I've always wondered about Siobhan and Liam, how they met, how they came to be. I started this story one night when I was in a dark depression, and the story seemed to fit perfectly into Siobhan's voice.

I will warn you that the story does contain violence toward a woman. No person should have to endure this kind of violence.

A million thanks to my beta, Mr. Bigg, who encourages me when I think I can't go on, and lifts me out of that dark place. Thank you. (It's not enough, I know.) Also, thank you to the CheshireCat himself, for listening with attentiveness to all my nonsense.


He was jacking off again and I wasn't sure I could stand it.

I bit the inside of my lip, trying desperately to squelch the need that coursed down the veins of my arms. I just wanted to touch him, to rub my body against him, feel the smoothness of his skin. I was desperate; I wanted him to want me. I rolled my crotch towards his leg, yearning for the feel of his skin against mine, the heat of passion to bloom against my most tender parts. I wanted a man's touch, a man's love, his desire.

"Don't touch me! God!" He stopped rubbing his cock as I jerked away, anger breaking through his self-induced pleasure. "I've told you about this. Do you want me to leave? Are you trying to drive me away?"

"No, no, please. I'll be good, I promise." I knew I sounded like a whiny, petulant child, but I couldn't keep the disappointment out of my voice.

"Jesus, Siobhan. You know what that does to me," he hissed, let a shiver of disgust undulate across his shoulders, spilling exasperation and frustration into a fog of pain around me. "If you can't restrain yourself to keep off of me, then you can't watch. I'll tell you when you can move." I rolled my tongue across my lips in hunger.

It was painful to watch him, night after night, gratifying himself as he denied my touch. His cock was thick and hard, and my desire was such that I could just imagine how good it would feel inside me. But night after night, that's all I could do – imagine. He'd made it clear that not only he, but no man, would ever touch me again.

I couldn't blame him, really. We'd met when I young; he was ambitious and I was hopeful. I'd never seen a man like him before, strong and straight and beautiful – and he said he loved me. My lonely heart wanted so badly to believe him, that I convinced myself things would be magical between us. I wrapped my being around that desire, willing it into existence, so that it was no surprise when my foolish head nodded when he asked me to marry.

My father looked deep into my eyes, trying to divine a reason to hesitate as he gave him my hand. He'd watched me for days before, singing to myself, stopping only to stare off into the distance out the kitchen window, sighing and behaving like the lovesick schoolgirl I was. He flinched as they sealed the bargain with a handshake, holding his tongue and keeping his emotions in check. He never spoke the reasons to me until the day of my wedding, when he mumbled as he escorted me down the aisle. "I hope you know what's what, girl. This one has a vicious soul." I hadn't listened. I saw only the man who would be my husband, waiting at the altar, waiting for me, and the hope of our life together pushed my feet forward.

He'd taken my virginity the first night of our wedding, and performed his marriage duties with only compunction and no joy, but I was young and inexperienced. I believed it was just his way, just the way of marriage, just the way of life.

Then my father died. All the love and tenderness I'd known in this world was laid to rest in the ground with my father's body. I was left with an inheritance of wealth and land, and in our cornet of the world, we were considered well to do. The few friends I'd had began to see me differently, and whispers erupted about the foundation of my marriage.

Things changed swiftly. He withdrew from casual interaction with me, offering only stretches of silence interrupted by grunted demands at meals. He busied himself in the fields during the day and the bar in the evening, leaving me with an absence of company that grew into a resentful distance. Appearances were kept, consisting of barely tolerated accompaniment in public. Privately, our relationship was punctuated with his barking commands and brooding silences, my tears and anxious groveling. As the depths of his cruelty reached me, I grew increasingly desperate, aching for touch or kindness, interaction of any kind. Over time, his silences evolved to vitriolic and cutting remarks, so that we were now reduced to this.

His muscles began to clench as his fist pumped faster, harder. "Vahnie, bring your face over my cock. Let me come on your face," he panted, and my insides softened with the sound of his endearment. Humiliated as I was, I knew this was as close to having sex as I was going to get. I moved over him, watching. His eyes squeezed shut and his face pulled into a grimace as his cum hit my cheek. "Jesus!" He never opened his eyes or saw the debasement he dealt, only continued stroking, his body jerking, my body on fire. The need in me did not slacken and found no release. I watched his face with hopeful eyes. His eyes finally opened as his hand stopped, and he frowned, eyeing me. "Clean yourself up. Bring me a warm towel."

