Part of the Emerald Isles Fantasies series
An Irish warlord under a witch’s enchantment…
Tullamore Castle Ireland is an enchanted place where the unexpected happens. Phantom lovers materialize in haunted beds and a lonely griffin patrols the ramparts waiting to reclaim its mate. And that’s just the beginning.
For the adventure of a lifetime Maeve de’Burgo visits Tullamore to study genealogy. Through a magical act and time travel she becomes embroiled in a dangerous medieval romance and the unfinished life of her ancestor. Maeve gets thrown back in time to be captured, ravished and cherished as a war chief’s prize.
Ronan O’Griofa is a griffin-shifter, the most loyal of creatures. He’s been trapped in limbo as the avenging guardian of Tullamore since 1332 AD and longs to be free. When the soul of his wife returns to the castle he’s granted the privilege of becoming a man for one day to be her lover, win her heart and remind Maeve of a bond strong enough to last an eternity.
(In this scene Maeve has been in the O’Griofa suite for less than an hour, but she’s already become infatuated with Lord O’Griofa’s portrait, traveled back in time to a castle under siege, released the pain of a failed marriage and hallucinated that a griffin is walking the castle grounds. It’s been a very eventful night. She’s exhausted and jetlagged. When she climbs into the notorious O’Griofa “griffin bed” things really heat up.)
…She walked around the room, making sure the door was locked and switching off the few lights still lit. The fading red embers of the fire glowed. The fire’s soft illumination was lovely and provided just enough light to see. An errant sliver of moonlight cut across the room and lit Lord O’Griofa’s portrait.
Maeve pulled the covers back and climbed into the massive bed, which could have comfortably slept several adults. She gazed up at the silk canopy. The viridian curtains surrounding the bed were woven with a subtle pattern that suggested to her tired eyes the faintest hint of feathery wings.
She noticed that the bed curtains could be drawn around the bed to either block light or create an oasis of privacy. She drew the curtains in hopes of preventing the first rays of dawn from waking her too early. She allowed her head to sink deep into the lush pile of pillows and sighed with pleasure that the bed felt as good as it looked.
She stretched across the crisp sheets with her eyes squeezed shut, wishing she had the energy or will to take off the bulky bathrobe, but before she could rouse herself to act she became aware of the warm weight of a solidly built man pressing down on her.
As if by magic a naked man materialized beneath the bedcovers. His warm skin radiated the faint but unmistakable scent of musk. He unknotted the robe and pushed the fabric aside, baring her breasts. A soft sigh crossed his lips.
She made a halfhearted attempt to stop him.
With gentle but decisive action, he took hold of her wrists and slowly slid her arms above her head, pinning her beneath him.
She gulped a startled breath as he parted her legs with his knee. The sensations were real. The wet tip of his heavy erection brushed between her thighs. She started to cry out in surprise.
“Hush,” the man whispered. He grazed his lips against the side of her cheek. “Don’t wake, my love—this is only a dream.” The man’s comforting voice was pure reassurance. “I’ve been waiting so long for you.”
“Ronan?” She relaxed.
“Who else comes to your bed?” A quiet laugh crossed his lips as if it were a casual joke that often passed between them. He released his hold on her wrists. “Wrap your arms around me and make me feel loved.” He leaned close and his warm breath flooded the side of her throat. “I need you, Maeve.”
A shudder of desire seized her, impossible to deny. The man’s voice was drenched with longing and coaxed myriad buried feelings to surface. She realized that every lover should plead for touch with this much conviction, yet so few did.
Dream or not, it had been ages since she’d felt sensations so fiery and she couldn’t resist giving in. The dream man—Ronan or whoever he was—felt so good that she found herself wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders and drawing him close. The silky hair on his chest glided against her breasts. In a moment of uncharacteristic boldness, she reached down, took hold of his shaft and guided him between her legs. She rubbed the head of his cock against her with slow strokes, until he was slick and her clit peaked. Without further prompting she allowed him to glide inside.
“Oh Maeve.” A husky groan escaped his lips as he sank deep.
She arched beneath him and twined a smooth leg around his hip, wishing he’d start moving and pay out on the building excitement he’d caused. She skimmed the length of his muscular back with open palms before gripping his solid butt and pressing down with a demanding little push that said “get going”.
He moved with caution.
She tried to glimpse his face in the shadows but saw nothing beyond a vague silhouette. It excited her to be with a complete stranger. She’d never done such a thing and it really didn’t matter because this was just a dream. It was so freeing to give in to raw lust. “Fuck me,” she whispered.
“What a salty tongue you have.” He sounded amused as he nipped her throat. His lips lingered on her skin. “You’re sweet as heaven but you talk like a devil.” He took several long strokes, pumping his hips faster. The muscles of his back coiled and his breath sped. He was big and solid and the animal strength of his graceful body took her breath away. Each movement was controlled and decisive and every inch of his body tensed. “I can’t hold back.” A moment later he bolted into action like a racehorse sprinting. “Sorry, love. This is going to be sweet and swift.” He gripped her shoulders as his body covered hers and moved with fierce strokes.
The thick shaft of his cock glided against her wet clit at the perfect angle. She lifted her hips off the bed to intensify the sensation. “That’s good.” She encouraged him to move with her. She grabbed on to the hard muscles of his butt and pushed down with force. The brisk stroke of his cock brought her moaning to the edge. “I’m right there.” A beautiful rush of sensations heated her blood as the easiest, quickest climax of her life carried her away and left her limp with pleasure. “Ah...”
