Snow Bound

Lore Weaver

Active Member
Bianca puled the door behind her and smoothed the wrinkles out i the smock that covered her. Her skin crawled and itched udder the peasant garment. She was, after al accustomed, to wearing the finest gowns, the fanciest jewelry and indulging all of the finest luxuries a royal upbringing offered.

But that had changed, right after her eighteenth birthday. Now she was cast out in the world, a hound sent on errand of retrieval, A humming from the folds of the smock drew drew her hand to a handheld mirror which she withdrew with a sigh, Fog swirled in the glass and coalesced into sharp, cold features that waited expectantly.
"I' am here," Bianca whispered to the reflection, "I should cross his path within the next few days."

The lips of the reflection twisted into a smile that shilled the marrow in her bones.


Name: Ashkell Levenworth, Crown Prince of Mirdrid
Age: 24
Sex: Male
Race: Human
Other: Birchem’s older twin

Name: Birchem Levenworth, Prince of Mirdrid
Age: 24
Sex: Male
Race: Human
Other: Ashkell’s younger twin

Name: Lord Lorcan Mavik, son of the Duke of Lewaf
Age: 25
Sex: Male
Race: Human
Other: Best friend of Ashkell


“Birchem! Birchem, slow down!” Crown Prince Ashkell Levenworth, the man who would one day rule the kingdom of Mirdrid… looked dumb. There was no other word for it! He was floundering around in the bushes on a horse that would not be controlled while his brother raced away to catch that stupid buck. His brother, the scandal of the castle and bumbling idiot, was going to catch that beautiful creature! He shouldn’t have trusted Birchem when the second prince told him that this new grey courser was far superior to his old beast and that he, being the leader of the hunt, should have the better horse

Whenever Prince Birchem used that tone Ashkell knew to be wary, but he had been distracted--he had had an argument with his lady love and he was trying to think of a way to tell her how sorry he was without seeming weak. He was furious with himself for getting angry with her, and he wanted everything to be better, so when Birchem’s voice pitched high in the way that it did when he was setting up a prank Ashkell missed it.

He berated himself even further that he shouldn’t have accepted his brother’s challenge to be the first to strike down the deer that they had been chasing. He had known, in the back of his head, that Birchem was a better horseman than himself, to both his and his father’s shame. But he had trusted his twin and wanted to see how much of an improvement Panic was to Swiftkicker. Panic! That was the horse’s name! Who in their right minds picks a horse named Panic?! Him, apparently, He must not be in his right mind. But, he thought to himself as he cursed his brother to the Pits, that’s what love does to you.

Ashkell had told his company to stay there so they didn’t interfere with the challenge, and this was how he was paying for it. The prince ceased his invective and sighed. This had to stop.

Step One: Escape the horse without being kicked, stomped on, brained, or dealt any other serious bodily harm.

Step One Substep A: Remove both feet from stirrups.

Step One Substep A Subsubstep i: Carefully.

Ste— NOPE.

Ashkell landed on his back in the grass with a yell. With a yelp he rolled out of danger’s path and set up. He had leaves in his hair.

Lore Weaver

Active Member
A basket hooked under her arm, Bianca had ventured out of the abandoned cottage she was using as he outpost. She viewed herself a s a soldier,duty-bound to follow her orders and carry out her assignment. Her loyalty to her step-mother was complete and unquestioning, even if she did not understand all the motives behind her Queen's orders. After all, Bianca's fate, her happiness was completely entwined in the will of the Queen. So idea of falling in love, unless her step-mother instructed her to, was completely foreign to Bianca. She went were commanded, did as instructed, it was simpler and easier that way.

So here she was picking berried, while listening or the hum of the mirror that would signal the nearness of her target. This forest was after ll the favored hunting grounds of the Crown Prince . Of course, the magic of the mirror shrouded it as normal mirror in case it somehow slipped out of her hands.He shoulder length hair, black as a raven's wing, bobbed about her shoulders she stooped and bent to pick at the dark purple beads of fruit from where they dangled from bushes. A bit of perspiration dampened the smock and the skin a poet once s saiid had "trapped the pale radiance of the moon." He was not a very good pot in her eyes,, she preferred to think of he skin as a mirroring the white of snow. .

