Authors: Tamara Leigh
Tags: #Historical Romance, #Knights, #love story, #Medieval England, #Medieval Romance, #Romance, #Warrior
LADY AT ARMS
A “clean read” rewrite of
, published by Bantam Books, 1994
TAMARA LEIGH, USA Today Best-Selling Author
HE WAS THE VILEST OF MEN
Lizanne Balmaine has spent years honing her skills at arms, determined she will never again be at the mercy of any man. When she comes face to face with the one who stole her future, she seizes the opportunity to exact revenge. Soon he is her prisoner, at
mercy. But something is different about him, something that makes her question her purpose. Is it possible a man can be so changed? More, can she right the wrong that could lay ruin to her family?
SHE WAS A QUESTION NEVER BEFORE ASKED OF HIM
Ranulf Wardieu does not seek a bride, nor a settling of scores when his mission for the king places him in the path of a beguiling, raven-haired maiden. But fascination turns to fury when she imprisons him. Accused of wrongdoing, the nature of which she refuses to reveal, he discovers the lady is as skilled at wielding a sword as she is at verbal sparring. When he bests her at her game and his jailer becomes his captive, he is determined to learn what wrong he has done her. However, as they engage in a battle of wits and wills and he glimpses her woman’s heart, he discovers Lizanne is a question never before asked of him—one his own jaded heart refuses to answer.
TAMARA LEIGH NOVELS
Age of Faith: A Medieval Romance Series
: Book Five, Spring/Summer 2014
Southern Discomfort Series
Restless in Carolina,
NavPress, 2006 (print edition)
“CLEAN READ” TITLES
Lady At Arms:
a “clean read” rewrite of the 1994 Bantam Books bestseller
, 01/14: Amazon, B&N, iBooks Store, Kobo Books
OUT-OF-PRINT GENERAL MARKET TITLES
Bantam Books, 1994
Bantam Books, 1994
Bantam Books, 1995
Bantam Books, 1995
Dorchester Leisure, 2001
is the sequel to
are stand-alone novels
LADY AT ARMS (a “clean read” rewrite of the 1994 Bantam Books bestseller
) Copyright © 2014 by Tammy Schmanski, P.O. Box 1298, Goodlettsville, TN 37070,
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, incidents, and dialogues are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
All rights reserved. This book is a copyrighted work and no part of it may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photographic, audio recording, or any information storage and retrieval system) without permission in writing from the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the author’s permission is illegal and punishable by law. Thank you for supporting authors’ rights by purchasing only authorized editions.
Cover Design: Ravven Kitsune
“Gilbert!” Heedless of the brigands ransacking her dowry wagons, Lizanne Balmaine pulled free of her maid and rushed past the torn and blood-strewn bodies scattered over the ground. The old woman called to her, but Lizanne ignored her desperate pleas.
Dropping to her knees beside her brother, she reached to him. Though his face was shuttered, she could not—would not!—believe he was gone from her. She shook him. “Pray, open your eyes!”
His head lolled.
Whimpering, she forced her gaze down his body. His hauberk lay open, its fine mesh brilliant with the blood seeping through its links. And his leg…
God help his leg.
With trembling fingers, she tried to seam the flesh back together, but his blood only coursed faster and made the bile in her belly surge. Swallowing convulsively, she raised her hands and stared at the wet crimson covering her palms.
Dear Lord, he cannot be—
She was wrenched upright, hauled back against a coarsely clothed chest, and lifted off her feet.
“Nay!” She reached for Gilbert but grasped only air.
The one who held her chuckled. Feeling the wicked sound move his chest, she knew he would do things to her she had only heard whispered about. And could not have more quickly thanked God when she was shoved into the arms of her old maid. However, as she knelt in the dirt, clinging to Hattie and weeping with a twisted mix of grief and relief, the villains began a boisterous argument over who would have her first.
Lord, I can bear it. I shall bear it. Just do not let Gilbert be gone from me.
It was Hattie’s trembling, so savage it shook her brittle frame, that pulled Lizanne from the heavens and dropped her back to earth. Amid the sudden hush, she lifted her face from her maid’s bosom and peered past the old woman’s shoulder at muddy boots.
“Nay, milady.” Hattie tried to press her mistress’s head down. “Be still.”
