My lady de burgh

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MY LADY DE BURGH By Deborah Simmons "Have you some bodily rash that makes you constantly rub yourself?" For one brief moment Robin was so stunned by her words that he simply stared, then he threw back his head and burst out laughing. Obviously her life as a novice had not dulled her wits or her tongue. There wasnothing he liked more in the world than to laugh— well,almostnothing—and in his experience few women had a talent for amusement. Not this one, however. She annoyed him and challenged him, yet did not fail to keep him entertained. Robin was tempted to tell her that the problem with his clothes lay in the fact that he was wearing too many. "Indeed, you have guessed it aright, and well I could use withsome help with a certain itch that needs to be scratched," Robin drawled. He saw her eyes widen and her cheeks grow pink… Chapter One

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The de Burghs had been cursed. Robin was certain of it. Although the family continued to be prosperous and powerful, all of its members seemingly healthy and strong, there was aninsidious force at work that was gradually weakening its ranks and scattering the de Burghs across the countryside. And Robin knew well its name.Marriage. Just four years ago the seven sons of the Earl of Campion had been bachelors and determined to remain so. Then, as if directed by some unseen hand, one by one, Dunstan, Geoffrey and Simon had taken wives. Even the earl himself had wed again atChristmastide! And now Robin had been called home to the celebration of his brother Stephen's nuptials. As he glanced around the great hall of Campion Castle, Robin was not cheered by the sight of the many couples. Instead of tendering congratulations, he wanted to howl in outrage. Not only did he protest the fate of his siblings, but of the three de Burghs yet unmarried, he was the oldest, a knowledgethat made him decidedly tense. And with good reason. Robin had no idea how the other two felt about it, but he was starting to sweat. It was not that he had anything against women. They provided a welcome diversion at times, some more than others, of course, but even the most comely or entertaining did not tempt him in the slightest toward a lasting union. The very thought of being shackled to oneof them forever made Robin lift a finger to loosen his suddenly tight neckline. Already, he felt the noose closing around him, collaring him forever to some unknown, unnamed female. Although usually the most lighthearted member of the family, Robin was becoming downright surly as he contemplated his future. As both a man and a knight, he resented the feeling of helplessness that assailed him. Hewanted to strike out, but what use was his skill with a sword against a phantom? Robin gritted his teeth even as he wondered how much time he had left. Although his brothers appeared to have succumbed without a fight, he refused to accept his fate so easily. Surely there was some way to prevent what lay ahead! Robin had been taught that reasoning could extricate him from most situations, andnormally he would have asked his father for advice, but the earl had already been felled by the curse. In this instance, whatever wisdom he offered would be suspect. And there was no sense in approaching his married brothers. Robin's options were dwindling, and he felt the cold, clammy press of desperation. He had always thought the de Burghs invincible, for they were powerful men, strong warriors,learned in varying degrees and skillful at running a vast demesne. Wealth and privilege and capability had resulted in an inbred arrogance that continued to show itself, even in those who now called themselves husbands, but Robin felt his own confidence faltering. Only three de Burgh bachelors remained; perhaps it was time they put their heads together. Having made his decision, Robin moved into...
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