I don’t usually hop around a book as I write it. The story unfolds for me just like it does for the reader, from start to finish. However, when my sister and I wrote Jacq’s Warlord, we only had the opening of the story done before I had the final scene complete inside my head. Endings can be as important as beginnings. I hope you enjoy the ending of our one and only time-travel novel. It always makes me cry.
“…Set in the time and in the battles fought as Henry takes the English throne, the combination of battle action and sexy romance makes this story a standout.”
5 Stars, Just Erotic Romance
“…if you are looking for a book full of action, adventure and lots of humor I recommend that you suspend your disbelief and find yourself drawn into the vibrantly portrayed world of JACQ’S WARLORD…”
4 Crystals, Erotic Escapades
With proportions that would make Xena weep, Jacqueline Frazier despairs of ever finding a lover she can’t intimidate. Until the day she ignores an itty-bitty warning regarding the use of a family heirloom, and finds herself swept off her feet by a knight in not so shining armor, back to the twelfth century. Forced to accept the protection and sexual attentions of the overbearing, beast of a man, Rufus of Rathburn, Jacq struggles to find her place in the past while searching for a way back to the future. In the meantime, she aids Rufus’s war cause with a little 21st century ingenuity. Nothing like shaking up the warlord with lessons in bomb-making, guerilla tactics, and the Joys of Sex.
At first unwilling, and downright ungrateful, Rufus begins to see merit in Jacq’s odd ways. Through Jacq’s eccentricities and willfulness, Rufus learns she is a woman to be reckoned with, not to mention she is a lusty handful in bed. Will his admiration of her cunning, strength and uninhibited sexuality grow into a love that breaks the barriers of time? And will their love be strong enough for Jacq to plot a different future in the past?
Tom Frazier moved restlessly through the rooms of the two-story house he’d shared with his daughter. The past week had been the longest of his life—even more terrible than the time he’d returned to the States to bury his wife. Jacq’s dramatic abduction and ultimate disappearance had made national news. Despite all the hype, not a single viable clue surfaced leading to her whereabouts. Worse, it was anyone’s guess whether she was still alive.
In his heart, Tom believed Jacq’s spirit was invincible. While investigators began to lose hope of finding her, Tom’s conviction grew stronger. Patience and consideration of even the tiniest lead would bring her back.
If only he hadn’t arrived late at the Faire. If only he’d been there for Jacq. The sea of emergency vehicles and news vans had been his first clue something was terribly wrong. All entrances and exits to the fairgrounds had been sealed off by the police who were interviewing as many witnesses as they could before they scattered.
Tom had been turned away, but the need to assure himself Jacq was unharmed led him around the perimeter to the workers’ entrance, an area not as closely observed. He’d slipped through the fence and run to the storyteller’s stage. Yellow crime scene tape confirmed the sick feeling growing inside him even before he heard the details from the young officer standing guard over the area.
Tom’s nightmare grew grimmer as witnesses were released to go home and the last of the forensics team packed their tools and left the grounds. Tom himself had spoken to many of Jacq’s friends, but they couldn’t shed any more light on the mystery. Everyone shared the same disbelieving horror. How could something like this happen to one of them?
How could a rider dressed in full armor, carrying a struggling woman, disappear so completely? But beyond the spectators who had watched the performance and, at first, had believed the abduction was just a part of the act, no one had seen them anywhere else within or outside the fairgrounds. Witnesses’ reports had become more exaggerated with each telling. Many claimed they had simply vanished into the fog that had suddenly enveloped the stage.
Even more odd was the ancient artifact found at the foot of the stage. Spectators said the man in armor threw down a blood-encrusted shield before whisking Jacq from the stage. It appeared to be an authentic relic from the Middle Ages. The FBI had sent it to their lab for a more analysis of its origins.
Beyond posting a reward for information leading to her return and papering Atlanta with Jacq’s picture, Tom could do little more than wait by the telephone. He wandered aimlessly into the living room and sat down on the edge of the sofa. The house was so still, almost like it too was waiting for Jacq to breeze through the door.
In his mind he saw her everywhere, and he drove himself crazy thinking that sometimes, if he just listened close enough, he could almost hear her speaking.
A wave of despair swept over him and he leaned forward unable to hold back the sobs. His body shook with the force of his grief, his eyes streaming. When he ran out of tears, he clasped his hands together and did something he thought he’d forgotten how to do. He prayed.
Tom awoke several hours later to complete darkness. He fumbled for the lamp switch beside the sofa and winced when the light glared to life. Head pounding, he rubbed a hand over his eyes to ease the lingering gritty feeling. How long had he slept? Perhaps the longest he had since losing Jacq.
Well, he was wide awake now. He might as well make a cup of coffee and keep vigil beside the telephone. As he rose from the sofa, his foot bumped against the wooden box housing the ancient book Jacq had been so excited to receive. His last image of Jacq was her avid expression as she sat hunched over her old treasure.
When he hefted the book out of the box, he felt somehow closer to his daughter than he had in days. With the book under his arm, he strode to the kitchen for coffee.
