Her eyes flew wide, fear filling them. Brian could not consider taking her back. But he had no right to force her to go home with him to Ath Sionnain.
But if she asked for help... Yes, if she asked he could help her escape the sorry fate her sire had planned for her.
"Fionnula, shall I accompany you back home?"
Her hands closed around her breasts, barely covering their enticing fullness. It was a gesture of self-protection, he knew, but he could only think that her breasts would fill his hands perfectly. He could already feel their warmth and weight, the smooth flesh.
Jerking his mind away from her breasts and back where it belonged, he asked for the third time, "Shall I take you home?"
She raised her wondrous eyes to meet his gaze. "Home?" she asked, as though she had no idea what the word meant. She shook her head. "That is not my home. It is merely where I exist."
Brian stared at her for a moment. "A sad thing to say. You know if you ask me, I can give you help."
Her nakedness was growing more distracting, along with the growing urge of his body at the sight of her. He swept his cloak from his shoulders.
Fionnula jerked away from him. He slowed his movement. What had been done to this girl to make her so skittish?
"I only mean to lend you my cloak to cover yourself if you will accept it." He held the cloak away, giving her time to come to trust him. He tried a smile and a joke. "It will get cold as we ride. Unless you wish me to leave you in your copse. Perhaps the wee folk will come along as they return from their trooping and take you with them."
Her eyes narrowed. "Do you make mock of me?"
"Never, my lady. Never." He waited a moment before asking, "Will you accept my cloak?"
She nodded. "I will accept your kindness. And thank you." As he wrapped the cloak around her, she grabbed his arm. "But please do not take me back there."
"Why do you not wish to return home?" he asked, though he knew enough to justify her desire.
She snorted. "Do you not know? I am nothing more than a servant or property to be bartered. I would prefer to serve in a household where I was not also a daughter." She dug her fingers into his arm. "I know your family is wealthy and powerful. I could serve them. I work very hard, sir. I would not be a burden."
"Your father has arranged a marriage for you. Surely, being a wife and mistress of your own household is better than being a servant to strangers?"
"That depends on the household's master, does it not? I will not marry the Viking."
"I cannot fault your decision on that score."
Her grip faltered. "I suppose my father would pay you for returning me."
Pity stirred in his heart. There was not enough gold in Ireland to make him give her back.