Other Worldly Ways (Anthology 1) (18 page)

BOOK: Other Worldly Ways (Anthology 1)
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"Heatherfield is a good place to stay," Watcher broke his silence and spoke to me as we ate beside Athar and Evret. "Good beds, better food."

"I'm all for good beds," I said. "I think I still have a root-shaped imprint on my ass from two nights ago."

"I think Rafton wouldn't mind checking that for you," Evret grinned. Athar laughed and nodded.

"That boy's got it bad," he agreed.

"Oh, for the gods' sake," I blew out a frustrated sigh. I'd have to be more careful. I didn't need a sixteen-year-old mooning after me.

"He's harmless," Watcher said.

"I'm not worried about harm to me," I responded. They skipped on to other topics and went to bed shortly after eating.

Pheran pushed us for the next four days, and we did get close to Heatherfield; we'd already passed some of the outlying farms. I saw sheep and goats grazing in the pastures as we rode past on the fourth day. A few herders were out with the animals and they lifted their hands in greeting as Pheran's company rode along.

Camp was made about a click's ride out of Heatherfield; Pheran promised all of us a room and a bath as soon as we arrived in town the following morning. I couldn't wait—it had been days since I'd had a bath and somewhere in Heatherfield there had to be a tub and warm water with my name on it.

Pheran let us sleep later the following morning, except for those on guard duty. I woke at my usual time and took over for one of the guards so he could get a bit of extra sleep before breakfast. Camp was broken quickly after our meal, as all of us were looking forward to reaching Heatherfield.

We rode into Heatherfield roughly an hour after midday, and once Pheran dismissed us, many of our company went in search of a meal. I went looking for a bath at one of the three inns requisitioned by Pheran, and for which payment was guaranteed by the Warlord.

A young servant girl showed me to the bathing rooms and offered to launder clothing for me when I arrived at the small cubicle with a tub of water waiting.

With a sigh, I didn't even wait for her to leave before undressing—I came out of my leathers immediately and handed those off to her, then gave her the rest of it to clean, leaving my cleanest gah with me so I could dress after a lengthy bath. I don't believe water had ever felt so good, or a scrubbing of my skin and hair so necessary. I felt infinitely better when I climbed from the cooling water to dry off with the provided towel.

After dressing, I sat on the short stool provided to comb out my hair. My back was to the door of the cubicle and I'd just finished braiding my hair and tying it with a leather string when the flimsy, wood door crashed open and fingers closed about my left upper arm.

I shrieked as I was jerked off the stool and hauled from the cubicle. Gathering my wits, I managed to land an elbow in the ribs of my abductor, who responded to the blow with an uncomfortable oof. That was the least of my troubles, as it turns out. I found myself gazing into the dark scowl of the Dragon Warlord as he grasped my arm tighter and proceeded to haul me through the inn at an accelerated clip.

After a while, Dragon forced me to my tiptoes as he pulled me along, like a horse and rider pulling an unwilling calf. "I tell you not to hide from me," he growled, "and what do you do?"

Servants and customers scattered as he dragged me through the entire length of the inn toward the stairs and the guest rooms above.

"And then," he continued as people threw themselves out of his way, "you calmly ride into Pheran Tiger's camp and volunteer to fight raiders."

The last words were hissed through his teeth as he began pulling me up the stairs. I wanted to whimper and beg him to loosen his grip on my arm—his fingers were like steel bands as I was dragged along, struggling not to fall on three flights of step while my face burned with embarrassment and my arm went numb from his grasp.

When we reached the top floor, I was grateful there were no more stairs; otherwise Dragon would likely have hauled me up those as well to illustrate his displeasure with me. Two guards stood outside a door at the end of the hall and one opened it quickly when Dragon failed to slow his pace.

