Home > Kinsey's Defiance(5)

Kinsey's Defiance(5)
Author: Madeline Martin

Unlike Reid, William was well aware of his impact on women and enjoyed its effects. Why not use it to his advantage?

A figure showed on the horizon.

Was it her?

William’s heart jolted with hope. He pushed off the wall for a better look, squinting into the semi-darkness for the telltale sign of those luscious red curls.

“Well?” Reid asked. “Is it her?”

The figure was slender with a narrow waist, wearing a kirtle as evidenced by the outline of her body—a woman.

Victory surged through William. A proficient archer would offer the support they needed to succeed.

This woman was the final piece he needed for a successful campaign.

As she drew closer, she adjusted something on her shoulder—a bow.

Aye, it was her.

William grinned. “I told ye she’d come.”

“Is that why ye’ve got a wee bit of sweat on yer brow, then?”

William ignored Reid’s comment but passed a hand quickly over his forehead before approaching the lass. She strode toward him with determination, her face set with purpose, her hair catching the predawn light like fire.

His pulse ran hot.

God, what a woman.

“Ye’ll join us then?” He gave her his most charming smile.

Once more, she did not appear impacted. Instead, she gave a single nod, her expression serious. “Aye. I will.”

“We’re pleased to have ye.” He held out his hand in offering, intending to take her fingers and kiss the backs with a knight’s gallantness.

She shook his hand with a firm grip. “The pay of a man for the work of one, aye?”

“As agreed.”

Her gaze flicked behind him to where Reid still leisurely leaned his body against the main wall of the inn.

“Do I have the pleasure of learning yer name now?” William asked. “So that I can introduce ye to the others.”

She narrowed her eyes, as though still skeptical. “Kinsey.”

It was a strong name, fitting for a woman of such spirit.

“Well met, my lady.” William offered her a little bow.

Women usually enjoyed a knight calling them his lady. Kinsey, however, merely looked at him without emotion. No giggle. No smile. Not even a hint of color to her fair cheeks.

“I’m not a lady.” She tilted her head, a note of confidence to her demeanor. “I’m an archer.”

“That ye are,” he replied. “And we’re fortunate to have ye.”

He waved over Reid, who approached at an unhurried pace.

“This is Reid, my second-in-command.” William indicated Kinsey. “And this is our new archer, Kinsey.”

Reid nodded his head in acknowledgement of the introduction. Was it just William’s imagination, or did Kinsey’s cheeks flush slightly?

He set the thought from his mind. No woman had ever come between him and Reid, nor would one now.

William’s men began to arrive in front of the inn with their horses strapped with packs for the upcoming journey into England. He set about introducing her to the men, rattling off the names of the fifty guards and tenants his father had allotted.

Fib, the youngest of the lot at just fourteen, immediately planted himself at Kinsey’s side, chattering on about their plans to aid King David and how things in the group worked. William let him carry on. After all, William would get a chance to speak with Kinsey more. The lad couldn’t talk forever.

As it happened, young Fib might very well talk forever.

He didn’t stop through their journey from Scotland into England or even when they arrived at their camp. The location had been selected as it was near enough to Mabrick Castle to easily spy on its defenses while the caves nearby still offered the ability to remain unseen in the thick woods.

Mabrick Castle, once owned by the MacLeods and stolen by the English. Surely reclaiming part of the MacLeod legacy would put William in his father’s good graces.

Fib leapt down from his horse and shook the brown hair from his eyes as he unbuckled his pack. “That’s how the pig came to live at home with my mum,” he said, finishing a story he’d clearly been telling Kinsey.

“Like a dog.” She laughed, her blue eyes sparkling with delight.

“Aye, just like a dog.” Fib pulled his pack from his horse.

William stopped his horse beside them and dismounted. “Fib, is this how ye treat a lady?”

Fib froze with his pack lifted in midair and blinked his dark eyes before glancing at Kinsey. “Ehm…”

“Assist her from her horse and help her with her bags.” William offered his hand to Kinsey to take.

She ignored his hand and leapt down, her feet landing soundlessly on the forest floor. “I’m being paid the part of a man, and I’ll be treated as such. Unless ye mean to help every one of yer men from their horses and with their packs…” She cocked a brow.

William caught Reid watching her from several yards away and didn’t miss the chuckle he tried to hide. Nor did he miss the way Kinsey’s gaze lingered on Reid.

Damn it.

William considered her, not entirely certain how to handle this woman who seemed to have her own set of rules. “If that’s what ye prefer.”

She gave a firm nod. “Fib told me everything to expect, such as training at dawn and how we’ll keep watch before attacking the castle.”

“Is there anything I can do for ye?” He let the question hang like temptation between them. “Anything at all.”

Her eyes narrowed somewhat, then widened innocently as she bit her bottom lip. His gaze slipped to her mouth, appreciating how full and rosy it was.

Ah, yes. This was the reaction he was used to. He leaned closer. “Ye dinna need to be shy with me, lass.”

“I confess,” she replied slowly. “I’m curious about…someone.”

She would be his by the time the sun sank on the horizon. The light, sweet scent of her teased at his awareness, catching the sweetness of her light scent.

His groin stirred with anticipation. “Aye?”

She looked up at him and blinked her long-lashed eyes. “Someone I find very appealing…”

It would be easy to tuck their bedroll away from others. He wouldn’t want this beauty fast and in the dark. Nay, he’d want to strip her down and run his hands over her skin and get lost in her glorious hair. “Aye?”

She put a hand to the side of her mouth and her lips curled around the half-whispered name. “Reid.”

 

 

3

 

 

Kinsey almost laughed out loud as Sir William’s face reflected first his confusion, then his surprise. In truth, she wanted nothing to do with any of the men in the small army she’d joined. But she knew asking after Reid would discourage their leader’s obvious interest in her.

Hopefully.

He glanced back at Reid, and Kinsey’s stomach sank to realize the other man had been watching them as well. She might have just swapped one man’s interest for another.

“I see.” Sir William's eyes squinted slightly, his expression unreadable. “I want ye to go to the tavern with me.”

Kinsey swung her gaze back to him, incredulous. Had she not just tried to dissuade his affections?

A smile hovered on his lips, making him look impossibly handsome. Which he no doubt knew.

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