Forbidden: Claude (Second in Command #2)

Forbidden: Claude (Second in Command #2)

Elizabeth Rose

To my readers

This book is the story of the son of my hero and heroine, John Montague and Celestine de Bar from The Baron’s Destiny – Book 3 of my Barons of the Cinque Ports Series.

It is a standalone book, but it is better to read The Baron’s Destiny first so no surprises will be ruined.

I had an overwhelming request for Claude’s story from my readers. If you’ve already read The Baron’s Destiny, you will realize Claude is in love with a girl named Rose – daughter of one of the other barons, but she is in love with someone else. So now, Claude will finally get his chance at happily-ever-after, as long as he can stop carrying the torch for Rose.

In this story, you will be introduced to the other Barons of the Cinque Ports from the rest of the series:

Lord Nicholas Vaughn & wife Muriel – The Baron’s Quest – Book 1

Lord Conlin de Braose & wife Isobel – The Baron’s Bounty – Book 2

Lord John Montague & wife Celestine (Claude’s parents) - The Baron’s Destiny – Book 3

At the end of the book you will find a list of not only the barons and their wives but also their children that they had after their stories ended.

Thank you, and enjoy,

Elizabeth Rose

Chapter 1

Port of Sandwich, England 1294

Claude Jean Montague returned to England only to have his heart broken once again.

Love hurt. Claude learned this at the young age of five and ten years when he had his heart broken the first time by Lady Rose of Sandwich. Daughter of Baron Conlin de Braose of the Cinque Ports, Rose had shown kindness to Claude when he and his mother first arrived in Hastings from France, eight years ago. It had been during a trying time in Claude’s life because that was when he first met his father. He had hoped to one day marry the girl, but she had eyes for her father’s squire, Toft, instead.

Had Claude known he was about to walk right back into the hardships of the past and that it would bring all those old feelings rising to the surface again, he never would have agreed to make the trip to England to celebrate his younger sister’s birthday.

Having sailed to Sandwich from France where he’d been living for the past six years, Claude had plenty of time to think about the girl he once loved. But Rose was married to someone else now, he reminded himself. She wouldn’t feel the same way about him that he felt for her. This fact was hard to accept.

“Mon Seigneur, nous approchons les quais de Sandwich,” Claude’s squire so generously pointed out they had approached the docks. Claude didn’t speak his native language much anymore. Even though he’d returned to his homeland of France when he inherited his late grandfather’s castle and demesne, he felt like more of an Englishman than French after finding out that Baron John Montague of Hastings was his father.

“Oui,” Claude answered. “Felix, it would be better if we spoke in English while we are on English soil,” he pointed out. “My father is not fond of the French language.”

“Aye, my lord,” said Felix.

Claude’s eyes fixated on Briarbeck Castle in the distance as the ship sailed into the harbor. Rose would be there with her husband, Toft. His heart sped up. He longed to see her but dreaded it at the same time. Confusion welled within him. The flame of love still burned in his heart for Lady Rose, inhibiting him to take a wife even though he was already three and twenty years of age. Rose didn’t see him in the same light. She considered them naught but friends. Her love was only for her husband, Toft.

The ship docked, and Claude made his way to the boarding plank to disembark.

“The docks are crowded today, my lord,” said his squire, carrying Claude’s travel bag over his shoulder as they headed down the pier. Sandwich was a major port of trade and one of the Cinque Ports along with New Romney, Dover, Hastings, and Hythe. Claude’s father was the Baron of the Cinque Ports of Hastings, but he resided in Winchelsea now that Hastings was too silted up for ships to dock. A storm eight years ago ruined the harbor, and took many lives as well as dumped half of Castle Hastings into the sea. His father had a hard time coming to terms with the fact he had lost his prestigious castle to an act of God.

Heartbreak was no stranger to Claude’s family. Claude’s sad and lonesome childhood and his mother’s stories of watching her mother burn at the stake were things that haunted him yet. He wished he could forget them forever.

“Do you see your mother?” asked Felix, stepping around two dockworkers hauling a trunk from a nearby ship. Fishermen carried poles and bait buckets, loading them onto their small vessels that bobbed up and down in the waves. Ships of all sizes filled the harbor, flying the flags of nobles and even foreign lords that arrived there for trade.

The slips closest to the dock held the smaller fishing vessels and flat-bottomed cogs that could sail right up to the docks to unload. The larger trade ships that needed deeper water so as not to be marooned, anchored further out and the occupants took shuttle boats to the pier.

“Nay, I don’t see her,” said Claude, scanning the pier and the many people that ranged from sailors, fishermen, and nobles, to dockworkers and even beggars. A baker carrying a tray over his head sold loaves of brown bread. An old alewife followed in his steps with her husband, pushing a cart with buckets of ale, a ladle, and some wooden cups. A lame man sat on the edge of the pier begging, talking with a fishmonger who kept busy shucking a bucket of oysters.

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