Borderland Betrayal by Samantha Holt
The Borderland Legacy
sensual historical romance
Release Date: 03/20/2014
To Captain James, duty means everything. He’s worked hard to ensure the safety of the people of Thornewall and now the border reiver threat is gone and the recovery from the plague is well underway, he finds himself questioning his life.
The arrival of the vibrant Ellise only confuses him further. When he catches Ellise thieving, instead of wanting to let the law deal with her, he finds he longs to take a more personal approach… a much more personal approach.
Having lived on the edge of society for many years, Ellise is used to scraping for a living and she knows moments of happiness are few and far between. So she leaps at the chance to spend one sensual night with the handsome captain. Just one night and then she’ll be gone.
To her astonishment, fate throws her back into James’ sights when she accepts a job at Thornewall to look after the pregnant lady. Although the attraction still burns between them, she cannot give into it. One night has to be enough as she has far too many secrets. Should the honourable captain ever discover them, it would be more than her heart that would be at risk. Her life could well be at stake too…
Northumbria, England 1370
James swirled his ale around his cup, eyeing it with distaste. He cast his gaze about the alehouse and grimaced. In an attempt to gain peace in a place where his face was not known, he’d resorted to seeking out an inn on the outskirts of Durham, far from the busy lodgings in which he was staying.
Draining his ale, he motioned to a serving girl for another. Aye, this inn did not have decent drink as The Rose and Crown did, but no one knew him as the Captain of Thornewall here. The rough patrons suited the dilapidated state of the alehouse, but at least they left him alone.
He allowed his gaze to follow the movements of two peasants as they staggered out the door, letting a waft of fresh air cut through the stale, sweat-tinged odour of the building.
Curse the idiot criminal who thought he could hide out in Thornewall. Escorting the thief back to the sheriff had taken him away from his duties, and James did not relish leaving the castle in the hands of Lucy, his lord’s young bride, who now carried Dominic’s babe.
Grin hidden behind his cup, he conceded that if anyone could run a keep as vast as Thornewall while her husband toured the lands, it was Lucy. The Lady had proved her worth time and again.
The battered wooden door swung open once more with a thud and James glanced up as a woman in a drab brown gown and apron wove through the long tables, carefully skirting the sprawled legs and groping hands. James straightened as he studied her. She carried herself with surprising grace, and his breath caught as her gaze settled briefly on him, interest sparking in her expression.
With her long brown hair caught in a messy braid and that plain gown, it would have been easy to dismiss her as her nothing more than a wench, but one glimpse of her face made his blood simmer. Her strong features and exotic dark skin were far from the pale, delicate looks of the noble women he knew, but underneath the peasant-girl appearance was a face that could start wars.
Sensual lips quirked into a smile as she bent and spoke with a grizzled old man. Murky smoke from the tallow candles swirled as she breezed around the crowded inn. All eyes remained on her as she tugged something out of her apron. She grinned as she approached the nearest table, leaning over and fluttering her eyelashes at the men as she inserted herself between them. Over the din of raucous laughter and leering shouts, James just made out her voice as she offered the men love potions. A hint of a lilt in her tone told him she was not native to England. Spanish perhaps.
She slapped at the errant hands of the men as she pressed little fabric parcels into their palms and took their coin with a wide smile. James watched closely. As much as she seemed to have the men under control, she would be no match for any of the drunkards if they decided to push themselves upon her. His hand flexed over the pommel of his sword. His mouth thinned as he noted the movement of her hands while she seduced them with her charms.
God’s blood, the woman was a thief. As she distracted the patrons with her looks and potions, she snaked a hand into their coin bags. James shook his head to himself. Suddenly she did not seem so enticing. Dishonesty made his stomach curdle.
The woman secured her gaze on him as she rose from the table and made her way over, her hips swaying. James scowled. Her every movement held all the men captive, including him, in spite of his disgust. As she settled on the bench next to him, he gritted his teeth and studied his ale, determined to ignore her disturbing presence.
“Sir Knight.” Her voice was smooth and flowing, with just the faintest hint of an accent. Spanish, for certain. Yet her words were as well-spoken as an educated lass. “Does a woman put that scowl on your face? Mayhap you would like a love potion? Your beautiful lady will likely fall head over heels for you with but a drop of my herbs in her wine. Or mayhap you would prefer her to fall into your bed. I have potions for that too, though I suspect a man like you has little trouble with such matters.”
Giving into curiosity, James met her teasing gaze and studied the woman properly. Her long straight nose, expressive dark eyes and high cheekbones instantly captivated him. Her lips were pale against her skin and even when curved into a grin they remained full and succulent. Aye, certainly her looks were worth fighting for. A pity her soul was wanting.
Though tempted to ignore her, he wondered if he could not teach her a lesson. A lesson from him would be far better than one from any other man. He did not find pleasure in the thought of her put in the stocks or worse.
“Aye, I shall take some of your herbs.”
Her smile widened, revealing a set of pretty teeth. Extremely uncommon in a peasant girl. Who was this woman?