Never seduce a scot, p.34
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       Never Seduce a Scot, p.34

         Part #1 of The Montgomerys and Armstrongs series by Maya Banks
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Page 34

 

  She shook her head, adamant in her refusal. “I’ll not leave him. He’s taken a fever now and ’tis more important than ever that I not leave his side. ”

  Bowen sighed, but he didn’t argue further. He rose and Teague pushed the chair back into its place near the window.

  “We must go now to see to this matter. If Graeme awakens for any length of time, send for us immediately. ”

  Eveline nodded her agreement and then sagged in relief when the two brothers took their leave of the chamber.

  She rose to redampen the cloths and returned to Graeme’s bed to wipe his flesh down once more.

  “Hurry and be well,” she whispered. “I’m frightened, Graeme. I do not want war between our clans. ”

  CHAPTER 37

  It was two more days before Graeme’s fever finally broke. Eveline remained holed up in their chamber, afraid more than ever to venture into the midst of the clan. By now they would have all heard that it was a possibility her father had planned the attack on Graeme. It would only give them more reason to hate her. Not that they seemed to need one.

  She’d finally succumbed to utter exhaustion and had drifted into sleep, sitting up in bed beside Graeme an hour before dawn. He shifted against her, causing her to immediately come awake. The soft light of daybreak filtered through the furs that had partially been drawn aside.

  She glanced down to see Graeme’s eyes open and sweat beading his brow. He shoved at the furs and she could see that his entire body was bathed in sweat.

  “Graeme! Oh, Graeme!” she exclaimed, not even sure she could be heard. Her throat was still sore and swollen even days after the attack, and it ached every time she tried to speak.

  She leaned over him, touching him, feeling the clamminess of his skin, but he was no longer dry and hot!

  His unfocused gaze rested on her for a long moment and then he frowned.

  “What happened?”

  “Do you not remember?” Eveline asked.

  His brows drew together as if he was in deep thought. Then a rush of color entered his cheeks and his eyes sparked with rage. He grasped her shoulders, holding on tightly as he seemed to examine her for injury.

  “Are you all right?” he demanded. “Did he hurt you? What happened after I took the arrow?”

  “Graeme, you mustn’t move your arm!” she scolded.

  She took his left arm from her shoulder and eased it back down to the bed. A flash of pain registered in his eyes, and then he glanced impatiently at the bandages on his shoulder.

  “Answer me, Eveline. Are you well?”

  She touched his cheek, caressing the firm line of his jaw, relief so overwhelming that she felt weak with it.

  “I’m perfectly fit,” she said. “ ’Tis you who gave us all a fright. ”

  His frown deepened. “How long have I been abed?”

  “Four days. ’Tis truly a miracle that it’s only been four days. You’ve had a fever and I expected it would last much longer than it has. ”

  He immediately tried to rise, but she planted both hands on his chest and pushed him back down with a fierce scowl.

  “You’re not to move from this bed,” she bellowed.

  He flinched and his eyes widened at the volume of her demand. She knew it had been loud, but she wanted to be sure and make her point.

  He settled back on the pillows and then studied her intently, his gaze going up and down her body.

  “You look terrible, Eveline. Did you tell me an untruth? Were you harmed when I was attacked?”

  It was simply too much. Everything hit her at once. Relief. Exhaustion. Fear. So much relief. She burst into tears.

  Through the sheen of moisture glazing her eyes, she saw Graeme try to sit up, and then he leaned his head back and bellowed something. A moment later, his brothers rushed in, and then Bowen was lifting her from the bed, his arm solidly around her.

  But she couldn’t stop crying. It was as if any and all strength she had left fled the moment she knew Graeme would be all right.

  And then another arm slipped around her and she was guided to the bench by the fire.

  To Eveline’s shock, when she lifted her head, Nora was there, setting a fire. Nora tossed in several logs and set flame to wood. Then she turned and pinned Eveline with a determined look.

