“The Once and Future Lover”
For a decade now, I’ve been writing about King Arthur and his immortal vampire Knights of the Round Table. I love Arthur. He’s a great character, and he’s deeply in love with his wife, Guinevere, who loves him right back.
Yet I had never written the story of how he and his knights became vampires to begin with, or how the ladies became witches. When I realized I needed to do a longer story to round out WICKED GAMES, an anthology of my BDSM erotica, I decided what I really wanted was to do Gwen and Arthur’s story.
Yeah, I did say MASTER OF DARKNESS was the last Mageverse story, but I have always loved writing about Arthur and the gang. I couldn’t resist doing it again.
But there was a problem. I had already established, waaaaay back in “Seduction’s Gift,” the very first Mageverse story, that Lancelot and Gwen had once had a one-night-stand that infuriated Arthur so much, it took him 1500 years to forgive Lance.
Having an affair was completely out of character for Lancelot and Gwen. Why had it happened? And why did Arthur, a medieval king at the time, not execute them for treason?
It took me a long while of thinking and working to figure out the answer to that one, but I did eventually find a way that made sense.
I also discovered a couple of other things I didn’t know.
First, Arthur is one scary bastard. Yes, he loves Elvis and will recite the Dead Parrot Sketch at the drop of a long sword, but underneath all that, You Do Not Screw with Arthur.
He’s also a dominant. I’m not talking one of those “Tie you Up and Tickle you with a Feather” doms either. He practiced BDSM loooooong before there was a BDSM. And he makes sure Gwen, perv that she is, loves every minute of it.
I hope you’ll pick up Wicked Games April 1. And I hope you’ll attend my Facebook Launch Party Tuesday evening, when I plan to give away copies of the book, along with a couple of $25 Amazon Gift Cards. Thanks! You'll find the party at: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaKnight2002
And here's the promised excerpt:
Gwen dreamed of death, of blood and terror and grief. She jolted awake. In her panic, she almost shot from the bed, but her husband’s brawny arm was wrapped around her waist. She stilled, his breath warming her nape.
Arthur Pendragon slept as he so often did, curled around her, surrounding her in his swordsman’s hard strength.
He’s not dead. It was only a nightmare. Going limp as a soaked rag in her relief, Gwen turned her head to press her cheek against his broad bare chest. His heart thudded in her ear, steady and strong and comforting. Like Arthur himself.
As her dream panic drained away, she heard the deep voices of the guards out on the balustrade murmur something to each other. They sounded unusually tense.
Reality hit Gwen like an armored fist. Today was the day Arthur would fight to the death.
Against Mordred. His son, heir, and enemy.
Her stomach curled into a sour knot. She had to pace, do something, or she was going to start screaming. What if this morning’s dream had been more than a nightmare? What if it had been a vision?
Slowly, carefully, she eased Arthur’s warm, muscled forearm from around her waist, swung her feet to the stone floor, and rose, trying not to wake him. They’d been up late last night, making love out of desperation as much as desire. Arthur needed to sleep every minute he could.
A cooling breeze poured through the open shutters of the chamber’s sole window, which overlooked the courtyard where he and Mordred would do battle in a few hours’ time. A shaft of blue dawn light spilled in, illuminating her husband as he sprawled in tanned, brawny nudity across their bed.
Arthur was not a tall man, though Gwen suspected he was actually more muscular at thirty-seven than the nineteen-year-old she’d married, back when they’d called him the Princeling King. He still drilled with his knights every morning, going full out with sword and shield. Whenever she pointed out the likelihood of being hurt in such practice, he’d snort. “I’ll not grow too soft to sit a horse.”
Her beautiful man. Her handsome king.
Responsibility more than age had salted Arthur’s hair with gray. More pewter threaded the beard that framed his lushly sensual mouth, and sprinkled the soft, dark thatch that covered his powerful chest. Still, the hair on his groin was as dark as ever, a sable ruff surrounding the long cock she’d always adored, the heavy balls she loved to cradle in her palm.
If he dies, I might as well crawl into the grave with him.
Gwen had seen too many battles over seventeen years as Arthur’s queen. She knew what happened when an older man fought a big brute nineteen years younger, and it wasn’t pretty.
