Squire's Quest by Judith B. Glad



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Sixteen-year-old Merlin Lachlan dreams of knight errantry, but with only one eye, doubts he'll ever be more than a squire--a knight-in-training. He soon has the opportunity to play the hero when he befriends Calista Smith, a girl-child traveling alone to her father in Montana.

Eight years later Merlin receives a telegram from Callie, a cry for help. Her father is taking her to an unknown destination, possibly to a fate worse than death. Abandoned at the depot in Cheyenne, along and virtually penniless, Callie finds work. When Merlin arrives he finds not a damsel in distress but a woman standing on her own two feet. Still, she is Callie, and he has a tender memory of her. As she has of him.

Merlin weds Callie to ensure that her father will have no more control over her fate. Thwarted, Lem Smith seeks revenge and ends their brief idyll with fire and blood and terror. Afterward Merlin has no memory of her, beyond what his friends tell him. Callie is captive and helpless. Each believes the other dead.

Time heals most wounds, but not broken hearts. Callie escapes from her father and builds a life for herself. Merlin returns home, all of his youthful dreams shattered. Until a child's smile awakens old memories, and a family calls to its own.

Excerpt:

She was in bed when he came in, chilled to the bone. The enamel kettle held tea and it was hot, so Merlin poured himself a cup and sat at the table to drink it. Except for the sound of the wind in the eaves, the cabin was silent.

The floor's too doggone hard. And cold. Wish I knew where that draft was coming from. His bedroll was still in the corner where he'd left it this morning. The last thing he wanted to do was crawl between those cold blankets and shiver all night long.

We didn't just sleep alongside each other. We slept in the same bed. No reason we can't do it again.

No reason except he wasn't sure he could keep his hands off of her. Ever since she'd spoken the word bath, he'd been picturing her naked. He knew what she'd look like, knew how her breasts would feel, filling his hands like fat grapefruit, but softer, and ever so much sweeter. He knew how she'd smell, when he buried his face in her long, thick hair, because he'd never forgotten the faint hint of musk mixed with spice she always had about her, even after a hard, sweaty day's work.

Most of all, he knew what she'd taste like, when he sampled her dark, secret places.

"Great God! What a fool." He leapt to his feet and stomped to the corner. Kicking his bedroll into place, he bent to open it.

"Merlin? Did you need something?" Her voice was soft and whispery with sleep.

Yes. I need you.

"Stubbed my toe. Go back to sleep."

"Uh-huh. G'night."

He washed himself, just a lick and a promise, because he was too lazy to heat up a bucket of water this time of night. Usually he got himself a bath and a shave every third day whenever he was anywhere near a barbershop. Tomorrow he'd shave, but the bath would have to wait. He'd be a fool to leave her alone in town.

All night long, whenever he woke, he strained to hear her breathe. The wind defeated him, growing stronger by the hour. Sometime in the wee hours, he stood and dragged his bedroll to the edge of the hearth. That blasted draft had found him again, and his feet were like blocks of ice. His body grew warmer then, but he was a long time sleeping. All the while he listened, and heard every rustle, every sigh, from behind the canvas curtain that was as strong a barrier as iron bars.

She's not a sometime woman. She's for always.

He wasn't sure yet if he was ready for always.

  • Published by: Uncial Press


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