The Damned

Reads: 4436  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 8

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 37 (v.1)

Submitted: July 09, 2013

Reads: 62

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 09, 2013

A A A

A A A

 

 

37

 

Glencaer, Welsh Marches, Shropshire, 1st May 1228

 

The groom whipped him over and over, blow after blow, until his back was nothing but blood and raw meat. With every lash of the whip, Conor laughed, even though he knew that the next blow would be harder for it. But he could not stop himself. He would not show them that he could be hurt, though each lash ripped the deep welts anew as it added to their number.

The forty-fifth strike bit into his skin. The leather thong hissed through the air with a serpentine flick, its sting possessing the potency of venom. But though he was light-headed, his skin so sore that he wanted to scour it from his bones, he would not lose count.

Three. He pictured Isabel at the window of his lady’s bower, staring serenely into the distance, dreaming of the freedom he would one day give to her. Golden-haired Matilda would be beside her, dreaming of escape too, though hers was a different type of freedom. A more attainable kind. The freedom to run her own household. The freedom to clothe herself in the most expensive materials her husband could afford. She didn’t possess an ability to strive for the impossible. She only wanted the things that she could have. And the other women? They did not dream at all. They daren’t. They weren’t as brave as Isabel.

Two. He conjured the smell of her hair, the warmth of her body… and the look on her face as he told her that he had murdered a man. Such easy acceptance. Such disappointment. You’re wrong to love her, his mother’s voice whispered. You would be wrong to leave her, Dara’s insisted. He wondered if his father had been torn the same way, when he had held his mother in his arms, knowing that they belonged to different worlds.

One.

He struggled free of the men who held him, so weak that he fell back against them as they released him. The pain was blinding. He blinked furiously, desperate not to need them, yet clinging to those who held him, for he couldn’t see, and he would not stumble in front of them. They would have no cause to laugh at him.

It was dark in the stables, late. He had been the evening’s entertainment, a post-dinner amusement. He saw the lanterns first, like shining eyes peering through the shadows, watching him along with all the rest of them. They creaked in the wind and, disorientated, he relied on their haunting song to guide him as much as he did their light.

He half-stumbled as he went, but another man reached to grab him, friendlier than the others, softer. Joseph. He was a slight man. A man who didn’t judge him as the others did, nor envy him his skill.

“Sit down,” he said, in a tone that brooked no argument, pressing Conor’s shoulders.

Conor’s weakened form half-slid, half-fell, onto a bale of straw.

Joseph pressed a skin of ale into his hand, sympathy in his eyes. “Drink,” he encouraged.

Conor took a swig of the potent liquid, eyes half-closed, then passed it back to Joseph. He tried to push himself up again, gritting his teeth at the pain in his back, but fell down, defeated. It mattered little, for there was no-one here to see, except for Joseph, who felt only pity for him. There was no one to challenge him. No one who came forth to jeer at his weakness. Yet still it felt like surrender, failure.

His eyes fixed on the great hall, just visible through the open doors of the stables. Smoke rose from its chimney, almost invisible against the dark sky, but it was enough to comfort him, for he knew that she was in there. If he walked towards its open door, he would feel the heat of their revelry pouring out, like the hot breath of summer, and she would be in the middle of them all, in pride of place, the most beautiful jewel in their treasury.

“Conor?” Joseph said softly, a question in his voice.

Despite his pain, his exhaustion, his back, Isabel, despite it all, he smiled. It was good to smile. It unnerved them. It made him seem invulnerable, untouchable. “None else,” he answered, as though his identity had been the question itself. He wanted to make the other man uncomfortable, to make him feel as though he couldn’t ask him the things that he wanted to.

But Joseph was undeterred. “What happened to your shoulder?”

Conor had almost forgotten about his shoulder. The pain was nothing compared to the agony of his back. “Didn’t you listen to them reading the charges against me? I was fighting. You should be careful not to provoke me.”

Joseph frowned. “Why were you fighting?”

“Does it matter?”

“I heard that you were defending your sister, but you don’t have a sister.”

Conor forced himself to his feet, grasping the door of the nearest stall to keep himself upright. “Who told you that?”

“Ulric and Dain. They came back last night, a few hours before you did, claiming that they saw you with their own eyes, fighting with Gaston Rowntree over a beautiful red-haired girl.” Joseph eyed him. “I see that some of it, at least, is true.”

