My Lady's Pleasure: Three Kinds of Wicked Series Book 11
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by Alice Gaines
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Romance
Description: The castle and its lands were Ulric's goal when he started the siege. Now that he's seen the Lady Devon, his mind and his body demand he take her as his wife. He only needs to find some way to control his passions so that he doesn't scare her on their wedding night. A mysterious minstrel named Trey seems to have the solution with his aphrodisiac potions and salves. In return for his aid, Trey demands the opportunity to win the lady's affection. The two men do battle to give Devon maximum pleasure. Will she choose the clever poet or the savage Viking who's come to love her? To My Reader: What woman doesn't want a huge warrior with unquenchable passions and the right equipment to put them into action? I created Ulric to fill my own fantasies. I hope they energize yours, too.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [125 KB]
Reading time: 77-108 min.
My Lady's Pleasure: Chapter One
"They've breached the wall!" The call came up from the bailey, followed by the blare of a trumpet to alert all within the castle that the intruders would soon overrun Randmead.
There'd been no hope for them since the siege had begun. Weakened by interminable wars and run by a mere woman, Randmead had offered no resistance except for the desperation of its people. And now, the unthinkable would happen, possession by Vikings. At least the siege would end, and they would all learn their fate.
Josalyn went to the window and stared out as her few fighting men took up their spears and swords. Even the farmers, armed with little more than pitchforks, lined up for battle. Archers rimmed the top of the walls and fired their arrows down on the invaders. Useless. The Norsemen came in a horde, well equipped, well fed, and trained to kill.
"My lady, what will we do?" Anne wailed from beside Josalyn. "They'll murder us all."
"We can't know that," she said despite the pounding of her heart.
"They're Vikings, not even Christian. I only hope they kill me rather than rape me."
"Remain calm." She gripped Anne by the shoulders and looked deep into her eyes. "The Holy Mother will protect us."
Anne crossed herself.
Mother Mary hadn't protected her father when he'd ridden out to fight in one of the silly wars men started to fuel their own ambitions. The Blessed Virgin hadn't protected her mother when she'd watched her husband's body brought home draped over his horse. Divine intervention came according to some whim Josalyn couldn't fathom. She'd find scant help from that direction now.
Forgive me, Holy Mother. I only tire of the killing. Give me strength to face what this day brings with grace and courage. In They Son's name, I pray. Amen.
Outside, the battle grew deafening with the clang of steel meeting steel as men shouted and screamed. Bodies lay in pools of their own blood, men she'd known her whole life. Someone had started a fire in a pile of straw and timbers near the stables. Horses screamed as men and women did their best to free the terrified animals and lead them away. Smoke rose into the air, burning her lungs and making the scene resemble a nightmare more than reality.
In the thickest part of the battle, one of the Vikings stood taller than the others. He stopped for a moment and stared up at her out of icy blue eyes. The nosepiece of his helmet made him resemble more a bird of prey than a man. Fierce and wild. He stood staring at her as though under some enchantment. Then, he did the unthinkable. He lowered his arm, dropping his guard. One of her soldiers took the opportunity to lunge for him with a spear. The tip caught his cheek just below the eye.
The Viking roared, swung around with his sword, and ran the Englishman through. She recognized the fallen warrior just as the reality of his death registered on his face. John, the cooper's son, fell to the ground, his life's blood gushing from him.
"Stop!" she yelled. "Stop! In the name of God, no more!"
Somehow, her voice carried over the din of the fighting. If she'd prayed for a miracle, somehow the Heavenly Father had granted that one small one.
Her men obeyed, even though it might cost them their lives. The Viking hefted his sword and issued a guttural order, and his Norsemen put their weapons down, too.
The leader took a few steps toward the great hall where she stood. He stared up at her out of his bottomless eyes. "Do you surrender?"
"I do." God, help me.
"Where is the lord of this holding?" he asked.
"Buried in the chapel."
"You're his wife?"
"She's buried beside him," Josalyn answered. "I govern here now."
A smile curled his lips. "Then I accept your surrender."
