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Tag: Judith Sterling

The Occult Eavesdropper

Greetings, readers of The Teatime Tattler. ’Tis I, Mr. Palmer, lifelong seeker of occult knowledge and experience. For those unacquainted with my talents, allow me to explain how I eavesdrop on history. To see and hear the echoes of a location, I need only stand in the space, close my eyes, and enter a trance which allows my soul to flee its mortal home and explore the boundless realm of the spiritual plane. Perhaps you read of my adventure at Ravenwood Keep in Northumberland. Shortly thereafter, I journeyed farther north to Nihtscua, a castle ruin whose name—meaning “Shadow of Night”—sparked my interest at once. I felt compelled to view its past, though I was unprepared for what awaited me.

occult          A word of warning. Many would deem the scene I witnessed to be of a delicate nature. Some might say scandalous. Keep your smelling salts close if you choose to read on.

A lord and his lady stood alone inside a well-appointed bedchamber. The woman motioned toward the blazing hearth, before which sat a round, wooden tub lined with white cloth.

“Your bath, my lord,” she said.

He turned to her. “Really.”

The hint of a smile touched her lips. “Really.”

“Why?”

“Because you need to relax. Go on. Disrobe and get in while the water is still warm.”

His eyes narrowed. “And where will you be?”

She shrugged, seemingly nonchalant, but her eyes twinkled. “Why, here, of course.”

He frowned. “Don’t you need to visit the garderobe or something?”

“Why so modest? You’re beautifully built.”

“Is that so?”

“Aye, and you know it. But if ’twill appease you, I’ll go to the garderobe.” She started toward the door, then paused and turned. “You’re not undressing.”

“You’re not leaving,” he countered.

She twisted her lips and exited the chamber. When she returned a short while later, the lord sat submerged from the ribs down in the water. She shut the door and leaned back against it. Motionless, she stared at him.

“Jocelyn?”

She blinked. “Aye?”

“Would you be so kind as to hand me the soap?”

“Oh. Of course.” She advanced toward him. “Would you like me to wash your hair?”

His chest muscles flexed. “Thank you, but I can manage.”

He scooped soft soap from the container she held out to him and worked it into his wet hair. Then he took another handful of soap and began to wash his body.

She moved to stand behind him. Studiously, he ignored her, even as he rinsed his hair.

Until she stepped into the tub with him.

She wore only her chemise, of which the bottom third became soaked. The cloth hugged her knees and shins as she sat on the opposite rim of the tub.

The lord frowned. “What are you doing?”

“I would’ve thought ’twould be obvious.”

His gaze was riveted on her legs. “Where are your garments?”

“I’m still wearing one.”

“But the others?”

“Beside yours, by the fire.”

He lifted his gaze to hers. “By all that’s holy, why did you remove—”

“Between the fire and the warm water, ’twas too hot.”

“Yet you put your feet into the water. Doesn’t that make you hotter?”

“Oh.” She bit her lower lip. “I’ve been standing all day, and my feet ache.” She squirmed on the edge of the tub. “My feet feel better, but now my backside is sore.”

“What?”

“My backside, buttocks, derriere. Take your pick.”

A muscle worked in his jaw.

“Wulfstan?”

He cleared his throat. “Perhaps you should stand up.”

Again, she shifted her position. “I think I just need to…ah!” She pitched forward into the tub, and water splashed everywhere.

The shock of the moment wrenched me from the vision and sent me back to the castle’s present ruin. Yet the lady’s face stayed with me. Clearly, she endeavored to seduce her husband, while he seemed determined to resist her. What do you suppose happened next?

Excerpt from Soul of the Wolf by Judith Sterling

Occult  Wulfstan pushed open the bedchamber door but hesitated on the threshold. Pale and wide-eyed, Jocelyn stood motionless in front of the gaping window. She stared at him as though he were the Devil incarnate.

“Is it the wolf you fear?” he questioned. “Or is it me?”

Jocelyn lifted her chin. “That depends on how much the two of you have in common.”

Curbing a grin, he entered the chamber and shut the door. “We have more in common than you’d suspect.”

“Oh, I suspect quite a bit.”

“I suppose you would.”

She crossed her arms. “What do you mean?”

Careful. Tell her gently. He gestured to the hearth. “Come sit by the fire.”

“I’m warm enough, thank you.”

“Then sit on the bed.”

Her arms tightened against her torso. “I’d rather not.”

He sighed heavily. “I’ll keep my distance. You’ll be quite safe.”

Her eyes narrowed, but she lowered her arms. She marched to the bed, and as she sat, her tan tunic seemed to meld with the various shades of the pelts around her. Her long, elegant fingers raked the fur. “Happy?”

He swallowed hard. “Rapturous.”

His mutinous mind conjured an image of her lying beneath him on the soft fur, arching toward him with the same abandon she’d shown at Woden’s Circle. It stirred his blood, and his manhood. By law, her body was his to claim, his to devour at will.

