Excerpt from KNIGHT TO REMEMBER:
“Look who I found lurking in the shadows.” Thomas smiled at Issie like the Cheshire cat.
The two women eyed each other, contempt in Issie’s eyes and distrust in Courtney’s. Deep beneath the surface of politeness lay a rivalry with which Reynold was already all too familiar. These two had never liked each other, even as children playing in the courtyard.
He couldn’t accept the fact Lady Courtney was not his Catherine. Something deep down in his heart and soul told him they were one and the same, just born in different worlds and time.
Reynold stood, allowing Lady Courtney to take his seat. He’d already told Thomas his story. What more could he say? That he was in love with a woman much like Lady Courtney? That he’d been banished from his homeland because he wouldn’t bed down with his queen?
Not with Queen Isabel sitting in front of him; he valued his life too much for such an accusation…even if it were the truth and common knowledge within Heartsease. She wouldn’t hesitate to have him cut down where he stood, if she so desired.
And what of Lady Courtney? Would she believe his words, or treat him with the kindness she’d shown the mindless of their country? He’d not take the chance; not yet any way.
“Reynold Loddington.” His name rolled like sweet honey off Courtney’s lips. “Very unusual. Is it an old family name?”
Reynold shifted his feet, not sure how to answer Lady Courtney’s question. If she were really Catherine in another time, then wouldn’t she have full knowledge of who he was? Her face was the same porcelain hue, and while her eyes may have changed in color, he saw the same passion and sweetness within them. He wondered whether her lips still held their sweet taste, as well.
Issie cleared her throat, drawing everyone’s attention back to her. “I would venture to guess his parents were deep into fifteenth century England history. I’d also bet that—”
“Enough, Issie! I don’t think this man needs to be subjected to your questions, ladies. It’s late, and we all need to be fresh for tomorrow’s crowd.” Thomas slapped Reynold on the back, and then led him toward the door and into the safety of the night.
* * * *
“Fare thee well, Black Knight!” Issie called out, waving her hand in the air as Reynold and Thomas took their leave.
“Well! I never.” Courtney sat back in her chair, amazed at the turn of events. Here sat Issie Cummings, self-proclaimed witch, with one man lapping up her every word while another spat at her. Just what the hell did she have that no other woman had, anyway? That she didn’t have?
“Of course you have.” Issie continued waving, her eyes never leaving the backsides of the two men until they were through the door. “More times than I’d care to recall.”
“Issie, you are the most…ohhhhh! I can’t even begin to describe how nasty you can be.” Courtney looked at her, watching her expression change from lustful to predatory. The cold, black look sent a chill of recognition down her spine. She’s seen the look before, but she wasn’t sure when or where.
Issie took a drink from Reynold’s tankard, licking her lips slowly. She reminded Courtney of a lioness finishing her evening snack. Only the purr of satisfaction was missing. As far as Courtney was concerned, the woman had no business taking such a liberty. She was being far too familiar with Reynold Loddington for Courtney’s liking.
Then again, why should she give a darn? He was just another reenactor, here for the summer, and gone as soon as possible after Labor Day weekend. No, she didn’t care what happened to Reynold Loddington. At least, that’s what she kept telling her heart each time his name floated off of Issie’s lips.
Issie leaned forward, her eyes burning like black flames. “You and I have never liked each other, Courtney.” She slapped her hand down on the table hard enough to upset one of the tankards, spilling ale onto the table. “I will have what I set out to get, and you’ll not stop me this time around, Catherine!”
A shiver of fear and warning flittered down Courtney’s spine.
That’s the second time today someone’s called me Catherine. These people have got to get their minds straight.
“I don’t know who Catherine is, but she’s not me. I wish you and that Mr. Reynold Loddington, or whatever it is he’s calling himself, would get that straight.” Courtney shoved herself out of her chair to leave the table. She leaned down, coming nose-to-nose with her enemy. “You’ll not scare me, Isabel Cummings. I know your kind, and there’s a reason why other women avoid you.”