Never Seduce a Scot(11)

By: Maya Banks


Eveline sat atop the rise that overlooked the front of the keep and watched as the impressive line of Montgomery soldiers proceeded on horseback toward the drawbridge.

She wondered if her father would give them all admittance or make the majority of the warriors remain outside the walls of the keep. But then Graeme Montgomery might well never agree to place himself in the vulnerable position of entering his enemy’s lair with only a few of his men for protection.

She searched the front of the line with her gaze, straining to see the man who would be her husband. They all looked massive to her and were interchangeable in their armor, holding shields, some with swords drawn.

It didn’t look like a wedding party. It looked like a prelude to war.

She shivered and hugged herself tightly, hunching down farther, hoping she wouldn’t be seen. Her mother would be looking for her. As would her brothers. She’d purposely not gone to her usual haunt because Brodie would have already been sent to fetch her. Instead she’d chosen this spot because it afforded her a view … of her future.

There were three men who separated themselves from the line of horses, riding forward, and one tilted his head up as if he were bellowing to the watchman. Eveline wished she could hear. It must be an impressive sound coming from a man so large in stature. It likely scared the wits out of anyone in hearing distance.

A few of the horses behind the man shied and had to be quickly calmed by their riders.

She leaned her chin on her knees and continued to stare as the drawbridge was slowly lowered.

Her husband.

He was here to take her away from everything she knew and loved. This was the one place she felt safe and protected. Cherished by her family, indulged by her clan.

But hadn’t she once longed for a normal life? A new adventure? To see something outside the walls of her keep? She hadn’t ventured beyond the Armstrong borders in her entire lifetime.

There had been a time she’d welcomed her betrothal to Ian McHugh. She’d been flushed with excitement and filled with dreams of a husband, children, her own keep to run. Oh, she’d planned it all. Visits back to her family. They would travel to her husband’s holding for the birth of her first child. There would be much rejoicing and happiness.

But that fantasy had quickly evaporated the moment Ian had made known his intentions toward her. Her dreams had been replaced by a nightmare she’d feared never escaping.

She hated hiding here, behind her father and mother and even her brothers. Allowing others to think she was less than she was. But what she most hated was having to give up that dream. And now? It seemed regardless of all she’d done to ensure that she’d always remain safely hidden away on her father’s land, the day had arrived when she’d be forced to venture beyond their borders to a new life.

This certainly wouldn’t have been the way she envisioned ever broadening her horizons, but she didn’t have a choice. Shouldn’t she try to make the best of a bad situation?

Her mother was distraught. Her father was grim and worried and in a mood so foul, no one dared disturb him unless it was of utmost importance. Even her brothers were short-tempered. It was as if a black cloud had descended on the keep, and ever since the message had been received that the Montgomerys would arrive before nightfall, the keep had been in a flurry of activity.

Eveline had escaped unnoticed, but they would be looking for her even now. Perhaps to hide her. Perhaps to present her to the man who would be her husband.

She’d watched enough lips to know that with the earl in residence, any act of disobedience regarding the royal decree would be considered an act of war against the king.

Finished with her perusal of the Montgomery clan, she reclined on the ground, closing her eyes briefly against the wash of sunshine. When she reopened them, she focused on the blue of the sky and the softly drifting clouds.

Here she could escape for just a little while, silence surrounding her, but in the deep recesses of her mind, she could conjure the memory of what music sounded like, and as she stared at the yawning blue canvas above her, she could swear that music danced through her ears.

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