My thanks to everyone who reviewed Warrior Queen. I hope you enjoy this little sequel.


Sparks flew as blade met blade. Parry, parry, thrust. Eomer's sword was deftly blocked, and he was forced to step backwards. A bead of sweat ran down his face and he swiped it away, irritated by the blatant evidence of his physical exertion. This opponent was one he'd expected to beat with ease, instead his swordsmanship was being put to the test. Accepting this challenge had been foolish. His body was weary from long hours in the saddle, and he was in need of hot food and a decent night's sleep. He should never have let himself be goaded.

"Do you surrender?" Dark eyes mocked him.

He tilted his jaw. "The King of Rohan never surrenders."

"Very well." A renewed flurry of blows forced him back, and then suddenly a well-practised combination of moves threw him off balance. His tired muscles refused to co-operate with his brain and before he knew what was happening his sword flew from his hand, arced through the air and embedded itself point first into the wooden floor some fifteen yards away. He glared at the weapon, trying to work out if he stood any chance of reaching it before his opponent's blade could thrust between his unprotected ribs. That was another mistake he'd made earlier. He really shouldn't have taken his armour off.

"Don't even think about it," his adversary warned.

Hands raised in surrender he was forced to retreat until he felt cold stone against his back. So this was what it had come to. A moment of rashness and now he was trapped and defenceless.

His opponent smiled coolly and rested the tip of the sword in the hollow at the base of his throat. "It seems you have no escape."

Eomer licked his lips, sucked in a deep breath and composed himself. "What do you intend to do with me now?" Heat rushed to his cheeks as a burning gaze raked him from head to foot. The tip of the sword dropped to the lacing at the front of his tunic. With a soft sibilance, the sharp metal cut through the topmost lace.

"I believe I should feast my eyes on the prize that I have captured." The sword dipped lower as it sliced through the second lace.

"One of my men could enter this room at any moment," Eomer said, as a third lace succumbed to the blade.

"Oh no, my dear king. I have seen to it that there is no hope of rescue from your men." The final lace dropped to the floor as, in one smooth move, the blade cut through both it and the material of his tunic to leave him exposed from neck to navel. Now the sword moved up again, pushing the fabric from his shoulders. He was powerless to prevent the ruined garment sliding from his body. Cold air blew across his naked chest, but the shiver that rippled through him was caused by the look in his opponent's eyes. Want. Need. Lust.

"Well?' he said, attempting to keep his voice steady.

In response, the sword dipped again. Eomer sucked in a shaky breath as the point rested on the top lace of his britches. That was more than he could stand. "Would you drive me insane with your teasing?" he growled. He batted the blade away with the flat of his hand as he launched himself at his opponent.

Now his muscles were only too willing to do his bidding. He grabbed at a wrist and heard the satisfying sound of the sword skittering across the floor. A quick sweep of a leg, his hands fisted into material to break the fall, and then his opponent was down, totally immobilised beneath his body.

"That wasn't fair," his would-be foe protested. "You knew I wouldn't actually hurt you."

"All's fair in love and war, my darling wife," Eomer replied breathlessly. She tilted her head up to protest further, but he silenced her with a kiss, only to suddenly break away again as an unpleasant thought skittered into his mind. "You weren't joking about us not being disturbed were you?" he asked, realising he fully intended to break one of the major rules of court etiquette.

Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "I promise we will be left alone long enough for you to carry out whatever revenge you have in mind for my teasing."

"Thank goodness," he replied, returning to the task of smothering her with hot kisses.

"Eomer," she murmured, squirming delightfully beneath him. "Did you just let me win?"

"Of course not," he replied, intent on removing her clothing as quickly as possible without resorting to the method she'd used on his shirt.

She caught his face in her hands, her beautiful eyes filled with rebuke. "You're lying to me, aren't you?"

He groaned and buried his face in her hair. "Lothiriel, are you really determined to kill me? We've been apart for four days and you welcome me home by dragging me to the practice room and cutting my shirt to ribbons. Do you really think I'm now in a fit state to be clear-headed about your skill with a blade?"

"But if you'd wanted to stop me..."

