The plot thickens.  I really love my heroine.  I love her spunkiness.

Kaitlin paced within the tower room where Laird Nicholas had locked her without an explanation.  He should have sent her back to Wakefield Manor once he had learned her identity.  Was not her father’s reprisal foremost in his mind?

Anger coursed through her.  The Rothirfordes had tried her family’s patience more times than she could remember.  She would tell the Rothirforde laird what she thought about his false accusations against her father.  How dare he believe her father capable of killing the first laird of Castile Manor—Laird Gregory of Rothirforde!

She stopped her pacing to stare at the bailey through the arrow loop.  Her situation was nobody’s fault but her own. She should have waited until her father could accompany her on the morrow, but she believed she could make it on her own.  Her father’s scoldings echoed in her ears: You never listen to me. How many times must I tell you not to go outside the confines of the castle walls by yourself?  Until now, his reprimands had proven worse than the danger he had professed.

She returned to her pacing only to run into the edge of the lone table adorning the room. From the table she snatched the earthenware mug balancing precariously on its edge and examined it.  The laird’s crest was brazed on its side just as the hatred for the Rothirfordes was instilled in her mind. She hurled the mug at the door.  Water and bits of pottery flew everywhere as the key clicked in the door lock.

“Are you not appreciative of my generosity?” Laird Nicholas almost filled the doorway. He had secured his black hair in a ponytail with a leather band.  The dark figure of a man, big and powerful, stepped over a few pieces of pottery while others cracked under his feet.  His mouth thinned with displeasure before pushing the final piece of earthenware with the toe of his boot. 

“What generosity?”  The lively twinkle in his green eyes and the Rothirforde arrogance only incensed her more.  How dare he make light of her circumstances?  “I was kidnapped, brought here to Castile Manor, and locked in this tower room.  My father will begin his search upon your holdings if I do not arrive at my grandmother’s.  Do you not fear my father?”

“Nae, for you have done wrong.  He will not risk his daughter’s life for an attack upon my lands.  And if he should be as foolish to attack under the dark of night, my men-at-arms will stand again’ him. ‘Tis his anger again’ you that will be raised when he learns of your misdeed.  Your fear of his response, not mine, should beat rapidly in your chest.”

She visualized her father’s expression.  The laird was right. She did not want to disappoint her father.  Her father’s reaction mattered more than anything the laird could say or do.  She needed to go home—now.

“What are your plans for me?”  Kaitlin snapped.

“I had considered returning you to your father, but I changed my mind after seeing your destructive behavior. He will be sent notice of your whereabouts, but I shall inform him that he must allow you to fulfill your punishment without interfering.”

“How dare you make demands upon my father!”  She glared at him as she blew away some tendrils that had fallen across her face.  She was glad he could not hear her heart beating furiously against her chest.

“I dare because you trespassed on my land. ‘Tis enough your brother and his companions steal my cattle, but now they send you to search for the cattle to steal,” he retorted.  His eyes darkened.

“If you are talking about my brother, Andrew, he did not steal your cattle.  We have our own cattle and have no desire to steal yours.”

“Andrew, Phillip, or Matthew.  Matters not. Some cattle are missing, and your father is responsible along with all your younger brothers.”

“How do you know my brothers’ names?” She approached him within an arm’s length and rested her fists on her hips.

“I know almost everything about Baron William Wakefield and his progeny.”  He stared down into her face, his expression bordering on mockery. “You forget they battled each other before you were born, and I was but a wee lad.”

“How can I forget?  My father is burdened by your false claim upon his honor,” Kaitlin debated, never moving from her stance.

“’Tis no false claim.  My father’s demise came at Baron Wakefield’s hands.”  He showed no signs of relenting.

“I do not believe you.”

“Believe any story you wish, but after their meeting near the borders, mine was killed returning to Castile Manor.  Wakefield may not have released the arrow, but he made sure someone did.”

“He denies knowing anything about it.”  She recognized the defiance in her voice.

“Wakefield would never admit to murder.”

“Is that why you continue to battle us?”

“That and the fact you are thieves.  Your father stole my father’s life, and I vow to make his life as miserable as ever.”

“So you kidnapped me?”

“’Tis impossible to kidnap a trespasser. I shall not talk about this anymore.”

He turned away from her and walked towards the door. “You will stay in this tower until I decide your punishment. Someone shall bring food for you.”

After he opened the door, Nicholas looked back over his shoulder with an icy stare.

She felt her anger rise in response to his arrogance and folded her arms across her chest.  Saying anything would only make him angrier.  But she was determined he would not win.  No amount of punishment would break her Wakefield pride.

* * *



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