He lifted Maeve’s thigh higher and sank deep. A quiet growl vibrated low in his throat. He tipped his head back and arched as he came hard. The man trembled and nearly collapsed against her, with a dewy sheen of sweat on his skin. He brushed his face against her cheek and she felt a gritty hint of stubble.
Alarm shot through her. Those details felt all too real. She feared this couldn’t possibly be a dream. No dream was this vivid. She pushed against his shoulders and tried to get a better look at him.
“Am I crushing you?” He rose on his elbows so she could move and brushed his fingertips against her cheek. “That was wonderful. I wish I could stay inside you all night, but I can’t.”
A chill shivered across her skin. “Why can’t you?”
“Because it’s not night anymore, it’s morning.” The man evaporated in front of her eyes and the warm bed covers slumped on top of her with a swoosh as he exited.
Maeve bolted upright and smacked the empty covers with her palm. The man had vanished. The bed curtains remained drawn and still. Her bathrobe was open and the bedding was rumpled but beyond that only the faintest scent of salty sweat betrayed that he had ever been there.
She reached between her drenched thighs with caution and touched. Without doubt a man had been with her. What the hell was going on?
The quiet scratch of what sounded like claws against the wooden floor made her freeze. She drew a tense breath, listened with laser focus and heard a soft snort and what sounded like the padding of heavy paws crossing the room. A noise like an animal snuffling the fire grate made her blood run cold.
Now she was fully awake and certain this was no dream. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Beyond the bed curtains, someone or something was moving around the suite.
She drew the bed curtain aside a crack and peered out. The room was illuminated by the faint rays of an overcast dawn.
Near the fireplace beside the mantel, she saw a large animal the size of a male lion with black sweeping wings folded behind its back. The creature turned to the side, revealing the lethally curved beak of an eagle and keen, dark eyes. She gasped in awe and immediately covered her mouth with her hand.
The creature glanced over its shoulder stealthily, as if it were aware of her presence, and reached toward the wedding ring she had left as an offering. It picked up the ring with its hooked beak. The griffin tossed the ring into the air and swallowed it with a quick gulp.
She bit her lip to keep from gasping aloud.
The griffin turned and walked through the heavy wooden door, which posed no physical barrier. It passed through the locked door with the same ease as if it were walking through fog, and disappeared.
“Oh my God!” Maeve trembled with shock. “What just happened?”
She threw the bed curtains back, leaped off the mattress and ran toward the door while tying the bathrobe around her waist. She grabbed the doorknob and rattled it. The knob did not budge and she saw that the door was latched from the inside.
She turned and ran toward the mantel. Her gaze went straight to the clawed feet of the stone griffin. The wedding ring was gone. She reached out and felt the empty spot with her fingertips to reassure herself that this moment of utter madness was real. “I’m losing my mind. This isn’t good.”
She focused her gaze with suspicion on the disheveled bed before ricocheting like a bullet toward Lord O’Griofa’s portrait. Had all that been real too? Had she made love to a phantom?
“Nope. That’s too much crazy,” she said it aloud in a calm voice. There was no way a man from the distant past had materialized in bed and fucked her breathless with tender gusto. It was a thrilling but improbable fantasy.
It was more likely she’d been ignoring her true feelings and physical needs for so many months that she’d gone temporarily nuts. “Strange fantasy men in the bed” crazy was a bad development. That level of cuckoo should never happen again. It was obvious to her that dire needs must be addressed. She realized she should buy a vibrator on this vacation and start using it ASAP.
Fucking hunky medieval phantoms was without doubt a sign she needed to get off more often than she had been lately—which was not at all. She was pent-up. This situation simply wasn’t acceptable. She was a loaded gun ready to explode, for God’s sake. What was next? Would she throw herself at the first interesting man who crossed her path? In her current wounded-prey state of mind she knew that would definitely be a mistake. To make sure this type of weirdness didn’t happen again, a vibrator was a must, and she promised herself she’d get one soon.
Beyond the tall, narrow windowpane, the sun broke through a thick layer of cloud, lighting the morning sky in brilliant shades of blue and gold.
Maeve smoothed the bed covers. There would be no pretense of going back to sleep. Besides, she didn’t dare to climb back into that bed until she’d had a sobering cup of coffee and a long talk with her love-starved libido…
(Maeve dresses and heads downstairs and guess who she runs into walking the castle grounds dressed in contemporary clothing? Oh yes, it’s very awkward. How can she tell a stranger that she just finished having sex in her dreams with someone who looks and sounds just like him…Poor Maeve.)
Lord Griffin’s Prize is part of the Emerald Isle Fantasies book series and is available now from Ellora’s Cave. Be sure to check out the entire Emerald Isle Fantasies books series. It includes lots of talented Ellora’s Cave authors and loads of steamy, Irish enchantment. You can’t go wrong!
Jennifer LaRose “Phantom Mischief”
Rebecca Royce “Crimson Lust”
Dena Garson “Ghostly Persuasion”
And much more to come…
I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.
Katalina is giving away two Amazon gift cards valued at $15 each and a pdf ebook to randomly
drawn commenters during the tour.