Abigail Glenn is a well-treated captive in the house of the sensual lord of Moray. Unfortunately, her first full day at the castle brings more frights than fun when she is confronted with a terrifying former resident. Her problems increase two-fold when an unexpected guest arrives who spoils the quiet of the house. Still, the nights are calm and have an allure that sweeps Abby into the arms of her wild lover. Her passions are aroused, but her mind is torn between staying with her chosen mate or returning to the life she knew.
My sleep was deep and undisturbed, and my dreams were filled with wonderful scents and pleasurable feelings. The dreams were driven away at the sound of curtains being drawn. A dim light swept over me, and I willed my heavy eyes to open.
I lay in a large chamber with a hearth and four-post bed. The floor and walls were of worn cobblestone, and a large, thick oak door stood opposite where I lay on the bed. A dresser, small table, and its two chairs finished off the decor. Behind me was a wall with two tall, wide, pane windows made of thick glass. One was drawn and weak light spread into the room, and I watched a woman of fifty walk around the foot of the bed towards the window with the curtains still closed. She opened them and turned to me.
Contrary to her age, the woman had few wrinkles on her face, though her hands were gnarled by a lifetime of rough work. She stood a bit shorter than me, and studied with me dark eyes.
Her gray hair was tucked into a tight bun behind and atop her head, and she wore a neat black dress that hugged her plump frame. I imagined this would be me in several decades were I to live that long.
“Good morning, my lady. I hope you slept well,” she greeted me as she bowed to me.
My memories of the last few days returned to me, what I had of them, and my heart quickened. Flashes of claws on cloth returned to me. I wrapped my fingers around my neck and shuddered.
“T-the lord. He. . .he truly is a monster, isn’t he?” I stuttered.
A ghost of a smile slipped onto her lips. “That would depend on how you view of monsters, my lady,” she returned.
“He. . .he changes into a wolf, does he not?” I persisted.
She gave a nod. “He does, my lady.”
My eyes widened, and my lips trembled so that my words hardly escaped them. “Y-you know of this?”
“I do, my lady,” she confirmed.
Thoughts of escape flew into my mind. I flung aside the covers, and a cool draft forced me to glance down at myself. I wore a thick white nightgown that stretched down to my ankles.
“My clothes! Where are my clothes?” I questioned her.
“I am afraid they were too soiled and torn to survive their cleaning,” she told me.
I slid off the high bed, but my legs wobbled beneath me. They would not support my weight, so I stumbled to the foot of the bed and grasped one of the posts. The woman reached out her arms as though to help me, but when I flinched away from her she stopped and pulled her arms back.
“Please find me some clothes,” I pleaded with her.
“So that you may escape?” she guessed.
“So that I may free myself from his hold over me,” I corrected her.
She closed her eyes and shook her head as she sighed. “I am afraid I can’t allow that, my lady. I have been given strict instructions not to let you leave before the storm is finished,” she revealed.
“The storm?” I repeated.
“Aye, my lady,” she replied.
She stepped back and turned to the windows. I noticed there was a thin line that showed the window was separated into two panels. A clasp in the center held them together. The woman slipped off the clasp and opened the two panels. A flurry of snow swept inside. She turned to me and gestured to the outside.
I clasped the front of my nightgown and stepped forward. The view through the window was of a white world, and told me the chambers lay on the second floor of the home. A thick layer of snow a half a foot deep lay about the ground, and more continued to fall from the sky. The storm Lord Moray had predicted had arrived. The roads were all but impassible, even on horseback.
“The storm will not abate for at least this day,” she warned me.
I felt a sinking feeling deep in my stomach and the color drained from my face. I staggered back to the bed and sat on the edge. My eyes settled on the floor and I wrapped my arms around myself.
“God protect me. . .” I whispered.
The woman closed the windows and walked over to take a seat beside me. She set her hands on my shoulders and leaned forward.
“God helps those who help themselves,” she whispered to me. I raised my head and saw that a small smile graced her lips. “If He has brought you to this place then it must be for a reason. You must make the best of His will and find the goodness in your life.”
I furrowed my brow and shook my head. “I don’t understand how you can speak of God when your master is what he is.”
She chuckled. “I have known the master since he was a boy. There is no more monster in him than in any other laird, and less than in most. You must search for the goodness that lies inside him, and then you will know what it means to be his mate, and he yours.”
I grasped my head in my hands and shook my head. “Mate? God? Men who are wolves? Can I truly be living in such a life? Is this not all a dream?”
She squeezed my shoulders and leaned close to me. Her words were as soft as a down pillow, and brought with them some comfort that eased the tension inside me.
“I can see you are not in full strength. Perhaps some food would do you good,” she suggested. She stood and walked over to the dresser where she pulled open one of the drawers. “Breakfast has passed, but there is some food left which we might have Cook warm for you.”
I dropped my arms to my sides and looked down at myself. “But how can I be seen in such attire?” I pointed out.
The woman turned to me and pulled out a lumpy package wrapped in soft paper. She moved to stand in front of me and held out the package to me. “This may not fit perfectly, but the seamstress will make the necessary alterations.”
I took the package and recognized the paper as that used by tailors. Two strings intersected and were tied together to hold the paper shut. I undid the knot, and the paper and string fell away to reveal a simple but elegant gray dress. The fabric was soft and shimmering, and its surface glistened like starlight. My eyes widened and I allowed myself to brush my fingers over the fabric. Mr. Maher had never had such wonderful fabric ordered by a customer, and the silver buttons on the front were worth more than a year’s salary for me.
I looked up at the smiling woman who stood before me and blinked at her. “This. . .this is for me?” I asked her.
She gave a nod. “Aye. A gift from your mate for his ruining your own clothes.”
I stood and held the shoulders of the dress so the fabric spilled down. The dress suited my height, or near to it, and would be a little tight on the front but was otherwise about my size. I hugged the wonderful gift against my bosom and closed my eyes to keep the tears from falling down my cheeks. Never before had I been given such a beautiful gift.
“I. . .I-” I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked to the woman. “Please tell your lord that I am grateful.”
She bowed her head. “I will, but first let us attire you and fetch you some breakfast.” She stepped towards me, but I held up my hand.
“Wait a moment. I don’t believe we have even introduced ourselves,” I pointed out.
The woman blinked at me before her smile widened and her eyes softened. She bowed to me. “I am Mrs. Greer, the housekeeper and servant to you.”
I shook my head. “I am only a seamstress, and haven’t earned a servant.”
Mrs. Greer chuckled and took the dress from me. “Nonetheless you have one in me. Now, I would dearly love to hear your name, my lady.”
I sighed and curtsied to her. “My name is Abigail Glenn.”
Mrs. Greer bowed to me. “Well met, Lady Abigail,” she greeted me.
“Please, call me Abby,” I pleaded. “I wouldn’t know to answer to such a title.”
She smiled and bowed her head. “As you wish, Abby. Now let us attire you and I will lead you to breakfast.”