It’s my pleasure to feature Catherine Kean’s contribution to the Love Historicals anthology. I’ve enjoyed woking on many projects with this amazing author.
You can pick up Once Upon a Kiss for 99 cents at several retailers:
A Knight to Remember © Catherine Kean
When widowed Lady Aislinn Locksmeade finds a naked, unconscious man in the forest, she wonders if he’s Hugh Brigonne, her first and only true love. When he wakes, he can’t remember who he is or what happened to him.
Does she dare to love the roguish stranger, or is there far greater danger to Aislinn than risking her heart?
Aislinn walked toward the man, who was lying exactly as when she’d first spied him. The nettles and dock slid against the hem of her cloak, making a soft hissing sound. Her view was partially blocked by the greenery, but he was clearly a broad-shouldered, well-muscled fellow. No doubt he fought for a living, whether as a knight or an outlaw.
Nearing him, her eyes traveled the expanse of naked flesh, mottled by the sunlight filtering though the boughs overhead. Blotchy red patches covered his arse. Her focus shifted, running up the curve of the man’s spine. His back was also dotted with red spots—places where he’d been stung by the nettles, she realized.
His sun-bronzed flesh also bore the scars of long-healed wounds. Such marks were common for a man who’d trained from an early age to first become a squire, then a knight, and who’d fought in battles. The torso of her late husband, Matthew, had borne many scars, most from local skirmishes or weapons training. The marks on this man in the forest could have come from wounds he’d gotten while on Crusade in the Holy Land with England’s late king, Richard the Lionheart.
Of course, he could also be a mercenary, a killer who fought for money.
Tilford emerged from the trees. “He is alive, milady, although badly wounded.”
His sword held ready for attack, Tilford headed back into the undergrowth.
Aislinn’s gaze settled on the tangled mass of the injured man’s chestnut-brown hair, then slid to his left arm, reaching out as though he’d tried to fend off attackers. Around him, plants lay crushed. A tremendous struggle had taken place. A tingle of admiration, of gladness that the man hadn’t fallen easily, raced through Aislinn. Ridiculous, since she had no idea who he was, but the emotion was still very real and poignant.
“God’s bones,” Gilly whispered. She stood behind the prone figure of the man, her gaze on his bare buttocks.
Aislinn walked down the length of his body to his feet, then up the other side of him. The man was a magnificent creature, his skin satiny and bronzed, his arms and legs bulging with muscle. A large, ugly bruise darkened his right hip, as well as his right forearm.
She dropped down in front of him. His eyelids didn’t flicker, his breathing didn’t change, and he didn’t stir or give any other sign of being aware of her. He had strong features—high cheekbones, a prominent nose, a bold jawline darkened with a day’s growth of stubble. His lashes, where they lay against his face, were long, dark, and thick. His features held a harshness that suggested his life hadn’t been easy or kind.
Disquiet raced through her. His face wasn’t one she recognized. Twelve years ago, when she was just ten and five, she’d known—loved—a young lad with hair as dark and silky as this man’s, and with a mouth as wide and sensual. She brushed away the memory of Hugh Brigonne and the accompanying anguish, for ’twas unlikely this was the same man but twelve years older. Indeed, ’twas about as likely as a hard frost in July.