Highland Promise

Highland Promise by Mary McCall

Book: Highland Promise by Mary McCall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary McCall
her brother, she headed for the stairs that led to the upper level of the tower and her chamber.
            Her foot was on the first step when the mocking voice called out, "I am heartened to see you feeling better, milady."
            Faith stiffened and raised her hand to cover her wartless lip. Dropping her gaze, she turned to face her brother's first commander, who in her opinion had too much control over Leland. Edrik carried his ferula, and she swallowed hard, remembering the times she had seen him whip his poor horse with the leather-covered switch. A cunning brute of moderate height, his pox-marked face drew into a sneer as he surveyed her appearance.
            "Good morn, Edrik. Ah...I came down, but now realize I am still too weak to be about." She regretted that lie as it fell from her lips. She had just condemned herself to a day in her chamber.
            Edrik crossed his arms over his chest, tapping his shoulder with the ferula. "'Tis interesting that someone who has not suffered a day since she was twelve should suddenly develop such an incapacitating malady."
            Faith clenched her jaw. "Do you make an observation or an accusation?"
            He shrugged. "Have you a problem with your face that you cover it so?"
            "My tooth aches. The pressure lessens my pain."
            "Leland's plan to avenge Rawlins's death failed yesterday while you were confined."
            "Did it?" Her heart picked up its pace. "I am sure my brother is disappointed."
            Edrik chuckled. "You understate his ire. He believes someone warned the Highlander and vows to kill the traitor." He cocked his head. "Mayhap I should caution him to look closer to home for the culprit."
            Faith dug her fingernails into her left palm, reopening her wounds, and raised her gaze, forgetting to hide her eyes.
            "I do see beyond your artistry, milady. I believe I shall speak to Leland about your future. 'Tis past time you had a strong man to keep you in line." An evil grin oozed across his face as he tapped his ferula against his leg. "Aye, I shall speak to him soon."
            In that instant, Faith knew real fear. Leland usually granted Edrik's requests. She gulped, inwardly cringing over the feral gleam in his pale-blue eyes.
            "There you are, milady," Noreen called from the landing above. "I told you not to be up for another day."
            Faith had never in her life been so glad to see her gray-haired, meddlesome maid. From the Scottish Lowlands, the woman had thought it her duty to foster Faith since the day she was born.
            Noreen made a show of feeling Faith's cheek and brow, then wrapped a maternal arm around her waist and directed her up the stairs. "Let's get you to bed. You have a touch of the fever and are not well enough to be about."
            "Aye, milady, retreat," Edrik called. "The truth will come out."
            Safely ensconced in her chamber, Faith released a shaky sigh and pressed a fist against her stomach. "Oh Lord, Noreen, did you hear? Edrik knows of my disguise."
            The maid snorted and glanced sardonically at Faith. "Anyone would know if they but looked close enough. I told you from the beginning 'twas a bad idea."
            Faith raked her fingers through her hair, disentangling what was left of her braid. "But what shall I do? He is suspicious of my whereabouts yesterday and plans to tell Leland."
            "Edrik may have the young lord under his thumb, but Leland will still believe me. I spent most of yesterday in here. He believes I was tending you." Noreen sat in a chair by the hearth and picked up her knitting. "Now tell me why you were out all night. Did you meet the Highlanders?"
            "Aye, they were suspicious of my warning and forced me to accompany them across Baron Rothley's land in case it was a trap."

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