The abbey lay on the hip of the curving road. I followed the path, hurrying to be sure I reached its large oak doors before the bell tolled for evening prayers. Whenever the friar sent me on an errand to the village, he gave me strict warnings to return before sunset. Tonight, I hurried not only to escape his punishment but to outrun the almost-full moon. I needed to be hidden well away before it rose and brought the sickness upon me.
Lost in my thoughts, I startled when a shadow fell across my path.
“Good evening”,” a deep voice murmured, right at my back. I let out a shriek and dropped my basket.
Two large men stood on the edge of the path. Warriors, though they bore no weapons I could see. Both massive, with broad shoulders and great muscled arms, but, somehow, I hadn’t noticed them standing there until they spoke. Even now, they seemed to blend with the sun-dappled forest as they loomed over me.
“Calm yourself, lass. I did not mean to scare you.” One of them, a redhead with hair to his shoulders, stooped and picked up my basket.
“You don’t need to try to scare women, Leif,” the second warrior grunted. “Your face scares them enough.”
The redhead, Leif, didn’t take his eyes from me.
“My apologies, lass.” He spoke with a strange accent but a bit of a lilt I recognized from the Highlands, a mountainous area many leagues from the abbey.
Hands trembling, I took the basket and clutched it to my chest. The warriors’ gaze swept up and down my form, lingering on my breasts. They kept their distance. If they made any move, I would drop my burden again and run to the abbey doors, a race no doubt I would lose.
“You’re not too frightened?” Leif cocked his head to the side. He had an open, honest face, a scar marking his chin, and a full, lush mouth.
When I shook my head, he flashed an arrogant smile. “See, Brokk? She’s a brave little thing. I wager it’s your ugly face tying her tongue.” He gave me a wink.
My cheeks heated.
“Don’t embarrass her,” Brokk muttered, the stern set of his mouth contrast to his partner’s cocky grin.
“And miss the pretty color in her cheeks? Like the bloom of a rose.” When Leif smirked again, I caught a quick flash of fang. His canines curved over his lower teeth. “You’re lovely, lass.”
My lips parted. My heart fluttered like a bird caught in a briar.
The second warrior cleared his throat. He wasn’t as handsome as his companion, but his blunt features and glowering brow had their own arresting charm. “Leif thinks he has a way with women. I will not let him keep you long,” Brokk assured me, though at the word “keep” I took a step back.
With a low, soothing sound, the warriors hemmed me in. My head craned upwards to take in one stern, one smiling face.
I clutched my basket tighter. The warriors blocked my escape, but for some reason, I felt no fear. My body warmed further still, responding to the heat emanating from them.
“Can I help you, sirs?” I rasped. My dry throat worked to get the words out. Maybe, if I stayed polite, they would let me go.
“Do you live yonder?” Brokk nodded to the abbey, his voice gruff but kind.
“What’s your name?” Leif asked.
“It’s Willow,” I whispered.
“Willow.” Leif rolled my name on his tongue, and I felt a prickle between my legs. My nipples throbbed.
“Willow,” Brokk echoed, and his face softened a little.
The ache in my breasts increased, and wetness trickled from my nether lips.
Leif raised his head and drew in a deep breath. Both warriors pierced me with the look of a predator fixing on its intended prey. I swayed between them, caught in their bright-yellow gaze.
My desire blazed to life, followed by fear.
“I should not be here,” I blurted. “I should not be talking to you.” The friar warned me and my sister orphans against strange men. Whenever he caught one of us speaking to any in the village, all of us bore the punishment.
It would be night soon, complete with the dreaded full moon.
“I need to go,” I whispered. “Please.”
For a moment, I thought they would not let me leave, but then Leif stepped away, giving me a clear path to the abbey.
“Take care, Willow,” Brokk said in his gentle rumble.
“We’ll watch over you,” Leif added. “Make sure you get safely to the door. After all, there are dangerous men about.”
My heart dropped to my feet, and he winked at me again.
For second, his eyes seem to pulse with a golden light. It faded, leaving an ordinary man. Ordinary except for the handsome face, the strapping neck, the fine muscles stretching the leather jerkin he wore.
With a small nod, I scrambled the rest of the way home.
Inside, the wall propped me up as I pressed a hand over my breast, willing my heartbeat to slow. I’d never had such a response to a man before, not even to Joseph, the village blacksmith’s apprentice who always smiled at me. I held my hands out and watched them tremble. Something about those warriors, the way they couldn’t take their eyes off me…my body buzzed, blood roaring. I felt I’d waited all my life to meet those men.
What was happening to me? I should’ve asked the warriors where they’d come from, and their purpose. I should’ve done something besides stand there like a fool, my face flushed and my heart racing.
Light filtered through the colored window above me, staining my hands red. What a fool. My encounter meant nothing. Warriors on a journey had found brief entertainment frightening a scrawny girl. As soon as they laughed over the encounter, they’d forget me.
