Fin has gone and Angharad gets a visit from the odious Althelwulf. Berthulf is her late husband and he gets a mention here. The usual caveat, first draft roughness.
“Ah, there you are. Hilde said I might find you here.”
Angharad spun around, scattering chickens. “Sir, you should not creep up on me like that. It’s rude.” The last place she wanted to be with Athelwulf was in the hen house, especially when he stood between her and the door. “What do you want?” Angharad was tired of being polite to him.
“I was just passing and I thought I’d see how you were getting on with that horse.”
“Well enough.” She glanced towards the door and wondered if she could make it past him to the door
He edged towards her. “Have you changed your mind yet, Angharad? It’ll soon be autumn and the nights will be drawing in and getting cold.” Athelwulf licked his lips.
“Changed my mind about what?” she asked.
“No.” Angharad took a step back.
Athelwulf shook his head. “A shame, really, a beautiful woman like you, going to waste.”
“I think you should leave.” She hid her shaking hands in her skirt. Angharad recognized that look. She had seen it on Berthulf’s face too many times – a hot stare, wet lips parted in anticipation of a kiss. “Please, just go. I’m busy..”
“If you married me, you would never have to lift a finger.”
No, because you wouldn’t let me leave the bedchamber. “I like being busy.”
“A well-bred woman like you shouldn’t have to get her hands dirty.” Athelwulf took another step towards her.
“Please go.” Before she could move, Athelwulf lunged at her and pinned her against the wall. His breath reeked of sour beer.
“A woman like you shouldn’t have to leave the bedchamber. It would a shame to let such beauty remain untouched.”
“Get off me.” Angharad took a deep breath. He was close enough that his erection pressed against her stomach.
His breathing was hoarse and ragged. “Say you’ll marry me.”
“Never.” She spat in his face and kneed him in the groin.
“Bitch!.” He dropped to the floor clutching his balls.
“Get out.” She drew her knife and knelt, holding the blade to his throat. “Get out and never come back here again. Berthulf is long dead. You have no claim on me.”
He groaned and rolled over onto his hands and knees. “He told me to look after you,” he gasped.
“He told you to maul me, take me, rape me, just like he did to me.” Angharad kicked his large backside. “Isn’t that what he promised you?”
“You’re insane.” Athelwulf scrabbled to his feet with a speed that defied his bulk. “No wonder he beat you. You bloody need a thrashing.”
Angharad advanced towards him, holding the knife in front of her. “The only one who’s going to get thrashed around here is you if you don’t leave.” She fought to keep the rage from her voice. Her hand cramped around the hilt of the knife. “Get out.”
“All right, all right.” He backed towards the door. “I’m going.” Angry red blotches mottled his cheeks. “You’ll regret this. You’ll wish you’d said yes when the Danes return in the spring and burn this god-forsaken place to the ground.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
He almost fell out into the yard. “Don’t come crying to me when it happens, lady.”
“I’d rather cut my own throat than seek aid from you. Get out.” Angharad wanted to run at him with the knife. Instead, she leaned in the doorway of the hen house and watched Althelred hurry towards his horse. He scrambled into the saddle, hauled on the reins and kicked the horse into a trot. It squealed with anger and earned a smack around the ears for its pains before it sprang through the gate.
Angharad slumped against the door frame and let the knife drop to the ground. It was a long time before she could bring herself to move.