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Authors: Loretta Laird

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Captured by a Laird

BOOK: Captured by a Laird
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Table of Contents

Description

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Author Biography

End Credits

 

CAPTURED BY A LAIRD

Loretta Laird

 

 

After the death of her father, and disguised as the legendary Green Bow, Lena strives to protect her home from the greedy lairds who covert her fertile land. While riding one day, she is abducted from her mount by Stref—Laird of Harris—who believes he had bagged himself the notorious Green Bow.

As Stref arrives to hang his prisoner from the tower, a prickle of doubt creeps into his mind.

What follows is a feisty tale of adventure and betrayal before the couple can declare their love, and embark on their happy, if rather lusty, ever after.

 

CAPTURED BY A LAIRD

 

 

 

 

Loretta Laird

 

 

 

 

 

LUMINOSITYPUBLISHING.COM

 

LUMINOSITY PUBLISHING LLP

 

CAPTURED BY A LAIRD

Copyright © September 2014 Loretta Laird

ISBN: 978-1-910397-18-3

 

Cover Art by Poppy Designs

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

No part of this literary work may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

 

PUBLISHER

LUMINOSITYPUBLISHING.COM

Dedication

 

 

I would like to dedicate this book to my lovely mister, who is and will always be, the inspiration for the love I write about.

Prologue

 

“Watch her!” boomed a deep voice that resonated with pride.

Lena, a young pre-pubescent girl dressed in a tunic usually reserved for boys stepped forward. Titters of laughter rippled around the assembled throng as she lifted the large bow—a bow that dwarfed her slender frame. She had been cowering on the fringes of the circle, excluded for her quietness and regarded as rather a loner by the group. She hoped that it wouldn’t happen again. That he would not follow through with his loud and flamboyant boasting. Her limp dark hair hung across her shoulders and down her back, shielding her pale face and hiding her big, dark eyes. Those liquid orbs darted around the crowd of eager onlookers. They appeared to be like a pack of scavengers, waiting for the bones of a slaughtered beast to pick over and howl in triumph.

She felt sure they could hear the frantic beat of her heart. It throbbed in her ears like one of the giant skin drums that heralded invaders.

“It’ll knock her over!” called out one onlooker.

“Theadon must think we need a show of fools!” added another.

“He craved for a son and all he received was a scrawny daughter that will not even amount to being a beauty like her mother,” the first man chipped in cruelly.

Ignoring the jibes that she had faced her whole life, Lena reached for her bow, and a new confidence came over her as she held it fast. She knew she had not been blessed with her mother’s golden curls or her deep-dimpled cheeks. She was pale with dark curtains of hair that always looked as if they had been plastered to her face by the torrential rain that fell in the bitter Highlands.

Lena took a deep, shuddering breath and felt the smoothness of the wood against her palm. All traces of fear left and her shoulders straightened with confidence. The same girl, yet in so many ways not the same, proceeded to pull back the string on her bow, the myth of her fragility soon being replaced by gasps of astonishment among the assembled group. Her leather-clad arms shook slightly as she held the tension and adjusted the weapon to her eyeline. Three fingers lay poised on the arrow as it nestled in the neatly carved nock. Lena stood on a raised mound of earth, in the centre of a ring that was wholly constructed by the people who encircled her. A nervous looking youth stood at one side of the gathering with a hat perched upon his head. Protruding from the top of the hat was a feather. In a certain light, the feather gave off a golden glow as it stood erect and proud.

Circling the crowd a lone bird repeated its circumnavigation of the human arena—its feathers gleaming with the same golden glow. From time to time, heads would turn and look nervously at the creature whose very presence embodied an omen of doom.

With a
snap
, the bow fired and the arrow sailed across the space between the figures. The boy’s fists clenched in nervous balls at his sides, whilst a drop of sweat trickled down his face. In a heartbeat the arrow clattered to the ground behind his petrified figure. His hat remained in place, but the absence of the feather soon caused a mounting wave of excitement to overwhelm the crowd.

Striding as a man confident of the outcome, Theadon reached the discarded arrow and held it aloft. The feather was stuck through the centre of the shaft and embedded on the tip of the arrowhead. The crowd erupted into raucous applause, gathering around the mighty form of Theadon as he passed the trophy proudly from one to another.

Unseen, Lena slipped the enormous bow onto her shoulder and melted through the crowd—out towards the dense trees that lay beyond. The circling bird ceased its rhythmic pattern and changed course to follow the solitary figure. Swooping down, it too disappeared into the protective embrace of the forest.

