Lynna Banning

Crusader's Lady

Скачать книгу

      Soraya’s dirt-smudged face had never looked more beautiful.

      Marc wanted to kiss her so much he fought to keep his hands on the reins.

      “Come with me to Venice,” he blurted. It was unnecessary to ask the question, but he wanted to say it aloud, hear the words of invitation hang in the air. There were a thousand other things he might also say…. Come with me to my bed. Come with me to Scotland, to my life.

      But he could not. His first duty was to the king, not his heart. She held his gaze and with a jolt of warmth he realized they needed no words to know what the other was thinking. Their eyes said everything.

      Praise for Lynna Banning

      Loner’s Lady

      “…poignant tale of a woman’s coming of age…”

      —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

      The Ranger and the Redhead

      “…fast-paced, adventure-filled story…”

      —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

      The Wedding Cake War

      “You’ll love Banning’s subtle magic with romance.”

      —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

      The Angel of Devil’s Camp

      “This sweet charmer of an Americana romance has just the right amount of humor, poignancy and a cast of quirky characters.”

      —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

      The Scout

      “Though a romance through and through, The Scout is also a story with powerful undertones of sacrifice and longing.”

      —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

      Crusader’s Lady

      Lynna Banning


      #839 BEAU CRUSOE

      Carla Kelly


      Diane Gaston

      #841 MUSTANG WILD

      Stacey Kayne

      In memory of my husband,

       Clarence Browning Woolston, and my father, Lawrence E. Yarnes

      With grateful thanks to Tricia Adams,

       Suzanne Barrett, Marlene Connell, Kathleen Dougherty, Kat Macfarlane, Jane Maranghi, Brenda Preston, Susan Renison, Gwen Shupe, and David Woolston.


      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter Twelve

      Chapter Thirteen

      Chapter Fourteen

      Chapter Fifteen

      Chapter Sixteen

      Chapter Seventeen

      Chapter Eighteen

      Chapter Nineteen

      Chapter Twenty

      Chapter Twenty-One

      Chapter Twenty-Two

      Chapter Twenty-Three

      Chapter Twenty-Four

      Chapter Twenty-Five

      Chapter Twenty-Six

      Chapter Twenty-Seven

      Chapter Twenty-Eight

      Chapter Twenty-Nine

      Chapter Thirty

      Chapter Thirty-One

      Chapter Thirty-Two

      Chapter Thirty-Three

      Chapter Thirty-Four


      Author’s Note

      Chapter One

      Jerusalem, 1192

      Marc drew the wool cloak about his shoulders and leaned toward his campfire with a weary groan. He no longer cared if it was night or day, if the desert was sun-scorched or wind-whipped, his belly full or empty. Each day brought him closer to not caring whether he lived at all.

      The sun dropped toward the dry hills of Syria like a great gold coin, burning its way across the purpling sky. Usually he welcomed the smoke-coloured shadows that gathered around his camp each evening, but not tonight. He drew in a lungful of dung-scented air. Fifty steps to the west, the king’s banner of scarlet and gold fluttered weakly in the dying wind. Were it not for Richard, this hated crusade would be over.

      A boot scraped against the ground near him. Marc cocked his ear and reached an aching arm for the sword lying at his side.

      ‘No need, my friend,’ a hearty voice called. ‘It is but Roger de Clare.’ The muscular young man, a forest-green surcoat covering his chain mail shirt, squatted beside Marc’s fire.

      ‘What news, de Clare?’ Marc muttered.

      ‘None. The king is worse. The servants are lazy. The scavenger birds are hungry. All this you know.’

      Marc nodded without smiling. ‘Saladin himself sends a healing medicine for the king. At least that is what our spies report.’

      Roger tipped his head toward the edge of Marc’s camp. ‘They also report Saladin’s men lurk in the shadows beyond our firelight and listen to words best left unspoken.’

      The whole camp knew Richard lay in his tent, sweating with fever, attended by knights and servants. Saladin, as well, knew where Richard and his warriors lay. Every move the Frankish army made, the Saracen leader seemed to know in advance.

      Roger cleared his throat. ‘The king sent word he would speak with you.’

      Marc groaned. ‘Again. No man in all Christendom ignores so much good advice. I will go later. I have not yet eaten.’

      Roger glanced into the crude metal pot hanging over Marc’s fire. ‘Small loss, it would appear.’

      Marc nodded. Roger de Clare never minced his words, as did other Norman knights. That was one reason Marc tolerated him. Other Normans, with their greedy gaze on Sicily, Cyprus, even Scotland, could go to the devil.

      ‘Will the king die, do you think?’ Roger asked.

      ‘I doubt it. Lion Heart is well named.’

      Again Marc leaned toward his fire. The bowl of boiled grain looked unappetising, but it was all he had.

      ‘Join me, Roger.’ He gestured toward the bowl of food. ‘I grow weary of eating alone.’

      Roger glanced at the warming wheat mixture. ‘I think not, my friend. Your cooking pot would not feed a hungry rabbit, let alone a friend. And…’ The young man hesitated. ‘Richard waits.’