Highland Hellcat(6)By: Mary Wine
Kaie shivered visibly, her delicate frame still in the doorway. Their father snarled softly.
“I told ye to step forward and face me, girl. Ye are born of Highlander stock, so stop shivering when ye should know full well that I am nae a man who is pleased when his word is broken. Yer sister is promised to Connor Lindsey, the banns cried years ago.” Her father turned and pointed at the empty beds. “So tell me why she is no’ sleeping in that bed and nae even beneath me own roof. Me men claim she is no’ to be found.”
“I pleaded with her nae to go…”
“Pleaded? Ye should have taken yerself to me, yer father, and told me of this sordid business! The Lindseys are nae a clan to be mocked, and I assure ye that Connor Lindsey will nae wear the horns of a cuckold gracefully! Are ye insane, girl? There might well be bloodshed over this insult to the entire Lindsey clan. I gave me word on the match, my solemn oath!”
“I told her that! I warned her that she would be found out, but she fancies herself in love, and I believe it to be true, for she is insane with it, unable to resist going to him.” Kaie forced her quivering legs to carry her into the chamber. She drew in a stiff breath but managed to raise her chin in the face of their sire’s displeasure. It gained her a grudging look of acceptance from their father, but fury still danced in his eyes. He pointed at her with a finger that carried the authority of the laird of the Chattans.
“Where is she?”
“I do nae know! I swear it on Mother’s grave!”
Their father opened his hand, and Brina gasped. She stepped in front of her sister so quickly, her father didn’t have time to realize her intention.
He delivered a sharp slap to her, but even in his anger, he controlled his much greater strength and used the flat of his palm to strike with. A blow from his closed fist would have sent her stumbling across the floor, possibly knocked her senseless too. Pain went through her jaw, and her head turned with the strike, but she jerked her face back toward him immediately.
“Kaie is too delicate for yer strength, Father.”
“Ye are every bit the image of yer mother too, Brina.” He pointed at her. “Step aside and allow yer sister to face what she has earned.”
“She was torn between ye and Deirdre.”
Her father was furious now, his face darkening, but Brina stood solidly in place.
“She has brought it to my feet with her silence on this matter! Step aside.”
“I will nae.”
A single sniffle got past Kaie’s lips before she drew in a stiff breath and silenced herself. Laird Chattan propped his hands on his hips and glared at Brina.
“’Tis a fortunate thing that yer place at the abbey is already secure, Brina, for ye have a stubbornness that would offend any man I tried to wed ye to, and that is the truth.”
He shook his head. “But it is also a fact that I admire yer spirit, for it reminds me of yer sweet mother.”
Robert Chattan reached out and pushed her aside with a hand that was more controlled now. Brina moved, and her sister stiffened.
“Straighten yer spine, Kaie. Ye are promised to Roan McLeod, and he’ll nae be thanking me for sending him a wife who trembles anytime he forgets to soften his words.”
“I’m sorry, Father.”
“Ye should be, for this is no light matter, but I have to find yer sister before young Laird Lindsey gets wind of this affair. The man is a Highlander through and through and may just choke the life out of her for taking a lover who is his sworn enemy.”
“Melor Douglas loves Deirdre; she told me that he said so.”
“Is that a fact?” Their father’s voice turned mocking. “Why, then, is the man no’ at me table to ask for her? Are ye so naive as to think that a man will nae say many a thing when his cock is hard or when he is intent on shaming a man he considers his enemy? The Douglas hope to inherit the Lindsey land through Connor’s sister, who everyone knows they intend to force to wed one of their own. I made an alliance with Connor Lindsey to keep those bloody Douglas on their own land and to make sure they gain no more territory, or we’ll have them raiding us. Since I put my name on the parchments, the other clans have recognized Connor as the Lindsey laird, and there is balance once again. Without that, there will be blood spilled come spring, have no doubt of it, Daughter.”