Rescued by a Highlander(8)By: Keira Montclair
Brodie chuckled as he stared at the clear blue sky. “Aye, I do remember. Never seen Robbie so serious.”
“He knew how important it was to them both that we take our leadership of Clan Grant serious.”
“You mean your leadership?”
“Nay, da said we are all leaders to the clan, no’ just me as laird.” Alex rubbed the sleep from his eyes, deep in thought. “Had you seen her you would not be able to walk away. ‘Tis only for fear of a clan war that I left the keep without her. I could not deliberately start a clash.”
“Then why deliberately start a clash now?” Brodie asked with a raised eyebrow. “What has changed?”
“A plea from someone privy to the old laird’s business. Clearly, the MacDonald trusted his stable master. If she were my daughter, I would hope someone would help her.”
Alex decided to conceal the strongest reason he was going back, because it was a reason that held no logic at all. A pair of ocean blue eyes had haunted his sleep last night and he was powerless to stop the fear that gripped them.
His brother sauntered over to his horse, swung his leg up and mounted in less than a second. “Aye, let’s do it then.”
Alex motioned to his guardsmen before straddling his own horse. He only hoped he had the ability to wipe the fear out of the lass’ eyes.
Madeline slowly trudged up the hill, returning to the keep after her lessons with the wee ones. From her vantage point, the keep had the same strong appearance it had when she was growing up, but once she stepped inside, nothing was the same. The powerful stone walls kept her imprisoned instead of protecting her from the outside as her ancestors had intended.
She gazed out over the outside walls, wishing her knight was out there somewhere. The sun dropped against the horizon. She had spent time telling stories to the wee ones of her clan. How she loved her time with the children. They were always so sunny and bright, always willing to work so hard. She envied them their innocence.
Alice had tried to keep her in her chamber, but it was too depressing there. She needed the young ones to keep her going. Truth was, she did hope for many of her own bairns, but didn’t think she could handle the nearness of any man after all she had been through. She thought of the few men she remembered at the Grant keep. While she recalled how Brenna and Jennie had loved their brothers, Maddie had never had a good relationship with a male except for her father and Mac, Alice’s husband.
She couldn’t imagine ever kissing one of Brenna’s brothers. She listened to the servant girls’ talk of their escapades with the lads or their husbands, but she could not envision any such relationship for herself. What Niles had done to her was vile. She was not interested in kissing a man, much less committing the foul act again that the Comming had forced on her.
Had it really been two summers since her parents passed? She missed them so much. How she wished she could talk to her mother again just once. Her father had been so kind and gentle. She missed the many days they had spent riding horses and the nights her mother would lull her to sleep by brushing her hair before bedtime. Every day had been wonderful, so different than now. Instead, many days were nightmares. She had nowhere to turn, no one to trust but Alice.
No sense looking back, Madeline thought. She slowed her pace as the pain from her bruised ribs increased. As she reached the keep, she held her breath as she glanced around, hoping to avoid Kenneth. She had not seen him since the last beating. Earlier in the day, she had gone to the kitchens to go over the menus with the cook, hoping good food and drink would appease her brother for awhile.
She stepped inside the door and turned, almost slamming into Kenneth.
“Ah, Maddie, how are you feeling today? Better?” Kenneth asked, with a grin on his face. “I think it must be so. Must be time for another one of our talks, or have you changed your mind yet about the Comming?” Kenneth leaned in to her, coldness deep in his eyes.
“Nay, Kenneth, I have not changed my mind. I will not wed him.”
Kenneth grabbed hold of her arm and pulled. “You will do as I say, Madeline, and if I have to beat you until you cannot walk, I will,” he ground out, pinching and twisting the tender skin on the inside of her upper arm. Madeline bowed her head to draw strength not to scream. All had gone quiet in the great hall, warriors and servants alike turning their heads away, not wanting to watch the cruelty Kenneth inflicted on their beloved Madeline.