Because I am feeling generous. I am offering up the first two chapters to FORBIDDEN for you to read, here on my blog!!!!!!!
She could feel the panic rising in her chest. It was quiet, too quiet. The mist that surrounded her felt cool against her skin. The cotton of her nightdress swished about her as she pivoted on the large rock. She could hear the sea, and she could feel the rough gritty dusting of sand between her toes. However, it did not bring her the comfort it usually did. Instead, the usual gentle crashing of the waves droned on in her ears.
She could hear the faint crackling of her father’s burning barn in the distance, but other than that and the sea, she could hear nothing. She didn’t know what scared her more. The fact that she was alone out here on the beach, or that she was half-tempted to believe that none of the Norwegian Viking men had followed her. Deep down she knew that was far too easy. She felt horribly selfish for running when she didn’t know what was happening to her stepmother or sister. She knew she had to go back but she was terrified of being caught.
Every time she closed her eyes, she came face to face with the Viking that had stood beside her bed. Moreover, she wouldn’t have woken if it hadn’t have been for one of his men tripping over the chest by the door. He had met her eyes when he had cursed at the larger man who fought to catch himself, and Harriot had watched on in horror. She couldn’t forget his expression of frustration and amusement as she had bolted from the bed. He had chased her, and from what she had gathered, he had enjoyed it too.
The image of him alone sent shivers coursing through her spine. On the other hand, maybe it was just the cold. She couldn’t tell any more. There was a light out to sea. It glowed bright and orange. She squinted through the mist but she could not see enough of it to tell to whom it belonged. She hoped it was her father and his men, but she couldn’t rely on that hope completely. She had to light the signal fire somehow, and then maybe someone from a neighboring farm would come to help them. Or, if it were her father that was out at sea, he would see it. Then know they were desperately in need of help and return to them as fast as he could.
She gathered her nightdress in her hands and lifted it away from the rocks. Heading back towards the house was not something she felt ecstatic about. But then, she didn’t know why her feet had carried her towards the sea. Up on the hill behind the house would have been a far safer option, because there would have been more places for her to hide. If she had just gone there, instead she wouldn’t be faced with having to avoid the Viking men all over again.
The pads of her feet burned as she stepped from one rock to another. Then her toes touched sand and its texture was heaven against the bottom of her feet. She could just make out the gentle hill back toward the gardens of her parents’ home. The stone wall, all jagged from the loose rocks glowed orange from the fire that tore through the barn. The scent of the burning wood was a powerful assault upon her nose. It stung rather than tickled her senses. The warmth of it touched her cheeks as she got closer to the wall. She crouched low and peeked over it at the Vikings that lingered just outside the door to her family home. They were chattering as though destroying a family was something they did every day. It made the blood boil in her veins.
She took a moment to steady her breath. In order to get through the garden and up the hill she would have to sneak past these men. That wasn’t about to be easy considering not one of them turned their backs, not even for a second. She shifted her weight and huddled closer to the wall. She would have to move as far as she could toward the shadows, and then try to climb the wall there instead.
A sharp noise caught her attention. She ducked her head and stared at her nightdress in case it had caused the snapping sound. She half expected to find her dress torn from where it had caught in a bramble growing along the wall. When she realized it was not her dress that made the noise, her heart sank with fear. She risked a glance upwards towards the sky. Not even the mist could hold the powerful shadow he cast.
He grabbed a fistful of the cotton at her shoulders and yanked her up from the ground. She tried to scream, but the air in her lungs and her throat, pulsed around the ball that had thickened at the back of her tongue. The flames lit up the harsh contours of his face, he was all sinewy and rough to the touch. Her feet became rooted to the ground as she looked past the corded arms that drew her into the air. His eyes were piercing and blue. As blue as any eyes could get. They stared into her soul and smiled down at her. Their turned up edges, sparkling with life, did not move with the rest of his features. His eyes lied. He did not smile. His lips were a taut thin line, though they were soft and not cracked like the Viking that had stood beside her bed.
