Home > Kinsey's Defiance(6)

Kinsey's Defiance(6)
Author: Madeline Martin

“We need to gather information on the castle we’ll be attacking,” he said. “I assumed since ye sound so English, ye might be helpful to have with us.”

So he hadn’t meant it with romantic intent. And no doubt he’d intended her to be confused about the invitation. She smirked, refusing to allow him to see his ploy had worked. “Aye, of course.”

“Once we’ve set up camp, we’ll venture into the village.” He gathered his horse’s reins.

“I’ll be ready.”

He winked and strode away, leading his horse with him. She glanced at him as he passed with his easy, confident gait. His shoulders were broad, his waist tapered and hips narrow. He’d pushed up the sleeves of his leine past his elbows, and his forearms were bare, lined with muscle, evidence of his strength.

Damn him. He was attractive. More so than she wanted to admit.

She turned quickly away lest any of his men tell him she was staring. But not before noting that the man had a nice, firm arse.

Damn him.

She gritted her teeth and pulled her bag from her horse. There wasn’t much to it. Two clean kirtles and linens, a comb, some tools to make more arrows and a bit of food.

“Do ye need help with that?” There was a slight crack in the voice, a hint of adolescence, and she knew immediately that it was Fib.

She glanced over her shoulder to find the lad grinning at her. He’d been kind on the journey, explaining with eagerness the routine the men had established, how they trained, what she ought to expect. He was an orphan whose parents had been killed by the English. His grandmother had raised him but died of a deep cough three years prior.

Kinsey had only lost her da, but she still recognized the lad’s deep need for companionship. It was something she understood, something that resonated in her soul.

“Don’t ye go trying to coddle me now.” She grinned at him and tossed her bag over her shoulder before leading her steed to the cave where the men were all tethering their horses. The beast Sir William had provided her with was healthy and well-cared for with a glossy chestnut coat. “I can handle myself well enough.”

Fib laughed, his throat flexing in his long, skinny neck. “Ach, I well know it. But I thought I’d try to be chivalrous.”

“Like a knight,” she teased.

His eyes sparkled. “Aye. Exactly like that.”

“My brother wants to be a knight.” Kinsey smiled to think of Drake, the oldest of the four of them. “I’ve never known someone more chivalrous.”

Fib fell into step at her side. “What makes him that way?”

Kinsey thought on it as she led her horse into the cave where a trough of food and water had been placed. “He puts others first, trying to protect them no matter what.” The way he had with them, ensuring they had shelter, enough food, clothing—even when he had nothing. “And he does what is right.”


It was Kinsey’s turn to laugh. “Aye. Always. It can be terribly annoying.”

“How long do ye think until he becomes a knight?”

Kinsey lifted a shoulder. “He needs the right opportunity.”

But that wasn’t true. Yet another byproduct of English hatred. They would never accept Drake with his Scottish blood and the slight burr of his accent. Yet still, he worked for them, acting as Captain of the Guard for an English earl, one Kinsey had never met and did not care to.

She hated his need to work for them, to degrade himself for the sake of his family to keep them in such accommodating living conditions. Once she was making her own money, fighting as a warrior for Scotland, she would be able to help support Mum and Clara.

“I hope he is knighted,” Fib said earnestly. “It sounds as though he truly deserves it.”

“Aye.” Kinsey switched the topic to horses rather than discuss Drake’s futile hopes any longer. If Fib noticed the abrupt transition, he didn’t complain as he proudly shared how he’d trained his own mare since she was a foal.

He stayed with Kinsey while they brushed down their horses and tethered them in the cave. Once done, they carried their bags to another cave where they were all going to sleep on bedrolls by the fire.

Sir William approached them with a pack, which he handed to Kinsey. “Eat something while the horses rest, then we’ll ride to the tavern at sunset.”

She peered into the bag and found enough bread and cheese for her and Fib as well as a wineskin of ale.

“Can I come?” Fib asked, his eyes lighting up.

Sir William ruffled the lad’s already unkempt hair. “No’ this time. Mayhap the next, aye?”

Fib’s eagerness dimmed, but he nodded obligingly.

“Ye can tell Kinsey what we’ll need her to do,” Sir William said.

That brought a smile back to Fib’s face, and he spent the rest of the time until the sun sank in the sky telling Kinsey how she would need to act inconspicuous at the tavern and what to listen for.

When she joined Sir William, Reid and a stocky man named Duff, Fib stood on the outskirts of their camp and watched as they departed.

“I hope he’s no’ bothering ye.” Sir William nodded back to camp as they rode off, indicating Fib.

“Nay.” Kinsey glanced back at the solitary figure in the middle of the forest. “He’s eager to join ye.”

Sir William’s handsome mouth pulled down in a frown. “He’s too young to be here.”

Kinsey didn’t disagree. “Then why is he here?”

“I couldna keep him from coming.” He rode his horse confidently, his body gliding with a comfortable grace on the massive destrier. “I can, however, keep him from danger.”

Kinsey suddenly regretted leaving her bow at camp. “Is there danger at the tavern?”

“He’s a lad.”

“And there’s always danger where there are Englishmen,” Reid added, to which Duff grunted his assent.

Kinsey put a hand to her belt to ensure her dagger was in place. Her fingertips met the braided leather wrapped around the hilt of her blade.

She couldn’t throw daggers like Clara, but if left to defend herself, she would make sure she walked away alive.



William followed Duff to the tavern. The man had ridden ahead earlier that day to find it while they set up camp and rested their horses.

No doubt they’d be able to glean some information before spying on the castle the next day. Anything would be beneficial.

Bringing Kinsey, however, had been a risk. William knew that. But part of him thought the crisp English edge to her Scottish accent might put more people at ease. That and, if he was being completely honest with himself, he wanted to witness the interaction between Kinsey and Reid.

Not that he ought to give it a second thought.

If she was interested in his closest friend, so be it. However, he couldn’t shake the suspicion that she wasn’t being truthful. It wasn’t arrogance that made him question her, but a feeling in his gut.

Mayhap her claim about Reid was simply to put off William.

But surely that couldn’t be the case.

They entered a small village, no larger than the one where he’d found Kinsey and meandered toward the large, whitewashed building with a thatch roof and a picture of a mug of ale on a swinging wooden sign. Inside, there was the usual sight of reivers and travelers alike, swigging from mugs and flirting with serving wenches. The air was hot and stank of tallow candles, fatty meat stew and too many people.

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