  “Now, lass, I know you’ll probably screech and try to drive me out of the laird’s chamber, but you don’t have the strength to do it and I’ll not be budged this time. ’Tis time someone took care of you. You’ve been at the laird’s bedside for days. You haven’t eaten. You haven’t slept. You’re hurting from your own fall and begging your pardon, but you look terrible. ”

  Fresh tears slipped down Eveline’s cheeks. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t summon the energy to do anything more than sit there and cry as the second person in as many minutes told her how awful she looked.

  Nora stood, waiting, hands on her hips while Eveline wiped at her face. When she was sure Eveline was looking, she continued with her speech.

  “I owe you an apology, lass. We all do. But there’s no time for that right now. What’s important is that you don’t fall ill yourself and that the laird is taken care of. ”

  Eveline started to protest, but Nora held up her hands.

  “No one is saying you haven’t done a fine job of tending the laird. I’ve never seen a fiercer champion. But he’s recovering nicely and currently he’s over in that bed demanding to know what’s wrong with you. ”

  Eveline tried to turn so she could reassure Graeme, but Nora caught her arm and held her firmly in place as she settled onto the bench next to her.

  “Nay, you’ll not spend another moment looking after the laird. He’ll be just fine in no time. ’Tis you who needs looking after and I’m going to say my piece so he hears it all. ”

  Eveline could do nothing but stare in shock at the other woman’s vehemence.

  “You can’t keep up this pace any longer. You need food. You need rest. You need someone to look you over to make sure all is well with you. You can give in gracefully and allow me and the other women to help with the laird or I’ll have the laird’s brothers tie you to the bed, and I’ll do it with the laird’s blessing as soon as he’s heard all you’ve done to yourself over the past days. ”

  Eveline frowned. “Teague and Bowen wouldn’t do such a thing. ”

  Nora lifted one eyebrow. “ ’Twas their idea, my lady. We were on our way up to take matters into our own hands when we heard the laird bellow for us to come. They know you’ve had enough. We can all see it. I insisted on being the one to come to you. I owe you that much. We’ll not let you or our laird down. I vow it. ”

  “Why are you being nice to me now?” Eveline asked, rubbing her sore throat as she choked the words out.

  Nora’s gaze softened even as guilt flashed in her eyes. “ ’Tis my doing. ’Tis all our doing. This would not have happened if we hadn’t driven you away. And even so, you fought fiercely for our laird. You didn’t allow our actions to affect your loyalty to him. I’m deeply shamed. I was not the better person and you were. If you’ll give me another chance to right the wrongs, I vow you’ll not regret it. ”

  Eveline stared at the older woman in bewilderment. She truly looked sincere. There was guilt and heavy regret in her eyes and the wrinkles and lines in her face seemed more pronounced.

  “I am hungry,” Eveline began.

  Nora smiled. “Of course you are. You’ve not had a bite to eat in days. Now, what I want is for you to come below stairs with me. Mary is preparing a steaming bowl of venison stew as we speak. After you eat, the women are going to take you to the bathhouse so you can soak those sore muscles in a tub of hot water. Once we’re finished, we’re going to have Nigel give you a thorough examination to make sure all is well and that you suffer from nothing that a good rest won’t right. After that you can rest with the laird, but be forewarned, if you do not sleep, I’ll have you removed
from the chamber and locked into another one. I’ll pour a potion down your throat if I have to. ”

  Eveline laughed at Nora’s determined look and then grimaced at the pain it caused her throat.

  “You poor lass,” Nora said, sympathy brimming in her eyes. “You’ve hurt your throat with all the screaming you’ve done. We heard you all the way through the keep when you were riding in for help. ’Twas a brave thing you did, taking the laird’s horse. He’s a big brute and with you being so terrified of horses. The entire keep’s talking about it. Everyone knows how fiercely you protected our laird. I think some are a little afraid of you now. ”

  Eveline’s lips twitched. It amused her to think anyone would fear her. She glanced back at Nora, studying the other woman intently.

