As identical twins, Bothan and Calum MacNachton share a bond stronger than
most brothers, one forged by a terrible secret. Rumors and dark tales have been
whispered about their clan for centuries. For they roam the Highlands at night,
driven by a savage hunger that can never be sated. Their only hope lies in marriage
to outsiders, mortal women whose pure blood will weaken the hold of their eternal
curse. Now, alone and on the hunt for their brides, Bothan and Calum are at the
mercy of both Outsiders and whatever new dangers love brings…
Kenna Brodie and Sarra DeCourcey know what it is to stand apart. As strong
proud women, they are determined to prove themselves to their clan no matter what
it takes. They’ve heard the terrible, whispered warnings, but nothing could
prepare them for the handsome brothers whose fierce, unyielding desires are beyond
What Bothan and Calum promise is a life unlike any Kenna and Sarra have ever
known. Now, as battle lines are drawn and love’s most dangerous secrets
are revealed, Kenne and Sarra must choose whether to betray their dark lords or
stand and fight for a passion that will never die…
My Immortal Highlander
It was a shriek that startled Calum MacNachton from sleep. Eyes shooting open,
he sat up abruptly and cursed as his head slammed into solid rock. It didn't slow
him much. Ignoring the pain in his head, he rolled out from under the overhang
where he’d nested and gained his feet.
Calum was moving the moment his feet hit the ground, inching along the narrow
space between his horse and the cave wall, hand pressed to his stallion’s
flank to help keep his balance in the narrow confines.
The shriek that had awoken him was still carrying on and seemed to echo around
the dark cave, bouncing off the stone walls and eating into his still groggy mind.
Dear God, the suffering was painful to listen to. Eyes squinted shut and expression
a grimace, Calum stumbled past his horse to the bend in the cave.
The stygian darkness eased the moment he turned the corner into the small
open alcove that looked out onto the clearing. Bright sunlight was creeping around
the bush that concealed the entrance to the cave. That light made his footsteps
slow as he approached.
Calum had a natural aversion to sunlight, as did the rest of his people. Most
of his kind couldn't bear it at all. He could, but not much, and hesitated at
the bush, peering out into the clearing in search of the death scene that had
What he found was a peaceful scene. A mare stood munching at the grass that
ran along the river, apparently unconcerned by the shrieking. At first, the horse
appeared to be the only presence in the clearing, but then the animal lifted its
head, twitched its ears and shifted, moving to the water’s edge to drink
of the clear, cool stream. Calum immediately spotted the woman in the water. She
was still shrieking, but it wasn’t a death cry, he realized. The woman was
attempting to sing. Attempting being the key word. The creature was warbling in
the most God awful, off-tune manner he’d ever heard.
Calum’s concern immediately gave way to irritation. He’d almost
have been more pleased had murder been taking place as he’d first thought.
At least then it would have meant an eventual end to this horrendous sound. As
it was, the woman could warble away endlessly in this painful fashion.
Sagging with disgust that his sleep had been disturbed thusly, Calum glared
at the girl. For one moment, he considered shouting out, or scaring her in some
other manner that might send her running, but then his better judgment kicked
in and he decided against it. The chit would just run to her village and send
men back. His resting spot would be discovered and he’d have to move on.
It had been a relatively comfortable spot until now. The cave was dry, cool and
dark, conducive to a good day’s sleep. He supposed he’d just have
to suffer her presence and her horrid attempt at singing until—
Calum blinked as the girl suddenly stood up in the stream. Water rushed down
her naked skin, leaving small droplets behind to glitter on her pale flesh like
diamonds under the bright afternoon sun.
Dear God, the woman was completely naked!
Calum supposed he shouldn’t be surprised, she was bathing after all,
but judging by the quality of her mare, the woman was a lady. Most ladies bathed
in their chemise for modesty’s sake. A ridiculous practice he’d always
thought. Apparently, this young woman agreed with him.
