Deborah MacGillivray is an award-winning author of Medieval Scottish Historical Romances – the Dragons of Challon series (A Restless Knight; In Her Bed; One Snowy Knight, coming September 2009) for Kensington Books. The first two books have been sold for translation in Germany, Russia, Japan and Brazil. She also writes Contemporary Romance – the Sisters of Colford Hall series (The Invasion of Falgannon Isle; Riding the Thunder; A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing, coming June 2009) for Dorchester Love Spell. She has anthology out, Cat O’Nine Tales, nine novellas and short stories of romance and cats. One-half of all royalties from this book is donated to AlleyCats.org. to help feral and homeless cats. Another novella, “Bad to the Bone”, is featured in the anthology, Love On A Harley.
She is currently working on her seventh novel – Redemption (historical) – and eighth – To Bell the Vampire (contemporary) – due out in 2010.
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Aithinne Ogilvie nodded, glaring at the goblet in her hand. Specks of herbs swirled and danced on the cider’s surface. “You are sure?”
The healer smiled. “Now you ask that question. Thought you were set on this path and naught could deter you.”
Lightheaded, stomach nervous, Aithinne watched the pattern of the powder on the liquid shift in the cup. “Then it was talk. Now―”
Oonanne cackled, slowly circling her. “Now you have a braw man, naked as the day he was born, chained to the bed in the tower. Soon he awakens. Delay not. Drink the potion. Do the deed. You must lie with him for the seven nights of the waxing moon, and more than once a night. As many times as he will take you. I cast the Runes. They speak your path.”
“Och, you and those Viking ways. You are a Scot, Cailleach.”
“Hold the insults, Aithinne Ogilvie. I may be an old woman, but I am not the Crone Goddess. This night is our Beltane. Great magic rises. It touches your cousin Tamlyn at Glenrogha, and like the reflection of a mirror, it affects your life as well. Omens bespeak of a great coming. Tides of change ride on the mounting wind. ‘Tis the will of the Auld Ones.”
“Still…” Now the time had come to act, she hesitated to take this final step.
Oonanne smiled, her amber eyes reflecting aspects of a cat’s. “Kenning your brothers and their soft ways, they did well fetching this one back for you. Any woman still drawing breath would want him in her bed. Ooooo, he’s a bonnie man that stands out amongst many.”
“I do not want many. What this is all about,” Aithinne grumbled, glaring at the silver goblet.
“You want Phelan Comyn or Dinsmore Campbell coming to Lyonglen to claim you? Then it would be rape, for you would never consent.” She rotated about Aithinne, fixing her with bespelling eyes. “Of course, you could have had Robert Bruce. He paid you court. But no,
you turned him down.”
“Edward’s Lordling?” She huffed. “The new Lord Carrick merely wanted Lyonglen and Coinnleir Wood―the strongholds a sword to the back of the Comyns, simply to enlarge Clan Bruce’s base of power in to the Highlands. I shan’t be used for men’s games of intrigue. Damn them all. They care naught about me, only want the holdings.”
“Then damn them all. This way you keep the power. You wield the magic.”
“But to lie with a stranger? Oona, I do not even ken his name.” Aithinne’s hand shook as she looked at the cup, which contained the power to change the rest of her life.
“Ah, my pretty lass, with a man like that in her bed…a woman takes first―then asks riddles. Time and tide are right.” Her laugh was lusty. “The man is right. Aye, long of limb, built like a mighty steed. Ride him, take his seed within you, milk him dry. Learn your woman’s pleasure. This night and six more. Tarry not. The moon rises late. When its pale light floods the tower room, make him yours. The spell is cast. No turning back―for you or him.”
Sucking in a deep breath, Aithinne tried to steady her hand. What a fool she had been to think this would be easy, a solution to the quagmire in which she found herself. First lies had been to keep the greedy wolves away from Lyonglen, then to prevent Dinsmore or Phelan from carrying her off, holding her hostage until one sired a bairn upon her, thinking to compel her into a Highland marriage.
One lie begets many. Now she stood here, preparing to surrender her virginity to a stranger. How many lies would this deed breed?
Fear coursed through her. Shaking, she almost dashed the cup against the wall, calling an end to the madness. She could not go through with this harebrain scheme.
Oona had been specific in her instructions, how a man and a woman joined. Of course, living in a fortress it was hard not to have some ideas of the ways of breeding. There were horses breeding, cows breeding, sheep breeding. Her brow crinkled. Seemed the whole bloody world spent a large portion of their life breeding―or talking about it.
Everyone but her, she sighed.
Though Oonanne’s tutelage proved enlightening, Aithinne frankly did not understand how some of it was accomplished. She shuddered. No, she could not go through with this foolish, desperate plot.
More lies piled upon the many. It was difficult to keep track of the falsehoods she had told over these past two months. Harder each day to sift mendacity from truth.
Oonanne watched her, clearly scrying her mind. Gifted with the kenning, the old witch read her every thought. Though possessed of the sight herself, Aithinne knew no shield against the woman’s powers. Oona’s words broke her deliberations.
