The Destroyer by Jianne Carlo by Jianne Carlo - Read Online

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The Destroyer - Jianne Carlo

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Chapter One

Montrose, Scottish Lowlands, 1030

Oaf! Let me go!

Magnus glanced to the entrance of the stable, but the glaring summer sunshine blinded him and he couldn’t see anyone nearby. Not cert he wasn’t overhearing boys and girls squabbling, he lifted his head and listened closer, not liking the note of alarm he thought he discerned in the yelped words. He continued to curry his destrier, Tyr, named after the Norse god of war, his ears attuned to the muffled sounds echoing around the stalls.

Trouble brewing, his every instinct told him—but from what direction? Scuffling. Grunts. Foul snarls.

He whirled around and squinted at the tangled silhouette of a large man and a short female twisting and turning against the open double door. The dazzling noonday brilliance highlighted the intertwined torsos. For all he knew, a maid and a stable hand sparred afore mating.

Lout! Cur! The female screeched.

The desperation and terror in the woman’s shriek spiked his overdeveloped protective streak. Magnus thundered out of the stall. He shaded his eyes and peered and glimpsed a man’s hands wrapped around a maid’s throat. ’Twas naught he despised more than a warrior forcing a woman or a defenseless child being bullied, and this sprite of a female stood nay higher than his page. His temper ignited. The tool he’d used to comb his destrier’s mane bit into his palm.

Nay. Stop. The pained whimper fractured Magnus’s hard-won discipline. Nay! Nay! Nay!

"Dauðadagr! Magnus roared the battle cry, death-day, that had earned him the title The Destroyer."

Stand, he commanded his steed. He chucked the currying brush he held atop a distant haystack and charged.

Assessing the situation while sprinting, Magnus’s wrath surged.

A warrior had a maid shoved against the stable door. Her skirts were hiked waist high, his knee jammed between milk-white slender thighs, and the delicate pale curls covering her mons were exposed to delving, grimy fingers.

"Dauðadagr!" Magnus bellowed again, leaped five ells, and landed with another deafening bellow. He jammed a hooked elbow around the warrior’s neck, grabbed the man’s left hand, and hurled him skyward.

Magnus then spun about to face the wench, and a giant fist may well have plowed his gut.

Never had he seen such radiant beauty and innocence. The maid’s heart-shaped face wore the expression of a quivering doe surrounded by a pack of wolves. Color leached from her complexion, and the whiteness of her flesh rivaled a sheet of new-fallen snow.

Slanted eyes, wide and startled and the color of a fawn’s, stared at him. The sweetest upturned nose pinched and quivered, and the tip of a pink tongue traced the top of a plump, strawberry-stained mouth. Her lips opened and closed, revealing perfect even teeth, but no words issued forth.

She looked up at him, her brown eyes glistening with unshed tears and her pupils dilated with shock and fear.

Dusky peach tints swathed her cheeks, and she shuffled, wiggling her hips till the dress slid into place and then smoothed her skirts with trembling fingers. She swallowed and inhaled, her chest rising and falling. Fixing her eyes on a point above his shoulder, she said, her voice stumbling on each word, My thanks, my lord.

That she managed to speak took him aback, for she shook like a twig battered by a furious gale, her rounded tits heaving, the pebbled nipples poking at her green gown. Too bewitched by her parted lips and the tortuous dip and sway of her breasts, his mind refused to process the words she had spoken. His mouth watered; he yearned to set his lips to her throat, to linger on the beat pulsing in the center of her neck, to suckle the tempting flesh leading to her small ears and nibble the fat lobe.

All at once she crumpled.

Dolt.

A maid just attacked needed not another lecherous male.

Choking back a slew of ferocious curses, Magnus scooped her high against his chest and cradled her slender curves in his arms. She smelled of sunshine and lavender. The thick fringe of her soot-tipped lashes fluttered like a raven’s wings as her head dipped and then rose.

Their gazes met.

’Twas like looking into a maelstrom.

All her turbulent feelings were there for him to read, to drown in. Anger battled fear, and pride joined the fray when she lifted her chin, pressed her lips together, and sniffed. A lone teardrop trailed down her cheek, and she knuckled away the moisture. Her eyes narrowed, her mouth pursed, her dainty nostrils twitched, and she squared her shoulders.

