Author: Kathye Quick
Title: Cynthia and Constantine
Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Medieval Historical Romance
Lady Cynthia of Abertaine is trapped. Not only has her fiancé, Sir William Leyborne, not been back to the castle for over ten years, but she’s also not a titled Lady. Lord Simon of Cowell, a renegade warlord aligned with Mordred against Arthur and his Knights, has declared himself sovereign over Leybourne Castle and everything that once belonged to Sir William– including Cynthia.
Sir Constantine, Knight of the Round Table, has come to the shire to give Cynthia the news that her fiancé has fallen in battle. With him is William’s oral will giving all he owns to Cynthia as though they had been wed. But when he finds Cynthia and discovers the shire under the control of an evil warlord, he knows he cannot leave without first driving Simon and his soldiers from the land.
Drawn together by an attraction older than time, Cynthia and Constantine soon discover that though a vow made by a knight’s honor has brought them together, it may just also cost them their lives.
Kathye Quick has been writing since the sisters in Catholic School gave her a #2 pencil and some paper with ruled lines.
From stories about her family for Writing Week in fifth grade, to becoming editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper, The Blueprint, to 1999 when she realized her dream of being published, Kathye’s love of the written word span numerous genres.
She writes contemporary and career romances for Avalon Books, romantic comedy and historicals for Wings Press, urban fantasy for Cerridwen Press, and most recently medieval historical romances for Wild Rose Press.
Kathye is one of the founders of Liberty States Fiction Writers, a group launched in January 2009 to help writers of all fiction genres in their journey to publication. She had been a member of New Jersey Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America since 1988 and considered it an honor to have been NJRW President in 1992 and 2001.
Kathye’s fifth hardcover romance for Avalon books, ‘Tis the Season, a holiday romance complete with Santa Claus, a sleigh ride and a New England snowfall earned a 2006 HOLT Medallion nomination.
Her debut historical romance, Daughters of the Moon, from Wings e-Press has been heralded as a flawless glimpse into the world of the ancient Greeks.
Writing as P. K. Eden with writing partner, Patt Mihailoff, Firebrand, an urban fantasy based on the fall of the Garden of Eden, has won two Reviews Choice Awards and many five-star ratings.
In August 2009, Avalon Books will publish her three-book contemporary romance series entitled Grandmother’s Rings. The books, Amethyst (August 2009), Sapphire (December 2009) and Citrine (early 2010) follow the Archer family siblings in their quest to find their soul mates using rings given to them by their Grandmother. Kathye used the birthstones from her family for her inspiration for this series.
While writing romances has been her dream for many years, the book of Kathye’s heart, is a non-fiction work entitled, Hi Mom, How Are Things in Heaven, a book that developed after the death of her mother and deals with coping with grief though humor. She is currently still working on the concept for this book.
In her “other” life, Kathye works for Somerset County government. She is married with three sons.
Please stop by Kathye’s website and say “hi.”
“My lady! He comes.”
Ignoring the anxious shout of her handmaiden Jane, Cynthia of Abertaine stared out at the distant hills. The morning breeze caught her hair, sending the golden strands dancing around her face. She brushed them back with her hand and tucked the tendrils behind her ears even as her blue eyes continued to scan the horizon. The morning sun had not yet burned off the mist that clung to the low lying fields, making the area surrounding the castle look draped in magic. In the foreground, a rider cut through the haze on his way to the village.
If only that rider would be Sir William retuning, Cynthia thought, then the madness would stop and calm would return to Leybourne Castle.
Cynthia! Please! Come in from the balcony. He…”
The sound of a light scuffle roused Cynthia from her reverie. Even before she turned, she knew who would be there.
“If you wish to jump, I’d suggest the north tower. It’s higher.”
Any time she heard it, the sound of Lord Simon’s voice grated on her, but today it was particularly revolting. “I would not give you the pleasure,” Cynthia countered, “or the satisfaction of a legal claim to this manor. William will be here soon enough to claim both his bride-to-be and his home.”
“A man who leaves his property unprotected just to ride off to take up the foolish charge of an irrational king is either mad or has been bewitched by a heathen Druid,´ Simon scoffed.
“Neither,” Cynthia said, quickly rising to William’s defense. “William set off to join Arthur’s knights in their noble cause by his honor.”
Simon laughed. “Arthur’s noble cause is nearly at an end. Even as we speak Mordred gains allies.”
“You among them.”
“Indeed.” He loosened the clasp of the cloak across his shoulders and let it fall to the floor in a dark purple puddle. Turning slightly, he kicked it carelessly in Jane’s direction. When Jane hesitated in gathering it up, Simon took a step toward her and raised a gloved hand, angling it to her face.
Cynthia quickly stepped forward. “Lay a hand on her and I swear you’ll wish you had not awoken this morning!” Disgust darkened her eyes.
Simon looked from her face to Jane’s. Both were set with a defiance and determination that made him slowly lower his hand. His gaze raked first across Cynthia’s body and then Jane’s. “I tolerate the child only because I desire the woman. Perhaps one day soon you both will wish you could watch the sun rise from my bedchamber.”
