Read Blind Allegiance Online

Authors: Violetta Rand

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #General

Blind Allegiance

BOOK: Blind Allegiance
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Table of Contents

BLIND ALLEGIANCE

  
Acknowledgements

  
Prologue

  
Chapter 1

  
Chapter 2

  
Chapter 3

  
Chapter 4

  
Chapter 5

  
Chapter 6

  
Chapter 7

  
Chapter 8

  
Chapter 9

  
Chapter 10

  
Chapter 11

  
Chapter 12

  
Chapter 13

  
Chapter 14

  
Chapter 15

  
Chapter 16

  
Chapter 17

  
Chapter 18

  
Chapter 19

  
Chapter 20

  
Chapter 21

  
Chapter 22

BLIND ALLEGIANCE

The Blind Series - Book 1

VIOLETTA RAND

 

SOUL MATE PUBLISHING

New York

BLIND ALLEGIANCE

Copyright©2013

VIOLETTA RAND

Cover Design by Ramona Lockwood

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the priority written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Published in the United States of America by

Soul Mate Publishing

P.O. Box 24

Macedon, New York, 14502

ISBN-13: 978-1-61935-248-3

www.SoulMatePublishing.com

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

 

 

To my mother, Betty,

for gifting me with the love of words and reading

and Kelly Graham,

for believing in me . . .

 

Acknowledgements

A special thanks and loved-filled appreciation for a husband who faced too many lonely nights and half-heard conversations while I typed away . . . Jeff, I love you!

I am grateful to Soul Mate Publishing and my editor, Cynthia Brannam, for giving me a chance to fulfill a dream.

Many thanks to Doug and Milisa Zornes (who not only listened, but cooked for me, too), Meredith Mix (who never gave up on me), Jackie Ivie, Carolyn Ellis (who always told the truth), all the wonderful and talented ladies in the RWA Alaska chapter who provided knowledge and support, Rudy Nino, Phyllys Callina, Mary Aho, Mindy Willis, Daniel Skrzynski, and Ross Reed.

 

Prologue

Orkney Islands

October 6, 1011 AD

Randvior Sigurdsson planted his feet in the sand and gazed eastward across the North Sea. He raised his war axe high above his head and saluted his forefathers. A yellow-tinged quarter-moon, haloed by rings of light and mist, loomed overhead like an apparition. It inspired the Viking to speak ancient verses to attract Odin’s favor. Only six days separated him from Norway and he desperately wanted to go home.

Motionless, he closed his eyes and swore he heard his ancestors chanting the same praises to honor the old gods. Every night for the last three months, he’d walked this shoreline and surveyed the flat landscape. At times, he regretted establishing new steadings in the Orkneys—tonight seemed to be one of them. Barren hollows of sand and withering bushes stretched as far as the eye could see. The only redemptive qualities in these islands were the familiar scent of salt water and the brooding sounds of gulls.

Sighing deeply, he turned and walked toward the flimsy lean-to he slept inside when he chose to stay onshore. As he neared the camp he shared with his men, he spied a few soldiers sitting near a roaring fire, passing wine around. They greeted him and offered the bottle. Randvior shook his head. No spirits tonight, unless they were the kind the gods sent as messengers in dreams.

He kicked open the plank door and stepped inside the shelter. It was barely large enough to accommodate his bulk. He stripped off his cloak and lay down, stared
overhead, and studied the brightening nighttime sky between gaps in the boarded ceiling. Thousands of stars twinkled above. He counted them one by one, as he’d often done as a child. And very slowly, his eyes grew heavy with sleep.

In the middle of the night, Randvior’s dreams caught fire. He growled and cursed, challenged and defended, until he rolled off his cot and knocked himself awake. He tried to remember where he was exactly. The shelter was dark, but the vision of a woman’s face glared at him through the pitch. Almond-shaped eyes pinned him to the floor.

He thought he remembered that beautiful face, crowned by a mane of honey-colored hair. She resembled one of Odin’s Valkyries, perhaps a match to the ones depicted in the tapestries in his hall.

He sat up and she uttered a single word.
Durham.

But . . . why?

 

Chapter 1

Invasion

Durham, England

October 10, 1011 AD

Dark clouds always gathered in Noelle Sinclair’s dreams. Hundreds of nightmares had played out in her mind since childhood. Why should tonight be any different?

The smell of burning wood invaded her sleep. Smoke snatched her breath and she tried to purge her lungs by taking deep breaths. She ran for the great hall and all she could see were scorched rafters and floorboards. Guards scrambled to the battlements, while women and children fled the castle. She searched for her sisters among the people migrating outside.

“Fire!”

Noelle’s eyes snapped open at the sound of dire warning. By God, this was no dream! She flung blankets aside and rolled over, shook her older sister awake, and jumped out of bed.

“What’s wrong?” Margaret asked sleepily.

“The castle’s on fire. Get up,
now
!”

Margaret scurried from bed and ran with Noelle to the windows overlooking the eastern edge of the castle. Through the swirling fog, Noelle could make out a tangle of men with torches and weapons in the courtyard below. She further scanned
the shoreline where the North Sea pounded against the rocks and dunes. The castle was under siege and poorly defended. Most of the soldiers and her father were in Ireland, leaving only her brother and a skeleton army behind.

