A Historical Scottish Romance Novel

About the book

They could not keep away from each other, even with their hatred…

When Dakota McArthur, daughter of the Laird of Khan, gets kidnapped in her sleep, she never expected to find herself in the same situation as her very own nemesis: the son of her mother’s murderer.

After his mother’s murder, his father vowed to avenge her. But when Calvin Patterson, son of the Laird of Buchanan, finds himself in shackles together with the daughter of his mother’s alleged killer, he realizes that something doesn’t add up. And that this woman is way too alluring for her own good.

Falling for your worst enemy is not something that either Dakota or Calvin had expected. But fate plays cruel tricks and people are not who they seem to be…Killing their mothers was the first step to an inter-clan war, that would kill two birds with one stone...And Dakota and Calvin are just collateral damage.

Chapter One


Dakota was asleep when she felt the rope being placed around her wrists. For a moment, she thought she was dreaming, but as her eyes shot open, expecting to see the four-poster bed in the candlelight of her bedchamber, all she saw was darkness.

She had retired early for the evening, complaining of a headache, and fallen asleep on top of the bed cover in her sapphire-blue plaid dress, but she was now suffering from a rude awakening.

She tried to lift her hands to her eyes, to push away whatever was causing the darkness, but the rope cut into her wrists, making her hiss.

She was wearing a blindfold. It was being tightened around the back of her head, just as someone pulled her fastened hands forward with her wrists bound together.

She tried to scream, tried to flail against their hold, now suddenly wide awake and alert, but as she opened her mouth to scream her father’s name, a cloth was tied across her mouth, gagging her.

She still tried to wail, flicking her head back and forth to escape the hold of whoever had her in their clutches, but it was fruitless. Her yelps came out as just growls and whines as she tried to move her mouth around the gag.

She was being dragged from the bed now, forced to stand. As her bare feet struck the floor, her mind scrambled with a plan.

Someone was trying to kidnap her – that was clear. She was aware of two people, one behind her who had just finished tying her blindfold and the second who was pulling at her wrists.

Dakota had been trained from a young age how to protect herself, at the insistence of her father, but she had never had to use what she knew in such a horrifying situation.

It is necessary now.

She drew in a deep breath, gathering herself for the fight. She kicked out at the person in front of her, connecting with the sensitive area between his legs. The force of her kick had the person squealing, backing away from her.

The person behind her tightened his grip – he had one arm around her waist and another around her neck, holding her back. He tried to walk her toward the doorway, she could feel the direction in which they were going, but she would not let it happen so easily.

She bent forward in the hold, it gave her enough purchase on the assailant’s arm to bite into his wrist. She tore using her teeth with such strength that the man groaned through gritted teeth.

He released her, allowing her to stumble forward. She tried to pull at the blindfold around her face, desperate to see what was happening, but her bound hands hindered her, allowing the first assailant enough time to stand up. She could hear his footsteps coming toward her.

She backed away, trying to make her escape, but her back collided with the bedchamber wall. She attempted to dive to the side to move around whoever it was, but being unable to see, she dived straight into the path of one of the men.

His arms came around her, grappling with her and forcing her body into the air. She tried to scream past her gag, but it did nothing.

Something harsh struck her head. She did not know what it was. Something metal and heavy, a bed pan or a tray of some kind.

It knocked the sense from her, and she slipped into unconsciousness.

***

Dakota was being carried over someone’s shoulder as she woke up. She lifted her head, straining to see what was happening, but remembered a moment later that she was wearing a blindfold.

She tried to concentrate on the position of her body instead and the sounds around her.

“She put up a fight, the wee Lass,” a high-pitched voice came from beside the person who was carrying her.

The man carrying her grunted. She felt the vibrations of his grumble through her body from how she was thrown on his shoulder.

Her bound hands were hanging loosely in front of her, with her head also dropping toward the floor.

“Still bleedin’?” the first man asked.

“Aye, wouldnae wonder if I dinnae have a scar to show for it,” she felt the man shift slightly, as though gesturing. “She’s a fighter,” the man grumbled again.

Dakota’s mind was still hazy from the bump to her head, but she managed to draw enough information to understand he was referring to her bite – she must have drawn blood.

