Although this is obviously my First Kiss Friday Blog, today I’m giving you Chapter Ten from One Last Kiss. This is a pivotal scene in my Christmas novella where Jade experiences her first Christmas in medieval England and realizes she is beginning to have feelings for Thomas. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from One Last Kiss and everyone has a very Merry Christmas!
Jade listened to those assembled in the chapel. They all voiced a reverent amen. Earlier, she shouldn’t have been surprised when she was ushered to sit in the row of benches reserved for the lord and lady of Berwyck’s family. She could only be made to feel that she was in a place of honor. Yet all this gallantry and my lady business took some getting used to. At least she had seen enough movies or read enough romance novels to understand the fundamentals of twelfth-century living. But will it be enough to pass among them for any length of time? Maybe, the questions she should ask herself were how in the world was she going to get herself home, or did she wish to stay?
She had been thankful when Thomas had been allowed to sit next to her, and he seemed happy to also have her near. It wasn’t as though she had never been in a church before. No, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was she couldn’t understand a word the priest was saying. The entire Mass had been said in Latin. She tried not to think about the fact that this was a daily ritual with the people of this time. She was unsure how she would survive what she would consider an ordeal.
Sitting on the bench or kneeling on the cold stone floor for what seemed like hours had taken a toll on her body, and Jade was slow to rise. Her knees wobbled, and Thomas was quick to rush to her aid. His arm snaked securely around her waist, leaving Jade no choice but to take hold of his tunic for additional support.
Green eyes met blue-gray as air rushed into her lungs when she came into contact with his extremely muscular chest. The sound of someone clearing his throat had them turning their attention to the priest. Father Donovan wasn’t pleased, and they quickly drew apart with a hasty apology.
Thomas began escorting Jade from the chapel but turned to pull up the hood of her cloak before opening the door. The air was crisp as a blast of wind snapped at her face. The newly fallen snow sparkled like diamonds but was also blinding, causing Jade to shield her eyes. She stood amazed at the view. The castle keep towered at least four stories high, and she could hear the sound of the ocean in the distance. She really had traveled through time because there was no way this was San Francisco!
“This is a lot to take in,” she said quietly to Thomas, who took her about the waist and gently guided her over an icy patch on the ground.
“You are handling this whole experience well, Jade,” he replied. “You do not mind that I call you by your given name, do you?”
She gave a short laugh. “Actually, I prefer it. It’s certainly way more personal than all this my lady stuff, although a woman could get used to that if she’s not careful.”
Entering the keep, the delicious aroma of roasted meat caused Jade’s mouth to water. Apparently, she was hungrier than she thought. Watching in fascination, her eyes traveled to the numerous servants who scurried about with platters filled to capacity as the occupants of the hall began to enter. Once she was seated, she stared in wonder at the bounty before her, while Thomas heaped food onto their trencher until it almost overflowed.
“You must be really hungry,” she teased him.
“You are not?” he asked before he dismissed a servant and took over the task of pouring wine into her chalice.
“Well, I am, but there’s enough food here for several meals. I’m not used to eating so much meat.”
“We have been fasting for nigh unto a month.”
Advent, she thought, remembering Thomas’s earlier words. Before she could answer him, the sound of trumpets blared into the room. A huge platter was carried in with much ceremony.
Her eyes widened. “Is that a pig’s head?”
“Boar. ’Tis very good. You must needs try it.”
She gulped, looking at the charred thing set before Lord Dristan and his lady who appeared pleased with the offering before them. “I think, I’ll pass.”
He shrugged. “As you wish, but you must eat your fill. I will not have a lady in my care wasting away because she forgot to break her fast,” he said, pointing to the food before them as he began eating with the gusto of a starving man.
She picked at the food, finding most of the meat quite tasty. The vegetables were too overcooked for her liking, and she would have preferred a nice salad. Since that wasn’t an option set before her, she continued to nibble at the food until she was full. Still, Thomas consumed most of what was left on the trencher. Jade sipped her wine, finding it far more intoxicating than what she had previously tasted, or perhaps, it was the man next to her that made her feel lightheaded.