“You shall regret not following through on the course you already set into motion. Do not turn back, lass. There is but a moment of pinprick pain for a maid, then his flesh is within your body, deeper than you can imagine. Breathe slowly. Take him in, bond to him with fire. Your body has slept for too many years. Let him make you a woman.”
She spoke in a singsong pattern, weaving the spell to see her lady prepared. Aithinne knew this. The pull of the words were dark.
“He will suckle your breasts, but not as a babe. Let him. Encourage him. You shall warm to this. He will pinch your nipples―”
“Why? That would hurt.” Shocked, Aithinne’s frown lifted from the goblet.
“What hurts you in this breath and what hurts when you are with him are two different turns. You shall like it, crave it. Mayhap beg for it. Such caresses prepare your body for his possession.”
Fighting dizziness, strange hungers stirred to life in Aithinne. That scared her. Terrified her. Never had she known these things existed within her body, her mind. Despite the slow burn at the base of her belly, she was unsure about opening herself to any man in this manner.
Just as the muscles in her arm tensed to hurl the goblet aside, her brother Deward flung open the door and raced in. “Aithinne! Dinsmore Campbell and his men are at the gates, they demand entry, say ‘tis late and they require food and lodging, what shall we do, you cannot let them in.”
Eyes wide, Aithinne lifted the goblet and downed the drugged cider in one gulp.
Instead of tasting foul as Oonanne’s tansies usually did, this one was sweet. Heat flooded her stomach with the power of uisge-beatha―whisky. Tingling, vibrating in her blood, it spread through her, singeing her flesh. It caused a spasm within her womb, a clenching like a fist.
“Sister, fare you well?” Deward looked confused. But then, Deward always looked confused.
Steps clattered in the hall and two more young men rushed in, echoes of the first―Hugh and Lewis. When the Creator handed out brains, she figured her three brothers only received one amongst them. She could not even call them half-wits. The triplets were third-wits.
Thundering footfalls brought up the rear. The huge Viking ducked under the door’s opening to enter. The instant he saw Aithinne he fell to his knees, fisted his hand and thumped his chest in a salute. “Princess Aithinne, the knave Campbell demands entrance.”
She sighed wearily. “Einar, up off your knees and stop calling me Princess.”
He arose, bowing. “Aye, Princess.”
Aithinne closed her eyes, willing herself far away from this place. Hoping to find she was elsewhere, she lifted an eyelid. She sighed. Her spell of making failed. Four shining faces stared at her, eagerly awaiting guidance.
Oh, but for a man who could fight for her instead of lean upon her. Controlling her holding of Coinnleir Wood proved difficult enough. Now she lied and schemed to keep Lyonglen out of either the Comyns’s greedy grasp or hands of the ever-voracious Campbells.
“Betwixt a hard place and a rock,” she muttered.
It would be so satisfying to have a man to aid her. A helpmate to keep such troubles at bay, a man to share the burdens of both fiefs. Someone to hold her in the dark of night, lend his warmth.
Oonanne lifted her brow. “Careful what you wish, lass. The Auld Ones hear unspoken desires and can grant them.”
“I wish that were so.”
Aithinne blinked. “Hmm?”
“You wished it so. Remember for what you asked,” Oonanne warned, shaking a finger at her.
So tired of these past months, Aithinne rubbed her forehead. She looked up at the Viking and summoned her cloak of lies. “The gates of Lyonglen remain closed. My lord husband feels unwell and wishes no visitors. His pennon does not fly from the rampart. That should tell even a lackwit Campbell our gates are closed to all comers, to seek shelter elsewhere.”
Hugh let out with a shout and clapped his hands. “Siege! Can we pour boiling oil down upon their white-blond heads?”
She laughed. “Nay, but you may empty the chamber pots on them.”
Lewis capered in delight, then scurried off after Hugh and the Viking, thrilled to have Campbells to torment. Only Deward remained, watching her with soulful eyes.
“Sister, how long shall you hide behind an ailing husband when he lies cold in the ground this moon’s passing, and he was not your husband anyway, and you do not really have a claim to Lyonglen, and what happens when the dread Edward Longshanks, King of the English, comes and then you shall―”
“Deward, hush your gub. I am aware my predicament and the mounting deceits might see me in White Tower, prisoner before the English king.”
“What of the man in our tower, did we not do good, does he not please you? Whilst I look not upon men in fondness as a maid would, he is bonnie. Hugh, Lewis and Einar agree he is perfect for you, he is bonnie, a strong man, we tried to please you. Do you not like him, he is strong―”
“Deward, shush!” She cupped her brother’s pretty face with her hand and smiled into his warm amber eyes.
She had hoped these childish ways of the triplets would lessen as they reached manhood. As they neared seven and ten years, hope faded fast. Still, she loved them. Caring brothers, they would do anything she asked―evidence of that lie in her bed upstairs in the north tower. They were just a little…hmm…absentminded at times.
