I’m thrilled to be able to offer an excerpt from Crusader’s Path as part of the Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour!
Ribbon lightning flashed across the darkened sky as Duke Robert and Etienne reached the outer castle walls. Crackling thunder shook the ground beneath them as they dismounted near the stables. The grayish clouds burst open, sending a deluge of water upon the earth. Strong winds whipped the rain, stinging the face as the men fled inside, pulling their mounts behind them. The animals neighed, standing on their hind legs, threatening to trample anyone in their way.
“All is well, hush,” Etienne said, trying to calm the horse, rubbing its face and neck with his hand.
Duke Robert managed to get his stallion into its stall and proceeded to inspect the length of the barn, comforting the animals.
“I think it best to stay here until the storm passes,” Etienne said.
Sitting on a bale of hay, Etienne leaned against the wall. Looking at the loft, he remembered a stormy night when he and Isabella took shelter on a warm summer’s day. He recalled her laughter, her wet hair sticking to her face, her eyes sparkling when he touched her cheek. Invigorated by the smell of freshly cut hay, they tumbled in the straw, satisfying their desire numerous times until the rain stopped.
You need to go home, Etienne thought.
“Has there been word of Henry?” Duke Robert said, sitting across from his favored friend. “But I have interrupted your thoughts.”
“I was just wondering how long the storm will last. As for your brother’s whereabouts, the spies have not returned. He cannot be far.”
“Have you given His Holiness’s call for an Army of God much thought? I dare say I am intrigued. My soul is in need of saving, but the peasants would revolt if I taxed them to pay for such a lengthy campaign.”
“He did say full remission of our sins,” Etienne said. “I am tempted, but my sword is yours, Your Grace.”
“Ah, that is good to hear, because, my friend, I am inclined to join the campaign. It would free me from this useless fighting. And William Rufus would probably lend me the money, or I could ask Henry. Upon our return, they would not dare to rise up against me, lest they be excommunicated.”
“If that is your wish, so be it. I would visit Argences before we leave. Isabella can rule in my absence, as she has done in the past, until we are safely home.”