Outside, the wolf howled a second time, prolonging the highest note with seeming ease. The sound shattered Wulfstan’s fantasy, reminding him of his mission and the discipline he dared not forsake. He took a deep breath and quelled his arousal.

“Well?” said Jocelyn.

He cocked an eyebrow. Had she intuited his dilemma?

“Your vision,” she prompted. “I’ve waited a lifetime to hear it.”

He gritted his teeth. ’Twas now or never. “I see my visions from the viewpoint of the person I’m touching.”

She gave him a nod. “In this case, from my point of view.”

“Exactly. I was in a large, ornate bedchamber, standing before a woman with brown hair and amber eyes…”

occultAbout the Book

A Norman loyalist, Lady Jocelyn bristles when ordered to marry Wulfstan, a Saxon sorcerer.  She nurses a painful secret and would rather bathe in a cesspit than be pawed by such a man…until her lifelong dream of motherhood rears its head.

A man of magic and mystery, Wulfstan has no time for wedded bliss.  He fears that consummating their marriage will bind their souls and wrench his focus from the ancient riddle his dying mother begged him to solve.  He’s a lone wolf, salving old wounds with endless work.  But Jocelyn stirs him as no woman ever has.

Their attraction is undeniable.  Their fates are intertwined.  Together, they must face their demons and bring light to a troubled land.

Buy it here:

Amazon https://amzn.com/B06WP4GSCR

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/soul-of-the-wolf

The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/soul-of-the-wolf

About the Author

Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The third in the series, Shadow of the Swan, will be released soon. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books—My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

Website – https://judithmarshallauthor.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/judithsterlingfiction/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16291161.Judith_Sterling

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MT3KB7L

The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2212_judith-sterling

 

Seducing the Cursed Bride

What bridegroom would choose to spend his wedding night in a prison? I, Mr. Palmer—lifelong seeker of occult knowledge—shall tell you. For I possess the inestimable ability to eavesdrop on history. To see and hear the echoes of a location, I need only stand in the space, close my eyes, and enter a trance which allows my soul to flee its mortal home and explore the boundless realm of the spiritual plane. I embarked on one such exploration a fortnight ago in Northumberland, in the ruined prison tower of Ravenwood Keep.

Two medieval warriors—brothers, I divined it—stood alone within the prison’s cold embrace.

The younger of the two spoke first. “William, are you going to tell me why you’re here? Or must I wait until we’re old and gray?”

The elder brother stalked to the dormant fireplace, then back again. “You were right, Robert. My bride does believe in the curse. She just told me.”

“Ah. And how did that drive you to spend your wedding night in a prison?”

“The stench of merry-making plagues the rest of the keep, and I need peace.”

“And ’twouldn’t look right if Ravenwood’s new lord were seen roaming about the castle when he should be enjoying the pleasures of his bed.”

William’s frown deepened. “We never made it to the bed.”

“I see. So at present, Lady Ravenwood is scared of pregnancy.”

“Not just scared. She refuses to consummate the marriage.”

Robert’s eyes widened. “Ever?”

“So she says.”

“God’s blood! ’Tis unthinkable!”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“What will you do?”

“I don’t know yet. I’m too furious to decide.”

Robert shook his head. “You owe your success in battle to calm logic. Clear tactics. You don’t let emotion dim your judgment. ’Tis why so many fear you.”

William stared at the wall, upon which a flaming torch created a miniature battle of shadows on stone. “I know.”

Robert rubbed his chin. Then he began to pace. His footfalls created a smooth, continuous rhythm on the planked floor.

Abruptly, he stopped. “We know the curse is codswallop.”

“Utterly.”

“Can you convince your wife of this?”

“Not before she survives the birthing bed.”

Robert looked pensive and nodded slowly. “Then you must make her forget until that day arrives.”

William grunted. “One might as soon make a knight forget his sword on the battlefield.”

“Then coax her into choosing you in spite of her fears.”

“You suggest a miracle.”

“No.” Robert arched an eyebrow. “A seduction.”

Readers of The Teatime Tattler, it was then I left the brothers and returned to the present. Yet I cannot help but wonder, what happened next?

Excerpt from Flight of the Raven, by Judith Sterling:

William stood before the cold hearth with his back to the door. His commanding presence diminished the sweeping arch of the vacant fireplace.

“Leave us,” he ordered without turning. “Shut the door behind you.”
The heavy, oak door slammed shut. The stone walls reverberated from the force of it.

Emma studied the sheen of his straight, black hair, the proud set of his shoulders, and the wide, leather belt which cinched his ebony tunic at the waist. An eternity might’ve passed while she waited for him to acknowledge her presence. When at last he turned, his dark eyes blazed.

Her stomach lurched. “Y-you wished to see me?”

He glowered at her in silence. A chill of foreboding ran through her, but she stood her ground.

A full minute later, he still hadn’t spoken. Her patience waned. If he expected her to read his mind, he could think again.

