The hairs on the back of her neck tingled and drew Alexa out of her state of grief. She remained in her crouched position as she listened. She heard nothing. But she felt something.
She looked through her fallen locks that covered most of her face and could see nothing out of the ordinary down below in the village. But a movement- there!
Aye, a fleet of soldiers dismounting in the manor courtyard.
The sight caused her anger to resurface. So the Norman bastard had arrived.
Alexa stood abruptly, tore the sword from the ground with ease yet again and in a flash of steel wheeled around, the tip of her blade just missed beheading the giant that stood behind her. Before she could finish her battle cry, she suddenly found herself flat on her back with the breath knocked out of her and a wall of stone on top of her.
“A man’s weapon is not a toy, wench.”
The gruff voice of steel brushed over her brow. Alexa could not breathe. The stone wall was a man. A very large man in chain mail. She could feel the cold of his dress, mail through her tunic. The fall had twisted her clothing and the cloak that was clasped at her throat, pressed down upon her wind pipe, choking her and it didn’t help that his large hand rested firmly on top of that. Panic and fury seized her.
Rourke’s other hand wrapped around her wrist in a tight grip. “Drop it!” he hissed over her and felt her hand tighten.
He pulled back a bit to look down at her. Most of her face was covered by wavy brown hair, only the tip of her straight nose and full lips were visible. Her nostrils flared.
He continued, “If I have to ask you again, wench, I will break this.”
He applied pressure to her tiny wrist to further his emphasis, and she let out a painful yelp. He waited just a second as she released the sword and it clanked to the ground beside them. He knew the moment she was about to fight. Rourke was ready.
Or so he thought.
The hellion nearly threw his large frame off her by arching her spine and using her thighs to lurch them both nearly off the ground. Rourke’s surprise at her strength wore off quickly.
He had no idea that part of that strength came from her battle to breathe. His large frame was crushing her chest. Alexa was close to passing out if this big oaf did not get off her or release his death grip on her throat.
At first she had sensed him behind her, probably one of that Norman bastard’s soldiers. His chest and mail were crushing her. She bucked and had to fight off the threat, the pull of darkness.
He finally removed his hand from her throat to pull both her hands in one of his, lock them and stretch them above her head. This caused more of his weight to bear down on her and brought her face directly under his.
He continued, “Men have died for less than your girlish foolishness. Now, what do you here?”
She heard him over her heavy pants to suck in air. His booming voice hurt her ringing ears. Alexa managed to gasp out in a strong voice, “Must you make me daft too? Your loudness is what gives you away. Unhand me at once!”
“Not ‘till you tell me who you are.” Rourke seethed. He already knew who she was. She had just confirmed his suspicions by the authoritative tone in her gritty voice.
“I will if you remove yourself from my person so that I may breathe, you idiot!” she spat the last at him.
Rourke yanked her up roughly with the one hand that clasped both hers together and held her away from him as if she were no more than a rag doll. She moved her long legs as though to kick him. He gave her such a hard shake that Alexa felt her teeth rattle. Surely the big lout had loosened a few or all of her teeth in her head.
Rourke still could not see anything more than her nose and those full lips for that brown mop on her head still hid most of her face. He shook her again.
“Answer!” he roared.
As soon as the bastard put her down Alexa knew her first action would be to run him through. But for now, she would cut the warrior bastard to the quick. She swallowed and said through clenched teeth, “Lady Alexa Barnett. If you value your life, you will put me down at once lest you-“ Alexa found herself on her arse again and in the hard dirt the next moment.
Rourke plucked up her sword and gazed down at her, a look of repulsion on his face. As he’d known. Luck had forsaken him yet again. His betrothed. This hellion of nothing but bones and legs.