"Irene. Come here."
Sighing, Irene turned the spit once more before hurrying to Christian. Any longer a delay would be costly.
"Happy Easter," he said, eyes bright.
"Happy Easter," she echoed, forcing her face into a smile.
"Do you have a kiss for your husband?"
She set her jaw, but pursed her lips, rising slightly to brush her lips against his.
He wrapped his arms around her, pinning her to his chest. Using lips and tongue, her forced her mouth open. She didn't fight the intrusion, allowing his tongue to sweep over her teeth and tongue.
"Yes, that's my wife. Preparing for the feast?" he asked.
"Yes," she said in relief. "It will be ready in an hour or two."
"Perfect. What do you have for me in the meantime?" He rubbed his hands together. His handsome face took on a hint of mischief. If he hadn't been her enemy, she might have found it endearing.
Thanking Mary silently, she proffered the fancy braided loaf.
"That looks wonderful," he said, taking bread and arm, pulling her further from her fire. "But not what I have a taste for."
Irene, held steady, moans escaping her despite how hard she fought them. Christian had learned her body as easily as Owen, found all the places that made her blood race. After every coupling, she hated him more for making her enjoy it. Why couldn't he continue to rape her roughly? The tenderness confused her. Today, though, it wasn't a problem. This was the man that had forced his seed into her, forced her to bear his child, made her play into his crack-brained religion. The fact that it was Easter and her vengeance was on the spit made her stronger.
"Well?" he asked her, prompting.
"Thank you, husband. I must return to my task," she told him, pulling her dress over her head.
"Make sure you take time to fix your hair," he told her brushing a hand through it and kissing her cheek. "You know how I like it."
She ground her teeth again, tempted to shave her head. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself. Soon. It would all be over soon.
Christian and his brother carried the spit to the table where she cut it off with her heavy knife. She tucked the blade back into her belt and nodded to the chief.
"Thank you, Irene. I could not ask for a better daughter."
She bared her teeth. They took it for a smile. He blessed the meat, fouled it with his patronizing words. Before he finished, she coughed, pretending bile had risen in her throat.
"Are you well?" Christian asked.
"I will be. Mary identified the problem." Irene nodded to the woman sitting next to her husband across the table. "I'm with child."
"Did you hear that?" he shouted, standing and lifting his glass. "I'm going to be a father!"
"Hallelujah!" was shouted through the group. Irene lifted her own glass and pretended to drink. Then she really did fight nausea.
"Go, Irene. Rest. Take care of my babe." Christian had never been so gleeful. She nodded and took off toward the house. She stopped before going that far and watched from behind a tree. The entire village was at the feast, even neighbours and distant relations. Nearly the entire clan. Mothers fed the poisoned meat to their children and Irene felt a pang of remorse, until she remembered that these were all Christians, all murderers of her people. She smiled most as Christian took second and third helpings. The sun had set and the lamps were lit when the first person was sick, one of the children. Soon every man, woman and child was retching. They spread out, each trying to find somewhere private.
Irene went to the chief first. He had nearly made his house. "You killed my family. Now I will kill yours." He clutched his throat, stopped her hand with the knife, but she was able to fight him off easily, weakened as he was by the sickness. She slit his throat and moved on to the nearest person.
She slew them all as quickly and efficiently as her hunting kills. She left Christian to last.
"Why? I loved you," he told her when she approached covered in the blood of his family.
"Because you killed everyone I loved." She wanted to give him pain, wanted to make him bleed, scream, burn, but when he sicked up on her shoes she couldn't stand to wait. She gripped his fair hair and slit his throat, walking away.
Now, she had to find Owen's father. Where had he said they lived?