The wizard Merlin had promised power to the winner of today’s battle. Arthur wanted that power to better protect his people from the invading Saxons, not to mention a Celtic warlord named Varn who had been a thorn in his side for the past two years. Then there was the collection of former rulers whose kingdoms Arthur had conquered more than a decade before, any one of whom would love to topple the High King.
As for Mordred . . . Well, he just wanted an acceptable excuse to kill his father. Anything more was just gravy on the goose as far he was concerned.
Arthur deserved better than a bastard son who hated him. Unfortunately, Gwen had been unable to give her king that successor—and God knew she’d tried.
Three pregnancies. Three miscarriages.
A familiar bitter sting gathered behind her eyelids, and she clenched her jaw, blinking hard, forcing her twisted features to smooth. You will not cry. You will show only smiling confidence. You will not make Arthur doubt himself.
Doubt can kill a man in a fight like this.
Mordred had enough advantages as it was. Gwen wasn’t going to hand him another arrow for his assassin’s quiver.
Wheeling, she paced naked across the chamber. All too soon, they’d have to walk out into the courtyard below to face the prince’s challenge. Gwen only hoped Mordred didn’t win. Not only would his victory be a catastrophe for her and Arthur, it would be a disaster for Britain.
Her mind flashed back to a night months before, when Mordred had tried to convince Arthur to declare war on the Saxons. The king had refused.
“War always sounds like a good idea to those who’ve never fought,” Arthur said. The knights, ladies, and courtiers seated at the Round Table fell silent over their trenchers, watching the interplay between their liege and his son. “Believe me, the enthusiasm dims when you’re knee-deep in mud, blood, and someone else’s intestines.”
“But isn’t conquest the right of the strong, Father,” Mordred argued, “Proof of God’s favor?”
“Unless you lose, in which case it’s proof God doesn’t favor you as much as you thought.” Arthur cut a slice of venison and fed it to Gwen, giving her one of his wickedly sensual smiles. “Then it’s too damned late, and those you love are getting butchered for your arrogance.”
The prince started to retort, but Arthur cut him off. “I’m not declaring war on Hengrid and his Saxons, Mordred. Their raids may eventually push me into it, but I’d rather wait until our people get in the harvest and survive the winter. This is the longest stretch of peace we’ve had in thirty years. Let the peasants savor it a little longer.”
“Peasants.” The prince speared a bite of mutton on the tip of his dagger and ate it with a wolfish snap. His green eyes glinted with growing temper over the curl of his lip. “What do we care for the opinion of peasants?”
Arthur studied him. Everyone else held their collective breath, Gwen included, wondering if they were about to witness another explosive row. Mordred was a bit too much like his father, right down to the infamous Pendragon temper. Unfortunately, he lacked Arthur’s iron self-control. “Peasants, my son, are the ones who do the worst of the dying in war. Marching armies too often murder peasant children, rape peasant wives, and burn peasant crops, leaving the survivors to starve. Never forget, a good king doesn’t declare war unless he has no choice.”
Mordred dipped his head in grudging acquiescence. “Aye, Father.”
Arthur turned away as Lord Kay said something Gwen didn’t catch. She was immobilized by the sight of rage and malice flashing across Mordred’s face, there and gone so quickly she wasn’t even sure she’d seen it. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe it was naught but too much imagination and too many bad memories. Dear God, let that be all.
Mordred’s rage and impulsiveness had grown throughout his childhood, reaching a bitter pitch in his teens that had made all their lives unbearable. Yet in the past year, that storminess had seemed to abate. Gwen, Arthur and Mordred’s mother, Morgana, had begun to hope the worst was over, that he’d finally learned to control his anger.
But staring at his expressionless profile, she wondered uneasily if he’d just gotten better at hiding his darkness . . .
Now Gwen squeezed her eyes closed. With a queen’s ruthless discipline, she concentrated on making her mind as smooth as a frozen lake, feeling no fear. No doubt. No pain. Feeling nothing.
“You know,” a deep voice purred in her ear, “you do have the most beautiful rump I’ve ever seen.” Arthur’s big hands cupped both her bare cheeks. “I made you queen for this arse.”
But there are better things to feel than nothing. She turned her head to smile up into her husband’s wicked grin. If he was working just a little too hard at it, she’d do them both the favor of refusing to notice. He’s not dead yet. And neither am I. “At the time,” she drawled, “you told me it was my eyes that won you. Or perhaps my mouth.”