And we were done.

I walked to the bathroom, trying desperately to hold back the tears I knew he hated. I rounded the corner and lit the candle, regarding my reflection as the white goo slid over my round cheeks to the folds of my neck. As I considered my ruined face, I couldn't pull a coherent thought together. I was pathetic, a joke, wanting and knowing that I was alone. This wasn't what I wanted, not what I needed. This wasn't right.

"It's not going to clean itself," he called from the bed. "Could you act a wee bit more lively?" I pumped the handle, splashing the water on my face with further no delay. The washcloth hung next to the bath, and I grabbed it, wiping my face dry. I dipped it under water and wrung it out, rolling the cloth between my hands to warm it with my body heat.

"Did you use that?"

"No, of course not," I lied. I prayed he wouldn't catch me.

"Well, come on," he growled impatiently. I walked to the bed, and bent down to wipe his cock and stomach. "Siobhan, put some clothes on. Try to be decent for a change."

I walked back to my side of the bed and pulled on my gown. It was a cold night and the wind howled. Rest would not come for hours yet, hours that would be spent aching with need. I struggled back into the bed, my backside to where he lay. "Goodnight, my love," I said softly, and was answered by the bleating rhythm of his snores.

The walk to town was always my private time to think and dream and imagine a better life. The canopy of the trees provided a shady, bowered pathway, one that was only occasionally dotted with rays of light. I swung my basket as I walked, singing to myself and enjoying the air.

I knew this path well. As a girl, I had skipped and sung my way through life, imagining princes and saviors in the woods, men who wanted me and only me, who were not only willing but eager to have me as their woman. Though those dreams were only a girl's folly, I thought about them often as I walked, longing for that salvation, amazed at how differently my life had turned out.

Today, I let my mind wander, imagining walking this path with a phantom lover by my side. The wild hyacinth were in beautiful bloom, ringing the forest floor off the path in a rich, blue, circled carpet. Tiny bursts of life skittered along the ground, quivering in the undergrowth and blending in the bracken.

My father had admonished me as a child not to pick the flowers, lecturing and scaring me with old tales of dark tragedies that befell the holders of the bloom. I had heard his tone but disregarded his words; the flowers were beautiful and temptation always won out over fear. Today, the dark canopy overhead seemed foreboding, though, and as I walked, I considered that perhaps I would have been wiser to take him at his word. Still, the scent and the color were enticing, overwhelming and seductive. I found myself wandering from the path, eager to lay beneath the blue carpet and lose myself in their beauty. I pulled a bloom to my face to inhale and savor its scent.

"It's unlucky to pluck a bluebell," a honey-laden voice crooned, deep as the forest gloom, "Especially those that circle you." I bolted upright, panic seizing me as I searched for the source of the sound. The woods were empty, quiet and motionless, daylight dripping through in soundless spots. I sat motionless save my shallow, startled breathing, my heart pounding out a wild tattoo.

"Who speaks?" I whispered, my voice all but stolen by my fright.

"One who would never harm you, lass," the voice replied, closer, yet still invisible. I moved to my knees, my head swiveling from side to side, pulling my arms in tight to my ribcage trying to tame my wild beating against my chest.

"Show yourself, if no harm is intended," I whispered. I waited for the response. Every nerve and sinew in my body was tense and panicked, and I could not breath, though my heart raced wildly.

"You best be to market, lass, before the best be gone," the voice trilled, laughing. The humor in the voice rang deep in my belly, electric and intriguing. I blinked, waiting, expecting some devil to spring out of the trees themselves. But as the moments ticked by, there was nothing, a soundless, reverberating nothing. The woods stood quiet, reaching toward the empty air. I took a long, slow breath in through my mouth, willing myself calm. I still knelt, attuned to attack, sensing more than hearing or seeing movement.

Slowly, my muscles began to uncoil, the hair on my nape relaxing and settling in the wake of fear that had gripped me. I stood, laying the bluebells across my basket. No motion or sound was evident, and I became sure of my solitude - I knew it as I knew my own name. Though my curiosity was completely engaged, the excited terror fled me, and I brushed my skirts, returning unhurriedly to the path to market. I did not scan the woods for saviors or villains, but hurried along, head down, until I broke into a run.

A/N: I hope you liked Chapter 1, and will let me know by leaving a review. I'm doing something a little different this time, posting all the chapters at once, but don't let that preclude your review.