Forbidden Ch. 01byUrfallenhero©
She could feel the panic rising in her chest. It was quiet, too quiet. The mist that surrounded her felt cool against her skin. The cotton of her nightdress swished about her as she pivoted on the large rock. She could hear the sea, and she could feel the rough gritty dusting of sand between her toes. However, it did not bring her the comfort it usually did. Instead, the usual gentle crashing of the waves droned on in her ears.
She could hear the faint crackling of her father's burning barn in the distance, but other than that and the sea, she could hear nothing. She didn't know what scared her more. The fact that she was alone out here on the beach, or that she was half-tempted to believe that none of the Norwegian Viking men had followed her. Deep down she knew that was far too easy. She felt horribly selfish for running when she didn't know what was happening to her stepmother or sister. She knew she had to go back but she was terrified of being caught.
Every time she closed her eyes, she came face to face with the Viking that had stood beside her bed. Moreover, she wouldn't have woken if it hadn't have been for one of his men tripping over the chest by the door. He had met her eyes when he had cursed at the larger man who fought to catch himself, and Harriot had watched on in horror. She couldn't forget his expression of frustration and amusement as she bolted from the bed. He had chased her, and from what she had gathered, he had enjoyed it too.
The image of him alone sent shivers coursing through her spine. On the other hand, maybe it was just the cold. She couldn't tell any more. There was a light out to sea. It glowed bright and orange. She squinted through the mist but she could not see enough of it to tell to whom it belonged. She hoped it was her father and his men, but she couldn't rely on that hope completely. She had to light the signal fire somehow, and then maybe someone from a neighboring farm would come to help them. Or, if it were her father that he would see it and know, they were desperately in need of help and return to them as fast as he could.
She gathered her nightdress in her hands and lifted it away from the rocks. Heading back towards the house was not something she felt ecstatic about. But then, she didn't know why her feet had carried her towards the sea. Up on the hill behind the house would have been a far safer option, because there would have been more places for her to hide. If she had just gone there, instead she wouldn't be faced with having to avoid the Viking men all over again.
The pads of her feet burned as she stepped from one rock to another. Then her toes touched sand and its texture was heaven against the bottom of her feet. She could just make out the gentle hill back toward the gardens of her parents' home. The stone wall, all jagged from the loose rocks glowed orange from the fire that tore through the barn. The scent of the burning wood was a powerful assault upon her nose. It stung rather than tickled her senses. The warmth of it touched her cheeks, as she got closer to the wall. She crouched low and peeked over it at the Vikings that lingered just outside the door to her family home. They were chattering as though destroying a family was something they did every day. It made the blood boil in her veins.
She took a moment to steady her breath. In order to get through the garden and up the hill she would have to sneak past these men. That wasn't about to be easy considering not one of them turned their backs, not even for a second. She shifted her weight and huddled closer to the wall. She would have to move as far as she could toward the shadows, and then try to climb the wall there instead.
A sharp noise caught her attention. She ducked her head and stared at her nightdress in case it had caused the snapping sound. She half expected to find her dress torn from where it had caught in a bramble growing along the wall. When she realized it was not her dress that made the noise, her heart sank with fear. She risked a glance upwards towards the sky. Not even the mist could hold the powerful shadow he cast.
He grabbed a fistful of the cotton at her shoulders and yanked her up from the ground. She tried to scream, but the air in her lungs and her throat, pulsed around the ball that had thickened at the back of her tongue. The flames lit up the harsh contours of his face, he was all sinewy and rough to the touch. Her feet became rooted to the ground as she looked past the corded arms that drew her into the air. His eyes were piercing and blue. As blue as any eyes could get. They stared into her soul and smiled down at her. Their turned up edges, sparkling with life, did not move with the rest of his features. His eyes lied. He did not smile. His lips were a taut thin line, though they were soft and not cracked like the Viking that had stood beside her bed.
