Read an Excerpt
The Warrior LP
Eight months later
Catarina ground her teeth as she pressed her thumb tight to her palm in an effort to pull her hand free of the rope that held her in place. Sweat was dripping down from her brow, making her nose itch, but she didn't dare swipe at it. Time was too precious for that.
Any moment her kidnappers would return.
How she despised them for their deeds and wished a festering pox on every part of their bodies, especially that part which men valued most.
The coarse rope burned against her skin, chafing it as she worked to free herself. Not that she cared. All that mattered was her freedom. And when she had it, she would make all of them pay for taking her from the ones she loved. How dare they!
She snatched her hand again and again against the prickly rope, trying to free it. Then she dipped her head in an effort to loosen the massive knot with her teeth. Instead of loosening the knot, it felt more like she was only loosening her teeth. Cursing, she closed her eyes and prayed as she tugged against the rope with all of her might.
She felt the skin breaking as the hemp scratched her flesh. Even so, she didn't let up and in one painful slip, her hand came free.
If she were the crying type, Cat would have wept in relief, but tears had been something she'd forsaken years ago. Wiping her brow finally, she took a deep breath, then blew air across her hand to alleviate some of the throbbing as she looked about the sparse room for a weapon.
There was nothing . . .
Except the fire. She narrowed her gaze on the burning logs as an idea occurred toher. Reaching beneath her gown, she tore at her chemise until she had enough of it to pad her hands before she reached into the fire.
"Think you she's ready to give us no more trouble?"
Her heart leapt at the sound of men approaching her room. Stepping back from the makeshift hearth, she gripped the limb tightly in both hands. She moved to stand behind the door where they wouldn't be able to see her until after it was too late.
"Any more trouble from her and I say we thrash her soundly, orders or no orders."
"Good luck at that. My eye still throbs from its last encounter with her fist. I swear the bitch hits like a man."
They swung open the door.
Cat held her breath until they were inside the room with her. Her gaze never wavering, she swung with the whole of her strength against the second man's head.
He yelped, then fell against the first. Her heart hammering, she lobbed the limb against the first man, clubbing him thrice, then grabbed her skirts and ran as swiftly as she could.
She ducked out of the tack room and ran for the stable's opening. The men called out for her to stop, but she refused.
Nothing short of death would make her surrender to them.
Cat hesitated outside as she saw the number of people in the small village. Many turned to stare at her as she ran for a saddled horse at the edge of town. To steal such would mean her head if she were caught. But truthfully she'd rather die than meet the future those men would carry her off to.
"Stop her!" one of the men shouted. "Twenty gold francs to whoever catches her."
Cat winced as the crowd looked on her with new interest. Twenty francs was a fortune. A large burly man stepped in front of her. She pulled up short, then kicked him as hard as she could between his legs. He doubled over, but before she could maneuver past him, another man caught her from behind.
She rammed her head back to slam it into his face. He cursed as she spun from his hands, her own skull aching from the blow. Another tried to capture her. She ran her shoulder into his middle and shoved him back, causing him to fall into the dirt.
But before she could straighten, someone else ran at her and knocked her to the ground, flat on her back. She gasped as the breath left her lungs. Still, she wasn't defeated. Rolling over, she shot to her feet only to be knocked down again.
Desperate, she scrambled on the ground, trying to escape only to find her way blocked by a pair of scuffed black leather boots. She glared at them with hatred burning deep inside her.
Refusing to cower, she looked up defiantly at the man blocking her path, then gaped at the sight of the face that met her eyes.
It couldn't be . . .
Time stopped as she met the crystal blue gaze of a man she'd never thought to see again. The last time they'd met, he'd been immaculately coifed. Regal and stern. He'd seemed larger than life, but that vision paled to how he appeared this day.
Now he looked rugged and powerful. Dangerous. Determined and feral. His golden blond hair was windblown and his cheeks dusted with several days' growth of beard. And there was no missing the lethal chill in his eyes as he took in her predicament.
"Are you injured, lass?" Lochlan asked in that deep Scottish brogue before he held one large, strong hand out to her.
Cat could do nothing more than shake her head as she reached for his hand. To her relief, he pulled her to her feet, then placed himself between her and her pursuers.
She couldn't believe her luck as she brushed at the dirt on her gown. Nor could she believe Lochlan would be willing to protect her when no one else had stepped forward.
As her captors neared, Lochlan pulled his sword from its sheath.The Warrior LP. Copyright © by Kinley MacGregor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.