She yelped in surprise as his arm encircled her waist and dragged her closer to him. He was hurting her. He held her so tightly that the pain forced her back into reality. She fought against the straining pressure of his hand and the warmth of him pressed up against her. He was strong, so very strong that he lifted her from the ground without so much as a grunt. She kicked him, mostly because she could. And, because she hated that it was so easy for him.
He hissed in reaction, but his arms only tightened about her. He crushed the air from her lungs. She kicked out again, not because she wanted to hurt him but because she couldn’t breathe. He must have known, because despite his frustration with her, his arms loosened and he lowered her feet back towards the ground. He continued to hold onto her, but she felt his body tip forward towards her. Then she felt the warm tickle of his breath against her ear.
“Don’t fight or you will get hurt.”
She understood that, but what did he expect her to do? There were a vast number of strange men overwhelming her father’s estate. She couldn’t stay calm. She was terrified. Promising not to hurt her if she complied would mean nothing, because they were obviously here for a reason. She had no doubt in her mind that if they didn’t get what they wanted, people would get hurt.
She pulled her head away from where his lips brushed against her ear. It tickled and felt strangely intimate, and she wanted no part of that. She would rather look up into his cold blue eyes that glinted with unmistakable mischievousness. It hadn’t occurred to her straight away how unusual it was for him to speak her language. She stuttered and stammered before the words finally reached her lips.
“H-how do you speak my language?”
“Everything al-right Ivar?”
The loud Norwegian toned drawl made her jump. She felt the muscles in his arms bunch in response and then he turned her with him so they both faced the other man. It was the man who had been in her bedroom, the one that had fallen over the chest by the door. He grinned at the pleasure of seeing her again. No doubt her capture would get him out of trouble. Especially because he was the reason she had managed to escape in the first place. Maybe she should thank him for being so clumsy, and curse herself for being caught.
She tipped her body forward and away from the Viking that held her. He was so close to her, and the warmth of him seeped through her thin night-dress. He understood what she was doing because he let her lean forward until she leaned against his hands. He was the only thing steadying her weight, without him she would surely go crashing to the ground. A part of her hoped he would let her go, because when he did, she would run.
“Take her and put her with the others.”
She heard the man behind her, Ivar, said to the other man, the man she did not like. Her skin crawled in response to his held out hand. He must have thought she would go to him willingly, but she would not. The minute Ivar’s fingers loosened about her waist, she knew she was going to make a break for it. And when it did come, she decided she would have to do something to demobilize him, to give her enough time to flee. Because he was so strong, and probably fast, she just couldn’t take the risk of making any mistakes that she would regret later.
She stomped on his foot with every ounce of energy she could muster. Despite his groan, his arms tightened, but she managed to slip through them while she could. He was quick to react though, as he quickly forgot his pain and launched forward in pursuit of her. There was a roar of laughter from his men, which seemed to fuel him more. The glance she risked back at him told her if he caught her, she would be in deep trouble. His eyes glinted from the fire in the barn. Originally she had thought the tingling sensation building in her stomach had been because of her nerves. Now she realized it had nothing to do with that and everything to do with his eyes.
She headed for the garden. He was tall and lean so she expected he was faster and she would have to slow him down to give herself a real chance at escape. She was a lot smaller than he, she was lucky if her forehead reached his biceps. She was also light with less muscle to weigh her down. She headed for the peas, but even she had to duck to run down the center of the trellises. He wouldn’t be able to fit unless he planned to rip the entire crop out of the ground.
She stopped dead in her tracks when she realized he hadn’t followed her. She was in the middle of the long strip of over growing vegetables, so she didn’t know if he could see her. She couldn’t hear him, and he hadn’t struck her as the type to give up so soon. She looked back and forth to either entrance to the trellises, he was at neither. The only thing she could hear was the crackling from the barn. She tried to think like him, she didn’t expect he would give up so he must be waiting at the end where she would come out.
She doubled back on herself, and made her way back towards the end she had originally entered through. When she reached the end, she hesitated and took a moment to re-think her plan. There was no telling where he was or what he’d do. She felt this was her best chance at escape. She was wrong.
She screamed when a hand caught hold of her and ripped her through the side of the peas. The plants branches snagged on her night-dress as she sputtered passed the pea leaves that swamped her face. She tried to fight back. She dug her nails into his arms and hissed her discomfort. But he did not let her go – he refused to. Then she was face to face with him all over again.