His gaze slid over her again, this time with more interest. Her hair was piled
on her head, long, honey gold tresses trapped in a haphazard bun that he noted
was threatening to fall. Afraid it would do so and cloak her beauty before he’d
fully explored it, Calum let his gaze drop. His eyes slid over the hollows and
plains of her back, then to the soft, round curves of her hips before his view
was finally obscured. However, it wasn’t her hair that blocked his view,
it was the back of a man suddenly stepping in the way that hid the little blonde
Calum shifted to the side a bit in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the
girl again, but the man was still in the way. He scowled at the unknowing man’s
back for destroying his view and wondered where he’d come from. The clearing
had been empty of anything but the mare when he’d first peered out, and
Calum hadn’t heard the sound of hoof beats to warn of anyone’s approach.
He supposed the man must be with the girl. He must have ridden in with her
on the one horse and been off relieving himself in the bushes when Calum first
His thoughts scattered as the man suddenly shifted and the girl was again
revealed. Calum had a very brief glimpse of her creamy perfection, then her hair
finally escaped its bindings and fell around her shoulders, cloaking her in golden
tresses. The horrible warbling promptly ended as she ‘tsked’ her displeasure
and reached up to catch the wayward hair at the nape of her neck. She performed
the maneuvers necessary to return it to the top of her head.
Calum stared with fascination at the curve of breast revealed by her raised
arms and wished she’d turn in the water so that he could see all of that
breast. Luck wasn’t with him, however, and she didn’t. The girl had
just finished with her hair when the man spoke.
“Lady DeCourcey.” The greeting was filled with a sly
amusement Calum didn’t care for. He watched as the girl stiffened with surprise,
then she dropped her hands to cover herself and sank back into the water as she
turned to face shore. Her wide, alarmed eyes told Calum at once that he’d
misjudged the situation. The man wasn’t with her. He supposed that meant
the other three men who suddenly moved into view in the clearing weren’t
Calum heaved a small sigh, his hand moving down to clasp the grip of his sword
as he listened to the exchange.
“Jocks.” The woman sounded confused and wary. “What do you
“Lord d’Angers wishes to see you,” the man announced. “He
sent us to bring you to him.”
Rather than reassure the girl, this news seemed to make her more wary. “Why
did he not call on me at DeCourcey?”
“He knows your father is ill and had no wish to trouble him with company,”
the man said blithely. Calum saw the girl’s mouth tighten.
“You mean he knows my father is ill and hopes to force me to marry him
so that he might take over DeCourcey and merge it with his land once father is
dead,” she said shortly. “You may tell him I am not interested.”
fear you shall have to tell him yourself. I have orders to bring you to him and
bring you to him I will.”
“Kidnap me, you mean,” she said bitterly.
The man inclined his head. “Call it what you will. I have my orders.”
Calum watched the girl, seeing the way her eyes now shot around the clearing
from her clothes, to her mount, to the surrounding woods, then along the river
bank. She was seeking an escape route, but there wasn’t one to be had. One
of the four men had taken her mount by the reigns, the other had gathered up her
gown and chemise. The men now simply stood, waiting. If she tried to swim up or
down stream, they would follow. Her only choice was to stay in the water until
they tired and went in after her, or to come out under her own power.
Calum shifted in the silence, telling himself it wasn’t any of his business.
Despite that, his gaze kept returning to the girl, noting the pretty face, the
lovely, honey hair and the proud, grim expression that belied the fear he could
sense coming from her.
She was in a fix, that was certain, and she was alone against four men. One
chit against four men hardly seemed a fair fight to him. On the other hand, it
wasn’t any of his business, Calum reminded himself again. He’d merely
stopped to rest for the day before continuing on with his journey at sunset, but….
“Ah hell,” Calum muttered under his breath and started to push
his way through the bush at the mouth of the cave.