Surrender. She'd done it now. The Viking and his men would do as they wished here. Loot, burn, rape. In truth, she hadn't thought at all but had acted rashly when she saw John fall. Still, they'd had no hope, and one way or another, she would have had to pray for the invaders' mercy in the end.
The Viking warlord made for the main entrance, and Josalyn turned to collect herself before she had to face him.
"Oh, my lady." Anne twisted her hands together. "What will become of us?"
"Calm yourself. Don't show them fear."
"They'll violate us all," Anne said. "Even the little ones."
The Viking strode into the hall, followed by a few of his men. He handed his huge sword to one of them and studied the room with an appraising eye. Then his icy gaze fell on her. "More than acceptable. Everything."
No mistaking it. He meant her. Her knees trembled, but she lifted her chin and stared back at him. Next to the stools and trestle tables--the everyday items of her life--he looked even bigger than he had in the bailey.
"I'm lord here now," he said. "I own everything. Do you get my meaning, lady?"
"May I know your name?"
"You'll address me as my lord."
"May I know your name, my lord?" She pointedly did not curtsey.
"Ulric," he said. "And yours?"
"Josalyn." He appeared to let it linger on his tongue, and he smiled again, a predator's expression that chilled her blood. "You've done well here, Lady Josalyn."
"How is it you speak English?"
"Enough questions." He removed his helmet and handed it to the man who'd taken his sword. This revealed a mane of golden hair. Even damped with sweat, it had the color of ripened wheat. Before this, she hadn't noticed the cords of muscle in his neck or the sensuality of his mouth. Even that suggested a purely animal power.
"You'll stitch up my wound," he said.
"I?" she said. "Surely, one of your men--"
"Learn this of me, my lady. I speak my mind the first time. I don't favor repeating myself." His voice had an edge to it. That hint of a threat promised a real menace would follow if she didn't do as he wished.
"Anne, get my herbs, some water, and clean cloths," she said.
Her maid ran from the room, clearly glad for the excuse to leave.
"You'll need to sit," she said.
"I'm used to pain," he answered. "I'll stand."
"I won't be able to reach the wound properly. You're too big."
He gestured to one of his men, who dragged a stool to where she stood. Ulric finally sat. Now his head angled close to her, and she could bend to his face. A stubble of honey-colored beard covered his chin, and lashes of the same color surrounded his eyes. Very striking. Just below one of his high cheekbones, the gash in his skin still oozed blood. Slowly, God be praised. He was right. It needed to be stitched.
"It's cut into muscle," she said.
He only grunted in reply.
"I'll sew you up, but you'll scar."
"I'm not known for beauty," he answered.
And yet, he had a primitive beauty. Nothing like the man she'd dreamed of since childhood, the brave knight who would have saved her from this very danger. A noble Englishman, fair and just and gentle. Childish dreams. Even those were gone now.
Ann returned with her medicine basket and set it on the table near her. A bowl of water and a pile of clean cloths went next to it. Josalyn gestured with her head that the maid could leave, so she curtseyed and skittered off again.
Josalyn dipped a cloth in the water and dabbed at the gash on his cheek. The backs of her fingers brushed his skin, and the strangest rush of feelings shot through her. Intoxicating and dangerous. She almost dropped the cloth, but she clutched it and stepped back.
She knew nothing of this man's plans. As soon as she'd finished ministering to his wound, he might force himself on her, even in front of his men.
He glanced over his shoulder at her. "You stopped."
"Get used to the sight of blood, my lady. No one leaves this life without dealing with more than this trifling cut."
She'd stitched up wounds the likes of this one before, but if he wished to think her weak about blood, she'd let him. Better that than know the truth--that she feared the man, not the sight of his blood.
"You're quiet, mouse," he said. "I don't like the quiet ones."
"I'm not a mouse."
He chuckled, a deep rumble in his chest.
"Most men don't enjoy a woman's chatter," she said.
"If you chatter, I know where you are," he answered.
"Ah, but words can hide a number of sins," she said. "Like treachery."
"Finish with the wound," he said. "We'll joust latter."
Oh they'd joust, would they? He had all the strength and all the weapons. With any luck, she could avoid him and then disappear completely.
