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The Novels of Ravenwood, Book One
How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?
Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.
William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.
“Is that all you can say?”
“What more do you require?”
“If not words, how about a smile?”
“I’ve smiled overmuch the past few hours. My cheeks are numb.”
His grin was sensual by nature and mischievous by design. “Have you no enthusiasm for the coming festivities?”
She stifled a grimace. “Festivities,” she said. “Is that what you call them? If you want a festive night, you’d do better to invite jugglers and mummers to prance about the chamber.”
His black eyes smoldered. “No, my bride. You and I will devise our own entertainment.”
The power of speech deserted her. Yet she kept her composure during the toasts and as the people cheered the bride and groom for the last time. Then William rose to his feet.
The dreaded moment had come. In a daze, she stood. Her eyes sought Meg, but the older woman was deep in conversation with Wulfstan and didn’t notice.
William guided Emma away from the table and out of the boisterous, oblivious hall. Once they were beyond observation, she pulled her hand from his arm and used her veil as an excuse to occupy her hands elsewhere.
She climbed the spiral, stone stairs as slowly as she dared, delaying the moment when the bedchamber door would close behind them. The stairwell torches were ablaze with flames that eagerly licked the shafts of wood. Behind her, William’s footsteps were as loud as thunder.
At the top of the stairs, the large, oak door stood wide open. There was no one inside the bedchamber, not a single soul to grant her one last pardon. Tilda had turned down the bed, and it loomed in the shadows, waiting.
On shaky legs, Emma crossed the rush-strewn floor and stood in front of the massive, arched fireplace. She studied the inferno roaring inside, refusing to look at William. Behind her, the door closed with a thud, and the bolt slid to with a scrape of finality. She heard and felt each crunching step as he came up behind her.
“My lady,” he murmured. “My wife.”
She couldn’t face him. “Aye,” her voice cracked. The fire looked wild, hungry.
“Would you like some wine?” he asked.
His breath warmed the side of her neck. A second later, his lips sealed the tender flesh with a kiss.