There was something familiar about the man’s voice who was carrying her, as though she had heard it before. She racked her brains, trying to decipher where she had heard it, but nothing came to mind. She was still too fuzzy from the strike to her head.

With that thought she raised her bound hands to the front of her head and found a bruise on the side of the temple. She touched it delicately, but it brought a whine of pain with it.

The two men chuckled.

“Sounds like she’s wakin’ up.”

“Good, she can keep the other one company.”

The other one? Have they abducted others too?

She heard the creak of a gate opening, then two sets of footsteps walking down some stone steps. There were small splats as though the stones were wet. A second gate creaked open and they walked into a room that held a sudden chill.

She wished she could recoil against it, but as she struggled in her captor’s hands, he held tightly to her legs, refusing to let her go. She relented and inhaled, trying to discern as much about her location as possible.

The room they were in held a scent of damp, along with moss and maybe mold. The coldness of the air and the sound of trickling water led to her quick assumption.

Is this a cellar? Or a dungeon?

“Here we are,” the voice said as she was flung backwards.

She tightened her stomach, preparing for the inevitable collision and found herself plopped on the floor with an almighty thud. She winced at the awful sound, flinching as pain ricocheted through her rear and legs.

She thought of trying to get away, but she still felt dizzy. She leaned to the side, thinking she could crawl, but two hands grasped her ankles and dragged her back.

She squealed around her gag, prompting the two captors to laugh.

“Enough of that now,” one of them said. More ropes were being added to her wrists, some to her ankles too.

She tested them, trying to pull away, but the captors pulled harshly back.

“Ye cannae escape these, wee Lass,” one said as he released her hands.

She quickly ascertained he was right. There were now so many layers of rope upon her wrists it was impossible. The rope cut through her skin too, making her hands sore, stinging with pain.

“Enjoy yer new home, me Lady,” the words were spoken with mockery as the voices disappeared back up the steps.

She waited until the two gates creaked closed again, then she pulled desperately on the ropes, her fear so palpable she was growing hot with it, frantic to be free. Her restless body flung to the side and she collided with something.

She reared back a second later, realizing what it was. A person.

Someone else has been taken after all.

The person growled around their own gag. She listened carefully, deducing the tone of a man.

Unable to communicate with her fellow inmate, she fell still for a moment, hanging her head and wishing she could see her restraints. The fear grew taller within her. She imagined it was like some kind of plant, growing at a ridiculously fast speed with thorns across the surface, creating pain inside her.

What happens now? 


Chapter Two


Dakota tried to lick her lips and swallow beneath her gag, to bring some moisture back to her mouth, but the task was a difficult one. She was so thirsty, craving liquid, that she felt her body was slowly drying up.

Beside her, the other person that had been abducted would not sit still. She could hear him pulling against his restraints, growling and almost snarling at the effort to be free, but it clearly did no good. As he moved around, trying all sorts of ways to be free, she heard the clatter of metal. She quickly understood their ropes had to be tied to something else – iron hoops or chains within their dungeon.

The time passing felt like hours. The stranger pulled on his ropes, but Dakota sat perfectly still, her only company her whirling thoughts.

She thought mostly of her father and what he would go through once he discovered she had been taken.

She loved him dearly. Since the murder of her mother, her father, Michel McArthur, Laird of Khan, had been an extremely devoted parent. After all, they only had each other left in the world. They were enormously close, doting on each other.

Michel had also been determined that what had happened to his wife would never happen to his daughter. Dakota had been taught from a young age how to fight. She knew sword skills, how to use a crossbow, and how to shoot too. She was a particularly good shot when it came to a flintlock pistol.

It all seems so fruitless now.

The despondency of this thought tore through her and she hung her head, feeling the blindfold and the gag pull her face from how tightly they were bound. Behind the blindfold, tears of fear and grief for her father’s pain threatened to take her, but she blinked them away.

Even though her captors could not see her now, she would not give them the satisfaction of causing her such pain.

She jerked her head up again and straightened her spine.

I will get out of here. Even if it takes everythin’ I have got, I will do it. I will come back to ye, Faither.

