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Villain--or simply misunderstood?

Q? When does a villain not know he's a villain?

A--When he's Morgan of Sark.

A knight of high standing, Morgan, from Hope Rises from the Ashes, is an enigmatic character of complex contradictions that form his seemingly simple psyche. A middle child, he was always torn between the attention lavished upon his younger brother by his mother, and that upon his older brother by his father, his father being a cruel man who instilled Morgan with respect for strength, but not for women.

A bit sociopathic in nature, Morgan pursues adoration and power, and longs to be loved, yet doesn't know how to love, ruthlessly fumbling his way through loneliness. In the following excerpt, the heroine, Collie, has just returned from a visit to a wizard:

I hurry for the inn, my heart doing double time with my feet in this race and I'm breathless by the time I whirl through the inn door.

Eoghan is stacking firewood at the parlor ingle and Giselle is nowhere to be seen. I rush across the parlor for my bedchamber and spinning my way through the door, my breath suddenly stops.

Feet root into the floor.

Morgan is standing in the center of the bedchamber. Eyes are fire. Steps forward, raises his arm and smacks my face hard with the back of his hand. I reel back against the door.

"Where have you been?" Voice like thunder.

Cowering against his rage, I'm holding onto the stinging pain of my face. "I was just out walking, that's all. I'm sorry. I went too far."

Smack. He strikes me again. "Don't lie to me. I won't stand for it. Giselle told me you went to see Kade."

"Yes. I went walking to see the wizard. I ain't lying to ye."

He now has my stinging cheeks squeezed between his strong thumb and fingers. He's no longer shouting, but the words still burn as hot. "Why? Why did you go see the wizard?"

My words are burbles beneath his squeezing hand. "I just needed to ask him something."

I'm shoved back hard against the wall, knocking the air out of me.

"Giselle told me you went to seek the elixir of non-conception. A whore's potion. Why? Are you a whore, Collie? Are you?"

Tears falling like rain. "No." 'Tis a lie to be sure and Giselle is never to be trusted again. Never.

"Do you think I don't want children?"

Tears still falling. "I don't know."

I cringe back as he steps forward again. "Perhaps you should ask me before you deign to make such a decision for me. Now give me the elixir."

I'm trembling all over. "I don't have it. I didn't have enough money, so he wouldn't give it to me."

Smack. Burning agony throbs through my face. Blood fills my mouth and dribbles from my nose.

"That's why you wanted my money?"

"Please, Morgan, don't hurt me. I'm not lying to ye. If I'd only wanted your money for the elixir, I would've had money for the elixir."

He picks me up and throws me onto the bed, climbs bestride me and begins pawing at my belt


until he finds my purse within the folds of my dress. He yanks it open, withdrawing the jar hidden inside.

"You don't have it? Then what's this?" He presses the jar against my bleeding mouth. "Tell me, Collie. Tell me what this is! Offend my ears with your foreign tongue and tell me what's in here!"

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