Blood of the Clans Ch. 15byRoyceConnors©
Garreth had risen earlier than most, not being able to sleep well. His head was filled with so many thoughts at once about the MacRae raid, the capture and trial of them, then the attraction to Lady Therese and knew he needed to sort it all out. Looking out the window of his room, he could see the morning fog blanketing the lowlands, while the wan, morning sun was breaking through higher up towards Ben Nevis. He pulled on his tunic, then folded and wrapped his kilt around his waist and slung the 'blanket' over his shoulder. Next came his leather belts holding his Claymore and various blades around him. He pulled on his soft, leather boots and tied them to his calves, then finally his sheepskin robe.
Quietly, he walked past Lady Therese's room and paused, inhaling the faint scent of her. A wanton smile broke across his mouth, as he continued down the stairs, out into the fresh air and on towards the stables He blanketed his horse, slipping in the bit and reins and mounted it, then rode out of the fort and headed east, not wanting to encroach on MacRae lands, only ten miles to the south.
The splendour of the majestic Beinn caught his attention and he rode off in that direction. The air was crisp and cool, the breaths from his horse and him, creating large puffs, as they exhaled into dawn's light. Finding a narrow pass in the river, he crossed to the north side and on up into the foothills.
An hour later, found Therese dressed in riding attire, walking towards the stables, when Douglas stopped her, still dressed in his morning robes.
"Where are you going Lady Therese, so early in the day?" he questioned her, wondering why she was going for a ride.
"I thought I would take a ride to help clear my thoughts, my Lord. I didn't sleep very well last night, all of these things that are happening and clouding my mind with them, but it seems the day is just as cloudy." Therese emoted in feminine distress. What she failed to include were the heated thoughts of Garreth she was having.
"Well, yes, I can understand, my dear. It is rather a great amount to deal with all at once. Do be careful though, there are those who don't care who you are and will accost you, or worse." Douglas warned her.
"I will be careful, my Lord. I shall not go far from the fort and I will stay to travelled roads, as well." Therese told him decidedly, curtseying slightly and turning to continue her way to the stables.
As she walked away, one of the guards informed him of Garreth leaving earlier for a ride.
Douglas watched her go and said nothing more, as he turned around and headed to the entrance, never looking back. Suspicion grew in him as he thought of the coincidence of it. Therese had one of the Earl's mares saddled and mounted her, feeling her gentle nature and willingness to respond to her. Trotting out to the gate, she tried to decide her route. Once again, the allure of the mighty Ben called out and she too headed off in that direction.
The River Nevis ran down from the mountain, curved along the foothills to the north and then wended its way west to empty into Loch Linnhe, just south of Inverlochy. Therese stayed to the south side and didn't cross over where Garreth had done earlier. The slowly winding road wound its way through wild, tree-lined pastures, reminding her faintly of fields back in France she once rode in. The foggy haze hung in the cooler areas she made her way through, causing her to lose sight of the road ahead in the blankness.
It was riding into a foggy area, which brought Therese face to face with those men, those that Douglas had warned her about. Two men jumped out from the cover they were hiding behind and stopped her, holding onto the reins of the mare to prevent her escape. With the ease of his strength, the large brutish looking one, pulled her from her mount, and held her to him. His unwashed stench sickened Therese and added in her struggle to free herself from him.
Knowing herself in trouble of violation, Therese screamed out in distress, beseeching anyone who heard, to come to her aid. The first man released the reins of the horse and joined his partner, wanting to share in the prize they had captured. Before Therese could release the air in her lungs to scream a third time, his hand clasped over her mouth and held her, while his other tore away her bonnet from her coiffed hair, allowing her inky, black tresses to spill down. With a swift release from the leather belt around his waist, the brutish one brandished a blade at her and tore open the front of her riding dress. Her bared breasts blushed from the shame and embarrassment at their exposure, the pale pink of her nipples brightening, as yellowed teeth sneered and lust filled eyes looked at her with lurid thoughts.
