Cain made good on his threat. Savea refused to go without a fight, so he had her bound and gagged. Then one of Dixon’s men took her by the rope around her wrists and dragged her along as they left Vremore. Savea struggled all the way, digging her heels into the dirt as she pulled back on the rope, the gag in her mouth, stopping her from screaming and cussing.
After twenty minutes of dragging her, Dixon looked back and watched one of his men try to lift the princess up over his shoulder so he could carry her, and they might move faster. Savea put up a fight as he tried to pick her up. She swung her bound hands and struck him in the jaw then kicked him hard in the groin. Hard enough that he doubled over in pain, and all the other men cringed in sympathy.
Furious, the man recovered quickly then stood up and punched Savea hard in the face knocking her out cold and dropping her to the ground. He stood over Savea’s limp body and growled down at her. Dixon walked over to them casually and looked down at the unconscious woman lying in the dirt. A bruise was already starting to form on her jaw. Dixon turned and looked at the man who had struck her. “Do you feel better?” He asked.
“Yeah.” The man admitted.
“Good.” Dixon smiled and then drew his sword and drove it into the man’s belly all the way through and out his back. The man’s eyes widened with surprise as he coughed up blood and looked down at the mortal wound. Dixon pulled the sword from the man’s body and watched him fall, hitting the ground at Dixon’s feet dead. Dixon sighed as she sheathed his sword once more. “I am only going to say this once. No man in my kingdom will ever strike the future Queen. Any man who does will be executed promptly. Have I made myself clear?” He asked, looking around at all the men. Every man nodded. “Good now, someone pick up the princess, and someone else drag that sorry sack of bones back so that his family may send him to the afterlife.”
They continued their journey home. It was a long walk, but they walked quite quickly. It was the dead of night when they reached the palace. As he walked through the palace, he barked orders at the servants to prepare a room for Savea. He had not expected to bring her home with him, so he had not prepared a place for her. The servants ran ahead to prepare the room next to his in the private chambers. It was not unheard of for husbands and wives not to keep the same room. Dixon was not interested in this union, but when he got the itch, he would visit her chambers and then return to the comfort of his own bed.
Personally, Dixon preferred slave girls. They had to do whatever he wished, and he had very particular tastes that proper women could never satisfy. But since she had to give him an heir Savea would have to bear his touch until she bore him a son. It was her wifely duty and his husbandly right. They reached the room as the servants rushed to finish preparing it. Dixon ordered his man to put Savea on the bed. He dropped her on the feather mattress and then gave Dixon an apologetic look for having dropped her so carelessly. Dixon drew his dagger and cut the rope from her wrists. He then removed her gag, and they all left the room. Dixon took the iron key from the servant and locked Savea in her chambers, then he slipped the key into his pocket and dismissed everyone. He was utterly drained and required a few hours of sleep before he dealt with Savea.
When Savea woke the next morning, it was with a sore jaw and to find herself alone in a large chamber. She jumped out of bed and ran to the door. She tried to open it, but it was locked. She rushed to the window and looked out to find she was far too high up to jump. Realizing she was trapped, she sat on the foot of the bed and looked around at the room that was now her prison.
It looked very much like her own at home. It had all the same furnishings: a bed, a table with chairs, a water barrel, some shelves on the wall, a wardrobe which she assumed was empty at the moment. There was a wooden washtub and a barrel with washing water. There was a stack of firewood near the fireplace and an iron pot for warming water for the bath. Well, at least she was not chained up in a dungeon somewhere.
Savea stood up and walked around the room, trying to find something she could use as a weapon. When Dixon came for her, she would make him sing for his supper. She picked up the iron fire poker and swung it. It was heavy, and the point at the end could penetrate a skull and kill a man. This would do. Savea swung it around like it were sword to get a good feel for her weapon of opportunity. Suddenly she heard the key in the lock. She rushed to the door and pressed her back against the walk, hoping to go unseen. She would bash him in the skull and then run.
Seconds later, the door opened, and Dixon let himself in. Savea swung the poker and Dixon noticed her at the last minute. He jumped back, narrowly missing the blow from the poker. Savea rushed for out the door, but Dixon grabbed her from behind and dragged her back into the room. He kicked the door shut and hauled her to the bed. He nearly had her, but she elbowed him hard in the gut. He grunted, but he did not release her. Savea turned the poker around and jabbed the end hard into his side.
Dixon swore and released her. Savea spun around, swinging the fire poker. Dixon’s hand came up quickly, and he caught the poker by the shaft before she could strike him with it. Angry his other hand came up to hit her and Savea twisted missing the blow, her free hand captured his wrist and then spun around pulling the poker from his grip, she then faced him once more holding the fire poker as she would a sword and took her fighting stance.
“Are we really going to do this?” He asked her as he walked toward her. She offered him a devious smile, and he grinned back as though pleased by her defiance. “Alright, then.” He said, drawing his sword. “Let’s do this.” He lifted his sword and then took his fighting stance. Savea attacked. Their weapons clashed, and he pushed her back. She came at him again. Savea was seeing first hand that Dixon was a fierce fighter. But she had the feeling he was toying with her. She rushed him, and they clashed again. She pushed, trying to gain ground, and he laughed. “You are damn good at this.”