Sailing right through the door with me in tow, Dragon kicked the door shut and turned me to face him. Cowering sounded good at that moment—he was angry, that was easy enough to see. That's when I realized I was trembling—this Dragon was the Dragon Warlord and not the Dragon I knew from the Saa Thalarr. I'd disobeyed this Warlord. I had no idea what to do if he chose to punish me.

I recalled what happened to Iver, when he'd broken the rules. Terrified that I'd be treated to the same, I panted and backed away from Dragon. "No, you don't," he growled, before hauling me into his arms and kissing me breathless.

I hadn't had sex in more than eight months, but would my mates see this as an infidelity? Granted, Dragon would become a mate in the future, but this one was still mortal and I didn't really know him at all.

It didn't matter; Dragon had the top of my gah off with one hand while he unbraided my damp hair with the other. I don't think he stopped kissing me even once while he accomplished those things. Squeezing my breasts while his mouth dropped to my neck, he pushed me against the edge of the wide bed. When my knees buckled and I fell on the soft mattress, he followed me down.

It wasn't long before I began returning his kisses, my hands exploring his body, just as his explored mine. His hands became gentler at that point, as he appeared to savor the softness and texture of my skin.

He never spoke, settling instead for caressing, tasting and nipping. When it was time, he positioned himself and entered me with a sure, single stroke. His mouth over mine, he inhaled my cry of surprise before driving into me with strong, sure thrusts.

The noise I made with my climax was muffled, too, when he kissed me, his wide chest brushing mine as he sighed and spent himself.

Half an hour later, I woke with my face pressed against the dragon tattoo on his chest. I felt his steady heartbeat against my cheek as he spoke. "You're a noisy little thing, aren't you?" He stroked my hair as he chuckled at his own remark.

"I would have told you that if you'd bothered to ask beforehand," I muttered. That brought on a full-fledged laugh.

"Pheran said you were feisty," he informed me before kissing my forehead.

"You talked to Pheran before you abducted me?" I squeaked, attempting to pull away from him. "What's the penalty for kicking the Lord Marshall's ass?"                                                                    

"Well, let's see," he grinned and pulled me against him. "Assault on a superior officer, that would mean strokes, at the very least," he said. "Even threatening a superior officer can cause strokes to be levied. Perhaps I should take care of this myself," he rubbed himself against my thigh suggestively. Is it possible to be embarrassed about being embarrassed? I was. He meant that kind of stroke.

He took longer the second time, going over every inch of me, paying special attention to the tattoo, running his fingers over it, then kissing my shoulder and down my spine. From previous experience, I knew he was fond of my back, and seemingly obsessed with the small of my back.

Flipping me onto my stomach, his chest brushed my back as his fingers stroked and rolled my nipples. Then, grasping my hips in his hands, he thrust into me a second time.

When I woke following my second climax, it was to the sound of servants delivering a tub to the Warlord's room and filling it with water. At least he'd covered me with a light quilt and pulled on leather pants before allowing them inside.

Dragon, his arms crossed over his chest and a familiar scowl on his features, watched intently as the bath was prepared. The servants, frightened of the Warlord, bowed on their way out the door.

Dragon's pants dropped to the floor, I was pulled from the bed with an indelicate squawk and deposited in the warm water. He settled in behind me with a sigh of pleasure, then pulling the cloth and soap that the servants provided into his hand, he proceeded to wash me.

I squirmed when his hands reached between my legs. "That is mine," he growled next to my ear. "I will wash it if I want."

A meal was brought up later; somehow, the inn had been informed that I didn't eat meat, and I'd been provided with eggs, cheese and a nice loaf of bread with butter. The Warlord had been served what looked like a haunch of beef, or perhaps sheep. I didn't want to ask and Dragon didn't volunteer the information.

"So, how long did it take you to get here?" I asked eventually.

"Six days. I was in a hurry," he said, setting his chopsticks down with a satisfied grin. "The moment the General delivered Pheran's message to me, I had my horse saddled and four guards trailing after me." He was still grinning.

"You're mighty pleased with yourself," I grumped. The Warlord laughed.

