Torn (The Handfasting)

Torn (The Handfasting) by Becca St. John Page A

Book: Torn (The Handfasting) by Becca St. John Read Free Book Online
Authors: Becca St. John
say,
and I'd like to know what it was."
    Maggie
frowned and looked away, as she fought to capture an elusive thought. Something
Talorc said jogged an idea loose, but not loose enough to tumble into her
senses. It tickled at other ideas as if they were all hinged together.
    He
had her by the arms. "What did she want?"
    Maggie
pulled free. "Did you say bumped?"
    "It
was done on purpose."
    "No,"
she waved that away. "Someone brushed past Beathag when she went to leave
the room. Someone who did not belong there, and did something to anger
Beathag."
    "Beathag
is too meek to get truly angry."
    "No
she's not."  Maggie's head snapped up, "She's not so much timid, as
she's aware this is not her place, her home, her position meager. She knew she
couldn't challenge, that didn't mean she fell in line with all that was done
and said."
    Talorc
was not pleased. "We never sent her away, though we told her she could go
if she wanted. She chose to stay, and was accepted."
    Maggie
snorted. "Accepted or tolerated?"
    "We
were never unkind."
    There
was no point in arguing the matter. Maggie resolved, right at that moment, that
she would give Beathag a home that appreciated her. "You would be amazed
at what she sees."  Which brought Seonaid to mind.
    His
eyes narrowed. "Would I?"  Then he looked at the older woman as if to
witness what had been hidden from him. "Do you think she would harm
you?"
    "Never.
But Seonaid is wary of what the old woman sees."
    He
stilled. "Why would you say that, lass?
    "I'm
not a lass any longer," she studied him, wanting to see a flicker of
reaction. "I'm a wife now, a full grown woman."  He glanced away.
    Beathag
scuttled up to Maggie, tugged at her arm. "Up there, on the shelf." 
With a tenacious grip she pulled Maggie further into the kitchen. "She
changed the cups."
    "Who,
Beathag?  Who?"  Talorc joined them.
    Exulted,
Beathag put her lips together, to name the culprit. There was a twang, a
snuffle of air and a thud. Beathag's words bubbled out on a gurgle, as an arrow
came through the front of her throat.
    Stunned,
no one heard the second twang, the whir of an arrow. Shoved by shock, Maggie
stumbled backward. Talorc caught Beathag before she could fall and shouted for
the nearest man to take her. Unloaded of his burden, he started to run toward
the back entrance.
    Time
warped, moments slowed, actions dragged.
    Mid
stride, Talorc turned, spotted Maggie, his mouth opened to shout but no sound
came. The determined gleam in his eye dulled to horror, his face churned with
fleeting emotions, as his body twisted in mid-air, as though it had lagged
behind thought, to follow the path of his gaze.
     Maggie
shook her head. Talorc's spin took minutes rather than seconds as his emotions
bombarded her, huge waves of horror, anguish, torment, fury.
    What
had she done?
    His
silent bellow of fury erupted and time dropped back to reality in a swirl of
screams and shouts and chaos.
    She
felt, rather than saw, her mother reach her and collapse in a faint. She felt
her father's arms on hers, the blast of his breath against her skin as he
lifted her, shouting at the same time for Talorc to get the bastard.
    She
was dazed. Numb to all but the sight of Beathag's empty stare as she was led
away.
    Did
she live?
    Maggie
tried to ask, tried to turn to point but could not, which forced her to look
down, to see why she couldn't move. There was an arrow pinning her arm to her
side. She blinked, saw the end of it barely out of the entrance wound. Which
meant the arrow must be coming out her back. Clean through.
    She
could not breathe, felt panic rise to swallow her, as darkness overtook.
     
    * * * * * * * * * *
     
    Talorc
raced from the keep out to the back gardens and stopped. He stood still, men on
either side of him. His heart beat so hard he thought it might fly from his
chest. With one gesture the men fanned out and moved forward. Swift, but
observant, their eyes scanned for signs of fleeing feet, hidden figures.
    The
drum of his

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