Hostage Bride

Hostage Bride by Anne Herries Read Free Book Online

Book: Hostage Bride by Anne Herries Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Herries
will you not let me pay the thousand gold talents and leave? It need only take a moment and my father may be released. We shall trouble you no further, sir.’
    ‘Thousand? I believe you only brought five-hundred gold talents with you, even though you were asked for a thousand.’
    ‘It is all I was given,’ Rosamunde faltered, uneasy as she saw his mouth harden. No wonder Angelina had been desperate to send her cousin; she must have kept half of the money for herself. ‘The remainder will be paid once my—father is released.’
    ‘Indeed?’ Eyes that had been as cold as mid-winter ice suddenly crackled with blue fire. ‘Supposing I amnot prepared to release him for only a fraction of the money demanded?’
    ‘Then you are a wicked rogue and deserve to be thrashed,’ Rosamunde burst out. It was foolish to lose her temper this way but she could not control her disappointment. He looked something like the youth she’d lost her heart to years earlier, but he was a cold, hard man. He could not possibly be Raphael—could he? ‘If I were a man I would challenge you to combat and kill you.’
    ‘You might try.’ He stared at her for a moment and then laughed. ‘You are a bold wench, Lady Angelina. What are you prepared to pay for your father’s release—besides the gold?’
    ‘Oh!’ Rosamunde’s heart raced. Fitzherbert had been right; this man would not be content with merely the ransom money. He wanted more—the surrender of her modesty. ‘How
dare
you suggest such a thing, sir? I have heard what you did to other unfortunate women—of the poor lady that walked into the river because her husband no longer wanted her after you had disparaged her.’
    The smile left his face, his lips turning white as he glared at her. ‘Now you are too bold, lady. Return to your chamber until you are sent for or you might be sorry.’
    ‘I am not a servant to…’
    Rosamunde quailed as he took a step towards her. She wanted to run away but stood her ground, looking at him defiantly. For a moment he hesitated, thenreached out and drew her against him, his right arm about her waist as he held her pressed tight to his body. She could feel his strength and power and her knees turned to water. For a moment her head whirled and she had a foolish desire to melt against him, to subdue her will to his.
    ‘You deserve your punishment, wench,’ he muttered and bent his head to take possession of her lips.
    Rosamunde struggled wildly, but his arm was like a band of iron holding her tight. His mouth was hard, demanding, as if he sought to subdue her to his will, to show her who was the master here. As her head swam, she opened her mouth to protest but his tongue moved to block her words, touching hers. The feelings he aroused were strange and yet pleasant. She moaned, because the sensations sweeping over her were so bewildering, and then she pushed her hands against his chest as common sense returned.
    He let her go abruptly and stepped back, a look of such anger on his face that she was terrified. Now she truly believed all the stories she had been told.
    ‘Go back to your chamber or I might not be responsible for my actions.’
    Rosamunde gave a yelp of fright, turned and ran from the room. She fled through the hall and up the stairs and did not stop until she reached her chamber.
    * * *
    Raphael cursed as the door closed behind the woman. What on earth had made him react that way? Holding her close, his body had responded in a way he hadnot expected, arousing passions he’d believed dead. He’d known her at once as the woman he’d seen on the quayside in France. She had been dressed less richly then and he’d imagined she was a relative of the beautiful lady she’d accompanied on board ship. She was certainly haughty enough to be the daughter of a nobleman, though something was not quite as it seemed, for the boots she had worn that day in France had been old and worn through. He had a feeling that she was playing a part,

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