Home > Kinsey's Defiance(8)

Kinsey's Defiance(8)
Author: Madeline Martin

“Kinsey,” he said in a warning tone. It was one he hadn’t used on her since she was a child.

He never scolded her. He didn’t have to. After all, it was never his wrath she dreaded, but his disappointment.

“I’ve joined the Scottish rebellion.” There. She’d said it. Her gaze settled warily on his face to gauge his reaction.

His jaw clenched. “I would discourage ye from doing this.”

“’Tis already done.”

“Ye know I work for an English earl.” His stare bored into her.

She wanted to look away, to block the force of his emotions. He’d never been one to say what was on his mind, but it was always there in his eyes. Right now, there was anger, aye—a rare emotion, but there regardless. But there was also discontent, and there was fear.

She nodded slowly.

He gritted his teeth as if in pain. “And ye know if ye attack Werrick Castle, I’d have to fight ye.”

She swallowed and nodded again.

“This is foolish, Kinsey.” He rubbed the back of his neck, finally breaking his burning eye contact with her. “The English know ye’re coming. They’re preparing for Scottish attacks.”

“We’re well trained.” Kinsey didn’t let her confidence falter. Not for one moment.

“Dinna tell me where ye’re going or what ye’re doing.” He put a hand up as though to silence her. “I dinna want to know, so I canna be asked for it or forced to lie for ye. His lips pressed in a thin line as he considered her. “Kinsey…”

“I won’t change my mind,” she said stubbornly.

He shook his head. “I know ye too well to assume ye would.”

The way he said it made her want to look at her shoes and toe the dirt. Though she kept her head upright, her voice was soft when she finally spoke. “I’m sorry.”

“Stay away from Werrick Castle, aye? I canna…”

He couldn’t battle against her.

“I know.” She couldn’t fight him either.

“And stay away from Mabrick Castle,” he said in a low tone.

Unsure of what to say, she didn’t speak at all.

His hand clenched into a first. “I shouldna be telling ye this…” Indecision warred on this face. He was quiet so long thereafter that she thought he wouldn’t tell her after all.

Indeed, something in her stomach told her she didn’t want to know.

“The king has lent the castle a pot-de-fer.” He glanced about, as though fearing they might be overheard despite his low whisper. “’Tis a large tube stuffed with black powder that can fire a bolt farther than anyone can shoot an arrow. Even ye.” His eyes narrowed. “’Tis dangerous.”

Kinsey’s chest tightened. It must truly be dangerous if Drake, the most honorable man she knew, would share such information with his enemy. And he’d done it for her. To keep her safe.

She reached out and caught his hand. “Thank ye.”

He looked at their joined hands for a moment, his expression hard. “I dinna like this.”

She didn’t know if he meant that he didn’t like that he’d just told his enemy about their greatest weapon, or that his enemy was his own sister. Most likely, all of it.

Certainly, she hated the situation too. But not enough to go back to Castleton.

He had always been more forgiving of the English than she was.

His expression turned sad, and he ruffled her hair, the affectionate gesture half-hearted. “Stay safe.”

“Ye as well.”

He regarded her one last time, as though loath to leave. But at last, he slipped away, out of the alley and onto the main path running in front of the tavern where he disappeared.

Mayhap forever. Or at least from her life.

She’d known that by joining the effort to reclaim Scottish land, she would be putting a strain between her and Drake. But she’d never thought the confrontation would happen so quickly. Or that it would harbor such permanence.

Something in her chest gave a painful twist.

“Kinsey.” The masculine voice wasn’t Drake, but still familiar.

Sir William.

Drake had thought she’d run off with him. How preposterous. As if Kinsey would ever sacrifice anything for a man, let alone her family.

Then she remembered how Sir William had threaded his long, tapered fingers through her own at the table. They’d been feigning lovers to avoid arousing suspicion. She hadn’t expected Drake to see it as well.

The shadow of a man with a muscular physique appeared at the head of the alley. “Kinsey?” Sir William called.

She sighed and made her way to him.

“Did ye find something?” he asked, his brows furrowed quizzically.

“I needed some air.” She strode toward, careful to avoid the greasy pools of stagnant water. “’Tis foul inside.”

“’Tis foul here.” He hesitated. “Did ye overhear something?”

“I beg yer pardon?” she asked innocently. Mayhap too innocently.

He tilted his head at her. Was he skeptical? Had he seen Drake?

Her pulse thudded in her ears.

“Ye have no’ found anything then?” William asked.

She hesitated.

Kinsey was ashamed to admit there was a second, a splinter of a second, that she considered telling William what she’d heard about the weapon. But she knew what divulging that secret had cost Drake, what a blow it had been to his tightly bound morals.

She could never betray him.

“Nothing.” The lie was bitter on her tongue. William and his men would be facing that weapon. It would put all of their lives in danger.

Regret balled like ice low in her belly. She wished she’d never seen Drake. It hurt her heart even to think that. She’d happily anticipated his visits in the past years. He’d always been so caring and supportive, knowing how to navigate her moods and never making her feel childish. And she wished to God he’d never told her about the weapon. Not when its knowledge burned like an ember in her mind.

Sir William glanced about the alley. “’Tis no’ safe out here. Even for a lass who can handle herself.” He extended his hand to her.

She looked at it, recalling how warm and strong his fingers had felt over hers. It hadn’t been unpleasant to hold his hand. But she certainly wouldn’t admit as much to him, nor would she take his offer now.

Instead, she simply strolled onward and pushed into the tavern at his side. The ladies within had a greater appreciation for Sir William than Kinsey. They immediately straightened when they saw him, their eyes raking down him with interest.

Kinsey shouldn’t have bothered to notice but couldn’t stop herself from glancing at the knight to observe his reaction.

He didn’t bother to look at a single one.

Instead, he regarded her and gave that charming smile as he offered her his arm once more.

And this time, for some inexplicable reason, she accepted.

 

 

William was pleased with how the trip to the tavern had gone the night before. The knowledge they had gained on Mabrick Castle would be integral in planning their attack.

From the whole of what they had gathered, King Edward was well aware of King David’s intent and sought to fortify his stolen lands. This meant that soldiers were being sent from England to Scotland. For example, those assigned to Mabrick Castle.

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