Cynthia ignored the innuendo of his words and walked to the fallen cloak. She snatched it from the floor and held it out to Jane. “Take this down to the kitchen and have one of the maids brush it clean. We wouldn’t want Lord Simon to tarry longer than necessary.”
Reluctantly Jane took it from her. “I don’t wish to leave you alone with him.”
“Lord Simon will be leaving anon,” Cynthia replied.
Jane nodded and quickly left the room.
Simon waited until the heavy chamber doors closed before speaking. “So, I see a fire burns in the lady.” Slowly he removed his leather gloves and circled Cynthia as he slapped them repeatedly into the palm of his left hand. “I am very good at taming wild stallions. Passionate women are no different, I’m told.”
“Then I would indeed make use of the North Tower.”
“As you wish,” he said, no vestige of caring in his voice.
As he moved around her, Cynthia watched him carefully. A tall man, he was well proportioned and solidly built. With his dark curls and equally dark eyes, many ladies undoubtedly even considered him handsome. But she knew his heart and no measure of comeliness could disguise what lay there.
“A woman of substance would serve me well,” he continued. “Are you ready to acknowledge that Sir William is dead and you have no protector?”
“Nay,” she said firmly, trying to step around him. “Sir William will return home and I will honor the covenant made by my father.” The conviction in her words hid the doubt in her heart.
She was a child when her father betrothed her to William. The next day they both left to join the knights of Camelot and swear their swords in allegiance to Arthur. She was twenty now and a woman, and had only seen William once since that day. He’d returned when she was fifteen to bring her father’s body back to the pyre after his death in battle.
William had treated her well, more like a sister than a wife-to-be, but still making it clear to all that when he returned from the quest, she would be the lady of the household. And from that day, no man in court dared treat her with the insolence Simon had shown today, or dared to look upon her with the desire she saw in Simon’s eyes.
When William left the next day to return to Camelot, she had hoped he would return again quickly. But she had not seen him since, and all word from him had stopped nearly a fortnight ago. Although she was fast becoming concerned, that was something Simon would ever see.
Simon stepped in front of her cutting off any escape. “Come now, Cynthia. Do you tell me you wait for a ghost and that you do not get lonely?” He reached out and touched her face with the back of his hand, a gesture so intimate in nature that it made Cynthia step backward. His hand shook as he lowered it. “The money left by your father for your care is fast running out and, being unwed, you have no claim to any assets here. It would be wise for you to take a husband.”
Cynthia did not know what angered her more; the reminder that she was nearly penniless or the choice he seemed to be offering her. Both were equally disturbing.
“I can make my own way,” she said icily. “I need no help from the likes of you.” She saw anger explode on Simon’s face the minute her words were out.
“My patience is wearing thin,” he said, grasping her shoulder and digging his fingers into the soft flesh he found there. “Soon you will have no choice.”
Cynthia clenched her teeth in anticipation of the pain as she jerked her body backward. As she did, the shoulder of her gown gave way, allowing her to escape his grasp.
She rushed out of the room and down the stone stairs to the safety of the rapidly filling courtyard.
Simon watched her leave, anger and arousal warring inside him. As always Cynthia managed to heat his temperament as well as his body.
Someday he’d bring her to task on both.
Just as Jane put her hand on the door of the castle keep when Simon grabbed her from behind. His purple cape fell from her hand as she struggled to free herself. “Let me go,” she said from between clenched teeth, wincing at the way his fingers dug into her flesh.
“Your lady was not very cooperative today, wench. Perhaps you will be more so,” he countered.
Simon jerked her forward by the arm, his face a leer. He leaned forward intent on closing the distance between them when the distinctive hiss of an arrow slicing the air passed his ear. It hit the stone wall next to his head with a ping before falling to the ground.
With a curse, he released Jane and stumbled backward. He steadied himself and turned to find the archer. Ten paces behind him stood Cynthia with another arrow readily aimed in his direction.
“My Lord, I pray you were not grazed,” Cynthia said in a firm voice, her gaze lined perfectly down the shaft of the arrow. “I fear my sense of balance is a bit off today.” She shifted the bow to the right and then quickly returned it to aim.
Simon looked to where she had gestured. A target-draped mound of hay with four arrows dead center sat in front of the stonewall. His eyes flared.
Cynthia pulled the arrow tighter. Light spangled along the taut bowstring like the rays around the edge of the sun. She dropped her gaze to the garment at his feet. “My Lord, I see that your cloak is ready.”
One side of Simon’s mouth pulled into a sneer. “One day I will teach both you and your handmaiden your places.”
“But today you will retrieve your cloak and leave us,” Cynthia said.
“You have little time left to be so bold,” he countered. Snatching up his cape, he spun on his heels and stalked off.
Jane let out a breath she did not realize she was holding and walked to Cynthia. “Thank the Almighty your aim is as true as it was the day you won the tournament in the village.”
Cynthia lowered the bow and allowed the string to slacken. She shook her head. “Nay, it is not. I was intending for his head.”