Border Fire

Border Fire by Amanda Scott

Book: Border Fire by Amanda Scott Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amanda Scott
Tags: Romance
padded quietly through the dark night. She could make out shapes of trees and bushes by starlight, and she knew that the moon would rise soon. With luck, they would be well away before Hugh and his men returned. Even as the thought crossed her mind, however, she glanced toward the west and stiffened at the sight of torches lighting the crest of the nearest hill.
    “They’re coming,” she exclaimed. “Hurry!”
    “We’ll keep to a sensible pace,” he replied calmly. “They cannot see us from where they are. The trees ahead make a black shadow that conceals us from anyone behind us. If we were riding along the horizon, they might see us, or if the moon should suddenly take it into its head to rise, they would. But the moon is on my side, lass. ’Tis a good Border moon that will pop out later to show us the way.”
    “But they will be after us by then!”
    “Not necessarily.”
    “Don’t be a dolthead,” she snapped. “Do you think that my brother will not raise the countryside to follow us when he learns of your escape?”
    “Well, now, I warrant he would if he were to realize that I’ve gone, but if we are lucky, he won’t learn any such thing before morning.”
    “How can you say that? With Yaro’s Wat in a stupor, and—Godamercy,” she exclaimed when another thought struck her. “The keys! You left them in the cell door! Even if by some miracle Hugh should fail to notice that Wat—”
    “Whisst now! Softly, lass. I did not leave the keys in the cell door.”
    “Then you’ve still got them with you, and that’s worse! Hugh will hang Wat, and Wat is kind. He does not deserve such a horrid fate.”
    “Then I am sorry if he will suffer for this,” the reiver said. “I warn you, though. You’d best never try to use any of my men in a like way, because if one of them ever drank himself into such a state that a wee lass was able to relieve him of his keys or his weapons, I’d hang him from the nearest tree.”
    Janet winced, knowing that Hugh would do the same and would not need to seek a tree, thanks to the gallows already standing in the bailey. She would have given anything at that moment for the power to turn back the clock, to—
    “If you are wishing that you had not done it, lass, I hope you will also remember that your brother meant to hang me at sunrise. I am grateful to you for my life and will do all possible to see that you come to no harm through helping me. That is why I do not have your Wat’s keys. He has them.”
    “What? But how—?”
    “I kept them, and when I pushed you toward the stable, I took a moment to lock the dungeon door and put the ring back near his belt. The greatest likelihood is that when your brother returns, he and his men will make enough noise to wake the lad sleeping by the gate and to stir your Wat to life as well. If that occurs, they will none of them miss either of us until sunrise when Sir Hugh will seek me out to hang me. I also locked the cell door,” he added with a chuckle.
    “But why?”
    “Think on it, lass. What will they think when they find both doors locked, the keys where they are supposed to be—indeed, everything as it is supposed to be?”
    “They will think the devil flew away with you!”
    “Aye, or that I’m Auld Clarty myself. In any case, it is bound to add to my legendary stature, don’t you agree?”
    His audacity amazed her. He had been within hours of meeting his Maker, and here he was instead, chuckling at a boyish prank. Hugh would certainly think that magic was involved, perhaps would even suspect that the devil had flown away with his prisoner—Her train of thought stopped abruptly, overtaken by another. “It is not just you that Hugh will think the devil flew away with,” she said.
    He chuckled again. “I wondered if that would occur to you.”
    “Holy Mary, preserve me,” Janet muttered. “Do you really think he will believe the devil carried us off?”
    “Well now, that depends.”
    “On what?”
    “On

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