The Seventh and Final Book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bastards Series!
The seven bastard sons of Guillaume d'Anzeray are on a mission to find wives -- women to breed the next generation of a dark dynasty that many wish to see extinct. It won't be easy to find brides from among the Norman nobility, for the d'Anzeray are upstarts, their family's fortunes raised through bloodshed and violence. As one holy man and chronicler of their times has written, "From the devil they came and to the devil they will return". But these brothers don't care much for holy men or for what is written about them. Now, with the future of their bloodline at stake these mercenary warriors need wives and they have no scruples when it comes to claiming the women they desire.
Sal was in that top field, moving the fence posts back where they should be— she hadn't even bothered filling in the previous holes to try to cover her crime, he mused. Anyone might think she wanted to be caught and punished. Again, quite suddenly, he thought of that prime piece of arse flesh and how he would like to spank it.
He swung his mallet harder, taking out his energy on the fence posts.
As the morning sun beat down upon his bared back he worked on steadily without pause, not looking up even when he heard some of his workers muttering in surprise.
The only noise that stopped him was her voice.
Clear, calm and self-assured, she exclaimed, "I thought I'd find you up here."
He almost dropped the mallet on his foot. Flicking sweat from his hair, he looked up, eyeing her cautiously. "Why the Devil have you come up here?" She usually preferred there to be a gate or wall between them when they indulged in one of their arguments. Sal was always grateful for a barrier too, because sometimes he'd wondered what he might do to the woman if he had her within arm's reach.
Today, for some reason, she came out into the open. She looked smaller and, oddly enough, less dangerous without a barrier. But he was not deceived. She must have done something different to herself, he thought, staring. What was it? What had she done?
Clutching the mallet to his bare chest he straightened up, spat upon the ground and faced her. "What do you want? Come to argue about the bloody fence, eh?" He glanced at her hands to be sure she carried no weapon and then he looked over her head, checking for riders with bows and arrows. There were none.
Apparently she'd come out alone. Defenseless.
He took a step closer to the woman. "Well? Cat got your tongue?"
She blinked. "I came to negotiate."
"As two sensible adults, we ought to be able to reach a compromise."
"You're a woman," he pointed out. "There's only one sensible adult here."
He heard his men snicker.
Helene de Leon remained unmoved. She smiled icily. "May we talk alone? Just you and I? Or do you need an audience to perform?"
He considered this for a moment. What harm could she do to him? He suddenly realized what was different about her today.
She wore a clean gown, possibly her best— looked like costly material, soft woven cloth that would probably feel like butter. There was no stain or patched tear in sight.
Mayhap she was finally desperate and tired enough to concede some defeat. Good. If she was ready to put down her weapons, then he would too.
With one signal of his hand, he sent his men off and then they were alone on the grassy slope, with the soft summer breeze pulling at her gown and her wimple. Now that he stood still under the bright sun, the perspiration dried on his head and shoulders.
"Well, out with it then, wo— Lady de Leon."
She took a step toward him. "I want my two feet of field back."
"Mine. But I will give you something in return."
"Give me what?" Never negotiate with a woman, never. He could hear his father warning him, but today he wasn't particularly listening. He'd just got a sniff of violets and noticed that her eyes were a very unique color. Sal had never noticed before that they were almost mauve. A royal color, worn—according to law— only by the noblest of the land. Yet it was hers naturally. He let his eyes wander downward and saw her naughty, pointy nipples again through that thin, fine gown. Quickly he looked back at her face, remembering how she'd accused him of always talking to her breasts.
He found her lips smiling. For the first time in his memory.
"Put my fence back where it was," she said, "and I'll grant you a favor in return."
"Whatever you wish."
He stared, thinking he must have misheard, his ears playing wicked tricks upon him. She opened her pretty eyes wider. Not just pretty, he realized, horror-struck. They were stunning, two fields of wind-ruffled, summer lavender.
"What ails?" she demanded. "Surely you understand a simple trade. What would you take from me in return for two feet of land?"
His cock answered before he could, swelling instantly in his chausses and growing hard. Finally he found words. "What would you give me?" His voice sounded hoarse, and his tongue felt tight.
Head on one side she pretended to consider. "I will show you my hair."
Sal stared at the woman. "I want more than that."
"Then I want more than two feet of land."
He said nothing, his mind working in stunned, halting turns.
She sighed. "Showing you my hair is—"
"Not enough." He paused. She waited.
His men were already at the bottom of the slope, glad of a rest and eager for a mug of ale inside, rushing to get out of the heat.
He looked down at her again. "I want to smell it too."
A faint line appeared between her brows. "You want to smell my hair?"
He swung the mallet by his thigh, feeling stupid suddenly, like a shy boy. He nodded.
After a moment she looked over her shoulder to be sure his men were far enough away. "You will move the fence posts back?" she demanded. Sal nodded again, too tense to speak.
She regarded him with thoughtful, smoky eyes, scanning the width of his naked shoulder and then downward. Slowly. Sal began to feel slightly molested. Perhaps that's how she felt when he looked at her bubbies, he thought wryly.
"Very well," she said. Slowly she raised her hands to her head and began removing the widow's hood she always wore.