tagNovels and NovellasThe Crusader: Affairs of State

The Crusader: Affairs of State


The swords clanged together, metal ringing across the open courtyard of the castle. The noise echoed against the stone walls as the two combatants danced in battle. The smaller of the two warriors was more swift and able to dodge the most powerful of the larger opponent's blows. The little warrior was not just shorter, but had a thin frame that made an enemy underestimate the power the knight wielded in the sword. The diminutive warrior demonstrated superior skill with the blade despite the opponent's greater strength.

The battle raged across the square. The two warriors locked blades, the bigger combatant pressing the advantage. They both wore a purple smock with a golden crest emblazoned on the front. The smaller warrior suddenly tucked into a ball and rolled away from the swinging weapon, the movement of the trim body fluid. The competitor leapt into the air and pinned the larger solider against the wall.

The challengers broke apart and bowed to each other. They sheathed their weapons in silence, both panting from the exertion they had exhibited during the exercise. They walked to a bucket and took turns using the ladle to drink the cool water from the well. They leaned side-by-side on the low stone wall marking the well. "Sometimes you amaze me with the way you can make your body move," the larger warrior said as they recovered. He looked at his partner with a suggestive gleam in his eye. When he spoke, his voice was low. "It really makes me curious how your body would move if it were naked and in my bed."

The champion dipped the ladle into the bucket and slung water into the smiling face. Musical, feminine laughter floated across the courtyard. "Curiosity killed the cat, my dear Otto," she teased, a smile forming on her face. Her green eyes twinkled playfully. "Do you never tire of rejection, my lord?"

"Perhaps I would stop asking if I knew why you always refuse," he baited.

"That's one of the reasons I respect you. You are persistent. That quality will serve you well in life." She rose from the wall and stretched her body. She knew that Otto was admiring her frame, so she lingered in the pose, arching her back for his benefit. The chain mail beneath the tunic rattled as she moved. Her few curves were hidden by the armor. In a combat situation, her opponent would be oblivious to her gender.

She completed her stretch and Otto stood at her side, rising with a deep grunt. He started walking toward the main hall of the palace, but she hesitated for a moment, lifting her eyes to one of the balcony's facing the courtyard. A curtain moved as she turned and she smiled before taking a few quick steps to catch up with her friend. "The Father is back from Clermont," Otto said as they stepped inside. "He is coming to Breathwood for the evening meal. Cayden, as your friend and your lord, please dress as a lady in your position would. I don't think the Father would approve if the daughter of Travor de Witte appeared in the great hall wearing my page's trousers."

"Of course, Otto." She reached up and kissed his cheek before walking away from him. Baron Otto von Streit watched her as she sprinted up the stone steps. She slowed at the top and allowed her hips to sway from one side to the other just before she slipped around the corner and out of his line of vision.

Cayden de Witte walked down the long hall of the castle, enjoying the cool draft filtering through the tunic that dried the sweat on her skin. She paused outside one of the bedchambers and peeked around the doorframe into the room. Only two women were inside the chamber. One was a young, timid maid that ran whenever Cayden approached. The other was Otto's wife. Cayden watched for a moment as the maid helped Baroness Sophie von Streit into a dress and began tightening the laces in the back. Sophie braced her hands against the post of the bed frame and closed her eyes as Amalie knelt and fluffed the skirt.

Cayden quietly walked into the room. She crossed noiselessly, not even allowing the armor to rattle. The maid jumped slightly when Cayden touched her arm, but the warrior moved quickly to keep Amalie silent. Amalie dropped back a step and hurried out of the room, fleeing from Cayden's presence. Cayden stepped close to Sophie, her deft fingers freeing the knot that Amalie had just tightened.

"Amalie, why are you untying me?" Sophie demanded, turning her head toward the person behind her.

Cayden bent her head and dropped a kiss on Sophie's bare skin. She pushed the material of the dress off of the Baroness's shoulder to reveal more of the pale skin. Cayden's lips touched softly, her tongue tasting her best friend's wife's flesh. "I saw you watching me."

Sophie sighed and tilted her head, her eyes closing as Cayden's mouth moved over her skin. Goosebumps formed on her flesh as she whispered Cayden's name with a soft plea. Cayden took the sound as encouragement and used her mouth to push aside more of the dress. "Do you enjoy watching me best your husband, Milady?"

"Sometimes I wish you would slip and run him through," the Baroness responded as Cayden's lips met her upper arm. She slouched a little as the bodice of the gown slipped farther down her bosom.

