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The Knight’s Prisoner (Medieval Discipline #1)
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A TAVERN WENCH. THE SCARRED KNIGHT WHO CAPTURES HER.
Captured and carried off for questioning, she’s held prisoner at the Red Fox’s camp, under the guard of Sir Ferrum, an enormous and badly scarred knight. Sir Ferrum does not hesitate to punish her attempts to flee, but he also reveals a gentleness difficult to reconcile with the harsh discipline. As her feelings for him grow, Dani must decide whether to continue her plans for escape or accept her new role as Sir Ferrum’s lady and Seer to the Red Fox.
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Bent over a fence rail with her skirts lifted, Danewyn squeezed her eyes shut and prayed the soldier would be quick about it. She always demanded payment up front—made them pay it to Coenred, the tavern keeper directly, to prevent men from taking advantage. Something about this one seemed like trouble. She should have told him no, except that she’d already given it up to his three friends, and not taking a poke from him too would surely start a fuss. And Coenred might protect her from trouble, but not if she went asking for it.
The soldier drove into her with rough, drunken strokes, meanwhile boasting the entire time about his service to the king. It was never a good sign when a man talked while he did the deed. She rolled her eyes since he couldn’t see her face. He finished at last and plopped down on the fence rail to continue his monologue. She ignored the move and started to go inside, but he grabbed her arm and yanked her back, never stopping his endless stream of blathering.
“So as I was sayin’, King Benton’s going to knight me after the next battle.”
Fat chance. She had a moment of prescience—not a vision, but a knowing. She usually kept her mouth shut about such things, but because she was in bad temper, she spoke it. “Your king has more battles ahead of him than he guesses—the Red Fox rises to take back his throne,” she said authoritatively.
“Wha—?” the drunken soldier said, but she was already marching away. As she came to the back door of the inn and tavern, the hairs stood up on her arms, and she had a strong feeling it was related to the words she had just uttered. A man came out of the shadows, just finishing with Vivien, another whore who worked the tavern. He was a huge man, and his face was scarred badly on one side with mottled ripples running from eye to chin. He wore not the clothing of King Benton’s soldiers, but he looked like a warrior just the same. His face was perfectly blank, but his eyes were upon her in a way that wasn’t sexual—there was a calculating intelligence there that she found disturbing. She hurried inside, sparing him one more glance over her shoulder.
She and Coenred haggled over his cut of the night’s proceeds, and then she slipped out the front door for the room she let nearby, closing her nose to the smell of excrement from man and beast that filled the roads of London. She had walked only a dozen paces before someone grabbed her from behind, a huge hand slapped over her mouth, preventing her from screaming. Fear shot through her like lightning, and she thrashed against her captor, but the man holding her with a vice-like grip seemed almost twice her size.
The scarred man. It had to be.
Two other men were with him, helping to hustle her away to horses. By Our Lady—he had heard what she’d said about the Red Fox! If he was the Red Fox’s knight, she might be tortured to discover what she knew of them.
For a moment, the thumb of the huge hand over her mouth blocked her nostrils, and she panicked completely, her fingernails digging into the hand, her feet kicking. “Sorry,” he muttered, moving the thumb. “I didn’t mean to cut off your air. Listen to me—we need to ask you some questions. I’m going to take you with me for a ride. If you answer truthfully, no harm will come to you—I promise. Nod your head if you understand.”
His hand was clamped so tightly around her mouth that nodding seemed an impossibility, but when she made an unsuccessful attempt, he said, “Good girl. Now, I’m going to take my hand off your mouth. If you scream, I will knock you out cold, but I’d rather not harm you, understand? Will you keep your mouth shut?”
She made another attempt at moving her head in assent.
“Good girl,” he said and very slowly removed his hand from her mouth, then caught her two wrists, efficiently twisting them behind her and binding them with a rope. She looked around at him wildly, scanning the road for anyone, but there was no one save the three men who’d grabbed her. Her captor confiscated her eating knife from the little scabbard she kept around her waist.
She took several deep, cleansing breaths, trying to calm her wildly racing heart. If she thought anyone would come to help her, she would scream and risk being knocked out. But they were too far from the tavern for Coenred to hear, and she doubted he’d get involved if it involved risking his own neck. She had no one else to defend her or even care.
Until this moment, she hadn’t truly believed the Red Fox existed. Known as the Lost Prince of Briton, he was the son of King Unser, who had taken the throne after King Arthur died at the hand of his son Mordred. His parents were cut down in a coup by the present king, Benton. That a red-headed babe had lived and had been borne away by his nursemaid to safety had been rumored over the past 20 years but was widely believed to be no more than a folktale.