Highland Sparks:Logan and Gwyneth(9)By: Keira Montclair
Caralyn stepped back and stroked Gwyneth’s arm. “I was afraid I would never see you again. It has been months, hasn’t it? Where have you been? Are you unhurt?” She ushered Gwyneth back onto the bed, then sat down next to her.
“I wouldn’t sit here for anyone but you, Caralyn Crauford, especially not for this lout!” She waved her arm toward Logan, who had not gone very far at all and was now leaning against the wall by her pallet, his arms crossed and a smile on his face. With a huff, she turned away from him, giving him her back. “Caralyn, I am so happy to see you. Where are your sweet lassies? Wee Gracie must be so big by now.”
Caralyn’s expression turned to a frown, and she shook her head. “I don’t know. Please, may we talk about this later?” She glanced up just as Robbie strode over to the bed. Gwyneth watched as her friend met the Highlander’s gaze and he shook his head.
He whispered so no one else could hear him but Logan, Caralyn, and Gwyneth. “Sorry, lass. We haven’t yet found your wee ones.”
As soon as Logan and Robbie left, Gwyneth grasped her arm. “Where are your daughters?”
Caralyn’s expression on her face crumpled. “I don’t know. Malcolm has taken them from me and will only allow me to see them when he gives me permission. ‘Twas supposed to be every sennight, but now he is angry and said only once a moon.” Tears misted in her eyes. “You know how much I love them. I miss them so, and I have no idea who is caring for them or if they are hurt.”
“Is Captain Grant going to help you?” Gwyneth asked. “He appears of sound character. Surely he would help you find the weans. I would trust the captain, and he has knowledge that others cannot obtain.” How she had fallen in love with Caralyn’s two daughters during their visits to her brother’s Kirk in the royal burgh. They hadn’t come often, but she and Caralyn had become fast friends. After a time, Caralyn had revealed the truth of her situation with Malcolm, how he forced her to be his mistress and worse by threatening her daughters. It was yet another example of the cruelty of men. Gwyneth and her brother had discussed the matter, but they hadn’t come up with a solution.
“Aye, he said he would find them for me, and then come rescue me. I only hope he can find them. They are too young to be alone with two brutes. They are only two and eight.” She clasped Gwyneth’s hands in hers. “Gwyneth, you look tired. I am sure you have had a terrible ordeal. Why don’t you rest? I’m going to help the sisters with the other women. I won’t leave without saying good-bye.”
Gwyneth had to admit she was tired—tired of fighting Duff Erskine, tired of worrying about her friend. Her brother shared her feelings about Duff since he had also been a witness to his cruelty, but when she had gone to Rab about Caralyn, they hadn’t come up with any solutions to her problem.
Gwyneth had been forced to act on her own. After several years observing Duff Erskine, she had decided to seek help. How could a man like Duff get away with all his crimes? How could someone like Malcolm treat Caralyn the way he did and not be forced to stop?
Wealth. Duff Erskine had grown his merchant business over time and therefore, had increased his fortune. She guessed he used his fortune to pay off the local sheriff and other government officials. Apparently, Malcolm Murray did the same. So she had gone to someone for help, someone very high up in the Scottish government and presented her evidence.
Now she worked for the Scottish government covertly. She needed to notify her supervisor of what she had seen. It had been a long time since Duff Erskine had sold slaves. She knew he would go back to it eventually, but she hadn’t expected to be one of his potential victims.
Gwyneth rested her head on the pillow. “Aye, I am a bit weary. ‘Twas a long night and I couldn’t sleep on the wretched cart. Wake me before you go.” Her eyes closed, though her hands still clung to Caralyn, her only close female friend. She would help her find her wee ones if Robbie Grant didn’t, and if he did search for them, she would be right behind him, whether he wanted her help or not.
Gwyneth opened her eyes, wanting to see Caralyn’s smiling face once more. How she treasured their friendship. When she had traveled to the Kirk in Ayr with her brother, she had been sitting in the back during a service when Caralyn had come in and sat next to her with her two lassies. Ashlyn had stared at her cautiously, but Gracie, sitting on her mother’s lap, had held her arms up to Gwyneth right away.