“Why!” she yelled at him. “Why are you doing this to me and my family?”
She struggled against his arms and frowned up at him. He genuinely seemed to consider his answer before his face re-hardened, and his expression turned blank. She let out a squeaky ‘o’ of frustration and shoved at him, but he did not budge, he just stood there.
“That is a question you should ask your father.”
She froze. Her heart literally missed a beat as it sunk in her chest. His tone of voice had been soft but it had been full of conviction. Her father was a powerful man, and the kind of person you’d rather forget than remember. He had made her life a misery, so she knew he was capable of doing that to other people’s lives too.
“What did he do?” she hardly recognized her own voice when she asked him.
He looked away, and for a moment, she thought she saw a flash of weakness. But as usual, it was quickly replaced by a blank expression.
He started moving her again. Dragging her back toward the others, and she was powerless against his strength. She dragged her feet in the dirt.
“You’re just hurting yourself more”
“Then stop doing this. You’re a monster. You all a-”
He cut her off mid-sentence by stopping and snapping his head in her direction. He grabbed her by the cheeks so forcefully that his hands bit at her skin. Then he kissed her. She gasped against the swelling pressure of where his lips met hers. And she shoved her hands up between their bodies until they rested against his chest. The action was meant to put some distance between them, but he only leaned in closer. She couldn’t decide which was more overwhelming. The pressure of him pressed so close to her or the fact she was being kissed by a Viking.
It seemed to drag on forever, and then suddenly the warmth of him was gone. His lips curled at the edges and he rewarded her with a smile. He looked as though that kiss had actually meant something to him. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She had never thought she would kiss another man after Edward. All she knew was it felt nothing like her and Edward’s had, but that might be because she had loved Edward. She hated that she was actually comparing them.
“Why did you do that!” she hissed.
“I thought it might shut you up, but obviously not.”
He grabbed her by the wrist and continued to drag her. She was too dazed to fight him, too surprised to even try. The last thing she had ever expected was for him to kiss her. It made her feel numb and oddly detached from her own body. She felt like she was on the outside looking in, and her step mother’s voice rang in her ears, ‘traitor’ she would say. Maybe she was. She hadn’t exactly tried her hardest to stop him from kissing her, not that she could predict what he was about to do. And that was pretty unpredictable. It had taken her completely by surprise, even when the reality of what was happening had caught up with her. She had been half tempted to explore that time where everything around her had just stopped.
She did feel guilty, even though her step mother and step sister had never been particularly nice to her. When she thought about it she realized her father hadn’t been so great either. He had allowed them to treat her the way they did – encouraging it even. So he was as much to blame for the bitterness bubbling about inside of her. He could have changed it, but he never noticed her long enough to see how truly miserable they all made her. But that doesn’t mean she agrees to the fate these men would deal to him if they should capture him. He didn’t deserve to die at the hands of another. No one did.
It was pointless and cruel. Seeking revenge only caused a reaction from someone else, a consequence. This only led them right back into the same direction all over again. It was just a never-ending circle of events, tit for tat, a life for a life. At what point does it all just stop? Does it ever stop? Maybe not in her lifetime or the next, but at some point, she wished it would. She didn’t wish the pain of losing someone close to you upon anyone. Whether it is a father or a mother, a brother or a sister, even a child. Whether man liked it or not, their actions will affect someone else’s life the way theirs have been affected.
These are usually her thoughts as she sits and watches the sun come up from her bedroom window. It was the purest time of day with the birds as her only company, and the sun casting its first light upon the fields of green grass. Maybe it was pointless, at-least it was pointless for her now, as she may not even get to see the sun of the next day. No matter how she argued or contemplated, these men’s minds were set on revenge. And she was but a mere woman.
‘Over opinionated’ her father would say. He would even tell them, if he could hear her thoughts that she needed to be broken. Taught to be his concept of a real woman, quiet and passive…obedient. It’s funny how his wife held none of these qualities. If she did, she might actually be bearable, but yet she was still his wife – and still her step mother.
“Ivar!” She said on a gasp.