She yelped in surprise as his arm encircled her waist and dragged her closer to him. He was hurting her. He held her so tightly that the pain forced her back into reality. She fought against the straining pressure of his hand and the warmth of him pressed up against her. He was strong, so very strong that he lifted her from the ground without so much as a grunt. She kicked him, mostly because she could. And, because she hated that, it was so easy for him.
He hissed in reaction, but his arms only tightened about her. He crushed the air from her lungs. She kicked out again, not because she wanted to hurt him but because she couldn't breathe. He must have known, because despite his frustration with her, his arms loosened and he lowered her feet back towards the ground. He continued to hold onto her, but she felt his body tip forward towards her. Then she felt the warm tickle of his breath against her ear.
"Don't fight or you will get hurt."
She understood that, but what did he expect her to do? There were a vast number of strange men overwhelming her father's estate. She couldn't stay calm. She was terrified. Promising not to hurt her if she complied would mean nothing, because they were obviously here for a reason. She had no doubt in her mind that if they didn't get what they wanted, people would get hurt.
She pulled her head away from where his lips brushed against her ear. It tickled and felt strangely intimate, and she wanted no part of that. She would rather look up into his cold blue eyes that glinted with unmistakable mischievousness. It hadn't occurred to her straight away how unusual it was for him to speak her language. She stuttered and stammered before the words finally reached her lips.
"H-how do you speak my language?"
"Everything al-right Ivar?"
The loud Norwegian toned drawl made her jump. She felt the muscles in his arms bunch in response and then he turned her with him so they both faced the other man. It was the man who had been in her bedroom, the one that had fallen over the chest by the door. He grinned at the pleasure of seeing her again. No doubt, her capture would get him out of trouble. Especially because he was the reason, she had managed to escape in the first place. Maybe she should thank him for being so clumsy, and curse herself for being caught.
She tipped her body forward and away from the Viking that held her. He was so close to her, and the warmth of him seeped through her thin night-dress. He understood what she was doing because he let her lean forward until she leaned against his hands. He was the only thing steadying her weight, without him she would surely go crashing to the ground. A part of her hoped he would let her go, because when he did, she would run.
"Take her and put her with the others."
She heard the man behind her, Ivar, said to the other man, the man she did not like. Her skin crawled in response to his held out hand. He must have thought she would go to him willingly, but she would not. The minute Ivar's fingers loosened about her waist, she knew she was going to make a break for it. And when it did come, she decided she would have to do something to demobilize him, to give her enough time to flee. Because he was so strong, and probably fast, she just couldn't take the risk of making any mistakes that she would regret later.
She stomped on his foot with every ounce of energy she could muster. Despite his groan, his arms tightened, but she managed to slip through them while she could. He was quick to react though, as he quickly forgot his pain and launched forward in pursuit of her. There was a roar of laughter from his men, which seemed to fuel him more. The glance she risked back at him told her if he caught her, she would be in deep trouble. His eyes glinted from the fire in the barn. Originally, she had thought the tingling sensation building in her stomach had been because of her nerves. Now she realized it had nothing to do with that and everything to do with his eyes.
She headed for the garden. He was tall and lean so she expected he was faster and she would have to slow him down to give herself a real chance at escape. She was a lot smaller than he, she was lucky if her forehead reached his biceps. She was also light with less muscle to weigh her down. She headed for the peas, but even she had to duck to run down the centre of the trellises. He wouldn't be able to fit unless he planned to rip the entire crop out of the ground.
She stopped dead in her tracks when she realized he hadn't followed her. She was in the middle of the long strip of over growing vegetables, so she didn't know if he could see her. She couldn't hear him, and he hadn't struck her as the type to give up so soon. She looked back and forth to either entrance to the trellises he was at neither. The only thing she could hear was the crackling from the barn. She tried to think like him, she didn't expect he would give up so he must be waiting at the end where she would come out.
She doubled back on herself, and made her way back towards the end she had originally entered through. When she reached the end, she hesitated and took a moment to re-think her plan. There was no telling where he was or what he'd do. She felt this was her best chance at escape. She was wrong.
