Donald: Book 3 Sons of Sagamore - Excerpt

He surrendered his heart and would give his life for her to succeed.

Andrea Ricard, an inquisitive scholar of antiquities travels with her uncle to help him with his trade business. When she finds her mother’s family name on a piece of a map associated with the location of a rare relic, she is compelled to find it. Nothing will get in her way to unearth its secrets.

Donald MacDougall Tyler Eden has enjoyed a carefree life, but over the last year he has found satisfaction working with his brother Hugh, who has a successful investment business. He has forged a close relationship with one of their business partners, Andrea’s uncle. On a visit to Hugh, Donald meets Andrea and is smitten. When Andrea finds that an antique in Hugh’s collection contains another piece to her mysterious map she is more determined than ever to find the relic. Donald is drawn into her adventure and volunteers to accompany her on her quest.

Andrea has only told Donald half-truths for fear he would not join her. The relic is surrounded by mystery and prophecy. A disgraced soldier with hopes of repairing his relationship with the king has found out about the relic and is just as determined as Andrea to secure it for himself.

Andrea and Donald’s belief in what’s right as well as each other will be tested on a journey filled with adventure and hardships as they race across the vineyards of the Champagne region in France, up the east coast of England to an ancient church in Bamburgh. 

Donald: Book 3 Sons of Sagamore - Excerpt

Chapter One

Châlons-sur-Marne, France
July 1289

Lord Donald Eden enjoyed his years of being responsible only for himself. With a casual personality and playful teasing manner, men and women were drawn to him like bees to a honeypot. Unlike his brothers who preferred swords, he excelled with the bow and arrow. He traveled from one archery tournament to the next coming away with a heavy purse.

That was, until last year – when his brother Hugh, the Earl of Sagamore, brought his fiancée Charlotte to the tournament field.

Lifting his goblet, he chuckled and remembered the contest.

By god’s toes, she was an excellent archer even though he came away with a light purse.

With her shoes off, Charlotte stood at the line and released her bolt. Her arrow hit the center of the target, but she needed to do the same with her second shot.

Donald took another sip of wine and let out another snicker.

Charlotte needed a miracle to win. People pounded his back in anticipation of his victory. Men hawked the odds. The betting became fierce. Once she took her stance and planted her toes firmly in the ground, she pulled her bow and let the bowstring sing. The arrow flew and slid down the center of her first bolt, slicing it in two. The onlookers burst into cheers. The swell of excitement took his breath away and he cheered for her as loud as the thrilled crowd.

Now Donald was at the chateau on the grounds of the Labatrelle Winery with his older brothers, Hugh and Graham, and their wives, Charlotte and Isabella, as well as Isabella’s mother Jeanne Marie. They sat in the solar around the hearth on chairs and benches scattered with comfortable pillows.

Too warm for a fire at this time of year, garden flowers filled the grate and perfumed the air with a subtle fragrance. Large windows flanked the hearth with a wonderful view of the vineyard and the Marne River beyond.

The pleasant room also had floor to ceiling bookcases along two adjacent walls, with a desk in front. A long, narrow table laid with wine decanters and goblets stood against the third wall. Above the table was a tapestry of the vineyard.

He observed his brothers and their families. Every so often someone burst into laughter. At other times, the women spoke only to each other, much to their husbands’ mock irritation. So much had changed over the last year.

After laying vacant for decades, the earldom had been restored to his oldest brother. Hugh had a successful investment business and was one of the wealthiest men in England.

His brother, Graham, assisted Hugh and Charlotte with issues here at Charlotte’s childhood home. Together with Isabella, the love of Graham’s life, things were set right at the winery.

Donald lifted the goblet to his lips, savoring the rich, fruity wine and shifted his gaze to Graham.

Working together, Graham and Isabella had developed this new, unique wine that won prizes and was in high demand.

In one year, everyone’s life had changed. His as well. No more tournaments. Although archery was his passion, there was no longer any time to enjoy the sport, especially the competitions.