Cayden chuckled softly. "Otto is my dearest friend, Milady," she whispered, her hand gliding over the woman's shoulder and arm, attempting to push the dress away from Sophie's breasts. "Besides, if I killed Otto by accident, you would be forced to marry Franz. I would be hung because I would kill him. I've seen the way he treats his whores and I would never allow him to treat you in that manner." She finally freed Sophie's globe. Her mouth returned to the woman's neck, nibbling softly as her hand curled around the exposed mound. "Otto is the better of the two brothers."

A moan escaped Sophie's throat as Cayden's fingers squeezed the extended nipple. Cayden rolled the bud between her fingers, watching Sophie's face respond to the stimulus. "You didn't answer my question, Milady. Do you enjoy watching me best your husband with the sword?" Cayden stretched forward and found Sophie's lips with hers. "And in your bed?"

Sophie's mouth followed Cayden as the warrior pulled away, hungering for a longer, deeper kiss. Her lips moved against Cayden's temple as the champion bowed her head to watch Sophie's nipple lengthen in response to the coaxing of talented fingers. "The Father is coming for dinner, my darling. I should be supervising the cooks."

"The cooks do not need your supervision," Cayden insisted, sliding her hand to Sophie's other shoulder. Easily, she pushed the bodice completely off of the Baroness's upper body. It bunched around her waist. Cayden's small hands covered the large globes, the nipples pressing against the center of her palm. She rotated her palms as she squeezed with her fingers, watching her digits bite into the pliable flesh.

"Amalie will want to know why she has to redress me."

"Tell her you changed your mind about what you wanted to wear." Cayden punctuated her command by pinching the swollen nipple between her forefinger and thumb. She tugged and delighted as Sophie arched her back, pressing into her lover.

Feeling the rough tunic and the chain mail against her back, Sophie turned in Cayden's arms. She glided her hands over the warrior's front, moving her fingers until they reached the tail of the tunic. She began raising the purple tunic and Cayden lifted her arms so Sophie could remove it. Cayden remained still as Sophie also took away the armor. Cayden lifted her hand to stroke Sophie's cheek as her partner removed the weight. Sophie pressed into Cayden's palm, feeling the tiny calluses the small woman had formed from learning to fight with a sword. The Baroness rubbed her cheek against her lover's fingertips, relishing the gentle touch.

The armor rattled as Sophie pulled it off of Cayden's body. The Baroness turned away for a moment to carefully lay the suit over her chair. When she turned back to Cayden, the diminutive warrior was completely naked. Sophie could not resist a soft moan of pleasure as her eyes swept over Cayden's lithe body. From years of working and training with the men who came to her father's door to learn to be soldiers, Cayden had developed a muscular frame. Her stomach was flat and her legs powerful. Sophie knew from experience that when Cayden clenched her thighs around an object, escape was impossible.

The breasts rising from Cayden's chest were small. They were firm and upswept but practically nonexistent compared to Sophie's ample bosom. Nonetheless, Sophie was fascinated by Cayden's nimble body. She reached forward and cupped her hand around the hard orbs, her thumb sweeping over the rigid brown nipples. Her pink tongue moistened her lips and she bent her head to lick each thick nub, but Cayden stepped out of reach as soon as Sophie made contact.

Sophie whimpered and leaned toward Cayden, attempting to recapture her lover. Cayden grinned. After four years, the warrior knew all the ways to make Sophie yearn. The advisor knew Sophie's wants and desires better than Otto. She knew how to manipulate Sophie's longing. Even though they had been lovers since Cayden had come to Breathwood to act as a consultant to Otto, Sophie still attempted to resist, but her body refused to deny the unconventional woman.

Cayden glided her fingers over Sophie's exposed flesh, barely touching the soft, supple skin. Sophie closed her eyes and arched forward, trying to force more contact with her lover's hand. Cayden anticipated the move and settled her hands on Sophie's wide hips. Sophie's large breasts were rising and falling as she struggled to catch her breath and gain control of her eager body. She knew that Cayden would play her, but it didn't release her burning desire for her husband's guide. She trembled as Cayden's fingers began moving again. They slipped against the folds at the waist of the dress, pushing it completely down the smooth legs. Cayden knelt as she pushed the material to a pile in the floor. Before rising, she slipped her tongue between Sophie's slick lips.

