Lady Averill Mortagne learned to control her fierce temper as a young girl. Her only respite is the time she spends with Kade Stewart, the wounded Scot her brother brought home from the Crusades. Who could have imagined a Highland warrior would be the only gentleman around? Lady Averill helped save his life, and for that Kade is truly grateful. When she braves an unexpected danger by his side, Averill will prove to Kade that her heart is as fiery as her hair.
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Lady Averill Mortagne learned to control her fierce temper as a young girl. Her only respite is the time she spends with Kade Stewart, the wounded Scot her brother brought home from the Crusades. Who could have imagined a Highland warrior would be the only gentleman around? Lady Averill helped save his life, and for that Kade is truly grateful. When she braves an unexpected danger by his side, Averill will prove to Kade that her heart is as fiery as her hair. Kade heard those words as he stirred from sleep and slowly opened his eyes.
He found himself peering up at what might be the patterned draperies of a large bed. The material appeared quite dark, but then the room, too, seemed dark, with just the flicker of flames from a fire that cast dancing light and shadow everywhere.
It was night then, Kade deduced, and he was Not that he could see her well enough to be sure of that, but the voice was definitely feminine, soft and a touch husky.
It was soothing and he quite liked listening to it, which was a good thing since it appeared she was speaking to him. At least, there was no one else in the room for her to be addressing.
I suppose all fathers see their daughters as lovely, though. Which is sweet and right, but I do sometimes wish he could see me as I really am. Perhaps then he would not take these rejections so much to heart. I hate disappointing him. Deciding he would leave them shut for the moment, he lay still and simply listened to her chatter, letting it flow over him like a sweet balm.
I do grow weary of being paraded before lords like a prize horse, especially when they all find me so wanting. I have told you every tale I can think of, and surely the details of life here at Mortagne are not very interesting. I fear my life has been most staid and unexciting compared to the adventures you and Will have enjoyed together. No doubt whatever subject I choose will bore you to tears.
Ah, Kade thought. Well, that answered that question at least. Will had spoken often of the lass over the last three years, and the tales had never failed to make Kade smile and wonder about the girl. He was wondering even more now. Will had never said anything in all those tales that might explain why men would reject marriage to her. Kade was suddenly curious to see what she looked like and why she was suffering these rejections she spoke of.
All Kade could see was a fuzzy figure seated beside the bed, bent over something in her lap. She appeared to be small in stature, her clothing dark, and her hair a bright, fiery orange in the light from the fire. Frustration welling up in him, he blinked several times, but it did little good, and he closed his eyes again with resignation. Kade was very sure Will had told him every story there was to tell while they had been held prisoner the last three years.
Their days had been spent laboring under the baking sun for their captors, but in the evenings they sat in dark, windowless cells passing the time by talking of home and family. Kade had told Will most of, if not all the details of his own youth and clan and was quite sure Will had done the same.
So he was surprised when Averill began to tell an unfamiliar tale. That announcement was followed by a small, almost embarrassed chuckle. He was my only playmate and was good enough not to mind having me trailing about after him.
We used to play hide-and-go-seek and other childish games together after our lessons were over for the day. But then, when I was five, Will was sent away to train, and I lost my only playmate and best friend. A little sigh of sadness slid from her lips at the memory. I begged Mother and Father to bring him back so that I could play with him again, but they were often busy and had little time to soothe a small girl missing her brother.
He, of course, refused, explaining most kindly that my father would not approve. I fear I kicked him in the shins for his refusal. I then ran to my room to have a good cry, and before the tears had dried on my face, decided I would have to run away. Fortunately, you are not conscious to hear. Kade strained to listen as she paused again. The secret passages run between the rooms, then join up at a tunnel that ends outside the bailey walls.
Will and I were always told that it was the way for us to flee should the castle ever be attacked, and that is how I got out of the castle. They were dark and dirty, with horrible large cobwebs and skittering sounds.
I was sure there were small creatures that would attack me at any moment. I almost turned around and hurried back to my room, but I wanted to see Will again, so I made myself continue on and finally reached the end of the tunnel. However, I did, and a breeze immediately blew in and snuffed my candle, but the tunnel ends in a cave, and enough sunlight was streaming through the entrance that I could see my way out.
I left my candle there and dragged my linen behind me out into the open air. I planned to continue on my journey as soon as I finished eating, but all the excitement and the food made me sleepy, so I brushed off the worst of the dirt and cobwebs my linen had gathered in my travails and curled up under the tree to sleep. And that is where they found me. The servants searched every nook and cranny of the castle, and the soldiers were called in to help look.
Father is the one who found me under that tree. Or—Oh, I should send for Will. He has sat by you quite often and insisted I find him if you stirred. Wait here. Kade raised his head to watch her blurry figure bustle away, frustrated by his inability to see properly when her dark outfit blended in with the shadows of the room. Grimacing, he lay back on the bed and closed his eyes once more, wondering why they were playing him false. He had never had trouble seeing before.
And what had she meant by saying Will had sat by him quite often? The sound of the door opening distracted him from his questions, and he frowned in that direction. Probably down in the great hall, Kade supposed, considering the lateness that the dark in the room suggested. It should be here soon. Are you having trouble seeing, my lord? No doubt your throat is dry. Just nod and shake your head for now.
Kade grimaced. She was right. It did pain him to speak though he was sure a drink would help with that. He was more concerned with how he had come to be here and why his eyes were playing him false, but merely nodded to indicate that he was indeed having trouble seeing. Mayhap the head wound has something to do with it. She straightened and turned slightly as the door opened again. Kade glanced that way as well to see a much larger figure in dark pants and a light-colored tunic move forward, booted feet pounding on the floor with each step.
Or mayhap his eyes are merely in need of liquid as much as his throat to work right. Then Will stepped up to tower over Kade where he lay. When Kade gave a grunt of disgust at the words, Will laughed and took the seat Averill had been using earlier. I feared that was something I would never see. Kade nodded. That time was not one he would soon forget. Nearly three years of his life had been wasted in that prison.
It had been exactly one thousand and seventy-two days of hell. While Will was an Englishman whom Kade had hardly known prior to their capture by infidels while on Crusade, he was now counted among his closest and most trusted friends. Their friendship was the only good thing to come out of the experience. Kade nodded again. Every couple of days another prisoner had fallen, a victim of starvation and dehydration, worked to death and dragged away to be tossed into an open pit where others lay rotting.
Kade had been sure he, too, would end his days in that mass grave. But when his cousin, Ian, had fallen ill, Kade had had enough. The plan had been simple, and desperate.
Kade had then called the guard. Two had come, both swarthy and strong with swords drawn. It was surprise alone that had won the day. But he had, and they had all escaped unscathed. They were stealing horses on which to flee when Will had been run through by a guard who took them by surprise. Once the guard had been taken care of, Will had tried to be brave and steadfast, clutching the wound in his side and telling them to go on without him, but Kade had ignored that and taken the time to bind the wound the best he could.
Ian had recovered from his illness within a couple of days, but it had taken two weeks for Will to recuperate. Once he was up and about, they had spent another two and a half months regaining their strength and working to earn the money for food, clothes, and horses to make the long journey home.
The Hellion and the Highlander
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
The problem with The Hellion and the Highlander : it isn't very interesting. Feisty, red-haired heroine there's a surprise meets manly Scottish warrior, marries him, falls in love, and helps to solve a not-very-mysterious mystery. That's it, really. There are pages of story, but the actual content is fairly meager.