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Warrior’s Conquest

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Warrior's ConquestKnightspell Book 1
Genre: Medieval Time-Travel Romance
On Sale: August 16, 2016

With proportions that would make Xena weep, Jacqueline Frazier despairs of ever finding a lover she can’t intimidate. Until the day she ignores a warning regarding 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 of an overbearing, beast of a man, Rufus of Rathburn, Jacq struggles to find her place in the past while seeking a way back to the future. In the meantime, she aids Rufus’s war cause with a little 21st century ingenuity, shaking up the warlord with lessons in bomb-making, guerilla tactics, and the joys of sex.

At first unwilling, and 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, as well as 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?

Note: Previously published as JACQ’S WARRIOR.


Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.

Present

Jacq puffed at a lock of hair that had escaped her ponytail and stuck to her sweaty forehead. Then she narrowed her eyes to glare at her opponent. “Prepare to die, Roman!” she bellowed.

“How ’bout it, Jacq?” George said under his breath as he dodged her blow. His short leather skirt flared just high enough for a glimpse of his dirt-striped, white Hanes. “One beer. Let me buy you one at the Hostler’s Inn when we’re through.”

Jacqueline Frazier aka Hargred the Warrior Woman, at least for the rest of the tourney, stomped her feet, grinding her heels into the mud. “Sorry, George,” she said, raising her broadsword over her shoulder like a baseball bat. “You’re not my type. I’m gonna kick your ass, so stop trying to distract me.”

George darted to the left and then lunged, his sword jabbing toward her midsection.

Jacq swung, intercepting his move with a bone-jarring clang of metal. “I could see that coming a mile, George.” She grinned. She’d never tell, but she enjoyed the banter they shared on the field. If only he offered more of a physical challenge. “You gotta do better than that.”

George grinned back, his smile a slash of white in his mud-splattered face. “What, are Centurions too tame for you?” he drawled, his voice pitched low enough for her to hear, but not reach the spectators in the stand. “I think you’re just playing hard to get.”

She quirked one eyebrow and waved him closer. “Then come and get me, George.”

He growled and flexed his massive chest and arm muscles-every bit as imposing as Rowdy Roddy Piper in a Wrestlemania face-off. The impressive display of manly vigor was spoiled when he leaned toward her and whispered, “How ’bout letting me win just once? I’m tired of eating Georgia clay.” For the benefit of the crowd, he beat his breastplate with his sword.

Jacq snickered. “What would be the fun in that?” She drew a deep breath, puffing out her chest and scowling, and then trumped his performance with an ululating battle cry. She swung her sword in a wide arc, her body turning to follow the blade while her own pleated leather skirt slapped her thighs.

As she closed the distance between them, George’s eyes widened. “Shit!” When she was a sword’s length away, he feinted to the right, surprising Jacq with a sideways slice.

She jerked aside too late. His blunt sword slammed against the metal cones covering her breasts. Unable to pull her feet from the muck, she lost her balance and landed on her backside, splashing mud like Shamu at poolside.

George’s forward momentum carried him past her until he skidded to a halt.

The crowd roared, but Jacq ignored the hecklers’ calls for Hargred’s beheading. She pushed herself off the arena floor and reached to shove back the horned helmet from her forehead.

George whipped around to face her and grinned. “Ah Jacq, is it any wonder I’m half in love with you? You’ve got mud under your nose. It looks like a big, brown booger.”

Jacq wiped her nose with the backside of a grimy hand. “And you can’t figure out why I’m not dying to go out with you?”

“That’s all right, sweetheart. There’s always next year. But right now–” He pointed at the arena floor. “I’m gonna take you down.”

Jacq cocked her head from left to right, cracking vertebrae before resuming her stance, sword poised over her shoulder. “You talk big, George, but remember who taught you your moves.”

“Oh, I’d be worried if I was facing your daddy.” George swung his sword like a mace and gave an admirable roar that the crowd joined.

Jacq caught the blow with her blade, grunting with pain. Though the metal of their swords was a lighter cast then the real McCoy, and blunted to prevent serious injury, they’d both have the bruises and aching muscles to show for their day’s work.

George slid in the mud, but righted himself quickly.

Jacq waited for him to face her. “Just remember. You train with him twice a year. He kicks my ass every day.”