The Baroness gasped and thrust upward, her blond curls scratching against Cayden's face as the talented tongue found the swollen button buried inside. Cayden's tongue moved against the nub, rotating it with the tip of her tongue before withdrawing and rising. She licked over Sophie's round stomach and buried her face between the peaks of the full breasts. Sophie combed her fingers through the thick strands of Cayden's long hair as her lover's warm breath flooded her body.

Cayden's mouth made its way up the peak of one soft breast, licking around the light pink nipple before kissing it and sucking it between her lips. Sophie's moan was low and long as Cayden's lips nursed gently. As the teasing mouth became more insistent, Sophie's body became more uncontrollable. She arched and rocked against Cayden, attempting to bring her wet lips into contact with some part of her lover's body. Cayden easily evaded her, but her avoidance only increased Sophie's efforts. She writhed against Cayden, pushing more of her breast into the hot, wet mouth.

"Please, Cayden," Sophie whispered desperately when her body could no longer tolerate the relentless teasing.

"Please, what, Milady?" Cayden demanded, moving her mouth from the heavy breast to the pulse throbbing in the arched neck.

The Baroness whimpered. "Please, darling," she begged, unable to form words to express what her body needed. Instead, she gripped Cayden's wrist in her hand and brought her lover's palm to her damp mound. She arched herself against Cayden's hand and rubbed against the heel.

Cayden held her hand still, allowing Sophie to please herself for a few precious moments before pulling away with a teasing smile. "Tell me what you want, Milady."

"I want you," Sophie began. Her words hung in her throat as she attempted to speak. "I want you to touch me and make love to me. Cayden, please, darling, I can't wait any longer."

Cayden's mouth was against Sophie's ear as she spoke, her voice husky as her warm breath heated Sophie's cheek. "We both know you can."

"Don't make me, darling. I beg you."

"I like it when you beg, Milady," Cayden answered as she thrust her fingers deep inside Sophie. They slid easily against the slick lips and into the heated channel. Sophie brought her hands to Cayden's shoulders and dug her fingernails into the strong muscle there. She arched against Cayden's invading hand and began thrusting in time to the gentle strokes. She moaned desperately, her pleasure falling on Cayden's ears. Each sound that escaped Sophie's lips encouraged Cayden to move faster and deeper. Her palm slapped against Sophie's mound repeatedly, the noise joining Sophie's frantic cries.

Cayden walked Sophie backwards to the bed as she continued pounding her fingers in and out of her lover's intimate tunnel. Sophie followed helplessly, her body completely under Cayden's power. The back of her legs hit the bed and her knees buckled. She fell backwards and Cayden followed, first laying over the Baroness and then working her way down. Two fingers thrust in and out relentlessly as her mouth sought the extended nub deep inside once again. Her lips closed around it and tugged as her fingers continued their work.

Sophie was mindless. Her head tossed side-to-side on the bed as Cayden's assault continued. The muscles in her stomach and thighs trembled and tightened as Cayden's mouth suckled softly. The dueling sensations drove her higher. Her body came off the bed as she ground against her partner's mouth and hand. She screamed, the sound echoing against the stone walls, Cayden intensified her attack at the alarm, feeling her lover's body quiver in release.

Sophie attempted to catch her breath as the delicious tremors echoed through her body, but Cayden did not give her the opportunity to recover. The woman, who could outride any man in Otto's army and best any soldier with a sword, mounted Sophie firmly. She pressed her mound against Sophie's, extended her arms, and began rocking her hips in a firm, steady rhythm. Sophie attempted to watch her lover, wanting to see the expression of bliss cross Cayden's face as she moved herself toward satisfaction, but the unyielding friction pushed Sophie back into her desperate state.

The muscles in Cayden's arms bulged and her stomach rippled as she rode against Sophie. She stretched out between her lover's legs and rubbed their mounds together in an endless cadence. The sound of skin slapping against skin drummed in the room, punctuated by Sophie's groans of pleasure and pleadings for release. Every time Cayden thrust down, spirals of pleasure radiated throughout Sophie's body. Cayden closed her eyes as she worked toward her release, only using Sophie as a vehicle to drive her pleasure. Sophie ceased to exist as Cayden's body slapped against the Baroness. Sophie's legs wrapped around Cayden's hips, deepening the friction as Cayden moved faster. The Baroness whispered an endless series of pleas and moans as her lover rode harder.

