Border Lord's Bride

Border Lord's Bride by Gerri Russell

Book: Border Lord's Bride by Gerri Russell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gerri Russell
be all right. I'll see to that."
    She shook her head. "He took them all. I tried to stop him…" Marie choked on a sob. "He knew where they were hidden."
    Only a family member would know about the secret chamber belowstairs. "Horatio," Lucius said, trying desperately to keep his fear and his anger in check.
    Shuffling footsteps sounded behind Lucius. He drew his sword and turned as he came to his feet. Hadwell staggered through the doorway, his face covered in blood from a severe beating. From his injuries, it was apparent the steward had fought valiantly to try to save the girls from abduction.
    "Horatio took the girls," the steward sputtered before he collapsed to his knees.
    Behind Hadwell, the MacKinleys raced into the hall. Malcolm and Silas gripped the steward beneath his arms and helped him to his feet.
    "Bring Hadwell here and sit him in a chair," Lucius directed as he lifted Marie and placed her in a chair. He signaled Amos MacKinley to join him. "Press this against her wound," he told the man, releasing the linen for Amos to take over. "Silas, heat your dagger in the fire and seal the wound on her shoulder when you can."
    "The other servants?" Lucius asked. "Where are they?"
    "Some fled to the safety of the village. Others are hiding in the chambers abovestairs," Hadwell said, then winced with pain.
    "Jayne and the children?" Lucius asked with his heart in his throat.
    Jacob Insley hurried into the great hall. At the relief on his face, Lucius drew an easier breath.
    "Jayne, Maybel, and the baby are well. They hid in the wardrobe when they heard the commotion."
    "Praise the saints," Marie breathed.
    "At least there are some blessings in all this chaos." Lucius gave Marie a bittersweet smile.
    Her eyes filled with tears. "He left me alive tae tell ye…" Marie said raggedly. "He wants ye tae leave Midwick and return to the Templars. If ye don't, he threatened tae kill the girls."
    Silas and Malcolm erupted into curses.
    "We have to go after them," Lachlan growled from his location near the chamber door. "I saw wagon tracks in what's left of the snow. We can follow him."
    "It's not the girls he wants," Amos MacKinley scoffed. "He wants the estate. He made no secret of that while yer father was alive."
    Lachlan gripped his sword. "I'm ready to fight."
    "What will ye do, Lord Carrick? Will ye go back tae the Templars and spare the girls?" Silas asked.
    "My place is here with my sisters." Lucius's thoughts whirled as he sought a plan. "Marie, was Horatio alone or did he have others with him?"
    "He had two men with him when he arrived," she replied.
    "He only left with one," Hadwell replied with a bitter laugh. "Why do ye think I look like this? The man landed a few punches, but I got the best of him. He's tied up in the cellar."
    "Good man, Hadwell." Lucius patted the man gently on the shoulder. "Two men with six women could not have traveled far, even if Horatio stole our wagon. The land here is flat and open, with very few places to hide."
    "With twenty of us, we can overtake the two men easily."
    Hadwell staggered to his feet. "I'd be honored to join ye, my lord."
    Lucius gently clasped the old man's shoulder once more with gratitude. "I need you here, Hadwell, to make certain Marie and the others are protected. And when all this is over, you and I and the men will build pele towers to protect our people."
    He straightened. "Agreed."
    "They can't die," Marie said softly from her place near the hearth.
    Panic snaked through Lucius at her words, but he forced the emotion away. "They'll be back before nightfall." Lucius held on to that fraying shred of hope as he headed for his horse. He would find them, his sisters and Elizabeth, and he would make their world right.
    Uncle Horatio had unsettled his sisters' lives for the very last time. Lucius had been too weighed down with guilt when he'd returned to see his responsibilities clearly. But that mantle of guilt was gone. The earldom was his and he would wear that

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