She soaked the cloth again and dabbed it over the wound, the one he'd received because he'd let down his guard when he'd stared at her. After several passes, she'd cleaned off all the blood and dirt. To stop infection, she smeared a salve of thyme and sage over the area. His eyes narrowed at the sting, and his jaw tensed, but he gave no other indication he'd felt anything at all. Now to stitch him closed.
After her mother's death, she'd become the lady of the castle and had worked on dozens of wounds, many worse than this one. She set about her work quickly, passing the needle through his flesh over and over to bring the jagged edges of skin together. No warrior admitted to pain except in the most extreme conditions. Some took wine to help steady themselves. But none sat as stoically as this man, staring straight ahead of him with his jaw set in a grim line.
She finished finally and snipped the thread with her tiny scissors. "I've done the best I could, but the skin will pucker."
"'Tis no matter."
She replaced her medical items in the basket. "Keep it clean and tell me if you become hot."
He chuckled again, a quiet but dangerous sound. "Trust me, Lady Josalyn, you shall be the first to know."
"I meant fever," she said.
He turned that blue gaze on her. "You've already set a fever in my blood."
She stepped back. "Not intentionally, I swear."
He leaned toward her until his breath warmed the skin of her throat. "Imagine your power if you tried."
His men might not have understood his words, but they caught the meaning of his posture. They broke into raucous laughter. Some even hooted.
He barked an order in his native language, and they fell silent, but they still looked on with evil intent in their expressions.
The Viking commander rose from the stool. "Find quarters for my men. I'll take the master's chamber."
"But--" She stopped herself before she objected that she slept there. Better to find some other bed than even to hint at sharing a bed with him.
"But?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "You question my order?"
"I'll have the master's chamber readied for you," she answered.
Another of his men entered the hall and went directly to Ulric. He said a few words in his native language.
"English, man," Ulric said. "How can we expect the lady to obey our orders if she can't understand them?"
The Devil take him. Bad enough she had to bow to his wishes. Did she have to bend to the demands of every man in his army?
The second man gave her a small bow. "They've done well for such a long siege. There's still wheat to grind for bread and some vegetables."
"My people are disciplined." In truth, if Ulric's victory would put an end to their constant, gnawing hunger, everyone within the castle walls would celebrate.
"The buttery's well stocked," the second man said. "Plenty of mead and wine."
"We don't drink much spirits," she said. "Our well gives us good water."
"We'll drink plenty tonight," Ulric said. "My men and I will have a feast."
"There's naught in the way of meat," the man said. "A few chickens and a cow."
"We'll eat the cow," Ulric said.
"But, you can't," she said.
Ulric gave her an icy glare. "Lady, you try my patience,"
Her knees went weak again, but she lifted her chin and answered with a steady gaze of her own. "She gives us milk for cheese. Besides, she'd be tough."
He continued to stare at her until she could fairly swim in the blue of his eyes. Finally, he huffed in disapproval.
"Take some of the lady's archers--now my archers--into the forest and kill something," Ulric said. "We'll rest tonight and feast tomorrow."
"Yes, sir." The man turned sharply and left the hall.
Ulric took a step toward her, so close that she had to crane her neck to look into his face. "Everything here belongs to me now, the master's chamber, the archers, even the cow. Do you understand me, Lady Josalyn?"
What could she say to that? She'd surrendered. She had no way to fight him back, except treachery, and neither her God nor her conscience would allow that.
"My lady?" he snapped.
"Everything at Randmead is mine. Including you."
Ulric sat on a stool in the darkened kitchen and removed his shoes. Beside him, steam rose from the tub of water the servants had poured for his bath. Things ran smoothly here. One would scarcely guess that Castle Randmead had fallen to an invader only hours before.
"You've surveyed the tenant farmers and the villagers?" he asked his second-in-command.
"As best I could," Olaf answered. "The ones who didn't fear to speak to me."
"Loyal to their lady?"
"Devoted, but if you can protect them better than she can, they'll be happy for you, too."
"We'll have to become Christian," Ulric said.
"Do Gods matter to you?"
"You know me better than that." He removed his sword and scabbard and set them on the floor. "Odin or Jesu, I serve whichever one serves me."
