Highland Sparks:Logan and Gwyneth(5)

By: Keira Montclair



Logan chuckled. “Middling bastard. Does it make a difference? Mayhap not your brothers, but the women are all worried about you, thinking you’ll never return. You broke too many hearts in the Grant clan.” The lasses’ broken hearts were not what worried him, but the happiness of his brother’s wife. If she had concerns, he would do aught that he could to settle them.

Robbie chuckled. “Now can we hear the truth? You just wanted to be in the thick of things, Ramsay. You just can’t settle for long.”

Logan laughed. “Och, aye, that, too. Enough about my reasons for coming, though. What are you still doing at the king’s castle, and where are you headed?”

Robbie paused. “You’re here at just the right time. I need a couple more warriors for my next assignment. Will you join me?”

“Of course, ‘twas my intention all along. Lead the way.”

***

Gwyneth bound her large breasts as best she could, cursing at the fact that all the binding she had done over the years hadn’t forced them to shrink. It wasn’t the most comfortable practice, but it did keep them out of the way when she was shooting. She hurried to finish before another boat reached theirs. When she was appropriately covered again, she wove her way through the prone bodies on the deck, assessing the women’s injuries and trying to find anyone who was well enough to assist her in rowing the ship toward shore in case enemies approached instead of friends. She offered kind words and encouragement, but was unable find any of the battered women equipped to help. Most of them were in far worse shape than she.

The sound of the advancing ship grew louder, so she did her best to stand and determine the identity of the vessel. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as she searched for the raven banner of King Haakon’s ships and didn’t find one.

As the ship drew close, a Scotsman yelled at her. “Lass, is anyone alive but you?”

“Aye,” she yelled back, nodding.

“Where are you from and where were you sailing?”

“We came from near Glasgow. We were forced on the boat against our will and were being taken East. ‘Tis all I know.” Her hands settled on her hips as the longboat pulled up starboard.

“And your crew?”

“I was drugged and fuzzy, but I think the Norse threw them overboard.”

“Dead or alive when they were thrown?” The captain of the ship’s gaze searched the surrounding waters for survivors.

“I can’t answer that.” Gwyneth held tight on the side of the boat to keep from falling overboard as the other ship came close, sending waves through the water.

As soon as the two crafts were close enough, the captain jumped onto the deck, landing near her. Shock registered on his face. “Lass, the Norse do that or your captors?” He nodded toward her battered face.

“The Norse.”

The man tied a rope to their boat and signaled to his crew to head toward shore. He turned and announced to Gwyneth and the rest of the victims. “We’ll tow you back to South Ayrshire, the closest land from here. There’s a Kirk not far from the beach.”

Once she knew they were headed to shore, she sat next to the woman nearest her and placed her arm over her shoulder, rubbing her back to try to calm her. Gwyneth didn’t recognize her, but what the Norse had done to her and the others made her ill.

Their rescuer inclined his head toward the other women. “The rest look the same?”

“Worse.”

***

Logan heard sobs as they came near the Kirk south of the royal burgh. Robbie had informed him their mission wouldn’t be pleasant. Apparently, the Norse had attacked a ship full of women in the Firth of Clyde—women who’d been kidnapped and were being sent East to be sold as slaves. Logan had to admit he had trouble believing such a travesty would take place just outside the royal burgh.

Robbie had been told the women were not in good shape, so Logan prepared himself for the worst. He couldn’t handle seeing defenseless lassies beaten, though he knew it happened often enough. It didn’t happen in front of him.

He and Tomas hung back while Robbie knocked on the locked door of the Kirk, night having settled in around them. The door swung open just a touch and a man of the cloth stared out at them. “State your purpose.”

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