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Authors: Violette Dubrinsky

Tags: #erotic MM, #Romance MM

Warrior (5 page)

BOOK: Warrior
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over until supper. Though she was

craving a swim in the lake behind the

castle, her stomach would have to be

satisfied first.

***

Jaisyn swam around the cool lake

for what seemed like minutes but was

actually hours. It was something she

did frequently. The lake was usually

deserted at this time, and the water

was the perfect temperature for the

hot Lytherian weather. She’d just

grabbed the clean clothing that the

maids normally left in a basket by the

reeds for her, when she heard a slight

rustling.

Darkness had fallen and although

she was only a few minutes from the

castle, Jaisyn tensed, ears alert as her

back snapped straight. One never

knew when Vulcan of Morden was

going to return with his fiendish army.

Since the battle years ago, Vulcan

had returned to his godforsaken land

in defeat and left Lytheria alone.

Because of the Northern Wolf, Jaisyn

had lost her brother, and Lytheria its

future king. She’d also had a tight

strap running along her arm for

months. When it was removed,

numerous surgeons had come weekly

then monthly to make sure that she

recovered use of her left arm. To this

day, her left was still the weaker due

to that injury. Wilhelm, although

deeply saddened by the death of his

son and heir, did not, as Jaisyn

suspected he would, blame her for her

foolish behavior. Instead, he embraced

her, pushed her to get better and tried

to instill in her the belief that she was

safe.

Despite her father’s words, Jaisyn

knew one day the Wolf would return.

She’d been taught by some of the

finest minds in Lytheria, and had

overheard

enough

conversations

among the warriors and unseasoned

soldiers to know that the Mor’an did

not give up easily. It was why she had

swords and daggers hidden at most of

the places she frequented. Whenever

he returned, she would be ready.

She’d gotten considerably better since

the last time she’d faced his soldiers.

The primary reason for her intense

training was preparation for her

rematch.

Placing the clothing onto the basket,

Jaisyn hunched down and crept

stealthily over to a large boulder

situated between two trees. She

reached into the slight opening

beneath the rock and pulled out a

thick leather scabbard that held her

sword. In seconds, the sword was

drawn. She waited.

The rustling grew closer to her,

telling her that whoever approached

was unaware of her position. Holding

her stance behind the rock, Jaisyn

waited. A man stepped into the

clearing and Jaisyn’s grip on the

sword tightened as she dug her toes

into the damp sand. From where she

was situated, she couldn’t make out

his face. What she did make out was

the red coloring of his tunic. Perhaps a

cape? Without giving it more thought,

Jaisyn rose from her hiding place and

rushed him.

***

A practiced soldier, Malcolm knew

he was in danger before the whirlwind

hit him square in the chest. He landed

flat on his back, his head erupting in

pain as it collided with the compacted

sand. Three thoughts entered his

mind, and not in the best order: the

person above him had a sword, the

person above him was female, the

person above him was completely

naked.

“What—” he grunted out as he

struggled to get the sword away from

the woman. He twisted her wrist and

she released the honed steel with a

vicious curse. Malcolm rolled over,

pinning

her

beneath

him,

and

prepared to do serious damage to

whoever it was.

“Malcolm?”

The surprised voice penetrated the

haze of fury around him and he

blinked rapidly. Although it was dark,

the soft light of the moon allowed him

to make out Jaisyn St. Ives. He could

have groaned. Jaisyn was beneath him

and she was bare as the day she was

born. Small, firm breasts rose and fell

with each breath.

Dear Goddess, if this wasn’t one of

his deepest fantasies coming true, he

didn’t know what was.

Knowing that he had to, Malcolm

pushed himself off of her and gave her

his back.

“Forgive me, Princess,” he told her

hoarsely, clearing his throat and

hoping that the rising part of his

anatomy would take heed and go

down.

***

Jaisyn, still shocked that it was

Malcolm and not a soldier from

Morden, didn’t remember she was

nude until a soft breeze chilled her

uncovered breasts. With a squeal, she

placed her hands across her private

areas and prayed the dark hadn’t

allowed Malcolm to see anything.

She was mortified.

Malcolm had turned around, giving

her privacy, so she hastily pushed to

her feet and moved to the basket. She

tugged on the thin shift—the material

she should have worn into the lake

had she the manners of a true lady—

before pulling her dress over her head.

She left her mantle in the basket.

After all, what did it matter now? She

brushed the fabric down and making

sure she was at least decent, Jaisyn

turned to face her friend.

“Forgive me, Malcolm. I thought

you someone else,” she told him, still

feeling the hot flush in her cheeks.

“You can turn now. I am clothed.”

Malcolm turned slowly and she could

see the confusion in his face. “Why

are you here?”

Instead of questioning her, he

answered, “When you didn’t appear

for supper, King Wilhelm sent soldiers

after you.”

“Supper?”

Jaisyn

asked

in

confusion. What did he mean by that?

It was still early. Her father couldn’t

have returned from his hunt yet.

