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Authors: Victoria Craven

Tags: #romance, #love, #spirits, #paranormal, #warrior, #historical

Immortal Love (23 page)

BOOK: Immortal Love
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A virgin, even better,
he thought as
his excitement grew.

Her whimpering was getting louder,
distracting him from reaching his climax. Angry, he placed a pillow
over her face to deaden the noise. He pumped in and out of her
while she struggled. Finally, climax was reached. He pressed his
cock hard into her one last time.

When he pulled out he saw her virgin’s blood
staining the bed robes. It was then he noticed the maid wasn’t
moving. Removing the pillow, he realized the young girl was
dead.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Pity. I could
have used you more than one time.” He laced up his breeches,
straightened his tunic, and left, not giving the girl another
thought, except to tell his servants to remove her body.

He had to find Liam, and create another plan
to bring Eleanor to Aurora Castle. He smiled. The image of Dominick
the Immortal surrendering Godwin in humiliation and defeat was a
fantasy he would not deny himself. And the thought of tasting the
sweet Eleanor increased his black humor. With Godwin taken there
would be no end to his power.

“King William beware, the black dog is about
to bite.”

 

Chapter
Twenty-One

E
leanor and Dominick
broke their fast early, then parted company to do their own
errands.

She spent most of the day tending the people
of Godwin. McPhearson’s siege taxed the elderly community more than
any other. She visited each of their homes making sure they had
plenty to eat and sufficient firewood. After visiting four houses,
Eleanor ran into Ruth who had Abigail in hand.

“Good day,” Eleanor said brightly.

“Good day to you, my lady.”

Eleanor bent down to Abigail. “How are you,
little miss?”

With a child’s lack of inhibition the young
girl broke from her mother’s hand and wrapped her arms around
Eleanor’s knees, nearly knocking her over. “I’m fine, Lady Eleanor.
See my new shoes?” The four year old showed them off as though they
were princess slippers.

“Why Abigail, I think those are the finest
shoes I have ever seen. You must tell me where you got them, so I
may buy a pair just like them.”

“The master bought them for me. Over there at
the cobbler’s.”

As she looked down at the girl, Eleanor’s
heart swelled with pride for the act of kindness her husband had
showed the child. “Well, you know Abigail, we must find you a
pretty frock to go with those fine shoes.”

“Oh no, my lady.” Ruth interrupted. “That
will not be necessary. His lordship has done so much for us
already, what with taking Ethan and Matthew under his wing and
all.”

Eleanor grasped Ruth’s shoulder. “Nonsense,
Ruth. We all owe a great debt for what you and your husband
sacrificed to save Godwin.”

Tears pooled in the young woman’s large brown
eyes, which made Eleanor’s throat tighten. “He was just doing his
duty, my lady.”

“And he paid the dearest price.” Tears
threatened to spill over in her own eyes. Not wishing to cause Ruth
more pain, she changed the subject. “I was just visiting some of
the elders’ homes. Would you care to come and keep me company?”

“That would be lovely,” Ruth said, brushing
the tears away.

“Good.” Eleanor took Abigail’s right hand as
Ruth took the left, and the three of them walked to the next
house.

The women spent the entire day feeding,
cleaning houses, and building fires for those who could not help
themselves. Many of the villagers just needed someone to talk to.
Abigail charmed them with her stories and flights of fancy. Eleanor
and Ruth stifled giggles at her wild tales.

They walked toward the market, Eleanor and
Ruth chatting like old friends. It felt good to have a friend. Most
of her childhood had been spent hiding from her father. After her
mother’s death, she had to work hard, and there was no time to
generate any type of friendship. But now, this felt good. They had
so much in common despite their stations. Eleanor learned more
about Ruth’s husband, Ralph. They had loved each other very much.
When Ruth talked about him her eyes lit up, and a smile spread
across her face. Eleanor hoped that some day she and Dominick would
be the same.

They discovered they shared a love of
gardening. Baking was another passion. And more than anything, they
loved the people of Godwin.

Eleanor spotted colorful ribbons hanging from
a merchant’s tent. “Come, let’s reward this wee one for all the
effort she made today.”

Abigail snapped to attention. “Me. I want the
red one.”

