love live on?
Wolf said, arching a brow. “I suppose this means no wedding feast.”
groan escaped Lady Sabina. Her gown fluttered like a conquered flag
in the wind, and she closed her eyes.
felt her weight press against him.
ailing?” he asked with some concern, reaching out a hand. She
withdrew, and Wolf would not have been surprised to hear an audible
crack as she stiffened her spine.
fine. The day has been long.”
squinted at her. “The cock has barely crowed.”
has been long, then.” She looked away.
refrained from saying he was several years older than she. The
weary set of her shoulders made him agree with her conclusion.
the horse her father had left, a skinny palfrey with a swayed back.
While the ancient beast creaked when it walked, it would last long
enough to get them home.
his spirits lift a little in spite of his foul mood. He retrieved
his own horse and walked both up the path, noting the gathering
storm clouds. If they weren’t quick about it, they would be caught
in a downpour. He went to the girl and motioned her towards the
straightened her back, her steady blue gaze trapping his. “Are you
speaking to me or to the horse?”
lifted an eyebrow. “Why you, of course, unless you intend for the
horse to ride.”
clasped shaking hands in front of her, but when she spoke again her
voice was steady. “Master Behaim. It is customary to use a form of
address when engaging another in polite conversation. My name is
Sabina. You have my permission to use it. If you prefer, you may
call me ‘Baronesse’ or ‘my lady.’ In a pinch, I suppose, ‘Frau
Behaim’ will do. But ‘you,’ implied or otherwise, is not an
acceptable alternative, particularly when speaking to one of noble
dropped open at her speech.
pointed at his mouth. “You will catch flies with that.”
snapped shut, and he regarded her with genuine interest. A fire
crackled in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. He knew few men
with the fortitude to talk back to him, let alone women. He stepped
back and sketched a sweeping bow.
would please Your Majesty, your steed awaits,” he said with a
too, would be an inappropriate form of address, given my station.”
no longer amused. “Get on the cursed horse—”
trembled at his forbidding tone, but she did not comply.
lady,” he finally ground out.
tilted her head. “It would be my pleasure.”
reached for the pommel, but when she tried to pull up, she rose only
half way and slid down again. She looked at him in consternation.
he said stiffly, his desire to aid her in conflict with his desire
to abandon her to her own devices.
nodded. When he lifted her up to place her in the sidesaddle, her
small breasts brushed against his chest. A curl of long black hair
feathered across his cheek. Determinedly ignoring her nearness, he
deposited her in the saddle and reached to steady her. His hands
lingered for a moment longer than necessary, and it occurred to him
that if he wrapped them around her tiny waist, his fingers would
almost touch at the tips. Heat spiraled through him. Surprised, he
released her as though burned. She swayed atop the horse.
the—!” He caught her before she fell to the ground, and stood her
up again. Her knees buckled and, out of necessity, he pressed her
between him and the horse, which looked back and regarded them both
feel the girl’s heart pounding against his. He stared down at her
for a moment and for some reason her mouth again drew his gaze.
God, that mouth—it gave a man ideas. She may be plain in every
other respect, but that mouth was sin itself. His hands were still
around her waist where he had caught her. He had been right. His
fingers did nearly touch.
saints and stars, what was he doing?
stepped back, releasing her.
you sit a horse?” he snapped, irritated to find himself susceptible
to such an obvious female ploy as falling into a man’s arms.
“Yes—nay—that is, the saddle slipped,” she stammered.
raised brow, he knelt down to check the palfrey’s girth and the girl
jumped aside, more skittish than the horse. She must have been
holding her breath because it suddenly came out in a rush. He
skewed her a wry glance, then returned to examining the girth.
worn and had nearly snapped when the girl—dammit, Lady
Sabina’s—weight had been added to it. It barely held together. Of
course von Ziegler would give his daughter an old horse with a
useless saddle, adding final insult to injury.
eyed her over his shoulder. “I don’t suppose you can ride bareback,
plump mouth drew into a thin line. “Nay, I do not suppose I can.”
no pillion handy, either. He considered their other alternatives,
coming up with only one, and stood up. “You’ll have to ride double
with me, then.”
widened in alarm. “I—I am sure that will not be necessary. If it
is not too far, I can walk.”
hardly ride while you walked, and I am not walking.” He
stifled an exasperated sound when he saw her draw up at his harsh
tone. “Pardon me. Sanctuary is nearly half a league away. If you
haven’t noticed, it’s about to storm. We’d catch our death of cold
before we got halfway there. It’s my horse for the both of us, or
you can return home with your father—if you can catch him.”
alternative didn’t sit well with her either, it appeared. She
glanced doubtfully over at his powerfully built horse, which stood
seventeen hands high at the withers, and pursed her lips.
his name?” she finally asked.
difference does it—Suleiman, his name is Suleiman,” he said, trying
to unclench his teeth.
blinked. “You named your horse after a marauding infidel?”
a little difficult to train. I thought the name fit well at the
time. Now, of course, he is as tame as a kitten,” he dryly assured
her while Suleiman pawed at the ground and snorted. “Would you like
to look at his bite and check his hooves, too? Or may we ride?”
huffed prettily. “Master Behaim, I only wished to know his name so
that we would not be strangers. If someone intended to ride me, I
would certainly prefer to be introduced first.”
masculine smile spread across his face. He couldn’t help it.
“Well, that’s good to know. Call me Wolf.”
from Medallion Press April 2008