Of Vice and Virtue (Time Walkers) Online - E.B. Brown Page 0,1

bruised and battered skin tearing through his resolve. No, he would not wish such a thing on any woman, even one who earned her living pandering her body for coin.

Funny, he thought, as he nodded his consent. She did not look like a whore. He had not known any, but she certainly was not what he envisioned one might be. She was a tiny thing, barely reaching his shoulder with the top of her head. A full mane of russet brown hair graced her narrow shoulders, and by Odin’s tooth he had to admit her snug corset was filled out in a pleasing manner.

“Fine. I’ll go with ye. For show,” he agreed. He followed her up the stairs, avoiding the stares of the men and the assortment of laughs that accompanied them. He prayed Makedewa would not come asking for him anytime soon.

He rented the first room at the end of the hall, so he opened the door and shoved her inside. It should be sufficient enough to please the innkeeper and save her from a beating. He paced away from her and cleared his throat, and when he turned back to her she had a smile on her face that did not reassure him in the least. She threw herself into his arms, knocking them both forcefully back onto the narrow bed.

“Get off me, woman!” he shouted. She ignored his request and settled astride him, her hands pressing him back into the feathered mattress.

“I just want to thank ye, my lord,” she insisted, fumbling with the buttons of his breeches. He placed his hands on her waist in order to forcibly remove her, but she snuggled down over him and ran her mouth over his neck. With her round breasts pressed close to his face he closed his eyes, swallowing hard. Great Odin. Sweet Jesus. What was she doing?

“Stop it, lass,” he croaked, his voice completely unconvincing.

“Ye wear a strange pendant, sir. Might I see it?”

He stiffened at the request. Yes, he wore a copper-wrapped Bloodstone around his neck, but surely she could not see it. His shirt fell open a bit since he’d loosened it in his cups, yet it was not enough to see the pendant that lay against his skin.

He rose up to a sitting position, taking her with him. As he tried to shove her away she clung like a snake, her eyes fastened on the twisted scar upon his palm. She grabbed hold of his hand. Her jaw dropped open, and he felt his blood drain to his feet.

Whoever she was, whatever she knew, he would not stay to find out. He jerked his hand from her grasp and pushed her onto the bed, running one hand reflexively over his hip to assure himself his knife was still sheathed there. With that confirmation he made for the door.

“Wait!” she called out.

The squared outline of a man blocked the gleam of moonlight from the doorway, and with a sliver of sickness streaking through his gut he knew he was correct on his earlier assumption.

She was undoubtedly no whore.

Chapter 2

Makedewa

Makedewa disappeared back into the shadows near the hearth as two rather large men hauled Benjamin down the stairwell. He did not recognize the Englishmen so he had no idea why they meant to retain his companion, yet it appeared the serving woman had a bit to do with the scuffle since she followed them outside. He wondered if Benjamin had insulted her and earned himself a beating. It was not likely since he knew the man to be a soft-hearted clod, but he could render no other explanation for the predicament.

Benjamin seemed strangely subdued until Makedewa realized why his friend did not struggle. There was a knife pressed into his flank, held as a warning by one of the burly strangers. Although Benjamin had his captors beaten in both height and brawn, even he was not senseless enough to fight a trio of armed men by himself.

Makedewa waited to see them take a path down the cobble lined street, keeping out of the moonlight so he would not draw their attention. If the woman spotted him she would alert the others, since he was certain she had seen him talking to Benjamin earlier.

They brought him behind the tavern into a clearing where one man knocked him to his knees. He flinched as the second man struck Benjamin in the head, but Makedewa did not move in. There was little chance he could take three large men,