Read Indecent: The Moray Druids #2 (Highland Historical) Online

Authors: Kerrigan Byrne

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Indecent: The Moray Druids #2 (Highland Historical)

BOOK: Indecent: The Moray Druids #2 (Highland Historical)
2.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Indecent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By

Kerrigan Byrne

INDECENT
© 2014 Kerrigan Byrne

All rights reserved

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. The book contained herein constitutes a copyrighted work and may not be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, or stored in or introduced into an information storage and retrieval system in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Cover Art © 2014 Kelli Ann Morgan / Inspire Creative Services

Interior book design by Bob Houston eBook Formatting

Other
Heroes of the Highland
s Novellas By

Kerrigan Byrne

 

Unspoken

 

Unwilling

 

Unwanted

 

Unleashed – The First Highland Historical Trilogy

 

Released

 

Redeemed

 

Reluctant

 

Reclaimed – The Second Highland Historical Trilogy

 

And now:

 

Insolent

 

Indecent

 

Coming Soon:

 

Incarnate

T
he Wyrd Sisters:

 

“Double Double toil and trouble.

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

 

 

 

~
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Dedication

To Cynthia St. Aubin

Thanks for being such an intimate friend.  I treasure the secrets we share, the cackles only we understand, and the endless love and acceptance.

Chapter One

 

There would be no raiding in weather such as this. Niall Thorson squinted through the gloom at the glowing windows of an Abbey. Here was a good place to take sanctuary from the gathering storm. He let his hand rest on his sword hilt as his generals, Ingmar and Bulvark, crested the hill to join him in scanning the Highland mist. “It is impossible navigate these strange Highlands in such weather,” he motioned toward the Abbey glowing from a shallow valley by a clear loch. “I think we should rest here and wait for the sky to clear.”

“A nunnery?” Ingmar shook the rain off his head, reminding Niall of a shaggy hound, all hair and little substance, yet lethal when riled. “A Berserker and his men in a convent… what could go wrong?”

Bulvark let the rivulets stream from his impressive russet beard, remaining stone-faced and indifferent. “It will certainly have gold to plunder, and perhaps relics with precious jewels. It’s worth the risk for Christian coin.”

“Forget about the jewels.” Ingmar clapped Bulvark on the shoulder and shook him soundly. “The nuns, man, the
nuns
! All those clean, frightened, unprotected virgins just waiting for a handsome warrior like me to plunder them.” He beat his chest with his fist, and cupped himself, with a sound of predatory anticipation.

Bulvark snorted. “Waiting for you, eh? Is that why they run from you in terror and disgust as soon as look at you?”

Ingmar waved his hand, undeterred. “Only at first, and then they’re screaming for a different reason, and begging me to plunder them again.” He waggled cheerful eyebrows, and motioned for the dozen Vikings behind them to follow Niall down the hill.

“I do not want you touching these women without their consent,” Niall ordered, eliciting a chorus of disappointed groans and muttered curses. “They are supposed to be married to their Christian Sun God. It would be like raiders taking the priestesses of Freya. Unforgivable.”

“The priestesses of Freya will
give
themselves to you,” Ingmar argued, his tattooed temples wrinkling with a mulish frown. “And our laws say that if a woman cannot fight you off, then you may claim her as your own.”

“Those are
our
ways,” Niall reminded. “Our laws are not even accepted through all of the Northlands. Besides, these nuns, they are not taught to fight. They are only taught to pray.”

“Pray to a God who will not allow you pleasure until you are dead?” Bulvark spat on the ground. “To a husband who will not protect you? Seems like a waste of a good woman to me.”

“On second thought I will not touch these nuns,” Ingmar decided. “They probably only marry to their God the ones who’s virginity no one else wants.” He took a step back when Niall frowned at him, but shrugged and smiled. “You know, the ugly ones.”

“Either way, we’re only taking gold,” Niall ordered. “I don’t want blood spilled here.” 

The silver, stormy daylight faded into a grey evening as Niall crept down the hillside, enjoying the banter of his two closest friends. Even as he listened to their conversation, he also kept his preternaturally sharp ears open for sounds of enemies in the cloudy swirls surrounding them. Pictish knights and warriors fought as savagely as they did, and he didn’t like to face an enemy he could not see on unfamiliar ground.

His Berserker might slaughter a friend.

He led his band through well cared-for gardens and past pens of pigs and lambs to reach the walls of the Abbey. Even if someone should look from the glowing windows, they would see no gleam of sunshine off their fine weapons. Would have no warning of their advancing band of raiders. In their furs and skins, moving with the sure-footedness of Northmen, they would be nothing but large and shifting shadows in the Highland mist. 