When Jacq was sure she had his and the crowd’s full attention, she flipped her sword high into the air in a graceful arc, its metal surface reflecting glints of the early afternoon sun. On its downward arc she twirled away to deftly catch the sword behind her back.

“You fight like a girl. Quit twirling your baton and fight me, dammit,” George said, his bravado unconvincing because it was accompanied by a groan.

The sounds of the other warriors fighting in the mêlée waned. Jacq decided it was time to end George’s dream of an upset victory. She raised her sword in front of her in a double-fisted grip. “Enough talk. Let’s dance.”

Thrusting, dodging and slicing, Jacq and George moved through their crudely choreographed sequences like WWF wrestlers. While their moves were practiced to prevent serious harm, the outcome wasn’t predetermined-whoever put their skills to the best use would win.

George altered the “script” and aimed another wicked slice toward Jacq’s shoulder.

This time she was ready, ducking below the stroke of his sword and coming up as momentum turned him sideways. She swung her own sword, whacking him in the ass with the flat of the blade. When he faltered, she kicked her leg against the back of his knees, sweeping him off his feet to land in an ignominious heap.

While he made mud angels trying to find a handhold in the muck, Jacq raised her sword high above her head, tip pointing down. She lifted her gaze to the spectators in the stadium seats and received a decisive number of thumbs down votes.

“No wonder you don’t date.” George glared in disgust. “You’d never let the man be on top.”

“Maybe next year, sweetheart. Meantime, give them a good death.” With that said, she plunged her sword down into the space between his arm and ribs.

George played his part to the hilt, flopping like a dying fish until he gasped his last breath and lay still.

The audience whistled and pounded their feet on the wooden bleachers. Jacq raised her sword above her head in victory.

Noting the mêlée had ended, she stepped on George’s belly and walked toward the spectator’s stands to enjoy the applause for another job well done.

“Looks like the Fraziers cleaned up, again,” her dad said, as he joined her to bow to the crowd.

Jacq cast a glance at Thomas Frazier’s brown-spattered chain mail. “Cleaned up isn’t exactly the term I’d have used.” She noted the ruddy color of his cheeks. “No bad moments?”

He shook his head. “I’m healthy as a horse. Quit worrying.” He pushed up the faceguard of his Norman helm and grinned. “The mêlée was a good addition to the program.”

She lifted one eyebrow. “Despite a little cross-century-genre-busting?”

“I’ll admit I had my doubts. But what the hell!” His grin stretched wide. “Purism is boring. I think I’ll do this again next year.”

Jacq shoved aside her worry. He did look back to his old self. “Yeah. There’s nothing quite like facing off with a dozen knights and Vikings.”

Her father cocked his head toward George. “Your Centurion seemed to give you a moment or two back there.”

She snorted. “In his dreams.”

“George is a good cub. Give you ten, he goes a whole five minutes with you next year.”

She slapped her palm against his. “You’re on!”

A crack of thunder overhead heralded the renewal of the rain that had reduced the Renaissance Faire’s arena to a morass earlier.

“Looks like that’s all the fun we’ll have today,” her father said, peering at the sky. “I’m heading home to the shower.”

Jacq fell in beside him as he walked toward the gates of the arena. “I won’t be far behind you. I just need to check with the events manager to see whether Maryann’s feeling any better.”

“It’ll be too bad if you have to miss the matches in the morning.”

“Yeah, it sucks. But if she can’t make it, I’ll probably be taking her place as the bard tomorrow. In a dress!” She shuddered. “Why me?”

He didn’t even try to hide his smirk. “Because they don’t want to see me in a dress?”

Jacq stared at his legs and pursed her lips.

“Not a word about the damn tights!”

“Course not, Sir Tom,” she said with a slight bow. “Besides, I thought you told me they were chausses! Quite the thing a manly knight would wear.”

He quirked an eyebrow at her and drawled, “Still, it’s better than a dress.”

As she stomped toward the exit to the stadium, her father’s laughter followed. “I’ll have a pot of chili on the stove, so don’t bother picking up anything on your way home.”

Then her father left her, as was his custom, without a goodbye.

* * * * *

1153 A.D. England

Rufus paused with his hand on the tent flap as a giggle sounded from inside. Not the laundress again! What was her name?

He threw up the flap just as a deep appreciative groan rumbled from the man sitting on Rufus’ stool in the center of the tent. “Donald! This is my tent,” Rufus muttered, striding inside to dump his sword on his cot. He ignored the sight of the woman’s slender hand as she stroked downward across Donald’s naked belly.