“Then it’s the red one you shall have.”
Eleanor turned to Ruth. “Which one would you like, Ruth?”

“Oh, my lady, you don’t have to—”

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to. You
have been a big help to me today, and one good turn deserves
another.”

Ruth looked overwhelmed by all the pretty
colors swaying in the breeze. “I don’t know, my lady, they are all
so lovely. Why don’t you choose for me?”

Eleanor surveyed the many colors that waved
before her and quickly spotted one of the deepest violet. “What
about this one?” She fingered its satiny surface.

“It’s beautiful, my lady. Thank you.”

Eleanor paid the merchant, then took the
ribbons and tied one in Ruth’s and then Abigail’s hair. When she
was finished she looked at her handy work. “There. You look very
beautiful. Both of you.”

“You’re very gracious, my lady.”

“Think nothing of it. I know about your
gardening and baking skills. Tell me more about yourself."

“When I married Ralf I left my village. All
my friends and family are still there. I have a few friends here,
but it’s not the same.”

“You can consider me a friend.”

“My lady that would be wonderful.

“Yes, it would.” Eleanor was reminded that
other than her children, Ruth was completely alone. “It will be
good for me, too.”

The three of them walked back to Ruth’s small
cottage. It smelled of spices and fresh baked bread. Eleanor and
Ruth sat drinking tea while Abigail had a nap. She learned more of
Ruth, her family, and the village she came from.

They were still gossiping when Ethan and
Matthew entered. Both boys sat at the table and slumped in their
chairs.

“What’s the matter with you two?” their
mother asked.

“Lord Dominick had us working all day,” Ethan
said.

“Really, what did you have to do?”

Matthew piped in. “We had to shine his and
Sir Randolf’s armor. Then we had to clean out their horses’ stalls.
After that was all done, we had to skin a dozen rabbits.” He sighed
with exaggerated emotion.

“I don’t care if I never see another rabbit
for as long as I live,” Ethan said, plopping his head on the
table.

Eleanor stifled a chuckle.

Ruth put her hand over her lips to hide her
smile. “Well, you’re home now boys and I have a nice hot stew to
build up your strength.”

Ethan’s head popped back up. “What kind?”

“Rabbit.”

Eleanor nearly fell off her stool. Peals of
laughter bubbled up from her chest. Looking over, she saw that
Ruth’s hand was pressed tightly to her lips and her shoulders
bobbed with mirth. The boys stared at each other in disbelief.

Once Eleanor composed herself, she realized
it was time to go.

“Well it’s time I
should be heading back to the castle. Thank you for a most
enjoyable day. She waved to the boys. “We’ll see you tomorrow at
the castle.” The boys were less than enthusiastic. On her way back
to the castle she remembered the two boys and Ruth’s stew. New
laughter escaped from her. She giggled all the way back to the
castle.

T
hat’s where Dominick
found her, laughing as she came up the hall steps. “You know, I
think that is the first time I have ever heard you laugh.”

She took his hand. “I just came from Ruth’s
cottage. We were having tea when Ethan and Matthew came in. You
should have seen those boys. They were completely worn out.” Humor
threatened to keep her from telling her story. “Did you really have
them skin all those rabbits?”

“I did.” He chuckled at Eleanor’s infectious
laugh.

Eleanor told Dominick the story of the two
boys. “You should have seen their faces. It was priceless.”

Dominick couldn’t keep himself from laughing.
He led her to a chair and handed her a tankard of ale. She wiped
away the tears and chuckled once more in her cup.

“I take it you had an enjoyable day?” He knew
where she’d been because he’d had her followed throughout the
village. One of his more discreet soldiers kept track of her,
making sure she was safe. But she didn’t need to know that.

“Yes, it was a very good day.” She recounted
everything she’d done, including her nice visit with Ruth.

Her dedication to her people made him proud.
Her kindness won their loyalty, as well. He had seen so little
loyalty from nobles toward their villages. “Is there anything the
people need now until the harvest comes in?”

“Some of them could use more firewood. The
food is plentiful. It’s just a matter of making sure the elderly
eat it.”

He took a seat close to her. “What do you
mean?”

