Being the Maid Ch. 10byGoldeniangel©
When I first started writing this series, I warned that there would be some romance in it. This is where all of that comes to a head. I've thoroughly enjoyed writing the story of the maid given over to the bandits rather than the lady or Princess captured and taken by the bandit leader. I hope you've enjoyed reading it!
Bridget stared up into Garrett's eyes, feeling unsure of whether or not she wanted to go with him. As soon as she'd woken up this morning, memories of the night before had started pouring in. Her wanton behavior, the way she'd pleasured herself with his body, the excitement she'd felt as overcoming him. Shame suffused her and looking at him just seemed to make it worse; he was the only one who knew that she was a shameless hussy deep down, that the liquor had overcome her inhibitions and she'd become just as greedily pleasure-seeking as any man.
Trying to reconcile that with how she'd always thought of herself was difficult. Even more so was hearing Samuel called Garrett "my Lord." What had he meant by that? And why did Garrett want to talk now?
The man in front of her had confused her emotions horribly when he'd left without a second glance. Then his announcement when he'd returned that he was leaving and he wanted to take her with him had confused her even more. On top of that was her own reaction yesterday to seeing him being put in danger by Patrick and then her shameless behavior last night.
"Yes," she finally answered him, hugging her arms to her waist as though she could keep all of her turmoiled emotions from escaping. "We can talk."
He took her elbow in his hand, gently but firmly, and steered her away from the campfire. Was it her imagination or could she feel the other two staring curious daggers into her back? They walked off far enough that it seemed like they were the only two people in the world, to where there was a fallen tree. Garrett sat her down on the tree and began to pace back and forth in front of her, not looking at her. She wanted to break the tense silence but she had no idea what to say to him.
"I'm sorry I had to leave you the other day," he said finally, making her jump and stare at him. Whatever she had expected, an apology wasn't the first thing! "I didn't want to, but I didn't have a choice."
"Because of Patrick?" she asked, somewhat bewildered, considering that Garrett hadn't been at all adverse about confronting the leader yesterday.
He laughed, but it was a harsh sound, without any real humor in it. "No. Because... argh. This is harder than I thought." Rubbing his hands through his dark hair, he looked at her, his expression so confused that she almost felt like reaching out and comforting him, but she stopped herself. Instincts like that could get her into trouble. "I said we were going to England. That's my home. My father... I work for the government. Sort of. Unofficially. I go into other countries and gather information... sometimes other things."
"You're a spy?" she asked, incredulously. What was a spy doing with a bunch of bandits? A spy and possibly an assassin. She hadn't missed the way his voice had darkened when he'd referenced 'other things.' A trickle of fear ran through her as she realized that this was information that she probably shouldn't have, that he would and could kill her for if he deemed it necessary.
"Yes. Some of the time. I'm whatever they need me to be." His voice was quiet, reflective.
"Are you really a Lord?"
"No. Not really." He sighed. "My father is a Duke, but I was born on the wrong side of the sheets. He would have acknowledged me, but since he is in charge of gathering information for the King, I ended up doing something much more useful than providing him with another extraneous son. I have three legitimate brothers - had three. Now I have two." His eyes darkened in sorrow and Bridget felt her heart ache for him a little at the obvious grief and anger on his face, even though she was still feeling frightened for herself. "About three and a half years ago my brother Arden was murdered on a diplomatic mission to France. We suspected that his death was not at the hands of the French alone but was also done as a message to my father about some of the advice that he was giving the king. Someone on our side must have colluded with the French to make Arden's death possible. So my father sent me here."
Garrett began pacing again, silent and filled with nervous energy. Despite the fact that he was spilling more information, Bridget felt her fear waning. It certainly didn't seem like this was information he didn't want her to know.
"Why bandits?" she asked, partly because she was curious and partly because she couldn't stand the silence.
