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Authors: Emma Prince

Tags: #Romance, #Medieval Romance, #Scottish Highlander, #Historical Romance, #Highlander, #Scottish Highlands, #Warriors

Highlander's Ransom

BOOK: Highlander's Ransom
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Highlander's Ransom
Number I of
Sinclair Brothers Trilogy
Emma Prince
Emma Prince (2014)
Rating:
****
Tags:
Romance, Medieval Romance, Scottish Highlander, Historical Romance, Love Story, Warrior, Highland Warriors, Highland, Highlands, Highlanders, Highlander, Scots, Scotland, Scotland Highland, Scotland Highlands, Scottish, Scottish Highlands, Scottish Higlander, Scottish Medieval Romance, Warriors

He was out for revenge...

Laird Robert Sinclair would stop at nothing to exact revenge on Lord Raef Warren, the English scoundrel who had brought war to his doorstep and razed his lands and people. Leaving his clan in the Highlands to conduct covert attacks in the borderlands, Robert lives to be a thorn in Warren’s side.
So when he finds a beautiful English lass on her way to marry Warren, he whisks her away to the Highlands with a plan to ransom her back to her dastardly fiance.

She would not be controlled...

Lady Alwin Hewett had no idea when she left her father’s manor to marry a man she had never met that she would instead be kidnapped by a Highland rogue out for vengeance. But she refuses to be a pawn in any man’s game. So when she learns that Robert has had them secretly wed, she will stop at nothing to regain her freedom.
But her heart may have other plans…

Highlander’s
Ransom

The
Sinclair Brothers Trilogy

Book One

 

By

Emma
Prince

Text Copyright © Emma Prince

All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Epilogue

 

Prologue

February
24, 1303
Roslin, Scottish Highlands

Robert Sinclair wiped his bloodied blade on the sleeve
of a dead Englishman. As he returned his sword to its scabbard, he let his eyes
scan over his lands. The brown grasses of winter were barely visible underneath
the bodies; though some were Scottish, most wore the armor and colors of the
English. His clan’s men, along with the McKays and Sutherlands, had managed,
after three bloody engagements, to defeat the English army sent by Edward I to
steal their ancestral lands. While all the Scots present would celebrate this
victory long into the night, Robert had a personal stake in the outcome. Roslin
was
his
land, and as Laird of the Sinclairs, it was his duty above all
to protect his people and their homes.

“You fought well, Robert,” Burke said at Robert’s side.
Robert’s right-hand man and closest friend let his eyes survey the battlefield
before facing Robert. The two clasped arms, glad to have survived the day,
though it wasn’t merely chance that had seen them through. Robert had heard
whispers, then murmurs, then shouts rippling through the English army when the
red Sinclair plaid was spotted. And a few English soldiers had actually turned
tail and run when they recognized him at the front of his men. Apparently his
reputation as one of the deadliest sword wielders in all the Highlands had
reached the English. The years of training, fighting with his brothers, and
eventually the enemy were paying off. He hadn’t been a boy for a long time, but
he felt like more than a man today—like a true Laird. “Aye, we did well for our
people,” Robert replied. After a pause, Burke asked with a shadow of
hesitation, “And what of Warren?”

Robert clenched his fists at his sides, feeling the
heat of battle rise in him once more despite the icy breeze rippling his kilt.
Only one man had eluded the death he brought down upon his enemies—Raef Warren.
“Escaped. He ran like the coward he is,” he rasped through gritted teeth.

Just as the English had heard rumors of Robert and the
Sinclairs’ lethal skill, Warren’s reputation for cruelty and trickery preceded
him on the battlefield; Robert had come across the snake a year earlier during
one of many tense negotiations between several Scottish clans and the English
nobles who sought to control them. Though a capable fighter, Warren preferred
subterfuge over direct confrontation. He had been a key player in the breakdown
of negotiations between the Scots and the English, counterfeiting missives
between clan chiefs that hinted at a surprise attack. Those forged missives had
nearly drawn blood that day in negotiations, and they certainly had led to the
bloodshed at Robert’s feet on this bleak afternoon. Robert had caught a glimpse
of the man in the conflict that had ended just an hour ago, but Warren had
slipped away.

“His time will come,” Burke said, just as much anger
in his voice as was in his Laird’s. Robert spat on the ground in frustration,
then inhaled a lungful of the crisp February air to cool his nerves. The
fighting was done for now, but he was sure that Warren would cause trouble again.
Next time, Robert vowed silently, he wouldn’t let the man escape. Warren had
helped to bring this battle right to Robert’s doorstep, endangering his people
and lands. The Scots were victorious, but Robert would only consider victory
secured when that weasel Warren could no longer poison England and Scotland
with his lies. It seemed as though the real battle had only just begun.

 

Chapter 1

January
1, 1307

Alwin attempted for the hundredth time to shift to a
more comfortable position, and for the hundredth time found none. Despite the
fact that her heavy fur-lined cloak cut some of the chill and dampness from the
air, it did little to cushion her bottom from jostling about on the hard wooden
floor of the canvas-covered supply cart she rode in. Thank goodness this
journey was only a long day’s worth of travel. If she had to do this again
tomorrow, Alwin was sure her teeth would rattle right out of her head, her
brain would turn to jelly inside her skull, and her bottom would be blue and
purple with bruises.

She signed, guessing that it had only been about four
hours since she’d left her father’s manor. She didn’t even think of it as her
home. No, Lord Henry Hewett saw her as more of a guest than his daughter, and
an unwelcome guest at that. She knew she had never pleased him. Such thoughts
no longer made her heart burn with shame and sadness anymore. Years of his
criticisms and coldness had granted her the opportunity to practice thinking
about him analytically rather than with the rage or heartache that characterized
her relationship with the man. So far today, she had kept her thoughts cool,
but another jolt of the cart had her biting back an oath.