"Best not let the parish father hear you say that."
"'Tis not the priest who concerns me," he said, "but the mouse who stood up to the dragon this afternoon."
"The Lady Josalyn."
"Aye." Ulric rose and removed his shirt and braes. Now naked, he stepped into the tub and lowered himself into the water.
"I thought she caught your eye," Olaf said.
"My eye has nothing to do with this."
Olaf laughed. "Your cock, then."
"She did." As long as he lived, he'd never forget the image of her standing in the window of the hall and staring down at the battle. Probably nothing more than the slanting rays of the sun had caused the illusion, but her hair had seemed aflame. She'd worn it loose around her face and shoulders, and the color changed with her every movement. Now red, now chestnut, now sending golden highlights. It had gone back to a brown luster, beautiful but humanly possible, when he'd finally met her inside. But, she still had alabaster skin, flashing emerald eyes, and a mouth that whispered sin and innocence all at once. He'd never before seen her like and likely wouldn't ever again.
"Yes," Olaf said. "I'd say she bewitched your cock."
In truth, she'd struck him like a bolt of lightning in much the same way his father often claimed his mother did when he got a belly full of drink. Unlike the old man, Ulric would keep his wits, and keep her, and not spend the rest of his life stuck in memories and bitterness. Yes, what a wonderful bit of luck. Not only would one conquest bring him lands and a wife, but good lands and a good-looking wife. "What did you hear of her in the village?"
"Adoration bordering on worship," Olaf answered. "'Twould seem she was the reincarnation of the Virgin herself, the way some spoke."
"They told of good deeds. Always a hand out to the poor and sick. They tolerated the father when he ruled, but they cherish the daughter as one of their own."
"She runs the castle well. Fresh rushes, and well stocked, considering how long we lay siege here. She'll do well as my lady."
Olaf straightened, pushing away from the wall. "You plan to bed her?"
"I plan to marry her."
"I thought you'd take a wife from our own people."
"Ah, yes," Olaf said. "Your mother taken in a raid by your father."
"Aye." Taken but not held. That wouldn't happen to him.
"This Englishwoman didn't seem eager for you," Olaf said. "In truth, she seemed loath to touch you."
"I'll bend her to my will," Ulric said. "I've won the battle. She's my spoils."
Olaf barked a laugh. "No woman cares to think of herself as mere spoils."
"I know nothing of women's cares. Nor do I wish to learn." He reached out toward his second-in-command. "Give me your dagger."
"You need a weapon to bathe?"
"I do if the Lady Josalyn is to wash my back."
"What trick are you playing?"
"No trick. A test. Your dagger, please."
Olaf shrugged and handed him the weapon, which he then placed in the tub, hidden between his thigh and the side. "Now, send her in to me."
"Well enough." Without further questioning, Olaf left. Ulric stared into the remnants of the cook fire and waited for the woman who would soon share his bed.
She'd already passed one test for a wife. She'd run the household under the worst conditions and kept things in order and put at least some food into her people's stomachs. If she'd had more fighting men, she might have even beaten back his assault. Clearly, all within the castle walls would have laid down their lives for their lady. A wife like that could prove his greatest strength in ruling here.
Then, too, she inspired such lust in him. The mere thought of her fingers on his body, even his back, had his cock hardening. Fighting always awakened the male beast inside him. By now, he'd usually have found at least one willing wench to ease his lust. But with this woman, his sex would have to find some patience. Virgin, given away by the fear she'd tried to hide. He knew the look and walk of a well-swyved woman, as he'd often done the swyving himself. He wouldn't take the lady's maidenhead until their wedding night, and his blood already ran hot wanting her. Tonight, he hadn't ordered her for sex but to see if he could trust her. If she had any sense, she'd bring a knife with her. If she planned to rid herself of him through treachery, she'd use it. He'd give her the opportunity, showing her his unprotected back and throat, but keeping Olaf's dagger near at hand in case she decided to strike.
"The kitchen, my lord?" Her voice came from not far behind him. Lost in thought, he hadn't heard her enter. A fatal flaw for a warrior. She did, in truth, affect him more than was good for him.
"Why haul hot water when the fire's here?" he answered.
