The Queen’s Man
By R. J. Hore
Champagne Books: http://goo.gl/pcxpTh
Stuck in command of a remote border fortress, Harow simply wants to go back to the farm. Unfortunately for him, fate has other plans.
“We have a great favor to ask of you,” the queen said. She took up Harow’s hand in hers.
The warmth of her fingers sent a shock up his spine.
“Anything.” Why did his mouth always act before he had a chance to think?
“Our gracious host would like to be able to withdraw some of his men from this border castle. They are needed to bring in the rest of the harvest before winter. He wondered if you would agree to hold this fortress for him with your men, and of course, a few of his. I told him I thought it an excellent idea.”
“I realize it is almost too much of me to ask you this, when you have already served us so well. But the duke has been gracious enough to take us in and offer us safety at his home in High Vale. This should not be an onerous position here. I doubt my brother will ever have nerve enough to advance into the mountains. He will hide and threaten us from the safety of his perch on the Rock of Casawurthi.” The queen’s deep gaze reached into the pit of Harow’s stomach and tied it tight into knots.
“Besides,” Desiree-Rose crossed the floor and held out her hand for him to kiss again. “I would not want you running away.” She made a face and shook her head, allowing her long black hair to hang free. “Running back to the farm or whatever hovel you came from. You do want to be near to me, don’t you? I will be only a day’s ride away.” She toyed with the emerald on her finger, the ring she’d taken from him the night they reached safety.
The hair on the back of his neck marched in parade formation. She sounded like her mother. Like her mother did, when she wanted a favor. He knew well how dangerous those favors turned out to be.
“Knowing you might hesitate, Duke Harow, given the uncertainty of our situation here, I have already spoken to young Daneld, your good friend and comrade-in-arms. He readily agrees to act as your second-in-command. All the men who followed you here are equally eager to be under your direction once more. I feel safer already knowing you are my own faithful one standing between me and the madness in the low country.”
The queen’s warm breath brushed against his cheek. A flock of birds churned his stomach. He inhaled a sweet scent that was not wood smoke.
Desiree-Rose moved to stand close on his other side. “By the seven Saintly Sisters of the White Tower, I would trust no other to keep us safe. You do want me kept safe, don’t you?”
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The Queen’s Man