Her Barbarian Master:Forbidden Love (Alpha Male Master Series Book 2)(8)

By: Maggie Carpenter

Every evening as the meal began, Bastian would stand up and address his people. He waited several minutes until Killian had fully regained his composure, then rose to his feet. The tribe fell quiet, his tall powerful body commanding their attention. When all eyes were staring at him with rapt attention, he began to speak.

"Two important announcements. First, I caught a village girl here this afternoon stealing apples. She managed to get away before I could punish her, but I will be going to the village tomorrow to speak with the family. This is a delicate matter. I do not want the balance we have with them to be upset. I learned the family is suffering because of some pests that ate their crops, and while that is no excuse for the girl to have stolen from us, I fear if we treat this matter too harshly there may be unrest, but I cannot let it be. It might embolden others. I will order some new knives and take some provisions for their payment to show our generosity and fairness, but I am still considering the young woman's discipline."

"I would like to suggest something," Hermione declared, abruptly standing up from her chair.

"Yes, Hermione?"

"I need some help in the kitchen. Portia's wrist is still bothering her and I need my floors scrubbed and my counters cleaned. There are other chores as well. I'll make that village girl work for those apples, and take my stirring stick to her bottom if she slacks off."

"I like that suggestion, Hermione. I will see to it. Now to my other news. Our friends on the other side of the mountain will be here soon for our annual event. As usual, those looking for partners can mingle. Last year there was too much cavorting and not enough serious conversation, so I have decided the fermented berry drink will be limited. One goblet for each young person each night, and no more. This must be strictly enforced."

There was a murmuring through the tribe and many nodding heads, though Bastian could see the looks of disappointment on the faces of the young adults.

"The festivities will be better for the control, and I am sure it will be a successful event with many pairings. That is all. You may begin your meal."

As he sat down he glanced at Killian. He was better. It was a relief. He was determined his son would be head of the tribe. It was imperative Killian be seen as nothing short of strong, unruffled, and resolute.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was also mealtime in the modest home where Serenity lived with her parents and two younger brothers, Simeon and Galway. Though a few hours had passed since she'd felt the heat of Killian's hand on her backside it was still uncomfortable to sit, and halfway through their meal her mother commented on her fidgeting.

"Serenity, what is wrong with you? Why can't you be still?"

"She's been in a mood since she came home," Galway, the younger of the two brothers declared. "She snapped at me just because I said something about her face being red."

"And she yelled at me too, for no reason at all," Simeon added.

"No reason? You were being annoying," Serenity retorted. "I told you I wanted to be left alone and you kept hanging around."

"Enough bickering," her father said sternly. "You do seem out of sorts, Serenity. Are you unwell?"

"I'm fine."

"I heard that Layla was inside the barbarian's compound earlier today, and she managed to sneak out some apples. Is that true?"

"Uh, why should I know about that?"

"You're her best friend, that's why, and you were gone for while. Were you up to the same mischief?"

"I'm glad she got some apples," she said evasively. "Her family needs them."

"That may be, but you still haven't answered my question," her father pressed. "Were you inside the compound with her? Did something happen? Is that why you're in a mood?"

Serenity inwardly groaned. She couldn't lie, her father was bound to find out, he always did, and then she'd be in even worse trouble.

"Yes, I was there."

"Serenity!" he barked, alarmed by her confession. "You know you must absolutely never enter the barbarians' compound."

"What were you thinking?" her mother scolded. "You cannot defy those people. My goodness, you foolish girl."