Moonlight Rebel

Moonlight Rebel by Marie Ferrarella Read Free Book Online

Book: Moonlight Rebel by Marie Ferrarella Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marie Ferrarella
later.
    "You want to buy her contract?" Peter asked.
    Jason didn't believe a word of the man's story. But buying the contract would be a good way of settling the matter without bloodshed. He didn't believe in killing as a solution, but recognized that others were not so chary of it. These men were not to be put off by words, not when there was money to be had.
    "All right," Jason agreed. "I'll buy her from you."
    "What!" Krystyna's deep blue eyes blazed as she looked at the tall stranger. She had expected to be freed, championed as befitted her station in life, not bought like a slave. What kind of people were these Americans, to buy and sell women this way? Humiliation flamed her cheeks as her wrath spread to the stranger.
    Peter's face broke into a grin that slashed the center of his face as if it were a pumpkin on All Hallow's Eve. "I knew you were a fine, upstanding man when I first laid eyes on you."
    Beneath the smile, his anger churned. Logically, he could retrieve the woman along the trail. But his lust was not satisfied, and he knew deep frustration due to its urgent, unsatisfied call.
    "She'll cost you twenty pounds."
    A lazy smile lit Jason's tanned face. There was bartering to be done. "No woman is worth twenty pounds." Jason didn't see the smoldering anger in Krystyna's eyes, but he could feel it. "I'll give you five and you can count yourself lucky."
    "Five?" Peter croaked. "Damn you, for that I can keep her myself. Eighteen," he countered after a beat.
    Jason shifted the weight of the musket slightly, bringing attention back to the loaded weapon. "Seven."
    The game, Peter knew, had to continue. "Are you daft, mister? Look at that body. Think of the nights she'll keep you warm." His own blood roared, hot and demanding, as he spoke. "Let your blouse go, girl. Show him your wares in case he missed them."
    Krystyna cursed Peter roundly in a language Jason couldn't recognize. He noted with curiosity that despite the man's crude way of speaking, the sailor seemed to understand her.
    Peter became aware that Jason was looking at him curiously. "Testy little bitch," he commented. "All right, I'll take seventeen."
    "I'll give you eight."
    Krystyna closed her eyes, forcing back the tears that were gathering. Here she was, the daughter of a count, born to royalty, being bid and bargained for like some gutter snipe. She had to escape, she had to! But first, her father had to receive a proper burial. She couldn't just leave him like this, even if her life depended on it. She owed him that. And so much more that she could never repay.
    She turned her head away from the men and tried to see her father's lifeless body on the ground. To come all this way only to die. The thought choked her. They could have stayed home. They should have stayed home.
    The haggling had progressed only a little further. Peter was not really interested in a price, not the way Fargo was. He just wanted it to appear that he was. He didn't want to draw undue attention to his true purpose or give any credence to the Countess's accusations.
    "I'll give you ten and a half pounds and not a ha'penny more."
    Peter could see there was no arguing with that tone. The man meant to have what he wanted.
    "Ten and a half?" Fargo cried angrily. He reached for Krystyna. She could raise ten times that much somewhere else. He had experience in trafficking in white slavery, and this woman with her slender form, her small, rounded hips, and breasts made to fit a man's hands, was worth her weight in gold. He hadn't thought that Peter was actually going to sell her to this man, but if he was, then they had to get a much higher price.
    "Why, that would be giving her away. We'll just take her—" He snatched Krystyna's wrist and tried to jerk her toward the wagon. He didn't understand the warning look in Peter's eyes.
    "Ten and a half," Jason repeated smoothly, casually pointing the barrel of his musket at Fargo's waist. There was no way he could miss at that distance. If the

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