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Originally released September 2003; re-released with new publisher/cover July 2015.

**Available as a standalone ebook or in the print anthology Rites of Passion including Threads of Faith**

Thomas has led his life according to the tenets of chivalry laid out by King Arthur. Now his deepest desires and his unshakable honor have joined in single purpose. His soulmate, Lilith, whom he has met only in dreams, is bespelled by a wizard. For five years she has been forced to exist as Lord Zorac's prisoner in a state of high arousal. She is not allowed to achieve fulfillment, or given any ease from the relentless lust in her body, a sword edge that has pushed her to the brink of madness.

To free her from her torment, Thomas must perform the sensual ritual of awakening upon her, and convince her to accept his word and hand as that of her true Master. He must also convince the powerful Zorac to let her go. But all is not as it seems. Lilith's punishment is more than the capricious act of an evil wizard. Zorac's generosity and kindness to the people of his own lands are legendary. So why has he chosen to inflict this cruel fate on a young woman renown for her beauty? Thomas will have to reveal all their secrets, including his own, to tip the scales on the unexpected, and bring Lilith to her fateful choice.

Excerpt

© Copyright 2003 - All Rights Reserved

His chambers had been attended while he was gone. The servants had left a tub of water by the fire for morning washing, and some bread and cheese on a board for late evening appetites. The bed was made up with a heavy mound of covers.

Lilith had begun struggling in his arms halfway up the stairs, attempting to rub herself against him, making little mewling cries. Thomas set her on her feet in the chamber, holding her away from him. She fought him, but he was much stronger, and simply waited until she raised angry, agonized eyes to his.

"No," he said softly. "You cannot do anything for yourself that way, lady. You know that. Be calm and strong, as you have taught yourself to be. Be calm."

He kept his hands still, so as not to add to her agitation, though he ached to stroke her hair away from her face, touch those lips, give her the comfort and protection of his body.

Her eyes squeezed shut as he held her. In a few moments, her writhing became a rhythmic rock against his grip, like a metronome settling to a slower pace. At length, she stopped moving and opened her eyes, gazing at him.

"It feels like almost dying or almost being born," she said, surprising him with her sudden coherence. "Not quite finished, trapped between world and dust, or womb and world. I am afraid one day I will be torn in two and yet still live." Her attention roamed from his eyes, and she looked at his hair, his forehead, the slope of his shoulder. "I dreamed of you," she said. "You disappeared in the mist."

"I will not do so again, milady," Thomas said, his throat tight at her lost eyes and trembling, roused body. "Come lay down for me, on the bed."

She stared at him, as if she might refuse, but then she shrugged and turned, bringing a peculiar grace to the action, since she had to move slowly to balance herself with her wrists bound to her sides. The bend of her knee to take the mattress and the turn of her hips showed him the deep pink folds of her damp cunt, the sway of her breasts, the nipples tight from cool hallways and bespelled arousal.

"Lay back and open your legs to me," he said.

She tossed her head, another tendril of red hair sliding free of its bindings. Her hair was more than half undone by the rough fucking she had received and her own struggles. As she turned on her hip, and began to lay back, he moved forward. He caught her head in the palms of both of his hands, arresting her body in mid-recline. She trembled, her torso parallel with the diagonal tilt of his own, less than a handspan between the meeting of their hips, stomachs, chests, and lips. Thomas cradled the back of her skull in one hand and freed her hair.

Ribbons came loose, and he flicked pins away so fire spread over his fingers. He eased her back and his palms came forward, tumbling her thick mane over her shoulders and covering her breasts. She was freshly fallen snow before his gaze, with a swirl of fire at her center, like the color of her hair.

"Open your legs, Lilith," he repeated. "Show yourself to me."

"You are not my Master. I am not yours to command," she said, but her voice was weak.

"I am your Master. You know it, or you would not try to refuse me. You would be as you are to all the others, indifferent to them, while your body is desperately compliant. You are my lady."

His hands were on her thighs, and he eased them open. They shivered, like the lean bodies of two soft white rabbits, unmoving under human touch but remarkably feral in their shuddering response, so there was no doubt that he touched something wild and untamed. How often had he seen kings and lords keep ferocious animals in chains or cages in their halls? They wanted that exotic beauty within touching distance, they wanted the animal's wildness. They put the animal in a cage, making him dependent on scraps. He went mad or listless, only a shadow of the wild creature he once was. The captor sucked away the animal's wildness, and became the beast instead.

His wild creature was spread for him now, her whole body shuddering in a way that made him want to cover her, surround her, feel her fragile thighs and breasts against him. He wanted to warm them with his heat and protection, fill her tight channel with his cock, lock them together as one being.

There was a glitter at her nipples he had not noticed in the hall. He bent and looked closer. "What are these?" he asked. He grazed his fingers over the slim silver circlet around her full left nipple.

She writhed at his touch, but managed an answer. "They make them more aroused, larger. It pleases my lord for me to wear them."

"Lilith," Thomas sat on the edge of the bed. He bent, his breath hovering over one engorged nipple. "You will not call Zorac 'my lord' any longer. He is not your Master. I am."

Her brow furrowed, and she began to shake her head in denial. He laid his lips over the tip of the right nipple and pulled it and much of the breast around it into his mouth. Lilith arched off the bed, crying out, her fingers straightening at her sides, as if extending all the digits would make up for her helpless vulnerability to all he could do to her.

His act had a very functional purpose, though suckling her sweet tits and feeling her moan beneath his touch swelled his cock to a painful thickness that made him lightheaded. His rage, lust and desire had all fueled the erection. He wanted to use it as a weapon, and he fully intended to do so.

There was not much difference between him and Zorac in that regard. The priestess Helene was right. Thomas wanted to free Lilith from Zorac, but not make her free. She was his. However, he wanted to claim her rightfully.

She would fight him, he knew, for he had to prove himself worthy of being her master. Thomas's lips curved into an unexpected smile on the fleshy curve of her breast. Goosebumps rose under his lips as the cool air mixed with the heated flow of his breath. It was as Arthur had been known to say. Might is not right; might should be used for right.

This was right.

He had both tiny circlets in his mouth, slick with his saliva, and he spat them out onto the floor. "You will not need such things to stay aroused for me, my lady," he said. "You will experience full pleasure tonight at my command, I promise you."

If he did the cursed ritual right.


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