Her gaze still locked on the beach, Noelle caught sight of three, silvery-white longships anchored beyond the walls. Their blood-red sails snapped in the wind. She stared in horror as the pattern on the sails came into focus—the shape of a dragon.

“We need to get outside,” she said, and gave Margaret a gentle push toward the door.

Noelle grabbed a cloak from a hook, wrapped it around her shoulders, and thrust her feet into the first pair of available shoes. Exiting the bedchamber, Noelle led the way down the passageway, then descended the stairway that ended in the great hall. She halted midway, and Margaret drew back, frightened by the spectacle of violence below. Swords and pikes, fiery torches and axes—a blur of bodies and faces awaited them. The smell of blood and sweat permeated the room instead of the familiar scent of bread baking in the kitchen.

“What can we do?” Margaret whimpered.

“Keep moving,” she answered, and gripped her
hand.

They reached the bottom floor. Men were fighting everywhere and the sound of metal scraping metal deafened her ears. She searched for a familiar face, someone to help them escape. Luckily, John, her father’s favorite captain, met them near the stairs.

“Run!” He lowered his weapon and pointed.

Noelle stumbled, but managed to sneak between two combatants. She looked over her shoulder at John.

“Go!” he screamed.

Before she could take another step, John collapsed. Noelle couldn’t move a muscle to help him. Her entire body quaked under the weight of his assailant’s steely stare—the man resembled a flesh and bone devil. Trembling still, she sprinted for the main doors with Margaret in tow. They made it to within a few feet of the entryway.

Heavily armored men blocked their route and a flash of movement attracted Noelle’s attention. Another enemy charged from their right flank. His mouth hung open as he spoke words she didn’t understand. Heathen curses that made her skin crawl. She squared her shoulders and pulled Margaret closer, her sister’s heavy panting warmed the nape of her neck. The warrior’s mouth twisted into a cruel smile.

“Easy,” Noelle whispered. She didn’t know where she found the strength to comfort Margaret as her own knees wobbled. Her grasp of reality
threatened to disintegrate at any moment.

Just as Noelle contemplated making another move
,
a battle axe swung and split the offender’s skull. Blood spattered across the front of her cloak and Margaret shrieked. Noelle dropped her sister’s hand and motioned forward. She lunged and cleared the doorway, catapulting down the stairwell outside. As Noelle’s feet hit the ground, she looked over her shoulder and saw Margaret had followed. They ran away as fast as they could.

The forest was the only adequate hiding place nearby and these men, whoever they were, would be more interested in looting the keep than chasing down a couple of helpless females, Noelle hoped. They came closer and closer to the dark outline of trees on the west side. Her father’s lands stretched for many miles in every direction.

Flickering light beyond the tree line concerned her. Were other women in the forest already? She sprinted ahead. They mustn’t provide a beacon of light for the invaders to follow. She burst through the trees and stopped in a small clearing to catch her breath. Margaret followed, wheezing.

Ten women. But Noelle’s eldest sister, Ophelia, and other maids from the household were missing. More women arrived from the direction of the castle and Noelle turned sharply to inspect each one carefully. She took a torch out of a woman’s hands and threw it on the ground.

“Put out all the lights,” she directed, and rolled the oiled wood with the tip of her shoe until the flame extinguished. “We must remain hidden as long as possible.”

There should be more women here.
What excuse would she offer her father after he returned from Ireland for failing to protect them? Raids to the north and south had increased over the last few years. If Ophelia and the others were harmed because Noelle had failed to execute their well-practiced escape plan, she’d never forgive herself.

Fear quickly turned to agitation. She also didn’t want to give her brother, Brian, a reason to question her competence. Not only hers—any woman’s. In all creation, he claimed women were God’s
only
failure. Every unfortunate female bore the brunt of his judgment. Whatever it took, Noelle must rescue her sister. Pacing, she considered her options.

She made up her mind and turned to Margaret. “Stay here. There’s no reason for
all
of us to risk our necks.”

Margaret locked hands around Noelle’s arm. “Don’t leave me here,” she squeaked. “What would father say?”

“Father’s not here.” Noelle wrenched her arm free. Nothing could interfere.

Margaret’s round eyes bulged unattractively as she waited for an explanation.

“Many women are in danger. And Ophelia is stubborn enough to stay behind to defend her dowry. Mother’s gold and silver candlesticks aren’t worth losing her life over.”

“Is saving her from her own idiocy a legitimate reason to die, too?”

Noelle stared. Listening to her questions was a complete waste of time.

“Would father approve?” Margaret challenged. “And if you fail to rescue her, our sire may only have
one
living child to return to.”

She actually thinks Brian and Ophelia are going to die.
Noelle gave her a stern look. “Nonsense . . . I’d be more concerned if father returned and found
all
of his children unharmed and his castle burned with his fortune gone.”

Margaret’s lips twitched as she crossed her arms over her chest. “No wonder father says you are the most disobedient daughter in northern England.”

Despite the temptation to match her sister’s insult with one of her own, Noelle sucked in a deep breath. She shrugged and adjusted her collar. Not even the Almighty could talk her out of doing this. Ignoring Margaret’s continuing protests, she disappeared into the trees.

BOOK: Blind Allegiance
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Never Been Ready by J.L. Berg
Cover of Night by Linda Howard
Sullivan's Justice by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Special Ops Exclusive by Elle Kennedy
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
Out of the Shadows by L.K. Below
A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
Liaison by Anya Howard