Title: The Guardian’s Witch
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Lord Alex Stelton can't resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it's his. Desperate for land of his own, he'll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.
Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she'd never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.
Despite his own vow never to fall in love, Alex can't get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they'll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.
A disturbing thought persisted. He’d been like this for two days. She pushed the thought aside and bent to saving him—if she wasn’t already too late. The edges of the wound screamed an angry red. The infection was well past the edges of the lesion. The swollen area was crusted in some areas and drained ugly yellow pus in others.
“The wound must be cleaned.” She said this more to herself to confirm her decision.
She glanced around and took stock of what was at hand. “Ann, some linen strips please, lots of them and three large men.” She looked at Alex’s powerful body. “No, four men please.” Lisbeth continued her preparations. Ann scurried out of the room. “Ann,” she called after the woman. “Hot water. Lots of hot water. I’ll need more than the hearth kettle can hold.”
She looked at the man who became more awake and alert by the minute. Usually a good sign, but now she’d rather he was neither. She’d brought many a warrior to his knees saving their lives. He would be no exception.
He raised his head and looked at her squarely. “What do you plan to do?” His voice was ragged and tired.
She hid her concern around her matter-of-fact tone. “The wound’s infected and must be cleaned.”
“How? You think to hold me down?” The hard lines on his face held no expression. He became more awake every minute.
“Yes, staying still may be difficult.” She noticed his hand begin to shake—a result of the poison. She must act quickly. What was taking Ann so long? She took a deep breath and remained calm on the outside. She rummaged through her kit and found what she needed, then busily prepared a tincture.
“You’ll not need to hold me down. I’ll not struggle.” His head fell back on the pillow.
She looked at him and noticed the shadow of a grimace pass over his face. “I don’t think you’ll be able…”
“I’ll make you a wager. If I lay still and leave you to your ministration, you will let me kiss you.” The teasing brought color to his gray cheeks.
Too surprised by his proposal to do more than stare at him, flashes of her vision raced through her mind.
“Do we have a wager?”
“And if you don’t stay still?” She bent back to preparing the tincture.
The amused gleam left his eyes. “Then you can call my men to hold me. But I will not die fighting my own men.” His teasing returned. “The thought of your kiss will keep me still. Do you agree to the wager?”
She brewed some dark tea with the water from the kettle and added the tincture. “I’m usually paid with chickens and vegetables. I’ve never been paid with a kiss.” No one could remain still. Not even him. She turned and faced him with the cup in her hand.
She hesitated and reached in her kit and drew out an engraved stone. She put the cup aside and took the thin purple leather strip from her hair and threaded it through the amulet.
“If you wear this I will agree to your wager.”
He took a quick breath as a flash of pain caught him. He looked at the trinket then back to her. He nodded and let her put the amulet around his neck.
She knew he humored her but she didn’t care as long as he wore it. She retrieved the cup.
“And what’s this concoction you give me?” He sniffed at the cup.
“It’s to activate the spell in the amulet.”
His eyebrows flew up in surprise.
She let loose a mischievous laugh. “No, it’s only to take the edge off the pain.”
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This is a story about self-doubt and betrayal. The only way for Alex and Lisbeth to get their happily ever after is to work together. Isn’t that what we want? A partnership that is equal and a person to love us for who we are. That’s the real magic!
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RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, Instagram RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie
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