Rescued by a Highlander(5)By: Keira Montclair
“My sister mentioned her. She remembers Elizabeth visiting long ago with her daughter.” Alex ran his hand down Midnight’s coat, recognizing how carefully Mac had brushed his horse.
“Is that so?” Mac opened his mouth to speak more, but was silenced by his laird’s sharp entrance.
“Mind your tongue, Mac.” Kenneth appeared in their view on his horse. “Be on your way, Grant. I will not say it again.” He turned and brought his crop down hard on his horse’s flank and sped away.
Mac whispered. “Things are not the same, sadly.”
Alex and Brodie rode out, followed by their guards. Alex had a sick feeling in his gut telling him he was making a mistake. How could he leave the lass behind? He was a Scottish laird, head of his clan. His people looked to him to do what was right. That would include protecting the innocent.
They also depended on him to keep his clan safe. One of the reasons he was on this journey was to find out who the new marauders were. His duty was to protect his clan and their possessions. Kidnapping a woman from a neighboring clan was cause for war. He could not endanger his family or his people that way. His father taught him well, he knew what his obligations were. Chasing a beautiful lass was reckless and dangerous. He simply couldn’t do it.
Yet he could not erase the blue-eyed beauty from his mind. Mac had said her name was Madeline. Kenneth had said she was to marry the Comming. Who would give one of their own kin to Niles Comming? His reputation in the Highlands was horrific. He was cruel to every woman that passed by him.
Niles Comming was betrothed to Madeline?
Alex would not allow it. Madeline was his.
Days later, they headed back to Grant land. Alex had no more information than he had when he had left, except that he did not trust the MacDonald laird.
Finding a clearing, he motioned to his men to make camp for the night. Several went off in the hopes of finding some fresh meat to roast. Alex kneaded the muscles in his neck, attempting to relieve the tension. He stood in the center of the clearing.
“Brodie, build a fire and I’ll find something to eat.” He wandered off into the wilderness with his dagger in his hand.
A short time later, he and several men returned with enough rabbits to roast. Alex tossed one to Brodie to skin.
“They are not much but they will have to do.”
Brodie peered at his brother. “Alex, something is in your head. What is it?”
Alex motioned for his brother to follow him away from the clearing, not wanting to alert his guardsmen to his thoughts.
“Brodie, do you remember the MacDonald lass?”
Brodie smiled. “Aye, the dark haired one you sent me?”
“Nay!” Alex shouted. “No’ her. The laird’s stepsister.”
“I ne’er saw her. How could I remember her?” Brodie asked.
“Well, I did.”
“Why did you no’ mention her before?”
“Mayhap because I could not believe my own eyes. She is every bit as fair as the stable master said.”
“Brother, if you still remember her and she is on your mind, that tells me more than anything else you could say.” Brodie’s face broke out in a big grin. “A lass finally caught your eye?”
“She caught more than my eye. I opened her chamber door by mistake. She had been beaten.”
Brodie’s face registered the shock Alex had endured when seeing the lass. “Beaten? Who would dare beat the laird’s stepsister?”
Alex raised one eyebrow as he peered at his brother at the edge of the clearing.
“No’ the laird? You think he would beat a woman so?”
“Did you no’ notice the servant girls, Brodie? He hit them. The lass I sent you was too fearful for me. He must be cruel. He did not want to let us see his stepsister either. He ordered us out when we questioned him about her. There is something wrong there. I cannot get her from my mind.” Alex grabbed at brush in frustration to use for another fire away so they could eat.
“Is that why you have been riding so hard? Trying to get her from your mind? What can you do? She is his stepsister and betrothed to another.” Brodie fanned the fire as he gave his brother a hard look.
“I am tired enough tonight to sleep. We will think on it on the morrow.” They finished cooking their meat and ate in silence, but Alex’s mind raced with his choices. He threw the remainder of the rabbit bones over his shoulder and strode over to his horse. As he tugged on his extra plaid, two pieces of parchment fluttered to the ground. He bent over to retrieve them. A sick feeling swirled through his gut as he opened one.