Chapter One

 

The grassy hillock was nothing much to look at. It rose, as hillocks have a tendency to do, and peaked around twenty feet onto the air. The lush green grass and moss that covered it had sprung from the recent months of torrential rain. What made this hillock a remarkable sight was the figure that stood rigidly on top. Cloaked in a dark green robe, and poised with an oversized bow and arrow, the heavy velvety material swirled around the mysterious being. A sudden gust of wind blew the looped hood down, freeing a mass of raven curls that blew wildly, quickly covering the face of the warrior. With an impatient toss of her head, the woman pulled the unruly mane back under the hood and secured it more tightly with its braided cord. Her wide brown eyes scanned the area, as if terrified that the lapse would have cost her safe position. The full lips twisted themselves into a fearsome grimace that furrowed her smooth brow into a frown as perfect white teeth nibbled her bottom lip.

“All clear!” she called to an unseen companion. “The bastards must have taken flight.”

Turning, she gave a final check of the boundary lines then re-sheathed her bow before heading back down the hillock, allowing it once more to return to the normality of its essence.

“Maybe we should head for home afore the darkness sets in,” a weathered face spoke with the authority of one familiar with his leader.

“Aye, Val. Home would be a welcome friend this night.” The woman spoke with a rich throaty voice that resonated with an air of importance, yet with a hint of humility and deference to the elder man.

The group of six each mounted a grey horse and settled themselves into the saddles. The beasts immediately began to circle one another, eager to be underway. The men were dressed the same, in white shirts with the deep-green plaid of their clan encircling their waists and flung over their shoulders, which were then secured with a clasp that held them fast. Lena’s own plaid that she always wore in the style of the menfolk, was covered by the long green cloak that concealed any signs of her feminine form.

“Lena?” The older man approached his clan chief, reaching for her reins to prevent her mount from being startled by their proximity. “We should be on the lookout for that rogue band of ruffians. They could still be hiding out in the vicinity.”

“Agreed,” she smiled fondly, transforming her face into a vision of beauty. Her eyes sparkled with warmth and compassion and her round cheeks dimpled beguilingly. The smattering of freckles that bridged her nose added to her charm.

“You should do that more often!” Val said gruffly.

“What? Look out for ruffians in the woods?” she teased.

“No,” he replied quickly, “smile.”

She flashed him a grin that didn’t quite reach her eyes; then dug her heels into her sturdy dappled mare and rode off through the trees, leading the group back in the direction of the welcome warmth of their own beds and a hearty meal. Overhead, the distant cry of a golden eagle should have caused a shudder of impending doom to the small troop. Throughout the land’s rich history, the cry of the golden eagle foretold a boding that no man could undo. For this reason, the bird was both admired and feared. For Lena though, it was just the familiar cry of a creature that she had raised since finding it abandoned and rejected as a chick. She had fed it worms and raw meat until it could hunt for itself. Never had she confined the beast, yet it had not left her side since that day. Her mother had of course, voiced her disgust about the whole affair but, as was usual in these matters, Lena had won the support of her father, and pursued her own path. She named the bird Pride, and it seemed to be a name that suited it. The crofters had come to accept the presence of the unlucky omen and added it to their blessings that the “bird of doom” had befriended their kin. They had surmised that maybe he would spare them the same ill fortune that he was attributed to rain down on others by his very presence.

Lena was alert to every sound in the dense forest. She sensed that something was amiss, yet could see no signs of unrest among the leaves. Her mount was equally unsettled and moved its head from side to side whilst exhaling loudly through its nostrils. Lena had been trained to hear the snap of a twig, or the breath of an enemy. Since it had become obvious around her tenth year that she was to be the only offspring of the clan chief and his wife, she had been groomed for the responsibility of one day being the protector of her croft. The croft consisted of around twenty small wooden cottages with some surrounding farmland. It was rich in produce and the envy of many rival clans. For this reason, Lena’s father had made sure that she was skilled in all aspects of combat and warfare. She had been a fast learner and the apple of her father’s eye. By the age of eighteen she was among the finest warriors of the land, as quick and as deadly with her bow as any that had come before her. It was fortunate that her education was complete as Lena’s father joined his ancestors on the day Lena turned nineteen. From then on, she had the unquestioned loyalty of her clan and strove each and every day to keep them safe in their idyllic world.

The northern regions, which were just beyond Lena’s clan, were notoriously harsh and barren and rival kins would often stray to the southern lands in invading parties, claiming the privilege of “raider’s rights.” This was the age-old ritual, whereby if you could not defend your lands, they became easy pickings for any rival clan.

BOOK: Captured by a Laird
12.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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