Spring, AD 1121.
Catherine cannot understand why her father, Lord Royce, has arranged a village fair and tournament for the two weeks around Whitsunday in May. Odder still is the guest list, for it includes people whom Catherine knows are not friends: Lord Phelan and his drunken son, Eustace, who once put a scar on Catherine’s face; Lady Edith, who has rather obvious designs on the widowed Royce; and Lord Achard, who declares his love for Catherine, though she barely knows him. She’s sure his sudden “love” is because of her large dowry. Royce insists she must allow Achard to court her, but he promises that she won’t have to marry him. She just knows this is another of her father’s plots.
Worst of all is the handsome Sir Braedon, who calls himself “Braedon the Wicked.” Catherine knows Braedon is hiding something in his baggage – weapons or poisons, perhaps.
Their verbal sparring ends though, when Achard forces Catherine into a secluded spot and tries to ravish her so she will have no choice but to wed him. Braedon arrives just in time to save her.
Braedon is furious with Royce for his casual treatment of his daughter. The two quarrel, but Royce is Braedon’s superior in the current scheme, so the younger man has no choice but to obey.
A fortune-teller at the fair promises Aldis, Catherine’s cousin and companion, a happy future with her true love. But “Mab” predicts danger and unhappiness for Catherine.
Strange events begin to occur as the tournament finally begins. Braedon is wounded and carried off to his room in the castle before Catherine can intervene to aid him.
Royce still refuses to tell Catherine what is actually going on, so she decides to find out for herself. With the help of Aldis, Catherine enters Braedon’s room while his squire, Robert is away. Braedon is not injured, but provides no more information than Royce did. Catherine’s anger turns to passion and she and Braedon make love. But Royce catches them. He’s outraged and threatens to kill Braedon – after their work for King Henry is completed.
One peculiar event follows another, until Royce has the information he needs. Taking Lady Edith with him, he sets off for the royal court. Braedon and his squire follow, along with Catherine and Aldis.
There Royce has an audience with King Henry, at which he reveals what he has learned. Certain guests at the tournament are traitors, for their attempts to make certain the king’s successor will be their own choice. Henry orders appropriate punishment for each of them. Royce demands the right to meet Braedon in single combat, which the king refuses. Then the truth of Braedon’s parentage is finally told. And a past crime is at last attributed to Lady Edith.
With the king’s permission, Braedon and Catherine are married, as are Aldis and Robert, who is knighted after many years of waiting.
The four newlyweds ride off to their new lives, while Royce and King Henry discuss possible future secret activities.
About the Author
Flora Speer is the author of twenty-two book-length romances and two novellas, all traditionally published. The stories range from historical romances to time-travel, to futuristic.
Born in southern New Jersey, she now lives in Connecticut. Her favorite activities include gardening (especially flowers and herbs used in medieval gardens,) amateur astronomy, and following the U.S. space program, which has occasionally been a source of ideas for her futuristic romances.