Warrior's Wrath by Gianna Simone
In 14th century England, a long-kept secret upends Rowan Langley's life. His anger sends him on a quest to discover the truth behind the lies he's been told. Determined to avoid such betrayal again, he trusts no one and lets his wrath guide him and keep others from getting close, except fellow knight Gerard, his only ally.
Aeron Dawkyns is running for her life – fleeing Wales and a false charge of murder. Forced to live in the street and pickpocket to save enough money to travel to England where her brother can help her, she steals coin from Rowan. Though she at first escapes capture, her luck runs out when Rowan catches her attempting to steal his horse. He offers her a choice – sexual slavery to himself and Gerard, or be handed over to the sheriff to be hanged. To stay alive, she agrees to Rowan's deal, never expecting the torment she will endure.
As the days pass, Aeron finds serving a bitter and angry Rowan has dark pleasures of its own, pleasures she soon learns to crave. For the first time in months, she feels safe, despite the wicked and torturous games the two knights play with her body. But when Rowan insists on dragging her back into Wales, she fears that safety will be utterly destroyed at the end of a hangman's noose.
When Rowan learns of Aeron's plight, he vows to help hunt down those who have falsely charged her. He promises to protect her, and keep her, using the debt she still owes as his reason. But how can he keep her safe when he fears he is no better than the brutal enemy who wants her hanged? He has come to crave his slave's touch, as much as he craves her heart and never wants to let her go.
Staying with Rowan becomes Aeron's heart's desire – but could very well mean the end of her life.
Includes: Bondage, spanking, multiple partners and anal sex
Rowan stared at the slip of a girl cowering before him. When she’d lifted his coin earlier, he’d thought her no more than a child, but now he realized, ‘twas a young woman. A comely woman at that. He jerked her to him, wondering why, although he possessed a healthy dose of anger for her thievery, he found himself drawn to the pale blue of her eyes. In the fading daylight, he could still make out the color, and the shape of her cheek and jaw. The full lips that pressed together as she tried once more to tug free.
“Stealing a knight’s mount is a hanging offense,” said Gerard as he came to stand beside Rowan.
“Aye. But I think I have a better idea.”
Her throat moved when she gulped and licked her lips. He found himself wondering what those lips tasted like and realized his idea would work far better to his advantage.
“Please, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to –”
“Silence.” Rowan drew her nearer. “Gerard, fetch me the rope from my pack.”
“Nay, don’t hang me! I’ll do anything you ask.” With her free hand, she offered the small sack she carried. “It’s all I have, some bread and meat, and what’s left of the coin I took from you. I… I’ll find some way to repay you the rest.”
Rowan shook his head, leering at her. Why did the sight of her fear stir him in many ways? He rather liked the thought of her willing to do anything he asked in recompense for her thievery. He knew just how she would pay. Would she agree? He cared not. She had stolen from him and he would be repaid.
“I have already decided.”
Gerard handed him the rope and Rowan let it uncoil. With quick motions, he grabbed her other wrist, and quickly bound them with the rope. She let out a frightened cry, and a twinge of remorse tugged at him. He pushed it aside. Withdrawing his dagger, he sliced through the rope, leaving a fair amount to trail from her bound hands. He tugged and she stumbled against him.
“You will serve me until I determine your debt is paid.”
Gerard let out a hearty laugh. “Rowan, surely you’re not going to keep this wench all to yourself?”
“Nay, Ger, I will share. She looks to be able to handle the both of us.”
The girl looked from Rowan, to Gerard and back again. The fading light revealed the horror in her eyes as she realized their intent. She shook her head and tried to pull away.
“Nay, I will die before you rape me!”
“‘Twill not be rape. You owe me coin, and for the offense of attempting to steal my horse. Don’t worry, girl, you’ll like it. Gerard and I know well how to please a woman, and we’ll teach you how to please us.”
“She’ll certainly make the rest of our journey less tedious,” Gerard commented. He reached out to stroke her fair hair, and she jerked away.