Me? I’d think about them, and my wicked, sinful flesh would burn for days. In cool darkness, I slipped along the stone floor and passed through the sanctuary, head bowed against the cold marble stares of the saints. I’d visited the sanctuary often enough I’d memorize their faces. Perfect, and high above me. A good girl would do penance on her knees for even speaking to such a pair of such fine men. As for the thoughts I’d had when trapped between their large strapping bodies…I could never do enough penance to atone.
On a whim, I set my basket down and approached the likeness of Mother Mary. The statue stood at the front altar, her expression serene and pure. When younger, I’d pretended she was my real mother. I’d prayed for answers, for relief from the sickness I’d endured since becoming a woman. The Church taught suffering purged the soul. Even my prayers were sinful, the desperate begging of a weak woman.
Why am I like this? How long must I suffer? I found no answers in the beautiful, carven face.
“Willow,” a low voice called. A young woman crept from the shadows. Sage, my closest friend among all the orphans. She and I had been brought to the abbey around the same time. We shared a similar height and slim build. Despite my dark hair and her fair locks, we could have been sisters.
“Did you finish the errand?”
“Yes,” I kept my voice down so it would not echo in the cavernous space. I’d asked the nuns once why the statues of the saints got to live in such a beautiful open area while we shared beds in the dormitory. It took a few rounds of discipline before I understood the Church allowed luxury to the rich and the dead.
“Are you coming to Vespers?” she asked.
“No, I cannot. It is almost a full moon.”
Sage nodded. She suffered the same sickness I did, though less frequently, while mine grew worse every month.
“Here.” She handed me a handkerchief wrapped around a few oatcakes. The nuns did not allow us to eat if we did not go to prayers, but I had to hide away to suffer in silence when the moon rose.
“I still must visit the friar.” I gestured to the basket I’d fetched for him.
Sage picked it up. “I will do it.”
“He has been grumpy ever since Hazel disappeared.”
“I’ll be all right.” Sage lifted her chin.
Without a word, I raised her sleeve and studied the bruises there. The marks came from a man’s grip on her pale, thin arm. There would be more on her legs, but she would hate my pity more than she hated the friar’s illicit touch.
I released her sleeve. “The shopkeeper gave us a fair price for the herbs. He wants more of the tincture you made for backaches.”
With a tight smile on her lovely face, Sage nodded and slipped away. I prayed again, this time hoping the friar would be happy with the earnings she brought. The wool and weavings the orphans spun and the produce we harvested paid our way, though the friar always found a reason to complain about our cost to him. Only Sage could soothe him. He preferred young blonde things. God help the younger girls if he ever tired of Sage.
I scoffed at my own joke. I’d lived in the abbey long enough to know God did not help orphans.
A red sun sank in the sky as I hurried across the gardens, accompanied by the sweet singing of the nuns. A few years ago, I’d close my eyes and imagine my mother sang to me. A pretty dream, for she’d given me up almost as soon as she birthed me.
I slipped behind the mulberry bushes and picked the lock of an old shed. Inside, behind a few barrels used for dyeing cloth, Sage and I had wrapped a chain and set of shackles around a large rock. In a few minutes, I would bind myself there and wait for the fever to take my mind.
The shack sat back in the woods, near a gurgling brook, the forest sounds enough to cover the moans and cries escaping my throat when the fever reached its peak. No one should be out in the gardens this late, but, just in case, Sage would do her best to keep everyone away.
I set the oatcakes down, too nervous to eat. I should kneel and pray. Instead, I paced. During the next few hours, I would bind myself in such a way I would not be able to touch between my legs, but the ache would become unbearable, my mind tormented with dreams of hands upon my body, caressing my flesh. In the morning, Sage would come and free me from my fevered sleep.
My body already simmered, the excitement a result of speaking to the warriors earlier. The thought of them caused heat to burst through me, a throbbing warmth leaving a slight trickle of wetness between my legs. The first spark would turn into an ember and light the fire that would become a blazing inferno.
One day, I would have the courage to talk to a man and flirt with him as Leif had with me. We’d slip into the forest and press against each other, his large hands eager and possessive on my skin. Afterwards, we would lie together on the forest floor, curled as close as petals in a rosebud.
With a sigh, I picked up the shackles. The cold iron stung my hands.
A clink of metal on metal made me still. The sound didn’t come from the fetters I held, but from outside. Someone had found my hiding place.
I waited, holding my breath, but no one burst into the shack. The friar had become more surly and suspicious since our fellow orphan Hazel disappeared. She had just come into heat and had the courage to defy him. We assumed he’d sold her off to a husband, but no one knew for sure. The friar had struck Sage when she’d worked up the courage to ask.
Dusky light shone through the cracks in the shack. Twilight approached. If caught now, I could claim I’d been searching for the dye barrel. After setting the shackles down, I eased the door open, stepped into the dim evening, and froze.
