Brenda Joyce

Brenda Joyce by A Rose in the Storm

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Authors: A Rose in the Storm
    “Not well.” She met his gaze, unsmiling. “He lost far too much blood. I cleaned both wounds, and I am very concerned. He is weak, my lord, and while there is no infection yet, we both know that one could set in shortly. The next few days are crucial.”
    “I am sorry he was wounded.”
    She tensed, because she was fairly certain he did not care about her brother, except as another useful hostage. “I am excellent with herbs and potions. I learned how to attend a great many maladies and war wounds from my mother. Now I must hope that the salves I have used were not used too late.”
    He studied her. “Is that an accusation? My own man tended him yesterday, Lady Margaret, and as ye have said, he has no infection.”
    She had been accusatory, but that would not get her anywhere. “I am grateful you had someone clean his wounds and bandage them. I am grateful you did not leave him to die.”
    “Ye remain the worst liar. Yer not grateful, and yer sick with fear.”
    She felt that fear then, as if a huge sob were about to choke her. “I have lost three brothers, brothers I dearly admired, brothers I loved. I cannot lose William, too!”
    “And I hope ye do not. Will ye sit down, Lady Margaret?”
    She had no appetite, but that wasn’t why she did not want to sit down at his table. A remembrance flashed in her mind, of being in his arms last night. It was a terrible recollection. “I was hoping to see my men today—before you hang them.”
    He smiled grimly at her. “I will allow ye to see them, but if ye think to mount an insurrection at the last moment, be forewarned. They’ll die by my sword and it willna matter to me.”
    “A rebellion at the last moment is not on my mind,” she cried. “Although I wish I was capable of mounting one.”
    He studied her, his scrutiny so intense it was unnerving. “I thought we had come to some terms—last night.”
    She trembled again. Last night she had glimpsed him as a powerful, sexual and handsome man. Last night, she had felt a moment of admiration and respect for him, but that moment was gone.
    “We did not come to any terms. You are my captor, I am your prisoner, my brother might die in your care—and you are about to execute my good soldiers.”
    He stood up abruptly. “I will take you to the dungeons.” He gestured at four men, who instantly arose, their swords clattering against the table’s edge as they did. He then pointed at Alan, too.
    He led the way down to the dungeons, Margaret directly behind him, his five men behind her. Her heart raced madly now. She estimated it was half past eight in the morning. In four hours or less, Sir Neil, Malcolm and the others would die.
    Little daylight came into the dungeons. One wall had two small, barred windows, set high above the prisoners’ heads. Otherwise, there was no possibility of natural light entering the cell, so burning torches had been set into the ground, which was dirt. Two of Alexander’s men had remained below, outside the single large cell where the prisoners huddled. Margaret remained directly behind Alexander now, aware of the temperature dropping dramatically. It was terribly cold belowground.
    He came to an abrupt halt, and she stumbled not to crash into him from behind. Peeking past him, she saw the two guards leap to attention now.
    “Open the door,” Alexander said to them.
    Margaret had never been inside a dungeon before—although she had been inside the cellars at Castle Bain and Balvenie. Those cellars had had stone floors, and they had been dank and dark, too—but this was so much worse. The dungeons stank of urine and feces. She thought she could smell blood, too, and she felt so much despair.
    This was all her fault.
    Margaret peered past Alexander; Sir Neil, Malcolm and the others were all standing now, and staring at them. Or were they staring at her? With accusation in their eyes? Accusation she so rightly deserved?
    She heard the key turning in the lock, a rusty

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