"Samuel's one of my father's agents," he said, half-smiling at her aghast look. "He's been in our employ for years and he has a knack for picking up the most incredible amount of information. Besides, bandits move fast and often and no one is going to think of a bandit as being a spy. Or the son of a Duke posing as a bandit, bastard or not. I've been traveling with him and the others for about three years now, collecting information on who was part of the conspiracy that assassinated Arden on both the French and English side. The nobleman's house that we robbed these past two days was the leader on the French side and I needed documents that he supposedly had, Samuel heard about them... well... somewhere."
"Did he have them?" Almost against her will, Bridget found herself completely enthralled by this tale of intrigue. Although she'd sometimes suspected that there was more to Garrett than met the eye, she certainly hadn't suspected anything like this.
"He did." The look of triumph on his face was both gleeful and vengeful, a terrifying expression that would have had her running if it had been directed at her. His fists clenched and unclenched by his side as if he was already thinking about how he would repay those who had killed his brother. "He had more than we'd hoped for. Not just the names of all those involved, but letters in their own writing, information about other plots, and a detailed accounting of all the information, money and incidentals that some of our supposedly loyal English nobles provided to the French over the past years."
"He kept that all in one place?" Bridget was aghast at the stupidity of the man. Garrett laughed, this time with real amusement behind it.
"Ah, pride goeth before a fall. He thought no one knew who he was or would think to look at his most out of the way house, that he had the perfect hiding place, and that no one would ever be able to break into it. And he was wrong on all counts." Grinning, Garrett looked almost like a young man who had just been given his first accolade. "Now I just need to get back to England before he arrives at his manor house and sends out messengers to warn his compatriots. I want them to face the King's justice, not flee with their hides intact." Now his face darkened again, becoming implacable. Bridget shivered and her movement caught his attention. Immediately his expression softened and he walked towards her, uncertainty creeping back into his eyes. "I'd like you to come with me. I'm... I'm not sure what you might think of me considering... I did what I had to do to bring Arden's murderers to justice. I don't have a better excuse than that. I had to fit in with the other men. But... I do care about you." He took a breath, watching her expression which she felt had frozen onto her face. "Deeply. I would like you to come home with me and... and make it your home. Allow me to court you."
The wind seemed to be knocked out of her.
"Are you still going to be a spy?" It was the most innocuous question she could ask under the circumstances. And she wasn't ready to answer him in any way. It seemed that in a matter of minutes her entire world had been turned upside down and she could barely think.
"Not if you were to come with me. It's about time I resigned anyway. I'd like to settle on an estate that my father has settled on me. It's not huge but it's large enough to support me and my family."
The way he was looking at her was so earnest and honest, it completely disarmed her. And so hopeful. But her tongue seemed stuck to the roof of her mouth. After all, how could she forgive him for all the indignities she'd suffered? Not just at the hands of the others, but his as well. He'd been the one to capture her in the first place! And now he wanted her to come home with him, as his wife? Or at least to court...
Her head pounded as if resolving into a terrible headache.
"I can't think," she said finally, rubbing at her temples. Tears had sprung into her eyes and she wasn't entirely sure why.
Immediately Garrett was beside her, taking her hands in his and replacing her fingers with his own. Closing her eyes she allowed him to massage her head, hating the way it felt so comforting. "You don't need to answer me now. I just wanted to tell you. And ask you to think about it. I've never met another woman who was so strong, who has spirit like yours. I admire everything about you, Bridget."
"Were there other women? In my situation?" She kept her eyes closed not wanting to see his face, but she could feel his hesitation.
"What happened to them?"
"I helped them escape. Patrick had started to suspect, which is why he kept such a close eye on you and Eleanor. They both spent several days with us, because it was easier to help them get away when we were close to a city or town where someone could hide them. I... will admit that it has grown harder for me in the past few years to be a good man. But you make me want to be one." His voice dropped almost to a whisper. "You're so good, so pure of heart. Even in captivity you view the world with enjoyment and eager eyes, finding the best in every situation. It makes me want to be near you, to protect you." Misery crept into his tone. "I did the best I could. I know it wasn't enough, but I hope that one day you'll find it in your heart to forgive me."
Part of her wanted to forgive him right now, after hearing those beautiful words, but she didn't. Instead she opened her eyes and gently removed his hands. "I'll think about it."
