With a frustrated sigh, Victoria Westcott put the thick poetry book down on to her lap, and looked through the window to the back garden. No use in attempting to read the same refrain again.
That her thoughts strayed too often to the handsome Highlander who'd brought her to Somerset Keep, no longer surprised her. Conor McDougall was now at the forefront of her thoughts and dreams since she'd descended into his bed, into his arms. The impression he'd left with his soft caresses a nd hard body remained with her.
No, she would not deny it. She'd fallen in love with Conor McDougall . What a predicament. Victoria pulled her legs up onto the chair and curled into a ball, pressing the book against her chest.
Footsteps sounded. Victoria started to let her presence be known, until she heard Calum McDougall. "Conor must marry the McNeil lass,” the laird said. “Go to the borderlands and find him. Tell my brother about my missive, it's time to stop this war between the clans."
A deep voice grumbled a reply she could not hear past the sudden, hard beats of her heart. In hopes they'd not find out she overheard, Victoria kept quiet and listened.
"What of the Englishwoman?" asked the other male, whom she now recognized as Conor's cousin, Dugan.
"I've a thought to marry her to you, you're in need of a wife." Calum's flat response gave the impression he found her a bother. "We cannot return her to England, it's too dangerous . It would be an acknowledge ment that Conor took her , an admission of guilt in the death of Lord Turner."
"Aye," Dugan replied, then finished, "I can get my own damn wife." Victoria was astonished, considering how the man openly ogled her every move.
"As your laird, I have a right to chose for you. It's time, Dugan."
Victoria cringed. Although she did not wish to marry the huge Scotsman, the thought of Conor put to death for murder brought tears to her eyes. What he'd done was justified. Lord Turner, her cruel husband, had killed a member of the McDougall clan, who defended Conor's sister from Turner’s rape attempt.
"Several wenches wish to travel to the camp site," Dugan informed the laird and getting her attention once again. "It will be a while yet , before the men return from the battlefield . What say you?"
The laird replied with a noncommittal grunt. "If they wish to go, they may go."
The men left, and Victoria did not move, her jaw clenched. The laird planned to pass her off like an object to someone, without discussing it with his brother. Frantic to formulate a plan to escape, she went to the window and looked down into the courtyard. Several groups of people milled about. It was midday; a group of men stood near some women, who stirred a large pot. Single men with no wives to cook for them wait ing for their meals.
A short distance away, three women stood in a tight circle and talked, their attire a bit overstated for daytime. Victoria immediately recognized their ilk. Dugan McDougall's unmistakable large figure went to them. Responding with squared shoulders and fingers twirling through their hair, the women circled him.
Conor held down a clansman while the healer stitched up a nasty gash to the unfortunate man's side. The man stopped struggling and let out a breath . Thankfully, he'd passed out. The healer kept stitching, then proceeded to bandage the wound.
A commotion outside broke out, and Conor exited the Healer's tent to see what happened. A wagon approached, driven by Dugan, who was accompanied by four women, all dressed brightly and waving at the men.
Camp whores . The last thing they needed right now. They'd not been away long enough for the men to need the distraction. He considered sending them away.
"Can I speak with you?" Adam, a young clansman, materialized before him. Conor nodded and continue d to watch the women climb down from the wagon. They sauntered behind Dugan, towards a tent they'd no doubt take over
Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius