Slumber Page 56

“Now, now,” he admonished and I shrunk back at the bright lust in his eyes. My stomach roiled and my lips trembled. Tears splashed down my cheeks. I knew why I was here. I choked on a sob and he grinned wider. “No tears, wife.” He shook his head, and his hand was back on me, touching me where no one had touched me before. I roared like an animal in his face and he flinched back in surprise. Then he gave a huff of laughter. “Good wife.”

“I’m not your wife!” I screamed through tears and snot. “Let me go, I’m not your wife!”

I was rewarded for my rebuttal with another heavy slap, across my right cheek this time. My teeth pierced through my lip at the impact and blood trickled slowly down my chin. I glared under my lashes at the Mountain Man, and watched incredulously as his eyes followed the blood. My heart stopped at the brightness in his gaze. The lust had deepened. I swallowed back a rush of vomit.

Mountain Man reached out and touched the blood wonderingly. “Yer ma wife,” he growled, pushing his face in mine. I closed my eyes, holding in my breath so I didn’t have to inhale the stink off him. “I find ye. Ye be ma wife.”

Brint had warned me, I shook. Brint had told me there were people out here gone crazy with the isolation.

“I’m goin’ huntin’. But I be back. I be gone a while. But I be back, wife. I be back and feed ye wife. And then ye be seeing to my husbandly needs.” He stroked himself and I turned away sharply, biting back screams and denials. Little whimpers escaped between my pinched lips.

I shuddered at the feel of his fingers soft on my face. Then they gripped hard, jerking my head around to face him. I didn’t have to open my eyes to know his face was inches from mine. His lips came down wet and hard on my mouth, his beard scratching my face as I struggled against him, my lips tightly closed. A large hand encircled my neck and squeezed. I gasped, giving him the opening he needed. His tongue forced its way into my mouth. I gagged on the foul taste of him, his rancid stench clogging my senses. No matter how much I jerked my head this way and that, he followed, his lips drinking me in like a fish gulping for air. The skin around my mouth was raw from his beard and wet from his fetid saliva. I was running out of air, close to hyperventilating when I felt his hand squeeze my breast.

Fury. Fury at myself and my stupidity. At this man, this Mountain Man who thought he could just take me like I was a deer in the woods. It coursed through me in an unthinking rush. Instinctively, I brought my tied hands up, suffusing as much strength and force into the upswing as I could, and nailed him between his legs.

He broke away from me with a strangled shout and fell back, clutching where only minutes before he’d been stroking. I immediately vomited on the crude wooden floors beside the pallet. The room now reeked with the vilest of human stench, and I emptied what was left in my stomach.

I struggled to draw breath, the room spinning around me. I had to get out of here. I had to.

I thought of my kidnapping by the Iavii people. Of Kir’s rookery gang. None of it had been so bad as this. Nothing this horrific had happened to me in a long time. I didn’t think anything could match watching my parents and brother die. But if I stayed here. If this man used me and broke me…

I sobbed, tears blinding me as I drew my tied hands down onto the floor and used my upper body to drag myself along the wood. The door was just there. I could get to it.

A bellow echoed around the shack and I was jerked back like a rag doll, thrown against the back wall of the hut, a sickening vibration shooting through my body as my head made impact. I slumped back on the pallet and watched through blurry eyes as the Mountain Man approached me, his face blazing with hatred, lechery and anger. I became a little more alert at the sight of the large hunting knife in his hand.

“Bad wife,” he growled, brandishing the knife at me. “Teach ye a lesson I will.”

I beat at him uselessly with my tied hands as he grabbed me by my shirt front to hold me. And then he tore the shirt open, revealing the curve of my br**sts.

“No!” I cried out and swung my hands back up, catching his jaw. The Mountain Man barely blinked.

“Yer goin’ to behave.” He pointed the knife right in my face and I glared back at him, ignoring the hot tears rolling down my cheek. I took deep breaths as he smiled at me. I let a shaky calm envelop me. If this was to be my end, then I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of enjoying my fear. I jutted my chin out defiantly.

The Mountain Man tut-tutted and gently placed the tip of the blade at the bottom of my throat. I shivered at the menacing cold touch as he gently drew it down my skin, scratching me, until he came to the rising curve of my left breast. The blade pressed deeper and I muffled a cry of shocked pain. He scored a shallow cut along the top of my breast, watching my expression the whole time. I felt blood trickle from my wound and clenched my jaw to keep from looking at what he’d done to me.

Mountain Man pulled the blade back, grinning the entire time, his eyes alight with excitement. The knife disappeared into a pouch on his hip and he stood up. He was huge. Massive. His entire shadow cast me into darkness in the shade of the shack.

He tugged at his trousers and licked his lips. “I like red on ye, wife. It’s good. When I get back, I be bedding ye ma wife. Bedding ye with a little more red.”

At that he abruptly turned and left, picking up some crude hunting gear I hadn’t seen before. It lay near the door. The door opened and I searched it greedily for a lock. It slammed shut behind him and I heard his footsteps disappear. Struggling to draw breath I heaved a sigh of relief, not only to be alone, but because… there was no lock on the door!

At his sudden departure, the realisation of what had just happened to me and was going to happen to me if I didn’t get out here, came rushing in like a storm against the cliffs in Silvera. Terrified sobs broke out of me in rib-cracking force, and I shook and shivered, damning my stupid pride and fear that had made me come up the mountains without Wolfe.

“Stop it,” I bit out angrily, impatiently brushing the tears from my face with the tips of my fingers. I couldn’t just sit here wallowing. I had to get out of here. The longer I stayed the more likely he would return. If that happened we were all doomed. Haydyn was doomed. I had to get to that plant. I had to get back to Haydyn. And when she was awake… I’d tell her all that had happened. All that I had discovered. That there was good and bad people all over our world; that background, upbringing, proximity to the Dyzvati evocation made no matter. I’d lived my life with blinkers on, convinced that my harsh jolt out of innocent childhood somehow made me wiser than the rest. But I wasn’t. I was still a child who’d only been thrust into womanhood on this journey. This journey to save Phaedra from losing the evocation. This journey that had taught me – I sucked in a painful breath – we didn’t need the evocation. What we needed was a stronger government. We needed to take care of our people no matter the province they belonged. The evocation wouldn’t change the issues that made people act out as soon as its strength waned. But perhaps a better governing of them could get us closer to fixing the issues. Getting closer to ridding the world of men like the one who had come upon me and taken me as if I were a body without a soul…

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