Conquered by Belladonna Bordeaux by Belladonna Bordeaux - Read Online

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Summary

He saved her life, but can she accept what he is? Born Agnes of Berwick, beautiful young Nessa has experienced all the horrors of war. She's alone and nearly destitute when William the Conqueror orders the harrying of the North. The massacre of her people and the razing of her land lies in her future, until she meets a Norman knight who stirs her passion and rescues her from the living nightmare closing in on Berwick. Infected with were-blood two score and ten years ago, Sir Guy FitzHugh never expected to find his life-mate living in a drafty tower or standing proudly against his order to escort her to court, as his immortal enemy encroached on her land. His hands itched to touch her. An edict from the king will wed them. Their passion blazes but as he teaches her to relinquish control to him in bed, something far more dangerous looms on the horizon.
Published: Torrid Books on
ISBN: 9781611601787
List price: $2.99
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Conquered - Belladonna Bordeaux

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Page 1 of 1

North

Chapter 1

Unlikely Friends and Allies

Outside Durham, Northumbria England

February 4th, 1069

It appears William’s message has been burnt not only into the ground, but the minds of Durham’s people, Thomas de Burgh muttered.

Aye, Guy FitzHugh agreed. Glancing at the knight riding beside him, Thomas’ cowl pulled low to protect his face from the sun, Guy sighed. He steered his gaze to the carnage. A foul taste filled his mouth. Naught was left whole. This stinks of Montgomerie’s handiwork.

Guy, be careful what you say.

Thomas’ whisper was barely audible above the steady plodding of his horse’s hooves and the clank of armor.

Montgomerie has the King’s ear, and none, not you or me, are safe from his influence over His Majesty.

I’m aware, Thomas. Guy steered his horse around the rotting corpse of a goat left in the road. Overhead, crows cawed as they waited to return to their scavenging.

Out of his peripheral vision, Guy spied the bloated body of a woman who’d obviously found herself trapped in the melee. Quelling the urge to sign the cross, Guy gripped the reins hard. Pinpricks of pain shot across his chainmail-covered fingers. Bile rose in his throat, and ’twasn’t due to the destruction of Durham but the memory of Montgomerie’s bride, Mabil of Belesme, chomping down on his neck and changing his life forever.

A low growl rumbled in his chest. Hate flowed through his veins for the woman. What I wouldn’t do…

You’d do well to let off yesteryear, Thomas counseled silently.

The vampire’s voice sounded in Guy’s head.

Naught good comes from revenge, loup garou. One day, Mabil of Belesme will pay for her crimes and serve heavy penance in Hell.

You should talk. Is it not you who has a heart full of vengeance for Roger de Montgomerie?

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.

So says a priest bitten by a vampire.

Many would call them unlikely friends and never allies. A werewolf and a vampire; the stuff of folktales meant to keep children in their beds rode side-by-side for coin and companionship.

Their common connection to one family had brought them together after Guy’s infection nigh on fifty years ago. Thomas had found Guy where Mabil of Belesme ordered his mutilated body dumped outside the castle walls. He’d harbored the newly-altered loup garou in his cave and treated his wounds as best he could. There was naught the former priest could do to change the truth. Guy was a werewolf. He’d suffer the exquisite pain of his shift upon the full moon.

Forever, he’d turn into hideousness.

Which, in Thomas’ opinion, was true for both of them.

They were that from which true nightmares were wrought.

Though, with Thomas’ firm guidance, Guy had learned to control aspects of the beastly infection. Nay longer did he kill without conscience during the full moon’s glow. He had learned to control his shift to a certain degree. The guilt that had plagued him for the first decade of his ‘new’ life no longer beat him like the Devil did his internees.

You are thinking awfully hard, my friend.

I know, leave off yesteryear. Guy sucked in a sharp breath and released it slowly. As much as he hated to admit it, Thomas was right. Eventually, both Roger de Montgomerie and Mabil of Belesme would get their just due. A comeuppance Guy prayed he’d witness firsthand.

What think you of our duty? A smirk hung in Thomas’ tone.

Guy’s chuckle was ripe with sarcasm. Collect Agnes of Berwick? He shook his helmed head. We should always be put to such trying duties for the King.

The few earls who’ve survived from the old kingdom say she is a rare beauty.

If the rumors from court were to be believed then rare was an understatement when it came to Lady Agnes. The Saxons say all their women are rare beauties, Thomas. I have seen nay such evidence of their exquisiteness. Nay, all I’ve seen is harping women who demand their men hand them their balls on a trencher.

Tsk. Tsk. Thomas clucked his tongue. Cynicism doesn’t become you.

Bristling at the laughter in his friend and mentor’s voice, Guy sent a sideways glare to Thomas. Irritated that the man kept his eyes on the road, Guy didn’t know what to make of a woman who’d avoided the inevitable for nigh on two winters. She is a woman. Nay more. Nay less. Guy gritted his teeth. She will do as she is told.

Really? And that is the reason all the others sent before us have failed to bring the lady to heel and deliver her to William’s court? Thomas laughed. I think she is made of stronger stuff than you give her credit for.

With this, Guy waved his hand at the scene, surrounding her and Roger de Montgomerie’s forces encroaching on Berwick, you think she’d prefer to stay in Northumbria? Shaking his head, Guy narrowed his eyes on the curl of smoke rising on the horizon. His heart beat a hard thump in his chest. The razing of Durham continues. Methinks she will run to us and beg for safe passage to Hell if ’twould save her from Montgomerie.

Let us pray you are right, Thomas said, sobering. The good Lord only knows what Roger will do to her should he discover her hiding place first.

Recollections of his time in the company of Roger and Mabil shook through Guy. The memories of blood feasts and harems filled with unwilling concubines rose to remind Guy of Roger’s power.

The man was the Devil’s disciple. His wife was Satan’s whore.

Roger’s mistreatment of common folk and the few nobles he’d managed to gather in his clutches was almost as renowned as his wife’s debauchery. But only amongst their tenant farmers and the unlucky souls the unholy duo had captured.

They were ruthlessly secretive. Roger’s vampiric power informing him of aught who’d betray him to France’s King or England’s new ruler.

An inherent protective instinct flooded Guy. The smoke began to billow with the pungent scent of death.

Then let us be about our duty. Lifting his arm in the air, he waited for his men to rein in. He slashed his hand downward. Guy kicked his horse into a run. The contingent of eight men in his entourage and Thomas followed suit.

The clank of armor echoed across the scourged earth. To Berwick and a reluctant lady, he whispered under his breath. A jolt of pain shot down his shoulder as his mind conjured up an image of Mabil clamping her teeth on him. Her malicious laughter rang in his head. God’s bones, let us not be too late.

* * * *

Knights approach!

The shout from the Captain of the Guard brought Lady Nessa of Berwickshire upon Tweed around. A small smile lit across her features.

Thanks be to God. My uncle has answered our call for help. She wanted to cry with joy. Finally. For the first time in days, she drew a full breath.

Nay, milady. Reginald shook his head. They approach from the south. ’Tis not the reinforcements we’d hoped for. ’Tis the bloody Normans.

As fast as her joy had come ’twas dashed upon the rocks. Tears of exhaustion stung at the corners of her eyes. The thought of her beloved home being overtaken and the few stores they had left being ransacked by the greedy Normans nearly doubled her over. Hush, Alfread, Nessa said. If only my uncle had responded to my call for assistance.

She hurried from her place at the high table to stand before him.

He immediately bowed.

You are certain? Her