"Why would I possibly want to stop you?' Eomer said in a tortured tone. She really was going to drive him crazy.

She pouted. "So you did let me win?"

He groaned again. "Lothiriel - right now - right this moment - I swear by everything I hold precious that you're the most wonderful, amazing, skilled and beautiful swordswoman I've ever had the good fortune to have pinned to the floor. Now please - shut up and kiss me!"

She laughed. "As my king commands," she replied demurely, and then proceeded to behave anything but.


Eomer ignored the curious looks his tunic attracted as he headed back to his chamber. It would probably have been prudent to have wiped the smile from his face too, but try as he might, he couldn't. Ah well, let the court gossips enjoy themselves. He could see little wrong with a husband and wife enjoying the most natural of pleasures after several days apart. Being king and queen did not change their desire for one another.

The thought of Lothiriel made his smile widen. He had no idea what he had done to deserve such a magnificent woman, but with every day that passed he was more grateful than ever to have her by his side. On the surface she was everything he had been led to expect of a well-bred princess. She was skilled with a needle, competent at book-keeping, and wise enough to know how to smooth the ruffled feathers of even the most gruff of his marshals when required. Such talents alone would have made her an asset to his kingdom. What made him love her, though, was the tantalising contrasts that she revealed only to him. Sweetly spoken in public, she would frequently reduce him to laughter in private with phrases more fit for the stable than a royal court. And, to his surprise and delight, she was not at all afraid to take the lead in the bedroom. His mind drifted pleasantly back to the training room, and he chuckled to himself. Not only in the bedroom.

She was waiting for him when he reached his chamber, having taken a separate, shorter route in a vain attempt to hide what they'd been up to. "I ordered food to be brought to you," she said, gesturing to the meal laid out on the table. "And your steward is heating water for your bath."

He crossed the room, gathered her into his arms and kissed her soundly. "You are truly wonderful," he said.

She laughed as he released her. "I am merely assuaging my guilt at having taken advantage of you after what must have been a long and arduous journey."

"You can take advantage of me whenever you wish," he replied cheerfully, moving to the chest that stood at the foot of his bed. "By the way, about the question you asked me before."

"Which question?"

He turned and raised an eyebrow. "Did I let you win?"

"Oh," she said. "That question. So your brain wasn't entirely below your belt then?"

"Not entirely," he replied with a smirk. "I have something I wish to give you by way of answer."

"Oh?" Curiosity played across her face as he reached into the chest and drew out a long, slender package wrapped in an oiled hide.

He handed it to her. "I believe you are ready for this."

"What is it?"

"Open it and see."

She eyed him uncertainly, then set the package down on the bed so she could unpick the knots of the twine that held it bound together. Slowly she unfolded the hide, and then the thick velvet material inside. An awed gasp escaped her as she finally uncovered an exquisitely crafted sword and scabbard. She looked up at him. "It's beautiful."

"It belonged to my aunt. Theoden's queen." He picked it up and held it with the handle facing her. "Go on – draw it."

"Eomer..." she began uncertainly.

"Draw it," he commanded gently.

Slowly she wrapped her fingers around the hilt, then with one smooth pull she freed the blade from the scabbard. Sunlight from the window danced off the polished metal. Eomer smiled as she tested the weight of it in her hand and then cautiously tried out a few strokes. She was so natural and fluid with it, they could have been made for one another.

"I was waiting for the right moment to give it to you. I know how hard you've worked with the swordmaster. Today, well, perhaps I did not give my all to the battle, but my respect for your skill is genuine. You are worthy of a queen's sword."

"I don't know what to say," she said, returning the sword to its scabbard. "Such a gift..."

"Not a gift," he corrected gently. "It is a weapon you have earned the right to carry – both as queen and as a shieldmaiden of Rohan."

She stepped into his arms, reached up and kissed him. "How can I ever thank you?"

His lips twitched. "I could think of one way."

She gave a mock sigh. "Do you ever think of anything else?"

"When I've been away from you for four long days?"

She took his hand and led him to the table, laughing at his disappointed look. "Eat first," she said. She moved behind him as he sat, wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered into his ear. "I promise you're going to need the energy."