Far up the side of Nevis, perched on an outcropping, Garreth looked out over the land before him, taking in all that was the Highlands. For all the importance of why he was at the castle, Garreth's thoughts were dominated by Therese and how she made him feel. His mind played the scene repeatedly, where he had taken her in his hands and held her, looking into those emerald, green eyes, as she looked into his. His want of her frustrated him, that she was betrothed to the Earl, yet knowingly unhappy with him and he could see it.
While his mind drifted in any direction for a resolve, his ears picked up the sounds of distressed screaming far off in the distance, down in the glen. He scanned the general area he felt it came from, looking for signs of anything moving. Hearing the screaming again, he narrowed his focus to an area across the river from where he was. There between the trees, he could make out the movements of three people. The bright blue of one, suggested a woman was involved, while the other two larger figures in earthen tones, blending in with the background, suggested a male presence and one that wasn't of a pleasant social nature.
With all haste, Garreth mounted his horse and rode down the steep slope, as quick as his horse's legs could carry him. When the ground levelled, he pushed his horse into full gallop, heading straight for the trio of figures. Even from the far away distance, he could see that the woman was being violated, but couldn't make out any noticeable features as to whom. He pushed for his horse to give all speed, closing rapidly on the scene. As he came to the river, he quickly scanned for a place to cross, but found nothing that was easy. He rode back and turned around, breaking into a fast gallop. He bade his horse to span the river in a leap that would test its abilities and feeling the hooves make the other side, smiled to himself, as he continued riding his steed, as fast as he could push it.
He drew his sword, preparing to attack the moment he could, holding it tightly in his hand, as he readied his arm to swing. He gauged the scene, measuring the timing of his speed and attack. He brought his feet up onto the horse's back, as he broke into the glen, remaining in a crouch. When he was about twenty feet away, Garreth launched himself outwards, his sword high above his head. The speed of the horse was enough, that he flew through the distance, higher than a man standing, preparing for a two-handed blow to the man, who was trying to part the woman's legs in an effort to penetrate her.
As he held himself ready to take her, it was his last moment of cognisant awareness, to see the shadow looming in on him, before the blade of the Claymore began cracking through his skull and severing the back portion of his head away, blood spraying in the arc of the swing. His life force was snuffed immediately, as his body continued to fall with the force of the blow, hitting the ground and causing his brain to spill out of the confinement of bone.
Garreth twisted his body after the strike, so he landed on the ground rolling and then sprang up into an attack position as soon as he stopped. He looked at the man holding
the woman down and made for him. He covered the dozen feet in quick fashion, leaving the man no time to make a move in defence. He held his Claymore straight out in front, the point aimed for the man's chest, as the last few feet were closed. The tip entered and sliced through cloak and tunic, flesh and bone, driving the man off the woman and pinning him to the ground. Garreth drove the blade completely through and twisted the hilt in a quick turn, severing the heart and killing him instantly. He withdrew his sword, the sound of the organ being slashed, filling the silent air with the wet, sucking sounds of death.
Garreth looked about for any others who may still lie in wait for him, but feeling there were none, he lay his sword on the damp grass and knelt to the woman. She was curled in a fetal position, clutching what little was left of her pale, blue riding dress, to cover her shame. A thick mass of raven black hair covered her face, but Garreth could hear her jagged breaths, and see her sobbing heaves, as she cried from the terror.
"M'Lady, yer safe now. They'll harm ye no more." Garreth told her calmly, as he gently put a hand to her shoulder.
With a dawning recognition of the voice, Therese held her breath in hopeful chance and moved her hair away from her eyes. She looked up to see Garreth kneeling beside her, a look of concerned worry across his face. In that moment, she hurried to hold him tightly, her arms clamping around his broad chest and craved the security of his arms.
"Lady Therese!" he cried out, as he saw who it was that was holding him. His arms went about her and held her dearly to him.
His bloodied hands, fresh from spelling out highland justice, cupped her head to his chest and held her quivering body to him tightly. In her need to feel the safety of his arms, Therese's dress fell away once more, the torn remnants unable to cover her bared breasts. Savage scratches welled with blood on her porcelain-skinned mounds, the contrast standing out in vivid clarity.
