Scoundrel's Kiss

Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty Read Free Book Online

Book: Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carrie Lofty
atop
Fernan's horse once again, riding hard to the west
    * * *
    With the furious howl of air rushing
past her ears, Ada could hear nothing else. Crouching low, urging more speed
from her tiring mount, she chanced a look behind her. She had hoped to reach a
village or perhaps another caravan, but Gavriel dogged her every cut and jump.
His horse gained, charging as if it did not carry a muscled male rider and his
hefty sword.
    She had killed a man. Her second. The
fresh image of blood and the glint of jewels merged with old nightmares and
gave them new life. How often had she tried to force those gruesome pictures
into a box in her mind, memories of what Finch had done to her?
    Although she wanted to close her eyes
against the terror, her safety atop the sprinting horse claimed her attention.
The terror would wait, as it always did;
    The thunder of her mount's hooves gained
strength. No, a harmony. Gavriel had bridged the entire distance. Ada veered
her horse toward an irrigation ditch and cut hard to the left. Propelled by
momentum, Gavriel had no choice but to make the jump over the channel. She
pushed several hundred lengths between them by the time he slowed, circled, and
followed in pursuit
    She rode without destination. The
plateau stretched in all directions, a flat and endless prison. No village. No
caravan. Never had she experienced a moment so wide and open. It should have
made her brave, set her free, but she recognized the inevitable. Her horse
would tire. She would be left to the whims of the harsh mesa—its foul
weather and bandits—with nothing but a dagger and an exhausted animal.
    She straightened and pulled the reins.
The horse slowed beneath her, its flanks lathered and chest heaving. The wind
tugged at her ruined gown where it flapped open across her back, offering
relief from the heat. Her hands were sticky, and a taste like the bitter rind
of a lime coated her tongue.
    Gavriel caught up with her even before
she could crawl out of the saddle and crumple into the tall, wild grasses.
    "Why did you flee?"
    Gavriel's nostrils flared with every
harsh inhale. When he went to dismount, his robes caught on the pommel. He
whipped the abused linen over his head and tossed it into the grass. Dark
woolen breeches clung to lean legs. A tunic, dyed blue like the color of a
midnight sky, stretched across his wide chest and draped past his hips. The
ties at his throat dangled open, revealing a glimpse of his chest—paler
skin and dark hair.
    "I knew you were a man beneath
those robes. Care to remove any more?"
    He grabbed her upper arms and pulled
her to unsteady feet Her pulse throbbed in the soles of her feet, a ghostly
pain.
    "I asked you a question," he
said.
    "I was breathless with
fright."
    Dark eyes scrutinized her. Cheeks,
mouth, forehead, and back again. "You're mocking me."
    "Of course. I was running from you
and you know it."
    "You killed that man."
    Blood and shining jewels. Death throes.
Weeks of isolation ending in fire. She pushed those memories aside and focused
on her mysterious menace. Gavriel. Playing with him was more entertaining. And
if she had any chance of returning to Toledo, she needed to learn more about
him.
    "Me? Kill a man? Are you sure you
didn't mistake me for someone else?"
    He scowled, pointing to the scene of
the attack. "I saw you!"
    "But it couldn't have been me, senor. My dagger is of no use. You said as much. And I'm but a woman."
    He stood there, his face a mask and his
finger still pointing in mid-air. Only when she smiled did he react—not
with violence or more irate words. He simply stepped away, crossed himself, and
knelt. He lowered his head. She could not make out every word he mumbled, but
the meaning was clear.
    For the span of a breath, surrounded by
endless crops and grasses, covered from neck to knees with a dead man's drying
blood, she wanted to tap him on the shoulder and beg a favor.
    Pray for me, too.
    Ridiculous.
    She searched Fernan’s saddlebags and
found a

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