Lizanne pushed aside the hands that had delivered her from her mother’s womb five and ten years ago. With daring she had not known she possessed, she lifted her gaze up the lean, muscled body that stood over her. The man was uncommonly tall—nearly as tall as Gilbert and every bit as broad.
Hatred, more intense than any she had known, suffused her and set her own limbs to quaking. Here was the one who had dealt the final blow to her brother.
Making no attempt to keep loathing from her face, she slid her gaze from a generous mouth, up over a long, straight nose, to glittering eyes as dark as his hair was light.
Aye, that hair. Not quite flaxen, not quite white, it fell about a deeply tanned and angular face. As she stared at him, she could not help but question God’s wisdom, for He had wielded no foresight in bestowing such a handsome face on this spawn of the Devil. Doubtless, many women were rendered agape by the sight of him. But not she. There was nothing captivating—
That was not true. The streak of blood matting a length of his hair was fascinating. Gilbert’s blade had done that.
“God’s teeth, what delights have we here?” he said in the coarse English of a commoner. As his men guffawed, a slow grin spread his lips and revealed straight but discolored teeth. He reached down and lifted a lock of her black hair. “Aye,” he murmured, pulling his fingers through the heavy strands. “Yer a beauty, lass—a fine prize.”
His eyes met hers, their fathomless depths charging her with fear she did not wish to feel. Hate was so much more comforting.
Hattie clutched her young charge nearer. “Take that which ye came fer and leave the child be,” she said.
Laughter rumbled from the man, and the other brigands answered with more of the same.
Finally, he sobered. “Aye, hag, I’ll take what I came fer.” He drew back an arm and landed a fist to the old woman’s temple.
With a gasp, Hattie loosened her hold and toppled backward.
Lizanne screamed, reached to her, but hardly had she touched her maid’s rough woolen tunic than she was hauled to her feet and forced to face that evil visage.
Grinning, the man dipped his gaze to the neckline of her gown and ran a hand down her chest.
“Do not!” She struck out at him.
He pinned her arms and dragged her near. “Ye will bend to me, my beauty.” He lowered his head toward her untried lips.
The brigands’ laughter paining her ears, Lizanne jerked her chin aside and strained away from the hands that roamed her.
Dear God, I shall die! Pray, let me die!
As tears fell to her cheeks, she felt other hands touch and pinch her flesh.
“She is mine,” the man growled, then swept her into his arms and shouldered his way through the throng.
Breath coming in great, choking gulps, Lizanne gripped his tunic as he carried her past those terrible, leering faces.
They had only just cleared the gathering when her captor lurched and dropped to one knee. Keeping hold of her, he shook his head as if to clear it, and she saw blood still flowed from his head wound. It was no mild injury as she had first thought, and it occurred to her God might not have abandoned Gilbert and her after all—that the miscreant might simply drop dead.
However, neither the Lord, nor her captor, seemed of a mind to oblige.
Amid mocking laughter, the man surged to his feet and swung around to face the others. “Do ye laugh again, I’ll see the lot of ye gutted,” he snarled, then strode from the camp toward the moonlit wood.
“When ye finish with ‘er, Darth,” one called, “I’d like a taste meself.”
As his words were met with more jeering, Lizanne silently repeated
until she found a niche for the name in the turbulence of her mind. Then, with fear and trembling, she turned her thoughts to her desperate circumstances that were about to become more desperate.
She did not doubt he intended to steal her virtue that was to have been the privilege of her husband, Philip. He would defile her. But was that all? Might her fate be the same as her beloved brother’s?
Do not just let it happen! You are more than this!
She did not know if it was her brother’s voice or her own she heard, but she acted on it, bucking and letting her hands fly. When her nails raked her assailant’s rough, unshaven face, he dropped her to her feet and repaid her with a slap so heavy she nearly fell over.
Covering her stinging cheek with one hand, she looked up at the devil in moonlight. He stood so rigid, face nearly deformed by anger, that she knew his slap would not be retribution enough.
Lizanne took a step back and glanced left and right. The castle of her betrothed lay less than five leagues to the west. If she ran and hid in the wood until the sun rose to guide her…
She turned to flee. An instant later, she found the needled ground at her back, and looming over her was the man called Darth.
His lips fell to her throat, and she squeezed her eyes closed and tried to go deep inside herself.
’Tis but my body
, she told herself once, twice, three times, desperately willing her soul to rise above her.