Initially, he worked with Hugh’s partner, John Heustis, to resolve the issues concerning the vacant earldom. Much to his surprise, and everyone else’s, he had a knack for working with people. Hugh and John gave him a share of the business.

What had Graham said at Hugh and Charlotte’s wedding? His brow wrinkled as he searched his mind. Words flashed by until one fell into place. Destiny. Destiny made them brothers; fate made them friends. That was the truth. The three of them had a bond the King of England envied.

Donald’s last task before he returned to England was to arrange a meeting for Hugh. His brother’s longtime friend and business associate, Claude DuClare was traveling with his niece from Troye to Paris. When Hugh mentioned he and Charlotte would be in France, DuClare suggested they meet at the winery.

“You are deep in thought.” Hugh stood before him and poured more wine into his goblet.

“Me? I do not have a deep thought in my body.” Donald took a sip of wine. “This is a tasty vintage.”

“Of course you don’t.” An innocent smile spread across Hugh’s face.

“Excuse me m’lord.” A servant stood at the threshold. “Monsieur DuClare and his niece, Mademoiselle Andrea Ricard.”

“Hugh,” DuClare said as he walked into the solar, a striking woman at his side.

The close friends embraced. “I’m glad you could join us here. Let me introduce you to my wife, Charlotte, Graham’s wife, Isabella, and her grandmother, Jeanne Marie.”

“A pleasure to meet you.” After a short bow to the ladies, he turned to Graham and Donald. “Good to see you gentlemen.”

“I’d like to introduce you to my niece, Andrea Ricard.” DuClare indicated the woman at his side.

“Mademoiselle.” Both brothers dipped their heads in acknowledgement.

“Come. Sit. Some wine?” Donald offered but didn’t wait for a response. He poured two goblets and handed them to their guests.

“Donald mentioned you were coming from Troyes,” Hugh said. “I hope business went well.”

“I was not there on business. Andrea was.” DuClare savored the wine.

Donald had been staring at the girl over the rim of his goblet, unable to take his eyes from her. Her features were appealing, but not overly striking. She carried herself with assurance. Her expression was pleasant, and her eyes were alive with intelligence as she scanned the room, taking everything in.

“And what business is that?” Donald said, his voice warm and low.

“Donald, stop being so, so… Donald.” Charlotte turned toward Andrea. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He really is quite likeable once you get to know him. How long will you be staying in Châlons?”

“Andrea and I leave for Paris tomorrow. I would much rather stay here. However, John and I are scheduled to meet with the minister of trade,” DuClare said.

Claude and Andrea joined the others in a pleasant conversation. Donald was impressed the way Andrea joined the chatter and quickly became part of the group. She debated her position with enthusiasm. Most women, except his sisters-in-law, yielded to the perceived authority whether they believed them or not. Confidence shone through every action, everything she said. He knew there was something special about her the moment their eyes met, and he wanted to learn more.

“Please.” Everyone turned to Hugh. He held his goblet out, took a hearty drink, then raised his goblet high. “To Isabella and Graham and their winning wine.”

“To Isabella and Graham,” everyone said in unison.

“This exceptional wine deserved to win the Battle of the Wines. You surpassed Maurice’s secret blend.” Hugh took another swallow.

“Who is Maurice?” Andrea asked.

“My grand-père created a unique wine by blending it with fruit and herbs. No one could match it,” Charlotte said. “He taught me and Isabella everything we know about wine and many more things.”

“Are you sisters?” Andrea asked.

“Now we are,” Isabella said as she smiled at Charlotte. “I’ve been her companion since we were young girls. We did everything together.”

“Maurice trained Charlotte. She’s an excellent archer,” Isabella said. “We both listened to him tell us about his adventures in Tunis during the Crusades. Many times, his stories proved his point about one thing or another: archery, wine, or life. The stories I liked most were the ones about the items he brought back from the Holy Land: holy relics and the recipe for blending wine."

 Donald: Book 3 Sons of Sagamore

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