She screamed when a hand caught hold of her and ripped her through the side of the peas. The plants branches snagged on her night-dress as she sputtered passed the pea leaves that swamped her face. She tried to fight back. She dug her nails into his arms and hissed her discomfort. But he did not let her go -- he refused to. Then she was face to face with him all over again.
"Why!" she yelled at him. "Why are you doing this to me and my family?"
She struggled against his arms and frowned up at him. He genuinely seemed to consider his answer before his face re-hardened, and his expression turned blank. She let out a squeaky 'o' of frustration and shoved at him, but he did not budge, he just stood there.
"That is a question you should ask your father."
She froze. Her heart literally missed a beat as it sunk in her chest. His tone of voice had been soft but it had been full of conviction. Her father was a powerful man, and the kind of person you'd rather forget than remember. He had made her life a misery, so she knew he was capable of doing that to other people's lives too.
"What did he do?" she hardly recognized her own voice when she asked him.
He looked away, and for a moment, she thought she saw a flash of weakness. But as usual, it was quickly replaced by a blank expression.
He started moving her again. Dragging her back toward the others, and she was powerless against his strength. She dragged her feet in the dirt.
"You're just hurting yourself more"
"Then stop doing this. You're a monster. You all a-"
He cut her off mid-sentence by stopping and snapping his head in her direction. He grabbed her by the cheeks so forcefully that his hands bit at her skin. Then he kissed her. She gasped against the swelling pressure of where his lips met hers. And she shoved her hands up between their bodies until they rested against his chest. The action was meant to put some distance between them, but he only leaned in closer. She couldn't decide which was more overwhelming. The pressure of him pressed so close to her or the fact she was being kissed by a Viking.
It seemed to drag on forever, and then suddenly the warmth of him was gone. His lips curled at the edges and he rewarded her with a smile. He looked as though that kiss had actually meant something to him. She wasn't sure how she felt about it. She had never thought she would kiss another man after Edward. All she knew was it felt nothing like her and Edward's had, but that might be because she had loved Edward. She hated that she was actually comparing them.
"Why did you do that!" she hissed.
"I thought it might shut you up, but obviously not."
He grabbed her by the wrist and continued to drag her. She was too dazed to fight him, too surprised even to try. The last thing she had ever expected was for him to kiss her. It made her feel numb and oddly detached from her own body. She felt like she was on the outside looking in, and her step mother's voice rang in her ears, 'traitor' she would say. Maybe she was. She hadn't exactly tried her hardest to stop him from kissing her, not that she could predict what he was about to do. And that was pretty unpredictable. It had taken her completely by surprise, even when the reality of what was happening had caught up with her. She had been half tempted to explore that time where everything around her had just stopped.
She did feel guilty, even though her step mother and step sister had never been particularly nice to her. When she thought about it, she realized her father hadn't been so great either. He had allowed them to treat her the way they did -- encouraging it even. So he was as much to blame for the bitterness bubbling about inside of her. He could have changed it, but he never noticed her long enough to see how truly miserable they all made her. But that doesn't mean she agrees to the fate these men would deal to him if they should capture him. He didn't deserve to die at the hands of another. No one did.
It was pointless and cruel. Seeking revenge only caused a reaction from someone else, a consequence. This only led them right back into the same direction all over again. It was just a never-ending circle of events, tit for tat, and a life for a life. At what point does it all just stop? Does it ever stop? Maybe not in her lifetime or the next, but at some point, she wished it would. She didn't wish the pain of losing someone close to you upon anyone. Whether it is a father or a mother, a brother or a sister, even a child. Whether man liked it or not, their actions will affect someone else's life the way theirs have been affected.
These are usually her thoughts as she sits and watches the sun come up from her bedroom window. It was the purest time of day with the birds as her only company, and the sun casting its first light upon the fields of green grass. Maybe it was pointless, at-least it was pointless for her now, as she may not even get to see the sun of the next day. No matter how she argued or contemplated, these men's minds were set on revenge. And she was but a mere woman.
