Home > You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(2)

You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(2)
Author: Eliza Knight

   Fiona rounded the tree only to jerk back behind it. On the other side, only a few paces away, were three dragoons on foot who didn’t seem aware yet of her presence. How had she not heard their approach? She must have been so engrossed in the letter.

   Her breath caught. They’d looked to be grimy from weeks without bathing, their cheeks a bit hollowed from lack of food. They traversed the roads south of here, but never had she seen them in her wood.

   Every cautionary word her father had given her tunneled back into her mind, and every argument she’d made to herself about how she would be fine mocked her.

   I’m no’ alone. She straightened her shoulders, willing her siblings not to find her. Four children wouldn’t stand a chance against grown soldiers any more than she would, no matter how used up the men appeared.

   Fiona chanced a glance. The men surveyed their surroundings, and the one in the center grinned, the cool blue of his eyes deadly. But it wasn’t a happy grin, or one she ever wanted to see on anyone’s face. The crimp of his mouth was vile, predatory, showing teeth that looked too big. He took a threatening step forward and she jerked back.

   “You don’t need to hide from us.”

   Fiona bit down hard on her tongue. They’d seen her. Every inch of her skin crawled to run, to hide, to fight.

   “Ye’re no’ supposed to be here.”

   Goodness, nay! It was Gus, his proud voice calling out over the trees as if in warning to his siblings.

   “Haven’t you got a smart mouth,” said one of the dragoons. “Do you know what we do with lads like you?”

   A hand on her arm stopped Fiona from whirling out of her hiding place to protect her brother.

   Ian stood in front of her, finger to his lips. Fiona searched behind him for Leanna but he mouthed the word home.

   “I’ve an idea,” Gus was saying. “But I’ll no’ be your sheep this night.”

   The dragoons sputtered with outrage, and from her hiding place Fiona heard a scuffle, Gus’s cry of pain, and a guttural groan from one of the dragoons.

   Ian pulled his slingshot from his belt and whipped a rock around the tree, hitting his mark by the sound of it. The distraction was enough to give Gus the extra seconds he needed to escape. The three of them took off like a shot, the dragoons shouting obscenities behind them as they gave chase.

   In her peripheral vision, Fiona made out blood dripping from Gus’s nose, but other than that, he appeared no worse for the encounter. They ran as fast as they could, leaping over fallen logs, scuttling under low-hanging branches, until the sounds of the ruffians in hot pursuit were nothing more than a fleeting memory.

   Still, they didn’t stop until they’d nearly reached home, met on the road by half a dozen of their father’s men and Da himself, fully armed and expecting a fight.

   “Where are they?” Da demanded.

   Gus hooked his thumb behind him. “Back in the woods.”

   “How many?”

   “Three.”

   “What have I told ye about being so far from home?” Though the question was asked of all three of them, his gaze centered on Fiona, and she knew that he meant it for her.

   Fiona raised her chin but didn’t argue.

   “Get back to the castle with ye,” their da ordered.

   One of the guards peeled off from the contingent to follow them home as they ran, fearing the wrath of their father, but also praying he’d use that ire to eradicate the dragoons who’d dare to trespass.

   In the courtyard of Dòchas Keep, their ancestral home, rumors flew back and forth about an attack on two of the clanswomen who’d been doing laundry just that morning. A trio of dragoons—and one with stone-cold blue eyes that reminded them of the dead.

   How close had she come to suffering the same fate?

 

 

One


   Dòchas Keep

   Scottish Highlands

   April 1746

   “Dinna leave the castle,” Ian MacBean, interim chief of the clan, demanded from the bailey, armed to the teeth for battle.

   Fiona MacBean stared hard at her brother, taking in the way his lips were pressed so tight they were nearly white. His red hair, the same fiery color as her own, was tucked beneath his feathered cap which was set at a jaunty angle, softening the hard lines of his face and the determined furrow of his brow.

   Fiona tossed her hair back with a slight shake of her head. There was no way in hell she was staying in the castle when there was vital information to be gathered and intelligence to be shared. Hell, the reason Ian was even headed off to war was because of her, which made her feel doubly guilty.

   Ian’s departure and subsequent insistence she stay home were rooted in a message she’d delivered several months prior to her brother Gus. It’d informed them that their baby sister Leanna’s betrothed had hightailed it to the eastern shores of America with the dowry Gus had so graciously imparted on him early. A hefty amount of coin they couldn’t afford to lose. Bastard.

   The news was so mortifying to their clan that they’d kept it mostly secret, telling those who needed to know that Gus had escorted Leanna at the summons of her betrothed so the two of them might settle somewhere in Maryland, rather than that she and Gus were chasing him down. Which meant that Ian was now in charge of everyone in their clan—including her.

   “Fiona, I mean it. Gus entrusted your safety and that of the clan to me while he’s gone.”

   Ian didn’t understand. He never had. And he’d spent entirely too much time looking up to Gus for answers rather than forming any of his own. Her work as a spy courier was as integral to their support of Prince Charlie as his work on the battlefield.

   A shiver of fear raced down her spine. Her only consolation about Ian going to war was that he’d be with Jenny Mackintosh, Laird of Clan Mackintosh and charmingly named the Colonel by Bonnie Prince Charlie after she’d raised arms and her men succeeded in warding off the redcoats who wanted to take the prince’s head.

   It wasn’t that Ian wasn’t skilled at fighting. If anything, he was a damned beast on the field, but Fiona would feel better knowing he was with people she trusted, not some fools that might turn tail and run when the going got tough.

   “Fiona?” Ian let go of his horse’s reins and marched toward her. Too late, she realized how much she’d been in her own head rather than paying attention to her brother.

   He reached her, pressing his hands to her shoulders, his deep-green eyes piercing into hers. “Please, for the love of all things holy, bloody well stay here. I canna have ye running about the countryside when I’m preoccupied with war.”

   “I’ve already been running about the countryside, and ye know it.”

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