Rank upon rank of giant warriors closed in on the abbey. They crept across the grounds without a sound. They all had weapons, axes or daggers worn at their belts. The dying light showed their hands to be free.
I gathered myself to scream. A rough palm closed over my mouth. I let out a muffled shriek.
“Hello, Willow,” a voice rasped in my ear.
Disbelieving, I stilled. The voice and strong arms locked around me belonged to the redheaded warrior. His black-haired friend stood at his side, frowning.
“Get her out of here.” Brokk jerked his head.
My protests muffled by Leif’s large hand, I kicked and fought as much as I could, to no effect. The warrior swung me up, arms still clamped around me, and dragged me deeper into the woods.
“Stay calm now, lass.” Red locks tickled my cheek as he whispered in my ear. “You’re safe now. Danger is coming to the abbey, but we’ll get your friends out.”
Why would battle-hardened warriors attack an abbey full of innocent women and girls? Had the friar cheated someone and incurred a lord’s wrath?
Despite my struggles, the warrior carried me into the woods until the trees crowded my view of the abbey, its turret shining with the last light of day. I went limp against him, hoping he would let down his guard. Perhaps I could still escape to warn Sage. She would be in the dormitory now, reading to the little ones, or perhaps setting out a tankard of ale for the friar to drink, in hopes he’d get too drunk to bother her. Around midnight, she’d slip out to check on me. She wouldn’t find me.
Of course, by then, she’d be taken, too.
Throat tight, I sobbed silently against Leif’s hand.
“Shh, lass, it’s all right.” He set me down but kept me clamped against his broad chest. “You’re in danger. You and the other spaewives. We’ve come to rescue you.”
I let my eyes close and legs sag as if I’d fainted. Leif propped me up, but when he tried to turn me into a less awkward hold, I broke from his arms.
After a few steps, he caught me fast. I went crazy, flailing in an attempt to get free. Not for myself. They’d captured me, but if I could get close enough to the abbey and scream loud enough to warn Sage and the others…
“Oh, no, you don’t,” Leif grunted, lifting me again. His large hand closed around my throat. He squeezed in warning, and though he did not cut off my air, his grip silenced me. Brokk hovered close.
“Put her down. Quickly. Bind her. We cannot risk her warning any guards who might be about.”
“Stay calm,” Leif shook me. “You’re in no danger as long as you obey.” He pinned me belly down on the forest floor, holding my wrists at the small of my back. Before I could scream, Brokk jammed something into my mouth.
“This isn’t going the way I wanted,” Leif muttered.
I panted and cried as they finished binding me. Then Leif sat back with me in his arms.
“There, now. Safe and secure.”
I glared at him, trying to push the bitter-tasting leather from my mouth. A growl sounded in my throat. False bravado—the rest of me shook.
“You going to fight me, Willow?” The warrior teased my hair from my face with surprising gentleness. I thrashed, throwing off his touch.
“Stop,” Brokk ordered, squatting close. His command stilled me. “We will not allow you to hurt yourself.” The sharpness in his tone and gaze warned me to behave.
“We’re not here to harm you,” Leif repeated.
I blinked at them. I sat trussed and gagged and trembling. A young maiden captured in the woods by two warriors. Limbs numb, skin covered in goose bumps. My light summer dress provided no protection from a chill in the air strange for a late summer night.
“You’ll want to know why we are here,” Leif interpreted. “Fear not. It’ll all be brought to light.”
A scream shattered the still air. It came from the abbey.
“Damn, damn.” Leif hauled me up.
“Go to the meeting place. I’ll catch up,” Brokk told him, and ran back to join the other warriors.
I dug my heels into the dirt, but Leif hauled me over his shoulder. His large hand smacked my bottom when I struggled again.
“None of that now,” he said. I went limp again, the fight truly gone out of me this time. Straining to raise my head, I could only watch as Brokk and his fearsome comrades advance to attack my home.
She’ll be ours forever…
Long ago, a witch turned us into monsters. Our only hope is to wait for the woman who could lift the curse.
A century later, we find her. Willow. Our miracle. She’s hidden away in an abbey full of orphans, while evil men plot to sell her as a bride.
We’ll break her out. But she’ll remain captive to her desires until we set her free…
*Author’s Note: This is a MFM full-length ménage romance. There are no M/M scenes, just TWO hot, dominant warriors who claim the same woman…
✿¸.•´¸✿*´¨) ¸.•*¨PREORDER for $2.99¸.✿¨*.¸¸.•`✿
For over a hundred years, the Berserker warriors have fought and killed for kings. There is but one enemy we cannot defeat: the beast within.
Read the complete Berserker Saga to see what fans are raving about…
Sold to the Berserkers
Mated to the Berserkers
Bred by the Berserkers – free book at leesavino.com
Taken by the Berserkers
Given to the Berserkers
Claimed by the Berserkers
Rescued by the Berserker
Captured by the Berserkers
Kidnapped by the Berserkers…coming soon