Sarra DeCourcey stared at the men before her with frustration. She was in a
fine bind and knew it. D’Angers had hinted at his intentions when her father's
health had first begun to fail, suggesting a merger of their lands and titles
could be of great benefit to them both. Sarra had stared at him with open horror
at the suggestion. The man was her father's age and had buried three wives already;
two lost to childbirth, along with the wee babes they would have brought into
this world, the other having died most recently from a fall down the stairs that
was questionable. All knew d’Angers wasn't pleased that his last wife wasn't
bearing fruit despite five years of his dedicated efforts to plant his seed. It
was suspected the accident wasn’t an accident at all. Being Lady d’Angers
was obviously perilous.
While that had been the first time d’Angers had suggested marriage to
Sarra herself, she knew he’d talked to her father of it before. He’d
tried to talk her father into a merger at least three times since she'd come of
age, but Lord DeCourcey wouldn't hear of it. It appeared now that her father's
health was failing, d’Angers had decided to force the issue.
Sarra knew without a doubt that if his men took her to d’Angers, she
would be forced into the marriage whether she wanted it or not…and then
forced into bed to consummate it.
The thought wasn’t a pleasant one and her panicky gaze slid from Jocks,
to the other three men with him. One held her chemise and the pale blue gown she’d
worn over it, his grubby hands smoothing over the material again and again as
he licked his lips and peered at her.
Sarra shuddered and shifted her gaze to the man next to him, this one had
the reigns of her mount twisted around his talon-like fingers. Both her clothes
and mare were lost to her, she supposed unhappily, her gaze sliding past the last
of the three men with Jocks and along the embankment. Could she swim downstream
and get out before they caught her? And then what? A naked run through the woods
back to DeCourcey?
She grimaced at the very idea of one of these men tackling her to the ground
in such a state, then recalled the secret passage to the castle. The entrance
was a long tunnel that started in a hidden cave in this very clearing. If she
could lure the men away, and slip back here unmolested… Even if they followed,
she would soon lose them in the rocky, twists and turns of the tunnels.
Even as her gaze slid to the hidden cave, the bushes filling its mouth suddenly
parted to allow a man to slip through. He was tall, broad-shouldered, lean and
moved with the sleek grace of a cat. He was also dressed in a kilt, giving away
that he was a Scot and Sarra watched in fascination as he crossed the clearing.
Catching her eye, the man gave what Sarra suspected was supposed to be a reassuring
smile, but what really looked like a fierce grimace to her. Still, for some reason,
she was less afraid of this stranger than of the four men between them. Sarra
supposed it had something to do with the way d’Angers men were leering at
her lasciviously. In contrast, the newcomer wasn’t paying any attention
at all to her nudity, his focus appeared to be wholly on the men he approached.
Her gaze slid back to the three men and their leers. None of them seemed to
hear the stranger approach and for a moment, Sarra felt sure he would take them
by surprise, but then one of the men – the one holding her gown –
stiffened and started to turn as if he’d heard or sensed something.
Panic coursing through her, Sarra did the only thing she could think of to
distract him, she stood up in the water. It was a nervous, jerky action and loosed
her hair once again, allowing it to flow down to help cover her naked body before
it disappeared in the water that reached her waist.
D’Angers man promptly stopped his turn, his eyes locking and widening
on her naked flesh. He received a cosh on the side of the head with the flat of
the stranger’s sword for his trouble.
Of course, the sound as he crumpled to the ground caught the attention of
the other three men and Sarra sighed with relief as they tore their eyes from
her to note the new comer to the clearing. There was a moment of complete silence
and stillness, then Jock’s asked, “Who the devil are you?”
“Calum MacNachton,” the man answered easily.
“MacNacton,” she breathed. Sarra had heard of the clan. Everyone
had heard of them. It was said they were fierce warriors and there were whispers
that there were witches and changlings and other boogiemen threaded through their
clan. Sarra didn’t put much truck with gossip.
“Well, what business do you have here?” Jocks asked with a frown,
a wary look having come to his face.
“Naught,” Calum acknowledged easily, then added, “But then
I’m thinkin’neither ha’e ye.”
Jocks eyes narrowed. “I am here for the lady.”
“Aye, well, Goldy doesnae appear to wish to go with ye,” he pointed
Sarra blinked. Goldy? Her hand went unconsciously to her hair as her mind
made the connection to the reason for the nickname.
