I awoke in the lambent dawn light, Failbhe asleep beside me. I had offered myself up to him without hesitation, a vessel for his pleasure. He had taken me without a word and I found a profound peace in the extremely physical nature of that pleasure. Okay, I was also sore as hell, but somewhere in all the separate aches was a feeling I thought I liked. I lay still and listened to his breathing while I wondered what he thought of the night. Was he pleased with me? Would he want me again or cast me aside?
Suddenly, grey-brown eyes were looking into mine, he was awake and alert in the same instance, rolling and pinning me to the bed with his heavy body. He didn’t say anything but stared into me as if searching for answers to unfamiliar questions. Then he was gone, calling through the door for his medic to be brought, disappearing into the bathroom to reappear in a robe to meet them at the doorway. A hard glare kept me in the bed when I attempted to rise.
The same exotic looking woman I’d seen the night before came in response to the summons. I heard him ask her to stay with me, to make sure that I would be fit for his attentions later in the day. Though not entirely certain that I should, I took some consolation from the order. He hadn’t finished with me.
Left alone together the woman gave her name as Deborah. She said it like some kind of reward for making it through to the morning. Her experienced hands attended to a number of minor hurts in silence, most of which I couldn’t remember getting. An ice-pack was pressed against a cheek – a bruise …or worse? My nose didn’t feel the same, numb, but at least it was still straight. Other than feeling the aches I had no idea what state I was in. Worryingly, she checked me for concussion and that none of my teeth had been loosened. She gestured to me to roll over. Seeing the ragged bites across my shoulders elicited a hiss of censure but no comment as she made sure they were clean. The sharp exhalations continued while she salved the more intimate wounds and confirmed for herself that the bleeding had stopped.
Reassured that there would be no permanent damage Deborah dressed me in a soft, loose, robe. She insisted that I ate while servants replaced the bloodied sheets with fresh ones and nervy maids cleaned sprays of scarlet from the wall. She, well, she had clearly tended to a number of the Laird’s night-time adventures. I realised that her disapproval was not for me, or what I had done, but in the level of aggression evidenced on my body. In her concerned looks I suddenly realised who she reminded me of, someone who had warned me about the violence but never showed me any himself. I tried to ask her … but my questions were shushed away as her glance flicked to the door and then back to me.
Time passed slowly, and quietly, as my minder would not be drawn into any conversation and appeared reluctant to look at me more than was necessary. I began to worry about my appearance. Would he want me again if I was so hard to look at? Had I forgotten something important from the previous night?
Later, as muscles started to stiffen, I said I needed a soak and Deborah helped me bathe. She checked my wounds again. This time she was clearly surprised at the speed with which the offenses of the previous night were healing. I’d had years of wounds, it hadn’t occurred to me that there was anything unusual in what my body was doing. Not sure of my place I didn’t ask her to explain. I didn’t feel much like a person just then, more like some anonymous living doll. Maybe it would be different after the Laird acknowledged me. If he acknowledged me.
Drowsy and relaxed after the hot bath I must have dozed off on the bed before I’d even got dressed again. Warm breath in my face and heavy pressure on my chest, newly familiar eyes again inches from my own as I blinked in the sudden awakening. And then gone. For an instant I thought I was having some kind of flashback to the morning. No, there he was, formally dressed again, this time telling the medic to leave us but not to go too far away. I hadn’t heard him come into the room. Had they be talking about me as I slept? Maybe so. Maybe she’d told him what she thought of his behaviour. It might take a brave woman to upbraid the Lion of Alba but, somehow, I got the feeling that she had done it before.
Whatever the reason, this time when he turned to me there was no anger in his features. He slowly approached the bed, returned to his position on top of me and gently started to kiss my face. As I opened my mouth to him my body flexed against his, an unconscious movement of yearning, skinny hips writhing up against him, my hardness rubbing up against a matching pressure. He shifted his weight to rest on one arm and looked down at me, questions appearing again somewhere behind his eyes.