“I had a good teacher.” She growled, swinging upward and punching him in the face. His head snapped back, and then he looked at her, and she saw his jaw twitch as he processes the pain she had just inflicted on him.
He looked her in the eyes and Savea saw fire. With one hand on his sword, the other reached up, grabbed her by the back of the head, fisting his fingers in her hair. He pulled her forward forcefully, and his mouth crushed against hers. His tongue dove into her mouth as he kissed her hard. Savea was so shocked by his kiss she froze. She did not know what to do. His lips lifted from hers, and he looked her in the eyes. “This is going to be fun.”
Savea smiled, and the jammed the poker in his groin. His smile was instantly gone; he cried out in pain and doubled over. She glared down at him as he dealt with the pain. “Touch me again, and I will make damn sure you will never be capable of using that part of your anatomy again. Are we clear?”
Dixon just groaned, still in too much pain to do anything. He took a moment to breathe and then stood up tall and glared down at her. “You do not fight fair.”
“I am half your size, and you think this is a fair fight.” She laughed. Then she kicked him in the shin and threw the poker on the floor. “I am leaving.”
She turned and stormed to the door. Dixon came up behind her, and both his arms circled her waist as he lifted her off her feet. Savea struggled to get free but could not as he carried her to the bed and threw her on the mattress. She rolled over to see him standing over her. He then lifted his tunic off over his head and threw it aside. “You need to make peace with the fact that you belong to me now, and it is my right to have you.”
Savea could not take her eyes off his body. He was all rippled muscles with a dusting of dark hair on his broad chest. God, he looked amazing. Her eyes drifted lower to the canvas trousers riding low on his hips, drawing the eye to a part of him that excited her. She had to admit the idea of him taking her was slightly thrilling. Then she recalled he was a sadist and she quickly changed her mind.
Dixon knelt on the bed leaning over her. Savea placed her hand on his chest, holding him at bay. “You have no right to me, not until we take our vows, which I have no intention of taking.” She smiled sweetly. “I think it might hinder your peace agreement if my Grandfather finds out you raped me.”
That did it. Dixon climbed off the bed and glared down at her. “Well played.” He said, picking up his tunic. “You are a clever one I will give you that. Very well, I will wait until we are married. Then I will have you, and I will not be denied.”
“I will never marry you. I do not care what my grandfather says. The marriage is not valid without my consent. Which I will never give, no matter how long you keep me trapped in this room.”
“We will see about that.” He growled and pulled his tunic back on. Savea watched him storm out of the room and slammed the door. She heard the lock slip into place, and she knew he had locked the door again.
Dixon stormed out of the room and slammed the door. He locked it and tucked the key in his pocket. He stomped down the hall. As he walked, he passed one of his girls. Dixon kept himself a harem of pretty young slave girls. It was an idea he had gotten on one of his trips abroad. It was perfect for him. Savea had gotten him worked up, and now he had some sexual tension he needed to work off as he walked past the girl, he grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to his room. She was not Savea, but she would have to do. The best thing about slaves was they could not tell him no.
Savea paced back and forth. She was so bored and hungry. No one brought her food and Savea was starting to wonder if Dixon had given orders to starve her as punishment for telling him no. She stopped when she heard the door unlock. Had he come back to try again. She picked up the fire poker off the floor where she had dropped it hours ago. She was ready to bash his skull in if she had too.
The door opened, and Savea swung. A woman screamed, and Savea stopped herself last minute. The woman stared at her with shock. She was much older than Savea, probably in her early 30’s. In her hands was a tray of food. Savea was confused because she was not dressed like a servant. Her hair was done up, and her frock was beautiful. She, on the other hand, was very average, Savea would not say she was unattractive, but she was no great beauty.
“You are not going to hit me w-w-with th-th-that poker, are you?” The woman asked. Savea was surprised she stuttered. She had never met anyone who spoke that way.
Savea lowered the poker and offered the woman a sheepish smile. “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.” Her gaze dropped to the tray of food in the woman’s hands. “Is that for me?” Please say that was for her.
“Yes.” The woman said, carrying the tray to the table. Savea looked at the open door to see a warrior posted as a guard outside her door. He reached in and pulled the door shut. Even if she could get out of the room, she could not get out of the palace with Dixon’s goons watching for her. Savea sat down at the table and began to eat with haste. “My name is Kerrigan.” She introduced herself.
“I am Savea. Are you part of the King’s harem?” Savea had heard the stories about Dixon; they said he had something the men called the King’s girls.
The woman laughed. “Me, one of Dixon’s girls?” So, he did have one. “Look at me; I am not his t-t-type. Besides, Dixon is my brother.”
