Home > You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(7)

You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(7)
Author: Eliza Knight

   “Done.”

   “And what is your name, lass?”

   “Why?”

   “Because it is a requirement,” he said, brandishing her own words back at her.

   Fiona smiled. “Alas, it is no’ a requirement of mine, and better for ye no’ to know.” Fiona started to back away. “Good luck, sir.”

   “How will I know ye gave him the message?”

   “Because his regiment will no’ be far behind ye when ye’re back at Culloden.”

   “How do ye know that’s where we’re headed?” He had the temerity to sound suspicious.

   “’Tis my business to know the whereabouts of men.”

   “Hmm,” he grunted again, a sound that was seemingly synonymous with his personality, and sent a curious frisson through her brain. She didn’t like that.

   The man had moved her in a way that no one had before, and she didn’t even know him. Couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t do wrong by her, by anyone. He could have even lied about his name. What did she know?

   Needing to put distance between them, Fiona hurried backward into the foliage at the side of the road, concealed herself, and then watched him. He stood there for several breaths, staring at where she’d just been before turning back to his men.

   Fiona raced back the way she’d come, her muscles aching only when she was nearly upon the prince and his men some miles away. She was used to running great lengths and doing it quickly, but that did not mean she didn’t suffer from time to time.

   She relayed Grant’s message to the prince, and climbed upon the horse they offered to give herself a moment’s reprieve. There was a plummeting feeling in her gut, accompanied by the very air seeming to swell and contract, as though the earth itself experienced the dread she did. A warning, perhaps, of terrible things to come.

   The men had been on their way to Nairn to mount a surprise attack on Cumberland’s army, but with multiple regiments being recalled to Culloden, the surprise attack that would have given them an advantage did not seem to be the way things would be going. All the needless walking was bound to tire the men out, and to be tossed from one battleground to the next had to be hard on their morale.

   A tired and downtrodden army would have a hard time beating a legion of bloodthirsty maniacs.

   The Jacobites had won several battles before, facing off against the royalist army’s retinue of dragoons. At this point, Cumberland simply wanted to annihilate them all. To murder them in their sleep.

   She’d listened to Cumberland speak to his men one night, disguised as a loyalist wench in a tavern of secret Jacobites, serving ale and letting them pinch her bottom before disappearing with a stolen pouch full of their coin. Cumberland was an arsehole. And violent beyond anything she’d ever seen. There was a deep-seated anger in the man and a hatred for Scots that went beyond the normal animosity most English had for her people. It was like staring the devil in the face when she’d looked at him. And the way he’d stared back at her so blankly with beady eyes, as though she were nothing, not even the shite on the heel of his boot, had sent a bone-chilling fear racing through her.

   Rumors whispered across the moors that Cumberland swore he was not going to lose again, no matter what it took for him to wave his victory flag. A sight that an overactive imagination brought careening to the front of her mind. It was enough to make her knees go weak.

   Was it wishful thinking to pray that her dear friend Jenny would go home and leave the fighting to others? That her brother Ian could just return to Dòchas Keep and everyone would go about their lives as usual? It was hypocritical for Fiona to even think it, for she would never do the same. She buried her hands in the fur blanket one of the prince’s men draped over her lap, some of the ice in her bones starting to melt.

   Fiona knew the answer. Jenny wasn’t a quitter. Ian wouldn’t turn tail and run. And life as usual was a battle to the death. Jenny had spent years raising an army, weapons, and funds for the prince. She wasn’t going to give up because Fiona told her it was too dangerous. Fiona could hear Jenny now, saying something like “The reason I’m doing this is because of the danger. We need to recover our rightful king and our lands.”

   The stakes were rising. The danger was closer to home. Already so many she loved had suffered and lost. There was no telling how much more they were going to be made to give. Or how much longer they could go on fighting.

   Fear and worry were making Fiona question everything.

 

 

Two


   The air was acrid and sour with the scent of burning flesh and gunpowder. Men were screaming, clawing their way along ground slick with blood and icy rain as they searched for a way to escape the horror.

   Brogan Grant, bastard son of Chief Grant, tried to give as many of his men as he could that very thing—an escape. Slicing and cutting. Bashing his body when necessary against dragoons so Grant men could stumble away from the swords and bayonets and guns. Cannon fire detonated all around them, the massive missiles exploding into the ground from every angle, tearing limbs from men and horses alike.

   He wasn’t officially a military leader, didn’t hold a title. Nay, Brogan Grant was just another bastard born of a powerful man, with a will as unbending as steel. That unwavering grit had gotten him to where he was now. Men respected him, expected him to take the lead. Just like in the predawn hours of this morning when they’d run into that wench in the forest. Brogan wasn’t the leader of the regiment, but he’d been the only man to respond. Their own leader had been growing restless, angry, and irritated. Refusing to take the lead as he should, and just expecting Brogan to pick up the slack because he was their laird’s son.

   Government troops were getting closer, breaking through the line of Highlanders. The Colonel—Jenny Mackintosh—fought with her men nearby, and shouted to a lad, “MacBean! Take ’em out.”

   She expected one man to take out a dozen or more government troops? And a MacBean at that? The bloody bastards had been the enemy of his clan for generations it felt like.

   Brogan watched as the warrior peeled away from the men and filled the gap between Highlanders and government troops in a whirlwind of hacking, taking out one after another as they flew at him like wasps. Rivalry or not, they were in this fight together. Brogan joined the MacBean warrior, giving the Highlanders enough time to regain momentum as they fought. Within a breath, the other men in the regiment joined the fray, pushing back the government troops.

   “Go!” Brogan shouted to a man at his feet who’d stumbled. He leapt over his back, thrusting his sword into the dragoon about to skewer him with the end of his bayonet.

   The dragoon fell, and Brogan rounded on the dead man’s friend, thrusting his blade deep. The time for reflection ended as he made his way through a batch of whoresons. But there were too many. The Highlanders were weakened from months of campaigning with little food and even less rest.

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