I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season and get everything you wish for!
Here’s a little sample from The Red Cross of Gold I:. The Knight of Death (genre Epic Fantasy/Templar Fiction), the first book of 28+ novels. Twenty-five are currently published on Amazon.com and Smashwords. The books are available in paperback as well. This is one of the first conversations between the Knight of Death, Mark, and the leading lady in the novels. He’s had a little incident that has left him at a loss. She obviously has him at a disadvantage…
“Valentino tried to teach me about your Order. Poor Knights of Solomon’s Temple. Imagine that,” she said. “I just forgot about the eating thing. You’ll have to forgive me, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I won’t tell.”
Templars again. She was either hallucinating or delusional.
“She told me all about the battles,” she said as she led him along the upstairs hall. “It must have been awful. Were you at the battle of the Horns of Hattin?”
He caught her arm and spun her around. “What do you know of Hattin?”
She looked up at him in surprise. The mention of the ancient battle confused and confounded him. He could smell the burning brushfires and hear the screams of the soldiers as the enemy charged up the hillside, killing and hacking everything and everyone to bits, even the horses. “She just told me that it was horrible. No survivors. The infidels killed everyone.”
“Not true,” he objected and shook his head. “There were survivors.” How did he know?
“Then you were there.” Her face lit up.
“Perhaps. When did it occur?” he asked hoping to gain another to clue to his identity.
She stopped and frowned fiercely. “Let me see… I know. 1187! There. You see. I have been studying you.”
“Did you say eleven eighty-seven?”
“Yes. I’m good with numbers usually.”
She glanced back at him and he nodded. She was insane. That would make him… How old?
“Twelfth century, yes, I’m sure of it.”
“What is today’s date?”
“You must be kidding,” she answered.
“Of course. I’m a regular comedian,” he said sourly.
He turned up the bottle and finished off the wine. They stopped in front of one of the doors overlooking the foyer and he was treated to eye candy for dessert as she unpinned a key from inside her dress. The room was opulent, like a faery tale and made a lovely backdrop for the Pixie. All white and gold, light colored woods with flowers and ribbons and cherubs painted on the drawers and tables. The central attraction was a canopy bed hung with gossamer draperies and littered with gold and white tasseled pillows and cushions.
She pulled him past the bed to the far side of the room where three marble steps led up to a deep bathtub done in gold and white. She turned on the hot water and the Jacuzzi jets in the tub and poured liquids from several different bottles and jars into the swirling water. She went around the room lighting candles while he stood silently watching her. The scent of vanilla and cinnamon filled the room. He had to get away. She was a witch and he would soon be under her spell without hope of escape. He had to dispatch the man downstairs, steal the keys to the car and leave…
All thoughts of Maxie and what he wanted to do to the man left him when she pulled the dress over her head, slipped the flimsy wisp of lace that passed for underwear down her legs and stepped into the tub. He blinked at her in dazed silence. This was not right. He should not be here. He drew a deep breath at the sight of her standing before him in the shell-shaped Jacuzzi like Botticelli’s Venus come to life.
The scene before him wavered and was replaced by another image. A colorful tiled pool in the middle of a magnificent room, no, a courtyard, surrounded by billowing draperies of soft lavender, white and gold. The tiles were covered with blood and the water in the pool was tinted pink with it. The body of a man floated face down near the bottom of the pool. The woman had killed him. She turned to look at him with the murderous knife still in her hand. Blood, dark crimson, dripped from the blade to the tiles. Her dark eyes grew wide with fear when they locked with his. A red haze covered his vision when she threw off the veil covering the lower half of her face and began to scream. He drew his dagger from his belt, took a step toward her and fell up the steps of the Pixie’s bath.
She knelt beside him.
“I didn’t realize that you were exhausted. Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked him and began to undress him where he lay. “What you need is a hot bath and a good night’s rest… a good Knight’s rest. You are a good Knight, aren’t you?”
He pushed himself up and sat on the steps, trying to help her as she removed his blood and dirt-stained shirt. She was obsessed with knights and crusaders and the faery realm. This time she spoke of nymphs and faeries and flowers and crowns and love. It was useless to try to follow the disjointed, one-sided conversation.
The warm water in the tub felt wonderful on his back where the tree had scourged him, though it stung a bit. She washed his face while she talked and this was not pleasant at all as the soap entered the cut. She blew on it as if he were a child when he winced and then set about washing his hair with her fragrant shampoo again bringing pain to a newly acquired bump from the fall on the steps.
Without warning, he remembered where he was. The flight had been long and nerve-wracking.
“America!” he said, interrupting her chatter.
“Yes, of course,” she nodded. “Texas. The best part. Like a whole other country,” she used a quote from a popular advertisement. “And you have such a cute accent. I love that Scottish brogue. How do you do that with your R’s? Let me see.”