Cayden grunted her release as a wave crashed over her small body. She extended her arms and her muscles quivered as she hovered above Sophie. Sophie sobbed as Cayden gave one last thrust and pushed her lover over the edge one more time. Cayden collapsed, resting her head on Sophie's full breast as they both panted and trembled. Unconsciously, Sophie threaded her fingers through Cayden's hair, lovingly stroking the woman who brought such pleasure into her life.

They lay across the soft bed as the sun filtered through the window. A warm breeze floated across the room. Cayden's breath slowed and evened, the air blowing from her lips drying Sophie's skin. Sophie closed her eyes, wanting to know if Cayden felt her heart pounding. She wanted to tell the warrior why it hammered so violently, but she could not muster the courage to give voice to her feelings. "Cayden?"

"Hmmm?" Cayden muttered without moving or opening her eyes.

"Let's run away. Let's go someplace far away from Breathwood and everyone we know. We can be together always."

"Otto would follow us, Milady," Cayden responded. "He couldn't live without us." The strong woman rolled to Sophie's side. She stretched out on her back, her eyes focused on the ceiling. "We should be honest with ourselves. We would miss him." She took a deep breath and stood. "He wants me to be pretty for the Father tonight. Send Amalie to me after you finish with her."

Sophie sat up and watched as Cayden quickly redressed. "Do you take Amalie to bed, as well?" she asked, attempting to disguise the jealousy in her voice. She did not look at her lover as she waited for an answer.

"Amalie is afraid of me," Cayden answered casually as she gathered her armor. She did not turn to Sophie.

"I was once afraid of you." The Baroness's voice was soft and weak as she spoke. She clenched her hands together in her lap, fearful to face Cayden. She didn't want her lover to see the vulnerability in her eyes. She didn't want to see the indifference she knew Cayden would express. "That didn't stop you from seducing me."

"It's impossible to seduce someone who doesn't want to be seduced, Milady." Cayden moved to Sophie, tilting the round face upward. "You need not worry. I'll always come back to your bed." She touched her lips to Sophie's briefly and faded from the room as quickly and as quietly as she had appeared.

Amalie came later. She faltered slightly as she entered the room and Cayden's piercing green eyes fell on her. The warrior had unbraided her heavy black hair and it hung loosely around her shoulders. She wore an ivory dress with ruffles around the bodice. The flowing skirt had delicate lace trim. It swept against the floor as she moved toward Amalie. The bodice sagged slightly and the first thing Cayden did was turn her back to the young maid so that the girl could tighten the strings.

The girl exhaled softly and hurried into the room, hoping to finish her task and escape the warrior's presence quickly. She knotted the strings, trying not to touch the brown skin. When her fingertips did brush Cayden's smooth, bare flesh, she was surprised at the ripple of muscle underneath. Cayden turned her head to the side, watching the timid woman from the corner of her eye. "Touch all you want, little one," she said in a friendly, husky voice.

Amalie jerked too hard on the string when Cayden spoke. A blush crept into her cheeks and she took a step back. Cayden chuckled softly and shifted so that Amalie would not see her face. "Why are you so fearful of me?" Cayden asked as Amalie resumed her task. "There's no need to be. I would not hurt you." Cayden paused while Amalie finished tying the stays. Cayden turned to look at the girl. "In fact, I would bring you great pleasure." Cayden walked away from Amalie without giving the girl an opportunity to respond to the heated promise. "I think there would be something more appropriate to do with my hair than the braid I normally wear."

Amalie stared after Cayden, a light pink blush lingering on her cheeks as the warrior moved to the wash basin. Cayden paused there for a moment, allowing Amalie to adjust to the change in atmosphere. Amalie moistened her lips and swallowed with difficulty before she finally found her voice. "It would look very nice if you left it down, Miss." She glided across the room to Cayden and lifted the heavy tresses in her hand. "Sit down, and I'll make you beautiful." She stopped, her cheeks flaming again. "Not that you are not already beautiful, Miss. I mean, not that you need any help." She took a deep breath and bowed her head, missing the smug expression on Cayden's face. She silently began gathering the long hair in her hands, working her fingers through the thick locks.

Cayden closed her eyes and relaxed, allowing her guard down long enough to enjoy the gentle massage of her scalp as Amalie worked her fingers. She ignored the goose bumps racing over her body as Amalie swept her hair into a presentable style. The silence in the room hummed with their thoughts. The underlying current of desire was tangible. A smile hung on Cayden's lips as she planned her next move with the girl. Amalie trembled with the conflicting emotions rolling through her.

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