Authors: K. S. Ruff
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Inspirational, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
waiter delivered the first appetizer. I was too hungry to balk at the raw meat
so I quickly snarfed it up.
ate the thinly sliced beef just as quickly as I did. “I can’t wait to show you
the gardens at Monserrate Palace. I also want to take you to Cascais and the Knights
Templar City of Tomar but not until after Christmas.”
Templar?” I sifted through what little I knew about the group. “The Christian
knights who fought in the Crusades?”
Knights Templar fought to free Western Europe and the Holy Land from Islamic
domination,” Rafael explained. “They were an elite military organization that protected
Christians and Jews. They also formed a charity, serving the sick and the poor.”
waiter removed our plates before delivering an artfully presented appetizer
with two new glasses of wine. I drank the sweet pink rosé while studying the
inhaled the lamb carpaccio. “The knights originated in France. They were richly
rewarded for protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land. When they began inducting men
from other countries, those men gifted all of their cash and property to the
Order. That’s how they financed their charity work. The knights themselves were
sworn to poverty. They gained a great deal of support throughout Europe. The
organization grew to be quite large. The King of France,
Philippe le Bel
became envious of the Templar’s power and their wealth. He persuaded the pope
to execute the knights by fabricating charges of heresy and sexual misconduct.
He was trying to gain control over their assets, their land, and wealth. Thousands
of knights were arrested. They were tortured into making false confessions.
Many were imprisoned; hundreds were burned at the stake.”
how they were rewarded for helping people?” I thought about the violence and
abuse perpetrated by the SVR. The SVR tortured Shae and me in an effort to
secure false confessions so they could further their military objectives in
Ukraine. They forced President Yanukovych and Prime Minister Azarov to extend
the lease allowing the Russian naval fleet to remain in Sevastopol in exchange
for our release.
eyes softened. He knew what I was thinking. “Some things never change.” He swirled
his wine. “The King of Scotland and the King of Portugal refused to persecute
them. King Dinis offered the Knights Templar refuge at their stronghold in
Portugal. They formed a new order, the Order of Christ. Their headquarters in
Portugal was relocated from Tomar to the Castle of Castro Marim during this
time. Eventually, their original stronghold in Tomar was restored. They kept a
magnificent castle and a convent in Tomar. We can visit both sites if you’d
pushed my thoughts about the SVR and my plate aside. “I heard the Knights
Templar protected religious artifacts like the Holy Grail. Is that true?”
as in past tense?” A secretive smile tugged at his face. “The Knights Templar
still exist. They protect people, free the oppressed, and safeguard sacred
artifacts and holy sites to this very day.”
stared at him for a couple of heartbeats. I couldn’t tell if he was toying with
me. “I thought the knights took a vow of celibacy.”
eyes sparked with amusement. “Knighthood isn’t bestowed on descendants. Men are
waiter removed our plates before delivering two new glasses of wine and the
next course. Each of our plates contained a tic-tac-toe grid that appeared to
be made from a thick paste or p
âté. Sea scallops were perched
across from one another, diagonally. Three separate squares in the grid had
been filled with a green, orange, and red sauce. Another corner held a square
shaped food that looked like it belonged in a box of chocolates. Green sprigs
of some unidentifiable herb were scattered over the top.
dish was so creatively presented, I couldn’t bear to mess it up.
tried the wine instead. Rafael certainly seemed knowledgeable enough. Could it
be? With the Knights Templar seeking refuge in Scotland and Portugal, odds were
high the remaining members were Scottish or Portuguese. Rafael was a Christian
and a member of an elite force, but he didn’t adhere to a vow of poverty or
you going to try it?” Rafael had cut his scallop into four pieces and was
dipping it into the sauce.
tell me you’re not a Templar.” I cut into my scallop while diverting my eyes.
The scallop was grilled to perfection, crisp on the outside and tender on the
inside. The orange sauce exploded against my tongue. My grid was obliterated as
I sought to experience every sauce and flavor combination the dish had to
He deliberately stretched the word out. “I’m not a Templar?”
head shot up. “Why did your voice lift at the end?”
thoughts skipped back to the time we played twenty questions along the Potomac
River, when Rafael revealed he’d been too busy avenging his parents’ death and
training for special ops to fall in love. My heart sank. “Please tell me I
didn’t sully a celibate knight.”
waited with baited breath while the waiter cleared our plates. He deposited two
new glasses of wine and two wide rimmed bowls cradling poached quail eggs and
black truffles on a bed of corn sand.
grinned. “You didn’t sully a celibate knight.”
responding like you’re telling me what I want to hear,” I half gritted, half
single eyebrow rose along his forehead. “I’m pretty sure I’ve been sullying
stared at him. Rafael was skirting the issue. There was something about the way
he answered those questions...”
leaned across the table. “They’ll be serving chocolate mousse and
Talk about a diversion.
My cheeks heated when my nipples
pebbled through the dress.
laughed. “Perhaps we should head home.”
tried not to smile. “I suppose I deserve that.” I endured the quail egg, the
delicate slices of cod hung with clothespins on a miniature clothesline, fried
lamb with a pistachio crust, some fruit dish called a pre-dessert, a red wine
cake pop, the
, and the chocolate mousse before Rafael agreed to
take me home.
drove like an old man.
growled at him the entire way.
didn’t show a bit of interest in me until we stepped inside the elevator. When
the doors slid closed, he grasped my wrists and pressed me against the polished
metal wall. He planted a well-muscled thigh between my legs. “How was the
He layered open-mouthed kisses all along my neck.
