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by Desiree Acuna
Description: Only a sacrifice will appease the overlord that has banished him from the only world he knows. And yet almost from the moment he captures Colette, Nuri is captivated and can think of nothing but possessing her himself. Innocent in her desire, and desperate to save herself and her younger sister, Colette tempts Nuri beyond caution, drawing his overlord's wrath down upon them both. Rating: Contains explicit sex and language, bondage, oral sex, sexual mastery.
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: December 2005
183 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [142 KB]
Reading time: 101-141 min.
Brigit cried out as the carriage hit a particularly deep rut.
"What is it, sweetheart?" Lady Beauchamp asked anxiously.
"Probably yet another cramp," Colette said dryly without bothering to look up from the book that lay open on her lap.
Both women turned to give her censorious glances.
"I can not help it if I'm too delicate for such a frightful road," Brigit complained petulantly. "I am bruised and battered until I don't know how I will be able even to go to my coming out ball. How I would love to have your constitution."
"No you wouldn't," her elder sister disputed, "for then everyone would go about saying you were as healthy as a horse--and you far prefer to be likened to a delicate blossom--and you would not have mother cosseting you each time you moaned."
"I do not cosset her," Lady Beauchamp rebuked her eldest daughter. "You know how delicate and sickly she is. I am often amazed that she outlived her childhood."
"Me also. If I had physicked myself half so much I expect I would not have outlived my childhood."
Brigit's chin wobbled. "You are hateful, Colette! I did not even complain."
Colette rolled her eyes. "You have done nothing but complain since we left home. One would think to hear you that this disagreeable trip weren't entirely your idea. I have not complained, and I am just as miserable and have nothing to show for the misery I've endured other than a bruised posterior and a headache from listening to your incessant moans and groans."
"That will be quite enough!" Lady Beauchamp snapped. "If you are ill tempered that your own coming out went so poorly you have no one to blame but yourself. I saw no reason to buy you any new gowns when you have no interest in catching a husband, and none in attending any of the social functions I slave to put on to provide you girls with the opportunity to meet acceptable young men."
Marking her place in her book, Colette closed it and looked out the window of the coach at the forest. She supposed she should be ashamed for snapping at her younger sister. Brigit was fragile--mostly in her mind--but she at least looked delicate in face and form, as well, so she supposed her mother could be pardoned for her perception that Brigit needed to be assiduously pampered else she would fail to prosper.
She still resented the fact that her mother was always so swift to defend Brigit in every way. "We could take the forest road and carve a half a days ride from our journey. It is not so well traveled, either, and its bound to be in better shape."
"Absolutely not!" Lady Beauchamp exclaimed with a shudder. "The Vile Forest is a place of evil."
Colette glanced at her mother in surprise. "Surely you do not believe that? That is only old superstition. Besides, it is full daylight. We could cross through in no time at all and be well out of the wood before nightfall--and nearly home."
"Oh! I will be so grateful to be home again where I may sleep in my own bed!" Brigit exclaimed, looking at her mother hopefully.
Lady Beauchamp sent Colette an angry glance and patted Brigit. "I know, dear, and I am anxious, as well, but it would not be at all wise to take the road through the wood. It is far too dangerous."
"But--we have the outriders," Brigit complained. "And they are armed in case of brigands. Couldn't we please, Mother? I am so ill from riding in the carriage."
"You will be fine. We will be home before you know it."
Brigit's chin wobbled. Tears filled her lovely, pansy blue eyes. She sniffed, threatening the fit of hysterics she generally had when she didn't get her way. Lady Beauchamp soothed her a little more frantically. "Now Brigit, you mustn't cry, dear. You know it makes your lovely face swell and redden and we are so very close to home now. You don't want to chance meeting up with any of your beaus with a red nose and swollen eyes, do you?"
"I don't care!" Brigit exclaimed petulantly, but the tears she'd called forth rolled down her cheeks and no more welled in her eyes.
Sighing, Lady Beauchamp rapped on the panel. The coachman slid it back. "Yes, my lady?"
"How near are we to the turn off through the Vile Forest?"
"About a mile, I'm thinking, my lady."
"Do you think we could make it through before dusk?"
"We can if I spring 'em, my lady."
Lady Beauchamp considered it for several moments and finally nodded. "Then do so, for I am heartily sick of the journey myself--just don't drive too fast."
"Very good, my lady," the coachman responded and closed the panel once more.
Brigit giggled and clapped her hands excitedly like a child that had been offered a special treat. "Oh thank you, Mother! I can not wait to get home and try on all the new gowns you bought for me. Which one do you think I should wear for my coming out?"
