Cousins Heming MacNachton and Tearlach MacAdie are bound by the same blood,
the same ancient curse, and now the same quest: to search out the enemies of their
clan—hunters who consider them soulless demons and intend to exterminate
them. But no sooner have Heming and Tearlach begun than they are drugged, separated,
and taken captive. One is brought deep into the borderlands of Scotland, the other,
in the dreary depths of Northern England. Caged and weakened, only two brave women
give them hope…
Brona Kerr and Lady Lucy Blytheswood are irresistibly drawn to the mysterious
prisoners. Together, the women resolve to save them. In doing so, they will safeguard
the clan’s future and their own. For they are promised to cruel men who
will do anything to possess them and the status that comes with them. Now Brona
and Lucy must cross perilous terrain to fight for their lives—and for the
men with whom they discover an eternal passion they never imagined…
Lucy glanced around the inn, uncomfortably aware of a strange buzz of excitement
in the air. It had started when the two Scots had entered.
Nay, before that even, she thought with a frown. Everything had seemed
relatively normal when she and her brother had first been ushered inside by Wymon
Carbonnel. He’d insisted on seeing them back to the boundary of his land
after their day at Carbonnel castle, and then had been equally insistent on their
stopping for a meal at the inn on the border where his property met theirs.
Lucy had not been pleased with the delay. It had already been growing dark
and she’d just wanted to go home and get this uncomfortable day behind them.
It had been a long day for her. She’d spent the better part of it on tenterhooks
dreading the proposal she’d feared coming, and dreading even more the man’s
reaction when she refused him. Wymon could be dreadfully unpleasant when crossed.
However, all that anxiety had apparently been for naught. The man finally had
proposed before they’d left Carbonnel, but he’d taken her refusal
much better than she’d expected, merely nodding with a half smile as if
he’d expected it and was untroubled by the rejection.
Lucy supposed it was partially out of gratitude for his easy acceptance that
she’d allowed herself to be convinced into stopping for the meal. She knew
it was also the reason her brother, John, had given in gracefully and allowed
the delay in their returning home. There had simply been no polite way to refuse
and neither of them had wanted to be churlish when he’d taken her refusal
so well, so had agreed to the meal.
Apart from the fact that they really hadn’t wished to be there -- or
perhaps because they’d been distracted by that -- nothing had seemed abnormal
at first. The inn had been surprisingly busy for that hour of the evening, the
innkeeper and two serving wenches bustling to serve the men their ales and good
hearty food. Although, Lucy had been uncomfortably aware that, despite how busy
it was, she was the only female there besides the two serving girls. Other than
that, however, everything had been fine…But then one of Carbonnel’s
men had entered and nodded at Wymon and the room had suddenly gone oddly quiet
for the briefest of moments, all conversation dying as the other men noted the
When the conversations had started up again an instant later, the sound had
seemed a little louder, a little more hearty and -- compared to what had passed
before -- quite unnatural.
Then the two Scots had entered. Both were tall, well built men, both attractive
in their own way. They’d taken seats away from the others and eyed the occupants
of the inn with cold narrow eyes.
It was only when the innkeeper himself had gone to the table to serve the men
that Lucy had realized that the two serving maids were now absent. That fact,
along with the undertone of excitement in the air was making her feel a bit nervous.
There was a definite feeling that something was going to happen. Apparently, she
wasn’t the only one to think so, she realized when John touched her arm
and she glanced his way to see the sharp look of concern in his eyes.
“If you are finished, Lucy. I think ‘tis time we continued on home,”
he said quietly.
“Aye,” she murmured getting to her feet.
Thankfully, Carbonnel didn’t protest, but stood silently to follow them
from the inn.
Lucy frowned as they stepped out into the courtyard and she saw how dark the
night had gotten. The sun had been making its downward journey when they’d
stopped, but she hadn’t realized how close it had been to nightfall. It
appeared she and John would be making the rest of the journey in the dark which
meant they would have to travel at a more sedate pace to guard against their mounts
injuring themselves on the uneven road. It would be quite late when they finally
arrived back at Blytheswood, but that couldn’t be helped now, she supposed
and sighed inwardly.
