Rescued by a Highlander(4)

By: Keira Montclair



Brodie stared at his brother, “We need to get away from here. This keep was never like this when the previous MacDonald laird was here.”

Alex pulled up short and stared at his brother. Should he tell him? He shook his head. Tell him what? That he had found an angel in a chamber that had been grossly beaten? What could two of them do about it in a strange man’s keep, surrounded by the laird’s own guardsmen, even with a few of their own guards outside? Brodie would think him half crazed. Before he had time to give it more thought, the laird entered from the outside.

Alex spoke bluntly. “Laird, you made mention of a stepsister. Is she of age to be married?” Who else could it be? She was in the chamber above the great hall. He had mentioned his stepsister being ill. He had to ask to settle his mind.

“Madeline? Madeline is long in the tooth, unfortunately. She is to wed my neighbor, Niles Comming. Good riddance to her. She is a nasty woman. The Comming will know how to get her to behave. He will take her strong mind and crush it quick, as it should be. Her father spoiled her and I cannot wait to get her wed. She is naught but trouble to me.”

Alex noticed the servants kept their eyes to the floor as their laird spoke. One finally dared to peek at Kenneth behind his back, her eyes raging. Was MacDonald lying about his stepsister? Alex pressed the issue further, unable to stop himself.

“Is she fair-haired?” Alex asked.

“What interest is it to you? You will never set eyes on her. She stays in her chamber unless I allow her out. Don’t push me, Laird Grant. Be on your way. I have much business to attend to.” Kenneth stared at Alex harshly, turned on his heel and left.

Alex glanced at his brother. It had to be Madeline. What could he do about it? Before he could ponder his choices, his brother forced his hand.

“’Tis time to take our leave, brother.” Brodie ground out.

***

Madeline opened one eye and realized it was past dawn. She needed to get out of bed. Pushing herself up on one side, she searched the room. A vision of a dark stranger came to her.

“Alice? Alice?” Maddie’s anxiety grew at the thought of a strange man in her room.

“Maddie, I am here. What is it?” Alice asked.

“A man, there was a man right here, someone I have never seen before.” Maddie turned her head slowly to allow her one good eye to search the chamber.

“Nay, there is no stranger here. It is morning. No one has entered your chamber this morn.” Alice grabbed Maddie’s hand to rub it in comfort.

Madeline crumpled back in her bed. She was exhausted. Her memory was failing her. She could remember him, couldn’t she? His scent was ingrained in her mind. Horse and pine? And something else she didn’t recognize.

She was becoming daft. Kenneth had gone too far this time. Her eyes closed and she slept.

Madeline dreamed of a large, handsome stranger. He reached for her, caressing her cheek. He tried to tell her something, but she could not understand his words. His arms reached for her and pulled her in tight to him in a warm embrace.

Wrapping her arms around the strange man, Maddie rested her head on his chest and sighed. His warm breath caressed her forehead. His gentle touch eased her mind. She was finally safe again. But who was he?

***

Alex and Brodie made their way to the stables to retrieve their horses. Alex nodded at the stable master.

“Good day to you, Laird Grant. The name is Mac. Any other way I can be of service to you?” Mac led his horse to him.

“Nay, Mac.” Alex reached for Midnight. He had been brushed and fed. Alex could tell Midnight had been treated well by the way his favorite horse greeted him.

“Nice piece of horse flesh, Laird.”

“Aye, he is. You been here long?” Alex raised an eyebrow at the stable master. He would find out more about his angel. He had to.

“Started with the old laird, James MacDonald,” Mac said. He lowered his voice. “Naught like the new laird.”

Alex stared at the stable master. How much would he tell?

Alex decided to take a chance. “There be a young, yellow-haired lass here?”

“Aye, the old laird’s daughter, Madeline. Sweetest lass in the Highlands, e’en if she was born part English. Her maid be my wife. She came here when the laird brought the English lass, Elizabeth, here to wed. None kinder than James and Elizabeth MacDonald, and none fairer than their daughter.”

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