My eyes slid closed. I was praying the elevator wouldn’t stop on any other
growled his rebuke before biting my neck.
I amended. “The
this?” His tongue traveled the full length of my throat.
legs clenched his thigh. “This… is good.”
teeth raked the sweet spot behind my ear. “How was the chocolate mousse?”
tolerable,” I lied.
released my wrists so he could slide his hands along my thighs. My dress inched
up dangerously high. The elevator pinged. Rafael lifted me so that I was
straddling his waist. He pulled the zipper down the back of the dress as he stumbled
across the lobby.
cried out as he yanked one sleeve down and latched onto my breast. My body trembled
shifted me in his arms so he could swipe the card through the reader. “I could
make love to you every minute of every day and still ache for you.”
eyes met, and I knew. Knight or not, I belonged to this insatiable man. “I love
you,” I whispered.
pupils dilated as he pushed the door open and kicked it closed. Rafael threw
the card and the key fob on top of the counter. He pulled the dress up and over
my head while he strode through the apartment.
fumbled with the buttons on his shirt.
dumped me onto the bed. The cold satin sheets slid enticingly against my heated
skin. Rafael made short work of his clothes before kneeling on the bed. He removed
my thong and climbed back up my body until we were perfectly aligned. Then he
allowed the full force of his muscular physique to settle on top of me.
tried not to smile. He’d left the lipstick red heels on my feet. “I believe you
were trying to prove something?”
forced my chin up with his forehead. He licked my neck again. “I intend to
prove a lot of things to you.” He pulled my legs around his waist.
sighed contentedly. Rafael was right where I needed him to be. “Like what?” I demanded
how we should never be parted again.” He abandoned my neck and peered deep into
my eyes. His coffee and chocolate infused breath mingled with mine, but his
lips stopped just short of mine.
moaned when he pushed just inside of me. “And?” I whispered across his lips. I
tried to pull his head closer so I could kiss him, but he resisted. His mouth was
still hovering just millimeters from mine.
eyes grew dark and possessive. “I’m going to prove that this,” he pushed a
little further while still denying the kiss, “is where I belong.”
eyes fell closed as he began to fill me. I arched against him trying to encourage
him along. “And?” I panted, still yearning for that elusive kiss.
you belong to me.” His hands fisted in my hair, holding me in place so I
couldn’t kiss him. When my eyes opened, his eyes captured and held mine. He
thrust deep enough to press against my womb.
legs parted even more. “Kiss me. I want you to kiss me.” I groaned as he began moving
deep and slow. My nipples brushed against the fine hair on his chest. I tried
to pull him closer.
continued thrusting in long, satisfying strokes. “Say it.”
I whimpered. With each stroke he pushed me higher, wound me tighter, left me yearning
for more. I was already nearing release. Still he denied me.
chuckled softly. I could feel the vibration against my chest. “That sex is
” He pulled back, abandoning my body.
thighs clenched as I tried to force him back inside of me. “Sex is a million
times better than
,” I conceded, “but only with you.”
released my hair and grasped my hands. “It is,” he agreed just before he slammed
inside of me.
world tilted. His tongue thrust deep inside my mouth, seeking… claiming…
branding… everything. He kissed me long and hard… drove inside of me while
devouring my mouth.
I gasped. I hated breaking the kiss, but I couldn’t breathe.
eyes darkened. He thrust even harder.
God!” I screamed. The orgasm tore through me, sparked across every nerve
ending, shot down every limb, before spiraling back and burrowing between my
lips slanted over mine. His muscles tensed when he began kissing me again. He
thrust one last time, then stilled as he flooded me with heat. He kissed me until
our bodies quieted, but he didn’t release me.
was still inside of me when we fell asleep, cocooned within those black satin
sheets. The last thing I saw was the flickering of flames from the fireplace, dancing
along those mysterious swords.
* * * *
rose from the couch. “Dear God, what are you wearing now?”
glanced down at what I assumed was a rather chic ensemble. “I’m not entirely
sure.” The gray fitted tunic, black leggings, and smoky looking infinity scarf
had been draped around a single hanger. I briefly contemplated black heels but
chose the knee high boots instead.
walked a tight circle around me before running his hand up my leg. “I think I
like these even better than your yoga pants. Why don’t you wear pants like this
shrugged. “I just never thought to shop for leggings.”
should.” His hand slid beneath the tunic while he kissed the sweet spot behind
my ear. Within seconds he was fondling my breasts. “You should buy a lot of
me to thank Eva for this wardrobe,” I murmured while his lips grazed my jaw. I wasn’t
taking a single kiss for granted, so I kissed him with everything I had when
his lips sought mine.
he ended the kiss. “Eva will never forgive me if we cancel dinner tonight.
She’s anxious to meet you.” He twined his fingers with mine before retrieving
his keys and a bottle of wine from the counter. He tugged me toward the door. “I
promise we’ll explore Lisbon tomorrow.”
spent the entire day in bed, intermittently drinking
Rafael secured from the corner bakery, planning our wedding, sleeping, and
making love. “I’m far more interested in meeting Benjamim and Eva,” I
confessed. I was hoping they’d offer some insight on the man I’d just agreed to