“And what if it’s all true?”

“It’s not. The girl wasn’t your sister.”

“She was just a girl.”

“Your sweetheart?”

“Just a girl. I’d never met her before.”

Joseph’s eyes narrowed, and for a moment Conor thought that he would confront him over his lie. But though he noted suspicion in Joseph’s gaze, the older man did not press him further. “Your arm is drenched in blood.”

Conor looked down dully. It was true. The knife wounds had opened again. “Rowntree pulled a blade on me.”

“And you would have taken his head off for it if that girl hadn’t distracted you, so I heard.” He slid his arm under Conor’s to support him. “You’re white as milk, and there’s not an inch of your body left undamaged. You need to rest.”

“No, I’m fine,” Conor said, struggling to free himself from Joseph’s grip. “I don’t need to rest.” I need Isabel. He was meant to meet her at midnight. He couldn’t disappoint her.

“Rest awhile, at least,” Joseph said, easing him down onto the straw.

And it was only half past eight. There was time to rest without missing her entirely. Conor closed his eyes to stop the world from spinning. He heard Oberon nickering softly. The laughter of the other grooms. He wondered if they were laughing at him, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

“I need to go… I need to see her… At midnight…” The words seemed to fall from his mouth as if his tongue could no longer cipher the thoughts it gave voice to.

But Joseph wasn’t listening. There was a knife in his hand. He ran the blade up the sleeve of Conor’s shirt, slicing the stained material, crusty with old blood and sodden with new.

“I want her here…”

Joseph sniffed the wounds which scarred his arm and his shoulder.  “Her?”

Conor winced as Joseph’s gentle fingers explored the wounds left by Rowntree’s blade, poking and prodding. “Ahh, that hurts,” he roared, pulling away, his teeth clenched. He tried to rise. “I don’t need -”

“You do,” Joseph said firmly. “I used to be a battle surgeon for old Lord FitzAlan. Part of the blade has broken off and lodged itself in your shoulder. You need it taking out. It will hurt, but if you leave it, it will fester, and eventually it will kill you. Even you can’t fight your own body.”

“I’ll do it myself,” Conor said, lurching to his feet.

Joseph shoved him back down. Weak as Conor was, the smaller man was able to handle him as if he were a child. “Be still or I’ll tie you down.”

There was blood on Conor’s lip where he had bitten it in his struggles. Its metallic taste seemed too potent. His stomach roiled and heaved, and it was all he could do not to retch at the taste. “Try it,” he threatened, but his voice was weak, hoarse.

Joseph gently cleaned the blood and pus from his wound, ignoring his feeble protestations. Light as his touch was, the sensation still made Conor want to scream in agony. “I’ll hurt you for this,” he promised the other man, for talking, anger, helped to keep his mind off the pain. “I swear to God that one day you will be weak, and on that day I will tear you apart.”

Joseph smiled indulgently. “You’ll have to be alive to make good on your promise.”

“I will live. Isabel is mine, and for as long as she lives, I will fight on.”

“Isabel?”

How could Conor explain Isabel to him? She was beautiful and kind and clever and she kissed him as though she loved him. “Lady of Fire. Queen of the May.”  His tongue felt thick and clumsy. The pain was clouding his wits. “I love her. I never meant to, but… I wasn’t strong enough to stop myself.” His head felt as if it were packed with wet wool. “I didn’t have any choice. She was too much like Eva, and yet not like her at all. It was… too easy. Something so easy, something which feels so right… It cannot be wrong, can it?”

“So the devil himself has fallen to the charms of a girl,” Joseph said drily.

He crossed to one of the wall sconces, a wry smile on his face, and passed the blade through its flame. “You must hold still now,” he said, as he returned to Conor.

I will not scream, Conor told himself when he saw the blade glowing red hot. But he broke that vow – again and again, he broke it. He did not move, though, except to pound his right fist against his thigh, over and over and over. The pain was so overwhelming that it reduced him to nothing: a small, weak, helpless creature which cowered before it, a lost child whimpering in the darkness of a forest, watched by a thousand eyes. Issy, he thought, when the stench of burning flesh was in his nose and his own shrieks echoed in his ears. Issy, I need you. For half a heartbeat, the agony seemed to ebb. But then the burning heat of the blade touched him once more, and he fainted.