She watched the room in curiosity. Christmas was far more understated than what she was used to as she attempted to remind herself where she really was. There was no tree with bulbs or tinsel with presents underneath, waiting to be unwrapped or any other decorations she expected from modern times. No bright twinkling lights, no red poinsettias, just an everyday hall in the twelfth century without any form of commercialism. This is actually kind of refreshing, Jade thought when she realized how the true meaning of the holiday tended to get lost in her world.
“Is something wrong?” Thomas leaned over.
Her heart flipped at the heavenly scent coming from this gorgeous medieval knight. The hint of warm spices seemed to surround him, giving Jade goosebumps, and she did everything in her power not to put her face into his hair just so she could smell him to her heart’s content. Good Lord, what was this man unintentionally doing to her?
She took a deep breath in a shallow attempt to calm her nerves that became scattered in a good way whenever she was near Thomas.
“No, nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is so right, it scares me,” she stated.
One corner of his mouth turned up, and his eyes sparkled in delight. “Then you are pleased to be here,” he said, waiting for her answer before taking a sip from his chalice.
Pleased, yes. Scared out of my wits? Yes. Wanting to return home? Possibly, Jade pondered in confusion. But really, what was there for her to return to back in Michigan? A couple of friends but no one who would truly miss her. Certainly, there wasn’t any family waiting for her with open arms since she had been lost in the foster care system until she became an adult and had been forced to make her own way in the world.
She shook her head from the memories she’d rather leave buried in the past and returned her attention to the knight who now gazed upon her with worried eyes. “Sorry. What were you saying?”
“’Tis not of import,” Thomas replied, attempting to relax in his chair, but he was failing miserably.
A slight frown marred his features, and Jade had the sudden urge to see him smile instead. Just as swiftly as that thought popped into her head, another one entered her mind. He had spent far too many years burdened with the actions of his youth. The image of a young Thomas flinging the same ring now stuck on her finger off into the woods replayed inside her head. She wondered if what she thought was a mere hallucination from jet lag was actually true.
She placed her hand upon his arm, and her thumb rubbed the fabric of his tunic in a soothing motion.
“I think whatever you have on your mind is very important. Please tell me what you’re thinking,” she urged in a soft plea to hear the thoughts of this medieval man. She could almost hear the musings going on inside his head. He’s just as confused as I am with everything that is happening between us at such an alarming speed.
He took a deep breath and then another sip of his wine before placing the goblet back down upon the table. “I was asking if you are pleased to be here.”
In that moment, Jade knew she wanted to see where all this could go between them or even if it were possible for her to stay here in the past.
She took up his chalice and placed her lips to the spot where his mouth had just touched it. His eyes widened before a grin split his face.
She returned his smile. “Yes, Thomas. I believe I am…” Her words trailed off to be lost with the sounds of the busy hall.
If she had looked down upon her hand, she would have seen the ring giving off a low, golden glow.Let their journey begin.
Sometimes it takes a miracle to find your heart’s desire…
Scotland, 1182: Banished from his homeland, Thomas of Clan Kincaid lives among distant relatives, reluctantly accepting he may never return home… Until an encounter with the castle’s healer tells him of a woman traveling across time—for him.
Dare he believe the impossible?
Present Day, Michigan: Jade Calloway is used to being alone, and as Christmas approaches, she’s skeptical when told she’ll embark on an extraordinary journey. How could a trip to San Francisco be anything but ordinary? But when a ring magically appears, and she sees a ghostly man in her dreams…
Dare she believe in the possible?
Thrust back in time, Jade encounters Thomas—her fantasy ghost. Talk about extraordinary. But as time works against them, they must learn to trust in miracles.
Can they accept impossible love before time interferes?
And just in case you’re looking for more holiday reads, check out this video or my book tab above. From my family to yours and no matter how you celebrate this time of year, I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year! Thank you for all your support throughout the past year. Hugs, Sherry