He almost dropped his grip on her when she uttered his name from her lips. He stopped dragging her towards the entrance to the house and looked at her. His eyes really were one of a kind.
“I will give you everything we own. Jewelry, our gold, but please spare my family – I will do anything in exchange for their lives.”
Her lip trembled as she finished her sentence. She knew where every item of worth that belonged to her family was. She would give it to them instantly if he gave her his word. He smiled down at her like he had waited for her to say that all along. She didn’t understand why that would amuse him. To her people, the Vikings were like magpies, ‘a sucker for anything shiny’. So why wasn’t he jumping at the opportunity?
“Why would you do anything to save the lives of two women who would sacrifice you, so they may live?” He asked.
“I do not understand.”
“Let me explain. When you made it out of the house un-captured, you become a risk. If we didn’t find you, you would alert someone or your father. And as spineless as he is, he would not return home. As no one got a good look at you, we had to ask your family for details. They thought we wanted you as a little more than just a hostage, so they offered you in return for their freedom. From my angle, anyone that can sell out family so easily aren’t very nice people to live with.”
She couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. How could they so easily just do that? She couldn’t do that. If she could she would never of come back toward her childhood home, she would have just left them fend for themselves the same way they would make her. She didn’t for a second believe she was easy to live with, but neither were they.
“I don’t know”
His whole persona seemed to change as he tightened his grip about her arm once more. He had softened his approach, despite his desire to be forceful with her for the pain she had inflicted upon him. He led her back inside the house where he removed a cloak from a hook and draped it about her shoulders. He clipped its edges just below her throat with a buckle. The buckle was of a dragon that had bright red jeweled eyes. He ran his thumb over it before putting that same hand to the small of her back and guided her inside.
She wasn’t sure she was comfortable with wearing the cloak. Whomever it belonged to would not be happy with Ivar’s decision to place it upon her. That discomfort eased though when she made eye contact with her step mother. Her step mother scowled at her from where she sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. Her step mother didn’t look relieved that she was alive, she looked more annoyed. Harriot went to them, even though she didn’t want to. She knew if she didn’t though, her step mother would be convinced that she was somehow involved in this raid. Ivar let her go without so much as a word, but she could feel his eyes upon her. He would be watching them. Observing them from a distance, she had no doubt about it.
He was cunning. Waiting for her step mother to essentially hang herself and talk of Harriot’s father. He had those all-knowing eyes, along with the ability to move without being heard. He was one of a kind…almost inhuman. Just like something that belonged on a different plane of existence. She lowered herself until she sat next to her step sister. The floor beneath her was cold against the pads of her feet, colder than the grass in the garden. The cloak hung loosely about her shoulders. It came to rest against the ground at either side of her body, and held the heat in rather than letting it escape. “Where was you!”
Her mother’s voice was bitter and ferocious.
Harriot subdued the yelp building at her lips as her mother yanked at her arm. Her nails were starting to break the surface of her skin. Each sharp edge bit at her and burned until she could no longer stifle her gasp.
Ivar said from where he stood.
His eyes, as blue as a summer sky was fixed upon them. He was watching her step mother closely, and she watched him as she removed her hand from Harriot’s arm. Stunned Harriot fell to silence. But she couldn’t get the Viking out of her mind. What did it matter to him whether her step mother hurt her or not? Why had he kissed her? He had acted as though it was a form of punishment, and she knew she should be utterly repulsed, but she wasn’t. If anything she felt the opposite. She was utterly aware of him despite the chaos around them, and she knew not even the kiss would save her father. So what was she even thinking? Her loyalty should be to her kin. But there was this hint of doubt growing inside of her, exactly where that loyalty should be. Her father was a horrible man, even to his own children. She hated herself to admit it, but for a long time she had hoped someone would stop him from hurting more people. She didn’t want him dead though, like she was sure Ivar did.
Despite the weight and the warmth from the heavy cotton draped about her shoulders, she still shook. Not from the cold, or what she had presumed was the cold to begin with, but with fear. She was slowly starting to realize how little she had in this world. Not that she had expected her step mother and step sister to change the habit of a lifetime and suddenly start caring. But she hadn’t expected them to give up on her so easily. She felt sick to the stomach when it truly sank in that anything could have happened to her, and they just wouldn’t care. Their complete disregard for someone’s life, for family was shocking.
