Highland Revenge (Fated Hearts Book 1)(12)By: Ceci Giltenan
Having her hands bound was bad enough. She didn’t think she could stand being locked in a dungeon. There was no denying Eoin MacKay had every reason to hate the MacNicols. What her uncle had done to him years ago was unforgivable, and she wasn’t the only member of the clan who thought so. When the prisoner had escaped, Uncle Bhaltair went into a savage rage. They had never been allies of the MacKay’s, but Fiona could not understand the unbridled hatred her uncle held for them, specifically for Eoin and his father. He had never learned who had helped Eoin escape. Padraig, who’d stood guard that night, had been drugged and was found unconscious. Still Uncle Bhaltair had him beaten savagely. It was perhaps the single most horrifying moment of her life, and yet there was nothing she could do. Confessing the role she had played might have gotten Padraig, and perhaps others, killed.
All she had to do was get Eoin to listen. Maybe then he would show her some kindness and remove her bonds. Maybe he wouldn’t lock her in his dungeon. Even if she could find a way to tell him, out of earshot of her uncle’s men, would Eoin even believe her? She didn’t know, but she had to try. It was the only way to avoid being locked up.
His horse was slightly ahead of hers. She called out to him, “Laird MacKay, may I have some water?”
“Thirsty are ye? If ye hadn’t hidden in that tree for so long we, would be there by now and ye could have yer drink of water.”
“Have ye never been thirsty?” She asked quietly.
“Oh aye, I have. Did ye know yer dear uncle locked me in his dungeon with no water?”
“Aye. I’m sorry, that was dishonorable, and my father would have been ashamed.”
Eoin glanced over his shoulder at her, looking a bit taken aback by her answer.
“Mind yer tongue, Fiona MacNicol,” one of her uncle’s guardsmen warned.
Eoin regained his composure immediately. “Well, I can assure ye, my lady, thirst is a terrible thing.”
“Ye know that and yet ye’d let another go thirsty? Did no one ever aid ye and give ye water?”
His back stiffened and he didn’t answer. He slowed his horse until they were side by side, then thrust his costrel toward her. “Drink.”
She took it in her bound hands and fumbled, trying to remove the cork. He made no move to assist her. Eventually she uncorked it and took a long drink. When she finished, she worked the cork back in and handed it back to him. “Thank ye.”
“That’s kind of ye.” She added quietly, “I hope I won’t need to keep this one hidden as ye did.” She couldn’t risk saying more, but maybe he would understand her meaning.
What in the hell did she mean by that? How could she possibly know? He glared at her, capturing her gaze. Her eyes were a remarkable shade of blue and they bored into him as if she were trying to tell him something. Was she worried that he would treat his prisoners as the MacNicols had? She had no right to question his honor. “I have more honor than yer uncle. Ye will neither starve nor go thirsty.” He kicked his horse into a trot and moved away from her.
The ride back to Naomh-dùn took several hours. When they arrived, Eoin’s younger brothers, Aiden and Tasgall, met them as they rode into the courtyard. Aiden slapped him on the back as he dismounted. “What have we here? That was quite a hunting trip, brother.”
“We chanced upon eight MacNicol guardsmen and Bhaltair’s niece, Fiona, taking a short-cut across our land.”
“What ransom will ye demand?” his youngest brother Tasgall asked.
“I haven’t decided. Let’s get them secured before we worry about that.” He turned to look at the prisoners. For the first time that day, Fiona’s remarkable blue eyes were filled with fear, and she remained on her mount. He handed his horse off to a stable boy, went to her and lifted her down. He said nothing, simply taking her by the elbow and guiding her into the great hall, followed closely by Aiden and Tasgall, the other prisoners and the remainder of his men.
“Marcas, see that the MacNicols are secured in the dungeon.”
“What room do ye want prepared for Lady Fiona?” asked Aiden.