Garreth paid no mind to the vision before him and showed his caring nature to Therese, now quieting and becoming calmer, knowing she was safe. He stroked the soft, ebony tresses and gently kissed the top of her head, as she held onto him and basked in his strength. Garreth was feeling surer of his feelings now, holding her in his arms made all the difference to his decision. He wanted her as his own. No matter what had transpired moments before his arrival, he knew in his heart steadfast, that he adored the French beauty he held.
As Garreth crouched, he scooped Therese into his arms, her hands finding a place around his neck and holding on to him. He carried her to the river's edge, making his way carefully through the tall grasses and weedy vines underfoot. He placed his sheepskin on the ground and had her lean against a shady oak near the bank of the river. He went to tear a piece of hem from her dress to soak in the water, but stopped after a short tear and looked into her eyes. Through the pooling tears, Garreth could see the shimmering green glowing with fierce emotion in them. In a moment he would remember for his life, he looked into those windows to her soul and saw the feelings Therese held for him. In a single word spoken by her, he knew he felt as deeply for her.
Honour and morals be damned, he looked down at Therese's body, at the flushed, white skin of her bared breasts and lusted for her himself. She could see the look in his eyes, desiring her and her heart. The moment of hesitation, as they looked into each other's eyes, charged the air with emotion, then like magnets in bonded attraction, their lips found each other and the bond grew with each breath they drew of each other.
Garreth finally released her, holding her arms firmly, passionately, looking again into the green pools of love for him and smiled. Therese saw how much he felt for her and with
the horrors drifting away from the moment in her mind, she smiled back, at once confirming her hidden desires to give her heart to a man like him.
"May I tear a piece of yer dress, M'Lady, so I can dampen it? We need tae take care of those scratches." Garreth asked, pointing with his eyes as he spoke.
Therese once again became aware of the burning pain in her tender flesh and nodded to him, her eyes allowing him the permission he sought. He tore a strip away and soaked it in the cold, mountain water. He came back and handed it to Therese, then turned his head, as she applied it to the wounds. The chilly water immediately brought an erect state to her nipples and a gasp from her lips at the shock. Lightly she continued to dab at the swelling streaks, calming the burning pain in them.
"Were ye..." Garreth blurted, unable to find the words to ask her.
"No, I was spared that disgrace, my thanks to you, M'Laird, for coming to my rescue. Would you please soak the cloth for me again, I must tend to the other scratches that man inflicted."
Garreth understood, a sigh escaping from his lips in relief and took the swatch of cloth back down to the river and soaked it again. He handed it to Therese and turned to face the river again, as she raised the hem of her dress up her legs. Scarlet streaks ran along her thighs, where the attacker had clawed at her undergarments to get her bared to him.
She dabbed at the wounds, but her eyes were on the back of Garreth, taking him in, in every detail. She looked at his long, dark, brown hair, draped over his shoulders and trailing down his back. Several braids were weaved into his hair, knotted with coloured beads at the ends. His broad shoulders bore the weight of his sash and weapons, his tunic clinging to the muscled structure of his body underneath. Her eyes kept trailing down to his kilt, his legs slightly akimbo, showing the strength in them.
As much as she tended to the burning of her scratches, she felt the burning heat of desire sweep through her loins and a need to have that fire quelled with his touch. She finished cleaning herself and lowered the hem back down, wishing in part that Garreth would turn around and look at her.
"I am covered again for you to look, M'Laird." She told him, still shifting the tatters about to resemble something of decency to look at.
Garreth turned and came back to her, sitting beside her and put his arm around her in comfort. Therese accepted the offer of closeness and shifted closer, snuggling into him and enjoying his presence about her. They sat for a while, just looking at the calm of the river flowing past, enjoying the moment of togetherness they were feeling. Therese turned her face up towards Garreth's, as he looked out. Noticing her face turned to his, he looked to her, their eyes meeting once more. With no need for a word to acknowledge their feelings, Therese's hand came to Garreth's face, as her lips pouted their need for attentive recognition. Garreth understood their meaning and moved towards her, his lips finding hers and a blaze of passion roared between them.
