My Noble Knight
by Laurel O'Donnell
Layne Fletcher, the only girl in a family of three boys, has grown up learning to use a sword and joust, but she is not a knight. She and her brothers have been traveling from tourney to tourney to make enough coin to buy their own farm to shelter their ailing father. When her brother is found unconscious before an important tournament, Layne takes his place on the jousting field against…
Griffin Wolfe, the undefeated jousting champion. When he is unhorsed by a slip of a woman who is not a knight, he demands retribution. His honor will not allow him to let a woman be thrown in the dungeon and he has no choice but to pay her fine, ordering her to travel with him until her brothers can repay him. Griffin attempts to educate Layne in the art of being a woman, but finds he is attracted to her exciting personality and uncommon beauty despite her less than lady like ways.
But someone is trying to sabotage Griffin as he competes in the tournaments. Can Layne and Griffin discover who the culprit is while keeping their families safe and their growing attraction secret?
Here’s the excerpt -
Griffin stared down the field of honor at his opponent. Daunger sat as still as a stone, staring at him. He had not been in any other tournament, so this was the first time Griffin or any of the other knights were seeing him joust. He was well known for his participation in the melees, known for being rash and reckless and unpredictable. Despite his inexperience in the joust, Griffin suspected he was going to be a dangerous opponent.
Griffin lowered his visor. He had to stay focused, watch for an opening. But as soon as the visor closed and the cheers of the crowd muted, the image of a woman with glorious blue eyes filled his mind. Why had she been near his weapons? Was she really worrying about him?
He grit his teeth. He couldn’t think of her now. Firmly, he pushed Layne’s image from his mind. But it wasn’t as easy as he would have liked it to be. Her vision haunted his days as much as his nights. Everywhere he went, he looked for her, listened for her laughter. He missed her.
Adonis pranced nervously beneath him.
Griffin tugged on the reins, urging Adonis into a circle to calm him.
Carlton lifted his lance to him.
Griffin took it and spurred Adonis. Through the slit in his visor, he saw Daunger charging toward him down the field. He couched the lance, holding it firmly.
Adonis suddenly slowed and threw his head, balking.
Daunger’s lance struck Griffin hard in the shoulder. His body half turned in the saddle, and if he was any less experienced Griffin would have been unhorsed. His arm was numb and throbbing as he rode to the other end of the field. He tossed down his lance and turned Adonis toward his side of the field. He passed Daunger who had flipped up his visor and was grinning ear to ear.
Griffin did not look at the grandstand where he knew his family watched. He already felt the incredible weight of their presence.
His arm pulsated from the blow, but he pushed the pain aside. He pushed all other thoughts aside. Dispatch Daunger. That was all that was important. Winning this joust.
Griffin grabbed the lance from Carlton and whirled Adonis, spurring him on. No hesitancy. Just letting the horse and the lance become one with him. The roar of the crowd thrummed in his ears, a distance boom of thunder. His heart hammered in his chest.
Daunger came closer. Closer. His lance aimed at Griffin’s chest.
Griffin leaned in slightly. He would not be denied. Not this time. He was rewarded by striking Daunger near his stomach, Daunger’s lance struck his arm, succeeding in aiding the thrust forward. Griffin’s body twisted slightly, enough force behind the strike to throw Daunger up and out of his saddle.
Griffin’s lance pushed him back as Daunger’s steed continued on. Daunger fell back into the dirt and dust as Griffin rode past him.
Griffin rounded the opposite end. When he saw Daunger lying on the ground, he straightened. The roar of the crowd was thunderous, drowning out all else. He lifted his visor and waited until Daunger staggered to his feet.
As he rode forward, his body in rhythm with Adonis, he realized something was wrong with his arm. If he lifted it even a little bit, shooting pain erupted through his limb. He held it against his stomach and left the field of honor.
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