Please welcome guest author Kirsten Blacketer!
Lady Evelyn Montgomery, only daughter of the Baron of Rayne, detests the thought of marriage. She will never allow a man to control her. Crushed by the constraints of propriety, she steals away from the safety of the keep and stumbles onto a plot designed to stir up trouble between England and Scotland. When a mysterious hooded man saves her, she fights her attraction to him as they join forces to hunt down a traitor and save her father. But can she save her heart?
Gabriel is a Shadow Guardian. Hiding beneath his black cowl and blending into the night, he is sworn to protect the Baron’s daughter. The spirited Lady Evelyn is far from the delicate flower he anticipated. She makes herself crystal clear, no man will possess her. Can he prove to her that love can be more than just possession? Or will the traitor they seek tear them apart forever?
The forest thinned into small, flat clearing. Gabriel dismounted and drew his sword, motioning for her to join him. Evelyn slipped from her saddle and unsheathed her own. Facing him on the field, she nodded.
Gabriel attacked, bringing his blade across to hit her left shoulder. She parried to the left to block him. He switched sides and swiped down toward her right shoulder. Evelyn countered with a parry to the right.
“Is this going to be challenging at some point?” Evelyn smirked.
Gabriel brought his blade across aiming for her left leg, which she blocked, then down to her right. She blocked again.
“Truly? You think me simple?” she asked.
He hesitated, then lunged. When she tilted her sword to parry to the right, he retracted, spinning around her to tap her bottom with the blunt of his blade. She shifted her heated gaze to him. His face was still darkened by the deep hood, but she could sense his amusement.
“That is trickery, a dirty move,” she exclaimed, tracking his movements.
“There is no such thing as a fair fight, so fight dirty,” he said. “Do you concede?”
“Nay.” Evelyn lifted her blade and charged him. He blocked her thrust, parrying to the right, pushing the momentum of the blade around to wrench it from her grasp. Throwing her weight into it, she stomped down on his foot with her heel and twisted it with all her strength.
He dropped back, slipping from her grasp and shaking his foot.
“You learn quickly, Princess.”