Highland Sparks:Logan and Gwyneth(2)By: Keira Montclair
Papa, help me. Lord, help me. The words repeated themselves over and over in her head as she was bounced along in the cart. It seemed as though she had been moving forever, but in truth she knew it had only been about an hour before the horses finally slowed.
The smell of the firth reached her and she closed her eyes, not wanting to accept what would happen next.
Nay, nay, nay.
She bucked again in an attempt to throw herself over the side of the cart, but failed. A few minutes after the horses stopped, Duff Erskine’s hated voice reached her ears.
“There she is.” He removed the blanket and her gag and stroked her cheek. “Och, you did grow up to be a beauty, didn’t you? And those blue eyes. I never noticed them before.” He broke out in a huge grin. “You will fetch me a large number of coins. How are that bow and arrow working for you? I’m glad the lads brought them along. I’ll sell them in the East as well.”
Gwyneth screamed and Erskine slapped her. “Close your mouth.” She screamed again, and he wrenched her up by her hair. “No one will help you. I send women abroad whenever I please, and no one ever helps them. Why? Because no one dares face me, not even the sheriff. But have no fear, you won’t be alone,” he said with a smirk. “Several women will be going with you.” As soon as he was close enough, she clawed her fingernails across his hand. “Bitch!” Flinging her head back down, he cursed again at her, checking his skin where she’d scratched him.
Duff Erskine had changed. No longer looking like he lived by the water and just came off a boat, he wore finery like any nobleman in England. A sickish smell emanated from him, some type of scent much like a lady would wear lavender. Gwyneth’s nose wrinkled, but then she grinned, noticing a small trail of blood sliding down his arm. It was a shallow wound, but each drop of blood was a small victory.
He turned to one of his comrades—the one she knew as Smelly—and said, “Rodney, hold her head down.”
The brute pinned her head to the cart. No matter how she fought, she couldn’t escape his grip. Erskine leaned over and pinched her nose. “Open up.”
Gwyneth refused to open her mouth and held tight for as long as she could, flailing and kicking at the same time.
The other brute pinched her thigh and said, “Open up, bitch. I gotta get home.”
She couldn’t hold on any longer. Her mouth opened as she gasped for air and Erskine forced a vile liquid into her mouth. She fought to spit it out, but gagged on it, swallowing much of it.
Fight, Gwyneth! Fight! A persistent voice cried out in the back of the head, but darkness overpowered her as her squirming weakened, whatever liquid he gave her taking over.
Gwyneth had to clear her mind and find her bow and arrow. If she didn’t, she would never be able to accomplish her one purpose in life—killing Duff Erskine. She struggled to lift her head but could not. The muted echo of Erskine’s laughter set off a fire inside her, and she willed herself to get up just so she could hurt him, kill him, anything.
She couldn’t move. What had been in that liquid? She made out bits and pieces of what he was saying to his lackeys. “Once you get to the East…highest price for …the dark-haired one. They’ll pay lots of coin for blue eyes.”
Finally, the fingers of her left hand wiggled as she commanded, prompting her to grab for something nearby, anything that would help her hoist her body up and fight. She gripped the handle of a wooden chest, scraping the raw skin of her hand across the rough wood, but she ignored the pain, pulling with every muscle in her arm to lift her torso off the ground. Suddenly, her entire body rolled along with the floor beneath her. Fie, a boat. I’m on a ship.
“Aye, the others are young enough to get good coin, but you should get the most for Gwyneth. Besides, she scratched me like a bobcat. She owes me.”
She rolled onto her side, bracing her bound hands on the floor, hoping to stop the movement. She searched the closest area, taking in the other prone bodies strewn across the oak planks of the ship. Women. Who knew how many? Duff stood at the bow talking to several men, chuckling as he handed them coin before he left the ship. Hoisting her head up, Gwyneth continued to assess her surroundings until the ship caught another wave, and she fell back again, striking her head on a wooden plank. The last thing she saw was Duff’s cruel eyes staring straight at her, a big grin on his face. He tugged on his clothing as if he were a member of nobility, every dark hair in place while he fidgeted with the heavy gold adorning his hands.