You will release me at once,” she commanded, forcing her voice to retain an even tone although her heart thundered in her chest.
Nell came and stood beside her then ran her crooked fingers down Rosawyn’s cheek. Rosawyn smacked the nun’s hand away and the reverend mother gasped. Hugh’s men clustered around and craned their necks to see what was happening.
Nell’s fingers grasped Rosawyn’s chin. As Rosawyn tried to jerk it from the nun’s grip, the dirty nails bit into her flesh and held her head firm.
“You’re very pretty, my dear, very pretty indeed.” Nell’s gaze travelled down and rested on Rosawyn’s breasts. “Well rounded too.”
Rosawyn suppressed a shiver and sent the woman next to her a chilling look. “Take your filthy hands off me,” she ordered.
Nell sneered. “Why do you need to hide her?” she asked, her gaze remaining on Rosawyn.
Rosawyn fixed Hugh with an unwavering stare. Behind him, his large frame made a long shadow on the whitewashed wall, and even in the low light of the entrance hall, his blond hair shone. Some would have called him fair, but Rosawyn would not.
“Stephen is dead, Nell, and Henry FitzEmpress reclaims the throne,” Hugh told his sister.
Alarm flashed in the Reverend Mother’s eyes. “Our lands in the north?” she asked.
“William holds them firm, and we must do the same here in the west.” His eyes flicked over Rosawyn.
She pulled her shoulders back, and both Noirvilles resumed their study of her breasts. She forced herself not to flinch under their scrutiny.
“Thankfully, I am married to Lady Maeve, but she is the younger sister. It is Lady Rosawyn here who threatens our family. If the King marries her to someone of his choosing, then we will have to fight for every foot of land we hold,” Hugh explained to his sister.
The Reverend Mother ran her finger along Rosawyn’s collarbone, and Rosawyn shifted her head to the side.
It was common knowledge throughout Cornwall that Nell Noirville had a fondness for the young novices in her care. It was noticeable that since she took over as the Mother Superior of St. Nevis’, the number of wealthy families willing to send their daughters into her care had sharply declined.
“Do you want her to take holy orders?” Nell asked.
“No—not just yet. Maeve is due to deliver in three months, but childbirth can be uncertain. Keep her a novice until then,” Hugh replied.
Rosawyn gave them both a disgusted look. “Go ahead! Concoct your devilish plans, if you choose,” she told them. “And enjoy your brief moment of power. But remember, the King is loyal to his friends and he will come to my father’s aid and set me free from this Godforsaken place, and I’ll have the pleasure of seeing you both hang for this outrage.”
Nell grasped Rosawyn’s upper arm and shook her. “Have a care, I am in charge here and although it would pain me to mark your soft skin,” she raised her free hand and traced the index finger along the neckline of Rosawyn’s gown and across her breast, “I will wield the birch myself to quell your rebellious spirit.” Her eyes slid over her again and her mouth curled up in a thin smile.
Fury burst out of Rosawyn and she drew her arm back. Hugh caught it before her palm slapped Nell’s cheek.
The nun gave a dry laugh. “Now then, my pretty, watch your temper.” She lifted the sleeve of Rosawyn’s sodden gown. “We had better get you out of these wet clothes.”
She grabbed hold of the neckline of Rosawyn’s gown and wrenched it apart. The fabric ripped and Rosawyn took a step back, then checked herself and raised her chin.
Although with only her thin underchemise covering her body, her instinct was to turn from Hugh’s men, but she didn’t. Determined not to show any fear, she threw back her shoulders and, ignoring the lustful eyes that gazed at her, stood unbowed. The icy air of the convent swirled around her and her nipples sprang erect. A low mutter came from Noirville’s pack of scoundrels surrounding them.
The Reverend Mother discarded the tattered gown and turned her gaze back to Rosawyn. Her eyes flickered over the erect peaks thrusting through the semi-transparent undergarment.
Her fingers scratched the top of Rosawyn’s breasts and, grasping the diaphanous chemise, she rent it asunder.
A low growl rumbled from the men in the chamber as their faces took on primitive expressions. Rosawyn’s right hand shot downwards to shield the tight triangle of hair at the apex of her legs while the left crossed her breasts to conceal as much as possible.
