“Pillaging Elinor’s Castle” blurb:
Lady Elinor's father and two brothers are killed in battle, and Lord Rhys loses his demesne. To protect her people Elinor decides she will marry Lord Rhys, but only if he agrees the Captain of the Guard, Hammond, will share their bed and the decision making from now on. They agree and seal their contract in blood. Rhys and his people move into the stronghold.
After the wedding they begin to plan for how to survive the attack that will inevitably come. The stronghold is a wealthy one, and many will consider it an easy target with its lord and his sons dead. They also have to blend the two households together and prepare for the coming winter. At night Hammond and Rhys work hard in bed, learning to share Elinor, finding out what pleases her best, and arousing each other to new heights along the way.
Lady Elinor nodded to Hammond and took him and Lord Rhys into her solar.
It was evident both men were uneasy to be alone with a woman, even if she was now the lady of the castle.
“Should I call Madam Heloise to join us, Lady Elinor?” asked Hammond.
“My aunt is no doubt sound asleep in a chair by the fire, along with Father Augustus. Besides, she is the last person who I wish to hear what I’m about to say. It is for our ears only. Swear to me you will not repeat this conversation.”
A puzzled frown marked his handsome countenance, but Lord Rhys instantly crossed his sword over his chest and promised. Hammond followed him.
“Lord Rhys, as we all well know, your father and mine discussed our marriage many times over these past twenty years. However, we both remain unmarried, and you are now landless.”
Rhys’s face began turning red, and Elinor hurried on with her prepared speech. She didn’t blame him for losing the battle, or for the death of her family, but the facts were plain for all to see, and she needed these men to agree to her plan.
“As the sole survivor of my family, this stronghold now belongs to me. That is the law. However, we all know it will be the focus of attack by every landless knight and masterless man in the kingdom. Sooner or later one of them will take the castle, or take me, or both. Neither of these situations is to my liking.”
Once again Elinor stared at the men. Both clearly agreed with her statements, but also were obviously confused about where she was going with her speech. Quickly, before one or another of them could start talking, she said, “I have a different plan. We three will jointly rule this stronghold. It is mine, and I will keep it. My word on the lives of the people—my people—will ever be the law. Lord Rhys, you will marry me tomorrow, and will therefore take ownership of the land. Any child I bear will legally be your heir and mine. Hammond, you will share in all the decision-making. Your knowledge of strategy is second to none, and as Captain of the Guard you will train all our soldiers. You will also share our bed. We will be three in this relationship.”
Hammond gasped but remained otherwise silent, his warrior training having taught him never to speak out of place. Rhys, as a noble, was less reticent. “Let me understand your proposal, Lady Elinor. You and I will marry, so by law I will then control the castle, the stronghold, and all Lord Huart’s lands and wealth. My men will serve under the Captaincy of Hammond. You retain management of the castle and the people. And Hammond and I…share…your favors?”
“Exactly. We each give up a benefit to achieve a greater combined gain. I give up my lands to you, but I will manage the household, as many women do anyway. Hammond gives up the opportunity to have a wife and family of his own to serve us, but he achieves control over all the guards. He will also help train any of my sons, be they yours or his. A position of high status. You give up part of the control of the stronghold and must share my person with Hammond. But no one will ever know about that, and any child will bear your name. All in all I consider it a plan that gives all of us the best possible chance of living long and happy lives.”
“Such strong security will certainly deter others from attacking the castle. Whereas, with the lord and his sons all dead, we would assuredly have been attacked within a month,” said Hammond.
“And I am currently homeless and landless. I was planning to travel to cousins in the next county, but your plan ensures the safety of my people as well as of myself. Besides, as you said, many ladies manage their households and people.”
“And many ladies are not faithful to their lord,” added Hammond.
“How will that work?” asked Lord Rhys.
“Tonight you’ll both share me. That will seal our agreement in blood.”
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