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Finders Keepers

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Stunning, willful Lady Melissa of Saxony refuses to kneel before the Norman invaders, so she slips away from her ancestral home through a secret passage in the old keep only to find herself at the mercy of the very enemy she is attempting to escape. Now she must decide if she can trust her heart to a Norman lord. Can she truly believe Luke’s profession of love? Or is he deceiving her, intent on exacting vengeance for her part in his brother’s death?

...A Last Request

“Is it true a man cannot deny a friend a dying wish?”
“Certainly I would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to do so.”
“And are we friends, Luke?” Her voice was barely a whisper across the small distance separating their mouths. His head was bent close to hers so she wouldn’t exhaust herself lifting her own off the pallet to be nearer to him.
“Yes, Melissa, I hope you may think of me as your friend.”
“Then I have a favor to ask of you, Luke. A last request. A dying request.”
“What is it? If it is within my power, I swear to you I will grant your bid.”
Her lips curved triumphantly as he fell nicely into her trap. “You swear?”
“Yes, on my honor as a knight. I vow I will see your appeal through.”
“Come closer so I may whisper my appeal in your ear. It is rather embarrassing to speak the words out loud. I certainly would not want one of your men to overhear.”
Curious, Luke bent closer, thinking to reassure her about the impossibility of his men overhearing. Her voice was so soft he was having trouble hearing her from only inches away. Then her lips brushed against his ear and he lost his ability to think of anything else. When he was able to recover his wits long enough to wrap his mind around the favor she sought from him, he assumed he must be the one suffering from the effects of fever. He almost reached up his hand to check if his own head burned. Melissa could not have possibly just asked him the entreaty he would swear she just whispered in his ear. He must be hallucinating. Perhaps her fever was not caused by her injuries, but was from some dreaded disease that just happened to strike at the same time as his brother’s assault on her, and now seemed intent on making him its next victim.
“Luke?” The hope in her voice should have sounded pitiful to him, yet it sent his manly passions surging through his body. In the space of a moment, he was fully aroused and the palms of his hands were damp with sweat. He thrust an impatient hand through his hair. What the hell was wrong with him? He needed to remove himself from this cave. The walls were starting to close in around him. He needed to get away from Melissa’s feminine scent. The one he was suddenly so profoundly, so achingly aware of.
Melissa reached up to brush a stray lock of his shoulder-length hair from his face. At her soft touch he jerked away from her hand as if she held a branding iron. “You promised me, Luke. You gave me your word of honor as a knight.”
Luke looked down at her with wild eyes. “You cannot be serious. I am absolutely certain I misunderstood you. Believe me you do not want to know what I imagined I heard you just ask me.”
Melissa smiled at the panicked expression she read in Luke’s eyes. In their brief acquaintance she witnessed those same eyes filled with pity, outrage, indignation, even sputtering with rage and injured male pride, but never had she seen him as overset as he was in the present moment. “Did you imagine I confessed to you I did not wish to die a virgin?”
He covered her mouth with his hand to keep any more such confessions from spilling out. “Would you mind keeping your voice down? I am certain any of my men would be only too happy to oblige your wish.”
She pushed his hand away from her lips. “But I do not want any of your men to oblige me. I want you.”

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