'Over opinionated' her father would say. He would even tell them, if he could hear her thoughts that she needed to be broken. Taught to be his concept of a real woman, quiet and passive...obedient. It's funny how his wife held none of these qualities. If she did, she might actually be bearable, but yet she was still his wife -- and her step mother.
"Ivar!" She said on a gasp.
He almost dropped his grip on her when she uttered his name from her lips. He stopped dragging her towards the entrance to the house and looked at her. His eyes really were one of a kind.
"I will give you everything we own. Jewelry, our gold, but please spare my family -- I will do anything in exchange for their lives."
Her lip trembled as she finished her sentence. She knew where every item of worth that belonged to her family was. She would give it to them instantly if he gave her his word. He smiled down at her like he had waited for her to say that all along. She didn't understand why that would amuse him. To her people, the Vikings were like magpies, 'a sucker for anything shiny'. So why wasn't he jumping at the opportunity?
"Why would you do anything to save the lives of two women who would sacrifice you, so they may live?" He asked.
"I do not understand."
"Let me explain. When you made it out of the house un-captured, you become a risk. If we didn't find you, you would alert someone or your father. And as spineless as he is, he would not return home. As no one got a good look at you, we had to ask your family for details. They thought we wanted you as a little more than just a hostage, so they offered you in return for their freedom. From my angle, anyone that can sell out family so easily isn't very nice people to live with."
She couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. How could they so easily just do that? She couldn't do that. If she could she would never of come back toward her childhood home, she would have just left them fend for themselves the same way they would make her. She didn't for a second believe she was easy to live with, but neither were they.
"I don't know"
His whole persona seemed to change as he tightened his grip about her arm once more. He had softened his approach, despite his desire to be forceful with her for the pain she had inflicted upon him. He led her back inside the house where he removed a cloak from a hook and draped it about her shoulders. He clipped its edges just below her throat with a buckle. The buckle was of a dragon that had bright red jeweled eyes. He ran his thumb over it before putting that same hand to the small of her back and guided her inside.
She wasn't sure she was comfortable with wearing the cloak. Whomever it belonged to would not be happy with Ivar's decision to place it upon her. That discomfort eased though when she made eye contact with her step mother. Her step mother scowled at her from where she sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. Her step mother didn't look relieved that she was alive she looked more annoyed. Harriot went to them, even though she didn't want to. She knew if she didn't though, her step mother would be convinced that she was somehow involved in this raid. Ivar let her go without so much as a word, but she could feel his eyes upon her. He would be watching them. Observing them from a distance, she had no doubt about it.
He was cunning. Waiting for her step mother to essentially hang herself and talk of Harriot's father. He had those all-knowing eyes, along with the ability to move without being heard. He was one of a kind...almost inhuman. Just like something that belonged on a different plane of existence. She lowered herself until she sat next to her step sister. The floor beneath her was cold against the pads of her feet, colder than the grass in the garden. The cloak hung loosely about her shoulders. It came to rest against the ground at either side of her body, and held the heat in rather than letting it escape.
"Where was you!" Her mother's voice was bitter and ferocious.
Harriot subdued the yelp building at her lips as her mother yanked at her arm. Her nails were starting to break the surface of her skin. Each sharp edge bit at her and burned until she could no longer stifle her gasp.
Ivar said from where he stood. His eyes, as blue as a summer sky was fixed upon them. He was watching her step mother closely, and she watched him as she removed her hand from Harriot's arm. Stunned Harriot fell to silence. But she couldn't get the Viking out of her mind. What did it matter to him whether her step mother hurt her or not? Why had he kissed her? He had acted as though it was a form of punishment, and she knew she should be utterly repulsed, but she wasn't. If anything, she felt the opposite. She was utterly aware of him despite the chaos around them, and she knew not even the kiss would save her father. So what was she even thinking? Her loyalty should be to her kin. But there was this hint of doubt growing inside of her, exactly where that loyalty should be. Her father was a horrible man, even to his own children. She hated herself to admit it, but for a long time she had hoped someone would stop him from hurting more people. She didn't want him dead though, like she was sure Ivar did.