The sweet aroma of the berries,, a scent of wine flavored with honey, tempted the gnawing hunger in her belly and she dipped her hand in the basket and scooped up to lips that shamed the reddest of roses. A commotion bust out from somewhere beside her, the contemptuous snorting of a horse, a loud cry and then a thud cracking of branches before someone rolled out of the bushes and against her ankles. The basket flew off he harm as she tumbled forward, berries scattering into the forest. Somehow twisting in the air, she landed on her side with a grunt and glass cracking beneath her hip.


Ashkell decided he was among the lowest of the low when he collided with the young woman's ankles and made her fall as well. This was not the action of a prince, much less a crown one, and he had to fix things. He sprang up to his feet and shook the leaves out of his hair while reaching down and laying a hand on the poor girl's arm.

"Madam, I am deeply shamed by what just occurred. Allow me to make my repentances and repay you for my bad behavior."

The girl looked up at him and Ashkell caught his breath. She was ravishing. Easily, the most pulchritudinous woman he had ever seen. His eyes flicked over her face, his mind completely empty of all warnings against staring with his jaw hanging at a woman he had just met.

It took several seconds, but with a brief shake of the head Ashkell cleared his mind. He mastered the stutters he was was going to utter if he let them and said,

"Madam, forgive me. That was inappropriate and fearfully damning to your eyes, I am afraid."

Lore Weaver

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His enduring stare drew drew her and brows into a portrait of disgust, On spite of the leaves tangled in his hair, he was fairly easy on the eyes but that did not excuse the impropriety of his stare, She was accustomed to such appraisals but not so blatantly or directly,Most who indulged in such is disrespect at least had the civility and discretion to do so from a distance, Of course it may have been fear of the Queen's wrath that cowed her admirers, The truth was she found it somewhat amusing to attract their stares.
Even now, a soft, alluring heat brushed against her skin the longer the stranger gazed at he rwith such open appreciation. They were alone in a forest and with the mirror shattered at her feet, there was no way for to Queen to observe her, Would he be bold enough to dare what no one else had? She wasn't sure how she would respond if he. reached out and,,, but the deference of his words and tone snapped he rout of such reflection. Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin,

"Yes, it was quite rude of you. I suppose you think your nobility just means you can gawk at anyone you wish, though,"

She took a step a back from him and then turned and muttered.

"Now where did my basket fly off too?"


Ashkell gazed, askance, at the young woman.

"Madam, no! I carry no false beliefs such as those. I was merely startled, and lost control of my senses." He winced at his words. They would in no way help her opinion of him.

He heard her mumbled words and joined in looking. A few minutes later Ashkell found the basket a few feet away hidden in some bushes. He carefully lifted it and bit his lip in regret when he witnessed the slipped contents.

This will not help things, he thought and stood, holding the basket in both hands out at the woman.

He bowed his head slightly as said, "Forgive me, Madam, again, for most of your berries have been spread into far bushes by my mistake. If you will allow me, I would like to aid you in collecting more in repayment for my dreadful actions."

Let Birchem catch the buck, he thought to himself. Aiding a woman I have wronged is far more worthwhile.

Lore Weaver

Active Member
She gazed at him with an arch of he brow, Her instinct was to take the basket and dismiss him She was growing bored with his court etiquette and exaggerated politeness. It was like being back in the palace at one of those torturous banquets surrounded by stiff and formal nobility droning endlessly about whatever mind-numbing monotony had occupied their day, But she sensed a restraint behind his demeanor, perhaps it would be entertaining to see jow far she could push the limits of his self-control.
So instead o backing away, she leaned in and inhaled, pushing her chest against her smock so that it was molded by the and while her fingers grazed the back of his hand before the took the basket from him, She kept her face frozen in a mask of disdain however.

"Well I suppose it is the least you can do under the circumstances."

She then stepped around him, brushing her hip against his in a way that could easily have been accidental...or perhaps not,,


This was not easy. Ashkell really hadn't expected this. He had hoped that she would let him help her, but she was quite obviously (at least to him, who was used to girls acting this way when they were around him) trying to make him think thinks he would not think. So, when she inhaled deeply, after a quick downward flick of the eyes, he kept his eyes off of her ample bosom. He only twitched away mildly when her soft fingers brushed the back of his hand and, while he felt a flush growing on his face that could surely be seen, he managed not to spring away from her when her hip oh so accidently brushed his.

He was used to it from girls that were both lovely and unappealing, but this girl was more than lovely. He kept his mind on his fiance as he followed her to the bushes.

