When Edwina’s father invites ten titled lords to spend Christmas at his medieval estate so Edwina may choose one for a husband, she finds the idea romantic. She dreams of gazing into the eyes of one of her suitors and falling deeply in love. But it soon becomes apparent the lords in question are far more interested in gaining her father’s estate than Edwina’s hand.
Thorstan’s in attendance, but he hasn’t been invited, and he’s no lord. A former mercenary, he’s come disguised as a jester to get near Edwina, long adored from afar. Edwina quickly falls for his charm and quirky humor even though she fears her father will never approve of a commoner for her husband. But when Edwina is abducted, only Thorstan—a skilled swordsman—has hope of rescuing her in time for the promised Christmas wedding.
Edwina quickened her steps, and the jester drew her arm more closely against his side. Oh, highly improper, but at the moment she did not care.
She nodded to the guard at the gate, and they passed into the chill of the evening and a wash of moonlight. Urging her escort toward the stone wall at their left, she drew a deep draught of air. “You are right, Lord Fool. Much better.”
“ ‘Lord Fool’?” he questioned, his mouth beside her ear.
“If you can call me ‘lady,’ I can call you ‘lord.’ ” She turned her head and found her face very near his. Aye, most improper—but such luxury to be with a man taller than she. Too bad he was only a traveling jester.
He leaned on the wall beside her. “My fool’s wisdom tells me you are not enjoying this great pageant staged for your benefit.”
“That I am not.”
“Yet I hear there is much gaiety and frolic yet to come—a play, and even a masked dance.”
“Aye. Perhaps you can attend as a jester.”
“Perhaps I will. If I do, will you dance with me?” He caught both her hands and, in true fool’s fashion, whirled her about in the cold air until her breath came fast, and she laughed aloud. Edwina could no longer hear the music from inside, but the fool hummed a tune in a deep, velvety voice. The moonlight flickered around them, striping his face in brightness and then shadow until all she could see was the laughter in his eyes. When they came to rest at last, she leaned against him.
“You should laugh more often,” he said. “It makes you even more beautiful.” Suddenly Edwina felt breathless from more than the whirling dance.