Saturday Snippet

1 Jan
Saving Lady Ilsa

Available now at Ellora's Cave

by Crystal Kauffman

The carriage shifted under Buckle’s returned weight. “Where to, Mr. Stratton?”

“Circle the street once. Miss Kilgard will have the opportunity to disembark if she chooses.”

The reins snapped and the horses’ hooves sang out a clatter overcobblestone. Seated across from him, Ilsa placed a hand to the padded leather seat to brace herself, then dragged her fingers over it in a languid caress, admiring the fine leatherwork.

“The young woman in the shop—your daughter?” he asked, even though he knew the answer.

Ilsa crossed her hands in her lap and glanced out the window into the darkness. Again, her lashes fell in that slow, erotic sweep. She shook her head. “Dietrich’s wife.”

The whispered response, so filled with pain, confirmed what Bradford suspected. Something unseemly was afoot.

“You are not married to the tailor?” He hoped she heard the genuine confusion in his question, and didn’t take his question as an insult.

“Mr. Kilgard was my sister’s husband. She died without bearing a child, but he kept me on as her replacement in the shop. Soon I was the replacement in her bed as well, even though I refused to marry him. Then Katrin came along and happily took my place in his bed. As desperate as he is for a son, he happily tossed me aside.” She paused over a sigh. “You might as well call me by my true name. Ilsa Bergstrom.”

“Yet you do not bear him that child either, Miss Bergstrom.”

”No. I did not.” She stared out into the darkness as she answered. The slender cords of her neck worked as though the words were difficult but she was loath to let her voice tremble over them.

“So the replacement finds herself replaced.”

“Comin’ round again, sir,” Buckles called in. The carriage slowed.

“Simply put, Miss Bergstrom,” he said in Norwegian, “I am in need of a wife.”

She swept a sidelong glance at him, then did a double take. His use of Norwegian revealed he’d understood the filth the tailor had spat at her.

“I want you in my bed, Ilsa.”

Her eyes widened, in them something akin to panic.

“My situation is unusual. I will explain more later, but for now I will tell you that you will be treated with kindness and respect in my home, and if you agree to my offer, you will be provided for quite well.”

The carriage came to a stop.

“But neither will I lie to you. I want you in my bed, I want your legs spread wide and your body agreeable to my demands. You will avail yourself to me whenever it pleases me, and it will please me often.”

A mixture of anger and aghast filled her face. “I have many faults, Mr. Stratton. But I am no whore.”

“That is precisely why I am making this offer to you, Miss Bergstrom.” He relaxed against the seat and regarded her with a half-smile. “You will never have to return to Kilgard.”

Her green eyes flicked to the handle of the carriage door. Outside, one of the horses snorted impatiently.

Her chest rose and fell, her bosom straining against her plain woolen dress. When she spoke, her voice was hardly a whisper. “Drive on, then.”

Now available at Ellora’s Cave

2 Responses to “Saturday Snippet”

  1. Jen B. January 1, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Pooh! Only 1/1/11 and already another book for my wish list! Darn. I was hoping to make it to 1/2/11 before that happened.

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