“You wait here, Lucy. I shall see to your mount while your brother saddles
his own,” Carbonnel said with a smile which Lucy automatically returned
even as she once again experienced surprise at how well he was taking all this.
Wymon wasn’t a man to take disappointment well. She supposed that spoke
of how little he’d really wished to marry her. She wasn’t terribly
surprised. Marrying her would have gained him very little. John had inherited
the bulk of their parent’s assets on their deaths a year ago, gaining Blytheswood
castle and its environs, while she’d inherited a small demesne from her
mother. She had no doubt Wymon, as a second son, would prefer to bride a woman
with her own castle for him to run. It was really rather surprising that he’d
offered for her hand at all.
Lucy started to glance back into the depths of the stable where her brother
and Wymon were saddling the animals, but paused as the inn door suddenly opened
and the first of the two Scots came out. She’d noted in the brief glance
she’d cast their way when they’d entered the inn that both men were
attractive, but hadn’t really taken the time to examine those good looks.
Now, as the two men stumbled out of the inn, she took the time to do so, allowing
her eyes to slide over wide strong shoulders and sculpted features.
The first Scot was handsome enough, but for some reason her attention kept
returning to the second man, getting caught on his stern, strong features in the
torchlight of the inn yard. She finally forced her gaze to continue on, noting
the long dark hair that fell about his shoulders, and wondering if it was as soft
as it looked. Her gaze then dropped over the white tunic and dark plaid he wore,
then touched briefly on the big, wicked sword strapped to his side before continuing
on to his naked legs.
Englishmen wore leggings or braies on their own legs, so it was only with Scots
that a girl could see the fine shape of a man’s knee and calf. She found
herself ogling the poor man, grateful that he was unable to see her standing in
the shadows of the stables.
Her eyes were still on his legs when the man stumbled. Frowning, she shifted
her concentration to take in the whole scene and noted that the other Scot seemed
to be having trouble walking as well. Both were staggering a bit as if drunk,
though she hadn’t noticed them drinking much in the inn. Still, there was
a definite wobble to their walk.
Even as she began to frown over this, first one, then the other of the two
men suddenly stumbled and sank to their knees so that they knelt in the dirt of
the inn yard, swaying weakly. ‘Twas obvious they were fighting whatever
was happening to them, but were unable to combat it and the next moment both of
them collapsed side by side in the dirt. They’d barely settled on the ground
when the inn door opened again and most, if not all of the men from inside, began
to pour out. Even as they began to surround the two Scots on the ground more men
began to appear from the sides of the building, milling out to join the others
until she could no longer see the Scots.
Knowing something underhand was happening, Lucy glanced back toward the rear
of the stables to call her brother forward and see what they could do for the
two men, only to freeze as she saw Wymon plunge a knife into her brother’s
unsuspecting neck from behind. She and John both stiffened in shock as the blade
went in, then it was withdrawn and plunged in again, this time a little to the
side of the first spot.
Mouth still open on her unspoken cry, Lucy’s horrified gaze met her brother’s.
They stared at each other with shared shock for a moment, then the life left his
eyes and her brother crumbled like an empty cape.
“Why so shocked?”
Lucy blinked and slowly turned her eyes from her fallen brother to Wymon. While
she’d gaped in horror, he’d retrieved his knife and crossed to stand
before her. She stared at him with incomprehension, her mind not yet capable of
accepting anything that was happening.
“Surely you did not think I would take your refusal gracefully, did you?”
he asked with a chiding smile, then shook his head and took her arm to turn her
away and lead her out of the stables.
In her stunned state, Lucy followed docilely for perhaps two steps before regaining
enough of her sense to begin to struggle. The moment she did Wymon paused and
punched her in the side of the head. Light exploded behind her eyes, followed
quickly by pain, and Lucy gasped as she began to fall. Then she felt herself scooped
up and carried. She was barely conscious when she felt herself being passed off
to someone else to hold.
The last thing she heard before darkness claimed her was someone saying, “Ye
take the MacAdie, I’ll take the other and guid luck to us both.”
-return to top-