Fortunately, Einar protected them. The tall man served as her guard of honor. Every lady of Coinnleir Wood received the gift of her personal Viking warrior-guard as part of an ancient agreement with the Norse King Rolv, some four centuries past. Pushing her to exasperation, Einar dogged her every step. While a braw warrior, he had as much commonsense as her three brothers. Perfect solution, set him to guarding the lads―that protected her Hugh, Deward and Lewis, but also kept the Norseman from trailing after her, calling her princess and driving her daft.
“I thank you for your concern and for fetching such a bonnie stranger. You did well, Brother. No sister could be so blessed.” Or cursed, she chuckled to herself.
“Come, Deward! We tipped the chamber pots over on Dinsmore Campbell! Such glee!” Hugh shouted as he danced into the room, laughing. “Dunny Dinsmore! Dunny Dinsmore!”
“Hie yourself off with him,” she encouraged with a smile.
Deward paused at the door, his eyes revealing more understanding than she thought possible from him. “Och, Aithinne, go see our stranger. He is bonnie, we did right by you. Though we love you, Sister, you are not getting any younger. Go to the braw man, let him take you this Beltane, and when you cry out in pleasure, we shall jeer at Campbell camped below and tell him your husband swives you again, it shall drive him around the bend.”
His rare moment of seriousness past, he dashed out of the room without waiting for her response, his mirth echoing down the hall.
Aithinne stood, exhausted, shaking her head and feeling every one of her four and score years.
Closing her eyes, she imagined the Beltane festival. This year the ceremony was held at her cousin Tamlyn’s holding of Glenrogha. The hours of darkness were still warm; the heady scent of apple blossoms would fill the night air. The balefire would burn on the high tor until dawnbreak and Tamlyn had danced as the May Queen. Aithinne could almost inhale redolent blooms. Hear music floating on the breeze.
What she would not give to have been there, instead of hiding within the walls of Lyonglen, Dinsmore Campbell lurking about somewhere outside―
“Bolt the postern gate!” she yelled.
Einar popped his head in. “Aye, Princess, it shall be made as you wish.”
Oonanne laughed softly as she placed a pot covered with a rag in Aithinne’s hands. “Aye, you smell apple blossoms, lass. I set this to warm. My Beltane spelling.”
Aithinne breathed deeply, letting the stimulating apple, lavender, mandrake and heather fill her mind. “What do I do with this?”
“You rub it on his chest―and elsewhere. Have him rub it on you where he takes whim. Nature will do the rest.” With a lusty twinkle in the ancient eyes, the healer chuckled.
“Oona, nothing in my life is that simple anymore.”
What people are saying about In Her Be
The Medieval world is alive today! This book is so exceptional that it is going to taking me a couple of days to come off my reading high to even review it. All I can say after finishing it is that it left me speechless. – Merrimon Medieval Book Reviews
Continuing the story she began in Reckless Knight with passion and humor, MacGillivray presents a sexy captive/captor romance that hearkens back to the classic themes of the genre. It’s so well done. – Romantic Times Ad December 2007 issue
In Her Bed has risen to the top of my favorite historical novels and I’ve already went and ordered a copy of A Restless Knight. I really felt for the characters in this book and can’t wait to meet more of Ms. Macgillivray’s characters. The only thing I wish the book had was a longer ending, as I wanted to continue being a part of the world that Deborah created. – Tammie King, Night Owl Reviews
Deborah Macgillivray has written an awesome story of desperate acts, lies, love, and a few witches. I loved this story. The characters were so well written that I found myself unable to put the book down. I excitedly turned the pages to find out what would happen next. Could these two fiery, beautiful people find love? I would recommend this story to anyone looking for an intriguing love story. I can’t wait to read the next in this wonderful series. – Sandra, The Romance Studio
IN HER BED, the second in The Dragons of Challon series, written by award winning author Deborah MacGillivray is an experience you must not miss. – Donna Zapf, SingleTitles.com
IN HER BED is exactly what I envision a perfect medieval historical romance to be. The twists and turns of the plot kept me engrossed and I read IN HER BED cover to cover. I was treated to a well written and highly entertaining story from not one but two point of views. The way Ms. MacGillivray wrote IN HER BED, by having the days overlap, was just an extra touch that added to its appeal. I look forward to reading more from this wonderfully talented author. – Natasha Smith, Romance Junkies
Deborah MacGillivray treats readers to the second installment in her DRAGONS OF CHALLON series with IN HER BED. Damien and Aithinne are two characters readers will fall in love with and not want to let go. – Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies
Now that you’ve learned a little about Deborah, read an excerpt and some reviews of In Her Bed, what do you think? Do any of the reviews or the excerpt “speak to you”? Have you read any of Deborah’s books and want to share your thoughts? Deborah will be stopping by this weekend, so feel free to ask question. She’s also generously giving away 4 books this weekend to 4 different commenters. So, if you’d like a copy of A Restless Knight, In Her Bed, The Invasion of Falgannon Isle or Riding the Thunder then leave a comment. If you’re not going to subscribe to the followup comments or stop by the blog on Sunday evening, please leave an email address so we can contact you if you’re chosen as a winner. Winners will be drawn on Sunday, November 23 sometime in the early evening PDT.