Raven and Rachel walked out towards the corrals. George had been up early and headed out to bring in the horses. He and a few others were driving the herd into the corrals and the dust plumed over the rails.
“I count twenty-five,” said Rachel.
“Yes. That’s only seven missing,” said Raven. “George! How many are dead? How many missing?”
“Three dead, four missing as far as I can see. Unless I see a corpse or part of one, I count them as just missing,” George said from horseback. “Your baby is there.” George pointed at Rascal, the big black stallion.
Rachel held her hand out to the horses and rubbed muzzles as they came up to greet her. Rascal was one of the last to come up to her. He butted her hand and then rubbed against the fence until she came closer by climbing up the rails.
“I think someone missed you,” Raven said.
“Oh yes. Once he’s healed, I’ll look forward to riding him.”
Raven nodded. A few minutes later, they moved on to check on the sheep, various fowl and pigs. Next were the store houses and the gardens. By noon, Raven was exhausted. Rachel had him sit on a bench in the herb garden and went to get water.
“So, I leave you to yourself for half a day and already you should be back in bed?” said Maggie as she came up carrying a tray of food. Rachel was behind her with a pitcher of lemonade and mugs.
“Oh Maggie! I’ve got to do something. It’s making me stir crazy sitting inside,” said Raven. He took a glass of lemonade and downed it quickly.
“Aye, and well you should be taking it easy. You nearly died,” groused Maggie. “Not to mention the mess people made of the manor house. My kitchen is barely fit to feed hogs!”
“Now Maggie, don’t you think if you were a bit nicer to Morrin, he might work a little faster? I saw the tables he’s made. He’s been fretting too,” said Raven.
“Well,” Maggie hesitated.
“I know you two were lovers once. Have you kicked him out of bed for good?” asked Raven.
“Um… no, but we’ve been busy,” Maggie tried to back out of her fuss.
“Well, I don’t care if you’re ninety. Take the poor man to bed and thank him. Maybe he’ll work a wee bit faster then. You always told me you got more with honey than vinegar,” said Raven with a smile.
“Here’s your lunch!” Maggie said swiftly as her face turned bright red and she headed back to the manor kitchen. Raven and Rachel burst into laughter as soon as she was out of sight.
“I tried not to have her help me, but she’s in rare form. Nothing is right in her kitchen at the moment,” said Rachel.
“I know. Sit down and eat. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving,” said Raven.
“I am hungry,” said Rachel.
Half an hour later, Rachel took the tray and plates back to the kitchen while Raven went off to the sawmill. He wanted to see if the floor joists were ready for his old room. Ned was stacking beams with the help of some of the other men off to one side.
“Soon as we have them all cut, we can get that floor done. Good thing we had enough dry timber to cut,” said Ned as he explained things to Raven.
“Good. Once we have the joists in place, we can do the floor and ceiling in that section of the manor,” said Raven.
“Yes, M’lord,” said Ned. He smiled to see Raven moving around the Croft. He was also pleased that the fires never reached the sawmill.
Raven walked to the blacksmith shop. Morrin was working the forge. Sparks flew as he pounded a piece of metal with a hammer.
“What are you making?” Raven called from the door.
“A cleaver for Maggie,” Morrin said. “Lost one in the fire and now she wants to kill a few chickens for dinner. Doesn’t like using my hatchet.”
Raven laughed. “Your hatchet is nearly bigger than she is.”
“Yes. So I’m working on this here piece of metal,” said Morrin with a smile. He worked the metal, quenched it in the bucket and then heated it again to fix a flaw.
Raven waved and headed back to the manor house. He found Rachel in the library where she was directing men painting and replacing the bookshelves.
“A little to the left,” she said as they started to move too close to the window. She noticed Raven standing in the doorway and handed him a stool to sit on. “There. Stop!”
The men put the shelf down and Rachel surveyed it again. “That will do. Bolt it to the wall and then we can get some of these books off the floor.”
“Aye M’lady,” said one of the lads with a smile. Everyone was pleased that Raven and Rachel were home. Him for all he does for the Croft, and her for being a brave woman when all was falling apart. One young man started wiping off the books and setting them on the shelves.
“Here, Martin. Put that book on the second shelf to the right,” said Raven.
Martin startled and then began to work with Raven to put the books to right. It didn’t cost Raven any energy, and the books were soon clean and off the floor. Rachel in the meantime had been finding furnishings that were stored in out buildings and cellars that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. She came back to the library carrying a wooden rocker and followed by two men carrying rugs and tapestries.
“I don’t know who stuffed these in a cellar, but they are certainly usable,” said Rachel.