She gathered herself and moved to her knees, joining the person beside her in trying to break free from the ropes around her wrists. The sharp yank she gave forced the rope deeper into her hands. It caused such pain she marveled briefly at the resilience of the person beside her, to have repeated such an action for so long, there was strength there.

Together, side by side, they tried to break free.

One of the gates creaked open. Dakota tilted her head toward it, the better to hear the sound beyond the covering of her blindfold. There were footsteps on the damp stairs that led to their cell.

Hearing the person beside her not relenting, she leaned toward him and elbowed him sharply, alerting him to the presence that was joining them.

“Ahh!”

She realized she must have elbowed his stomach as he let out the strange groan of pain. Yet it worked. He abandoned his attempt to escape.

They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the footsteps moving nearer to them.

The sound of pewter bowls being placed on the stone floor made Dakota tilt her head again, straining to listen. She felt someone in front of her, someone so close that she could feel their breath. Next, hands began to untie the blindfold.

As it came away, Dakota had to blink madly, trying to adjust her gaze to the room around her.

It was a dungeon after all. Gray, cold, damp and dark. In the corners of the room, moss and mold were growing, and there were only two tiny windows placed near the ceiling, impossible to reach and equally impossible to get through. The dawn light from one of these windows fell on the face of the person who had removed Dakota’s blindfold.

It was a woman, of middle age. Her flaming-red hair was bundled at the back of her head in a neat chignon, and she had bright brown eyes. Her face was pale, and her lips were quivering slightly.

Dakota tried to say something around her gag, but it just came out as a muffled sound.

The woman reached around Dakota’s head and released the gag. As it fell away, Dakota licked her lips, trying to bring moisture back to them.

“Who are ye?” she snapped loudly at the woman. She reared back, as if frightened of the sudden sound Dakota was making. “How dare ye abduct me? Release me at once!”

“I cannae do that,” the woman shook her head, moving her hands to the bowl at her side. Dakota quickly saw the woman’s hands were shaking too.

Is she…scared?

“Why am I here? Tell me what is happenin’?” Her tone was demanding, making the woman recoil back even more.

“I cannae do that either,” the woman said with sadness, moving toward her with the bowl. “I can give ye food though. Here, eat this.”

Dakota took the bowl in her bound hands with some difficulty. She flicked her head between the bowl and the woman, equally mortified and confused by what was taking place.

The woman turned her head to the person beside Dakota. It prompted Dakota to look too, but she could not discern the features of the person beneath his blindfold and his gag.

What was clear, even sitting down with his arms and legs bound, was his great height and the muscles beneath his clothes. Where Dakota was slim, this stranger was toned. Where she was pale, he was tanned.

“Who is that?” Dakota asked the woman, gesturing to the man.

The woman looked a little helpless.

“I am so sorry,” the woman murmured, bewildering Dakota even more. It was clear to see the woman was hardly a willing participant in the abduction, yet it did not make sense why she would not help them if those were her true feelings.

The woman leaned around the man’s head, going to remove the blindfold. It made the man flinch, aware of someone being so close to him.

“Hold still now,” the woman said quietly as she worked.

While Dakota waited, she brought the bowl in her hands to her lips and sipped from the edge of the bowl. The warm liquid felt satisfying, quenching some of her thirst. It was a kind of barley broth.

Within seconds the blindfold across the stranger’s face was gone, along with it the gag. As Dakota’s eyes rested on him, she felt events had taken another strange turn.

It was the face of a man who belonged to the family she considered her worst enemies. It was Calvin Patterson, son of the Laird Buchanan.

With blond hair and striking features, he was a startlingly handsome man. It was one of the many reasons she disliked him so much. His eyes, the color of dark coffee beans, turned toward her. They widened in realization, recognizing her instantly.

His eyes darted between her and the strange woman in front of him.

“Ye?” He looked to Dakota again, his voice so sharp she flinched from it.

She held up her bound hands for him to see, stopping him before he could accuse her of being behind their predicament.

“I am nae the one to blame here, Buchanan filth,” she sneered at him, her voice full of anger. He reared back at her harsh words.

As one, they both turned their heads back to the odd woman in front of them.