“This is none of your business, friend,” Jock’s said grimly.
“Leave now and I will not have my men kill you.”
Calum raised a vaguely amused eyebrow and countered, “And if ye leave
now, I’ll no ha’e to kill ye and yer men.”
Sarrra bit her lip anxiously as his men glanced to Jocks. They all watched
the conflict on his face and then he heaved a sigh and shook his head. Her heart
sank as he drew his sword and moved forward, his men following his lead.
She’d hoped he’d consider it too much trouble and just leave,
but it had been a foolish hope. Calum MacNachton was just one man against the
three. She very much feared he would be quickly and easily dispatched and then
she would be taken anyway. Sarra would not see this brave man die in a courageous,
but doomed, attempt to save her. She opened her mouth to say as much, but had
left it too long she saw as the battle began and the first clang of metal against
metal rang out in the clearing. Sarra quickly began to make her way out of the
Water was difficult to move quickly through unless you were swimming. It was
a lesson Sarra had learned long ago, but still the fact annoyed her as she struggled
through the shallow water to shore. She was impatient and slightly frantic by
the time she rushed up the bank to snatch her clothing back from the hands of
the unconscious man who still held them. Unfortunately, the idiot had fallen on
both her chemise and gown and she had quite a struggle getting the items free.
Sarra managed to pull the chemise out from beneath the man and don the thin
undertunic. Once that was on, she bent to try to free the gown, glancing over
her shoulder as she did. Much to her alarm, the MacNachton seemed to be struggling.
He was holding his own against the three men, but barely and all it would take
was a misstep or slip for them to be on him.
Momentarily giving up on retrieving her gown, Sarra straightened and glanced
around the clearing, searching for something to use as a weapon. The unconscious
man had a sword, but he was presently laying on it.
Spotting a long, thick branch laying further along the bank, she rushed to
grab it. The branch was heavy with water, but she managed to heft it and lug it
back up the bank. Sarra then had some trouble raising it over her shoulder and
almost overbalanced when she finally did.
Steadying herself, she stepped a little closer to the nearest of Jocks’
men and swung the branch forward with a grunt, satisfaction coursing through her
at the solid thud as she hit the man soundly over the head. He went down like
a sack of wheat.
Her gaze slid to Calum MacNachton then. Sarra wasn’t sure what she’d
expected. A thank you perhaps, or at least a smile of gratitude. Instead, he scowled
at her for her trouble and snapped, “Dress, woman.”
Sarra blew her breath out with exasperation.
“That’s gratitude for you,” she muttered, dropping the wood
and turning back to the first unconscious man to grab for her gown again.
“’Tis not as if I am naked. See if I bother to help him again,”
she added in a growl as she began to tug at her gown anew. She was put out and
that irritation went into her pulling so that she did manage to tug her gown free
this time. Unfortunately, Sarra wasn’t prepared for it to come loose so
abruptly and squawked as she stumbled backward and fell on her behind on the muddy
She’d barely registered the bone jarring jolt to her bottom, when a
rough hand caught her arm and dragged her back to her feet.
“Quit muckin’ about and get dressed,” Calum MacNachton hissed.
“Mucking about?” Sarra echoed with disbelief, turning in time
to see him raise his sword against a blow from Jocks. Releasing her then, the
man returned his full attention to the battle and Sarra snatched up her gown again.
“Stupid, arrogant, bossy…men,” she muttered as
she struggled with the gown, but her efforts halted when a startled oath caught
Lowering the gown, Sarra glanced toward the three men left fighting. Much
to her horror, the MacNachton had backed up and tripped over the branch she’d
thoughtlessly left lying in the way. Her eyes widened with alarm as he went down
and the two men moved in to take advantage of the mishap.
Moving quickly, Sarra dropped the gown again, grabbed up the sword beside
the man she’d felled with the branch and moved between Calum and the other
two men. Jocks and his man stopped at once, irritation flashing across their faces.
