Sunday, 29 April 2012

Lindsay Townsend: 'The Lord and Eleanor'

Here's an excerpt from my latest medieval, out from Ellora's Cave this month. More details and links are here.

“Talk or kiss?” he said, hoping his voice was not a growl. Another mothlike kiss against his chest was her answer. For a moment he was sorry he was still fully clothed but then, as she shifted and sank deeper into his embrace, most glad indeed.
She is as shy as a doe and not quite comfortable to trust. Lose her now and it may be forever. She does not need to know you are as ready as a battle lance.
“Did your wife do this?” she asked then caught her breath as if berating herself for lack of tact. He stroked her forehead, tracing the contours of her face.
“Ask what you wish, we have no secrets here,” he said. “Yes, I loved Joanna and yes, we loved and so may we, Eleanor. I have not changed my mind.”
“Good,” he thought he heard her mutter though he was not sure.
Eleanor.” He savored her name. “Were you named for King Henry’s queen or King Edward’s?”
“For my grandmother,” came back the reply, a little smug and confident, which he was glad to hear. “Richard?”
She stretched and gave him another swift kiss, this time directly on his mouth. The clever lass had got him to reply so she could do just that.
And two can play such a game… “What flower do you like best?”
“The rose.”
He tracked her answer and found her lips, kissing her in a slow, unhurried way. “You smell of strawberries,” he told her. It was true.
“And you of salt, a sweet salt.”
He kissed her again and asked, “Do you like music?”
“The songs in church and the chants. And you?”
“The same,” he replied, kissing her mouth lightly, then her nose.
She turned her head. A slim drizzle of moonlight through the roof thatch lit her eyes and some of the amazing web of her hair. Desire ramped and roared in him again. To kiss her was not enough, not by a long way, and yet in a strange fashion he was mightily content.
“Your favorite color for a gown?”
He expected a prompt answer he could reward by another kiss, not a silence followed by, “Green?”
Then he understood. Eleanor had no favorite color for any of her clothes. A gown was what she could make or barter.
“Dawn is my favorite color,” she went on as if to make amends for her earlier hesitation. “And the best time.”
“With all the work still to do?” he teased, running a line of kisses across her mouth and cheeks.
“And all the promise of the new day,” she countered, tracing his jaw with a careful finger.
His chin and the lower half of his face throbbed where she had touched. He longed to lose himself entirely in her, to scoop her up and toss her on her back and have his way with her. Why not? It was how lords dealt with peasant lasses.
But not me and not with Eleanor. She deserves more.
He caressed her cheek, marveling at how smooth and supple her skin was, how warm and soft. He found her poor, raw palms and dropped kisses into them, promising her a salve for the rope grazes. He wished he had more light to see her, to truly enjoy and worship her body and yet… this darkness joined them, united them by touch, the intimacy of gentle, shared breathing and kisses.

Lindsay Townsend

1 comment:

Susan Bergen said...

An enjoyable extract, Lindsay. Now, of course, I have to read more... But I always have been a sucker for a romantic medieval! I wish it every success.