The woman picked up the second bowl from the floor and passed it to Calvin. He took it with some hesitation, before bringing the bowl quickly to his lips and drinking it as quickly as possible. Some of the dregs spilled down his chin, urging Dakota to look away.

“Tell us why we are here?” She turned her focus to the other woman. “Why have ye taken us of all people? Who are ye? Where is this place?”

“If ye wish her to answer,” Calvin interrupted, “then stop askin’ yer questions. She willnae remember them all.” His cold tone urged her to keep her head turned from him.

She despised him so much. She told herself she would not look at him again, not look at his handsome features. She kept her eyes on the red-haired woman instead.

“Well?” Dakota said, her voice sharp.

“Me name is Jade,” the woman sat on the floor, a little distance from them. Her brown eyes darted between the two of them. “I cannae tell ye anythin’ more.”

“Why not?” Dakota persisted, unrelenting.

She had to get out of there and Jade could be the way to her escape, as she clearly was upset by the situation.

“I just…cannae do it,” the woman looked sadly down at her crossed legs beneath her arisaid. Silence followed for a moment as Dakota sipped from her bowl. Her eyes flicked between Jade and Calvin.

He finished his soup quickly and dropped the pewter bowl to the floor, it clattered noisily against the stonework. His eyes were trained on Jade.

Why does he nae say anythin’? Why will he nae ask her questions too?

“Why do ye say ye ‘cannae’ do it?” Dakota thought about the choice of word and looked back to Jade. “Nae, willnae, but ‘cannae’. What is stoppin’ ye?”

Jade did not reply, she kept her gaze on her feet.

“Someone else is preventin’ ye from speakin’.” Dakota summarized quickly, nodding to herself, convinced of her assumption. “Who is it? Why can ye nae defy them? Ye ken this is as wrong as we do! I have been stolen from me home. Kidnapped from me Faither. Let us out at once!”

“I cannae do it,” the woman said again, raising her head, there were tears in her eyes.

“Then what can ye do?” Dakota asked with a huff, leaning forward.

“I can bring ye food and water. I am permitted to do that.”

“This is absurd,” Dakota said, casting her gaze around the cellar. Their predicament was a bad one. She saw no means of escape, nothing to help them with cutting through their ropes.

“I am sorry,” Jade’s eyes darted away again. Dakota felt a little sorry for the woman, pity too. She appeared to be as stuck as they were by her own situation.

She tried to think of a way that Jade could feel so cornered, so bound by another’s orders.

Must be a family member who is orchestratin’ what is happenin’. Perhaps Jade’s faither, or brother? Maybe even her husband? Then she wouldnae have a choice but to follow his orders.

She cursed the fortune of men and the vow women took at their weddings to ‘obey their husbands’. She quickly made a vow to herself never to obey the order of any person other than herself.

“Jade, let us out of here. Release us,” she reiterated as she swallowed the last of her soup. “Ye cannae keep us here.” She placed the bowl back on the stonework and it prompted Jade to move.

“I cannae do it,” Jade’s breath hitched, as though she was holding back tears. She took the two bowls from the floor and moved a jug of water toward them. “I will come back later with some more food.” Her eyes darted between the two of them once again. “I am so sorry.”

She turned and walked away, moving toward the first gate that blocked off the stairs that led out of the room.

“Ye cannae keep us here!” Dakota called back to her, suddenly feeling anger released in her chest as though it were a torrent. She imagined the storm inside of her being directed at poor Jade. “We will get out of this, even if ye daenae release us.”

Jade stood in the open gate for a moment, looking back to them as she bit her lip, preventing tears from falling.

“How can ye?” she asked with a small shake of her head, “Ye are as trapped as I am.” She turned and walked away.


Chapter Three


“Jade!” Dakota growled in frustration as the woman went up the stairs.

Calvin watched her closely, his mind jumping between the events taking place and trying to figure out exactly what was happening.

His eyes drifted up and down Dakota for a moment, considering his fellow inmate in this situation.

Dakota McArthur, daughter of Laird Khan. Of all the women to be abducted with, it had to be ye.