"Logical." She approached but didn't come around the tub where he could see her, keeping her place behind him. "Why did you call me?"
"Scrub my back."
Her breath caught. Softly, so that he almost didn't catch it.
"I told you I don't like to repeat things," he said.
"But why scrub your back?"
"Because I can't reach it, and I want to feel your hands on me."
She did nothing for long seconds, neither moving closer or farther away. She might have been fumbling in her skirt for a weapon, or she might have decided to defy him. He should have known she wouldn't obey simply because he'd issued an order. No woman who'd stared out a window on a battle or stood calmly to greet the invader who'd just slain her fighting men frightened easily. He was testing her mettle now, and he'd test it again in his bed. But, by all the gods, Christian and Norse, he would take total possession of her.
She moved, finally, but not to his back. She walked around the tub to face him, her hands folded in front of her and her gaze fixed firmly on his face.
"My lord, I ask your leave to serve Holy Mother Church," she said.
"Is this a convent, then?"
She scowled at him. "You know it's not."
"Then keep your prayers to your chamber."
"You misunderstand," she said. "I hope to join the Benedictines."
"I misunderstand nothing," he said. "Why would you want to abandon your home?"
"I had responsibilities here," she said. "Now that you rule Randmead, I can leave it all to you."
"Absolutely not," he said. "You're far too comely to hide behind convent walls."
That did frighten her, enough for her to take a small step backward.
"And you have too much value to me here," he added.
"What do you intend for me?" Her voice came out in little more than a whisper.
"I intend for you to scrub my back."
"Your back only?" She did her best to blend back into the shadows.
"God's blood, woman, do it." Curse her eyes. He'd shown more patience with her than he would with a child. He'd spared her the fate many conquered ladies suffered, rape and mayhap murder. She would obey him. Now.
She emerged into the light of the fire, her features grim but not fearful. She didn't hesitate but went behind him. He reached for Olaf's dagger, curling his fist around the hilt, as she went to her knees with a whisper of skirts. He grunted his approval, found the soap with his free hand, and held it to her over his shoulder.
His body tensed, ready for battle. She'd already had plenty of time to pull a weapon from the purse that hung from her waist. If she had any knowledge of the body's vulnerable spots, she'd go for a vein or artery in his neck. He needed to prepare himself for the first prick of her blade.
Instead, her hands went to his shoulders. Slick from the soap, her fingers worked the muscles there. Her touch had some kind of charm in it, forcing him to soften whether he willed it or not.
He still held the knife fast, but the hint of threat from her dissolved under the pressure of her touch. A long sigh escaped him as she moved lower over his shoulder blades.
"Are you a witch, my lady?"
Her hands stilled. "I'm a Christian, as I've told you."
"Your fingers cast a spell."
"I know no spells," she said softly.
"Good. Then continue."
She moved lower, splaying her fingers over his ribs while digging her thumbs into his spine. She could swear she knew no way to enchant him, but his body put the lie to that claim. His muscles turned liquid under the press of her fingers. Tiny but strong, they continued plying his flesh until his eyelids dropped with pleasure.
More than his back responded, though. As that grew limp, his rod stiffened, growing long enough for the tip to peek out of the water.
His clothing had hidden his state that afternoon, when he'd instantly hardened in her presence. Now, she'd stirred him to the point where she'd have him fully aroused in an instant. Granted, he sat naked before her, and granted, battle fever still ran hot in his blood. But, no woman--least of all a virgin with pretensions to join a holy order--had ever bewitched his cock as thoroughly as this one did now. His plan to take this land as his own had delicious consequences he hadn't expected, a lifetime of this woman warming his bed.
Her fingers found the old scar that traced one rib with a gash so deep it had almost killed him. Then, he'd scarcely survived the blood sickness that had followed.
She gasped. "How did this happen?"
"Treachery. A rival meant to pierce my heart. He got close with his dagger while I was unarmored."
"I turned. The wound went all the way from there to my side." He grasped her hand and pulled it all the way around him until her palm rested over his chest and her face rested against his shoulder. He held here there, inhaling her scent as her breath warmed his skin. He could guide her lower now. Through force too powerful for her to defy, he could wrap her fingers around his shaft and feel their strong grip there. Instead, when she tugged backward, he released her.