Her beautiful eyes, the way she smiled at him, the cute little way she looked down when she blushed--these were all things about her appearance that he loved. She was an avid conversationalist and a wonderful chess player. She could dance and sing and make him laugh like no other woman.

This girl was nothing compared to her. A pretty face, a perfect body, but she couldn't make him love her. His heart belonged to someone else.

Ashkell worked diligently to stay facing away from her as they worked, and when possible, he worked a distance from her. This would be fine. He could do this.

Lore Weaver

Active Member
Bianca was amused ta the diligence with which he worked to ignore her. she had seen this behavior enough in the courtiers in the palace to understand that th harder a man fought attraction, the greater the attraction was, The thought crossed her mind that he was attached somehow to another, whether by some delusion of romantic love or the strings of some family arrangement. That possibility only encouraged her more. The thought of an affair conducted in secret had always intrigued her, Even if he was single and just trying to maintain some facadec of chivalry, the longer he shunned her, the greater her desire for his attention,

Rustling branches and the occasional sigh failed to to turn his gaze toward her, so she upped the ante, Very deliberately, she maneuvered so that the folds of he smock tangled in a hedge of briars, Sh grunted and twisted, tearing enough wool free to bare he ankles, while snaring the garment even more tightly around the branches.

"Sir, I am sorry to impose but I seem to have become caught in these briars. Perhaps you could help free me, if it would not be too much trouble."


Ashkell looked back at her.

Oh boy.

He slowly stood and walked over to her, taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly. There was no way that she hadn't gotten stuck in the bushes on purpose. And even if it had been an accident, any decent girl would have asked for help before she had tore her dress, which revealed very lovely ankles.

He had seen a woman's ankles before. When Lilian ((I'm just going to name her since I don't know what you've chosen)) wanted to tease him she would lift her skirts a little and he would oblige her by enjoying her ankles. But this girl, this girl was trying way too hard. He would prefer to be away from her as soon as possible.

He was starting to regret staying. Still, he knew that it was important to repay his mistakes. As an honorable man it was paramount to maintain a clean record. He would just leave as soon as he could.

So, he crouched beside her and worked on her dress. He kept his eyes off her body and focused on her dress, no matter how she swayed and moved toward him. Yes, his cheeks were hot. Yes, when his fingers brushed her skin he felt a thrill. Yes, she was trying to seduce him and he was having more trouble resisting her that he would have liked. But he had his honor, and his finance, and no way was he going to oblige her obvious desires,

He moved higher, toward her waist, and he knew his face was flaming. There was no possibility that she wouldn't take advantage of that. He wished fervently that he wasn't so close to her!

Lore Weaver

Active Member
At first Bianca watched him with every ounce ef strength she had. It was just so adorable how red his face became and the way his fingers fumbled with her smock. But somewheree in the midst of his fingers accidental caresses pf the sleek contours of her sleek legs, the laughter bubbling inside of her sifted to something else. The awareness of his touch, the heat and intimacy of it drew a sharp gasp form her and she swayed against his hands without intention, When hes efforts moved up toward up above her knees towards her thighs and hips, she swallowed hard and released a throaty little whimper that startled he rout of the throes of the desire his touch and nearness had stoked. Overwhelmed by a surge of shame and panic,she shoved with a violence foreign to her and wrestled the smock free from the briars. More of the garment ripped forcing her to clutch it around her, as she sprinted past him.

Flaming with humiliation, nore ta what he must think of her than at any possible glimpses of flesh revealed by the tears in her garment, sh hurdled through the forest, trailing an apolohy after her with a voice stricken by sobs.

"I-I'm so sorry, I. shouldn't of... farewell Sir..."

Vegetation blurred past her as she scampered away, her hands knotted in her dress, her eyes blinded with tears that veiled her gaze from thee buck leaping the buck leaping through the air, its legs slamming into the side of her feet. Pain burst through her skull, almost swallowing up the voices of the pair of men shouting in frustration before her head slammed against the root of a tree and darkness swallowed her up.


Ashkell's throat tightened at her whimper and his fingers twitched, touching more of her skin. Why did she have to whimper? He wanted her to stop. If she continued, he would have to make it clear to her that he didn't appreciate what she was doing and that she needed to stop. He wouldn't enjoy the conversation, because he knew how awkward things would be and how it might backfire and she work even more to have him.

