He was truly f**ked.

“We were all born in-“ Liam began, but Tristan cut him off, refusing to allow one more second to pass without finding out about the only thing that mattered to him.

“Are you here to harm my wife?” he demanded, ignoring Marty’s startled gasp and the few muttered curses that exploded around the room, keeping his eyes locked on the man that he’d already determined to be the leader of this group.

“No,” Liam said, sighing heavily as he shifted back in the chair. “We’re here to protect her and the boy.”

“What boy?” Marty asked, moving to sit up, but a gentle touch from Tristan had her lying back down. There was no doubt in his mind that if she tried to sit up right now that she would either pass out or make herself sick. She was ghostly white, her skin was cool to the touch and she couldn’t seem to stop trembling even with the thick blanket tucked in around her.

Biting back a grimace of pain, he leaned over and grabbed the blanket folded on the back of the couch and pulled it over Marty. She sent him an annoyed look even as she grabbed the edge of the extra blanket and pulled it up to her chin. He was grateful when several of the men suddenly appeared around the couch and started fussing over Marty, adding a third blanket and tucking her in. When they were done they disappeared just as quickly as they had appeared and returned to their respective spots in the room.

“We’re here to ensure that ye and yer son get the chance to live a long and happy life, Macha,” Liam explained softly.

Marty’s grip on his leg tightened past the point of pain, which was a blessing since it took his attention away from the agonizing pain shooting down his arm. “What about Tristan?” she asked even though she probably already knew the answer. He knew Marty well enough to know that she needed to hear it before she could accept it.

After a slight pause, Liam confirmed his suspicions. “He can’t stay, Macha.”

“Stop calling me that!” she snapped, her voice cracking and this time when he tried to stop her from sitting up, she shoved his hand away.

“Marty, relax,” he said, putting his good arm around her and pulling her against him. She tried to fight him, but she was too tired to do anything more than to shove weakly at him. Once he had her tucked into his side, she gave up and simply curled up against him, her head on his shoulder as she laid her hand against his chest, careful of his old wound.

“They’re not taking you,” she said stubbornly, her voice breaking as she tried to stay calm, but this was too much for her.

“I’m taking you upstairs,” he said, fully expecting her to put up a fight so when she merely nodded against his shoulder he was a little surprised, but apparently the other men in the room weren’t.

“Ye can’t escape, lass,” Quinn said with a shrug.

“There’s no use in trying, lass. We’ll just find ye,” Finn added softly.

“If ye leave without our protection, ye won’t last another night, Lass,” Declean explained.

“I-I wasn’t going to try and run,” Marty said, but Tristan knew her well enough to know that she was lying her beautiful ass off.

“Every time we have this talk, ye always try to escape,” Fergus pointed out.

“And it never works out well, lass. So do us all a favor and just let Liam tell ye what ye need to know,” Quinn said, gesturing lazily to the man.

“How do you know that it’s a boy?” Marty asked, changing the subject, but not letting it go. There was no doubt in his mind that she was even at this moment trying to figure out how they were going to get away from these men.

They weren’t

Well, at least he wasn’t. The first opportunity that he had, he was sending her away and Shayne, the betraying bastard, was going to take care of her. He didn’t know how he was going to do it yet, but he’d figure something out.

“I think that it would be best if we started from the beginning,” Liam said in a hard tone that let them know the time for asking questions was over. Knowing that they didn’t have much of a choice and needing time to figure out a way to sneak Marty out of the house, Tristan nodded.

“As I’m sure ye’ve figured out, we’re all brothers,” Liam began and Tristan didn’t need any clarification to know that Liam included him in that group, but he added it anyway. “All of us are yer brothers, Tadgh.”

“We were all born in Ireland a long time ago,” Liam continued only to be interrupted by Marty.

“How long is a long time ago?” she asked, shifting until she was snuggled up tightly against his side. She sounded calm, but the slight trembling of her voice gave her away. She was terrified and it killed him that there was absolutely nothing that he could do about it.

“We’re not entirely sure of the date,” Shayne admitted with a shrug.

“For several generations our family managed to rule our own lands and live in relative peace without drawing the attention of our king,” Liam began as Tristan noted that all the men but one either looked down at his feet or looked away as if the action would save them from this conversation. Shayne kept his gaze locked on Tristan, looking terrified and resigned to the fate that awaited Tristan as the story continued.

“Our Da’ died shortly before ye were born, Tadgh, leaving it up to us to protect ye and Ma and do whatever it took to keep our lands. Things were different back then and it wasn’t unheard of for a lad to take over the job of a man.”

“By the time Da’ died, most of us had already been doing a man’s work and using a sword to protect our land, but we were still just lads. That attracted a lot of unwanted attention by men that would do anything to have what we had. Without that land we would have had no way to provide for ye and for Ma so we did what we had to do to keep it.”

Shayne smoothly cut in, taking over. “When we weren’t taking turns patrolling our land or working, we were training. Sometimes we’d get lucky and we could barter with a trained soldier needing to cross our lands or needing a meal in exchange for more training.”

“But that wasn’t enough,” Declean explained, taking over. “We needed to keep our people loyal and that was difficult to do with only a handful of lads left to protect them so we each took a turn selling our oaths to whichever king was willing to pay and train us to be mercenaries.”

“Three of us at a time would leave and go train while the rest would protect the land, our people and ye and Ma. When we were done we’d share what we learned and switch places,” Finn said, taking over and sounding as though he were reciting a well-learned part in a play. “By the time that ye were becoming a man our reputation alone protected our lands.”

Tags: R.L. Mathewson Cursed Hearts Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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