Torn (The Handfasting)

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

Book: Torn (The Handfasting) by Becca St. John Read Free Book Online
Authors: Becca St. John
heart, the race of his blood, urged to charge into a fray. Still, with
tremendous effort, Talorc held his ground and waited. His neck prickled, a
moment of confusion before he distinguished between reaction and instinct.
    He
pushed down the sight of his wife, the memory of an arrow lodged in her body. Time
will come for recriminations. He had not kept her safe.
    He
could not think of it. Not now. Now he had to act. He breathed deep, centered
himself on the pursuit and was rewarded. Musty air.
    The
ground was fresh with summer in the wind yet a scent of damp earthiness
lingered. He turned toward the root cellar. It had been opened, recently.
    More
men rushed out from the main building. He stayed them with a hand, motioned
toward a stick, which young Colban grabbed and tossed to him. Talorc used it to
reach for the metal handle of the door, to give distance should the enemy be
ready and aimed for battle, but before Talorc could lift the handle, it inched
upward, opened from the other side.
    He
stood back, as did his men, out of view from the entrance asit was pushed
open.  The weight of it slapped almost back in position, before caught by
woman's backside as she pushed through the opening, back bowed with the weight
of a heavy load.  Once free from the low lintel, her head lifted and she
turned, wielding a basket of onions, her hair mussed, sweat dotting her brow.
    "Deidre?"
    Startled,
she looked at him. "Talorc?"  Then at the men who formed a crescent
around where she stood, a mere woman on a domestic errand.
    "Fetching
onions?"
    She
lifted the basket and raised an eyebrow as she turned to go back into the
kitchens.
    "Did
you see or hear anyone, anything, while you were out here?"
    "No.
Should I have?"  She brushed past him, but he stopped her.
    "Talorc,"
Deidre tried to pull away, her jerk loosened the pile of onions. The top ones
fell. "Look what you made me do."  She scolded, "Big Birtha is
waiting for these."
    He
bent to help her.
    "Bold!" 
Paraig was anxious to get on with the search. Talorc nodded for him to go but
not before he signaled, with his eyes, for someone to go into the caves.
    "Leave
Nail and Sim with me."  He added.
    Deidre's
head shot up. She glanced at the men leaving, the ones staying. She settled the
basket on her hip. "May I go as well?"  It was a sarcastic question,
she was already aimed toward the kitchens.
    "By
all means."  Talorc murmured. An infinitesimal nod had Nail following her.
    Talorc
looked at Sim, who was already down on his haunches, checking the tracks that
traversed the courtyard outside of the kitchen.
    "You
know what I'm thinking?"  Talorc asked.

CHAPTER 9 – A WOMAN’S GAME
 
     
    "Maggie!" 
She heard the thunder of her brothers’ approach, lifted her lids and saw them,
as stormy as they sounded, bearing down on her.
    But
her vantage point disoriented her. Where was she?  In her father's arms?  Just
inside the keep?  Why?
    She
blinked at all the faces that stared at her. Shock, terror . . . a bare breath
of sound escaped with awareness. She had fainted. Stout hearted, strapping
Scottish lass that she was, had fainted like some fragile Sassenach woman.
    And
it all came back . . . the boy, too young to be left alone, yet not with
Seonaid at the keep . . . poisoned water. . . Seonaid's distraction. . .
Beathag lost and confused . . . switched mugs . . . arrows . . .
    "Bold!"
She screamed at the top of her voice and as she did the flash of another memory
flipped through her mind.
    Talorc
spinning around, seeing the arrow, horror, fury, guilt. A moan of worry rippled
through her.
    "Let
me down!" She cried as a chorus of voices shouted.
    "Maggie,
you've been wounded."
    "Who
was the bastard?"  Crisdean was yelling.
    "Let's
go!"  Feargus the younger led the charge.  Voices rang around her, as her
father fought to keep her steady.
    "Let
me down."  She screamed and fought so hard her father was challenged to
keep her in his arms.
    "Do
as she says, da, before she does

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