Rolling her eyes, Colette opened her book once more and began to read as her mother and younger sister began to discuss the merits of each and every dress. Her input was not necessary and probably would not be welcome even if she felt inclined to give it regarding which dress most set Brigit's delicate coloring to advantage, which was most flattering to her blue eyes, and which brought out the golden highlights of her hair.
To her mind, Brigit set all the dresses off to advantage, a subject that had already been thoroughly hashed when the style and fabric of the gowns had been ordered, agonized over when Brigit had taken her first fittings and cooed over by Brigit, her mother, and the seamstresses when they had done the final fittings.
She was fond of her younger sister. She truly was. It was only that she often felt as if some evil fairy had taken her from the home where she belonged and left her in Lady Beauchamp's keeping instead of her own child. She was short, which her mother referred to as squat, sturdily built, which her mother called common, her skin was freckled in spite of everything her mother could do to remove the 'ugly spots', and her hair was red, which her mother called low. How she had ended up in a home with beautiful blonds, she hadn't a clue, but the difference was more than skin deep. She was bookish and retiring. She didn't especially care for social gatherings because she always felt like everyone was comparing her unfavorably to her younger, far more beautiful sister, and she always managed to say something her mother found 'unforgivably rude'.
And the worst of it was that she had not managed to capture the interest of even one potential suitor when she'd had her come out the year before and she would probably remain a spinster in her mother's home for the rest of her natural life.
She found that prospect deeply depressing. The only thing more disturbing was the idea of marrying only to escape being a spinster and at her mother's mercy, for she had not met a single man whom she had more than a mild interest in.
Secretly, she had always dreamed of falling desperately, passionately in love. She did not know from whence the dream had sprung, for she knew of no one in their circle who felt passion for their spouse at all. Most could barely tolerate one another. They saved their passion for their lovers--and their love for themselves.
Her mother would have fainted if she had ever had the nerve to voice that wish, however, and so she kept it to herself, pretending she had no real interest in marrying at all.
Sighing, she closed her book again as the carriage slowed for the turn into the Vile Forest, feeling a welling of anticipation. Not that she believed the silly superstition that kept most folk from traveling the forest road, but she was anxious to get home to her books, her needle work, and the garden she loved--and equally anxious to escape the confinement of the coach, her mother, and her younger sister.
Oddly enough since she didn't consider herself the least bit superstitious, she felt a cool chill wash over her as the coachman turned upon the road that led through the Vile Forest and began to pick up speed again as he straightened the coach upon the road's hard, cracked surface. She dismissed it, certain that it was only the tales themselves that made the hair creep along her neck, or possibly the fact that the road was instantly cast in shadow by the tall trees that seemed to loom over the road, their branches interlocking overhead to form a dense canopy that blocked out the much of the sunlight.
It occurred to Colette to wonder how the tales about the Vile Forest had come about when supposedly those who had encountered the Demon Lord of Sinister Abbey were never seen or heard from again. Had they simply vanished, the victims of wild beasts, or robbers, and the tales grew out of their disappearance?
It seemed possible. The forest lent itself to frightening tales. Beyond the road one could see nothing but twisted, gnarled trees and tangles of thick underbrush and vines. One could easily imagine all sorts of things peering from that tangle, watching. If one happened to be caught upon the road after dark, or in the gloom of a storm....
She shivered at the thought, watching as the daylight dimmed and a fat droplet of water splattered against the window embrasure. Almost simultaneously, something close at hand shattered with a sharp crack, the coach lurched, tilting and bouncing to a stop so suddenly that Colette was thrown from her seat, landing almost on top of Lady Beauchamp, who had been thrown across Brigit.
Brigit screamed like a banshee, ear splittingly. The sound was cut off abruptly as first Lady Beauchamp and then Colette were pitched on top of her. Colette struggled for a moment and finally managed to lever herself off of Lady Beauchamp. The coach was still tilted, however, and dipping toward the ground at the rear. With an effort, Colette grasped the window embrasure on that side of the coach and hauled herself toward it.
Outside, mayhem reigned. The coachman lay in the road groaning. The horses, screaming and rearing, were fighting the outriders, who were trying to calm them and untangle the traces.
Both Lady Beauchamp and Brigit had yielded to hysterics. After glancing at them and seeing they were more shaken than hurt, Colette fought the door latch and finally managed to get it open, half falling, half climbing from the tilted coach. Once she had picked herself up and dusted herself off, she saw immediately that it was just as she'd suspected. One of the rear wheels had come off.
The coachman was still groaning. When Colette knelt to examine him, she saw that he had injured both an arm and a leg when he'd been pitched from his perch. She knew nothing about medicine, but it seemed very probable that both were broken. He needed a physician. She was certain of that much.