The woman tossed back her dark hair and gave him a saucy grin. “Milord, you sound like a great bear.”

Rufus shot her an irritated glance. She was always underfoot, tending to his laundry, offering to bathe him. Was she now attempting to make him jealous with this display?

Donald was welcome to her–but not his tent!

Perhaps encouraged by his glare, the woman dared reach lower, smoothing the warm, wet cloth over Donald’s lower abdomen, approaching the thatch of hair that framed his manhood.

An inch from success, Donald stayed her hand, wrapping his fingers around her wrist. His sighed. “I asked only for a bath.”

She leaned over his shoulder, her lips forming an attractive moue, while her glance slid sideways to Rufus. “I’m yours to command, sir,” her true intent clear in the seductive smile she cast Rufus.

The laundress had stripped off her clothes save for her coarse chemise–no doubt to keep them from getting wet. She stood behind Donald, her ripe, wet breasts scraping his back each time she reached over his shoulder.

Rufus should be amused at her blatant invitation–and by Donald’s chagrin.

His Captain-at-Arms gave him a lopsided smile. “I stopped to speak with you.”

“Oh?” Rufus lifted one eyebrow and pulled his shirt over his head.

The laundress’s eyes widened, and her smile turned feline.

Donald cleared his throat. “Gwen took pity upon my sad state and offered to bathe me.”

“Of course, she did. And my tent happened to be available.” He wondered at his annoyance. The laundress’s womanly scent and lush figure weren’t unappealing. Another time, he might have grabbed a fistful of her long brown hair and brought her to the floor for a quick tumble–might even have offered to share her with Donald. She did seem willing.

But today he was restless and irritated with her play. “I suggest you scrub his back, mistress. He can take care of the rest. And hurry it up–we have other matters to attend.”

Issuing a resentful huff, she dipped the cloth in the basin of warm water and wrung it out.

Donald muttered and closed his eyes, relaxing as she swept his back in quick, even strokes. “What matters, milord?”

Donald actually remembered who commanded whom? His captain looked entirely too comfortable and relaxed on his stool. Rufus felt tension knot his own shoulders. “Lord Albermarle requests our presence.” He stepped out of the chausses he’d worn for his morning exercise with the men, and tugged the knots from the cloth covering his loins to strip it away.

The laundress’s gaze drifted to his cock.

Rufus turned his back.

“Is there a hurry?” Donald leaned his head forward for the laundress to wash his neck, seeming unconcerned with Rufus’ growing irritation.

The man apparently didn’t realize how close he was to being throttled. A lifelong bond of friendship wouldn’t save him from being pounded into the dirt.

The thought cheered Rufus enormously. “Albermarle has received word from his spies. He wants us now.”

“Damnation.” Donald lunged from his bench, startling the laundress.

She sputtered angrily as she landed in a disheveled sprawl on the ground.

Donald scowled as he yanked on his clothing. “We’ve cooled our heels in this godforsaken place for a week, waiting for the man to make up his mind to move, and he wants us now ?”

Unabashed by his naked state, Rufus sauntered to an open chest, grabbed braies, chausses, a shirt and tunic and dressed himself. He pulled the long woolen stockings up his calves, and then reached for his boots.

Donald finished dressing in his soiled clothing and leaned a shoulder against the tent pole while he waited for Rufus to finish.

Seeing Donald’s gaze drift to the buxom beauty who sullenly pulled her gown over her head and laced her bodice closed, Rufus smiled. He’d interrupted Donald’s little tryst. His friend had his eye on the girl for some time, but she’d rebuffed his invitations. Until today.

“Any word from Lord Percival?” Donald asked, his gaze never straying from laundress’s charms.

Rufus good mood soured. “None, since word that Sedgwick’s entire garrison was laid low with a dose of the scutters.”

Lacing the last boot tightly, Rufus glanced up to see the woman pull a face at Donald and pout. There was much to admire in her appearance, and those full pouting lips were especially pleasing. He hoped Donald lost sleep over thoughts of those lips.

Rufus reached for a pouch lying at the foot of his cot and withdrew two shiny coins. Scooping up the pile of dirty clothing he’d removed, he tossed it and the coins to the woman with hardly a glance and strode out of the tent.