Her Highness and the Highlander: A Princess Brides Romance

Her Highness and the Highlander: A Princess Brides Romance by Tracy Anne Warren Page A

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Authors: Tracy Anne Warren
know anythin’ aboot that, lad,” McCrawber had said. “An I rode here from
     tha’ direction only this mornin’. Didn’t see nothin’ oot o’ the ordinary. If there’d
     been murders, I’d’ve known aboot it, tha’s fer sure.”
    “Tetched in the ’ead, is what tha’ lass is,” the innkeeper grumbled from his place
     behind the bar. “Or else a right fine liar. I’m o’ the liar opinion, if ye ask me.”
    “Then it’s a good thing no one did,” Daniel had remarked in a cold voice.
    He’d thanked McCrawber and inquired no further. The innkeeper had tossed him a withering
     look, then gone back to drying glasses with a damp rag.
    After his conversation with the constable, he’d felt certain that Mercedes was in
     no real danger—at least not from murderous highwaymen. He’d aided her as much as he
     could, but now he needed to continue on his way. She wasn’t his responsibility; she
     would be fine on her own.
    A frown tightened his forehead as he recalled how she had shaken with terror last
     night. And how trustingly she had later slept in his arms.
    Pushing aside the memories, he laid the newly folded shirt into the top of his valise
     and then closed the case, fastening the straps with a pair of hard, satisfying yanks.
    He had just set the valise onto the floor and was scanning the room for any forgotten
     items when a loud knocking began at the door.
    “Major MacKinnon?” called a lovely feminine voice. “Are you in there? I must speak
     with you immediately.”
    Before he could respond, the doorknob turned and Mercedes was inside, tumbling across
     the threshold with her plain white nightgown and robe swirling around her trim ankles
     and her sable hair cascading in a tousled mass over her shoulders and down to the
     small of her back.
    “Thank heavens, I caught you in time,” she panted. “The serving maid said you were
     leaving.” She looked at his valise.
    He did his best to ignore her hurt expression and the twinge of guilt he felt. “That’s
     right. I only stopped here overnight and must be on my way. I’ve already delayed my
     departure long enough.”
    “But you cannot go,” she declared, walking deeper into the room. “I have need of your
     services.”
    He arched a brow. “Services?”
    “Yes. It isn’t safe for me to travel alone, not all the way to London. I require a
     bodyguard and have decided that your protection shall do nicely.”

Chapter 6
    M ercedes stared hopefully at Daniel MacKinnon, her heart thrumming fiercely beneath
     her ribs.
    The attack on the coach had been no random act, of that she felt certain. Whether
     they meant to kill her or kidnap her, she did not know. But without the major’s protection
     she would be alone and defenseless. She had no weapons and wouldn’t know how to wield
     a pistol or a knife, even if she could find some means of obtaining one. But with
     Major MacKinnon acting in her defense, she was confident she would come to no harm.
    How she knew this she couldn’t say. Logically, it made no sense, especially given
     the fact that the men of her own valiant, exceptionally well-trained royal guard had
     been no match for the ruthless savagery of the brigands. Yet in spite of this, she
     sensed that the major would keep her safe. He might be only one man, but there was
     a steady confidence to him, a calm, almost single-minded efficiency and razor-sharp
     intellect that made her trust him implicitly.
    “Your bodyguard?” he repeated with an unfathomable glint in his moss green eyes.
    “Yes,” she confirmed, encouraged that he hadn’t instantlydismissed her request. “You were an officer in Wellington’s army, so I know you must
     have the training and experience necessary to be a more than able protector. Your
     duties would require that you accompany me on the journey south to London, making
     sure, of course, that I arrive safely and without harm.”
    “Of course. I should think that goes without saying,” he

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