Malcolm nodded. “Yes, your family

is eating as we speak.”

“Lyria’s bloody toenails!” Jaisyn

exclaimed loudly, ignoring the grin

and raised eyebrows from Malcolm.

He’d heard much worse from her lips,

had taught her most of the curses she

used. “What time is it?”

“After seven,” he replied easily,

stepping into line with Jaisyn as she

began a brisk walk toward the castle.

Before long they were standing

outside the Great Hall.

Jaisyn’s hand was on the door when

Malcolm spoke. “Now that you’re

back safely, I’ll be going, Your

Highness.”

“Are you not joining us?” Malcolm

was usually a staple at her father’s

table on nights like these. As the son

of Wilhelm’s head general, his seat

could not be questioned.

He shook his head, sending his

blond curls flying, but a small smile

touched his lips. Before Jaisyn could

ask at its reason, he spoke. “I am

relieving the watch tonight.”

Wrinkling her nose at the job, Jaisyn

nodded. It was a boring but necessary

task, staring down from the guard’s

chamber in the gatehouse at the roads

that led to the castle. A handful of

times, when Malcolm had been

assigned the duty, she’d clambered up

to the stone tower with him. She’d

never spent the entire night—to do so

would be a scandal even she would

never live down—but she had stayed

for some hours. The duty was highly

regimented. Each hour, a mandatory

walk

of

the

battlements

was

necessary. Without companionship, it

was tedious. Even with it, the task was

daunting. Anyone caught sleeping was

dismissed from Wilhelm’s army, and

branded a lout, preventing future

gainful employment.

“I’ll bring you some of cook’s treats

after supper.”

“I’ve already eaten, Princess—.”

“If you’d prefer not to have cook’s

buttermilk cookies, you can simply

say so.”

She smirked when Malcolm’s lips

parted but closed just as quickly. As

long as she remembered, those had

been his favorite treats.

With a defeated smile, Malcolm

bowed to her. Jaisyn’s curtsy was so

deep, the ladies and maids who’d tried

hard to turn her into a
decent
lady

would have been proud. In a pretty

voice with the batting eyelashes to

accompany it, she murmured, “Thank

you for rescuing me, Sir Warrior. I am

forever in your debt.”

“Two cookies and your debt shall be

wiped clear, my lady.”

Jaisyn watched him walk away until

he disappeared from sight to enter the

bustling hall, hoping her father would

save his lecture until after the meal.

He didn’t. She entered the Great

Hall with her head held high, passing

the nobles, most of whom owned

manors just outside their city. As she

was late, she was required to follow

the long, outside path of the room,

passing warriors and townspeople

seated further away at the surrounding

tables, before she could take her

appointed place by his side. Wilhelm

glared at her. Before she could

apologize for her tardiness, he began

to speak of her ‘bad’ habits. Isolde,

Mathilda, and everyone close enough

to hear looked to their platters and

anything else besides her as their king

spoke. Jaisyn, never one to be

intimidated ate with exaggerated

relish, the pheasant stew and bread a

servant placed before her. She was

almost finished when Wilhelm sighed

and ruefully shook his greying head.

Jaisyn waggled her brows and passed

him a small smile—they’d done this

routine countless times before—and

he

chuckled.

The

conversation

switched to one Isolde and Mathilda

could easily participate in: literature.

As she ate her dessert, which

included wild berries, goat’s cheese,

and the very cookies she planned on

saving for Malcolm, Jaisyn focused on

her father. Dressed in a dark brown

cotton tunic with a sleeveless leather

vest, and a thick golden chain with the

St. Ives crest upon it, finery befitting

his station, her father looked the part

of king. Although no longer as bulky

as he’d once been, he looked healthy

and regal. His hair was once more

thick, curling just around his neck,

and his eyes shone brightly. Each day,

she was reminded of the man whose

shoulders she’d ridden as a child; the

man who’d knelt when they were

alone in order to bring himself to the

height of the five-year-old wielding a

wooden sword. She’d thought herself

a warrior then, defeating the man she

believed the fiercest warrior of them

all.

The bard struck up a lively tune, and

Wilhelm urged Isolde and Mathilda to

dance. They immediately moved

toward the music, gaily tossing their

arms as they did so. In a matter of

seconds, some of the nobles and

soldiers stood, with a nod from their

king, to partner the princesses and

other women in reels and gales.

“Jaisyn?” Wilhelm began, stroking

his day’s growth of beard, and smiling

slyly at her.

Leaning close, she murmured in

words meant only for his ears.

“Unless the dance includes swords,

Father, I doubt any partner would find

me as charming or as light of foot as

my sisters.”

Throwing back his head, the king

laughed. Many of his warriors pushed

to their feet at the booming sound,

before returning to their seats with

grins.

“I’d wager many would take

blistered and stubbed toes to earn a

dance with you, my child.”

Jaisyn doubted it. She could not see

as Wilhelm did. Her face wasn’t

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