Nodding his head, as if he knew that was all he could expect from her, Garrett looked up through the trees at the sun. "We should get back to camp. I don't want to leave the Princess alone with Samuel for too long."
"What, you mean he's not a hero in disguise either?" Her voice was slightly bitter, which made him give her a sharp look but he didn't say anything about it.
"No, he's exactly the way he acts unfortunately. But he's a good agent."
Pursing her lips, not wanting to say anything more on the subject, Bridget followed him in silence.
Garrett resolved to leave Bridget alone for the rest of the day to give her time to think about what he'd said. It wasn't easy though, because he found that he was terrified she wouldn't be interested in coming with him and being afraid didn't sit so well with him. Then again, perhaps it was a kind of retribution for the fear she'd probably felt during the time she'd spent with the bandits.
She sat on a log near the fire, staring out into space and he hoped that she was seriously considering his proposal. While he might not be the man he used to be, if she was willing to come home with him he'd make it his life's goal to return to the honorable, moral man that he'd been ten years ago, and to making her happy. He regretted that his mother had passed away; she would have liked Bridget. Although if his mother hadn't passed away then his father would have never found out about him and he wouldn't have the job he did now and wouldn't have met Bridget.
Keeping a careful eye on her as she walked down to the river, even though he doubted she'd try to escape right now since she had nowhere to go to, he discussed plans with Samuel. Somehow they needed to get the Princess back towards some kind of civilization and he wanted to know if Samuel would stay with them long enough to do that. On the other hand, if he did, Samuel would want access to the women. Last night Garrett had been willing to ignore that, today, with his new found resolve to become a man deserving of Bridget, he knew he couldn't let that situation continue.
Fortunately Samuel had simple needs. Money, women and alcohol. Give him a bit more money, which Garrett didn't need anyway although it would help with traveling back home in comfort, and he found that adequate compensation for the lack of a woman for the night. Although he wasn't willing to stay on longer if there were two women around that he couldn't have
"I'll stay with you till we reach town tomorrow," Samuel said. "Then I'll be on my way."
"I mean to send the Princess into town, if there are any soldiers there, to take her back where she belongs," warned Garrett. "I'll wait until just before suppertime, but you'll want to have left by then."
Sighing, Samuel nodded, scratching his chin. "She's not nearly as much fun as your little maid anyway."
Garrett bristled a little, but he didn't take offense. After all, he was getting what he wanted and he definitely didn't want to start an unnecessary fight with Samuel. It didn't matter what Samuel said anymore, he'd promised to keep his hands off Bridget and that was that. Tomorrow he wouldn't have to deal with the other man any longer either. He just hoped that Bridget would be willing to at least keep traveling with him after tomorrow. Although he would give her the option of going to the town with the Princess. It would be up to her.
Things had gotten boring, Eleanor noted sourly. Her body had become accustomed to pleasure and pain and she was craving it now. Needing it. Especially since there was nothing else to do. Her whore of a maid had wandered down to the river they'd camped near and was just barely visible through the trees. Garrett kept looking down there as if he make sure that she was still there. But the slut hadn't had the courage to try an escape in the first place, not like Eleanor, so why would she now? She obviously liked everything that had been done to her. Maybe he was worried that if she disappeared then he'd have to share Eleanor with Samuel.
Smiling, she smugly thought about how Samuel had left her alone all day today. It was obviously Garrett's turn with her. And maybe she could convince him to do away with Samuel and the maid and just keep her. He was some kind of nobility, after all. Samuel's voice had only been half in jest when he had called Garrett that. Perhaps if Garrett was pleasurable enough then she would keep him by her side as a favored courtier once she was installed in her rightful place at court. Although she hadn't been able to hear everything the men were talking about, she knew that Garrett wanted to get her back to where she belonged.
It would be nice to have a husband. Hopefully one that was as attractive as Patrick or Garrett and as skilled at satisfying the needs of her body.
As she mused over the near future, she saw Samuel and Garrett wrapping up their conversation. Samuel ignored her and began sharpening his knife. Garrett looked down at the whore-maid again, still standing by the river, before glancing at her. He gave her a nod and she smiled at him, before he turned away and went to the tent.
