Jewel of Ramstone by J.M. powers

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BLURB
A maiden, unable to recall who she is, must battle evil to regain the memory of her past

and the hope of a future.

Awaking in the forest, a young maiden recalls naught—including her name. Equally

conflicting is her desire to both slap and kiss Sir Galeron, the knight who claims to have

protected her while she was unconscious. Much to her chagrin, he dubs her “Ruby of the

Forest” due to her red hair, and insists she find refuge at his home of Ramstone. Prickling at his

demanding ways, but with no other option, she accepts his offer. And although his kiss flames

her attraction even more, Galeron dashes it with a confession. The brute is trothed to another.

Ruby’s journey is filled with laughter and weeping, daydreams and discovered abilities.

But never does she feel complete. Her heart longs for a future that her past may destroy. Evil

lurks, treading on each tidbit of memory she recovers. Will Ruby ever recall her past? And after

an attack in the village that sparks a horrific nightmare, does she even want to?

EXCERPT
“Ask me anything. Mayhap I can help.” His deep voice broke the silence.

How was he to help? “Pray tell, how did we come to share the forest?”

“I shall explain.” He bent and picked up a twig, then proceeded to peel the bark off. With

each curl he tossed aside, she grew more frustrated.

‘Twas better to allow mistrust. Stand strong. She gasped. Unexpected, the thought rang

with such clarity, it seemed someone else had spoken. “Perchance you should be honest. Did you

drug me? Spell me?”

He tossed the twig aside. Though his eyes remained on her face, her whole body felt his

scrutiny. “‘Twould do you well to hold your tongue.”

“I am beginning to dislike you,” she said, knowing full well the opposite was true. She

truly wished her insides would cease…prickling? And her head. Damn, it ached so. Tingles and

pain aside, she tried to focus. “Do you intend to explain or not?”

“I seek a means to tell you gently.”

With a slight shrug, she said, “No need for gentleness. You already tossed me about.” She

grinned despite the truth in her statement.

He sighed. “It appears you are lost.”

“God’s eyes, knight!” She shook her head. “You must be a great sorcerer to possess such

insight.”

“Your tongue shall be your undoing. Best you still it.”

Twice he attempted to stifle her. She clenched her teeth. “Still it?”

Galeron’s jaw twitched and she wondered if he were quelling a smile. “I found you here

in the woodlands. I did not hold you captive, drug you, or harm you.” He blinked slowly. “Hold

to that.”

She nodded. “Forgive—”

“Nay need. I understand. You now stand a day’s ride from Ramstone. Have you heard of

it?”

He pushed off the tree and came to sit beside her, his thigh nearly touching her own.

Nearly. It took a moment for her answer. “Nay, I do not recall Ramstone.” The fact she did not

recall much of anything choked off the rest of her response.

“Odd,” he said, more to himself than her.

Sighing, she realized how badly her masquerade of bravery was faltering. Out of the

corner of her eye, she saw his hand come toward her. Surprised at the urge to lean into his touch,

she remained still and allowed him to brush back the wisps of hair from her brow. His hand

lowered in a fist, yet his voice was laced with tenderness.

“It pains me that I cannot give you answers.” His gaze strayed from her face, lowering to

her neck.

Covering the neckline of her tunic with both hands, she glared at him. “Focus elsewhere.”

He sees me as a woman after all. She dashed the thought away. Almost.

“I intend nay disrespect. The bruising on your neck concerns me.” Gently brushing her

hand aside, he took a closer look. “Fingerprints.”

It took all she had not to cry out. Who harmed her?

“When we discovered you, there was nay sign of anyone else.”

She glanced around. “We?”

“I sent my men home.”

She blinked. Then blinked again. “Your men.”

“My brother, a healer, assured me your wounds were not serious, so I decided to wait—”

She put up her hand. “Why not leave me under the care of your healer? Or leave me in

the nearest village?”

He swallowed hard. “It matters not! Are you always so…so…inquisitive?”

Ah, this man was not used to being questioned. She tried to ease his surly mood. “A

shame your men were sent on their way. No one laid witness when I kicked you and bashed your

comely face before you so unceremoniously dropped a maiden to the ground.”

He blew a long breath. “You insist on repeating that. Had you dressed appropriately, I

would not have thought you a lad.” His chuckle made her grin. “Although you certainly fight like

a maiden.”

She swiped her hand through the air. “Carry on.”

“Carry on,” he muttered. “I fear you shall interrupt again.” He looked up through the

trees, ignoring her huff. “We still had several days before reaching our destination when we

found you. With that in mind, I postponed the journey and sent my men back to Ramstone.”

“I see.” She studied the frayed edge of her tunic. “How long have I been here?”

“I watched over you a single night. How long you were here remains a mystery. I was

only gone a short time for I needed to boil meat into a broth to sustain you. Had I known you

were a maiden, I never would have left you alone.”

Her head snapped up. “Yet you would a lad? I am not defenseless simply because I am a

female.”

Galeron’s eyes hardened. “Aye, ’tis so. I returned to find you brandishing a dagger. I left it

in case you awoke and felt unsafe, not to use against me.”

She ran her hands through the leaves and shrugged a silent apology, too stubborn to utter

it out loud.

“Fair one?”

Damnation, she hated when he addressed her with those words, and yet it awoke

something in her, for he said it with tenderness. She glared at his smiling face. “Why are you

calling me that?” To her chagrin, what she’d meant as snide came out as quite curious.

