Her Barbarian Master:Forbidden Love (Alpha Male Master Series Book 2)(2)By: Maggie Carpenter
"You would steal from those who protect you?" Bastian scolded, his booming voice reaching Serenity's ears.
Layla was squealing and apologizing profusely, but her protestations were having no effect, and as Bastian settled on the log, Serenity knew he was about to spank Layla for her crime.
An angry frown crossed Serenity's face. It wasn't fair. Layla's family were struggling. A rabid pest had infected their crops, destroying most of them. The other villagers had helped to exterminate the blight, and did their best to provide them with food, but it was a very difficult time, made even more challenging with the birth of a brand new baby.
"This is wrong," Serenity mumbled. "Bastian needs to understand why Layla did what she did, besides, it was only a couple of oranges."
Serenity cast her eyes over the bountiful plants. The barbarians were outstanding gardeners, their orchard was lush and full. The villagers didn't know how they had produced such abundance, it was a mystery, but as she pondered the question, the sound of Layla's cries snapped her back to the moment. Returning her gaze across the yard, she saw Layla was now across Bastian's lap, and he had his hands on the hem of her long dress. Serenity knew Layla would be utterly horrified at the pending exposure. Serenity had to save her, or at least try.
Swiftly maneuvering her way down the climbing tree, she landed on the soft grassy ground and sprinted to the tall iron gate. The barbarians had done much with the ruins, including the repair of the heavy gate that had once been completely askew. The bars were narrow, but not so narrow as to keep out slender young women, and heart pounding, knowing she was about to risk the barbarian's spanking hand, she squeezed between them.
"Bastian, stop, stop," she yelled, running across the soft warm dirt.
The barbarian had been focused on sliding the gown slowly up Layla's legs, and startled by the call, he jerked up his head.
"You don't understand," Serenity continued, breathless and breaking to a walk as she approached. "You need to let her be."
Though she had seen the tribe's leader from time to time, they hadn't exchanged a single word since that fateful day so many years before, and standing in front of him, she was reminded of the fear she had felt, the fear she was suddenly feeling again. His eyes were as dark as the night, his thick heavy features were vastly different from the gentle, refined faces of her people, and his size—he was a giant.
"Well, well," he muttered, scowling at her. "You're the girl who dared to confront me as a child. How beautiful you've become. Your name is Serenity."
"Please, let me go," Layla wailed, "please, sir. I'll never come back here again, not ever. I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"Be quiet," he barked, landing an unexpected smack.
The thin fabric of Layla's gown provided no protection from the stinging swat, and though she let out a howl, as the wail passed, she uttered not another word, but laid still, softly whimpering.
"I see you have not changed," Bastian remarked, gazing at Serenity, his head tilted to one side. "You are still brave and you are still foolish. I must spank you now. The rules are clear."
"Spank me if you must," she said, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt, "but you don't understand why Layla came here. You're not being fair. You should at least hear her out."
"The rules are clear," he repeated. "No entering our domain without permission, and especially not to steal."
"And how is someone supposed to get permission if someone can't enter?"
"Oh, I see," she said grimly. "You just don't want anyone here for any reason. What if I were to approach you in the village and ask permission?"
"It would probably be denied, though I might listen."
His tone was softening, and the deep frown across his broad forehead was easing. She paused, deciding to change her approach. Rather than being demanding, she'd be conciliatory and respectful.
"Please, Bastian, may I tell you why Layla came here?"
He squinted, as if studying her, and rather than return his gaze, she stared at the ground.
It had worked! She wanted to break into a grin, but managing to suppress her victorious smile, and keeping her eyes lowered, she began to speak.