“What will you do with him?” Madeleine asked, her face pale, lower lip trembling.
“He’ll be our prisoner until we’re well out of here. I’ll not be hung as a traitor by the English.”
Andrew turned to Gareth. “They say you’re a brave soldier and that your men respect you. We’ll do you no harm. Unlike your people, we’re not butchers.”
But Gareth wasn’t accepting what her cousin said. It took the same four men to subdue him, and finally, the giant, Fergus, rendered Gareth unconscious with a hard blow to the jaw.
“Is he all right?” she asked with a wavering voice.
“He’ll be fine, lassie,” Andrew reassured her.
“There was no other way to get the bonds on him,” Fergus said. “The mon has the strength of a demon.”
She remained in the cave, waiting for Gareth to regain consciousness, unable to bring herself to leave until she knew for certain that he would truly be all right. As he began to moan softly, she brought a cloth and some water to wash the blood from his face.
When his eyes opened, Gareth at first looked puzzled. Then a flicker of memory came into those glittering sapphire eyes and he seemed to recall the circumstances which brought him into his current situation.
“Untie me,” he demanded of her in a soft, urgent voice.
She shook her head. “I cannot do it. They won’t hurt you. Andrew promised.”
“The promise of a barbarian? And what’s that worth?” He sounded bitter and cynical.
“At least as much as yours,” she countered, pressing his bruised face a little too gingerly with the cloth. “My cousin is a man of honor.”
“Careful!” he said, squirming from the pain.
“You’ve nothing to fear.”
“As if I could trust you!” he spat out angrily.
She stared at him in surprise. “You think I betrayed you in some way?”
“Didn’t you? You knew I followed you here and you told them.”
“I did no such thing! I never dreamed you’d follow us. Why would I? And why did you follow us anyway?” She eyed him suspiciously.
“I thought you might be coming to your cousin.”
“How clever you are,” she said.
“Not near clever enough.”
Her heart hurt; she felt a deep sense of regret and disappointment. He obviously held a low opinion of her.
Andrew joined them at that moment. “Madeleine, I think we might try a bit of a ploy. Tell my mother what has happened. Ask her what she thinks about telling the English soldiers that we hold Eriksen. We could promise to return him if they leave here.”
“They have orders, MacCarnan. If I die, the next man in line will take command, and so forth. It will never end until you’re taken into custody or dead. I’m a worthless hostage to you.” Gareth’s voice was quiet and tightly controlled.
“We’ll see,” her cousin said.
Madeleine saw that Andrew’s face had grown paler and he looked very weak. Gently, she helped him to lie down. He pressed his cheek to hers and kissed her affectionately on the lips. She felt Gareth’s accusing eyes upon her and could hardly breathe as if a granite weight were pressed against her chest.
“Someday, there will be a time for us. I promise ye that, my bonnie lass.” Andrew’s smile was warm as the sun on a summer’s day.
“Rest now,” she said. “Grow strong that you may leave this place.”
His hand held hers until he finally slept. Turning away from Andrew, she saw Gareth’s eyes coldly watching her. His expression was so closed, she hardly knew what he was thinking. The extent of the control he could exercise over his emotions truly amazed her. It also frightened her. He gave away nothing.
“Come here,” he said in a voice that was deadly calm. His hooded eyes possessed her own the way a cobra would mesmerize its victim.
She did not want to move, yet her legs seemed to carry her of their own volition.
“Tell my men where I am,” he said quietly. “Help me escape from here.”
“I cannot do that and you know it!”
“I know nothing of the sort. If you care about me at all then you must help me escape.”
She shook her head. “I do care, but what you ask is impossible.”
“Talk softly. They are paying no attention to us at the moment, but if you raise your voice again, you’ll alert them.”
She pressed a compress against his face and then to his lips which were also badly battered. His lips kissed her fingertips, sending queer little quivers through her belly and heat through her blood.
“Help me,” he whispered. “You must.” He began sucking on her fingertips.
She quickly pulled her hand away. He tried to take her hand back, but his own were too tightly bound with leather thongs.
“Moisten my lips; they are sorely dry.”
She brought her hand to him again, holding the wet cloth to his mouth, and as she did so, his tongue licked seductively along the inside of her palms. She began to shiver.