Friday, July 24, 2009
Heart of a Forest, a tale of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, is now available from Ellora's Cave.
In 1199, King Richard the Lion-Hearted lay dying in France. He commanded his lover, Sir David of Doncaster, to protect his small son by any means necessary.
Marion Fitzroy, princess of the blood on the wrong side of the blankets, now lives a constrained life in Nottingham castle, dreaming of her childhood betrothed, the son of the Earl of Locksley. As the Barons’ War rages around her uncle King John, her dispossessed fiancé—now called Robin Hood—and his merry irregulars make life miserable for Phillip, the sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin, for his part, is about to learn the secret that Marion guards with her life. Thwarting Phillip’s gambits for Marion’s hand, a doubled price on his head, even shooting for an arrow of pure gold all pale next to the pleasures to be had in his beloved Marion's arms, deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest.
Robin pulled her so close she could feel his large body all against her own. Her prick, stirring from the moment he had arrived, now came fully awake. She could feel his as well and a strong desire to hold it seized her. But that was far too forward.
He kissed her, bending her back just a little with the force of it. His mouth moved hotly on hers, his tongue brushing her lips. She parted them a little and he slipped inside. His tongue pressed hers and then up to the roof of her mouth. She reeled from excitement, her heat rising until she thought she might faint. She knew he would hold her if she did and that too excited her.
Her breath came in short sharp bursts when he released her, as if she had run up all the stairs to the tower. She smiled at him, his face still above hers and very close. “Does a princess of the blood kiss as well as a peasant girl?” she whispered.
Robin smiled and shook his head. “Nay. Better, much better. As far beyond that milkmaid who turned you red as the moon is beyond the millpond.”
Marion smiled. “Then meat to the beggar for charity, in the name of our Lady. And payment again for you, in the same.” She kissed him again, learning quickly from him and returning his pleasure threefold.
He caressed her face when they parted and she looked up into his twinkling eyes, their color uncertain in the moonlight. There were many things she wished to say but none she could shape at this instant. Her thoughts were consumed by the heat between them.
From behind her, Marion heard a light tread and a loud cough. “My lady, this is quite unseemly,” Bess scolded.
Robin leapt back, his face that of a small boy caught stealing a pie cooling on a windowsill.
Bess looked him up and down scornfully. “A bit late to be peddling your meat, is it not? I thought you quite spent.”
"All but one piece for I saw my lady interested in it.” Remorse having failed to soothe the stern old woman, Marion watched as he smoothed on charm, smiling and flashing his dimples at her nurse.
Bess was not charmed and shot a stern look at Robin's tunic front and Marion's own dress. She scowled. “And was she indeed? Be off with you, mad blade, and do not trouble my lady Marion again.”
Marion whirled on her lady, speaking sharply to her for the first time in her life. “Bess, hold your tongue. You would speak so to the Earl of Locksley?”
Robin shifted and Marion saw him try coaxing his own serpent into submission. “Former earl, my lady.”
Bess grasped Marion's hand. “When he is the earl again, he may come seeking your hand. Until then, my lady, I will keep a firm grip on it.”
Robin bowed, understanding what Bess said, as well as what she did not. Marion heard as well and knew Robin would return to her like the birds in spring, since he now had Bess' permission.
"I'll not keep you from your rest, my ladies.” He sat on the balcony rail and grasped the vine to climb down.
Marion broke free and embraced him once more. “Goodnight, sweet Robin. Fly away. It is too dark for you to be out.” She watched as he made his way down. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Bess dragged her in for bed and Marion did not protest.