He scoffed at the idea. She was the daughter of the clan that had ordered the murder of his own mother. He despised everything about the Khan Clan because of it. The two clans had been sworn enemies ever since that night, each one accusing the other of murdering their Laird’s wives.

He could not understand why the heirs of two such opposing Lairdships would be abducted together, it made no sense.

His eyes continued to drift across her, watching as she persisted in calling after Jade, begging for an answer.

Dakota was a frustratingly beautiful woman to look at. In her sapphire-blue plaid dress, it was clear just how petite she was. Her skin was pale, the color of ivory, contrasting her long black hair that was now mussed from the abduction, falling behind her shoulders in a mass of wild tendrils.

Her features were bold, with a small nose and a wide mouth, but it was her eyes he found most interesting. They were startlingly blue, a color he rarely saw in his own clan.

When he had first seen her at a discussion between their fathers on the territory between the clans, he had been just as frustrated then by her appearance. It had been a heated and horrible debate, just like any other discussion between the lairds who detested each other so.

To his dismay, he had found his eyes flicking to her throughout the discussion. He was attracted to her, and he hated himself for it.

Dakota finally gave up trying to regain Jade’s attention. She snapped her head to him instead, those amazingly blue eyes narrowed on him.

“Why did ye nae say anythin’?” she asked, her voice sharp.

“What good would it have done?” he shrugged, struggling against the restraints as he leaned forward to pick up the jug of water from the floor.

“What good? She could be the key to gettin’ us out of here and yet ye sat there and said nothin’.” She gestured madly up the stairs to where Jade had disappeared.

“Do ye ever stop talkin’?” he asked coldly, amazed at the woman’s propensity to keep speaking. “She made it clear she couldnae help us. I dinnae see the point in wastin’ me breath attemptin’ to speak to her. Though ye clearly did.”

She opened her mouth briefly, stunned at the coldness of his manner. He did not care. That was what he told himself.

“Do ye have any idea who took ye?” she asked sharply.

“Nay, ye?” He looked at her with one raised eyebrow, but she shook her head.

“Nay, they put a blindfold on me in me sleep.”

“Me too.”

He glugged from the jug, but brought it away a second later and winced at the awful taste. The water had to have been drawn from a nearby well and it was contaminated with dirt, foul to the taste.

“Daenae drink it all, Patterson,” she reached out, trying to take it from him, but the ropes around her wrists prevented her from being able to reach him.

He smirked at the sight of it and suddenly felt tempted to taunt her. He raised his eyebrows and lifted the jug to his lips, gulping greedily from it.

“Patterson!” she cried in annoyance.

She was the daughter of his sworn enemy. He was tempted to drink it all and let her suffer, but his good sense prevented him from doing so. She was as trapped as he was, abducted against her will. Even as his enemy, he would not wish their situation on anyone.

He placed the jug back down on the floor with a heavy thud so that she could reach it.

She took it without saying thank you and sipped from it, wincing just as he had done from the taste of it.

As she drank, he turned his focus to his restraints. The ropes were layered across his wrists and his ankles, both tied down to metal loops nailed to the floor. He renewed his effort to break free. He leaned back on his knees and pulled against the rope with all of his strength, hoping he could snap the rope, but it was too strong.

He paused for a moment, seeing how the rope was cutting into his wrists. They were red and sore.

“Ye do realize yer efforts are futile,” she pointed out.

“Really?” He kept his voice distant. “As if the evidence of me own eyes wasnae enough, turns out I needed to hear ye say that just to drive the meanin’ home.” He took on a sarcastic tone, shooting her a cutting glare before returning to pulling on the ropes.

“Ye are a cold man,” she said suddenly, her voice harsh.

He half laughed at these words. It was something he had heard many times in his life. Many people accused him of being cold, the truth was that they just did not know him at all.

“And ye speak before ye think,” he did not raise his eyes to her this time. He was too frustrated at the alluring image of her. He had to focus on how they were going to escape. Her beauty and her sharp tongue full of harsh comments were hardly going to help matters.

“Ye might as well abandon that,” she gestured down to the ropes as he growled against the pain on his wrists. “It is clearly nae goin’ to work.”