She took his face in her hands and opened his mouth, peering inside comically. While he was digesting this newest bit of useful information about where he was and the affirmation of his nationality, she clamped her mouth over his and kissed him while simultaneously sliding against him. Her body was silky, smooth with fragrant oil and felt like heaven pressing against him. He put his arms around her and they almost sank under the water.
“Are you stuck on threes or do you count higher?” she asked when they had righted themselves.
“I can count. I hold a Master’s degree from… from…” he said, somewhat confused by her question and she cut off his thoughts with another kiss. “Why?” he finished lamely when she let him breathe again.
“Can you count to three?” she asked, speaking directly into his mouth.
He had to push her back to answer. “Don’t be silly. One, two, three, four.”
“Good. Let me show you.” She lowered her head and looked at him from under her brows as she ran one hand down his chest and his stomach, under the water. She wrapped one arm around his neck and slipped her silken legs about his waist. “Three is a significant number.”
“I see,” he had to agree with her though he felt hopelessly entangled in something he did not understand.
He would think more on it later. She was too busy showing him the significance of the number three at the moment. It seemed that he had not had a woman in more years than he cared to count, but with his almost instant response to her, he could not imagine why not. Had he been in prison, perhaps? Was he an escaped convict? Could that explain his seemingly insatiable sexual appetite? Surely, it would not explain hers… unless she, too, was an escaped convict. Perhaps they had escaped from the same prison… or mental hospital. He almost laughed aloud. Insane asylum, he corrected himself mentally.
Mark Andrew stood in front of golden mirrors above a marble counter, wrapped in a sinfully elegant, oversized seafoam green towel, looking at his reflection in the glass. He was shocked to see the stranger looking back at him. He couldn’t say how he should have looked, but this man was a complete and total stranger to him. Surely even amnesiacs recognized their own reflections. He remembered how to walk and talk and how to brush his teeth. His dark, almost black, hair hung was shoulder length, straight and lustrous. He had no beard, but the need for a shave indicated that his sojourn with these two crazies had been very brief. His eyes were so blue they shocked him as they stared back from under dark eyebrows above a long, straight nose. Blue eyes. Blue eyes. They did not seem right. His mouth was broad and his lips were full, but not overly feminine. He smiled at himself and saw a nice set of white teeth.
Thank God! He hated rotten teeth. And then wondered where that thought had come from. He felt much, much older than he looked. With a start, he realized he had no idea just what his age might have been though he had expected wrinkles or visible crow’s feet at the very least. He leaned toward the mirror looking for lines and creases in his face. There were a couple of very slight lines across his forehead and not more than two or three crinkles near the outer corners of his eyes. Thirty-five? Forty? Twenty-nine? Who could tell?
The wound above his eye was not deep and looked healthy enough after the bath. No sign of infection… yet. It would heal without being sewn. He shuddered at the thought. Wounds in the area near the brow bone, no matter how small, usually produce copious amounts of blood and may or may not leave a scar depending upon the complexion of the man. His face was either deeply tanned or he was dark complected. Shouldn’t leave a noticeable scar. This thought came in the form of a sonorous voice that echoed hollowly in his head, accompanied by a tiny flash of a scene wherein he sat in a small, stuffy indoor amphitheater, watching an old man in a blood-stained apron examine a grotesque corpse lying on a porcelain table. A doctor? Was he a doctor?
He could find no significant scars, no tattoos, but there was one very pronounced scar on the right side of his stomach just under his ribcage. About two inches long and a quarter inch wide. The skin there was darker and slightly elevated by old scar tissue. It had the appearance of a knife wound or primitive surgery, perhaps? But there were no signs of the scars created by the crude stitching that usually accompanied such surgical wounds. Why primitive? Whatever had caused it must have been painful.
‘Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.’ The scriptural passage just seemed to pop into his head from nowhere along with a vision of black water and a yellow-eyed rat. He stepped back from the mirror instinctively and the vision disappeared.
When his head cleared, he tried to look at his back and the Pixie came at once to his aid, checking him over.
“It’s going to be all right, Mark Andrew,” she told him as she ran her hands over his back. “There are only a few scratches. I didn’t know he was going to tie the ropes so tight. He shouldn’t have hit you or kicked you.”
He turned suddenly, grabbed her by her upper arms and looked into her bright blue eyes. He felt as if he should be able to read her mind somehow, but he saw only surprise in her eyes at the rough treatment.
“Why am I here? What do you want from me?” he asked her angrily. “You have to tell me. You didn’t bring me here to decorate your boudoir.”
“I didn’t bring you here, Mark Andrew,” she told him. “You brought yourself here.”
“I don’t understand. That’s not how I remember it.” He let go of her and shook his head. “I didn’t tie myself up and then drive myself here at gun point. Your ugly friend did that.”
“Valentino wants you here,” she told him. “Valentino wants to ask you some questions, that’s all.”
“What kind of questions? Who is Valentino?” he asked and went in search of his clothes. She hurried after him.
“About the key and about your brothers,” she said. “Remember? Your eleven brothers?”