She turned back to look out the window. “Fear. He is a strong man and if I failed, he would kill me and that could hardly help my mother and sister. Harold, the man who came here, is my dearest friend...my only friend. He once found me...” She decided not to elaborate on that. “He does not live on our estate, but when I can, I go to him. Many are the days Harold and I have plotted to kill my father. His guards will not let any man near him or Harold would gladly do it.” She shook her head in sorrow. “God will never forgive me for these evil thoughts.”
“I have a hundred lads who would be glad to have the honor.”
“Can your men get to him before he kills my mother?”
“Aye, they can.”
“If only it were that simple.”
“Why is it not that simple?”
“We would never find Rachel. He has given her to someone and I have searched my mind, but I cannot think who. She could be anywhere.” Anna abruptly grabbed Kevin’s arm. “Do you hate my father?”
“Because he hurt you.”
“Yes, that is exactly what he hoped. He broke no bones and my insides are not harmed. He wanted only to disfigure me enough to make you hate him.”
“But why? I have given him no cause.”
“I do not know. He said, but I cannot remember.” She started to bite her lower lip and hurt herself. “I suppose I should not do that for a while.”
They were both lost in thought for several minutes before he asked, “Are you tired enough to sleep now?”
“I believe I am.” She surprised him when she reached up on tiptoe and briefly put her bruised cheek against his. Then she let go, stood back and narrowed her eyes. “You appear to be a kind man, but so did my father once. I warn you now, no man will ever chain me to a bed.”
He took hold of her hand. “I assure you, my followers, both lads and lasses, would never let such a thing happen. They seem to think you belong to them now.” With that, he walked out of the room, closed the door and quietly went downstairs where his pacing wouldn’t bother anyone.
Angus was the inside sentry for the night and he soon got dizzy watching him. If Kevin wanted to talk, he would. Until then, it was Angus’ job to be on guard and to alert his laird if there was trouble outside.
Kevin was so enraged, he wanted to tear Anna’s father apart and make him suffer before he killed him. Anna had been beaten before and probably more than once. No wonder she was so brave, she was accustomed to it. Then he remembered how she wanted more wine to dull her pain. He wanted her to eat something first, and forgot to give her more wine before she went to bed. At least, that was one mistake he could do something about. He grabbed a goblet, quickly filled it and went back up to her room. When he went in, she was trying to unbutton the top of her gown in the back. Her arms were raised, the bottom of the cut out square in her gown was touching her lower rope burn, and she was softly moaning.
He handed her the goblet and watched her greedily drink. Then he walked behind her and began to unbutton her gown. “Do you want me to stay until you sleep? I will turn my back while you undress and get in bed.”
She had terror in her eyes when she answered, “No.”
He finished with her buttons and walked back around to see her face. “You promise not to fall if I leave?”
“I meant to give you more wine earlier. Please forgive me for neglecting it and wake me if you need more.” It wasn’t easy to read her expression through all that swelling, but he thought she looked puzzled when he left. Perhaps, he was mistaken.
He went back downstairs, poured himself some wine, drank and started to pace again. Never in his life had he heard of a woman being chained to a bed. He couldn’t think of that now, it made him too furious. Instead, he concentrated on what else Anna told him. Her father did it to make Kevin hate him. Why? What had he done? He mulled it over and over in his mind and came up with far more questions than answers.
Then he thought about the way she put her cheek to his. Was it affection or was it gratitude? How was he supposed to know; he’d never been married before. Aside from the woman on the horse, he’d hardly wanted to be around women, except to satisfy his lust. He told himself he would talk to Katie, she would know.
He stopped pacing, sat down at the long table, and rested his head in his hands. Why on earth did he care anyway? He only married her to have sons. Affection or gratitude shouldn’t matter in the least. No, he would not talk to Katie. Finding Rachel should be his only concern. After that, killing the scunner and freeing Anna’s mother would be easy. Still, if Anna had no idea where Rachel was, how would they find her?
It was time to confide in his men. They were wise and maybe they would have suggestions.
The counsel of Kevin’s ten most trusted men was called for early the next morning. Instead of holding it in the great hall where they would disturb Anna’s sleep, they walked across the drawbridge and into the glen.
Anna was not asleep. Instead, she was watching from her window and could just imagine what he was telling them. Still, she wasn’t sure until every one of them became suddenly enraged. Several of them cursed and then spit on the ground. Kevin let them vent their anger for a while longer before he put his hand up to quiet them. Then he told them the rest of it.
Anna turned her back and moved away from the window. They knew. It was her own father who had beaten her, and now everyone would know. She was so embarrassed and humiliated, she felt sick to her stomach. Maybe she shouldn’t have told Kevin.
Yet, she thought about it most of the night and she had no other choice. She was a good two and maybe three days away and there was nothing she could do without riding all the way back to England. Then what could she do?
She once hid behind a tree outside the wall that encircled their estate. She loaded her bow with an arrow and she would have shot her father, but he never came out. He rarely left and never when she was outside the wall.
Anna needed an army and it occurred to her, her husband just happened to have one. Maybe Kevin could save her mother and sister. Suddenly, she remembered something more.
He noticed Anna right away. She walked into the meadow toward him with all the charm and grace of a queen. He thought maybe he should go to her to make sure she didn’t fall, but he was too late. Two of his warriors raced back to walk by her side and she thanked each of them. He patiently waited until she came closer. “Is there something you need?”
“Yes, I need to warn you.”
“My father means to burn your home and kill all of your people.” Thomas interpreted and most of the men grumbled something when he finished, but when she turned to look at them, they quieted.
“Did he say when?” Thomas asked.
She started to do her own pacing in front of her husband and the warriors got out of her way so she could. “I have been thinking about that. Father said I was to agree to marry Kevin and then wait.”
“Wait for what?” Kevin asked.
“I do not know. He said that if I were a good girl, he would see that I was not killed and I could go back home. The wedding was not supposed to be until next week and only Harold knows we are already married.”