I used the opportunity to drag at the buttons of his shirt, to run my hands down his chest and to follow them with my mouth. Kissing, and licking, and biting (ha! softly) I made my way down his wide and hirsute body, gradually reversing our position on the bed so that I ended on top of him. I tugged away his trousers to gorge myself on his thick manhood. I may have been new to the act but I was a quick study and Moshen had been an excellent teacher. Strong hands that had pressed against the back of head abruptly drew me back to eye level as I heard the change in his breathing.
It seemed I had taken him too close, too soon. With an easy movement he rolled me onto my back and knelt between my thighs, reaching out to take a bottle from the side-table. I lay back, simultaneously dreading and needing what I hoped would come next, relieved that this time would be easier as I watched him pour a glistening liquid onto one hand and then anoint himself with it. I spread my legs wider and tilted my hips up towards him as lubricated fingers found the place he wanted, unable to stop the deep groans of pleasure at his penetrating touch.
And the bastard stopped! He just stopped. We were both hard as you can be, I’m quivering with anticipation, desperate for him to do it and he just stopped. Then, then, he decides he’ll speak to me and he asks me who he is. Trick questions I am not in the mood for at this point. I pant that he’s my lord, my lord and master. He asks me who I want to be. I practically scream it at him; I’ll be anything he wants me to be so long as he fucking sticks his fucking great cock in me.
Not the politest way of expressing myself. But it was honest, and he seemed to like it. Carried away on lust there was no discomfort as he did what I begged him to do. Starting slowly, he bent over me, teeth raking and biting any skin in range as his thrusting became more forceful. When he came it was an exhilarating thing to feel as I bucked hard against him, and felt my own climax as if triggered by his. Had I cried out the night before? Had he? This time we both did; raw exultations of animal gratification.
Still inside me, and undoubtedly aware of the fluid cooling between our bodies, he cradled my face in his hands and asked me again – who was he? I could only hope that my hoarse answer was the right one; he was Failbhe, my lord and master and, should he wish it, he always would be. In the long pause that followed I saw the tiredness in his eyes, deepening folds in thinning skin – the sure signs of uncompromising age starting to write themselves on his features.
He said nothing but pulled out from me with a sigh. Tender kisses again on my lips, then my neck and down, a gentle touch now where before he had hurt my flesh. The touch of warm breath made my nipples harden and the thing between us stir again. He carried on down, kiss after kiss, until his lips were poised above the sticky mess on my abdomen. Tentatively he tasted it. A cautious first sample of something he had given innumerable times but, according to Moshen, never received. The shamed and stammering apology died on my lips as he lapped at it, slowly at first but with an increasing greed. He wanted more. He demanded more. I was young. I was in a dangerous and exciting situation. And I was really, really turned on. Providing more was not difficult, especially when he dipped his head and took me into his mouth. There was no need for finesse.
When he had enough of me there was not a great deal of time before he had to leave for the promised next audience. But there was time enough. He asked me my name and smiled as he vaguely recollected the origin of it. He said he’d always thought of rivers as female, but maybe it was an appropriate name for me. I saw him refreshed and dressed again, and brushed through his lustrous hair while we discussed the best girl to pick for his bride. He needed to show the people a wedding day, he had promised them one. Of course he had the information given by his Chamberlain, or, more accurately, from the Chamberlain’s aide, but he asked me what my thoughts were after spending time with the other candidates.
There was only so long the supposedly freest man in the land could ignore the chirps from his messages and the increasingly strident knocks at his door so, eventually, he said he had to go. The medic was called for again. Immediately at the door Deborah looked past Failbhe, her face a polite mask until she saw I had suffered no further harm and then she gave us both a relieved smile. The smile was accompanied by a small intake of breath she saw the braid in my hair even as I reached up to undo it. The execution might have been basic and unadorned but the meaning was clear. Whoever was announced at the audience the Laird already had his bride, and it was one that could not exist.
Failbhe’s parting command this time was a gentle one – to keep me company, to see that I had anything I needed, and a message of thanks to be conveyed to Deborah’s son. My existence may have been a shock to the court, one that some people were coping with better than others. No surprise for the Laird though. He had been looking forward to my arrival, increasingly impatient at the delay imposed by protocol before he could compare the news and images from his soldier with my reality. I said nothing, but I was relieved to find that Failbhe, the old Wolf-Killer himself, had been the secret confident, the one who could command his soldier in such an intimate manner.