Monday, October 17, 2011

Beloved Pilgrim excerpt by Nan Hawthorne

"Why should I warn people about people who love and are devoted to each other?"

In Beloved Pilgrim, by Nan Hawthorne, Elisabeth is a young noblewoman who has chosen to live as a man and come to Constantinople as part of the Crusade of 1101. While staying in a highborn official’s villa, she has fallen in love with the servant assigned to her (though the woman does not realize Elisabeth’s sex). She learns that her nervousness around the young woman has gotten her dismissed and has gone looking for her in the Turkish sector outside the walls of the Sublime Port.

Beloved Pilgrim
Publisher: Shieldwall Books (February 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 098339850X
ISBN-13: 978-0983398509


"Where can I find Maliha?" Elisabeth shouted.

The women stood clumped together staring, some weeping.

Elisabeth frantically surveyed them. "Maliha? Where can I find Maliha?"

"I am here," came a familiar voice from the door to a slanting shack. "What the hell do you think coming here?"

Elisabeth shot her eyes toward the sound. "Maliha! There you are! I came to find you!"

"Why? What would you want with me?"

The honey-colored eyes glared at her, full of affronted pride. If Elisabeth had despised the meekness and subservience, her heart pounded at the defiance and fire in those eyes. Her jaw dropped, she felt heat rise in her body, starting in her belly and creeping up. She strode to the woman. "Where can we be alone?" she spat through her teeth.

The honey eyes burned into her dark angry ones. They darted to the other women who were now chattering among themselves. "Come in here, away from those hens." Maliha led her through the flap over the entry and into darkness.

As she turned to face Elisabeth, she found herself clasped hard, strong hands biting into her upper arms. Her cry of protest was cut off as the knight's lips found hers in the darkness and pressed hard. Elisabeth's tongue forced its way into her mouth. She bit it.

Elisabeth jumped back, putting her hand to her mouth and tasting blood. "Why did you do that?"

"Why do you think? Do you think I should want you to force your way into my home and rape me?" Maliha punched her square in the chest. "You wanted me to stop being meek. Well, doesn't this please you, Excellency," she shot, with a sneer in her voice. She hauled off and slugged Elisabeth in the chest with both fists.

"Ow, that hurt!" Elisabeth exclaimed. Then she felt silly. Why should a knight cry out that a mere woman punched him in his chest. But the woman had connected with her nipples, which were already tender with her monthly flux.

She stood a moment, perplexed. Maliha had gone still. Elisabeth's eyes were adjusting and she could see the woman's head-covering had slipped askew, letting the long black hair loose on the right side of her head. Her impulse was to reach toward Maliha and take her into her arms. But instead the dark beauty came forward and placed herself there. The chin tipped up, the lips parted. Her own eyes wide, Elisabeth lowered her head and sank into a kiss of such poignant sweetness she thought she would swoon.

Maliha had had a sudden revelation. There was something about this knight, something that did not fit what she knew of men. The bearing was right but the look in the man's eyes was wrong. Men did not look with such intensity into a woman's eyes, she thought. The kiss had been hard but something was different there too. A man would force the kiss, devouring her. And then there was an odd sense of lumps on the knight's breast, even through the chain mail. Her mind raced back over their encounters in the past few days and certain things presented themselves in a new light. Could it be?

She decided to collect more information, and thus leaned into the man to invite him to kiss her. This time the kiss was softer, more sensual, and Maliha started to explore with her tongue. The feel was much like a ripe peach, soft, yielding, but ardent. It reminded Maliha of an exquisite night she had spent with a female cousin when they were still girls.

Maliha raised her arms and put them around the knight's neck. Elisabeth's own mailed arms slowly snaked around the soft yielding body in her arms. She felt Maliha press her body along her own. She could not think to wonder what had changed. Their tongues met in each other's mouths and sweetly slid across and under each other. She felt Maliha's tongue slide along inside her teeth. She felt as if the juices in her most private place were flowing out of her and down her britches.
(currently writing a M/M romance set in about 1860 America)
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Victor J Banis said...

well, that is certainly unique, and intriguing. I've read of women who dressed and fought as men in the Civil War, but I'd never thought about the crusades, though common sense should have told me that was likely too.

Good job,


Nan Hawthorne said...

Vcitor, the Church frowned on women fighting, but this really was a class issue.. you probably would not have had women knights, though it's not impossible, but the Muslim accounts descrive peasant women fighting and being among the casualties on both sides. Part of the fun of writing this book was coming up with credible ways Elisabeth could "pass". I think I succeeded, if I say so myself.

Nan Hawthorne