"Just what did that message say, anyway?"

"Three words, at the bottom of the usual," he informed me.

"Three words?"

"She is here. That's all it took for me to climb onto my horse and head in this direction."

"I still want to kick his ass," I turned to gaze out the window. Both of us were still naked—I'd reached for my clothes after being dried off carefully, but he'd taken them away and tossed them in a corner. It seemed the Warlord was going to have his way, no matter what.

"I'll invoke the penalty again," he sipped his tea and studied me over the cup.

"I said I want to, not that I'm going to," I pointed my chopsticks at him.

"And I want to invoke the penalty, and I will invoke the penalty," he said.

"It's good to be you, isn't it?" I asked innocently. He almost choked on his laugh.

"I'm sorry my brother isn't here," he said after he got himself under control. "I'd like to turn you loose on him for a while. He's pretty full of himself, most of the time."

"I feel sorry for your parents," I snipped. "Don't you have a war to go to, or something?"

He struggled to stifle another laugh as he lifted me off the chair and carried me back to the bed like a sack of potatoes.

* * *

I was herded downstairs to a private room later, and ended up having dinner with the Warlord, Pheran, Gray, and all four of the Warlord's guards. Pheran had several of his party standing guard outside, one of whom was Evret, and he stared, round-eyed, at the Warlord's possessive hand on my shoulder.

My clothing and belongings had magically appeared after a second round of sex, and my laundry had been done, too. I suppose it wasn't a bad thing to be associated with the Warlord.

"What have you learned so far?" the Warlord asked Pheran as he bit into a chunk of bread coated with butter.

"I found three who'd come down from a goat farm the raiders hit two moon-turns ago. They tell me that most of them made it out alive, but that's not what I'm hearing from the places hit later on. One of those three men said he went back to check his cousin's house on the other side of the mountain, and all he found was bodies. About twelve, in all."

"Is he telling the truth?"

"Yes."

"Worse than we thought, then."

"Yes."

"Do you have enough warriors?"

"As long as I don't lose any." Pheran turned his eyes on me as he answered the Warlord's question. A snort was the only answer Pheran got from the Warlord on that issue.

I hadn't spoken during the meal—the Warlord and Pheran needed to talk, so I settled for listening to learn what Pheran intended to do. I now worried that the Warlord might force me to return to the army with him and that couldn't happen—I was here to help Pheran and collect him for the Saa Thalarr after he'd finished this assignment.

"Here, try this," the Warlord waved a pastry in front of my face. That's when I realized I'd been staring off into space and thinking. Reaching out, I took the offered dessert and bit into it—it was delicious, made of cherries and nuts inside a flaky crust.

"That's really good," I mumbled around a second bite. I'd realized that I hadn't had any dessert since my arrival on Falchan.

"It might interest you to know, little pirgat, that Pheran here didn't have anyone to give him a decent challenge at the Solstice Trials this past year, and won handily."

"Congratulations," I said and nodded to Pheran after swallowing.

"Is that all you're going to say?" One of the Warlord's eyebrows rose in disbelief.

"I've been busy," I attempted to defend myself.

"She's been busy." The Warlord shook his head while his guards chuckled.

That's when I Looked to see what a pirgat was—the Warlord could have insulted me, for all I knew. This is what I learned—on Falchan, a pirgat was a little red bird, not the red of a cardinal, but lighter, with a yellow chest. It was a little puffball of a bird, actually, and good for gardens; they helped with insects. At least he had the bird part right, but my Driskilhin Night Hawk was much larger than any pirgat could ever dream of becoming.

"I have to leave in the morning," the Warlord informed Pheran. "The General may be tiring of wearing two hats for so long."

"I have already given orders for my company to be ready in the morning as well," Pheran said. "We need to get up those mountains as quickly as possible, otherwise we may only find more bodies, burned homesteads and no raiders."

BOOK: Other Worldly Ways (Anthology 1)
13.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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