Hugh took a step closer and his eyes grew dark. Extending his hand, he flicked her hair away from her shoulder and then encircled her left forearm. He pulled it away.
Rosawyn’s breasts bounced free, and another groan escaped the men in the chamber. Hugh and Nell’s gazes focused on her raised nipples.
“She is well endowed for one so young,” Nell said. Her hand reached out and she pinched the stalk at the centre of Rosawyn’s areola. “Broad teats too. You could be forgiven for thinking she’s feeding an infant.”
Nell continued to play with the tight tip as bile rose to the back of Rosawyn’s throat. She swallowed it and regarded the woman fondling her with disgust.
“‘Tis a pity Lady Rosawyn and her father escaped from England,” Nell said, letting go of one breast and taking hold of the other. “It would have been better if you’d married her instead of her sister.”
Hugh let go of her arm and grasped her right wrist. Rosawyn tried to keep her sex shielded, but Hugh was too strong and he forced her arm aside. Rosawyn snapped the other across to take its place, but Nell caught it and held it back.
“I am inclined to agree with you, Nell,” Hugh said as he adjusted the front of his breeches with his free hand.
Both of them gazed down at Rosawyn’s mons, and the troops behind the sister and brother jostled each other to get a clearer view. Nell’s hand left its caressing of Rosawyn’s breast and slid down over her stomach. Her fingers stroked across Rosawyn’s pubic hair, and Rosawyn shivered.
The Reverend Mother leant towards her brother.
“Do you want to take her to a cell? None will disturb you.” She lowered her voice. “I’ll hold her down while you—”
A large figure swirled in front of Rosawyn, and a cloak settled around her shoulders. She turned and gazed into a pair of soft grey eyes. She gave the nun a small, grateful smile. The motherly nun smiled back.
“Oh! Sister Hilda, I didn’t see you there,” the Reverend Mother said in a hollow voice.
The nun shielded Rosawyn from the onlookers and looked over her head to the Mother Superior. “As ever, Reverend Mother, your own zeal has made you forget the frailty of others.” She indicated the men crowded around them.
The Reverend Mother pushed a lank strand of hair back under her wimple. “Frail flesh indeed, but…” She took hold of the covering cloak. “We must mortify the flesh and purge the disobedience out of Lady Rosawyn with the lash.”
Sister Hilda drew Rosawyn closer as the Reverend Mother tried to pull the cloak away.
Hugh stepped between Rosawyn and his sister.
“Leave be, Nell,” he barked at his sister. “A dead hostage is no hostage, but a damaged one is equally worthless. Leave be, I say.” He took hold of his sister’s arm and pulled her sharply to him. “Listen to me. I don’t give the Pope’s tiara what you do to the novices here, but let me
warn you, sister. I know some of what your ‘purging of the flesh’ means. Lady Rosawyn is still a virgin, and if you take that from her or damage her in any way, you will destroy her value to me. So keep your spiteful hands to yourself or you’ll answer to me. ”
The Reverend Mother’s sallow face took on an innocent expression. “But Hugh, while she is in God’s house, it is my duty to discipline Lady Rosawyn for the sake of her immortal soul.”
Hugh’s mouth drew back in a mirthless grin. “Discipline, but not damage. You forget, dear sister, that as a lad I felt your ‘discipline’ and I still carry the scar.” He thumbed a deep gouge on his chin.
The Reverend Mother arched her straggly eyebrows. “But if she takes holy orders?”
Hugh’s gaze flickered across to Rosawyn for a second then back to his sister. “That is a different matter.”
The nun crossed her arms and the corners of her thin lips curled upwards.
“But remember, Nell. Play with her if you must, but make sure that she comes to no harm, or I’ll be the one with the hunting knife this time.” He stroked his chin again.
With her arms possessively around Rosawyn, Sister Hilda guided her towards the kitchen door beyond the cold dinning hall. “With your permission, Reverend Mother, I will take care of our guest.”
The Reverend Mother looked at her brother and he gave a sharp nod. Then he marched his men back through the echoing chamber and out into the courtyard. The oak door of the refectory slammed into place and the bolt scraped back into its housing.
A cold lump settled over Rosawyn’s heart.