“Get out of the way, girl,” Jocks snapped and tried to move around
her to get to the fallen man.
“Lady DeCourcey to you, Jocks,” Sarra snapped, stepping to the
side to block him. She immediately realized her mistake as the second man moved
forward through the opening she’d left and raised his sword for a blow.
Much to her relief, she heard the clang as metal met metal. Calum had recovered
and was on his feet, back in the battle.
Sarra would have continued at his side. She had no idea what she was doing
and the sword was extremely heavy, but if nothing else, she could distract Jocks
long enough for the man to finish off the other man. Or so she thought, until
she felt a hand clasp the back of her neck and push her away.
“Dress,” came the grim growl as she stumbled a couple of feet
away under his impetus. It seemed the man didn’t want her aid, she realized
with irritation. Honestly, he was a grumpy, bossy sod. And really, Sarra wasn’t
at all used to being bossed about, or grumped at. Her father had always been a
kind, good-natured man not prone to bossiness or orders when it came to his daughter.
In truth, he had probably spoiled her.
Irritated enough to listen to the man and leave him to their tender mercies,
Sarra dropped the sword and moved back to her gown. Still muttering under her
breath, she snatched up the gown again, noting that it was now stained with grass
and mud from it’s ill treatment.
Noting that her problem in dawning it had to do with the fact that it was
inside out, she began to turn it right side in. Her gaze drifted back to the battle
as she did and Sarra frowned when she noted that the stranger appeared to be weakening.
He was still holding his own against Jocks and the other man, but his moves were
definitely growing slower and more labored.
She wasn’t at all surprised. He’d been fighting twice and three
times as hard as either man he was left fighting. It seemed obvious that if he
didn’t soon finish them off, he would fail and possibly die at the hands
of her neighbor’s men.
Sarra knew he wouldn’t appreciate her interference, but couldn’t
just leave him to such a fate. Shaking her head, she threw her gown over the horse’s
back and reached for the sack she’d hung from her saddle pom. She raised
the long narrow bag, retrieved her bow and arrow from inside and was just notching
a bow when a grunt drew her attention back to the battle. Her eyes widened with
horror when she saw that Calum MacNachton stood, his sword embedded in the chest
of the last man standing with Jocks. That didn’t upset her so much as the
fact that Jocks had obviously taken advantage of his sword being momentarily occupied
and embedded his own sword in the MacNachton’s side. The three men were
frozen in an interlocking tableau, Jock’s man staring at the sword in his
chest, the stranger staring at the sword in his side, and Jocks unharmed and smiling
with grim triumph at Calum. A heartbeat passed as everyone stood frozen, then
Calum suddenly raised his head, glared at Jocks and his free fist shot out, punching
d’Angers man in the face.
Sarra winced at the crunch of bone breaking as Jock’s head flew back.
She wasn’t surprised when he landed on his back in the dirt, out cold. The
blow had been a sound one.
Her gaze slid from the prone Jocks and back to Calum in time to see him pull
his own sword free. The other man fell at once, leaving MacNachton the only one
still standing. Though, he wouldn’t be for long, Sarra feared as she saw
the way he was swaying. Her eyes widened when he suddenly dropped his own sword
and reached down to grasp the grip of Jocks sword which was still embedded in
his own stomach.
Surely he wouldn’t…? He couldn’t…?
He did. Sarra stared in horror as he pulled the weapon from his side and flung
it away with a roar of mingled rage and pain. Dropping her bow and arrow, she
rushed forward, reaching him just in time to catch him as he would have fallen.
Sarra grunted as she slipped beneath his shoulder and took his weight. The
sound, or perhaps the action, seemed to rouse him some and he straightened slightly.
Calum frowned when he opened his eyes to find her there, supporting him. His hand
tightened on her shoulder briefly, then he opened his mouth to speak.
“Get,” he began breathlessly, then paused to cough.
Sarra frowned with concern as he clasped his wound and bent forward under
the cough, then she spotted his sword and realized what he was trying to say.
“Get your sword?” she asked, and reached quickly to grab it from
the ground where he’d dropped it. “Here. ‘Tis right here.”