“Some of them have grown too old to care for
themselves. They need someone to visit them every day to see to
their needs. Due to the carelessness of my father and McPhearson’s
siege, some of them no longer have family to care for them.”

“This sounds like something that could best
be done inside the castle.”

“I’m not sure some of them want to leave
their homes. But certainly some of them have no choice. They are
too old and sick to care for themselves.”

Dominick agreed. “We should find places for
these people to stay. The castle interior is nearly complete, and
we have more rooms than we could fill.”

“Oh, Dominick, that would be wonderful. Ruth
and I can assess each person and decide who needs to come to the
castle and who can stay in the village.” She looked up as a thought
occurred to her. “We will need to find someone to take care of
them.”

“I will leave that up to you. You have the
more compassionate nature. You will know whom to select.”

“I’m glad you’re taking care of Ruth’s boys.
I’m sure they will learn a great deal from you."

"I’m not sure they feel the same way after
today though.”

“But you’re guiding them into manhood. That
is important.”

He paused a moment before drinking his ale.
“Should we find someone suitable for Ruth? Those children would be
much better off with a father.”

Eleanor looked up with alarm. “Oh no,
Dominick, don’t do that.”

“Why not? She’s unprotected in the
village."

She bent her head in thought. “I don’t think
she’s ready for another husband right now. She still hasn’t gotten
over the pain of losing Ralf.”

Dominick patted her hand. “We will wait, but
Ruth is much too comely a woman to be left alone for long. Marriage
would be for her own protection, or maybe it would be best if she
were to come and live in the castle. It would only be right since
her husband died for Godwin. But let’s leave this discussion for
later.” Dominick rose from his chair and offered her his hand.
“Let’s prepare for the evening meal.”

Eleanor hesitated. “Dominick, there is one
question I must ask you.”

Her serious expression made him sit back
down. “What?”

“Did you see my mother yesterday?”

Dominick paused before he spoke. “Yes. She
stood next to you at the stables.”

Tears welled in her eyes, and she didn’t
speak for some time. “How did she look?”

“Worried. She always looks worried when I see
her.”

“It must be a horrible existence, not to rest
after your death. You wander around with no direction and
alone.”

Dominick watched clouds of sadness cross her
face. Placing his hand over hers he spoke softly. “Eleanor there is
nothing you can do. Your mother must find her own peace.”

“But how?” Shooting out of her chair she
walked to the hearth and stared into the fire. “How does one find
the portal to Heaven? Is she trapped on this earth in a personal
hell because of me?”

He reached for her. “Don’t think on this
anymore. You can’t change what has happened, and one day she will
find her way home.”

A tear slipped down her cheek. “You’re right,
but I can’t help feeling sad for her.”

“When you think of her,
think of her as your guardian angel.” He could see she liked that
notion. He chucked her gently under the chin. “Come, let’s change
for the meal.”

“T
hat has to be one
of our better meals, I have to say.” Dominick said rubbing his
stomach.

“I have to agree,” Randolf said.

They all dropped into their chairs near the
hearth in the great hall, full and content. The four of them
discussed the future plans of Godwin Castle and its people.
Eleanor’s input gave Dominick and the others much to think about.
She was surprised that the men considered her thoughts valuable.
Their attention encouraged her to express her ideas for the people
of Godwin. The night slipped into late evening hours. Eleanor
couldn’t hide her yawn behind her cup.

“Gentlemen, I’m sure we could discuss our
plans until the sun rises, but I’m afraid I must retire.”

Dominick stretched his legs and arms and let
out a large roaring yawn. “I think I’ll do the same. If I don’t get
some sleep, I will have no strength for training tomorrow.”

Randolf nodded in agreement. “I will give the
gatehouses one more check before I retire.”

“I will go with you.” Erik stood up.

Eleanor reached the stairs. “Good night,” she
bid them, then wearily ascended with Dominick not far behind.

Once inside their chamber, Dominick fanned
the embers in the hearth and placed new logs on the fire. The room
glowed in a warm light. Eleanor looked toward the bed. The
broadsword still lay in the middle. She shook her head silently. If
only she had the courage to remove it. Watching Dominick undress
reminded her of her desire for him. His hard cut body was a sight
to behold. It nearly took her breath away.

BOOK: Immortal Love
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