Too late to diminish her effect on his rod, though. With her head on his shoulder, she could have seen the front of his body. His cock responded to the idea by swelling proudly for her view. Now fully erect, it couldn't know it wouldn't find satisfaction within her body this night. Curse her innocence.
"What happened to the man who tried to kill you?" she asked.
"He didn't survive to practice his evil purpose on others."
She gave out a soft gasp. "You killed him?"
"He made an example to any others with the same intent."
"Would you deal the same with a woman?" she asked.
"Are you thinking of betraying me, lady?
"I only meant it as a general question."
"There are better punishments than death for the fairer sex," he said. "Now, continue."
"Continue?" she repeated. "I've done as you ordered."
"I've nearly reached your rump," she said.
"Then, wash that." She ought to learn his body now, for surely, she'd feel it later. She'd know the weight of him on her, his chest rubbing her nipples, as he sank his staff into her queynt. As her hands went lower, he pictured them stroking his back as the two of them coupled. The warmth of the water surrounded his cock the way her moist inner walls would. Oh, to have her muscles grip him as he pumped into her. Slowly, making as little disturbance as possible, he moved a hand to his sex, gripped it at the base, and squeezed. He might have meant to throttle the disobedient flesh, but the action only caused it to throb. He had to find some control. This woman's help would smooth his path with the villagers and farmers. He wouldn't force his way with her, at least not before she'd wed him.
As she leaned forward, her hands inched along the outsides of his thighs. No longer shy, she moved with purpose as a lover might. Near his aching cock. God's teeth, he wouldn't press the issue, but if she welcomed a hearty coupling, he'd take her here on the kitchen floor.
Instead of his cock, she grasped Olaf's dagger, pulled it out of the water, and touched the tip just under his chin.
"I wondered what you had in this hand," she said. "I had a fair idea about what you held in the other."
"Well done, mouse."
"Mouse?" She pushed the knife harder against his skin, almost enough to draw blood. "Do you still think me a mouse?"
"A clever one, aye." She'd distracted him again, as she had during the heat of battle. His brain deserted him where this woman was concerned. She wouldn't kill him, though. If she'd intended murder, he would be dead already. No, she meant only to make a point, and she'd succeeded. Already, she retreated, the prick of the blade easing. He'd do better to be on his guard with her. Not let his rod think for him.
He made a quick grab for her arm and pulled her around so that he could face her. Now her mouth lay only inches from his. Her eyes widened in fear. He could study the golden flecks among the green irises. His breath caught as her lips parted. So plush, the devil's own temptation.
No. He'd have the blessing of her God before he knew her, else she'd view all the different ways he'd use her body as sin.
He eased her away from him. "Drop the dagger."
She hesitated, staring at him.
"You're not going to use it," he said. "Drop it."
She did. "May I be dismissed now?"
"I gave my men orders that none of your women be ill used," he said. "If they're willing, that's another matter."
"They won't disobey me," he said. "Have you heard reports of rape?"
"None," she said.
"There'll be no punishment of the kind we spoke of earlier as long as your ladies behave themselves."
Although still kneeling, she pulled herself up to a regal posture, shoulders back, chin high. "I imagine you include me in that edict."
"As I said, clever mouse."
Her jaw tensed. "Then, pray, may I be dismissed, my lord?"
She rose stiffly and left the kitchen in an angry swirl of skirts. He stared blankly into the fire, but his mind only saw the images of her hands sliding over his thighs and her lips close to his.
God's blood, she could command his body far better than he could command her mind. He'd take the haughtiness out of her. On their wedding night. He'd take out his needs on her willing queynt as she writhed beneath him begging for more and more until they came together in orgasm. He wouldn't have to wait long, as he already had one of men scouring the countryside looking for anyone who could unite them in holy bliss.
Until then, he couldn't even look for an amiable woman among the household. Word might get back to the clever mouse and sour his plans. He could only depend on himself for relief, as inadequate as that would be. So for the first time in years, he took his cock in his hand again and began to stroke.