His arms tightened, and he wanted to praise the enchanting maid, stroke her back, and nuzzle her swan-like neck. He stiffened. Furious rage swamped him when he spied the greasy fingerprints at the base of her throat. The cur had also dared to lay his hand on her beautiful mons with the pale, golden curls. He would hunt the vicious mongrel down and break every finger. He growled and glanced over his shoulder, searching for the man who’d attacked her, but the pillager had long fled. His temper ignited and flames danced at his temples, heating his flesh to scalding. I will kill him.

Nay.

Her voice had the musical lilt of a highlander. A Scottish maid.

Aye. Unable to resist, he used his thumb to lift the bog-colored marks from her perfect skin, taking care to keep his touch light, gentle. His pecker remembered the prints below her dress and volunteered to cleanse them. The wayward organ jerked like a beggar pleading for sustenance, for the juices of her sweet puss. Magnus hooded his eyes and willed his cock into obedience. He will not live to attempt rape again.

I am unhurt—

You bear his handprints on your neck. Magnus rotated, stalked to a nearby haystack, found he couldn’t bear the notion of freeing her from his embrace, and sat. He is a dead man.

My lord, I am but a maid—

Cease your protests, lass, for I will not allow any, be he man or boy, to harm my—any female. Magnus snapped his teeth together so hard his gums vibrated. The words my woman had nigh escaped his lips.

Dunce.

Lust-sotted fool.

You are here to wed another. In three days.

Three eves and three morns.

She wriggled to a sitting position his cock relished. The engorged, hopeful fellow twitched ’neath her soft rump.

His faery maid went rigid, and her lids dipped to shutter her eyes.

Magnus cursed his wayward prick and clenched his jaw.

What is your name, lass? And do you belong to any man? For he tupped no man’s wife. He glanced at her hands and scanned her clothing for a clue to her status and lineage. Her woolen bodice fitted her tiny form like a glove, squeezing her titties together, a tad tight, but no kitchen maid he had e’er met wore such fine fabric. Shiny waves of thick hair, the color of the blackest coal, cascaded to below her bottom.

Unbound hair spoke of an available, marriageable female. A wealthy farmer’s daughter?

She worried her berry-colored bottom lip, and Magnus salivated, his mouth hungry to claims hers, to nibble and suckle her swollen and wet, to see those amber-flecked sandy eyes glazed with desire.

I am but a maid, my lord, and I must needs see to my duties.

He stifled a protest when she lifted her hands from his shoulders, and she fixed her stare somewhere near the base of his throat. My mistress will not be pleased with me.

Magnus!

The shout came from the stable’s doorway, so he tore his eyes away from the delicious color blossoming in her cheeks and glared at his brother’s rapid approach.

What have we here? Jarvik, his too-handsome youngest sibling, halted in front of them, hands jammed on hips and a wicked dimpled smile decorating his face. ’Tis a conundrum you find yourself in, Destroyer. Mayhap I can relieve you of your burden?

The maid pushed off him, twisted under his arms, and scrambled to her feet. She stumbled, righted herself, and then dipped a small curtsy. My thanks, my lord, for your intervention.

Magnus lurched to his feet, but the lass darted away. Her graceful, nimble form vanished around the entrance before he could take a single step. His hands fisted and a muscle under his eye jumped. Magnus swung to face Jarvik, irritation feeding the twitching into a rapid tic. You sodding arse. Do I interrupt you with a maid? Jarvik splayed both hands and shifted sideways. Nay. ’Twill not enhance your standing to hammer me blue and black. We are to meet with your betrothed on the morrow. Would you appear battered and bruised for your first meeting with the lady and her family?

’Tis not me who will be purpled. The need to pummel his rage and frustration yielded to another, sudden compulsion. Know you who the maid belongs to?

Nay. Jarvik stroked his chin. I have not seen her afore. Mayhap she arrived with the traders. The chieftain, Valan, awaits you in the hall.

Valan the Viper, the warrior famed for the harras of stallions and colts he bred and traded for stud purposes. Valan, a newfound favorite of King Máel Coluim, had been pivotal in helping to arrange Magnus’s betrothal to a highland noblewoman.

Magnus scowled.

Here to wed one woman but heavy with lust to swive another.

Betrothed but not yet wed.

For three eves and three morns.

’Tis not like you to dally with a maid, brother, Jarvik declared.

Magnus dusted a few clumps of hay from his tunic and began marching out of the stable. "I was not dallying. I was grooming Tyr when that lout Hamish pinned the maid against the door."

They call him Hamish the Horny. I know not how Valan can stomach the sod’s presence. Knowing you, I take it you rescued her? Jarvik asked.

A spring breeze rustled the young leaves on a copse of alder trees lining the path leading to Valan’s manor. Magnus tipped his head back to