The rest of the world vanished about them, as they found the joys of bliss in each other's arms. Their lips bound their hearts in their new love and their hands confirmed that belief. Garreth pulled back, breathing hard in lusted exhilaration and looked at Therese. He could see in her eyes that she loved him, as he felt his love for her. It was her betrothal to Douglas Gordon that now stood between them. She searched his eyes, looking for a cause for his concerned look.
"My Laird Garreth, what troubles you my love?"
Garreth found it hard to express his feelings for her, unsure of the words to say. He flustered each time he started to speak, adding to his discomfort. Therese reached up and caressed his face softly, looking into his eyes.
"Tell me what troubles your heart; I can see in your eyes that you struggle with something in it."
Garreth took Therese's hands in his, looking into her eyes briefly, before turning them away as he spoke.
"Lady Therese, I'm torn in want of ye, yet know it is wrong of me. Yer betrothed tae his Lordship, I am dishonouring ye and the vows ye wish tae undertake. I was'ne raised tae do that, yet I wish wi' all my heart that I could."
Therese could see the torment on his face and feel it in his touch, as he held her hands. Her face belied the sympathies she felt for him, as she smiled at him, the love in her heart shining in her eyes.
"Le désir de mon couer, I see the troubles in your eyes and I will take them all away. I must confess my heart to you, so you know where my feelings lie. There is much in my life that you do not know about, some very troubling things, but they have come to pass. I am leaving tomorrow for France to attend the Royal court for a trial..."
Therese explained everything that had happened to her, up until that point in time that they now sat. It was her telling him how she was planning on leaving Scotland and never returning to marry Douglas that caused a look of distress to come over Garreth's face.
"My Laird, what saddens you now?"
Garreth choked down the lump in his throat to speak, the thought of her leaving causing him to feel great longing already.
"As happy as I would be, that ye did'ne marry the Earl, it would sadden my heart greatly tae ne'er see ye again."
A well of tears rose in Therese's eyes upon hearing his words of longing, seeing the forlorned look of despair at what he was thinking and took his right hand in both of hers. She held it to her lips and kissed it lightly, her lips remaining for a moment.
"My sweet Laird, what is it in your heart you wish to say?"
Therese told him in soft yearning, looking into his eyes, pleading with them to share what they held. Garreth struggled with his thoughts and Therese knew he had trouble relaying his feelings to her. He looked into her eyes, a beseeching look for help from her, to calm his impassioned turmoil.
"Garreth, do you feel in your heart for me, what I feel for you?"
Therese gave him a lead to follow, hoping it gave him a way to share what he felt, letting him know his feelings were shared with her.
"I feel in my heart, nothing like I ha'e felt before. The moment I saw ye and held ye, I looked intae yer eyes and I knew then, that I wanted tae look intae them always, fere'er. I've thought of nothing but ye, since that time. Nothing would make me happier; than tae know I could do that."
Garreth's words brought a glow to Therese's face, knowing he shared her feelings. She squeezed his hand tighter in hers, as she drew in a comforting breath.
"Mon Cherie, I share the same feelings in my heart, as well." Therese placed his hand against her breast, over her heart and lightly pressed against it.
Garreth felt his heart bloom with emotion at the feel of her soft bosom and the look of love on Therese's face. For all his strength, he felt helpless at being unable to express what was in his heart.
"I know what I feel in my heart, but it has gi'en me no words tae speak of it."
Therese knew what he wanted to say, knowing as much from her training as a Lady, that she should wait for the man to relate his feelings for her first, but the moment to share those words was upon them and she was eager to hear him speak them to her.
"If they are the same words my heart knows, they are I love you, for I do. As with you,
mon doux, I felt the same when we touched and looked at each other, wishing nothing more from that moment, but to be with you always. My heart was yours and I knew it. I was so saddened to think that I could love you so much and yet have it wasted, knowing it could never be expressed to you."
Garreth's torment vanished like the foggy haze of earlier. He smiled softly, knowing his feelings were well met by Therese and she shared the same.
"I do love ye, Therese. My heart is happier already just fer saying it. I've ne'er felt such happiness."