Savea was confused. She had no idea at all there was a princess. She had only ever heard about the King. As far as she had known, he was an only child. “I did not know he had a sister.” She commented as she broke off a piece of bread and popped it into her mouth.
“Th-th-that does not surprise me.” She said as she took the seat across the table from Savea. “I believe I am the best-kept secret is Grangely.”
“I w-w-would assume th-th-that w-w-was obvious. I am not w-w-wanted because I am simple.” Kerrigan said ashamed. “Men do not w-w-want me.”
Savea looked Kerrigan over. “You do not look simple?”
“Th-th-that is sweet of you t-t-to say, but you can hear it w-w-when I speak.” She said, looking down at her hands.
“Stuttering does not mean you are stupid.”
Kerrigan smiled. “You and Dixon w-w-would be th-th-the only ones w-w-who believe th-th-that.”
“I take it then that you are not married?”
“No,” Kerrigan said sadly. “As I said, no man w-w-would have me.” That was sad what a lonely life this woman must have had. “It is so nice t-t-to meet you, Savea. W-w-when my brother t-t-told me he had brought back a w-w-wife I w-w-was so excited t-t-to have another female in th-th-the palace t-t-to t-t-talk t-t-to.”
Savea felt bad for this woman; she seemed so lonely for companionship of any kind. “I am sure you are a wonderful person, but your brother is not, and I do not intend to stay.”
Kerrigan seemed confused. “But I th-th-thought you t-t-two w-w-were intended?”
“I agreed to nothing. The agreement was between your brother and my grandfather. I had no say on the matter. It is a deal I refuse to honour.”
“Oh.” The heartbroken look on Kerrigan’s face made Savea feel so bad. “Because of Dixon?”
“He is a villain,” Savea said.
“He can come off th-th-that w-w-way I agree, but I promise you th-th-that Dixon is not a bad person. He has a gruff, abrasive personality, but underneath, he is a loving and caring man.”
“Not from the stories I have heard.”
“Either you can believe rumours from his enemies, or you can believe someone w-w-who has known him all th-th-their life. Stories are not always accurate.” She supposed that Kerrigan made a valid point. Stories often were embellished. Still, she chose to believe them because he had given her no reason not to.
Savea tensed when she heard the lock again. The door opened, and Dixon stepped in. He seemed surprised to see Kerrigan seated at the table with Savea. “What are you doing here?” He demanded in that harsh tone he always had.
His tone did not seem to phase Kerrigan; she was completely unworried about his temper. “Visiting my new sister.”
He stared at his sister, but she just smiled sweetly at him, and that was when Savea saw his expression soften, but only momentarily. It was a brief glimpse at a man she had not thought she would see. His expression hardened once more, and he nodded to the door. “Leave us.” He ordered.
Kerrigan rose to her feet and smiled at Savea. “W-w-we w-w-will have t-t-to do th-th-this again.” Savea just offered the woman a smile. There was not going to be a next time. As soon as she could get out of this room, she was as good as gone. Kerrigan walked to the door and then she paused at her brother’s side. “Be nice.” She whispered as she walked out the door. Dixon waited for the door to close behind his sister, and Savea heard the lock slid into place once more, and she knew she was sealed in yet again.
“Do you intend to attack me again?” She asked.
“You started that. I had just came by to see how you were faring after the punch you took.”
“You threw me on the bed, intent on molesting me.”
His lips curved in a wicked grin. “I admit I got excited. I do not often meet a woman who can hold her own in a fight as well as you can. It got the blood flowing.”
“Are you a masochist?”
He chuckled. “No, quite the opposite.”
“You are a sadist?”
His smile grew. “I would not say that… not exactly.”
“Then, exactly, what is it?”
“It is complicated.”
“I like control. It excites me.” He said. “I control everything and everyone around me. When that control is threatened, it makes me angry. When I get angry, I lash out, and people get hurt.”
“From what I hear, you get angry a lot.”
“It is something I need to improve; I confess.” He walked over and took the seat his sister had vacated. “You are here because your grandfather suggested we get to know each other. I suggest we do just that.”
“I have no interest in getting to know you. I do not care what my grandfather promised you. Without my consent, this union will never happen.”
“I think you need to reconsider your position on the matter.”
“Why do you want to marry me?”
He looked surprised by the question. “Because your mother is already married.”
“And why would you want to marry my mother?”
“I do not wish to marry anyone, but sometimes politics require sacrifice. I want peace. I want my people to prosper once more. To accomplish this, I must unite the clans. Nothing unites clans like a marriage.” She supposed that his logic made sense. “If hostilities continue, more of my people will suffer and die. If hostilities continue, more of your people will suffer and die. As King, I have a moral responsibility to do what is best for my people. As a princess, you have the same responsibility. If you have any love or loyalty to your people, you will honour your grandfather’s agreement.” Dixon stood up to leave, but he paused a moment. “I am not saying you need to be thrilled about marrying the enemy, but the marriage does not have to be unpleasant unless you make it so. I will leave you with your thoughts.”
Savea watched as Dixon walked out the door, and she heard it lock once more.