“I have no taste for soft Christian virgins,” Bulvark noted solemnly as they followed the stone walls to the front of the wide Abbey, which faced the sea. “I prefer strong, solid Viking women, who would kill you soon as fuck you. They are much more exciting.”

Niall didn’t doubt it. Bulvark was a bulky, bear of a man, tall and round. It would take quite a woman to be able to stand against him, or lie beneath him, for that matter. Niall doubted there were many women in existence that could.

This time it was Ingmar who snorted. “What are you saying, Bulvark, that if Niall would allow it, you would still take ‘
nun
’ of these women?” He elbowed Niall in the ribs with a chortle at his own pun.

Bulvark clenched his jaw with irritation. “Why are you talking, Ingmar? No one marks you or finds you clever.”

Ingmar’s lithe form all but vibrated with mirth as he held a hand to his ear in an exaggerated motion. “I cannot understand you. Could you please E‘
nun
’ciate your insults better?” He barely leapt out of the way of Bulvark’s hammer-sized fist, and had to dance around the giant Viking to avoid injury. “What’s the matter Bulvark? You look ‘
nun
’ too happy.”

Bulvark finally caught him with a shove, bouncing Ingmar off the stone walls of the Abbey and caught him in a choking grip. “Everyone tires of your nonsense,” he growled to the younger, slighter man.

“Don’t you mean, ‘
nun
’sense?” Ingmar squirmed in the war-honed general’s iron fist, using what little air he could get to laugh at his own hilarity. A few others joined in the laughter, an air of relaxed joviality and anticipation seeping through the mists as they approached the arched oaked doors of the Abbey.

Niall shook his head, unable to fight a smirk at his friend’s antics as he sized up the strength of the Abbey’s defenses. It amazed him that a church of any religion would leave a building full of cloistered women with no defenses but stone walls exposed to the whims of the world.

To men such as himself.

An unmistakable sound hissed through the evening and reached his sensitive ears, and Niall held up a hand signaling for quiet.

Everyone froze.  

Niall could hear through the walls what others could not. Angry voices. Anxious movement. Whispers. The sound of a whip connecting with flesh.

No cries of pain met the punishment, though, which to Niall meant one thing.

“Ready your weapons,” he gave a hushed order. “I think there are
men
in the abbey. We may have to fight after all.”

His favorite sounds in the world vibrated through mist toward him, abrading his most heightened Berserker sense. The rasp of metal against scabbard. The creak of a strong, sure grip on an axe handle, and the quickening of breath in anticipation of death or glory.

Niall gave a moment’s pause in pity for the nuns and the slaughter about to be visited upon them. He was especially sorry for whoever was being whipped, for he would have to meet the wrath of Niall’s Berserker whilst bound and injured and would have to watch his death coming at him with no way to shrink from it, or to fight it.

Not that either of those actions would save him.

The mist chose that moment to consolidate into rain, falling rather than gathering, streaking their hair to their scalps and muddying the dying autumn earth.

“These doors are heavy.” Bulvark reached a hand to the tall arched gates, held with iron hinges and thick ingots.

Ingmar made a sound of juvenile anticipation comparable to that of a giggle, and rubbed his hands together. “Then it is good we brought our own battering ram.” He slapped Niall on his shoulder and made a grand gesture toward the oak doors that doubtless were buttressed by a bar of thick wood on the inside. “After you my good man,” he said, solicitously bowing in a mock gesture of the gallant English knights they’d fought in the fields.

“Thank you, Sir Ingmar,” Niall replied, throwing his cloak of firs behind his wide shoulders as though casting aside a pretty lord’s cape. “You are a most chivalrous gentleman.”

At that, his troupe guffawed, but formed a crescent around him in preparation for bloodshed as Niall backed away from the door to get a running start.

He connected dead center, and the gates exploded open as though hit with thousands of stones worth of pressure rather than the shoulder of a lone warrior. His men rushed past him, spilling into the courtyard, half of them splitting along the right wall, half of them to the left, leaving Niall standing in the center of the gate, framed by the Highland storm.

Breasts.

The most incredible breasts he’d ever seen. Nipples the color of pink rose petals puckered against the rain streaming from flesh as white as skimmed cream.

It took Niall the space of two blinks and the sing of the whip to break the strange spell the sight had cast upon him. The whip connected with tender flesh.

Her
flesh.

She still didn’t scream, though a great shudder wracked through her lithe form before she drooped against the ropes at her delicate wrists.

A hot anger built inside him, along with an alarming instinct he couldn’t identify.

