Read an Excerpt
Taken By Storm
By Donna Fletcher
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Donna Fletcher
All right reserved.
Burke Longton grabbed hold of his chains and scrambled to his feet as soon as the motley crew of five stormed his prison cell. He didn't know for whom, out of the six in the cell, they had come, but he intended to make sure he left with them. Two weeks in this stinking hellhole had been enough. He wanted out and he wanted home.
"There's little time," the tallest of the men said. "Follow our orders and we'll get you out of here."
Burke had no problem with that. Whatever it took to be free, he was ready, and it looked like the other prisoners agreed. All had gotten to their feet, some with difficulty, and held out chained wrists, eager to be rid of the weighted metal cuffs that had rubbed their flesh raw.
Their jailer suddenly stumbled into the room, and Burke glared at him. He hated the sight of the paunchy man. His entrance always heralded torture, and his enjoyment of his job was obvious from the constant smile he wore.
Only this time, the jailer looked fearful, his eyes wide, sweat pouring down his reddened cheeks.
Burke blinked twice. Had a lad stepped from behind the jailer? He shook his head, too many curves in just the right places. It was a woman, a pint-sized one garbed in men's clothing, and she handled the sword that was almost hersize with confidence. She pushed the point right between the folds of his thick neck.
"I'll not ask again," she warned.
Burke smirked when, with an effortless flick of the blade, she nicked his skin and a rivulet of blood cascaded down his chest to pool on his grimy shirt. The man eagerly fumbled keys over to her.
"Tanin," she said, tossing the ring to the tallest man.
The man reached out. The metal ring hooked on one of his long fingers, he then worked fast freeing everyone while two men trussed up the jailer like a fat pig for roasting.
"He'll need help." The woman nodded toward a man who was having trouble standing on his own. Then she searched the room with wide, stormy blue eyes. The color reminded Burke of a turbulent ocean just before a gale force hit. For a brief moment, he wondered if fiery red curls lay beneath her knit cap to match the squall surfacing in her eyes.
"I don't see him," she said, annoyed.
"This is where I was told he'd be." Tanin walked over to her, and together they searched the darkened corners of the cell.
It was obvious they were looking for someone in particular and Burke had the feeling he knew whom. The guards had brought the young man in only last night, but they acted as if they had captured a rare prize. They had strutted and pranced around him while gleefully detailing what they intended to do to him. His response hadn't been what they'd expected.
"They took a young man out of here a short time ago," Burke said now.
The woman approached him with confidence and not an ounce of fear. It did not intimidate her a bit to have to tilt her head back to gaze up at him, his height close to six feet.
"Do you know where he was taken, and is he all right?"
"He's a strong one for a skinny kid," Burke said. "Though I think it was spitting in the jailer's face that did him in."
The woman grinned. "That's Malcolm."
"I'm not sure where he is, but after he was dragged out by several guards, I heard a door slam not far off and the clink of a key in a lock."
"The cells at the end of the tunnel," Tanin said and handed her the keys.
The woman eyed the prisoners ready to leave. "There's no time to waste. Get them out of here."
Burke was shocked that the tall man turned and did as he was told. How the hell could he leave the small wisp of a woman on her own to free one of their comrades?
I'll help you," Burke offered.
"No. You'll go with them."
She gave him a shove that he didn't appreciate, and it only served to make him stand his ground.
"You'll need help," he insisted.
"Not likely," she said, sounding affronted. "It's none of your concern. Now go."
She dismissed him with the turn of her back and took off past the prisoners who were standing in a single file, eager to make their escape.
Tanin waved for him to take up the rear and he did, though reluctantly. He just couldn't believe all five men would allow a single, pea-sized woman to go off on her own to rescue a man. Where was their common sense?
Burke reminded himself that Scotland was far different from America. Sure there were strong women in America, especially in the Dakota Territory, where he came from, but a man protected a woman. He was stronger and more capable, and it was a man's duty to look after women. Hadn't his father taught him that? And wasn't his deceased father the reason he was here in this mess in the first place?
He shook his head as they quietly made their way down the passageway, a single torch guiding their way.
A clang of steel had them freezing in their tracks, and Tanin ordered everyone to hurry. Burke glanced back and spotted where the passageway veered off into a darkened tunnel.
He had only a moment to make his decision, but it was an easy one. There was no way he'd leave that woman on her own, whether she liked it or not.
Burke could barely make out where he was going. His broad shoulders bumped into the narrow tunnel walls now and again, and dust collected in his nostrils from the dry dirt his boots kicked up.
Excerpted from Taken By Storm by Donna Fletcher Copyright © 2006 by Donna Fletcher. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.