Then, suddenly, she was tugging away from him, ripping herself free of the briars. When Ashkell spotted the sudden amount of skin that was exposed he whipped his head away, his face hotter than it had been yet. He kept his face away until he heard her apology. Then he looked after her, feeling miserable. He knew none of it had been his fault, but still, his attempt to repay her after what he had done had turned into a complete disaster. Her dress would need much sewing and possibly wouldn't be able to wear again. He hoped that wasn't the case.

Then he realized... She had been running toward...

With a cry he began to sprint after her. He had to find her before...!

((I'm just going to make it Birchem because I had already planned for them to meet in awkwardness. I'm thinking he'll be the ticket into getting Bianca to the castle.))

Birchem swore as the buck managed to escape his arrow and sprint away into the woods. What had made it trip anyway? Birchem moved his horse forward, then his eyesbrows shot into his messy hair and a cheeky grin appeared on his face.

He slid off his horse and walked over to the girl, taking in her beauty and torn dress slowly and with leisure. His smile grew. He crouched and brushed the back of his hand gently across her cheek. She inhaled and he nodded to himself. Good, she was still alive. Just unconscious.

He preferred her alive. Alive she could respond to his touch. His hand skimmed over his form appreciatively. Very nice.

He was just about to lift her into his arms when Ashkell burst from the trees, looking flustered and angry. His eyes went from the girl to Birchem beside her, then to Birchem's hand on her chest. His eyes grew furious.

"Keep your hands off her," he growled.

Birchem snorted. "What about Lilian? You seem to have forgotten her fairly quickly." He looked back down at the girl and flipped a flap of material over to reveal milky skin. He brushed his fingers over it. "What were you doing to this poor girl, anyway? It isn't like you to rip a girl's clothes off. That's more my thing." He smirked at his brother.

Ashkell strode forward and knocked Birchem's hand away. He quickly flipped the flap closed again and glared at his twin. "She got caught in some briars," he rumbled.

"Then why was she running?"

Ashkell sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Look, Birchem, there was a misunderstanding. She became distressed and tore herself the rest of the way free. Then she ran."

"And you followed her? Seems like you had something other than your fiance to think about."

Ashkell jerked his brother forward and spat in his face, "Look here, Birchem. You have no idea what happened and I would appreciate it if you didn't immediately condemn me for something terrible."

Birchem forced Ashkell's hand free from his collar. "Something terrible? What did you think I was thinking about when you busted through those bushes?"

"You were implying that I was forcing myself on her. I wouldn't ever. You know that."

Birchem waved his hand in the air. "Yeah, yeah. I know. Master Amazing Crown Prince Who Never Does Anything Fun."

Ashkell's eyes blazed. "Forcing yourself on a girl is not fun, Birchem. I know you seem to think you can do it every day without any consequences, but it's wrong."

Birchem falsely yawned. "I've heard it before, Ash. And for your information, I don't force myself on a girl very often. And besides, she always accepts it in the end! I have magic fingers." He twiddled his fingers in between their faces.

Ashkell made a sound of utmost disgust and shoved Birchem backward. Birchem didn't fall, but instead managed to stand. He set his hands on his hips and watched Ashkell carefully lift Bianca into his arms, making excellent efforts to not make contact with any of her skin. Birchem rolled his eyes, then cried out when Ashkell walked to his horse and put the girl on his horse and mounted his horse.

"Hey! You can't have my horse!"

"I'm taking her back to the castle. The hunt is over. You can walk."

Birchem cursed at his brother as his horse turned and sprang away through the trees. He began to walk after Ashkell. It didn't take long before he found the others of the hunting party. The buck had doubled back. Birchem took one of the fellow riders' horses and raced after Ashkell and the girl that was soon to be his.

Lore Weaver

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The jostling of the horse's gate stirred he just past the brink of consciousness and into a strange feeling of safety. She became aware of the warmth of a body against her back and the security of an arm holding her up in the addle. Rather than open her eyes, she shifted until was was snug against the rider and sighed with contentment. The ache throbbing in the bruise of her head weighed her eyes down, she had no desire to fight through the pain. just to gauge her surroundings. Whoever was whisking her away had to be better than the meek and mild nobleman whose company she had fled,

Memories of a caress, bold and brazen, the heat of which aahd penetrated her unconsciousness after er collision with the deer. The warmth that spread through her drew the slighted of moans from her. It must have been those hands that has lifted he into the saddle, those arms that held he close now.What did this stranger have in store for her/ Where was she being taken? Who was this mysterious rider? Something tugged at her memory. A pair of voices. Safety became less of a concern as the possibilities spun in her head. She din't want to be safe,, she wanted to be..she wasn't sure...but whatever happened when a man swept maiden up and stole away with her. Yes, that is what she wanted. To be at the mercy..of,,.of... the voices in her memory grew louder..clearer.

