She had sworn never to marry, never to allow any man to claim her or her lands. Nevertheless, Lady Adelaide fended off fortune hunters aplenty when she arrived at the king's court. Yet when dark whispers in castle corridors threw her into the arms of a valiant knight seeking a wife, the beautiful heiress began to rethink her solemn vow.
To ransom his captive brother, Armand de Boisbaston had great need of a wealthy--and willing--wife. Fate sent him the lady Adelaide instead. A woman who claimed she wished to avoid the marriage bed, yet whose lips told a different tale. Now dangerous intrigues forced them into a match as inescapable as the burgeoning passion that grew between them....
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January 31, 2007
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Excerpt from My Lord's Desire by Margaret Moore
Adelaide left the alcove - and discovered Lord Armand de Boisbaston walking down the garden path.
As startled as she, he came to a halt a few feet away. Then he crossed arms crossed and leaned his weight on his left leg as he stared at her with those brown, gold-flecked eyes.
She blurted the first thing that came to mind. "I thought I heard somebody limp - I thought you were Randall FitzOsbourne."
"Obviously, I'm not."
She felt an almost physical pain at his brusque response, although it was no more than she deserved after what she'd said to him yesterday.
She simply couldn't let him continue to think she was insolent and rude. "I'm sorry if I insulted you yesterday, my lord," she said. "I was impertinent and I wouldn't be surprised if you never wanted to speak to me again."
Lord Armand's brows rose.
"I doubt I can truly appreciate what you've endured. I should have accorded you the respect to which you're entitled, and I deeply regret what I said."
His body relaxed and a smile dawned upon his handsome face. She was pleased to see it, even if it sent an unwelcome thrill throbbing through her.
"In light of your apology, my lady," he said, "I'll tell you why I haven't cut my hair."
He gestured at the nearby bench and although it was rather hidden from the path, she answered his silent request and sat upon it.
He joined her and explained. "I want my appearance to remind the king that things have changed since I went to Normandy, that I and others paid a heavy price for trying to hold his lands there. I don't want him to be able to delude himself that everything is as it was before."
"Now I'm even more sorry for I said."
"Dwell no more upon it, my lady," Lord Armand replied, his answer like a warm blanket on a cold day. "It's forgotten."
Then his lips lifted in a devilish little grin and his eyes shone with merriment. "Although the notion of painting my face blue and leaping out at Francis in the dark does have a certain appeal."
Adelaide had to smile, too. "I'd like to see that myself."
"I gather, then, you don't particularly care for Francis?"
She felt as if she'd veered onto treacherous ground. "He's a knight in the king's household," she answered carefully.
"That doesn't mean you have to like him."
She decided it would be better not to talk about the other men of the court. "I hope the kitten's scratch is healing, and you suffered no lasting effects?"
"No. And you?" he asked.
"A few small scratches - nothing of consequence." She slid a glance his way. "You left the stable rather abruptly."
His discomfort at her observation was obvious. For a moment, she wished she hadn't mentioned it, until he gave her a wry little grin and said, "I was embarrassed by the scars on my wrist. I'm as proud as any man, my lady, and some consider surrendering cowardice."
"I don't," she truthfully replied. "What good would it do to have a knight like you dead?"
The look that came to his eyes made her heartbeat quicken and her whole body pulse with something that could only be lust. Many men had said ridiculous things to amuse or flatter her, and to arouse this sort of sensation, she didn't doubt. None of them ever had, yet Lord Armand had done so without a single word.
Again a warning sounded in her mind. This time, though, it had little to do with her future, and everything to do with what she was tempted to do right then and there.
Fortunately, before her wicked impulse could triumph over her rational mind, a door banged open on the far side of the garden, followed by a burst of feminine laughter.
"Lord Aaarrr-mand!" Hildegard called out, sounding as if she'd been sharing a cask of wine with someone. "Come out, come out, wherever you are, or you're going to have to pay a forfeit for abandoning us!"