By Moonlight by Lisabet Sarai
She risked all, loving an outlaw – especially a woman
I’ll come to you by moonlight – though Hell should bar the way
In her eighteen years on earth, Bess has never traveled more than twenty miles from her Devonshire village. The raven-haired innkeeper’s daughter has little time to dream of adventure as she labors from dawn to dusk to keep her abusive father satisfied.
Then, at the weekly market in Tavistock town, she meets a handsome dandy who claims her with a single stolen kiss. When the gallant gentleman makes a midnight visit to the inn, Bess learns that her new lover is none other than Kit Latour, a notorious French highwayman who has been boldly relieving the local nobility of their valuables. Well-aware of the risk she’s taking, Bess still offers herself to the seductive outlaw. Even Kit’s darkest secrets cannot quench the flames of her love.
Changing the Ending
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
~ The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
My latest release, By Moonlight, was inspired by the poem above. This tale of tragic love and sacrifice has been a favorite of mine since I was in high school (though it does not seem to be that widely known – none of the members of my critique group were aware of it). As a teen, I though the poem was devastatingly romantic. Of course, this was before I started writing romance. I didn’t realize that to qualify as Romance with a capital R, a story needed a happy ending.
When I decided to write my own version of Noyes’ story, I knew I had to change the ending. It just wouldn’t do to have Bess and her bandit beloved perish as they do in the poem – even if they do live on as ghosts. In fact, I wanted to play with the conflict in the original, to show Bess ultimately getting the better of the men who mock her and condemn her to death.
By Moonlight deliberately borrows the atmosphere, and indeed some of the dialogue, from the Noyes poem. The first two chapters follow the source quite closely. I tried to capture the sense of danger, the terrible risk Bess takes in accepting a wanted outlaw as her partner. Then the story veers off into unexplored territory – as indeed it would have to if the lovers are to have the HEA they deserve.
Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – over one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, LGBTQ, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, BookBub and Twitter. Join her VIP email list here: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh
She must have drowsed, despite her determination to remain on guard. She heard no hoof beats clattering in the inn yard, no tapping on the barred shutters, only a soft whistle under her window that had her instantly alert.
She leaned out, her hair spilling over the casement. “Kit!” she cried, heedless of anyone hearing. “You’ve come at last.”
“Well met, my fair lady.” The lithe figure below gave a little bow. “Did you doubt me?”
“No doubt, my love, only fear. Your fame has spread wide. There be many who’d delight in spilling your blood.”
“Even more after tonight, I’ll wager. I’ve had rich takings along the high road. A fat, dyspeptic earl and his broomstick wife contributed generously to my cause.”
“Lord Haverstock? Oh Kit, he has the King’s ear.” She shrank back into the shadows of her bedroom, then peered anxiously into the distance. She almost expected to see His Majesty’s troops mustering on the country lane. “Why must you take such risks?”
Kit chuckled. “Without risk, life wouldn’t be worth living.” The bandit grasped the gnarled ivy vines that clung to the old inn and clambered up to the second floor. In moments, Bess was face to face with her beloved.
What was her Kit thinking, to ride in such finery against the wealthy and powerful? The coat was burgundy velvet, worn over a pure white linen shirt with a ruffle of lace at the throat. Supple doe-skin boots rose half-way up those strong thighs. The jeweled hilt of a dagger glittered at Kit’s waist. The hungry light in the bandit’s eyes burned brighter still.
“Oh, Bess, how I’ve missed you!” Kit seized her, crushing her against the velvet, and captured her mouth. Bess pressed her soft body against her lover’s harder form, savoring the heady mixture of familiar comfort and forbidden arousal she always felt in Kit’s arms. A brazen tongue ravaged her mouth while knowing hands slipped under her shift to palm her buttocks and pull her closer still.
“Take this off, girl, before I rip it from your limbs,” Kit gasped, tugging at the fabric that hid her flesh. “I cannot wait another instant.”
Not so long ago she’d been a bashful virgin, but there was no shyness in her now. She pulled the garment over her head and tossed it onto the chair, shaking her long hair free. Moonlight from the window made her pale skin glow. Kit’s eyes roamed over her nakedness. She’d never felt so beautiful, or so needy.
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