He’d been wrong
. It wasn’t a man who took the abuse of a whipping with admirable stoicism, it was a
woman
. A small woman, standing between two stakes, stripped to the waist and bound to each post with her arms open.

She looked so fragile slumped over like she was, her bonds becoming her only support as her dirty feet sagged in the mud of the courtyard. Hair the color of a brassier fire fell over her face and hung in long, wet streams, hiding her visage.

As far as Niall could tell, she’d lost consciousness.

And still the Valkyrie-sized nun drew her considerable arm back; her dark eyes alight with a feverish zeal as she let the whip fly toward the smaller nun once more.

Niall didn’t know what drew him to intervene. Couldn’t tell why he barreled through the small crowd of panicking women with his Berserker speed to catch the whip on his arm before it could mar one more inch of that pale, delicate skin.

The leather of the whip bit as it wrapped itself around his forearm, and Niall let it feed the rage building within him. With a jerk, he ripped the whip from the elder nun’s hand and enjoyed her gasp of shock and pain as his presence registered through what seemed to be a fog of hatred in her eyes.

“What is the meaning of this?” she screeched, her chin straining against her wimple as she dared to reach past him for her instrument of punishment.

Niall sneered with disgust as he easily subdued her with one hand. “Are you too intent on hurting this tiny, weak woman to notice that you are being raided?” He shook her roughly for effect.

The woman, dressed in a longer, thicker habit than the rest of the nuns, blinked as though seeing him for the first time.

“Raided?” she whispered. “I—”

Niall turned and shoved her toward Bulvark, who caught her and compelled her toward the forty or so women gathered in the courtyard of the modest abbey.

“How dare you desecrate this holy ground with your Pagan blasphemies?” The woman shouted, throwing a strong yet gnarled finger toward the pale prisoner, who still remained alarmingly still. “She’s a
witch
. The devil’s handmaiden! And she must be castigated!”

Niall snorted, drawing himself up to his full height as he advanced on the nun, towering head and shoulders above her, though she was imposing even when compared to a Viking woman. “You would do well to fear me, old woman.”

“I do not fear death!” she spat, squirming against Bulvark’s unyielding grasp. “I fear nothing but damnation, the damnation this whore of Satan will bring down upon us. She’s probably the reason you’re here!”


Gold
is the reason I’m here. Gold and relics, and shelter from the storm.”

“You’ll find no sanctuary in these walls,” she hissed. “God will punish you for any sins you commit against us or our
virtue
!”

A chorus of frightened gasps and soft exclamations of fear emitted from the nuns huddled together. The armed and leering Vikings surrounding them kept their frightened group from inching toward the archway of the overhang encircling the square courtyard. Torches lined the walls beneath the awnings, which threw wan light through the storm and turned droplets of rain into little reflections of fire.

“Trust me, lady,” Ingmar chuckled as he sauntered up to them. “Your virtue is in no danger from us… or from anybody for that matter.”

Bulvark actually laughed in agreement at that as the Nun’s face puckered like the leather of an old shoe.

Niall drew a sharp dagger from a scabbard against his back, leaving his sword untouched. A few women screamed, chafing his sensitive ears with their histrionics. “Quiet!” he ordered sharply, and they complied, shrinking from him as though of one mind.

They’d probably never seen a man of his size before. Never laid eyes upon Vikings clad in leather, fur, and adorned with tattoos. His hoard was nothing like those prettily dressed holy men who liked to wear robes the color of blood. Those who never touched gore with their fingers, but were stained by plenty of it. “Stay still, stay silent, and cooperate and I vow, no harm will come to you.”

He turned toward the bound woman, his ears pricking to her trembling breaths.

It wasn’t just those impressive breasts that drew him forward. Nor was it the strange pressure against his heart. An alarming softening he’d only ever heard about.

Pity? Weakness? 

Over some girl? A witch, at that.

He was Niall Thorson, the preeminent Berserker warrior at the temple of Freya, the pride of the elders and the first son of the oldest Berserker clan known to man.

He and his men laughed over the screams of the dying, broke bread over the bones of their enemies. It was said his line was descended from the god, Thor, himself. He was utterly pitiless. Fearless. Lethally dangerous.
And yet
… couldn’t fathom why his hand was unsteady as he reached for
her
.

Her jaw felt as delicate as burned sugar in his rough hand. Easily shattered, utterly sweet. His breath stalled in his chest as he gently lifted her face toward him. Niall didn’t know what he’d expected to see on her rain-streaked face. Fear, pain, shock, desperation, any of these would have been reasonable. He half expected her to be laconic from the trauma of a whipping.

BOOK: Indecent: The Moray Druids #2 (Highland Historical)
2.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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