Rescued by a Highlander(3)By: Keira Montclair
She curtsied to Alex. “My laird sent me to be at your service this night.” She leaned toward him, offering him a view of her ample bosom.
Alex stared at the woman. She had soft curves and a kind face. He hadn’t been with a woman in a sennight. He probably should accept the gift.
But he couldn’t. The fear in her eyes was too much for him. What a cruel man her laird must be.
“Lass, I will tell your laird that you served me well, but I find I am too tired to see to it.”
“Please, I will do anything you ask, but do no’ send me back now.”
Alex searched her face and found it to be truthful. The lass had drawn blood where she chewed her lip.
“See to my brother, lass. I will not send you back to your laird.”
“Thank you, thank you.” She spun on her heel and rushed out the door.
Alex sat on the pallet, stirring up a cloud of dust. What was wrong with him lately? He often visited certain women in his village, but he had no serious interest in any of them. He wanted a relationship like his parents had enjoyed. They had adored each other. He had yet to meet any woman that sparked much in him. Oh, he knew what lust could do to a man. But lust was easily sated.
Since he had lost his father and officially became laird of his clan, he was too busy to think about a partner. Times like these, alone in a bed, he wished for more. Maybe he was not meant to be a husband or a father. His father had told him he was born to lead. Would that be enough?
He had been betrothed once, but it had left him cold. The woman had not been one of his choosing, so the breakup certainly had not upset him. Was he destined to be alone? He only spent time with a woman when his needs overtook his clear thinking. He chose kind but simple women. What he hoped for was a woman as intelligent as his mother had been, but he had yet to find her.
Alex found himself walking toward the door. He entered the corridor and searched in both directions. The parapet, he needed to find the parapet. If he opened enough doors, he was certain he would find the right one. If he was high up in the night air, his head would clear. That was what he needed this night.
He headed down the corridor, passing the chamber his brother occupied, shaking his head at the giggling sounds he heard. The next chamber was empty. He moved on to the next door and opened it quietly.
Just as he was about to close it, he froze. The room was dark, but the candle from the corridor lit the side of a woman’s face asleep on the bed. He took two more steps into the room, found a nearby candle and closed the door behind him.
She was asleep on her side. Her gentle curves were visible through the thin blanket that covered her to her chin. He wanted to step closer, but didn’t dare. He leaned toward her and smelled lavender. Inhaling her scent, a strange sense of peace entered him. Her hair fell in soft golden waves over her shoulders. He reached down to touch a strand but pulled back in hesitation. He didn’t want to disturb her sleep. Who was she? Was this the laird’s stepsister?
His eyes fell on her full pink lips and he was hard instantly. He ran his eyes down her body again. She had to be the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He returned to her face and noted her porcelain skin and her small pert nose. Her long lashes rested on high cheekbones. But what he noticed next caused his erection to leave him.
She had been beaten. He stepped closer and brought the
candle in enough to see the other side of her face, staring at the dried blood and swollen bruises around her eye. She was the vision of an angel, and someone had beaten her. Anger raced through his veins. He could see some discolorations on the soft, exposed skin of her neck. He reached down, wanting to touch her and comfort her.
Her eyes flew open. He was instantly lost in an ocean of blue. She never moved, but somehow, she reached in and grabbed a part of his soul. Realizing her view of the predicament, he expected a scream. Instead, she pulled away from him, groaned in pain and whispered, “Nay.”
The door flew open and a maid came in, swinging a broom at him. In his confusion, he turned and fled. He found the door at the end of the corridor and ran up the stairs to the parapet.
Who was she? And who had beaten her?
Alex hadn’t been able to sleep much. He raked his hand over his face as he thought of last night, sighing. The few times he had been able to doze, a blonde angel had called to him, but he could never reach her. He paced in the great hall thinking of the beautiful woman he had seen last night. Had he dreamed it? Who would beat a woman so? His father had drilled him about the treatment of the fairer sex. He had never seen his father raise a hand to his mother.