  This was her opportunity, one she’d waited for. She could hold on to her anger and refuse to grant forgiveness. Or she could rise above her anger and humiliation and start anew.

  She reached for Nora’s hand and squeezed. “I thank you. Venison stew and a hot bath sound next to heaven right now. ”

  Nora helped her rise and Eveline nearly fell on her face. Her strength was gone. It was as if she’d remained stalwart until the moment she knew Graeme needed her no longer and now she was at her very end.

  As they turned, she saw Graeme’s fierce expression, the anger and the worry in his eyes. He was propped up in bed, pillows behind his back and surrounded by his two brothers. But his gaze never left her.

  “Come here,” he commanded.

  With Nora’s help, she managed to walk to the bed, but her knees were shaking so badly, she feared she wouldn’t be able to remain standing.

  He reached for her with his right arm and pulled her down to the bed until she was perched against his thigh. “You will listen to everything they tell you to do,” he said. “You will do nothing but take care of yourself henceforth. Are we understood? Bowen has told me of your fall from my horse. God’s teeth, lass, what were you thinking, mounting that beast when you’re terrified of horses? He could have killed you. ”

  He broke off, his chest heaving with exertion, but his eyes glittered with purpose.

  “You will go down and eat and then you’ll soak in hot water as Nora has directed. Then you are to return to this chamber and to me so that Nigel can properly examine you. Afterward you will rest until I grant permission for you to rise from this bed, and if you give any argument, I’ve given permission to Bowen and Teague to do whatever is necessary to ensure you follow my orders. ”

  Eveline’s eyes widened and then to her further befuddlement Graeme pulled her roughly to him and kissed her hard and deep. When he finally let her go, her thoughts were so muddled that she couldn’t think straight.

  “Now go,” he said. “And hurry back to me so I can satisfy my concerns over your well-being. ”

  CHAPTER 38

  As soon as Eveline was gone from the chamber, Graeme turned to his brothers. “Tell me the truth. I want the whole of it. How is Eveline? Was she hurt?”

  “I know not,” Teague said honestly. “She’s refused any sort of aid. She’s been focused solely on you and your recovery. She took a terrible fall from your horse, but she stood back up, mounted him again, and led us back to you. ”

  Graeme swore even as pain knifed through his shoulder. “You should not have allowed it. She should have been cared for first. ”

  Bowen laughed. “You did not see your wee wife, brother. She had the entire keep terrified to cross her. She screamed like she was demented every time someone entered your chamber. She wouldn’t allow anyone save me, Teague, Rorie, Father Drummond, and Nigel anywhere near you, and the father was only allowed if he didn’t try to give you last rites. She wouldn’t allow anyone to entertain, even for a moment, the idea that you wouldn’t survive. She was a sight to behold. ”

  “You frightened us all,” Teague said gruffly.

  “What happened?” Graeme asked. “ ’Tis all a bit of a blur to me. I remember Eveline screaming at me and when I turned and drew my sword I saw a man on horseback approaching. The next thing I remember is throwing myself to the side to avoid the arrow and then I hit my head. I know nothing else. ”

  “What happened is that Eveline frightened away your attacker by screaming like the hounds of hell were after you, then she took up your sword, prepared to do battle to protect you. The horseman fled and then Eveline threw herself on your horse and rode screaming the entire way back to the keep. She rode full speed into the courtyard and then your horse threw her over his head. She brought us back to you and we carried you on a litter. She refused to ride back with Bowen and walked beside you the entire way instead. She hasn’t left your side since. She’s refused food, care, and she hasn’t slept. ”

  “The little fool,” Graeme bit out. “What would I do without her? I can’t lose her. ”

  It was said out loud before he could think better of blurting out his feelings for Eveline. He was furious over the risks she’d taken and he was shaking with fear, with the realization that he could have so easily lost her.

 
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