Rowan tugged on the rope binding her. “You are not to refuse. If you do, you will be punished.”
“You sick beast! How dare you! I will see you jailed for this!”
“And shall I tell the sheriff how you stole from me? I suspect you have many other victims who’d like to see you pay. You’ll be hanged for sure.”
She continued to shake her head, but said no more.
“You have a choice, wench. Service to us, or I bring you to the village sheriff and let him deal with you.”
He watched her closely as she debated her options. Would the foolish girl choose to die over providing him and Gerard with much needed companionship? After several long moments, she slowly nodded.
“Aye, I will repay you as you asked.”
“Be sure. Any refusal will see you severely punished.”
She lifted her chin. “I will survive whatever you choose to do to me.”
“We shall see. Come. Gerard and I are hungry. You will prepare the fowl we caught for our dinner.”
He tugged her back toward where they had made a small camp. Rowan silently pointed to the ducks Gerard had caught. He gave her a little shove toward them and she sank to her knees to begin plucking the feathers. Rowan sat nearby, leaning against a tree to watch her as she worked. After starting a fire, Gerard hunkered down beside him.
“She’s comely, with that pale hair and eyes,” his friend commented.
Rowan nodded. His journey near its end, he suddenly found himself distracted by the girl. He couldn’t afford to be careless, not when he was this close to learning where he came from. His goal of finding his father’s family might truly be attained. But with the presence of this thieving girl, his urgency seemed to have faded. Why? He scowled when she looked up just before spitting the first bird and placing it over the fire.
She made quick work of the second duck and soon the aroma of the meat filled the air. Rowan’s stomach grumbled. She glanced at him, then again at Gerard. Rowan stood and walked over to her, picking up the rope. He tugged, urging her to stand.
The wench was taller than he had first thought, her head nearly reaching his chin. He lifted her face and stared into her eyes, glowing from the firelight. Fear and anger mingled in their depths, and he held back a grin. She possessed a fire that would certainly make the rest of his journey enjoyable.
“What is your name?”
She hesitated but a moment. “Aeron.”
“Very well, Aeron, you will help set up our tent.”
She shook her head. He scowled and yanked on the rope, causing her to fall against him.
“Already you refuse my orders?”
Her cry spurred a moment of remorse, one he quickly pushed aside.
“Then what do you mean by refusing?”
“I… I have a shelter. Over there, in those trees.”
He turned to where she pointed. He glanced back at her. “Show me. Gerard, watch our dinner doesn’t burn.”
She led him through the thick stand of trees to a tiny grove within. Sure enough, some planks of wood and an assortment of fabrics had been strung together to form a crude sort of cabin. While the shelter would save them the time of erecting their tent, he found himself wishing for the comfort of his own abode.
He realized she watched him with a strange hopefulness, and although she’d said nothing, he found himself understanding her silent message.
“You fashioned this yourself?” he asked.
The note of pride in her voice almost drew a smile. Rowan held it back.
“Very well, we shall use this before we depart in the morn.”
“Depart? But… where will you take me?”
“I journey to Wales. My travels are nearly done, as the people I seek reside just over the border. You will come until I am satisfied you have repaid your debt.”
“But… I cannot go back there!”
He studied her, her fright so strong it scented the air with bitterness. This fear overpowered the fear she held for him. Why?
“You are from Wales, then?”
She nodded, her breath coming in short gasps.
“Why can’t you go back?”
“Nay, ‘tis not your affair. Surely there must be some way for me to repay you before you reach Wales.”
He shook his head. He found himself with a strange urge to never let her go, no matter what she claimed. She would accompany him and Gerard. While they would certainly enjoy the use of her body during the cold nights, she would also provide an extra set of sturdy hands to help with various needed tasks. The little thief would be his slave until he saw fit to release or mayhap even sell her. The coldness with which he reached his decision briefly surprised him until he recalled the nature of his true heritage. Still, he would protect what was his.
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