Her first offense against Lord Hewett was the fact
that she had been born a girl. After that, her very nature seemed to grate him.
She simply couldn’t bear to sit quietly with her hands in her lap and let the
man control her life. She was always earning his ire, normally for sneaking
into his study to read any of the precious few dusty volumes on his bookshelves.
Her mother had done her best to encourage Alwin’s “spirit,” as she had called
it, but after her death five years ago, Alwin was left alone with her brusque
father. She knew he now only saw her as a bargaining chip, a tool that could
secure alliances, greater wealth, and titles through a favorable marriage. He
would reap the benefits of having a daughter after all, she thought with a
lingering bitterness that surprised her. She was rid of him now, she reminded
herself.

In a way, Alwin admitted, she could understand her
father’s motivations. They lived in the far north of England, and though her
father’s holding was considered rather wealthy, tensions had been running high
of late. Her father needed more protection against the threat of invading
Scots. With their location so close to the Scottish border, they were in danger
of becoming easing pickings for the increasing number of bands of Scottish
barbarians drifting southward in search of loot.

Lord Hewett needed to align himself with someone
farther north than he was, so that he’d have a first line of defense. He also
needed someone with more men-at-arms, weapons, and supplies to ward off
invasion, or perhaps even take the battle to the Scots. And a nobleman with
influence was necessary also—that way Lord Hewett could have a voice, albeit a
muted one, with the power-players at court. All these criteria made his choice
for his daughter’s husband easy: Lord Raef Warren.

Warren had a holding just north of the border, on
Scottish land. Although that often meant that he had more raiders to deal with,
he was also strategically positioned to have an ear to the ground for the first
signs of Scottish rebellion. He had already participated in major negotiations
and even some battles, and although the English had been bested a few years
back, Warren had returned home with tales of Scottish weaknesses that could be
exploited in the future—plus stories about his own fighting prowess. It was a
good match from Lord Hewett’s perspective. He had probably even imagined that
he was getting the better end of the deal, Alwin thought with wry sadness.
Normally, a man of Warren’s standing wouldn’t consider a marriage with a lady
from such a comparatively smaller manor. Although they too were of nobility,
albeit of a lower station, an alliance with her father did little to increase
Warren’s already-great wealth, prestige, and noble standing. No, her father was
trading on the rumors of her beauty to secure his own position. It didn’t hurt,
of course, that Lord Hewett had pulled together a sizable dowry for her as
well, to be paid out after the wedding took place. Lord Warren had never laid
eyes on her, but he must have believed what he had heard about Hewett’s fair
daughter and agreed to the union. Or perhaps her father’s efforts to broadcast
his wealth and her large dowry had caught Warren’s ear. Lord Hewett was a proud
man, and wanted all to know of his clever power play at securing Lord Warren as
a son-in-law.

Of course, her father hadn’t told her any of this
directly. Alwin had had to piece the story together on her own, catching
snatches of conversation, begging the messengers who shuttled missives between
her father and Lord Warren to let a few words slip, and, when necessary, even
eavesdropping on her father’s study. At first she had felt a little guilty
about her actions, but her knowledge of the strategic union couldn’t change
matters, so what did it hurt? Alwin had had no say in the matter. Her father
had simply informed her last week—on Christmas, no less!—that she was to be wed
to Lord Warren, and that she would depart on the first day of the new year.
Yes, she could understand her father’s reasoning and strategizing—when she
ignored the fact that she was his daughter and not just another pawn in his
power playing.

She fisted her hands in the soft brown material of her
dress, trying to suppress the anger rising in her yet again at the thought. She
had tried to reason with her father that such an arrangement was ill-advised,
and when that hadn’t worked, she tried shouting, but to no avail. In fact, it
only seemed to make things worse. Although her mother had seen the spark of
fire in her as an advantage, her father had always hated it.

After the initial grief of her mother’s death had
passed, Alwin’s home life had become unbearable as her father sought to break
her of her sharp tongue and even sharper mind. At first he only verbally
admonished her for her unladylike behavior, but when that hadn’t worked, he had
resorted to locking her in her room for days at a time, not even allowing her
loyal maid Betsy to check on her. The sharp pangs of hunger and thirst had only
strengthened Alwin’s determination to resist succumbing to his force of will.
She knew she was smart, strong, and capable—why should she hide those traits
under the guise of simpering submission or empty-headed daintiness? As she
jostled in the back of the cart, her mind tugged toward memories of her mother,
who had likely been the one to pass on such spiritedness to her, but from what
Alwin could remember of her, her mother’s spark seemed to have gone out. No
doubt it was her father’s iron will that had tamped it, she thought, the
bitterness rising in her throat again. She would not allow that to happen to
her.

And yet, she had no illusions that where she was going
would give her any reprieve from such treatment. Although she knew next to
nothing about her intended husband, she imagined that he too would demand her
submission. From the skillet into the fire, she thought without joy. She would
just have to be strong, even more so than before. She had survived her father’s
resentment, punishments, and anger for her entire life—a full twenty years of
his disgust. Surely she could keep her spine straight and her chin up in a new
setting and with a new overlord. Maybe her future husband would even welcome
the fact that she could read, keep the household ledgers, and carry on an
intelligent conversation. She swallowed the tears that threatened to choke her
yet again. She hoped.

The canvas, which stretched over a wooden frame build
several feet up from the floor of the cart, blocked the landscape from view,
but she imagined that they had crossed over into Scotland about an hour ago,
and at least half of their journey remained ahead of them. It had been Warren’s
idea to transport her in a supply wagon. Apparently, Scottish raiders had been
increasing their activity along several major roads that crossed the border.

BOOK: Highlander's Ransom
13.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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