Highland Revenge (Fated Hearts Book 1)(14)

By: Ceci Giltenan


“Nay, he wouldn’t have,” said Tasgall. “If someone captured Anna, would ye want her held in a dungeon until we could arrange to pay her ransom?”

“That’s not the point and I didn’t ask for opinions. Marcas, ye have yer orders!”

Marcas once again took Fiona by the arm to lead her away.

“Eoin, ye can lock her in a tower room and place a guard on her constantly.”

“Aiden, I—” Eoin’s gaze landed on Fiona, who trembled violently as Marcas pulled her away.

Anna started to cry. “Please don’t, please, please. I’m begging ye. Can’t ye see how scared she is?”

His sister was distraught. Dear God, what was he doing? He was venting his anger at Bhaltair on a terrified lass. “Wheesht, lass. Stop crying. I won’t put her in the dungeon. It will be all right.” A very small, evil part of him, the part that had nursed his hatred of the MacNicols for eight years, had urged him to make her suffer the same fate as her men. But the bigger part of him, the better part, reminded him that Bhaltair wouldn’t be hurt by this. The small frightened lass being dragged away had never harmed him. She had only been a child when Bhaltair left him to die, and would have been powerless to help. “Marcas take her to a tower room and see that she is guarded at all times.”

“Aye, Laird.”

Relieved, Anna hugged him again. “Thank ye, Eoin.”

He added, “But I’m warning ye, Fiona MacNicol, if ye cause any problems or try to escape, ye will be locked in the dungeon. Do ye understand me?

Pale and shaking, Fiona nodded.





Seven


The MacKay commander urged Fiona up the stairs to the top of one of Naomh-dùn’s towers and into a small, sparsely furnished room. It contained only a bed, a washstand and a table with two chairs. There was a high, tiny window. Marcas pulled his dagger from its sheath and moved towards her. Frightened, Fiona backed away, bumping into the table.

“Calm yerself, lass. I am just going to cut the binding.” He slipped the dagger between her wrists and cut the leather cord. She rubbed her wrists, wincing. He took her hands in his and turned them over, examining the raw skin. “Lass, what did ye do? Did ye fight against yer bonds the whole way here?”

“I can’t help it. I can’t abide being confined.”

“Well, ye’re free now.”

“I’m not free. Ye’re locking me up.”

“Thanks to Lady Anna, at least it isn’t in the dungeon.”

“To me there is little difference.”

Marcas snorted. “I’d say there is. Here ye have a bit of sunlight and no rats. Ye should be grateful for that. I will send up a maid with water and linens. I’ll see if I can find a salve for those wrists as well.”

“How long do ye suppose it will take?”

“For the maid to come up? Not long.”

“Nay, I mean for the ransom to be paid. How long before I am released?”

“I don’t know. Laird MacKay will prepare the demand and see it is delivered. Yer uncle must then gather the ransom; that can take a bit of time. Then the ransom will need to be delivered and exchanged for the prisoners. I can’t imagine it taking less than a sennight, and that is if yer uncle agrees to the terms. If he negotiates at all, it could take longer.”

“Longer?” The thought of remaining locked in this room for an hour made her feel ill. How would she survive a week or more? She fought to remain calm.

“Ye will be all right. As I said, be thankful ye won’t be in the dungeon.”

“Being locked up—anywhere—scares me. My uncle used to punish me by confining me.”

“I’m sorry, lass, but there is no other way. Ye’re a prisoner.”

A prisoner. “But I did nothing to deserve it. My uncle’s guardsmen must have made a mistake. Maybe if I talked to the laird and promised not to escape—I just need a few moments with him.”

“Nay. Ye heard what he said. If ye cause any problems, to the dungeon ye go. Don’t give him a reason.”

She nodded and turned her back to him. She was fighting back tears and didn’t want him to see.

“A maid will be up shortly.” He left the room.

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