“Unlike ye, I am nae goin’ to resign meself to livin’ in a dungeon,” he gestured to their surroundings.

“I am nae resignin’ meself, bampot,” she shook her head. “I just think it is time ye acknowledged that brawn is nae the thing that is goin’ to get us out of here.”

“Ah, so ye have another plan, do ye?” He looked up, renewing his tone of sarcasm. “Well, I am a willin’ audience. Tell me yer plan.”

She looked down at the jug in her hands for a moment, her blue eyes darting side to side.

“I daenae have one yet.”

“Well, while ye think of one, I will carry on with me own endeavor.” He renewed his pull on the ropes, trying to restrain the roar of pain he wanted to let out.

***

Calvin felt as though he had been tussling with the ropes for hours. Eventually, he flung himself back on the floor, resting against the stone ground and breathing heavily.

His arms were stinging from his efforts pulling on the ropes and his wrists were incredibly sore.

“Ye’re bleedin’,” she pointed to his wrists. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to ignore her voice. Her constant need to talk was riling him. He was always so quiet, yet she seemed to need to keep speaking. Even when she was pointing out the obvious.

“Ye surprise me, I had no idea,” he mocked, opening his eyes again and staring at the ceiling.

He had drawn blood from his wrists in his effort to be free.

“For the Lord Balor’s sake,” she snapped suddenly, flicking her head toward him, looking down at him. It prompted him to tilt his gaze from the ceiling to her. “I am nae the reason we are down here, bampot. So ye can stop it with all yer mockery and yer coldness. We are stuck here together so might as well make a truce for the time bein’ and try to help each other out of here.”

“Ha!” he cried suddenly. “So, I am nae allowed to think ill of ye for the murder of me Maither?”

“Yer Maither!?” She moved onto her knees, her ivory cheeks blushing pink. It was a strangely attractive site, he tried to push the image away, but it clawed at him. “Ye are the one responsible for me Maither’s death!”

“We never went near her, Woman,” he dismissed quietly, refusing to raise his tone to match hers.

“We never went near yer Maither. I daenae believe yer denial.”

“And I daenae believe yers.”

“So, we are in a quandary?”

“Seems we are,” he nodded and returned his eyes to the ceiling, pressing his head against the stone floor.

He was still trying to push away the thought of her with those blushed cheeks, but it crept into his mind again. Almost against his will, his eyes drew back down to her at his side.

She was struggling, trying to get comfortable on the floor. His eyes drifted down her dress. It fit her well. Her corset emphasized her petite waist and the slim curve of her hips. The low neckline also offered a glimpse of bosom.

He could not stop admiring her figure, despite his anger at himself for it.

She is the daughter of me enemy! I shouldnae look at her like that.

Yet it was impossible not to.

She turned to look at him as she finished turning on the floor, and she caught him staring at her.

“What are ye lookin’ at?” she asked with surprise, her dark eyebrows lifting high up.

He merely smirked, choosing not to reply instead. It prompted another growl of frustration from her and she looked away. It was quite amusing to him to get under her skin and he suddenly found a temptation to continue.

“If ye daenae wish others to look at ye, ye shouldnae wear such a dress,” he gestured to her. She looked back to him, her look of shock growing tenfold.

“How dare ye?”

“I am merely bein’ honest.” He shrugged from his place down on the floor, his body still tired from his efforts to be free. He decided that if she was going to insist on talking, he might as well make the conversation entertaining.

“It is a nice dress. I dinnae think ye would be the one havin’ to look at me in it,” she snapped, her cheeks blushing even redder.

He found his smirk growing greater at the sight of it. For a brief moment, he wondered what it would be like to see her blush in other ways too. Such as from kisses, or explorations beneath the skirt of that dress.

I cannae think of her like that!

“So, ye can raise yer eyes and stop lookin’ at the dress,” she gestured to his face, a clear warning in her tone. He stared back at her, pretending to be impassive. “Are ye always so cold with everyone ye meet? Or is this frosty manner just for those from the Khan Clan, includin’ me?”

“Frosty?” he repeated the word with intrigue. He could think of many warm words to say that woman, a way to heat both of them, but it would hardly help their situation. “I am hardly going to be anythin’ but cold to the daughter of me Maither’s murderer.”

