Highland Champion

Highland Champion by Hannah Howell Page B

Book: Highland Champion by Hannah Howell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hannah Howell
any woman’s skirts. When they finally made love and he was lying sated and happy in her arms, he did not wish to face her guilt or recriminations.
    Thinking of making love to Keira only renewed his need, making it even more uncomfortable to sit in a saddle, so he pushed such tempting thoughts from his mind. It was time to begin his campaign to convince her that he was the perfect man to help her defeat Rauf Moubray. First, he needed her to tell him more about Rauf, Ardgleann, and her vow to her late husband. She had not been very forthcoming, and he had been reluctant to prod her to speak of the man to whom she had been so briefly married. It had been jealousy that had made him so reluctant, and it still was. Liam was a little surprised that he could be jealous of a dead man, but ruefully accepted that he was. Until he felt certain Keira was his and his alone, he suspected he could, and would, be jealous of anything and anyone who drew her attention away from him.
    Slowing the pace of his horse, he waited until she caught up with him. “When ye were preparing to desert me back at the cottage, ye spoke of a vow ye had made and needed to fulfill. What did ye mean? Did ye speak of the one ye made to your husband?”
    “I didnae desert ye,” she said and then frowned. “How do ye ken that I made a vow to my husband?”
    “Your cousin spoke of it for he worries o’er ye.” He shrugged. “I did wonder from time to time why ye didnae speak of it. S’truth, ye rarely spoke of your husband.”
    Speaking of her husband only reminded Keira of all the pain and embarrassment she had suffered during her short marriage. She did her best to try to remember Duncan only as a good but troubled man who had been cruelly murdered. Except for the good friends she had begun to make in her short time as Lady of Ardgleann, she tried to think of her marriage as little as possible. She certainly did not want to discuss it in any detail with a man who could make her feel feverish with only a brief, warm glance.
    Yet she had to say something. Liam knew about the vow, and Matthew had undoubtedly told him about the trouble at Ardgleann. Keira decided that was what shewould speak of, and that alone. What had happened between her and Duncan, the abysmal failure of her marriage, and the secret she was now forced to keep were not Liam’s concern.
    “My cousin told ye about Rauf Moubray and his crimes?” she asked.
    “Aye. The mon now holds what is rightfully yours. He killed your husband, and considering the mon he is, he is undoubtedly making life a misery for all who live at Ardgleann.”
    “Ye ken the mon, do ye?”
    “Nay, I have ne’er met him, only heard of him. Some verra dark things are said about him.”
    Keira nodded. “I am nay surprised, and I suspect those tales dinnae e’en begin to reveal his evil nature. He is a brute, vicious, cold, and deadly. He entered Ardgleann by stealth, having tortured to death several poor souls to gain the information he needed to do so.” She shivered as the memories of that day came flooding back. “He and his men cut down anyone in their way as they poured into the keep. Duncan made me swear that I would help his people if Rauf won the battle. He did. He cut poor Duncan to pieces, making sure each wound was an agony, yet not immediately fatal. He wanted Duncan to suffer. He enjoyed it.”
    “And then he came after you?”
    “Aye, but he wasnae planning to kill me. If not for his need to humiliate me and to show me what he had done to my husband, I probably would ne’er have escaped him. He was so enraptured by his victory and so certain no woman would have the wit to do aught but what he told her to, he didnae watch me closely.”
    “But he did hurt ye. Matthew told me ye were sorely wounded.”
    “I was. I tried to fight him, and that enraged him. I managed to get out of the keep and found help in getting away from Ardgleann. Since then, I have hidden away at the monastery.”
    “Ye

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