Sarra slid the sword back into his belt where it belonged, then slid back
under his arm.
He touched the grip as if comforted by its presence, but shook his head. “Get-”
Sarra put a hand to his chest to brace him as he coughed again. Her gze slid
to his wound as she did. There was surprisingly little blood considering the nature
of the injury, but she began to suspect from his coughing that he may have nicked
“Get help?” she guessed as his coughing fit ended. “I will.
I shall take you to help. I just need to look at your wound first."
He shook his head with apparent frustration and tried once more, "Get
Sarra froze, all of her concern evaporating as amazement replaced it.
“You…I….Ohhhhh,” she said with exasperation, flinging
his arm off her shoulder.
Leaving him to stand, or fall, on his own, she whirled away and stomped to
her mare to retrieve her gown. He was the most annoying, exasperating, foolish
man she'd ever met. He also seemed inordinately obsessed with her state of dress.
Sarra tugged the gown on with angry jerks, took the time to straighten it,
then turned to face the bloody-minded man. "Is this better? Can I save your
sorry life now and stop the bleeding? Or shall I don my shoes as well and fix
Sarra’s words died slowly as she realized the man was no longer where
she'd left him. Nor was he collapsed in a heap on the ground as she would expect.
Turning with amazement, she spotted him halfway across the clearing. While
she'd been busy dressing, he'd tried to make his way back to the cave entrance
from which he’d come. However, he didn’t have the strength for the
journey. Even as she glanced his way, Calum fell to his knees a good ten feet
from the bush that concealed the cave entrance.
“What on earth do you think you are doing?” Sarra cried, rushing
to his side.
Slipping under his arm, she pushed upward with her legs, managing to get them
both upright. She then tried to turn him back toward her horse, but he wouldn’t
“We have to get you on my horse and get you to help,” she said,
trying once more to turn him.
“Nay.” Calum shook his head. “Sun. Weakens me. Cave.”
“The cave,” he hissed and Sarra hesitated. He’d taken a
bad wound to the side and shouldn’t be moving around so much. However, he
seemed determined to get to the cave and it couldn’t be good for him to
upset himself like this.
Her gaze slid back to her horse and then to the cave as she considered the
best option. Were she to take him to the horse, she would have to get him on her
mare, then keep him on it to ride back to the castle before she could tend his
wound. Sarra wasn't at all sure he could stay on the mount on his own. She also
didn't think she had the strength to keep him on it. If they could even get him
However, if she took him to the cave, she could quickly tend his injury, then
leave him hidden inside the cave while she rode back to the castle. Surely he
would be safe in the cave while she went for help?
“The cave,” Calum gasped insistently, sounding desperate.
Relenting, Sarra took a moment to adjust her grasp on him, planting herself
more firmly under his arm, then struggled forward, half-dragging him to the bush
that concealed the cave. They were both breathless and exhausted by the time they
reached and struggled through the bush and into the cool shadowed cave. Sarra
paused to catch her breath once inside, her gaze slipping around the dark interior.
It had been years since she’d been inside. Not since her father had
shown it to her as a child. A secret passage only worked if it was a secret and
traipsing in and out wouldn't keep it a secret for long. A path would have been
trod through the bush, giving away its existence, or at least the existence of
something of interest.
Now, she blinked and peered around the dim interior curiously. Fingers of
sunlight were creeping through the bush, leaving the first chamber half lit. There
wasn't much to see. A dirt floor, stone walls… and a horse.
“Yours, I presume?" Sarra murmured as the horse moved forward and
nosed them. Calum’s answer was a grunt. She took it as a yes.
Her gaze slid to him with concern. He’d grown heavier against her, supporting
himself less and less and she decided it would be best to sit him down before
he fell down.
She urged him to the side of the cave and tried to get him to sit, but he resisted.
“Out o’ the light," Calum insisted.
“We are out of the light," she assured him. "Just sit."