“Me Faither never laid a finger on yer Maither,” she said again, her voice seething with rage.

“I have to say it surprises me.”

“What does?” she softened, taken aback by his words.

“That considerin’ our current situation,” he paused, gesturing to their restraints and the dungeon they were in, “yer main concern is me bein’ cold toward ye?”

“Hardly,” she tilted her chin high, a mark of defiance against him. “As it is, I cannae rail against me captor. So, I will rail against the next closest enemy instead, and that is ye.”

“So I see,” he nodded. “But if ye wish to warm me, how do ye say it, me ‘frosty’ manner, ye should be kinder to me too.”

She appeared to dislike this idea. She rolled her eyes and looked away from him.

“Is kindness such an aberration to ye?” he persisted, prompting her to look back.

“To ye, aye,” she jerked her chin toward him. “I am kind to many others, but none of them could ever be ye.”

“Ye have me intrigued, how do ye treat those ye are kind to?”

“With warmth, generosity and good humor,” she moved to her knees, reaching for the jug of water between them.

“With such a promise the men must follow ye around,” he said it in jest, but he meant it as a half-truth. She looked over the rim of the jug as she sipped, narrowing her eyes on him.

“Are ye…flirtin’ with me?” she asked with surprise.

“Well, there seems little else to do here to pass the time. And every time I attempt silence, ye insist on speakin’. If we are to speak, I might as well make it entertainin’.” His eyes lifted from the jug back to her.

There seemed to be a smile on her lips, he caught a glimpse of it, before she hid it with the jug.

Is she smilin’?

“Daenae be ridiculous,” she shook her head as she lowered the jug, her face set into sternness once again, as though the smile had never graced her lips.

“Oh, I see,” he nodded with a smile of his own and closed his eyes, resting his bound hands on his stomach.

“Ye see what?” Her voice moved nearer to him. He did not answer, he merely stayed quiet. “Daenae ye ignore me now, numpty! Ye see what?” She kicked him with her foot in his waist to get his attention.

He made a pained sound as his eyes shot open again, she was surprisingly strong for someone so petite.

“Yer dismissal was clear. I was concludin’ that ye must be someone who is nae used to flirtation then. Have ye nae had many suitors?” He was enjoying himself now, seeing the shock on her face and the way she recoiled back in surprise.

“I have had enough experience with flirtation, thank ye,” she looked away from him. “It is just I have nae wish to practice me skills on such an eejit as ye.”

“There is little else here to pass the time,” he continued, earning a dark glare from her in reply. “Feel free to practice.”

“I think I liked it better when ye were refusin’ to speak to me,” she said eventually, dropping her chin down and lowering her gaze from him.

“Thank God, perhaps we can go back to silence then,” he closed his eyes and rested back, thinking he had finally got the quiet he had been wanting for across the last couple of hours.

He needed time to think and the witty exchange between him and Dakota was not helping his thoughts on how to escape or on who could have been behind their abduction.

“We cannae be silent now,” her voice broke the quiet but ten seconds later.

He sighed, amazed it lasted for such a short amount of time.

“Why on earth nae?”

“Because I have an idea of how we can get out of here.”


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  • Can’t wait to read the rest of the book. You have a good understanding of your characters and the way that they react. Your descriptions make the places real.

    Betty

  • Sounds like a fun story with lots of entangled talks between our characters. I think it is going to be a good story.

  • Fast reading, intriguing and love the banter between Dakota and Calvin. Can’t wait to see what happens in the obviously love hate relationship.

  • I like the concept of this story so far and can’t wait to read the rest.
    My only negative comment is with regards to the heroins name, I don’t think Dakota is a Scottish name and would have been used in this era.

  • I always love it when enemies become at the very least, friends. These two may just kill
    each other before they find out how to get out of the mess that they’re in. I can’t wait to
    see how they escape.

  • Exciting opening to this story! My only question, how did Dakota bite the man when she had the gag in her mouth so she could not scream? Might want to tweak that a bit 🤭.

  • Love this story so far and cannot wait to read the rest of story to see who both their enemy is and why.

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