Monday, January 27, 2020

Medieval Monday with Ruth A. Casie - Final Excerpt

Here is the full excerpt, with the final snippet at the end!

Back Cover Copy:
After her beloved father dies, Moira MacDougall becomes chieftain of their small clan. She is tested on every level, not only by her councilors who question her every move, but also by an exiled Englishman who raids her village under the guise of a notorious pirate, Gareth Talbot.
He wants the secret weapon Moira possesses, and will do anything to get his hands on it—including committing murder so he can give it to King Henry to prove his worthiness and be welcomed home.
Moira will follow her destiny and do whatever is necessary to protect her clan.
The real Gareth Talbot is through with love. His last romance did not end well. He suffered a broken heart and doesn’t trust women.
Humiliated, Gareth goes to sea and becomes a captain for MacAlpin, the pirate king. When raids along the Scottish coast are blamed on him, he seeks revenge. Nothing less than death will do.
Moira and Gareth are on different missions but seek the same goal. Can they work together and eliminate their greatest enemy, and in the process, find the one thing they didn’t know they were searching for, true love?
Buy Link: Amazon KU

The Pirate’s Redemption by Ruth A. Casie
The evening breeze was gentle, the sky clear. Feeling nervous, she marched up the plank.
“I request permission to board,” she called out, blinded by a lantern held high, unable to make out anything on deck.
The lantern lowered. She was caught off guard by her discovery, a bare-chested Gareth standing in front of her. His hair was wet, and his chest glistened with droplets of water.
“Permission granted.” A tankard in one hand, Gareth held out his other to help her aboard.
Moira took his hand, but she couldn’t take her eyes off his chest. His cough brought her eyes to his face. Reluctantly, he released her hand. He smiled as he grabbed his shirt from a peg on the mast and struggled in the breeze to put it on. When he faced her, she didn’t miss the spark in his eyes. He didn’t appear angry, but that didn’t matter. She still had to fix what she had done.
Moira licked her dry lips and settled her shoulders back. Now what?
Gareth cleared his throat.
“Here. Ta go wi’ yer ale.” She nodded toward the barrels to emphasize her point, then thrust the basket toward him.
“What did you bring me?”
“I thought ta bring you….” She let out a sigh. “A peace offering.”
Gareth took the basket and coughed again.
“You should speak ta Fiona. Her elderberry and honey tea would help wi’ that cough,” she said.
He still didn’t speak.
In the grip of a silent panic, her heart raced. Surely, she should say something more…
“I understand ye’re leaving us tomorrow. I was afraid I wouldna see ye. Wi’ so much ta do in th’ village, there is barely time ta…” A knot in her throat made it difficult for her to swallow. She didn’t want him to leave. “As clan chieftain, I want ta give my thanks for all yer help. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by th’ people, or by me.” The man who stood before her was so strong, had a commanding presence, and was handsome. That hadn’t gone unnoticed either. “I spoke out of place before and regret if I offended ye.”
She let out a frustrated breath and licked her lips. Why didn’t she plan this with more care?
“Please, don’t do that again,” he said.
She gazed at him, not sure what he meant.
“Lick your lips,” he clarified. “They’ll get dry and cracked.”
Her fingers went to her lips. In a heartbeat, his face changed from cool indifference to tender concern. Then a playful smirk lightened his features. Her body reacted to the change that suddenly came over him. The tingling in the pit of her stomach took her by surprise.
“I’m truly sorry if I offended ye,” she said.
“You need not say anymore. We all say or do things we regret.”
“Did you eat?” he asked as he opened the basket.
She shook her head.
“Come.” He offered his hand. “We’re hungry, and there isn’t enough food here for both of us. And Wesley is waiting for this barrel.”
Gareth put the keg on his shoulder with ease, and together, they brought it to the gathering on the village green.
“Ah, Gareth. You brought my gift. Come everyone. For all your hard work,” Wesley said. “This is my special brew.” Wesley stood by Gareth. “I’m all the sorrier you’re leaving. It’s been like old times. I will miss you, my friend.” Wesley slapped him firmly on his back. “I best go and find a tankard before the barrel is dry.” He grabbed a vessel from a nearby table. “Save me some ale!” He stepped away and was lost in the crowd.
“I thought ye were hungry,” Moira said.
“In truth, I had to move you off the ship. If you licked your lips again, I’d never let you leave.” Gareth bent down and kissed her softly.
Her heart nearly burst. She put her hands on either side of his face, pulled him closer, and kissed him back.
“If ye kept yer shirt off, ye wouldna have been able ta make me leave.” She clamped her hands over her mouth. She was the chieftain of Clan MacDougall.
A look of surprise spread across his face. Moira wondered why, until Gareth threw back his head and burst into laughter.
“You bear the weight of the clan on your shoulders. I, on the other hand, bear the weight of a barrel of ale on mine. Let’s join the others.” He took her hand and led her along.
His hands were gentler than she had hoped, and his kiss, more powerful than she had ever imagined.
They ate and laughed with the others until every belly was full and satisfied. The meal over, everyone gathered around the pile of wood in the middle of the green, eager for the bonfire to begin. Wilem began to play his lyre. One of the sailors took out a flute, another a drum. Moira and Gareth found a place to sit and made themselves comfortable.
