The Brazen Bride(7)

By: Stephanie Laurens

Logan woke to a dark room. To a soft bed, and the scent of woman. That he recognized instantly. All the rest, however … Where the devil was he?

Very carefully, he opened his eyes and looked around. His head hurt—throbbed, ached. So badly he could barely squint through the pain. Doing so, he located a hearth across the room, the fire within it a pile of glowing coals.

Where in all hell was he?

He tried to think, but couldn’t. The pain intensified when he tried, when he frowned. Shifting fractionally, he realized there was no bandage about his head, but there was one—a large and long one—winding about his torso.

So he’d been wounded.

How? Where? Why?

The questions lined up in his brain, but no answers came.

Then he heard voices—from a distance, through walls and doors, but his hearing seemed as acute as usual.…

Children. The voices belonged to children. Youthful, too high-pitched to be anything but.

He couldn’t recall anything about children.

Disturbed, uncertain, he moved his arms, then his legs. All his limbs were functioning, under his control. It was only his head that ached so fiercely. Gingerly, pushing aside lumps he recognized as wrapped bricks, he eased to the side of the bed.

Some primal memory kept insisting there were enemies about, even though he couldn’t remember anything specific. Had he been captured? Was he in some enemy camp?

Very carefully, he pulled himself up in the bed, then swung his legs over the side and sat up. The room swam sickeningly, but then steadied.

Encouraged, he stood.

The blood rushed from his head.

He collapsed.

Hit the floor with a hideous thump, almost cried out—might have cried out—when his head hit the floorboards. He groaned, then, hearing footsteps pounding up some stairs, he slowly tried to push himself up.

The door swung open.

Propped on one elbow, he turned his head and looked, knowing he was too weak and helpless to defend himself, but it wasn’t any enemy who came charging in.

It was an angel with red-gold hair, bright and fiery as a flame, who scanned the room, saw him, then came racing to his side.

Perhaps he’d died and gone to Heaven?

“You dolt! What the devil are you doing trying to get up? You’re wounded, you imbecile!”

Not an angel, then. Not Heaven, either. She continued to berate him, increasingly irate as she checked his bandages, then small hands, surprisingly strong, gripped his arm and, she braced to haul him up—an impossibility, he knew—but then two strapping lads who had followed her in came around his other side. The not-an-angel snapped orders, and one lad ducked under his other arm, the second coming to help her as on a count of three they hoisted him up—

It hurt.


He groaned as they turned him and, surprisingly gently, angled him back onto the bed, setting him down on his left side, then rolling him carefully onto his back.

The not-an-angel fussed, drawing down the tangled covers, removing bricks, then lifting and shaking. Logan watched her lips form words—a string of increasingly pointed epithets; as the worst of the violent pain receded, he felt himself smiling.

She saw, glared, then flicked the covers over him. He continued to smile, probably foolishly; he was still in so much pain that he couldn’t really tell. But he had noticed one thing—he was naked. Stripped-to-the-skin, not-a-stitch-except-his-bandage naked—and his not-an-angel hadn’t turned a hair.

And although most of his body had wilted, one part hadn’t—and she had to have noticed; she couldn’t have missed it as she’d looked down when she’d steered him to the bed, then laid him down, stretched him out.

Which surely meant he and she were lovers. What else could it mean?

He couldn’t remember her, not even her name—couldn’t remember sinking his hands in all that rich, warm hair, pressing his mouth to her sinful lips … lips he could imagine doing wicked things … none of which he could remember, but then he couldn’t remember anything through the crushing pain.

An older lady came in, spoke, and frowned at him. She came to the bed as his lover tried to shift him further into the center of the wide mattress. Thinking he should help, he rolled to his right—

Pain erupted. His world turned black.