The night before Yule, Merry Holliday, at her wits end with her ex-friend who managed to steal everything she owned, looks to the sky and wishes for a Knight in shining armor to save her. She didn’t expect to get whisked back to the time of superstition and banshees in the middle of December, even if it was to meet her very own Knights before Christmas.
Lord Garreck de Montfort, once known throughout the land as Sir Garreck the Fair or Garreck the Lionhearted, now bore the title Garreck the Grumpy, or so says his best friend. Who could blame him? His well has been fouled by his cesspit, his cattle have fallen prey to neighboring reavers and his sheep have wandered off into the countryside without a trace.
After returning from crusade, Rowan de Mowbray can’t help but comment on his best friend’s attitude. After losing his family and his riches, what Garreck the Grumpy needs is help. Looking up to the night sky, Rowan embraces desperation and wishes upon a star. It’s Yule, the time for magic. What could it hurt?
Merry continued to wring her hands and cringed at her horrible accent. She knew her French was awful. For all she knew, she’d just insulted the man—or his mother.
Bringing his right leg up over the horse’s neck, the man she assumed was the leader hopped off the huge beast he rode. His mail and sword clanked together loudly as he landed and moved toward her.
Merry fought the very real urge to fan herself as he approached. The man was tall, nearly head and shoulders taller than her own five-foot eight-inches. The shadows from the large trees enveloped him, leaving nothing to see but his shining hair and mail as he grew closer. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes, but something told her they were light. Perhaps blue. His shoulders were easily as wide as the door to her apartment.
She cleared her throat that had suddenly gone dry. The man was so large, he would have been freakish in medieval times according to everything she had learned in her history classes and through the society that sponsored these reenactments. But then again, hadn’t historians determined that William Wallace had been over six-feet tall just by measuring the length of his broadsword?
Placing his right hand over his heart, he bowed, then lowered himself to one knee, which was no easy feat, wearing at least twenty pounds of chainmail. “I am Garreck De Montfort, demoiselle.” He gestured to the others who still sat astride their restless mounts. “And these are my men. I pledge our service to find your people and keep you from harm.”
Gooseflesh covered her arms as she looked up at the man. It was good of him to pull her into their act, instead of screaming at her for ruining it and starting over after having her removed. He was an awesome performer to come up with all of this on the spur of the moment. If he wasn’t a professional actor, he should be. Merry would tell him that at the first opportunity after the show.
Without warning, a group of men dressed in little more than rags and leather burst into the clearing with their swords drawn, screaming a battle cry that almost curdled her blood.
The two men with the crossbows fired their bolts, then leapt from their horses to engage the men who still approached. Men screamed and swords clanged together as Merry tried to stay out of the way. Since she wasn’t supposed to be here, she had no idea where to stand.
A man, reeking of body odor and liquor, grabbed her from behind just before Garreck thrust his sword over her shoulder and presumably into her attacker. “Over there,” her savior said as he gestured toward her left. “You should be safe enough against that tree.” Again, he spoke in French. Never had he broke character during the whole scene.
Merry hurried over to the spot he indicated. She wanted to stay out of the way. These men practiced their battles for months before one of these shows. The last thing she wanted was to muck it up for them. Besides, she didn’t want to miss anything. These guys were so good, the battle looked real.
It wasn’t until one of Garreck’s guards lopped the head off one of the men on the opposing side that Merry realized the battle actually was real. Remembering her wish, she looked around frantically, searching for the park bench.
“Merde,” she whispered just before the world tilted on its axis and blessed darkness overcame her.