She tried not to wallow on the pain of knowing her step mother and step sister would do anything to save themselves, rather than being selfless to protect others. But there was much more frightening things to think about…Like the Vikings who were slowly starting to pour into the room from the outside. They were all very large men with what looked to be fine strong blood lines. It was something she admired. She probably admired it the most because her father would insist that she spend her time around the most pompous of men. Half of them hadn’t known the feeling of a hard day’s work, and their hands were even softer than hers.
The Vikings though, be as they may the enemy, looked weathered and strong. She remembered the feel of Ivar’s hands, his palm was rough and his fingers calloused. She had felt like she weighed nothing more than just a feather when he had dragged her along. The scary part about that was, he is the slimmest man among these men. It terrified her to think of what they were capable of. They could grind her bones with their mere hands.
She watched them cautiously from where she sat. Mostly because she was interested in the people most feared by her own… and because she preferred focusing her attentions upon them right now. Rather than the two women who sat to her right, her supposed family. A family that was broken in so many ways that it had become a disfigured blur in her memory.
Their accents were thick, so understanding them completely when they talked so fast wasn’t easy. What she had observed was that most of them were distracted. Their attentions were turned upon each other, rather than Harriot. She knew that planning an escape, between her, her mother and her sister was practically useless. They weren’t brave enough to make a run for it. But the bigger question for Harriot, was would she be able to? There was no judging what the Viking was capable of if she should try to escape him again. It was true that he had been quite nice to her so far, but she didn’t trust him. Something told her there was more to this person than what meets the eye. He was the enemy after all, a handsome and intriguing enemy, but an enemy no less.
Harriot leaned forward and fidgeted a little. No one noticed. So instead she tried stretching. She spread her arms a little, still no one noticed. They really were engrossed in everything that they were doing. If she was going to attempt escape, she knew now might be her only opportunity to do so. Nevertheless that didn’t stop the flip her stomach did at the thought. She must be crazy, really crazy. She closed her eyes firmly as she started to stand.
It was as though her sister’s discomfort vibrated through the air around them. Still she took her first step in the direction of the door, and then another. She opened her eyes and it felt as though everything around her had slowed until she could miss no detail or movement. Her heart throbbed so hard against her chest as she sucked a breath into her lungs. The room was dimly lit by candles; their yellow glow flickered along the bare walls… Walls that were covered once with beautiful bright wall hangings, and luxurious curtains.
“And where is it you think you are going?”
His voice would forever haunt her memories. It was deep and one of a kind. It instantly sent a wave of chills running through her spine, and she turned slowly to face him with quite a bit of reluctance. She had been caught.
“Your men are hungry and thirsty. I was merely going to serve some food and mead to distract you all from killing me for a little while longer.”
She set her shoulders as though she was insulted by his remark. Then, she looked up into his eyes with as much genuine sincerity as she could offer. She surprised herself, because she hadn’t put a single thought into what she would say if she was caught. Which was quite stupid really, considering she never believed she would get out of this room unnoticed. But she did have doubts on whether he believed what she had said or not.
He seemed doubtful, and looked as though he was about to make her sit back down, but he didn’t. Instead he swiveled on his heels and pointed to one of his men before he turned back to face Harriot.
“He goes with you.”
It was clear from the look on his face that the terms were not open to negotiation. So she nodded to him and carried on making her way towards the kitchen. The guy Ivar had chosen to go with her was probably three times Harriot in size. His sheer size and presence could dominate almost any room. Looking up at him made her giddy. He had great big black eyes, and hair as long as hers. His lips were pulled taut into one sweeping line across his face. His whole demeanor was so much different from Ivar’s. He didn’t look like he was capable of much sympathy. If her father had caused these men enough trouble, that they would go out of their own way to find him and use his family for ransom. She was pretty sure he saw her as the enemy too.
