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Authors: Sophia Johnson

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Seduced

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Seduced

Book 2 of the Raptor Castle
Series

SOPHIA JOHNSON

 

THE SEDUCTION

The most desirable woman he had ever touched,
had ever longed for, was not in his imagination. Raik's lips
pressed tight. His eyes narrowed. The muscles in his face became
taut.

He had spilled his seed in her. Twice. He,
who had vowed never to do such. Was she fertile?

His hands fisted. His nails dug into his
palms.

She was real. He would find her.

And when he did...

THE RECKONING

He carried her pressed against his chest,
struggling and fighting, toward the shaft of light. The soft glow
from the moon crept up her hip, her side.

She screamed and kicked out at the stone
window ledge, forcing him back. Raik wrested her back into the
faint moonlight. His fingers dug into the soft skin of her cheeks,
as he relentlessly compelled her to face him.

"Ah, lady of the night. I would see who
steals into my dreams and shares my bed unbidden!" His voice rasped
with fury.

 

Relax and let your imagination take you into
this tale of love through the ages.

 

Copyright 2011 by June J. Ulrich

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written
consent of the Author, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

The book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or
are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events,
localities, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Electronic books or eBooks are not transferable. They
cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on
the copyright of the work.

 

Cover design by Delle Jacobs

http://www.dellejacobs.blogspot.com

 

Visit the author's website at
www.sophiajohnson.net

CHAPTER 1

Seton Castle, Northumbria, August 1144

The agony of Hell's fires could torture
me no more than what I now suffer. My dear husband asks that I do
an unthinkable, sinful thing...

Letia de Burgh forced her thoughts to a dark
corner of her mind. She must deal with more pressing worries
now.

An army swarmed outside the walls of Seton
Castle.

The faint light heralding the sun's rise
revealed their leader, who kept well beyond the range of Seton's
archers. Julian of Chatton was there as he had been every morning
for a sennight. The gold and purple trappings on the massive
destrier were so impressive it made the rider appear thin and
insignificant.

"Why won't this Hell hound leave us at
peace?"

Letia scowled and pounded her fist against
her thigh. From the great height of the barbican guarding the
castle's entrance, she signaled her archers to release a volley
over the merlons. As Julian's warriors raised their shields, the
high-flying arrows sang as if swarms of giant bees rained down on
them. Amidst the heavy thumps of arrows striking shields, the cries
of warriors split the air as arrowheads found soft flesh. She
nodded, satisfied with her archers' aims.

"De Burgh! Raise the portcullis," Julian's
gravelly voice bellowed. "I
will
enter. Seton belongs to
me."

Before anyone could detect it was a woman who
commanded such deadly arrows into their ranks, Warin's most trusted
advisor Leofwan grasped Letia's shoulder to urge her back out of
sight.

"His greed knows no bounds. He hopes the
strain of constant sieges will speed Baron de Burgh from this
world," he muttered in disgust.

"My husband may be into his fiftieth year,
but he still has the body of a strong warrior."

"Aye, Lady. But does he have the sound heart
of one?" His face filled with sadness.

She ignored the question.

He knew the answer.

"This, this witless ass has no right to
Seton!" She spluttered and thrust a finger toward the man below.
"Before his death, King Henry denied he was a royal bastard." She
stopped pacing and snorted, "Henry should know. He was quick enough
to claim his true bastards. All twenty-four of them."

He grunted. "Aye. 'Tis what angered Julian
the most."

Letia picked up her bow, drew an arrow from
her quiver and stood behind a merlon. Peering out the embrasure to
her left, she waited for a perfect shot. Impatient, her left hand
flexed on her bow's grip, her right tapped the arrow against her
leg.

Attired as a young warrior, she normally had
no need to hide. But Julian's instincts were much like a lean wolf
long deprived of a mate. Whenever she showed herself, his eyes
narrowed and his nose twitched as if he sniffed the air.

"How I would love to send an arrow into his
black heart!"

"Ah, Beloved. You are a fierce warrior on my
behalf."

Hearing her husband's deep voice, Letia
propped her bow and arrow against the stone merlon. As she turned,
she tried to mask her fear for him with a cheerful expression.

Warin de Burgh leaned heavily on his squire's
arm as he stepped through the upper doorway of the barbican tower.
Straightening, he squared his shoulders. Despite his pale face, he
looked as sturdy and vital as the massive oak tree on the knoll
behind the army.

"My lord, surely you have not rested long
enough." As she caressed his handsome cheek, liking the rough feel
of his unshaven jaw, she noted the flash of pain in his blue eyes
that he tried to hide with a wink.

"Long enough," he said with a reassuring
smile. "Now, that nithing Julian must see me else he will grow
overbold."

He turned to his squire waiting at his elbow,
his master's helmet cradled in the crook of his arm. Taking it,
Warin settled it over his long, dark-brown hair.

"The helmet will make me more readily
visible. 'Tis a shame I have never favored a beard." He arched a
dark brow at Letia. "Do you think it would have made my appearance
more threatening?"

"You are fearful enough, my lord. The fool's
knees would collapse if he had to meet you in open combat."

Letia smiled and studied her husband.
Thankfully, the helmet hid the silver streaks that had grown wider
at his temples this past fortnight. His blue eyes were sharp and
alert, his nose straight - all but for that slight mark halfway
down its length. His lips were firm and unyielding. Not like when
he was alone with her. Then they were soft and tilted a bit at the
corners.

