A Deed Wife, a fate no respectable woman wanted to face, yet the final battle at Culloden had changed the face of the world forever. With the aid of an ancient magic the rule of the English had been overthrown and now the clans ruled their newly held lands with an iron fist.
Tithes paid to the clans, towns and villages under the rule, taxes, wealth and goods all now filtered slowly north.
Amongst those tithes are the Deed Wives, women chosen from the families born south of the border to be slave like wives to the clans. A cruel practice that some believed steamed from centuries past, retribution for events that had been passed down through the ages. But the reality of the situation was this:
Women sent north to be slaves, bed mates, second wives with no legal status of their own. Their families held to good behavior via the threat to the women who already served their clan lords.
Marion was one of these women. Sent north by her father on the order of Callum Jacobs, summoned to be his deed wife she journeys north into a land ruled by strong hands, magic and the ways of the clans. Called to serve in the bed of a man whose dark countenance sends ripples of need and fear through her being.
Catching the eye of a member of the clans carries with it other risks, dangers she had not taken into account. With the internal power struggle of the clan she has been forced into, and the hatred against her people Marion must find a way to survive and learn to accept the desires that the dark clansman has awoken within her.
Her teeth caught in her bottom lip as her gaze moved back towards the door. What was he waiting for now? A little longer, just to see if she would panic and run? Or go crawling to him, in order to prove she knew her place within his household? Her nerves ate at the pit of her stomach until she could stand it no longer.
She swung her feet back out onto the floor and gave up her attempt to pretend to wait patiently for him. Marion paced slowly across the small room, eyes constantly moving back towards the only door. Yet as the time passed, he still didn't appear. Her hand closed on the door, her shoulders tensing as she started to slowly tug it open, freezing as a sound reached her ears.
Loud, rolling snores interspaced with soft grunts filled the air. He was snoring. That arrogant bastard had the nerve to be asleep after putting the fear of God into her.
How dare he treat me in such a manner! I'm human, I have feelings, and he just left me in here waiting for him to turn up without having the decency to let me know he'd be sleeping in another room!
For a moment, she didn't know whether to scream in anger or be thankful for the respite his sleep offered. Any break from the horror of him wanting to share a bed with her had to be a blessing.
Marion let her gaze wander over the sleeping form in the chair next to the fire once she moved past the door. Asleep, he didn't look quite so terrifying. The scowl had faded from his face, taking the edge from his appearance, and at last she could get a decent look at him without fear of his reaction.
High cheekbones, long dark hair and full lips. Even to Marion, he had a sensual quality. Her arms, remembering the strength of his grip, now couldn't help but tingle at the thought of softer touches, or even the same strong ones that she had enjoyed such a brief experience of. Would it really be so bad being his wife?
He would care for her, treat her with an odd sort of respect once he learned how she truly was. Then things would change. He would regret how he had treated her in this first day.
For a moment she could almost see it, the way things would be, before reality came crashing down about her shoulders with a loud and very messy clunk. "Stupid woman. You won't be his real wife; he's made that clear. You're just a Deed Wife, property. Nothing more." Marion hissed the truth at herself and shut the door as quietly as her anger would permit. How could she even think about looking forward to his touch? There had to be something wrong with her. He was a brute, a man who would use her for any means he so wished, and there was nothing she could do to prevent that. The law wouldn't help her; even her parents would return her into his care if she somehow made it back home. Despite all their cries for freedom, he, like so many others of the Clans, had taken her as a piece of property, and that was not something she could ever dare permit herself to enjoy. She dropped down onto the waiting bed; one she now knew she would sleep in alone, her teeth grinding with the growing annoyance at his attitude. Without seeming to care, or perhaps even realize what he was doing, he had pushed her from fear to anger to annoyance and a trace of regret without even speaking to her of his plans for the night. Bastard. Yet her body tingled at the thought of his touch. Would he hold her gently? Or force her into passions she had no control over? Gods, what was she thinking of? He was her Master in all but name, a creature that might well have powers that left her people quaking in fear, yet she couldn't help but recall the brief touch, the way he had looked at her before he had called her to service, those small things that had tempted the sleeping woman buried within her body. No, she didn't need this. She had other things to deal with way beyond the problems of a Highland man potentially sharing her bed. A whole new set of rules to learn, his ways, his likes and dislikes, such things took time and she would have so very little of that to spare. Sleep would help; she'd need the rest to face whatever he threw at her in the morning.