“Out o’ the light," he repeated, gesturing toward the small
stray beams peeking through to land on them. “It weakens me. Die..if I stay
Sarra frowned at his words. She could believe the man had a sensitivity to
the sun. She’d heard of the malady before, people whose skin reacted badly
to exposure to it, but suspected his panic about even this much was a result of
his wound. He was pale, and sweating, and breathless, and obviously off his head.
On the other hand, it couldn’t be good for him to be so upset either,
so she closed her mouth and helped him to the back of the cave, following when
it curved to the right. The moment they turned the corner all semblance of light
disappeared. She now couldn’t see a step in front of her.
Before she could complain, Calum paused and his weight was lifted from her.
Confused, she felt for him in the darkness, relieved when she found his plaid
covered death. Obviously, he’d leaned himself against the cave wall.
Unsure how long he could remain on his feet with just the wall to brace him,
Sarra peered around the darkness with a frown. She wanted to look at his wound,
but needed light to do so.
“Wait here,” she instructed, then felt for the wall beyond him
and followed it further into the darkness. There had been torches in the cave
when her father had brought her here. They would still be there and she knew he
kept them in good condition in case they were needed, checking and changing them
every once in a while. Sarra supposed that would soon be her job. Her father’s
health wasn’t well and she didn’t expect him to recover. He had a
wasting disease and grew weaker each day.
A pang of grief tried to claim, but her hand brushed a torch just then. Grateful
for the distraction, Sarra lifted it out of its holder and then felt along the
ledge for the flint she knew would be there. Much to her relief, she found that
too. Now, she just had to light the thing. Easier said than done, Sarra knew.
She had never been very good at this sort of thing.
Setting her teeth, she set to work and managed the task, surprising herself
when she did so relatively quickly.
Releasing a small breath of relief as the torch light chased the worst of
the dark back into the cavern, Sarra set the torch back in its holder and returned
quickly to Calum. He was still leaning against the cave wall, but his eyes were
closed, his face slack with the barest hint of a grimace of pain on it. She wasn’t
at all sure he was fully conscious despite his remaining upright.
Leaving that worry for the moment, Sarra urged his hand aside so she could
look at his wound. Worry consumed her as she peered at it. The light was poor
and she couldn’t see it as clearly as she’d hoped, but saw enough
to know it was bad.
Muttering under her breath about the stupidity of men and cursing d’Angers
and Jocks and the others to hell, Sarra ripped at the hem of her gown to use as
a bandage. It was a temporary measure until she could get him help…which
was her next step.
She’d barely had that thought when Sarrra became aware that the man
had leaned forward and down so that his head rested on her shoulder. His face
was turned into her neck, his breath hot on her throat.
Sarra was about to pull away when he suddenly thrust her away, as if she’d
been the one mauling him.
“Go,” he gasped. “Ha’e to go. Can no …”
He fell silent, gasping as if he’d been running.
Sarra frowned at the state he was in, then said quietly, “I am going
She frowned more deeply when there was no response from him. His eyes were
squeezed shut, his face a grimace.
“Do you understand?” she asked, not wanting to leave him thinking
she’d abandoned him. “I am going for help. I shall be as quick as
I can, I promise. Just lay down here and rest until I return.”
Sarra tried to urge him to lay down, but he resisted and after a brief moment,
she gave up. No doubt he would fall down soon enough…and probably hit his
head or do himself some other further injury when he did, but despite his wound,
he was stronger than her and she couldn’t force him.
Leaving him where he stood, Sarra hurried back into the first cavern, surprised
to see that the horse had returned here. She’d heard him follow them into
the back of the cave earlier and hadn’t realized he’d left until now.
Apparently, he hadn’t liked the dark anymore than her and had returned to
the front of the cave where it was at least dimly lit. She must have been too
distracted with the torch to notice, Sarra supposed.
Giving the horse a sympathetic pat, Sarra moved past him to the mouth of the
cave, but paused abruptly as she saw that the clearing was now full of activity.
Three of the men were awake and on their feet. Only the one that had been run
through with the sword was still down. She wasn’t going anywhere.
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