The Lady and Lord Lakewood
A man on a quest to save the heir of his dearest friend.
A woman in possession of an enchanted weapon.
Can they protect the young duke from those who are out to kill him?
Almost from birth, Vivienne has known that one day she would play an important role involving a family heirloom, a sword called Excalibur. Her Aunt Nimue says she’ll know what to do when the time comes—but she had no idea the man she waited for would be so handsome, so powerful.
Richard, 5th Earl of Lakewood, must save Arthur, the new young Duke of Camelot, from a woman seeking revenge. Killing Uther, Arthur’s father, wasn’t enough; now she’s after Arthur. A series of mysterious clues leads Lakewood to an even more mysterious woman, Lady Avalon. What role does she play in this battle, and what’s this spell she’s cast on Lakewood’s heart? Her distraction might just lead to his death.
Near Glastonbury, England
A violent dream held Vivienne, the widowed Viscountess Avalon, deep within its darkness and wouldn’t let her escape. Shadowy figures swarmed around her, threatening and maleficent. Heavy fog kept her from seeing exactly where she was, but some inner sense told her it was the woods near Lake Avalon. The shadows gathered behind her, guiding her—no, forcing her—toward the shore. Her heart pounded in fear of what had taken control of her. She held her breath as if the sound would reveal her location to the enemy.
When she cleared the trees, the fog thinned, allowing her to see a few feet ahead. Still the shadows closed in, and she stepped into the cold water to stay beyond their reach. Hesitantly she inched forward. First her half-boots grew damp, then her hems soaked up the cold water. Vivienne shivered, but a glance over her shoulder showed the shadows still approached. What evil wanted to control her?
Lake Avalon shimmered in a radiating circle in the direction Vivienne felt compelled to go. Tiny waves rippled outward as if a pebble had broken the surface. In the center a face appeared. A kind, gentle face. Her great-aunt Nimue. She remained just below the surface. Vivienne’s heart raced in fear. Was this vision saying her aunt was going to die soon? Vivienne shook her head, pleading, “No, please no.”
Nimue raised her arms and a magnificent sword appeared in her hands. She lifted the weapon above the water but her body and head remained below the surface.
Compelled to reach for the sword, Vivienne hesitated to do so. “What am I to do with this?”
Nimue was silent, not even sharing her thoughts. She simply lifted the sword again, displaying it with both hands like a gift, and motioned for Vivienne to take it.
As soon as Vivienne did, the last of the fog lifted. The shadowy figures vanished and Nimue swam away. A gruff voice called her name from within the trees. Merlin, who some claimed was a magician, stood watching her.
“What am I to do with this?” Vivienne repeated, this time asking him.
The old man with stringy white locks blending into his long, graying beard said, “You will know when the time comes. Since you are having this vision, the time must be soon.”
She hated answers like this. You will know… Would she ever trust her second-sight enough to be confident in what lay ahead?
“You will,” Merlin said, and Nimue’s voice echoed the words in a whisper from the distance.
Looking down at the magnificent weapon, Vivienne marveled at the workmanship. The bronze grip and hilt looked like a little primitive man. The cross guard curled downward on either side creating legs, and the arms of the man curled upward around the head to create a pommel. It even had a face of sorts, and a belt carved into the middle of the body. It was heavy, with the broad blade of an old weapon of battle. Someone had put great pride and love into making it. Given the way the metal shone, it was clear others had polished it and cared for it in the centuries since. Who did it belong to?
And as she studied it, it faded away, leaving her hands empty. She lifted her gaze to Merlin only to find him gone, too. She was alone at the edge of Lake Avalon, her skirt and boots wet but nothing else to show for the odd events.
Then she jolted awake in her bedchamber, snuggled deep under her heavy woolen blankets, barefoot and wearing her nightgown. Moonlight streamed between the draperies on her window, and the castle was silent. Her dream was so vivid she felt certain she’d lived it, yet her nightgown was dry.
Vivienne hated these visions and the period of waiting afterward as she watched for clues to guide her toward the meaning. Aunt Nimue might be able to shed light on the clues, but she couldn’t visit her until daylight. Knowing she’d never get back to sleep, she got up, pulled on her robe and slippers, and went downstairs to make tea. Not having seen her aunt for several months, she’d enjoy a brief visit. Nimue was a font of memories and the history of the village of Avalon, and their family’s part in it. Time spent with her was never dull.
The Lady and Lord Lakewood releases tomorrow, October 2, at all online vendors, but you can pre-order a copy at iTunes today!
USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Fish is an avid quilter and auto racing fan who finds there aren’t enough hours in a day/week/lifetime to stay up with her “to do” list. There is always another quilt or story begging to steal away attention from the others. When she has a spare moment she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and their families. Her books include The Bridgethorpe Brides series and the Small Town Sweethearts series.
She also writes steamy romance under the pen-name Ari Thatcher.
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