“And so they were. You’re a woman of many parts.” He slid his arms around her and leaned down to take her lips in a kiss so passionate, it made a fine distraction. She opened her mouth with a sigh and leaned into his warm strength. His tongue slipped inside her lips, explored sensitive flesh, teased with gentle strokes. Heat gathered between them everywhere they touched, dancing along the surface of her skin, coiling in the tips of her breasts and between her thighs.
Arthur’s arms curled around her, tracing the naked rise of her hip before sliding down to cup her between her thighs. One finger stroked her sex with an exquisitely gentle touch that brought heat rushing to her core.
As delicious as that felt, though, she knew they would be interrupted. “My maid and the servants are due . . .”
“We’ll send them away.”
“. . . and you did order Lancelot to attend you for new orders.”
“He can damned well wait with the servants. None of them will begrudge us whatever moments we can steal.”
She considered arguing, but Arthur’s free hand distracted her as it traced a leisurely path up her torso, his swordsman’s callused palm a little rough. The erotic scrape of his skin along hers made Gwen squirm.
The thought of the duel tried to surface again, but she thrust it down hard. Arthur was right. If this is to be the last time, let’s make a memory to keep me warm through all the lonely winters. Everyone else can wait.
Arthur found her nipple, twisted it with the perfect pressure. He knew just how hard she liked his touch, when she liked it, and where.
Throwing her head back on his shoulder, Gwen rolled her rump against his erection. “Mmm,” she purred. “You’re very, very . . . tempting.”
“I could say the same to you.” The hand teasing her sex parted her innermost lips to stroke the delicate flesh. “Sweet as cream, and just as wet.”
Guinevere turned her head and smiled up into his dark, hot gaze. “As I said, tempting.” She let her body relax, let all her fear and tension go. It was a trick she’d learned years ago, before other battles, other wars.
Arthur gave her nipple a harder tug, drawing it out to the edge where pain and pleasure met, simultaneously letting her feel the bite of his nails. The sharp sting made her moan. He chuckled at the sound, switching his attention to the other nipple and tormenting it just as skillfully. The fingers in her sex found her clit, pinched hard, making her writhe.
Gwen groaned in delight. It had taken her years to convince him to be even slightly rough with her. His instinct was to treat her as if she had no more heft than a cobweb, easily shredded by careless hands. She loved her husband’s bone-deep, instinctive chivalry, yet she’d always found his rare moments of passionate violence unbearably arousing, Perhaps it was because they were so out of character for him. Or perhaps they simply served some need of her own she couldn’t explain. He gave her clit another scissoring pinch, then let go to delve deeper into her pussy, two fingers pumping until she shuddered as her knees grew weak. “Oh, you do like that, don’t you, wife?”
When she could do nothing but moan, he tightened his grip on her nipple, ripping a yelp of aroused protest from her lips. “Your king asked you a question, girl.”
“Yes!” she whispered. “Saints, Arthur, oh, God, it feels so . . .” She twisted in his arms, rolling her hips back against his blade-hard cock until it slid deliciously along the valley between her cheeks.
He groaned in arousal and gave her a hard, involuntary thrust before he stilled with an obvious effort. “Watch it, woman. You’ll make me spill.”
“I’ll take that chance,” she panted.
“I won’t.” He pulled his fingers from her delightfully stinging flesh, caught her by the shoulders, and spun her to face him. She went into his arms with an eager moan. His mouth covered hers, hot and wet and fierce. She kissed him back, starving, loving the feel of his hands cupping her arse, the hard length of his erection. His fingers dug in with a bruising grip, skillfully adding tinder to her already blazing arousal.
His tongue slipped into her mouth, and she chased it with her own, suckling and circling it as if it were his cock. He growled against her mouth and lifted her off her feet, cradling her arse in broad, strong hands. With a groan, Gwen wrapped her legs around his waist and hooked one heel over the opposite ankle. She started to lift herself with her horsewoman’s strong thighs, meaning to impale her sex on Arthur’s shaft.
“No, I don’t think so.” Turning to the bed, he spilled her onto her back across the mattress. Before she knew what he intended, he dropped to his knees beside the bed, spread her thighs wide, and buried his face between them. The first long lick tugged at her inner labia, but didn’t touch her clit. Not quite.
“Arthurrrr,” Gwen moaned. “God, Arthur, let me suck you. I need to . . .”He lifted his head long enough to growl. “I think not. I’ve other plans.”