She couldn’t exactly blame them for treating her that way. All she could say is that she had no choice over what family she was born into, or other people’s actions. She was not like them. She liked to believe she was not heartless or insensitive to the people around her. She cared for the little things she couldn’t expect them to know that though. She wasn’t even sure why she cared what people thought. These men would either become a blur in her memory, or the very last memory she would have.
She was conscious of the room around her. Everyone was watching her as she moved. They were all probably wondering why Ivar was being so nice to her, in fact she was too. It felt surreal.
Harriot could hardly breathe as she stalked along the walls of the corridor. She held the heavy material of the cloak away from the ground, hoping to avoid snagging it on any corners as she moved. It was miles too big for her, in both length and quantity of material. But she had not considered making her escape without it. It could hinder her if she needed to move fast. Overall that was a risk she was willing to take in order to protect her modesty a little, and to stay warm. She had wound her hands in the course material of the cloak so hard, they burned. She was nervous, and scared of how little control she had over her own life right now.
His sharp blue eyes were burned into her memory. It was easy to tell he had been born with a gift. Not only because he was beautiful, but because behind those bright blue eyes was anticipation. He didn’t look at you, but through you, and that’s what scared Harriot the most. She just had this horrible feeling when he looked at her. It was as though against her will, he could see straight through to her soul.
But enough of that…she had to concentrate on what she was doing or she would very likely make a mistake. There was no room for that. This could very well end up being her only option, and if it was she wasn’t going to waste it.
She pushed at the heavy wooden door that separated the kitchen and hallway from a small room where a door to the outside rested against rusty hinges. It creaked and scraped against the course fine dusting of straw and always made her cringe. But she was convinced no one so far was onto her. The man Ivar had sent to keep an eye on her was consumed with the mead she had offered to him and the rest of the men. It had been too heavy for her to carry, and he had surprised her when he had offered to help. In doing so, he had played into her plan, and had given her the chance she needed to escape.
She made a break for the door as she heard someone re-enter the kitchen. She assumed it was the Viking returning for the next batch of mead to hand out. She knew it wasn’t when she heard Ivar’s hiss of frustration. She risked a glance at him as she ran out into the garden. His face was contorted with barely contained anger and she couldn’t really say she blamed him for being angry. She had probably caused him more trouble than the worth of it.
He came after her, and she knew if he caught hold of her she was either dead, or would suffer for abusing his trust. Let’s be fair though, who would trust someone you just captured not to escape? Harriot shivered inwardly with fear. She had heard so many times over the years of how fear could drive you to do crazy things. She had never thought of herself as so impulsive until her hand curled about the sword that was left just outside the rusty old door.
She needed both hands to lift it, as it was just too heavy. Even then she struggled to point it straight in his direction. It felt like it had a mind of its own as the blade swayed in her grasp. It glinted through the fog an orange glow from the fire that consumed the barn. However it would not stay straight, instead it pointed towards the ground as she battled with her own strength and determination.
She had a new-found respect for the men who could lift these and swing them with ease. They made it look so easy, too easy. She squealed and sidestepped as Ivar launched himself in her direction. The blade had now lowered even further toward the ground in front of her feet. With her lack of ability to control the fine long blade, it scraped against the mud. She tried her hardest to right her balance but it was not proving easy for her to do.
The fool grinned at her, like this was some game he admired. He was mocking her, and even she mocked herself. What was she even doing? She didn’t want to kill him, she wasn’t a murderer. She probably didn’t even have the strength to drive the blade into him even if she truly wanted to. Moreover the truth was she didn’t. Her reactions now were so foreign she didn’t even recognize herself.
“Ah, I see doubt.” Ivar said with a smile as he stepped closer to her.
Harriot clutched at the sword like it was the last fragment of reality she had left. Her whole world had suddenly slowed down. Each step she took she was conscious of the ground beneath her… Conscious of his every response to her movements. He was so in-tune with her that she was starting to grow even more scared than she was before.
“Please… I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to see anyone hurt.”
She meant it with every last fiber of her being. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt, and she wanted even less to hurt him. But he was persistent, and she knew he wasn’t about to give up that easy.
It was when she lifted the sword to surrender it to him that she felt a painful blow. She had thought someone had struck her in the arm from behind. The force of it alone was enough to send the blade crashing to the floor. Reaction told her to grab where the item had struck, but when she did; she felt the stream of blood against her fingers.