While the rich aroma of fresh brew chased away the last cobwebs from his head, Tom thumbed through the aged pages of the book. He couldn’t read the handwritten pages near the front of the book, although he could make out a few of the words. With great care he turned each page slowly, one by one, careful not to damage the parchment or Jacq would have his hide.
When he neared the middle, he slowed. Jacq had been particularly interested in something scrawled in the book around this point.
Tom slid his finger beneath a page and gently turned to the next. His heart raced, and he held his breath. He recognized the angular scrawl. But what was it doing in the book? The writing was faded with age, as ancient as the entries before and after it. But it was penned in modern English and was definitely written by his daughter’s hand.
With a lump lodged at the back of his throat, he read and as he read he began to laugh. Relief, so intense he trembled with it, swept through him.
He’d found Jacq.
* * * * *
The day couldn’t have been more perfect for a wedding. What better way to celebrate than with the sun rising in a clear blue sky? Jacq knew she would never take sunshine for granted in merry Old England.
Preparations for the wedding had been underway since well before dawn. Everyone had conspired to let Jacq sleep late. As if she could.
She had woken with the first rays of sunlight spilling through the windows. Dust motes, gilded by the rays, danced in the faint breeze. Jacq had promised herself she wouldn’t think about chores. Especially not today.
Jacq hugged herself and spun around in her nightshift as giddy as a schoolgirl attending her first dance. She was about to marry the most gloriously imperfect man. Her protector, the conqueror of her heart. Her one regret was her father wouldn’t be there to share her happiness.
But today, she would shed no tears. She hoped he’d received her message and that he understood her choice. Her father had prepared her all her life for this adventure, now was the time for her to make him proud.
She stood before a polished silver mirror Enid had produced. She was still too tall and her features were still too strong to ever be considered beautiful. But now, instead of gawky angularity, she noted the softness to her features. Her love for her husband-to-be, for the child growing in her womb and for the new family of friends surrounding her, gave her a feeling of serenity and acceptance.
She smoothed the skirt of the russet silk dress—another of Enid’s miracles—with her hands, and pulled at the cream-colored lace at the points of her sleeves until it fell in graceful folds. The people of Rathburn would find no fault in her appearance today. She was well suited in stature and temperament to be the bride of the Lord of Rathburn.
Jacq left her black hair loose to fall in a cascade of curls down her back. Rufus preferred it that way. Then she lifted a crown of thornless white rosebuds with their shiny green leaves intertwined to place on top of her head.
Annie had delivered the fragrant crown to her room earlier. For once, the child was clean and someone had brushed her long hair, uncovering that surprising hint of gold in her tresses. Her excitement had shone in her eyes as she reverently passed the arrangement to Jacq. The gift was from Rufus, she’d said, and the men had teased him ruthlessly while he’d cursed at every prick of thorns he suffered as he prepared her gift.
Jacq’s eyes misted.
Rufus was learning some softness too.
A knock at the door told her it was time to go. Donald’s broad shoulders filled the doorway. He gave her a long look, and then grinned. “Rufus is luckier than he deserves, milady. You’re bloody beautiful.”
Jacq didn’t bother to correct him—she felt “bloody” beautiful. She followed Annie and Donald down the long staircase and out the doors of the keep, and was blinded for a moment by the brightness of the sunlight.
A loud cheer rose from around her, startling her. Once her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she saw all the people she had come to love spilling out into the bailey.
From the center of the crowd, Rufus strode forward with a ferocious frown on his face.
Her heart lightened in response.
She understood he was just as impatient for the wedding to be over as she was. The ruddy color in his cheeks told her he liked what he saw every bit as much as she was pleased with his appearance. The plush green surcoat, pulled taut across his massive shoulders, complemented the brown leggings he wore beneath.
Her hands itched to test the strength she knew rippled in the muscles there. She still couldn’t believe she would have the right to explore this mountain of a man for the rest of their lives.
As he drew near, he circled an arm around her and pulled her close for a kiss. His lips and tongue danced teasingly over hers to the delight of the boisterous crowd. He drew away, still frowning ferociously. “Damnation, Jacq, did you have to be so beautiful today? We’ve hours before I can admire you properly.”
With a saucy grin, she held out her hand to him. “Then why are you wasting daylight?”
Rufus grasped her fingers and proceeded to drag her to the church to end his misery. But Jacq dug her feet into the earth, bringing them both to a halt.
When he turned back to see what was the matter, his heart skittered to a stop.
Jacq’s face was pale and she stared at something over his shoulder. With his hand on his sword, he spun to defend the woman he loved above life itself.
Beyond the gates of the keep, a roiling cloud of mist swept up to the entrance, then halted. Sunlight glinted on the droplets of moisture and splintered into the many colors of a rainbow. From the center of the cloud a figure strode forward.
He heard Jacq’s ragged sob a moment before she tore her hand from his and ran for the gate. The man, older than Jacq, but unmistakably related by the looks of him, dropped the many bags he carried and swept Jacq into his arms. They twirled in a circle, both of them laughing giddily.
Rufus allowed Jacq her moment of joy in greeting her father, then walked over to join them.
They had a wedding to finish and the wedding night to begin.
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