The Tunsey Men #2
by Wendy Stone
And so is she. Victoria Arrington dislikes not being treated as an equal to men.
But under the rough exterior and ragged clothes is a beauty well worth the fight. Can he win her love and keep his skin?
Release Date: April 10, 2011
Genre: Historical | Fairy Tale Retelling
In the forest, just outside the village gates, a young lad sat upon a tree limb, his bow in his hands, an arrow notched and pulled, ready to fly. He kept his eyes on the prey he’d chosen, a fine looking buck with a rack to be proud of. Waiting for the perfect shot, he controlled his breathing and was just about to let the arrow fly when the buck jumped, a feathered projectile protruding from his side.
“Well, fuck me,” the boy growled, his voice sounding very young and somewhat girlish. “Who’s poaching on my deer?”
Letting the string relax, keeping the arrow notched, he easily dropped from the tree limb, his eyes on the surrounding area.
“Nice shot, Mall,” Safford said, slapping his brother on the shoulder. “Lisette will enjoy the taste of a venison roast.”
“He should feed us well for quite some time,” Mall grinned, agreeing with his brother. It had been a good shot. He kept walking toward where the buck now laid, his side heaving in pain from the wound.
“What the…” he growled, when a young boy came out of the tree almost on top of him. The boy was short, with dark curly hair and big blue eyes surrounded by feminine looking lashes. There was enough dirt on the lad to replant a field and his hair looked as if someone had taken a knife to it and just chopped off bits and pieces to keep it out of his eyes.
“Get out of the way, boy. We’ve got men’s work to do.”
“That deer is mine,” the boy said, standing his ground and raising his bow towards the men. “I’ve been stalking it for over an hour.”
“It was my arrow that done the deed, boy,” Mall snapped, tiring of the boy’s interference. He was just plain tired after the problems of the day. “Stand aside.”
“No,” the boy snapped. “I’m not letting you take that meat.”
Mall chuckled even as Safford rolled his eyes at the orneriness of the boy’s reply. “And what’ll a little thing like you do about it?”
Safford bent over suddenly, grabbing his shin. “Damn me, but the little bugger just kicked me,” he growled.
Mall was letting out a curse of his own, barely ducking the bow that came flying out towards him. “Whoa.” He stepped back, watching as the young boy took up a stance with the bow that was threatening. Mall put out his hands, palms up, trying to soothe the youth. “Take it easy, youngin’. Ain’t no reason to throw such tantrums. How about we give you a leg to take home to your folks?”
“It’s my deer. I’m taking it all,” the boy snarled.
“How are you planning on getting it home, boy? There’s no way you’re going to be able to lift that deer, it weighs more than you do.”
“That’s none of your concern. You’re poaching on the king’s lands and killing his deer.” He stood straighter, relaxing his guard some. His eyes were riveted upon Mall. “You leave now and I won’t report you to King Maxim.”
Safford tapped the boy on his shoulder, waiting until he turned, surprised by the sudden appearance of the man. Saff let his fist fly, catching the boy on the chin and watching as he went down instantly.
“Saff, damn man, what are you doing?” Mall dropped his bow, hurrying over to the boy. He put his hand on the boy’s face checking his chin. “You could do serious damage, you idiot.”
“I pulled the punch, I barely touched him.” Saff grinned. He watched as Mall checked his breathing and the bump that grew on his chin. “Bugger it, Mall, quit mother-henning him. He kicked me.”
Mall rested his hand on the boy’s chest, making sure it rose and fell. His eyes narrowed and he moved his hand on the slender youth. “Fuck me, it can’t be,” he growled.
“What can’t be?” Saff said, Mall’s tone telling him something was amiss.
“This boy,” Mall said, staring up at his brother, “has tits.”
Safford sank down next to the boy that had tried to get between them and the deer Mall had shot, his hand reaching out and landing on a soft mound that was absolutely undeniable. “Damn, I hit a girl,” he said, shaking his head in disgust. “Glad I pulled the punch.”
“You may have pulled it, Saff, but she’s out like a light.”
“Maybe we should loosen her clothes,” Saff said, a smirking grin on his lips as he moved his hand over the breast he hadn’t released yet. “I mean, to make it easier for her to breathe.”
“Yeah, that’s what you meant,” Mall said in disgust, reaching out and taking Saff’s hand off the girl. “Quit molesting her. You already knocked her out.”
“It was an accident,” Saff declared, looking over at his brother who seemed fascinated by the difference of boyish looks and female body. “You think she’s pretty?”
“Can’t rightly tell with all the dirt on her face. Maybe we should take her back with us.” Mall glanced up at his brother, waiting for his approval.
Safford just shrugged. “Can’t leave her here to become varmint food, I guess. But don’t you think the king is going to be upset about having some girl poaching his deer?”
“Fuck me,” Mall groaned. “I didn’t think of that. Would King Maxim toss her in the dungeon for something like that?”
“Why you asking me?” Saff growled. “Do I look like I know what a king’s thinking?”
“Definitely not,” Mall muttered. “Half the time you hardly know what you’re thinking.” He easily ducked the fist heading his way. “Grab the deer,” he said finally. “We can’t just leave her here, so we might as well take her with us.”
Mall lifted the small woman into his arms, amazed by how light she was. He heard Saff yelling about how it was his kill and he should have to gut it. That surprised a laugh out of him. Saff hated blood and guts, and now, he had to cut open the deer and remove its innards before he could haul the thing to his shoulders to carry back to the castle. Mall definitely got the better of the deal.
Thinking that had him glancing down into the unconscious girl’s face. If you scraped off some of the filth, she wouldn’t be a bad looking little thing. Little was definitely the word for it. Standing, this scrape of a girl barely came to his chest. Maybe she weren’t through growing, he thought, smiling.