When his eyelids fluttered open, he was wrapped in thick wool and floating. He could barely move, but it didn’t matter. Joseph’s arms were around him, half-dragging him to his bed. He tried to help him, but couldn’t. Then the other man’s gentle hands were on his forehead, and he could pretend that they were hers. Finally, Conor closed his eyes and slept.

The next waking was not as easy. The room was so dark that it was as though a black shroud lay over him, ominous, funereal. But he knew that he had not died, for the pain was still there: a throbbing in his shoulder like a hot knife, and the venomous sting of the welts which scarred his back, burning as if someone had poured acid into the open wounds. He could feel a gentle hand on his arm. Though the touch was light, the fingers on his skin seemed to claw a searing path across his injuries, leaving no part of his body untouched. He shoved his clenched fist between his teeth, stifling a scream, his left hand grabbing the intruder in an iron grip.

He heard a whimper of fear, the sound delicate, feminine. “Conor!” And as his vision cleared, Isabel’s face shone before him, illuminated by the candle she held, hidden before, the flame having been shadowed behind her free hand, the hand which he now crushed in his strong grip. “Conor, you’re hurting me!”

“Isabel?” Conor released her, pushing himself upright. “What are you doing here?” he hissed.

“It’s past midnight. I was worried.”

“I’ve told you before that you must never come here. It isn’t safe. What if someone found you here?”

“They wouldn’t. You sleep apart from everyone else, and who would dare to disturb you, knowing that they would receive such a welcome?” she said sourly, rubbing her wrist where he had grabbed her.

His throat was dry, his lips cracked. He ran his tongue over them. “People begin to suspect,” he said hoarsely.

“Who?”

“You have to go, Issy, before someone discovers us here. They’re watching me. Even now, there may be eyes on us. Go. Wait for me outside. Hide yourself in the trees. I’ll meet you there.” He pulled the covers up around his waist, aware suddenly of his nakedness.

She hesitated, as if she would question him further, but then slipped away on silent feet, as quietly as he had schooled her to. Her pale skin was illuminated for a second as she passed through a shaft of moonlight which spilled through the open door, but then she was gone, as though she were as fleeting and insubstantial as a wraith.

He forced himself to sit up, stifling the curse which came to his lips. He fought through the pain to lever himself to his feet, grabbing the shelf of wood which ran along the wall to support himself. Sweat dripped off of his brow. Images blurred. Pain knifed through his shoulder, and his back was reduced to nothing more than spasm upon spasm of agony, washing over him like waves, drowning him. He closed his eyes for a moment, steeling himself for the short walk to the treeline. He needed time to heal, he knew, but Isabel needed him more. She waited for him.

The journey to her was a voyage of pure torture, but he clung to her image as though it were a beacon, guiding him home. He forced himself to stay upright, though he wanted nothing more than to fall to the floor and lie with his face pressed against the cool grass, defeated. Each breath that he drew was agony. He wanted to weep, no longer caring that to do so would be an act of surrender, but he couldn’t, for it would have hurt too much to cry. He concentrated on drawing one short breath after another. He did not know which part of him hurt the most: his shoulder, his back or his throbbing head. A part of him dully acknowledged that his wounds may be mortal, but he vowed that he would survive. No matter what they did to him, they would not win.

And then Isabel appeared from the treeline, gliding towards him on silent feet, so beautiful that he could have wept for her, for he knew that his master would never relinquish his claim to so great a treasure. She seemed to float across the damp ground. He watched her sinuous contortions and wondered if he would ever be able to move his own body so much as an inch again.

She wound her arms around him, pressed close. He could feel her breasts pushing against him, her hips, the full length of her body. Her touch was an indescribable pleasure, yet every point where skin met skin was an unbearable agony too. But he could not push her away, for affection was so rare in her. She kissed his lips, then drew back, aghast at herself, with a gesture of nymph-like coyness, her body bent away from his in an attitude of flight.

Last night, she had been different. Last night, when long wisps of auburn hair had escaped from the chaplet of white flowers which had crowned his little queen, she had been made of fire, a girl crafted by the wildest, most tantalising spirits of the May. But here, every touch was illicit. Every word bound them more closely to one another – and pulled them nearer to their downfall.

And already, they had been seen. Already, the net was closing in around them.

