Highland Revenge (Fated Hearts Book 1)(8)

By: Ceci Giltenan

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Eoin MacKay and some of his men had been hunting near their southern border. He was oddly thrilled when one of the men he had sent ahead to track their prey sighted MacNicol warriors crossing onto MacKay land. The MacKays and the MacNicols had not been on good terms in years. Eoin himself would never forgive them for how he’d been treated when taken captive eight years ago. Perhaps he would finally have the opportunity to return the hospitality.

They had shadowed the MacNicol party for several miles. Eoin could not fathom what they were about. It wasn’t a raiding party: far from it. Although well-armed, the eight men appeared to be escorting a woman. There was no telling what their destination was, but they were fools to have entered MacKay land on their journey. At his signal, his men attacked, surrounding the small party. Clearly outnumbered, the MacNicols fought to defend themselves, but the battle was won before it was entered. While he didn’t mind sending the MacNicols to their graves, taking them captive would also be sweet revenge. The more of them who lived, the greater the ransom, and the woman, whoever she was, would surely be a valuable prize.

As Eoin hoped, the leader of the MacNicol party surrendered when the futility of their situation became clear. However, just as the battle ceased, the woman bolted.

“Stop her!” There was a moment of confusion as the MacNicols renewed the fight for a moment, aiding her escape. Finally, two of his men were able to separate themselves and give chase. Eoin relieved the MacNicols of their weapons and had his men bind the captives. He addressed the leader. “Ye had no business entering MacKay land.”

“We meant ye no harm. We were just escorting the lady to Laird Sutherland, but we had no intention of crossing MacKay land. Tis Ross land we are on.”

“The hell we are. Our border with Ross is well to the south of here and ye had to know that. Ye were simply trying to shorten yer journey by a few hours by cutting across my land. Who is the lady?” His question was met with silence. “I’ll ask ye again and ye’ll answer me, or I’ll simply run ye through and move on to the next.”

“I’ve surrendered and ye have me bound. Are ye so craven?”

“A MacNicol instructing me in the proper treatment of prisoners? That is rich. Nay, I’m not craven, but I’ve a keen taste for revenge. Bhaltair MacNicol took me captive eight years ago, threw me, gravely injured, into his dungeon and left me there to die with no sustenance.”

“And yet, here ye stand, so he must have shown ye some quarter.”

“It wasn’t Bhaltair’s intervention that saved me. I owe him nothing. It seems to me a quick blade through yer neck is a kinder end than what I would have met with at MacNicol hands. I am perfectly willing to dispatch yer soul to hell unless ye answer me. Who is the lady and, while ye’re at it, why are ye escorting her to Sutherland?”

At his silence, Eoin forced the point of his sword against the man’s throat. As expected, he capitulated. “All right,” he said reluctantly. “Ye’re bound to learn her identity anyway. She is Lady Fiona MacNicol, betrothed to Bram Sutherland. Ye may have no love for the MacNicols, but likewise ye have no argument with the Sutherlands. If ye don’t wish to anger them, treat her gently.”

“Fiona MacNicol? Bhaltair’s niece?”

“Aye, Bhaltair’s niece, but more importantly Laird Alec’s sister.”

“Laird Alec? Have the MacNicol’s finally made the green lad their laird?”

“Alec is young, but he has been well trained by Laird Munro and will be returning any day now to take his place as laird.”

“So it’s still that devil Bhaltair who will have to pay the price for yer poor sense of direction?”

The man looked defeated. “Aye. Bhaltair still leads the clan in Alec’s name.”

“Excellent. Revenge is truly sweet.” Eoin laughed. Bhaltair would finally rue the day he’d left Eoin to die. For years Eoin woke from nightmares in which he was once again left alone to die of thirst in the MacNicol dungeon. To this day, he always slept with water close at hand. All of his memories were not crystal clear, but he was absolutely certain of one thing. Bhaltair had wanted him dead and was willing to disgrace his own clan to see it done. Finn had told him as much. It was only that brave lad’s sense of honor that saved Eoin.