I lay in bed, counting all manner things, trying to fall asleep. I couldn't seem to get comfortable lying in the strange bed. My mind was still reeling from the events of the last week. Of all the things my father could have done, it never occurred to me that he would force me into the local abbey for denying too many suitors. I just didn't like them.
Sir Laurent was probably the worst. I'd caught him standing over my bed watching me sleep. If I hadn't awakened screaming anyway, goodness knows what could have happened to my reputation.
I still reeled over the fact that Charles (I decided he was no longer my father) had stooped to searching in France for a husband for me. I was well-dowered, and the daughter of a proud Scottish laird, there was no reason to need to look in France. I sighed deeply hurt that he'd given up. Mayhaps, I had denied five different suitors, not counting Laurent, but was that any reason to give up?
I ticked them off on my hand one by one- Laird Rottingbreath (so, he was actually Laird MacGillicuddy, but his dragon breath almost slayed me from across the room), Sir Jamie Douglas (he really wasn't too bad, other than being four years younger than me, and at eighteen, I didn't find it appropriate to marry a fourteen year old lad), Sir Dougal Stewart (being the cousin of the king apparently makes you better than everyone else, and I simply couldn't abide his arrogance.) Ewan Cameron (the second eldest son of the Cameron, and he may not have been a bad choice if I'd not caught him in the stableyard with the scullery maid) and lastly Jasper Whitlocke (a bloody Englishman of all people- oh and don't forget that he's completely in love my sister, Alice). Could anyone really find fault with the fact that I wanted true love?
I still couldn't understand why Charles found fault with that desire when I saw how he looked at Renee, my mother, before she died?
I was finally able to turn my thoughts off, when I noticed a shadow moving across the room. It was getting closer and closer to my bed, yet I couldn't find the voice to scream. So I feigned sleep as the large, oddly shaped shadow slowly became two.
"Are ye sure that's the lassie that the laird wants us to grab up?" whispered shadow one.
"Aye, that I am, Demetri. And weel ye ken it, too."
I tried to maintain the air of sleep, but hearing them speak of the planned abduction had me thinking up ways to get out of this mess. I thought about putting up a huge fight, but decided against it- what could I do to two hulking, braw soldiers?- then I thought if I went with them, pretending to sleep as they carried me out, mayhaps I might be able to come up swinging with the daggers I had strapped to me. (This certainly wasn't the first attempt made to kidnap me, and my da's man, Tormand, was quick to teach me ways to defend myself after the first time of being held for ransom.) I decided that idea had merit, as I might be able to get away and search out my clan again.
I pretended to wake up a bit and stretch, about the time the one called Demetri reached for me. I rolled a bit, making to get up- gawked at the two men in my bed chamber and pretended to faint away.
Lucky for me, the second one that I hadn't heard a name for caught me before I hit the floor. He had probably saved me from a huge headache, being as I'm not a graceful lady in any circumstance. He slung me up and over his shoulder, carrying me as I'd seen the farmer's carrying sacks of grain. When we got to the waiting horses, I tried not to grunt in pain as they roughly tossed me over the saddle, the pommel digging into my abdomen.
Watching from the shadows, I saw as the men snuck into the abbey and stole the girl right out of her room. I wasn't supposed to be here either, but I'd claimed sanctuary after running from the man I'd cuckolded. I really had to make better decisions regarding women. This one though had said she wasn't married…. And really, was it necessary to bring 12 armed guards with you when I had but two with me?
I watched the two men steal away into the shadows of the wall surrounding the abbey. I followed at a distance, being as quiet as I could. Carlisle had taught me well, after my father died. I could creep about as softly as a mouse. The hulking beasts met behind the chapel in the abbey where a third man was holding the horses. I couldn't tell if they had drugged or beaten the lass, or if she'd fainted dead away.
I watched desperately for any sign of life, still unable to believe that her father had brought such a beautiful woman to an abbey. Knowing he was the Laird of a prosperous clan, I knew she had to be well-dowered. So, why wasn't she married or betrothed by now? I'd seen her in the hall at dinner and had been taken aback by the rich mahogany of her hair and her huge brown eyes. She had to be the most beautiful woman I'd ever laid eyes on, and that was saying a lot.
I waited for them to ride out, then quickly saddled up my horse and took off after them, sure to stay a safe distance away. My guards were going to be angry that I'd left them at the abbey. I could justify it though, by reminding them that it was just a bit of reconnaissance right now. The fighting would come after I'd summoned them to help me.
I was pretty sure I could handle three men, but I had heard them mention meeting the laird before long and wanted to find out who was behind this evil.
I let my eyes come open, but had to quickly shut them, or risk getting sick because of my precarious position hanging upside down from the horse. I tried to wiggle into a more comfortable position, but there was just nothing to be done about it.
The men stopped to water the horses before we met with "the laird," who still had no other name. I thought I might try to draw that information from them, when I realized they still didn't know about my daggers that were hidden upon my person. "Excuse me, Demetri, but I must needs find a private place," I said as my cheeks flushed a deep scarlet.
He sighed, put off by the thought, but led me to the bushes anyway. Once there, I pretended to relieve myself, but instead unfastened the daggers that were strapped to my inner thighs. Demetri must have decided I was taking too long, because he started to turn around. I wasn't ready to be a cold-blooded murderer, and so I just hit his head very, very hard with the hilt of the dagger and watched him turn around, eyes wide as saucers, as he stalked toward me. I turned to run, but he caught my long braid, and ripped the daggers from my hands. He held me so close that I could have sworn it had been two months since he'd bathed.
I struggled to get away, but it was all to no avail. He was much too strong and had a harder head than Tormand, that was for sure!
I decided the new battle plan on a whim- I went completely slack in Demetri's beefy hands. He grabbed me closer and I managed to slam my foot down on top of his while punching him in the throat. (Tormand had always said that had a better outcome when you needed to get away, than kicking tender spots.) The stinking man dropped me as he stumbled to his knees and struggled to breathe.
I quickly got up and ran, looking back only once. That was one time too many as I barreled headlong into someone else's very broad chest.
A/N: So, how am I doing so far? Are you enjoying it yet? Suggestions? And of course, please let me know if you see any grammatical/spelling errors!
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