*

Conor walked towards her slowly, tight-limbed and stiff-jointed, as if every movement he made hurt him. His lovely face was pale beneath the patchwork of bruises, but his black eyes were defiant. He stopped in the middle of the clearing, looking at her sullenly, like a child brutally chastised but unrepentant.

Thoughtlessly, she ran to him, throwing enthusiastic arms about his neck, pressing close. Their bodies moulded together, merged, every inch of them connecting. She kissed his lips, then drew back, looking around nervously, searching for eyes in the darkness, mouths whose spoken words could send them to their downfall. Her body bent away, ready to flee from him, to pretend that they had never been together. But there was only silence, emptiness. She laughed, still light-headed from the thrill of freedom. “Where have you been? You promised you would come to me. Was your appetite for adventure so easily sated, my sweet?”

She clung to him again, though she did not hold him so tightly this time, for there could be men watching them, and she must be able to hastily disentangle herself if threatened with discovery. She must remember who she was and were they were. She must not forget that there was danger everywhere she turned.

Light as it was, he winced as she wrapped him in her embrace, and Isabel drew back. Had she kissed him too much, she wondered. Did her eager, hungry, clinging embrace crush him under the weight of obligation?

Conor shrugged free of her, and wordlessly walked into the forest. She followed behind him, her head down, gaze on the floor, wondering what she had done wrong. Had he really hated it so much? When she spoke, her voice was hoarse, as if she had a cold, and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. “I’m sorry that I made you go with me.”

She heard him draw in a deep breath. He turned to look at her, his hand to his chest, as if to breathe pained him. “Why are you apologising? I ruined it for you.”

She looked at him in confusion. “No, you didn’t. I’ve never felt more alive. I was free, Conor.”

They had reached the edge of the lake. He sat down slowly, and Isabel cuddled close beside him. Conor smiled at her. “You truly enjoyed last night?”

“I never wanted the night to end.” She leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder. He straightened and stiffened his spine, as if her touch made him uncomfortable.

Isabel looked at him closely. He averted his gaze quickly, but not before she had seen the momentary flicker of pain in his eyes. “You’re hurt,” she accused.

“They can’t hurt me,” he said defiantly, lifting his beautiful, damaged face and staring with determined fierceness at the lake.

“Conor…” she said worriedly, placing her fingers on his swollen cheek and tilting his head towards her.

A small smile, tight and cold, met her question. No, it was not a smile, but a sneer. There was a strange blankness in his eyes that froze her to the marrow. “If they lash my back a thousand times, do they think I care? Do they think that they can break me?”

“They flogged you?” Inside, she was screaming with guilt. She had made him take her out. It was her fault. “Conor…” she whispered, reaching for his hands. There were tears in her eyes. She felt them slide silently down her cheeks.

Conor raised his hand to her face, cradled her cheek in his palm, and gently brushed them from her skin. “Why are you crying?” he murmured. “It doesn’t hurt. It hasn’t hurt in years.”

“It’s my fault. I made you go.”

He shook his head. “I would have gone anyway. I go every year.”

“But you wouldn’t have fought.”

He took her chin between his thumb and forefinger, forcing her to look at him. “This isn’t your fault. None of this was of your doing. I would have fought. You might have been the cause this time, but if you hadn’t been there I would only have found another. It could just as easily have been because someone knocked my drink from my hand or looked at me the wrong way, for it’s like there is a dormant beast inside of me, just waiting to be awakened. But it wasn’t you that roused it.”

Isabel knew otherwise. He had fought for her. And a part of her had gloried in such knowledge, the same part which felt such shame now. She had provoked the beast inside by dancing with another man. She had wanted to see his jealousy. She had wanted to goad him into claiming her. “Let me see.”

She felt his fingertip against her cheek, soft enough to make her close her eyes. “You don’t need to. Please, Issy, you are the only person in the world that I care about. You are the only thing I have which is worth fighting for. Don’t burden yourself with my folly. Don’t feel guilt for me. There is no one less culpable than you.”

He was such a beautiful little fool. So intent on comforting her. So intent on maintaining her innocence that he was blind to the part of her which had manipulated him into acting so.

“Let me see,” she implored.