Tonight, she didn’t want to be their chieftain, only a villager, or a pirate’s wench. From their perch, they gazed at the sea and were lost in the sound of the breaking waves on the shore. Gareth draped his arm around Moira’s shoulders and grinned.
“I love the colors at sunset,” Moira said.
He pulled her closer, and she shivered. Gareth tilted his face toward her.
“Are you cold?”
She glanced at him. His question was a small thing, but the concern made her heart flutter.
“No’ at all,” she said, pulling her gaze away, afraid he would see something she was not ready to admit.
He cleared his throat.
She struggled to keep from smiling at his signal. Gareth had shoulders wide enough to bear the weight of the world. Although he would never admit it, he had a habit of coughing when in awkward situations.
He squeezed her arm and returned his attention to the sun while it slipped lower in the sky. The red sky darkened until the heavens were velvety black.
For the moment, they only saw each other.
She stared overhead at the hundreds of stars above. The beauty never escaped her, and the vastness humbled her. She let out a deep sigh, her body close to Gareth’s. The strain of the last week faded with the sun. Contentment floated on the air, helped along by Wesley’s ale and music.
“Are ye humming?” Moira asked.
Gareth glanced at her. Her heart jolted at the devilish look in his eyes.
“Has my voice offended you, milady?” He pulled his head back. “I’ve been told I have a good voice.”
“No, ye dinna offend me. I was trying ta determine which angel was singing.”
He gaped at her. Finally, he laughed so hard he had to wipe tears from his eyes.
“Angel? No one has called me that since I was a small lad.” Another chuckle escaped his lips. “If you think me an angel, it is a dark one.”
Moira couldn’t help but laugh with him.
“Angel…” he whispered. Gareth stared at her while his finger traced her lips. Then his arm snaked around her back and drew her closer. His lips brushed against hers as he spoke. “From your lips, let it be so.”
She didn’t resist but gave herself freely to his kiss. His hand ran up her arm, the tenderness of his touch made her powerless to refuse him.. He broke the kiss and then rested his forehead against hers.
Entranced by the tenderness between them, Moira longed for more. She wanted to know what it felt like to be wanted by a man, happy, secure…
A soft moan escaped Gareth’s lips.
A deep sensual sound stoked a gentle growing fire that steadily grew. In the darkness, she ventured to stare at him openly. There was strength and tenderness in the way he carried himself. Pride and something else she struggled to name. He was a man who know who and what he was. He glanced at her with that devilish grin that made her melt.
Flashes of light from the torches the villagers carried onto the green intruded into their small world, the magic of the moment died as quickly as it began. They watched in silence as the wood was set ablaze.
He gently planted a kiss on her head.
The soft music turned lively. The children were the first to dance, but soon everyone was on their feet, the good ale and food all the encouragement they needed.
“My men play the Carole. Dance with me,” Gareth said.
She nodded, and he helped her up.
The circle dance was a favorite of hers, and the bonfire made a perfect centerpiece.
He led her to the circle where he broke in, and they held the hands of the people next to them.
“Who will sing?” Wilem called out.
“Gareth,” answered the crew.
Everyone turned toward them.
“So ye no’ only hum like an angel, ye also sing like one, too.” She laughed without missing a step of the dance.
He sang the sailors’ version of a fast-paced ballad, and he coughed when he came to the bawdy words. Someone called out the missing word, sending everyone laughing. After two songs, Gareth and Moira excused themselves.
He handed her an ale from a passing server as they walked away from the crowd.
“You’re more beautiful when you smile,” he said. He peered at her over the rim of his tankard.
A hot flush crept up her neck, and she licked her lips.
Gareth removed the ale from her hands and put both their tankards down.
She didn’t know what to say. What was he going to do?
He took her hand and pulled her along beside him.
“Where are we going?” she asked. They walked deeper into the darkness and turned the corner of a burned-out cottage.
“Anywhere to be alone.”
She leaned against the building, waiting for his next move, imagining another, more passionate kiss. He held her in place with his eyes. Gareth braced his hand on the wall beside her, then leaned forward.
She could smell the ale on his breath.
“You must stop licking your lips. You make me want to…” He brushed a stray hair away from her face. “Do this.”
Gareth cupped her face between his hands. Her heart pounded as he tilted his head and captured her lips, softly at first, but then the kiss turned fierce.
Wave after wave of desire pulled at her until all she could do was ride it to its full height. She waited, yearned for it to come crashing down. A moment of panic filled her mind, then disappeared as the wave crashed against the shore in a rush of heat.
He lifted his head and stared into her eyes. How he took her breath away.
“Beautiful,” he whispered. She laid her head on his chest, and he held her close.
Her lips were still warm from his kiss, and her head filled with music, Gareth’s music. He hummed to her as he stroked her back.
If only she could be a pirate’s wench forever.


Mary Morgan said...

Wonderful, Ruth! A great ending to our theme of celebrations! Happy Medieval Monday! :)

Ruth A Casie said...

Thank you Mary! I love this story.