Raven looked up at the items entering the room. “Oh, those would be my grandparents or great-grandparent’s things. My mom detested all the hunting scenes. I’d forgotten all about them.”
“Well, they are going up in here and in the hall to cover the bare walls. Most of the other tapestries that were hanging are either smoky or beyond repair. Some of them might make cushions, or dog blankets,” said Rachel.
Raven stifled a laugh at the thought of his hunting dogs laying on a tapestry for a bed. However, he’d learned that Rachel and Maggie thought alike when it came to being practical. He just nodded and then helped Rachel decide where the various pieces might go.
“I even found more chairs that with a little help from Rosie, might be good enough to sit on for more than five minutes,” said Rachel.
“Oh? Are we expecting company?” asked Raven.
“Yes. Lord Fowler and Lady Peri have planned to visit as soon as we are ready. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a few extra hands to help with the rebuilding.”
“I’d wondered, but figured that I was just not tracking people,” said Raven.
“Oh no. Maggie and Lady Peri were cooking up plans during the wedding. I wondered who all the extra people were in the kitchen and Maggie admitted to the fact that we have twelve or fourteen extra people to help us rebuild.”
“And what is the cost?” asked Raven.
“One, that we have a party for all the lords and ladies. Two, that we consider hiring a few of the men and three, Lord Fowler needed some timber for houses. Ned has been cutting for him between needs for the manor,” explained Rachel.
“Ah. Well we did have the drying sheds full of wood. It is remarkable that they didn’t torch the sheds.”
“I think Ned and his men guarded those better than they did the manor. The manor was repairable. Trees take time to grow,” said Rachel. “I think this room will be just fine.”
Raven looked around at the library. Tapestries on the walls, new paint, shelves and books in place and a decent scattering of chairs and small tables. “Agreed. Shall we brave the kitchen and see if Maggie has managed to cook?”
Rachel nodded. As they walked down the hall, and once they were alone, Raven pushed Rachel up against the wall and kissed her hard. Rachel moaned and felt the heat rise in her body as he squeezed her breasts. Then, just as quickly as he’d stopped, Raven walked on as if nothing had happened. Rachel tugged her overtunic down and tried to walk, knowing her trousers were soaked at the crotch.
“You brat!” she whispered.
“No, your master,” he replied with a well aimed swat on the ass. Before she could say anything else, they were at the kitchen door.
In spite of her protests, Maggie had managed chicken pies with veggies, salad greens, fresh bread and plum cake.
“I can’t eat another drop,” said Raven. “Thank you Maggie.”
“You’re welcome. Good to see your appetite coming back,” she said.
“Yes. Now don’t forget to be nice to Morrin. I know he made you a new cleaver and toasting fork today,” said Raven.
“Aye, and you just mind your own business. Don’t be giving him ideas above his station,” Maggie muttered.
Raven smiled as he and Rachel left the kitchen. When they got down the hall, he made her go up the stairs first. At each step, he spanked first one cheek and then the other. By the time they reached the top of the stair case, he could tell that she was wet.
When they got to the room, instead of letting her undress, he had her hold onto the bedposts.
“Raven,” she moaned as he stroked her ass through the fabric of her trousers.
“You’ll wait, just as I’ve had to all day. The sight of you in trousers just makes me want to take you every time you bend over,” he said huskily.
“And I’ve been wet and horny all day. Please Raven. Your spanking didn’t help.”
Raven pulled off her boots and stockings. Then he pulled down her trousers and tossed them to one side. As she stood there, ass exposed, he undressed. He ran his fingers up her thighs, and when she arched back towards him, he ran his hand between her thighs.
“Rrraven,” she moaned.
Raven wiggled his fingers and smiled as she shuddered with nearly attained pleasure. He stopped, climbed onto the bed and then gestured for Rachel to join him. Before she got very far, he turned her and placed her on hands and knees. Moving between her thighs, he rubbed his cock against her cleft and then slid inside. “Ah, he moaned as he grabbed her hips.
Rachel’s reply was muffled by the fact that her shirt and overtunic slid forward. She groaned with pleasure and raised her head up off of the bed. Raven reached one hand up to cup her breast as he drove hard against her body. It didn’t take much to push them both over the edge. Raven growled his pleasure while Rachel came with soft gasps. The two of them fell to the bed and lay there gasping.
After a bit, Rachel took off her clothes and the two of them snuggled under the bed covers. Just as they were almost asleep, there was a noise from below.
“Shush,” he said trying to listen. The sound repeated and then Raven smiled and laughed softly.
“What is it?” asked Rachel.
“That was Morrin. I do believe that Maggie has thanked him properly for all his hard work.”