He splayed his hands in question, “Would you prefer I call you lad?” Two furrows

appeared on his brow at her silent glare. “Because, you have yet to give your name.”

Disarmed, she swallowed her spiteful attitude. “If I only could.” She locked away her

tears, her dismay, and did her best to keep her voice steady. “I hoped you would know…would

say it by now. Sir Galeron, I…I recall naught before I saw you standing before me.”

Seeming to battle with her revelation, Galeron’s expression flitted from stunned to

confused. Then his gaze bore into her with such tenderness it nearly undid her. “Nay memory?”

he finally whispered.

She shook her head. He guided her head to his shoulder. Barely a moment passed before

he released her, rose to his feet, and strode away. Unsure of why he left so abruptly, she frowned

when he looked back.

“I regret I cannot ease your uncertainty.” He stooped to gather twigs. “However, I am

able to ease your hunger. After breaking our fast, we shall take leave.”

She dabbed her impending tears as soon as his back was turned.

“We should arrive at Ramstone by nightfall.”

“I am to stay at your home? What shall your wife think?”

“There is nay wife.” He grabbed a branch and added it to his arms. “But there is plentiful

family about.”

Holding the tree for support, she stood, waiting for the dizziness to subside before she

followed. When he turned, she picked up a branch, embarrassed at how silly she looked traipsing

on his heels. Gathering an armload of kindling, she stole glances at him, each time wondering

how it would feel to remain in his arms. She piled the branches then watched him arrange them.

“Building a fire?” Hark, she was a fool.

“Nay, I am building an abode.” And he solidified the fact.

“I want my own chamber then.” Several paces away, she sat. Sunlight peeked through the

forest canopy. She closed her eyes and raised her face to the warmth. Like a constant itch, she

felt his gaze. She slowly peered through her lashes. Aye, he was staring—no—studying her face.

Her gash. Her ugly face. She sighed and looked to the sky instead.

“God’s eyes,” he muttered.

She turned to him. Very well, if he finds a need to gawk, I shall give him a full view of my

battered face. “Sir Galeron, what worries you so? Has my plight delayed your duties?”

“Nay.” He jammed the skinned carcasses on a sharpened branch.

“I heard your curse. Was it in frustration of not reaching your destination?” Oh, how she

wished to smirk at his rudeness, but she kept her poise.

“I was not delayed from anything that could not wait.” Keeping his eyes shielded, he

placed the meat across the spit before offering a weak smile. “I pray forgiveness for my curse

reaching your ears.”

Wrapping her arms around her legs, she rested her unscathed cheek on her knees. “Curses

are naught. I am simply thankful you helped me, Sir Galeron.” Apparently he was too kind to

mention her affliction. She hated the pity.

Seemingly distracted, he arranged kindling then retrieved a piece of hammered steel and

flint from a pouch on his belt.

“I pray you can forgive my initial rudeness.” When he didn’t respond, she added, “Ah, I

gather forgiveness shall come with time.”

Galeron struck the steel with a bit of flint. “I never held ill will. I understood the reason

you lashed out.” He blew on the kindling until it caught. “You are forgiven for bashing your head

into mine as well.”

“Ha!” She rose and strode to the fire. Her gaze flitted over his body. He looked

up, catching her stare, and alas, stared back. Heat crept up her neck, spreading to her face.

Surely, ’twas the fire’s heat causing her flush—she hoped he believed the same lie.

Galeron grinned. His demeanor was infuriating. And endearing. And more confusing than

her loss of memory.

“Sit.” He continued to tend the fire.

She paid no heed to his demand, and thrust her hands toward the fire. To her dismay, the

sharp smell of the rabbit caused her stomach to roar with hunger.

Galeron’s blue eyes sparked with mischievousness. “I gather ’tis been some time since

you ate?”

“Apparently.” She plunked down on a fallen log, certain her face turned countless shades

of crimson.

Taking a seat beside her, Galeron chuckled and poked at the fire. He was so close she

could smell the woodsy scent on his skin. She inhaled deeper, tucking the fragrance into her

mind to savor when she was left to her own.

He cleared his throat. “Allow me to tend to that cut.”

Inwardly cringing, she changed the subject. “How long before we eat?”

With a quick wink, he leaned back and rummaged in his saddle pack. Taking her hand, he

placed an apple in it, keeping one for himself. His smile highlighted the dimple in his chin and

she found herself offering a genuine smile in return.

“Ah, glorious,” she said, grateful he didn’t see how his touch affected her. Waving his

offer to use his dagger, she bit heartily into the fruit, and moaned, relishing the explosion of juice

across her tongue. “Naught could taste sweeter in this moment.”

Oh, but she did know one thing that might. Tasting the nectar on his lips would certainly

qualify. She sensed his tension when she took a bite. Mayhap he had the same thought? He

grunted and crunched into the apple, mumbling something about a damn green-eyed mystery.

Were her eyes green? Damnation. Her mind was truly addled.

AUTHOR BIO
J.M. Powers harbors an alter ego of a normal woman named Jeannie. (Her editor is

still on the fence about the whole “normal” thing.) Jeannie’s proficient at research, gluten-free

cooking, and embarrassing her teenagers by wearing skinny jeans to the grocery store. J.M., the

author-ego, plunges so deep into her writing she forgets life outside her creations still goes on.

More often than not, J.M. answers with a glassy stare when her family asks what’s for dinner.

Despite the craziness between reality and the world of writing, life falls together without broken

bones or hearts.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.jmpowers

Blog: http://jmpowersromance.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @jmpowersauthor

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