He shook his head, but her hands were already unlacing his tunic, slipping it from his shoulders. He gently took hold of her wrists, pleading with her to stop. She met his stare, and something inside of him seemed to crumble. His eyes lowered in defeat, and his head bowed to hide his expression. He looked… ashamed.

And she could imagine them seeing him like this, could see the large, cruel smile of victory which would replace Tristan’s sneer. Conor, her soul was screaming, don’t let them do this to you.

“I don’t want you to see.”

“Take it off, Conor.” Her voice was so soft that she could barely hear herself, but she needed to see the wounds her thoughtless actions had inflicted. She should never have danced with the green-eyed man, she scolded herself. They should never have even been there.

Slowly, reluctantly, his face as white as death, Conor turned away from her, presenting his broad back as a violent shudder rippled down his spine. Stiffly, his arms lifted. Carefully, he pulled his shirt over his head to expose his bare, vulnerable skin.

Isabel heard herself pull in her breath. She had to swallow her nausea at the sight of such ruin. A small whimper reached her ears, flying from her mouth before she could stop it. Now she knew why Conor, usually so graceful, had walked stiffly into the stables, his face pale with pain. His muscular back was marred by long, angry scarlet welts from the base of his neck to his waistband. The deepest welts were crusted over with dried blood. There was barely an inch of uncut, undamaged skin between the cruel whip marks, for even where the whip had not touched, his skin was thick with old scars, pink and puckered.

“Twenty lashes, one for each year of my life, for I am Devil spawn, evil from the moment of conception. And twenty-eight extra lashes, one for each year my master has lived, for fighting and bringing disrepute upon him.”

And his shoulder… His shoulder had been neatly stitched, but blood and pus still oozed from the wound. It was a ruin of torn flesh and poison and angry black thread, zigzagging across his skin. The puckered skin was an open, ugly smile, mocking them both.

The whip marks were worse, though, because she knew that they had held him down as they lashed his skin. His shoulder was a battle scar, and he had fought back as the blade slashed at his tender flesh. He had dominated his opponent. He had been glorious and vital and he had fought for her. But they had held him down to flog his skin, overwhelming him, subduing him.

Isabel’s eyes smarted at the horror of seeing those pitiful welts on the tender flesh of the boy who had held her with such gentleness when she had so badly needed an act of kindness. It was wrong that someone who evinced such love inside of her should have been a victim of such savagery. She hungered to hold a whip in her hands to strike back at the one who had so ruthlessly lashed him. She stared at the ladder of bloody welts on his back, unable to tear her eyes from them, and never before had she felt such hate or anger.

Conor looked at her then, as if sensing all that she felt. “I will never give in to them. Never.”

And she believed him. Fists and whips and clubs could not break him. He was indomitable. Though his back was raw from the whip, his face so swollen as to be almost unrecognisable, he looked dangerous still. He was a strong, broad-shouldered Adonis, a felled God, and with his wild, dark curls falling around his face like a mane, he looked like he could charge at any moment and tear their throats out. Both of his eyes were blackened, two dark pits in his grotesquely swollen face, but still they burned with the vengeful rage of an unbroken spirit.

And he was as wild as he looked. She had seen him once, when three of them had set upon him. He had thrown them aside with the ease of an enraged bear. The other men, the ones who lurked in the stables, and the squires who hated him for his gypsy blood and the fact that he frightened them so, would have killed him, happily, but Tristan had forbade anyone from laying a finger on his prize. That hadn’t stopped Conor though. He would still fight, but now, when he started it, Tristan would finish it. Her betrothed had had him chained, flogged, beaten to within an inch of his life, starved, denied water… and all to no avail. Conor was as feral and untameable as he had ever been – except when he was with her.

With Isabel, he could be as sweet as a boy. She had seen him fight, and he had frightened her. And yet she had witnessed him cradle a baby bird in his hands, nurse it back to health with the devotion of a nursemaid tending to her charges. How could a boy so strong and fierce look at something with such a tender expression on his face? How could the fists which had ripped and torn pale flesh hold such a tiny, vulnerable creature with such gentle delicacy? He was an impossible contradiction: a boy whose mirths were as wild as his rages; a devil who could look at a man with such cold contempt that it would freeze them to their marrow, and then turn on his heel and walk away, whistling to his favourite dog as he went, speaking to it with cheerful affection as though he were the kindest person on earth. There was a good sweet heart inside of him, but it seemed to her that it would forever be hidden beneath the violent exterior. An impenetrable fortress sheltered the softness within, and she feared that she would be the only one that he ever allowed close enough to glimpse it.

