“If you are asking me to fuck you, Diana, the answer is yes. Now, please.”
She giggles and I close my eyes to absorb the precious sound. “Later, I promise. I just wanted you to know, before we go to the village, that people might react to you in fear, but it’s because they don’t know you’re the best man alive. It’s not because you’re scary, either. It’s because you’re so strong—”
“And they are weak cowards.”
“They were weak cowards to sacrifice a girl, Diana. I don’t care what they think of me. Only what you think, my mate.” I cup her soft cheek. “I hope they scream in terror.”
“That’s so romantic,” she whispers, kissing my thumb. “I love you.”
My cock is so heavy, it could pass as a deadly weapon, but I force myself to kiss her mouth softly and draw back. She isn’t the only one who wants to get this day over with. I want her back in my home, beneath me, warm, well fed and sleepy before dark.
“It’s going to be fine,” she murmurs, threading her fingers together with mine. “Let’s go.”
With a heavy weight in my chest, we begin our trek to the village. Unsurprisingly, the Farleys have changed their tune and instead of being insulting, they alternate between complimenting me and begging for their freedom. Diana and I pay them no attention. When we’ve reached the edge of town, I pull Diana behind me to shield her before we face the villagers. After these people tied her to a tree in a dark forest, I don’t trust them. Not even a little bit.
As we reach what appears to be a town square, people begin peeking out of their homes, mostly through curtains and around the sides of buildings. I spit at the ground. Cowards.
“Attention,” Diana shouts, waving her hands. “I need everyone’s attention, please. There is no danger. We’re here to help.”
People begin creeping out into the square, eyeing me with fear, the Farleys with curiosity. I stand with my fists poised to fight and guard Diana, in case one of them is stupid enough to lay a finger on what’s mine.
One man in particular is watching Diana a little too closely for my taste and I peel my lips back in a snarl. He wisely halts in his tracks. “Daughter,” he says, a quiver in his voice. “You are alive.”
“Alive and well,” she responds, lifting her chin. She gestures to the Farleys. “These are the men who have been ravaging the village. Not Ike.”
“Ike?” one of the women says. “You have named the beast?”
“He is not a beast!” Diana roars, making me burst with pride. “He is a man. My man. And he’s not responsible for your misfortunes. They are.” She points to the brothers who have quieted and begun to stew. “You are welcome to search their home for evidence, if Ike is kind enough to lead you there.” She looks up at me with admiration and my neck turns hot. “But I’ve only known this man for two days and he is far kinder and honorable than anyone in this town.”
“Daughter,” says Diana’s father, chancing a step forward until I growl him backward. “Two more cows were lost last night and that’s when we knew the sacrifice did not work. That we offered you for nothing.”
“And still you did not come to look for her?” I thunder, sending some of the weaker people scattering back to their homes. “You do not deserve such a treasure.”
“He speaks!” someone shouts. “The beast speaks!”
Diana gestures at that person with her middle finger.
“Come home, daughter,” her father pleads, dropping into a kneel. “I’m ashamed of how I treated my own flesh and blood. Forgive me and come home.”
My lungs seize up, fear turning my blood to ice. Whether I hate this man or not, the sincerity of his apology is clear. I have known Diana only two days while she has known her father a lifetime. How can she choose me?
My fear is for nothing, though.
Diana leans into my side and smiles up at me. “I found my home. With Ike.” She takes the rope holding the Farleys out of my hand and tosses it to a nearby man. “I think it’s about time we got back,” she says to me. “Don’t you?”
“Well past time,” I rasp, swallowing the jagged lump in my throat. She chose me. The most perfect being in the world chose me. I will be grateful to my very last breath and cherish her always. Every single moment of every single day.
Before we turn to leave, I pin her father with a stern look. “And she does have a very marketable skill. She is an excellent fisherwoman.” I snap my fingers. “Like lightning.”
Diana throws herself into my arms with a sob and I carry my sweet girl in my arms the rest of the way home where we immediately fall into our pallet, make love for hours, and plan our future.