Monday, September 7, 2009

Excerpt - Master's Mistress by Patricia Bates

Excerpt from Master’s Mistress: “Who is that, Father?” Mykyl watched the woman look around the courtyard with hatred and banked rage in her eyes. He felt drawn to her, like a moth to the flickering of a candle.
“Her name is Amoda, Prince. I’ve been teaching her our ways.”
Mykyl nodded and glanced at his father. “Is she a slave or a priestess?”
“I have not seen her before.” He felt a familiar stirring within him and shifted at the discomfort in his trousers.
“She’s been within Rognvaldr’s care from a very young age,” Tyr explained and turned back to the Priest. Mykyl shook his head. Some things never changed. It was obvious that his father’s favor did not lie with him. He did not doubt his father loved him in the distant, aloof manner of all Norsemen. No, quite simply, King Tyr’s attentions directed to his kingdom and his eldest son and heir apparent.
Mykyl found himself unhappy to think she might be a gift for his brother. The lazy lout had no need of another woman. Not when he had his choice of women to take, including a bevy of mistresses, a bride to be, and the slaves that occupied the castle.
“Amoda, come,” Rognvaldr ordered. The girl hurried after the King and his priest.
“I want her prepared,” the King said.
Mykyl caught his father’s words and inwardly cringed. His father did not normally care to pamper his slaves in any fashion.
“Father? What of the girl?”
“I will give her to Olaf as a wedding present.”
“Is he not to be wed tonight?”
“Nay, tomorrow. He is a man of great appetite, my son. You can pick from all the others in my house for your own entertainment.”
“Aye, Father,” Mykyl said.
Amoda lost the last whispers of music and laughter as she followed the three men deeper into the castle. Massive tapestries stitched in many fashions and colors hung from the halls. Some of them painted while others woven with vibrant, bright colors. Several bore the palpable stains of blood. With each step, Amoda felt sickened by them, by the tales of battles, of royal lines cut short. No pity lay within King Tyr, no mercy for those he had massacred or for the kingdoms he destroyed as easily as one would squash a bug. Screams and pleas for mercy echoed within her as she remembered the fall of her own world. Her mother, two sisters, and a brother had all fallen before Tyr’s sword that day.
“He will be wed tomorrow and our allegiance with Aedh Aherne will be set.”
“And what of her?”
“My son will surely enjoy his prize. You have followed my instructions?”
“She is as whole as the day you saw her, Lord Tyr. I am most assured that Prince Olaf will enjoy her talents.” Rognvaldr bowed slightly to the King.
Amoda clenched her teeth as she listened to their discussion. For all intents and purposes, she could be part of the livestock from what she heard. Rognvaldr had taught her two things. One, a touch meant pain no matter how simple it may be. Two, never surrender. To surrender meant to endure worse punishment than her struggles. Subservient but not weak. Olaf liked a bit of fight in his women.
Like an unwanted ghost, memories flooded her mind. The sensation of his fingers probing her most secretive of places, the hard press of his erection in her back, a hard hand over her mouth as he crushed her breasts—all of these memories haunted her. Those feelings, those memories were harder to push away than the recollection of beatings.
Loud, boisterous laughter brought her head up. Before them and filled to capacity, stretched the great hall. Men in fine clothes sat drinking around a large, scarred wooden table. Small groups of women in formal dress spoke in hushed tones and clustered together in the corners of the room. Women and girls scurried around the room, pouring ale and serving platters of meat. They showed no emotion at the lewd remarks and pawing from the men. They worked steadily and without comment or expression.
At the front of the room, two large chairs sat on a dais flanked on either side by smaller, less ornate chairs. Sitting in one of the chairs, a large, heavy-set man with a flowing beard observed the activity with icy disdain. His thin, pale hair disappeared into the heavy cloak about his shoulders. The cloak covered his shoulders, but did little to hide the sweat-stained under-tunic he wore.
“The Prince seems to be enjoying himself greatly.” Rognvaldr glanced at the front of the room then to the king at his side.
“He will certainly enjoy himself tonight.” Tyr winked at his son.
Amoda inwardly fumed at the casualness, their callous disregard for her in their conversation. In their wisdom, they’d decided her fate.

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