A summons! Finally. Excitement welled between her legs. While she'd enjoyed Patrick's heavy handedness and the way he picked her up or dragged her around, the way that Garrett had just nodded at her and expected her to follow made her just as excited. The man didn't need to be overbearing physically, he just had the kind of aura that made people want to obey. Even Princesses. Licking her lips, she walked towards the tent, slowly undoing the laces on her bodice. Reaching the opening, she walked in to find Garrett with his shirt already off, his impressively muscular chest on display.
He looked up at her and frowned and she smiled, realizing that he must want her clothes off immediately. Good thing she'd already loosened them, not that they were in very good condition anyway. Smiling even wider, she let her dress fall.
"I'm ready," she purred, stepping forward.
It was impossible not to feel Garrett's eyes on her, Bridget reflected as she stared at the river. It wasn't very fast moving and there were little minnows swimming in the shallows. Every time she looked up through the trees she could see him standing there, watching. Part of her felt intruded upon, part of her felt safer knowing that he was watching.
Maybe the problem wasn't Garrett, maybe the problem was her. How could she react to him the way that she did? Why did she care so much about whether or not he cared for her? Silly question. But she wasn't ready to admit to the answer yet. Scowling, she threw a rock into the water, watching the ripples that it made in its aftermath. That was how Garrett was with her. Every time she made a decision, every time her feelings settled, he through in a rock and caused a whole new set of thoughts and possibilities to assail her. It was incredibly frustrating.
Glancing up, she felt as though she could actually see his dark eyes staring down at her. So she stared back at him. Challengingly. After a moment he moved away. She sighed. Was that what she had wanted? Partially. The other part of her had wanted him to come down her and talk her into going with him. Maybe even start courting her. Immediately.
Perhaps she should go and talk to him. She had thought of more questions - like what they would do if she was with child, which after the past few weeks was a distinct possibility - while she was down by the river.
Making her way back up the hill to the campsite, she barely noticed her surroundings, which was unusual for her. In fact, it wasn't until she got closer to Garrett's tent and heard the Princess' lilting voice that she realized all three of her companions had disappeared.
"I swear, if you don't do as I say, I will lose my patience and strap your ass until you can't sit for a week," Garrett's voice growled.
"Yes, my Lord," the Princess said with a moan.
She didn't know what made her do it, she didn't know why she didn't run just then, or go back down to the river, but it was as if she had to see it with her own two eyes so that she would never, ever be fooled by him again. It wasn't enough to hear the words, she needed to witness. To know, for certain.
"Don't call me that!" snapped Garrett at the same time that Bridget snapped the tent flap open. They were standing in the middle of the tent, Garrett holding the Princess' hands above her head, stretching out her naked body so that she was up on her tiptoes, her breasts brushing against his naked chest, they were standing so close. The Princess had her head tilted back, obviously waiting for a kiss. The marks from Patrick's abuse were clear on her creamy skin, but they didn't detract from her beauty, and obviously Garrett didn't think so either. He turned his head with a snarl on his face, saw her, and the snarl melted from his face. He looked absolutely horrified to see her standing there.
As well he should.
He'd tricked her again. No, she'd tricked herself. After all, she hadn't agreed to go with him and he had never said he wouldn't make the offer to the Princess as well. Once again she'd been trapped by her own assumptions, her own wistful desires. Fury and hurt assaulted her like red, jagged streaks into her body, and it was only then that she realized she was running. Running away, through the forest, with no idea of what direction she'd gone in or where she was going to; she only knew that she had to get away before she did something stupid, like trusting Garrett again. It was emotional survival. The whipping branches of the trees that she passed, the rocks and roots beneath her feet, stung and bit at her skin and the pain felt good. For the first time she wished that Patrick was still around; then he could whip her and hurt her until she didn't feel this great ripping pain in her chest anymore. Garrett's voice still echoed in her ears, calling out her name, and she ran even harder, trying to outrun the emotional pit that she'd fallen into.