Highland Hellcat(12)

By: Mary Wine

Melor thrust his hips forward with his words, drawing chuckles from his men. He was still smiling when Connor lunged across the space between them, easily reaching him. The man was a sorry excuse for a Highlander, for he had misjudged just how fast Connor might move.

Connor sent his fist into the man’s face twice before Melor even began to curse. Shawe followed with the other Lindsey retainers, and the tavern became a mass of profanity and flesh-on-flesh sounds. There were more Douglas retainers than Connor had with him, but the other men who had been watching joined in the fight. Tables broke into splinters as men were dropped onto them. Ale went splashing onto the floorboards, and the serving girls ran for the safety of the storeroom, while the tavern owner yelled at them all to take it beyond his door.

Connor was happy to do that.

He grabbed Melor by his doublet and threw the half-senseless man toward the door. Melor stumbled, the last few blows from Connor’s fists having left the man searching for his wits.

“Ye try to insult me by bragging about what ye did with a lass who ye lied ta seduce, but the only one that brings shame on is yerself and yer clan, Melor!”

Connor grabbed the man once again and hurled him out into the night. Melor hit the dirt and spit out a curse that would see him locked in the stocks if anyone reported the man to his priest.

“Well, I had her Lindsey. I’ve fucked Deirdre Chattan!” Melor laughed. “There will be no stained sheet flying the morning after yer wedding. She’ll likely birth my bastard and baptize it as yer heir!” Melor staggered to his feet, his men closing in to stand at his back. Melor grinned and wiped the blood leaking from his lip across the sleeve of his shirt before he spit.

“If we can nae inherit the Lindsey land one way, we’ll find another, now won’t we, young Lindsey?”

Connor felt his grip on himself slipping. “Better ride out while ye can, Melor Douglas. I am nae the only man here with no taste for the ambition of the Douglas. If ye have no honor with yer dealings with the Chattan or Lindsey, ye’ll do the same to others once ye have what ye want from the Lindsey.”

“Ye’ve got too much daring in ye to question my honor, Lindsey bastard pup.”

Connor shrugged. “It is nae difficult when I see ye making war on me through a woman. I’m a Highlander, man, and I fight men face-to-face. That’s Highlander honor, and what I see here is that ye do nae have it.”

“But I’ve got cunning, Lindsey, for I didna have to force yer bride’s skirts up. She embraced me of her own free will, just because I said I’d wed her. Better keep her under a watchful eye, for she is weak-minded.” Melor smirked with victory.

There was a shuffling in the dirt as other men came forward. They were all Highlanders, and none of them cared for the fact that one clan was plotting to take over another.

Melor was still too arrogant, in spite of the way his eye was swelling shut or the fact that he and his men were grossly outnumbered. The man was too egotistical to realize that his clan colors weren’t going to help him survive the next hour.

His men, on the other hand, weren’t as impractical as their master. They whistled for the boys holding their horses somewhere hidden in the darkness. There was the pounding of hooves against the ground as the lads came running in response to the summons. Melor looked as though he wanted to argue with his men.

Connor flexed his fingers, and the knuckles popped.

“By all means, Melor… stay. I’ve never been a man for putting off something that needs doing, and tearing ye apart is something I very much want to do.”

“Ye would nae dare. I am heir to the Douglas title.”

Melor’s men didn’t share their master’s confidence in their position, for they unsheathed their swords and crowded in front of Melor to protect him, because they were honor bound to do so. Connor answered them with his own sword and heard the men behind him draw steel too.

“You are an heir, no’ in the direct line for the earldom, and every man here knows it. Ye are vermin, and this world would be well rid of yer lying stench.”

“Ye might think so, Connor Lindsey, but it was still my cock yer bride has been warming.” He spread one hand out in front of him. “And every man here knows it.”