Seeing that the two outriders had finally managed to calm the team of horses down, she summoned one to have a look at the wheel. It began to rain hard as they trudged back along the road to examine it. Despite the thick canopy overhead Colette was drenched to the skin within a very few minutes. Her soaked hair, already straggling from its pins from the accident, fell around her. Her skirts quickly became so heavy with water that it was a struggle to move.
The wheel, they found, was not broken, but the outrider was still doubtful that they could reattach it to the coach and travel in safety if they could do it at all with only two men to lift the coach and position the wheel.
Nodding, Colette went back to the coach to discuss the situation with her mother.
Lady Beauchamp had collected herself sufficiently to realize that hysterics were useless when there was no one around to play to. The same could not be said for Brigit, unfortunately, though she'd quieted somewhat.
"The wheel has broken off," Colette told her mother. "And John Coachman is badly injured. He needs a doctor. William says he doesn't think that he and Robert can fix the wheel by themselves."
Lady Beauchamp merely blinked at Colette blankly.
"Oh! What are we to do?" Brigit wailed. "We can't stay here. Mother, tell her we can't stay here! I'll be dark soon and the demon will come after us! It's all her fault! If she hadn't insisted we come this way, we wouldn't be in this mess now!"
Colette glared at her sister, before she could think of anything to say in her defense, her mother seconded her sister's accusation. "Just look at the fix you've gotten us in to! What are we to do now? For I tell you, I will not be in this evil place come nightfall!"
Colette gaped at her mother, stunned. It sank in slowly that her mother was going to be as useless as her sister for neither of them could think of anything beyond flinging accusations and recriminations. Her jaw set. "Get out of the coach, both of you."
This time it was Brigit and Lady Beauchamp who gaped at her. "Are you out of your mind? It's raining. We'll be soaked to the skin and I will catch my death of cold. I know it," Brigit shrieked.
"How dare you speak to me in that tone, young lady!" Lady Beauchamp snapped at almost the same time.
Colette blushed at her mother's rebuke, but stood her ground. "We have only two choices that I can see. We can unhitch the team and ride them out of the forest. Or we can stay here and send someone for help. If we stay, it could be well into the night before help returns. If we ride the horses, we can send someone back to take care of John Coachman."
Brigit and Lady Beauchamp looked at each other in silent communication. Abruptly, Lady Beauchamp began to struggle toward the door.
"Mother!" Brigit complained. "I will be ill if I must travel through this rain and there are no saddles for the horses. How are we to stay on them?"
"Come, Brigit," Lady Beauchamp said sharply. "We will get you home and into bed in a thrice and you will be perfectly fine. We can not linger here."
Brigit's chin wobbled threateningly.
Seeing they meant to comply with her suggestion, Colette left Brigit to her mother's care and called William over to unhitch the team from the carriage. When they had done so and had led the horses off to the edge of the road and tied them, William and Robert lifted John Coachman and helped him into the tilted carriage to get him out of the rain.
Lady Beauchamp was not happy about it, standing over the men and directing them to place him on the floor of the coach so that he wouldn't ruin the seats with blood and mud. As embarrassed as she was by her mother's callous behavior, Colette couldn't think the coachman would be a good deal more comfortable on the narrow seats. Instead, she directed them to take the pillows from the seats and tuck them under the man's head and his injuries to make him as comfortable as possible.
"You must stay with him, William, and look after him the best you can until we can send help."
"He must certainly will not!" Lady Beauchamp snapped in outrage. "We will have need of him for protection."
"We will have Robert," Colette pointed out. "He is armed. He should be able to protect us well enough if we need protection--which I can not think that we will. Someone needs to stay with John. He is too hurt to be left alone."
"If we go now we should have help for him in no time," Lady Beauchamp said dismissively. "I won't hear another word about it."
Colette stared at her mother in dismay. "I will stay with him then."
"You'll do no such thing! He will be in no danger--without you. Suppose someone came along? They are far more likely to take an interest in you than a mere coachman. If you stay, he will be obliged to try and protect you."
Colette still didn't like it and she couldn't see that there was any great possibility that anyone would come along. They had seen no one on the road since they had turned upon it because most folk avoided the road through the wood. She didn't quite dare to defy her mother, however, and since there seemed no hope for it, she thought it best not to waste time arguing a battle she wasn't likely to win. While Robert helped her mother and sister to mount the carriage horses, she and William rounded up what they could to see to John's comfort, placing food and water near enough he could reach them.
She wasn't certain he even attended her promise to send help back for him as quickly as possible, for he was in too much pain to do much more than moan piteously, but she did her best to offer what comfort she could.
The rain, which had eased somewhat as they struggled back and forth between the carriage and the horses, became a deluge as they at last got underway.