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Lord Demon's Delight
By Gia Dawn
Samhain Publishing LtdCopyright © 2007 Gia Dawn
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Is that her?" Snapdragon asked.
Three heads bent low over the still pool of water.
"Yes," answered Rose.
"Can't be her," Pansy butted in. "She's got red hair. I know for a fact he can't stand red hair. You'll have to find another one."
Rose frowned and glared at Pansy. "It's her."
"She's scrawny," Pansy stated, leaning back and balling her hands on her hips. "He doesn't like scrawny."
"I don't care what he likes." Rose looked back into the water. "This is the right one."
All three heads bent down again to study the scene. The young woman stood with her face against the wall while her father whipped her with a length of willow stick.
"What's that nasty man doing?" Snapdragon demanded. "Is he beating her?"
"Yes." Rose sighed.
"Why, I'll ..." Snapdragon raised her hand and started to plunge it into the pool.
Pansy smacked the other's hand away "You can't do that! It's in the Charter. Number 75. 'No blasting, blazing or bolting unless in danger of death or dismemberment'."
"Who made you in charge of the rules? Too many damned rules, I say." Snapdragon kept her eyes glued to the pool. "Can't I at least singe him a little?"
The man continued to strike the lovely red-haired girl. She stood utterly still, defiant, refusing to run or cower.
"Maybe just a bit," Rose agreed, turning to look at Snapdragon. "But nothing fancy. Not like the last time. It took us five generations to straighten that one out."
"All right, all right." Snapdragon rolled up her sleeves and smiled delightedly. "What shall it be? Seizures? Convulsions? Plague?"
"Plague?" Pansy glared at Rose. "See what you've done? She can't do anything small ... has to be death and destruction all the time."
"Enough!" Rose's yell instantly silenced the others. "Give him a headache, boils or a good case of some stomach nasty and be done with it."
"Can I give him all three?"
"If you must."
"Oh, good." Snapdragon raised her hand again, wiggled her fingers and sank them into the water to close around the figure of the man. He immediately slapped a hand to his head and doubled over to vomit on the floor.
"Nice work," Pansy grudgingly conceded, watching as the girl took advantage of the situation and stumbled hastily from the room. "That ought to last him a few days at the least. Are you sure she's the one?" she asked again. "He really doesn't like red hair, you know."
"I know, dear, I know." Rose stirred the water into a frenzy and the scene disappeared from view.
One grand morning-in the perhaps not so grand kingdom of Westmyre-Lord Llewellyn Dunmore rode through the gates of Marshton under the misguided assumption that this would be another ordinary day in another wretchedly ordinary town.
The sun shone warm on his shoulders, the wind blew cool on his face and the villagers stopped whatever they were doing, spit superstitiously on the ground as he passed and made the sign of the cross to ward off his evil presence. Llew paid them not the slightest bit of attention. His mind was on more important matters.
He scratched his balls beneath his breeches, their heavy weight a painful reminder of why he had ridden so far from home-food, drink and several nights of pleasure wrapped in the arms of his very favorite whore. He smiled in anticipation, the vulgar grin sending another peasant fleeing to the opposite side of the street.
He had almost made it past the church when he heard voices raised in anger.
"I will not marry him!" The woman shouted from the other side of the open door. "I would rather marry a Demon of Dunmore."
Llew sighed and turned his mount around. If the woman was so determined to summon him, it was the least he could do to answer.
"You will obey your father, Jessaline!" An older woman's voice shouted even louder than the first. Her words were followed by the sound of a slap and the shuffle of movement across the floor.
Llew frowned as he tied up his mount and scratched the beast behind the ears. "Wait here, I'll be right back," he promised, bolting up the stone steps to lean against the doorway and survey the scene inside.
The reticent bride stood stiffly, one hand pressed to the side of her face where an angry welt was already beginning to appear.
Llew thought it must be her mother who stood and waggled a finger before the younger woman's nose. "The Dunmores are a thrice cursed lot who never marry, and this latest lord is bastard born just like all the others."
"So is Timon," Jessaline replied, "or have you all forgotten his father is the bishop."
When the old woman raised her hand again, Llew stepped from the shadows. "At your service, Jessaline," he said, striding into the room. "You called?"
There was absolute silence in the church as both women gaped at him in astonishment. The mother moved to cower behind the priest, a look of horror etched upon her face. The fat priest genuflected hastily. Only Jessaline stood firm, gazing at him in open awe as he knelt and took her hand.
"Are you really a demon of Dunmore?" Llew marveled at the woman's audacity. She had no right to sound so skeptical. After all, he was here at her bequest.
"Llewellyn Dunmore, at your service." He rose and studied her. It didn't take him long to notice she wasn't right for him at all. She was tall, he preferred petite. Her haunches were long and lean, while he liked short and plump-more flesh to hold on to when the ride got rough and bumpy.
And her hair-shite-her hair was red, that most blighted of all colors. Flaming red, silken red that fell in a rope across one shoulder. He should have known it when he first heard her speak. Obstinate. Stubborn. Qualities he avoided in women at all cost.
Excerpted from Lord Demon's Delight by Gia Dawn Copyright © 2007 by Gia Dawn. Excerpted by permission.
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