Her Dark Baron
Her Dark Baron, by Nadja Notariani © 05/23/2011
Wild wind lashed the black curls around her face, stinging her cheeks as she surveyed the rolling landscape. Standing defiantly in its biting path, Lady Mariel Hayes contemplated her next move.
"Oh, Father, I wish you were here", she sighed aloud, but the wind stole the words from her lips, just as Scottish raiders had stolen her father's life, leaving her alone in the world.
Edith, her old childhood nurse was the only soul remaining from her former life, for her mother had passed away when she was only a child. Her situation was bleak, for every land hungry Lord in Northumberland knew she must marry, and time was running out. Dread filled her at the thought of being wed to any of the noblemen who sought her hand. Especially the cruel, aging Baron Harold Flanders.
He was more than twice her twenty years, and thrice her girth easily. Even now, he sat in her father's great hall, squandering the diminishing supplies, feasting upon the little she had at her disposal. He meant to wait her out, for he knew as well as she that her father's wealth would only pass to her once she married, and then, her husband would control her fortune, her lands, and her life.
Baron Flanders' influential hand reached far and wide across the moorlands, and Mariel was certain no one would interfere on her behalf now that his intentions were known. Refusing to accept his offer would only incite him to cruelty once he snared her, but Mariel determined to resist, praying for a miracle.......
The Dark Baron........
"It would appear that I have arrived just in time, Flanders, to protect my husbandly rights."
All three heads snapped around to stare at the imposing figure leaning casually against the doorway's supporting beam.
"Take a final look at her if you must, for if ever your eyes alight upon what is mine after this day, know that I will disembowel you where you stand. You will die watching the birds feast upon your flesh."
The foreboding man straightened to his full height, a smile playing on his lips.
"You may unhand the girl."
Mariel, free from her tormentors yet still terrified, sought to hide beneath the table, but the tall, dark stranger gently halted her retreat.
"Are you unharmed?" his baritone voice questioned as he turned her face, checking for injury.
"He...They...You saved me, Sir," she stammered before Harold Flanders broke in.
"By what authority do you claim the girl as your property? I've already made my intention to wed her plain," Flanders challenged boldly, but his ashen face and tremulous speech betrayed his fear.
"By your sovereign's, King Charles," came the flat reply.
"You mercenary bastard!," Flanders spat. "What murderous deed did the Devil of Daltrey - Hell's own Hound - perform to warrant such favor!"
Gervase Daltrey, the Baron of Ayleshind, laughed sardonically.
"Temper, temper, man. My blood lust has not been sated this day. Take your leave, and live another day."
Making his way out of the great hall, Harold Flanders paused between the two men, not daring to face Lady Mariel, but addressing her.
"It's the devil's wife you'll be girl. I'll take my pleasure knowing you'll curse the day your so called savior kept you from my bed.....If ever you live so long."
Mariel froze as the identity of the man who claimed to be her betrothed registered in her mind.
The Hound of Hell.
Heaven help her! She had prayed for a miracle, but the devil had come instead.
I hope you enjoyed the selections posted. ~ Nadja