She cleared her throat. “You obviously need time to collect your thoughts, so I’ll leave you to them.”

“You will stay right here,” he ruled in slow, measured words. His scorching gaze belied his smooth tone of voice. “I sent for you to discuss your betrayal.”

She swore under her breath. Someone must’ve divulged her plan to stay celibate. If only she’d told him sooner.

“I can explain,” she said.

“Save your breath. There’s only one explanation.”

“You said ‘discuss.’ A discussion requires two opinions.”

“An opinion laced with lies doesn’t count.”

“But if you—”

“Silence!”

His shout echoed off the prison walls. Her stomach churned, but she clamped her lips shut.

“Now,” he said, lower in pitch, “listen and learn. A traitor can challenge the king’s reach, but only a fool underestimates mine. My men know this. Legions of Saracens—alive and dead—know it. Wulfstan will know it too.”

“What has Wulfstan to do with this?”

William grunted. “You play innocence well.”

“Truly, I know not whereof you speak!”

“I speak of your escape…tonight…with Wulfstan.”

“What?”

“My squire was in the mews while you were plotting your little scheme.”

“Holy Mother!” Frantically, her mind snatched up the pieces of what was said and where. “’Twas Gertrude’s idea.”

“A welcome one, reportedly.”

“I considered it, but—”

“So you confess.”

“No! Your spy heard but part of the conversation. In the end, I chose you.”

He snorted. “Right. And I sell genuine relics of the saints.”

She glared at him. With quick, deliberate steps, she closed the space between them. “Then I’ll fetch my purse, for I speak the truth.”

“I am no fool.”

No, she thought, but you’re a veritable god of arrogance.

A lord of intimidation, too. Why else would he summon her to the prison tower? With dispatch, her desire to explain the curse, and its implications to their wedding night, died.

For an instant so brief she might’ve imagined it, his expression changed. He looked almost…wounded.

“Does the thought of marrying me so disgust you?” he asked.

His dark, infinite eyes became her world. “Not at all.”

Large, warm hands clasped her upper arms. “Is Wulfstan your lover?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“Tyrant.”

His mouth claimed hers. She wrenched her head to the side, tried to break away. His grip tightened. His lips demanded more.

Emma thought fast. She couldn’t match his physical strength. But maybe, if she didn’t resist, didn’t react in any way, he’d release her.

She willed herself to relax. Almost at once, his lips slackened. They became softer, gentler. Intrigued, she relaxed further.

His lips brushed hers and left a tingling warmth in their wake. She liked the sensation, but the longer he fed it, the more she wanted the full pressure of his mouth. A low sound of protest vibrated deep in her throat.

William moaned, and his hot tongue nudged her closed lips. A curious action. Not unpleasant, though, so she opened her mouth. His tongue slipped inside and began a slow, thorough exploration. In response, she flicked her tongue against his.

He groaned. The sound was raw, exciting. His hands burned a path from her arms down to her hips. His tongue darted deeper, faster. Her mouth tingled. Heat tantalized her belly. Never had she felt so alive.

About Flight of the Raven

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

Buy Links:

Amazon http://buff.ly/2eRAwRW
Barnes and Noble http://buff.ly/2eWWIx3
The Wild Rose Press http://buff.ly/2eRuYXX

Author Bio:

Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books—My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

Social Media:

Website – https://judithmarshallauthor.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/judithsterlingfiction/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16291161.Judith_Sterling
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MT3KB7L
The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2212_judith-sterling

 

A Curse Only Love Can Break

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

By the king’s edict, I recently wedded a knight who’s bent on founding a dynasty. I denied his right to the marriage bed, for my life depended on it. You see, I live under the Ravenwood curse, which claimed my own dear mother and every lady in our line within memory. The curse is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. My husband was furious when I refused him! He thinks the curse is codswallop. For the past few days, he’s done his level best to seduce me. He’s devilishly handsome and hard to resist. I’m also starting to care about him, but I doubt he could ever love me. He’s a hard man. He’s had to be. ‘Tis an impossible situation. I must either protect my virginity or teach him to love. At the moment, both seem hopeless. What would you advise?

Praying for a miracle,

Lady Ravenwood

From the heroine in Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

Dearest Lady Most Torn,

My dear, I am so dreadfully sorry that your line has been cursed and that you had to grow up without a mother! How dreadfully tragic.

Even more tragic is how cruel your husband is that he thinks so lowly of the curse, but a husband does have certain expectations and wants, not that yours should be ignored, of course.

I know it seems impossible, my dear, but you must–you must!–do all you can to ensure that you fall in love with your husband and find a way for him to fall in love with you in return. Believe me. A marriage based on love is a wonderful thing.

Do keep in mind that your striving for love on both accounts should not solely be because of the curse, but I do not fear that is the case because it sounds as if you have already started to fall in love with him. Love is powerful indeed, powerful enough to break any curse!

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

Judith Sterling’s Website

~~~

Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

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