William the Conquer, the King of England has ordered his trusted knight, Tristan of Ramsey to marry Lady Lysette of Coventry. She is the niece of Lady Godiva and cousin to Hereward the Wake.
Wake is an enemy to the king and word is spreading that he has plans for a revolt in the Midlands. By aligning Tristan with Lysette, William hopes to avoid another bloody battle. Tristan will do as his liege orders but he will protect his heart from his beautiful bride. When she arrive she realizes she is a weakness he can not afford to indulge. She is charming and likes to ramble and yet his heart decides to pay attention to her charming and artless personality.
But, when Lysette is kidnapped by Hereward as a way of forcing Tristan’s to abandon his support of the king, he realizes what started as a political match has become a love match and he will not stop until he has his bride back in his arms where she belongs even if it means defying his king.
Ramsey Manor, December 27, 1069
Tristan of Brittany stood rigid and alone on his newly constructed rampart, waiting for a glimpse of the procession transporting his future bride.
To anyone it looked as if the lord of the manor was merely surveying his holdings. In truth, he was doing nothing of the sort. Rather, he was doing his best to deal with his anger and frustration. Considering what he was awaiting, it was a feat of grand proportion she managed to maintain his calm façade.
His bethrothal to Lady Lysette of Coventry was announced the day before by none other than the king himself—William the Conqueror. The wedding would take place on Twelfth Night, as the Yule season was a particular favorite of Williams.
William the Conqueror and his army, which included Tristan arrivedthree years prior; fought and won the battle of Hastings, with theprize being the kingdom of England. Tristan could now add manipulationand to the impressive list of feats performed by the man he calledKing and friend.
Friend or not, he was ordered to marry, and marry he would—for political reasons. Tristan doubted his upcoming nuptials would secure any kind of peace for William, he was equally sure peace would not be his either. He had other concerns. Weighty concerns. He was a battle harden knight—a warrior. What did he know of marriage? Nothing. Nothing at all. He fought for those that could not fight for themselves. He was more comfortable on a destrier or in a campaigntent knee deep in muck than he was sitting his own board.
This was not to say he was unfamiliar with how a manor was to be runor how to deal with the fairer sex. He was well versed on women. The only male in an all female family, he loved his mother and four younger sisters.
Tristan never wanted for female companionship and was often taunted by his fellow knights for his legendary prowess when it came to the softer sex. His handsome visage combined with his reputation as a lover and warrior drew women to him not unlike bees to a flower. He loved everything about women, the way they smelled, the feel of their skin. From the oldest hag to the most winsome of maidens he found them to be a treasure.
Tristan turned at the sound of footsteps behind him and grinned when his first in command and best friend step out onto the battlement.
“I see you are eagerly awaiting your betrothed,” Rourke said, as he came to stand beside his friend.
“Leave off, Rourke,” Tristan growled, as he continued to search the horizon.
Rourke of Mildenhall had sworn fealty to Tristan not long after he assumed his position in the midlands. But long before Tristan’s arrival they both realized they had plenty in common. One being the rainy miserable day standing amongst the carnage after the battle of Hastings.
There on the battlefield with Norman and Saxon alike watering the earth with their blood a bond was formed. A life for a life.
Tristan came upon the grievously wounded man and instead of offering the killing blow he was trained to administer he looked into his foe’s eyes and saw the very thing he knew radiated from his own. A desire to live. Shouldering the weight of the Saxon, Tristan carried his prisoner off the battlefield and into a medical tent. That should have been the end of it but again fate did not see fit to sever their connection.