Her eyes flew open as she gasped..

"The Crown Prince!".


As the girl jostled roughly in front of Ashkell, her head flopped back against his chest, he tried not to think about everything that happened. Not about what his final reaction to the girl had been as she struggled in the briars despite his attempts to stave it off, nor about her fleeing from him suddenly, and especially not about his twin's words. Yet all three things kept forcing their way into his thoughts. He would have to find a way to keep Birchem away from the girl at all costs, except... he groaned.

What would he say to Lilian? He left after an argument and came back with a stunning girl in a torn dress that he was extremely protective of. She wouldn't be happy, that's for sure. He would have to make her understand about the girl and why he needed to keep her close. Birchem would take her, have his way with her, and leave her without any regret. And then he would return to her! Ashkell could NOT let that happen. It was bad enough that Birchem was licentious to every young woman he could touch other than Lilian--Ashkell couldn't do anything about that, no matter how much he wished he could--but this girl was special. Ashkell told himself it was only because he was able to have a say in the girl's fate concerning his brother, but he wasn't actually sure.

The girl snuggled into him and let out a little sigh. Ashkell couldn't prevent a small gasp and cursed himself for it. Her body was warm against his chest and her hair smelled very nice. He lifted his eyes to the sky and pleaded for strength against this woman. Why was he having trouble only once she had stopped trying to seduce him?

Then... THEN the girl moaned! Ashkell accidentally jerked the reins and Birchem's horse protested, lifting slightly off the ground and snorting with displeasure. "Sorry, sorry," murmured Ashkell a little hoarsely.

The girl suddenly sat up straight in the saddle and cried, "The Crown Prince!"

Ashkell tried to find his voice. "H-Hi..." "Hi" was by far the most casual word he had used before this girl and he wondered if she would think something about it. He hoped she didn't.

Lore Weaver

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Should she go after him? He had been so upset after their fight and now he was late coming back from his hunting expedition. What if he had been thrown from his horse and trampled? Or gored..or..who knows.

Lillian resumed a frenetic pacing, wringing her hands, looking out the window hoping to hear his voice over the pounding of horses hooves signaling his triumphant return. But all she heard was the rustling of leaves and the bustling of servants . The more time bled by, the greater the urge became to chase after im, to find him, what?
It was more likely she would make the situation .worse by getting lost, or putting herself in danger. It was foolishness to just go dashing off into the unknown,likely more risk than reward.
But that is what love was, wasn't it? To risk one's self for the sake of the one you loved.

Within moments, she had ordered her mare saddled and was changing into an outfit suited for ridiing. She would find her betrothed, help him fend off any threat and then they would out this ridiculous argument behind them.


The blush hat crept over Bianca's face was as hot any sunburn. She strained away from him, avoiding his gaze for as long as she could. She had been throwing herself at the Crown Prince like a common strumpet. What must he think of her? And yet still that yearning for sampling the pleasures ,s of the flesh, that desire to be ravished,, to feel what was supposed to be forbidden for a girl of royalty and nobility. Of course, it is what her step-mother has said she had been created for, that she was simply a whore who had happened to be born in the trappings of affluence and prestige.

But a whore only under the right circumstances, only at the hands of those her step-mother chose from her. The Crown Prince, he was her target, the man she was supposed to lure with her charms. But when she glanced up into his handsome face etched with compassion, vulnerability and genuine warmth, that simple instinct to lean back against him and into the safety of his arms clashed with the desire to feel his hands roughly caress her, to have his lips crush hers, hear him tearing off the smock that was struggling to cling to her, When she looked in his eyes, all she wanted was to be lost in them, to relax and be treated with the with the respect and tenderness that her step-mother had tolde her she was utterly unworthy of,

Embroiled in this conflict of emotion, she at the same moment, heaved her chest to dry his gaze while wriggling to escape and averted her eyes from the allure of his features and the genuine compassion in his eeys.

" can put me down now...I can make it back to my cottage on my own."


When the young woman jerked in front of Ashkell and strained away he let out a little cry of surprise and instinctively tightened his grip on her. Again the horse reacted when he jerked on the reins. It snorted and twisted. "I'm sorry," breathed Ashkell, both to the beast and the beauty.