The force of it had spun her around. She hadn’t thought something could take the air so completely out of her lungs. Ivar, thankfully was less dazed than she was. She felt his hand secure itself at the base of her spine. She was thankful because the blood streaming along her arm was starting to make her knees weak.
She was too disorientated to tell where the blow had come from. When she looked around no one had been there except her and Ivar. Ivar hadn’t done it because her eyes had been on him the whole time.
He practically carried her back towards the house. Even when faced with the blood he didn’t flinch half as much as she did. This was expected, considering they were both very different people, with very different upbringings.
“An Arrow.” Ivar hissed the words through gritted teeth.
Instead of retaliating, and finding the source like it was clear he wanted to do. Ivar huddled close to her and put himself between her and any more attacks, until he had managed to get her back inside. She didn’t understand why someone would shoot at her.
“Here let me see.”
He took her by the arm.
He was being as gentle as he could be, but the pain from that small action was overwhelming. She found herself grabbing at the prodding fingers out of reaction. It hurt… It hurt more than she had ever expected. The arrow hadn’t even become lodged in her body as it would have been if the person had better aim. Instead she had been left with a hefty slash across her right arm that gaped and burned with so much force her legs felt weak. She had never felt anything as painful as this before. Her whole body was numb, apart from the area where the arrow had bit into her skin. Everything seemed to be concentrated on that area now, and the throbbing was unbearable. Ivar held onto her arm as he stormed his way along the corridor. Anger oozed from every part of him. He had incredible strength when he was angry. He flung the door to the main hall open so hard, its hinges screeched and shuddered as the door bounced off of the wall. Everyone turned from their loud happy chatter, took one look at her and Ivar, and the room changed and molded into something more serious.
The men’s faces hardened as they looked them both over, you could see them weighing the options of Ivar causing her injury. The man who had been sent to watch her suddenly looked sheepish. Ivar did not look at him, instead his eyes swept along the room and stopped upon a small shaggy looking man. He nodded his head and left the room.
“Fetch me some mead.” he barked to one of his men.
Then slowly but steadily turned to face Harriot.
She must have looked completely horrified. Common sense would tell you that the wound would not heal by itself. Whether it is wishful thinking or blatant ignorance, Harriot hoped with all of her heart that none of this would need a hot blade against her skin. Her knees throbbed for the very first time since the arrow had skimmed her body, not through relief but through fear.
Her knees wobbled, and her hands shook. It felt silly, how her body was reacting to the wound. Something so small shouldn’t feel so big. Yet she was sure once the mixture of blood and sweat had been wiped away from her skin, the wound wouldn’t look so monstrous. Plus the sight of the blood wouldn’t make her want to faint. The color must have drained from her face, because Ivar only looked at her once before he led her back in the direction of the kitchen. She stumbled slightly, unable to adapt to his forward movements and gain any sort of control over her shaky legs. The cloak he had offered her was now ruined from the arrow, and the steady stream of blood that trickled along her arm.
He managed to catch her fall with his own body. For a moment she thought he might dare to carry her the rest of the way to the kitchen. This only served to annoy her further as she hated feeling weak and helpless. She was and never would be a damsel in distress. It was a quality her father hated. He felt he would get less for her hand in marriage because of her strong will, stubbornness and quiet determination.
She was thankful for the chair offered to her once Ivar had rounded up a few of his men in the kitchen. The relief her legs felt to have the strain of standing removed, when they felt so horribly weak was most welcome. It was the next part she did not look forward to.
She almost leapt from where she sat when Ivar tore the expensive curtain from the window. The material was fine stuff, and her father would surely have a fit. He would rather lose a daughter than the material those curtains were made out of. She swallowed the lump building in her throat. Also the breath that had almost emerged as a plea to put the curtain before her own survival. But it was embarrassment that stopped her. She did not wish to explain how her father cared more for material objects, rather than his own flesh and blood.
His blue eyes were searching as he tore the material straight down the middle. He could sense her hesitation, but he did not question it. Instead he came and sat next to her, and extended his hand towards her arm cautiously.