But it was too dangerous for them both to continue like this. Because of her, he had been hurt. Only once had she let herself feel all of the things that she could feel if she allowed herself to. That once had been the most perfect, magical night. But it could never be allowed to happen again. People had seen them together. He was hurting now, and he would hurt more before the night was through, but if she allowed him closer still, the next discovery would be his death.

Her fingers slipped through his. “I’ll always remember this,” she murmured. “I’ll never forget how perfect you are tonight. They have hurt you, but they haven’t ruined you. You are still strong and indomitable and mine.”

He heard her withdrawal from him as though the words had already been spoken. “Why are you thinking about memory, Issy? It’s not then yet. It’s now. It’s not over. We can have a thousand more days spent this way.”

Her fingers spider-legged across his uninjured shoulder, her gentle touch seeking to calm the pained anger which had flared in his eyes. “Not if it hurts you, Conor.”

He laid his hand on top of hers, trapping her there. “Nothing would hurt me more than losing you.”

She pressed her forehead to his so that his face became naught but a blur, and she was blind to the pain in his eyes. “I would rather have you alive and miserable than happily dead.”

He scoffed then, brushing his nose against hers. “And yet I fear that it is already too late for the luxury of choice.”

She bit her lip, and placed a hand on his bare chest, feeling the heat of his flesh beneath her fingers, the throb of his heart. “Is your heart so set on death?”

“It is set on you,” he murmured, his lips pressed against her ear.

She felt the sting of tears on her cheek: tears for the lies she would tell him; tears for the things she wanted but could never have; tears for his pain and her own. She never cried in front of anyone but Conor. He was different. When she was sad, he never flinched. When she felt weak, he never wavered. He made her stronger, even as she knew that he weakened her. That he was a weakness.

He wrapped his arms around her, attempting comfort, though his touch brought her nothing but pain. “Better a short life spent together than a long one lived apart.”

She could not bring herself to push him away, not tonight, but she pressed her finger to his lips to silence him. “I would rather live apart than die together.”

Their gazes met, held. And she could not say if it was a lie.

“You’re lying.” He kissed her lips, too hard, but she drew away.

“One more kiss, one more word, and we won’t survive.”

He pulled her to him, and the heat of him pressed against her, so hot beside the steel in his eyes. “Then we’ll go down together. If they throw stones through our windows and kick down our doors, set our home alight, as I feel their fire lick the soles of my feet, I will turn and kiss you before our lips turn to ashes. We will be lovers with no happy ending, lovers who accept their luckless fate, but our hands will be clasped until the end.”

Her gloved finger traced down his cheek, the soft suede emitting a light hiss as it moved across his unshaven skin. Her fingertip rested on a half-healed scar, from this fight or another. Pain did not seem to trouble him. It came and then it was gone, like all other fleeting obstacles. Like her family. Like her betrothed. Like death. All trifling obstacles afforded little regard. “I don’t want to die. Death is death. There is nothing poetic about it.”

Conor lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm, his lips brushing the ring her brother had given her when last she saw him. It could not be his last gift to her. That moment could not have been their last exchange. “I don’t want to lose you. I love you too much to be parted from you.” But she loved her brother too much to be parted from him.

Her palm pressed against his chest, fighting him off, fighting away his promises – and fighting away her own desires. “Stop it, Con. You don’t love me. You can never love me.”

He turned his cheek, eyes bright and narrowed. “But I do. Do you love me?”

She stared at him, wide eyed with panic. Her chest trembled with her caught breath.

“Do you love me? It’s a simple question.”

He needn’t have asked. He knew then – knew always – what she felt. Knew her better than she knew herself. He recognised the truth which she could not let herself. But he knew, too, that she could never answer as he wished her to. “It’s not a simple answer. I can’t be in love with you.”

His lips curled, her beautiful heart set to monstrosity. “What a wicked game you play.”

She moved closer, her gown trailing behind her in a mute display of extravagance, and gently stroked his cheek, every finger glittering with gold rings. “And how I pity you, that you are my opponent.”


© Copyright 2017 Jordana J Sacks. All rights reserved.

Chapters