She stopped struggling, but she didn't lean back. When she looked up into his eyes he had trouble swallowing. Those eyes, so blue and so unsure, tugged on his heart. Why was she unsure?

"I'm not going not to hurt you," he said quietly, almost so quietly that he wasn't sure she heard him. She was acting differently since she woke up, which made sense. Of course, she probably still felt upset after running away. He had to be sensitive about this. She probably had never wanted to see him again, and her he was, right behind her and with his arm around her waist. He was taking particular care not to touch any exposed skin unlike his brother. He was sickened by Birchem's actions, and if there were some way he could change his twin's ways he would do almost anything to make it happen. Birchem was known through the whole kingdom as the prince that had more children than the crown prince would ever have.

There was been plenty of fathers, brothers, and husbands that had shown up at the castle demanding recompense for the despoilment of their relative. Mostly they wanted money, sometimes they wanted to duel Birchem. Birchem always accepted the challenges because he had never met anyone that could best him with the sword other than his brother, his father, and his current teacher. The second prince didn't always show mercy when he inevitably won, but he usually did. The man would then go home in shame--bruised, bloodied, and bitter.

Often times the girls would come to the castle as well either pregnant or with the prince's newest child in their arms and demand marriage. Birchem rarely ever talked to them. He usually left it to his father and his brother to sort out. When he did talk to the young woman, she didn't leave happy.

"Y-You can put me down now... I can make it back to my cottage on my own."

Ashkell sighed deeply, and he noticed the girl's curls dance with his breath. He lowered his head and his face brushed that silky hair. He quickly raised his chin again and hoped the girl hadn't felt the contact.

"Madam,... I am eternally regretful, but I cannot let you go back now. My broth-- there is someone that will find you and hurt you if you return to the woods. He is... very persistent. I will do everything in my power to make sure he is never alone with you, which means that...," another long breath, "you must go to the castle." There was a moment of silence. "Also, you're dress is torn and I insist that it is fixed by someone other than yourself. It was my fault that it became torn," because I didn't fall to your seduction, "and I refuse to let you remedy my mistake when I can remedy it myself."

Lore Weaver

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Bianca's heart was hammering so loudly in her chest, she wondered if her unwanted escort could hear it over the drumming of the horse's hooves. She need to regroup, to put some distance between her and the Crown Prince and clear her head. She had made a complete fool of herself, and now he must think she was some common whore just trying to win some favor or maybe even entrap him into some sort of arrangement.

Isn't that what you are trying to do? Entrap him in service to your step-mother"

Why did a truth she had embraced so casually before now knot her stomach with nausea? Perhaps because before it had only been an assignment and Ashkell had merely existed in the abstract. Now he was flesh and blood, and so handsome and strong. The way his arm wound around her and kept her in the saddle and flush and so close to him, filled her with a warmth that urged her to nestle as close as she could to him. And he was so nice, gentlemanly and genuinely concerned for her. How could she possibly think of luring him into whatever scheme her step-mother planned.

But she knew the answer,, the promise her step-mother made, the hope she dangled over her head if Bianca succeeded..and the punishment awaiting failure. She had no choice, she had to do as bidden, as instructed, no matter how compassionate he was, no matter how safe and protected she felt in his embrace. No matter what it would mean for him or his people, she had to fulfill her task.

When he spoke of Bircham and the danger he presented and how Ashkell would guard her at all costs. She deserved to fall into Bircham's clutches, to bet reated as basely as he wished and tossed aside. A part of her even wanted it, yearned d for it. But that other part of her, could not help but feel the way Ashkell;s chin brushed against her hair and take comfort in the safety in the strength of his arms The way he sighed, the strain in his voice, his drawn-out sighs, revealed how uncomfortable he was holding her like this. When he spoke of taking her to the castle and having someone repair her clothes, her breath caught in he throat. That meant more time with him, in the same walls..a chance to get closer and then to find some excuse to convey him to her step-mother, But her conscience warred against her, demanded she abandon this mission and face whatever consequence lay ahead. Turning in the saddle, she craned he neck to try and meet his gaze.

"I appreciate your kindness and the offer of protection and shelter. But a as you have seen I am not worth of such consideration. You would be better off abandoning me to whatever fate is in store for me. I am nothing but the lowliest of wenches, not fit for the protection of a Prince who is such a gentleman."