His politeness surprised her. Everything about him surprised her. She had heard so many things about his people over time, that she had naturally assumed he was a bad person. The same way they had assumed she was like her father, though she was nothing like the man. He took her arm so gently, and despite her wish to pull away from him after his brutish kiss among the gardens, she did not. She let him lift her arm, and fold the fabric just above the wound. He tied it as tight as he could manage without hurting her and cutting into her skin. Then he brushed the edges of the arrow’s wound with his fingertips, as his other hand circled her elbow. His long slender fingers were loose but warm against her skin. They stood out even above the throbbing pain of the blood rushing through her arm. Her skin stung where his fingers touched no matter his effort to be as careful as he possibly could.
She didn’t understand why any of them would help her. Why she was so important that they would go out of their way to stop the bleeding. Not just rule her out as another casualty to brush under the bridge. She almost instantly regretted the distraction of her thoughts, as one of the men turned the blade they had placed among the flames to heat.
“Drink this.” Ivar said as he offered her a container of mead.
She half hesitated, faced with a non-sympathetic glare, she knew then that she would need it. Whether she liked it or not he was going to seal her wound with that blade. Even if they had to hold her down to do so, and there wasn’t a single doubt in her mind that they could.
She shouldn’t be surprised that her step mother or sister hadn’t bothered to pay much attention to whether she was alright or not, but she was. They hadn’t spared her a single glance of concern which reminded her of something her uncle, from her mother’s side would say ‘Who needs enemies when you have family quite like this.’
She drank the mead heavily hoping the quantity she consumed all at once would soothe and numb at least some of the pain. She couldn’t help but flinch a second time as the blade was turned over in the flames again. Ivar however, was engrossed in cleaning the blood from her skin – at-least as much as he could – while being as careful as he could not to hurt her. His body was rigid with tension, his eyes the color of a clear summer sky skimmed over her with little emotion.
The door burst open as the man who had left the room on Ivar’s signal entered. His face was unreadable, but in his hand he held the remains of a broken arrow.
“Ivar we have a problem.”
“Hold them off.”
“But Ivar, there are too many.”
“Ten minutes, that’s all I ask.”
Ivar looked at the other Viking man with such seriousness, that he didn’t question him further. Harriot however, wasn’t sure whether she was feeling relief or despair. Whoever had shot at her must have known she was not the desired target, but had taken the shot anyhow. So, was she meant to be relieved by the men that had come to her family’s aid, or threatened?
The blade was removed from the flame, and she was given a piece of cloth to wedge within her mouth to stop her from biting her tongue. She was so utterly terrified of the pain that was about to come, that for the first time in her life she wished she had taken more mead.
A man braced her shoulders, and placed something soft behind her back. Ivar’s hand was steady but cautious, as he brought the blade towards her upper arm. No one could have prepared her for the pain that surged through her arm. Her yelp of discomfort was muffled by the fabric folded between her lips, but her cries she was sure, could be heard in the next village over. The Vikings hands braced themselves against her violently shaking body, her shoulders and arms trembled with wave after wave of shock from the heat. The urge to pull away from the source of pain was overwhelming, even though she understood perfectly that it had to be done. She wanted to fight against them and the pain like a caged stallion ready to take flight.
Her vision was starting to blur, and she tried to fight it but the darkness fought back, until it had consumed her vision completely. Her pain suddenly felt less real, as though she was feeling only a portion of it while within someone else’s body. The sensation was frightening, but she welcomed the dislocation from herself at the same time. She could hear his voice, faint and heavenly in the dark recesses of her mind. It was soft, and cooed to her in a tone that was resonant but with its own mysterious healing qualities. She felt as though she was grabbing for something, anything solid that kept her connected with what was real and what wasn’t. She felt the warm softness of material fill her grasping palm, where only seconds before she felt nothing at all. Her vision had faded out to blackness. The voices along with the comforting warmth of body heat, and the coarse cotton material that had pressed against her fingertips, slowly started to fade from her memory despite how she fought for its comfort to stay.
I hope you enjoyed reading the first two chapters to FORBIDDEN. Remember there are many more chapters to this story! as it is 72,000 words in length. x