Warin flashed a grin and nodded. "Let us send
this whelp on his way."

At spaced intervals along the wall, slingers
stood behind the archers at the same merlons. Beside them, piles of
stones stood close to baskets of arrows. At Warin's signal, the
archers released their arrows. While they speeded their way to
their targets, the slingers sidestepped to the low embrasure to
fire their slings. Using an underhand release, they fired their
stones into the mass of warriors.

As the sun raced across the sky, Warin's face
grew drawn and pinched, his movements slowed. Even so, he remained
quick to take the measure of the enemy and direct his men to
squelch any attempts to break into the castle.

Letia thanked the good Lord that Julian's men
were inept at handling siege engines. For that matter, they were no
more experienced at scaling ladders. Able warriors were scarce and
Julian was far too stingy with his coins to hire experienced
knights.

Her left arm and shoulder quivered with the
strain of firing so many arrows. Though Julian ventured closer, she
thought to resort to her sling instead. He thrust his fur-trimmed,
green cloak back over his shoulders and removed his helmet as he
waited in the midst of his favored men. A stiff breeze blew long,
black hair from his face and snapped the cloak behind him.

Letia pictured the expression on his thin
face. It would not be pleasant, for he had been surprised at
Seton's skillful resistance. His brown eyes would be squinted in
anger, his nostrils pinched and his lips pressed together.

She grinned, anticipating the special
greeting she would lob toward that hated presence below. She
signaled the two slingers to her left and to her right to load
their sling with their special missile.

"It is time the sweet-smelling peacock
prancing below has a bath!"

She swung her empty sling back and forth,
accustoming the muscles of her right arm to their new position. She
nodded to the lad waiting beside her. The squire had more mischief
in one lone fingertip than most boys had in their whole body. It
was he who suggested a fitting tribute for their enemy.

The clever squire positioned a missile in her
sling's leather cradle, then stepped away giving her ample room.
She nodded to the two grinning men on either side of her, rocking
their own readied slings. She swung her own in short arcs then
stepped up to the embrasure.

"A present, lout! Wear it in good health,"
she hollered.

With one quick swing of her arm backward, she
slammed it forward. Her finger and thumb holding the knot of the
release cord opened at the right moment, and her gift to Julian
flew through the air.

She ducked behind the merlon, thwarting an
arrow flying past her. After releasing their slings, the two men
beside her also jumped back to safety. Letia peeked around the
merlon and noted horses near bumping into each other and men
shouting curses while they swiped their hands over their faces,
their clothing.

She grinned. Never had she seen such a lovely
sight. Only God could have guided their aims.

The curling hair Julian was so proud of, no
longer floated in the breeze.

It dripped. Plastered to his head.

The young men in the barracks had happily
contributed toward the squire's special weapon—three sheep bladders
filled with piss and sewn closed

Julian shook his sword at the barbican and
took a deep breath to yell in a hoarse, precise voice, "When I find
the lout who thought of this, I will lock him in a cage to swing
from a hook on my barbican wall. He will be left to the elements
and raptors till there is naught but gleaming bones!"

Truly, she could hardly blame him. He
screeched again and all but foamed at the mouth, so agitated he
could barely keep to his saddle.

His mount shied then bolted. The great stead
galloped through the warriors, scattering them. It headed straight
for the gap between his army and the castle walls bristling with
warriors.

Letia watched in amazement as the horse
reared, twisted its massive body and raced back over the uneven
ground normally covered by the drawbridge. Seton's archers laughed
so hard their aim was not as it should be. Fortunately, for the
castle, unhappily for Julian, his body bristled with arrows enough
to take him from the field.

She looked over her shoulder to grin at
Warin. Instead, she caught her breath. Her wide smile fled as she
clamped her lower lip between her teeth. Leofwan and the squire
supported Warin as his knees buckled.

CHAPTER 2

"You must rest, husband."

Letia crossed the dimly lit room to the
spacious bed standing upon a dais. Covered with wool blankets,
Warin sat propped against oversized feather pillows, his face near
as white as the cases covering them. She raised a small cup to his
lips.

"Please drink. It will ease the pains that
plague your chest so you can sleep, love."

He held up one finger to silence her, a small
frown drawing his dark brows closer.

"Nay, Letia. First, we must talk."

More uneasy than ever now, she dreaded his
next words. When they were alone, he always called her beloved and
used her name only when vexed or intent that she should heed him.
When she placed the small cup beside his favorite knife on the
bedside table, her arm brushed against his sword hilt, moving it.
She carefully settled it back at its accustomed place—should he
have need of it.

"Can we not talk in the morning? Ranald and
his men should reach us this next sunrise."

"Ah. You make my point, Letia. After I am
gone, you cannot expect our friend will always arrive in time to
protect you from vermin"

"Hush, love, do not ask me..."

Warin’s fingers rested against her lips,
stilling them.

"I must. It is the only way. I dislike the
idea of another man’s touch on you as much as you do, beloved. But
you must be increasing with a child. Soon. And you must marry again
when the time comes."

Warin blinked away the welling moisture in
his blue eyes. Always, she'd thought his eyes so beautiful they
made her heart skip. Not just beautiful because of their deep shade
of blue. Beautiful from the kindness, the love and compassion that
shone from them every day. It tore her soul to see pain reflected
there. And dreadful sorrow.

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