In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish, here’s an excerpt from my Irish medieval historical romance, Devil’s Angel. Enjoy!
The people of Dunlough have just experienced heavy battle losses. Conor, thinking his dearest friend has died, rides off alone to grieve. Erika goes after im.
The pale apparition dismounted, silver hair gleaming in the moonlight. “Conor, I’m not the Mórrigan. I’m Erika.”
“I do not.” The specter’s words were quiet, compelling. Her hands went to her cloak, sending it billowing to the ground. It was followed by her baldric and sword. “I am your wife, and I’ve come to take you home.”
Laughter tore from him, brutal and harsh and mirthless. The Mórrigan stepped back, and he laughed anew. “And what is your home? A cold black place filled with the screams of the damned? Can it be any worse than what I endure now?”
“Conor, listen to me. Look at me.” Her dress fell to her feet and she stood, glorious and nude before him. “I am real. I am your wife.”
“No!” His words were a snarl of denial. “Enough of this—it ends now!”
Brandishing his sword, he raced across the clearing. The Mórrigan made no sound, did not reach for her sword. Did nothing but stare at him with his wife’s eyes.
A cry of anguish tore from him. He could not do it. Merciful heaven, he could not strike down the witch that wore his wife’s face.
The hand clasping his sword fell to his side and he dropped to his knees, the defiance drained. “Do what you will,” he whispered, weary in mind and soul. “I am beyond care.”
Movement, the Angel of Death coming closer to him. She knelt before him, one hand reaching out to touch his marred cheek. The rush he ever felt at his wife’s touch coursed through him, illuminating his dark misery. She melted against him, pressing kisses over his ravaged face. He pushed his fingers into her hair, drawing her closer, needing her touch and her scent. “Erika.”
As quick as he grasped her he pushed her away. “Return to the dun.”
“I will. With you.” Her voice was cool as moonlight.
“No!” He stumbled to his feet and away from her. “I was near to killing you—do you not recognize that? You were close to being beheaded!”
“Yet I was not.”
How could she be so calm when he was seething inside? “Leave me be!”
“No.” She rose and came closer, and the tremble in her voice reached him. “I will remain with you, Conor. You will not turn me away. I will not let you.”
Her essence stole into him as she stepped close behind him, cooling the madness that burned his soul. He turned into her, pressing his burning cheeks into the softness of her hair. “Angel of Death, become angel of mercy. Will you show me mercy? Can you heal me?”
She stroked the dark silk of his beard. “I would like to try.”
With a groan he crushed her against him, capturing her mouth in a kiss that hovered on brutal. His hands were clumsy on his clothing and he heard the rip of fabric. He knew he should slow his pace, but need rode him with the desperation of a drowning man reaching for a rope just beyond his reach. “Touch me, Aingeal,” he commanded, his voice grating. “Burn me with your light. Make me forget.”
She came to him, molding her body to his, lightning melding with thunder. It was she who pushed him to the dew-covered grass, she who rose above him, straddling his thighs, her hands wrapped about his hardness.
He could not bear the waiting. Grabbing her waist, he surged inside her with one swift invasive thrust, causing her to gasp. There was nothing gentle about this joining, and beneath the storm of need the part of him that could still reason despaired for causing her pain.
“Conor, look at me.”
He did, and what he saw stole his breath. Her pale skin was aflame with desire, her eyes glittering with the same need he felt in himself. He kept his eyes on her, needing the glory of her flesh in the moonlight to banish the darkness. Fingertips scored his chest as she rode him, meeting him wildness for wildness, needing the comfort as much as he. They were warriors, their passion warring with tenderness. Need drove them, the need to be united, to be lost and found in each other.
He matched her stroke for relentless stroke as she moved above him, head tossed back, breasts thrust upward. Her pace increased, and passion blocked all but her image from his mind. When she arched backward, his name tearing from her throat, he was engulfed in silver flames that seared his heart, mind and soul. His release, when it came, was violent, shattering, bursting over and around them like thunder.
Spent, they collapsed against each other, their breaths mingling on the night air. It was a long moment before they could bear to part, but the night air forced them into their clothing. Conor wrapped Erika’s cloak about her then settled her against him tight, unwilling to be parted from her for long. “Why did you come?”
“You needed me.”
He did, and most desperate. “I didn’t believe you were real. What would you have done if I had not stopped? What would I have done had I killed you?”
“Yet you didn’t. Think on that instead.”
He shook his head, unable to put into words the horror he felt at how close he had come, how his madness had near driven him to…
Her hands on him were soothing, comforting. “Tell me, what drives you so?”
“I will not speak on it.”
“Even to me?”
His sigh trembled. “How can I be called Devil, and not face my demons alone?”
Erika cradled his cheeks in her sword-calloused hands. “I am your wife. You no longer need to face anything alone.”