No Choice But Seduction Page 8

Anthony dismounted slowly, now that he had his man. Geordie was staring up at him terrified, while trying to scoot backward.

“Wait!” Geordie shouted. “Ye mun hear me oout! It wasna me!”

It was the wrong thing to say, because it smacked of culpability. Anthony bent over to lift Geordie’s face up to his fist.

“Och, God, no’ my teeth again. Wait!”

Geordie covered his face with both arms. Anthony kicked him in the side. The arms fell away with a groan. He didn’t usually kick a man when he was down, but this pathetic worm didn’t deserve gentleman’s rules.

Anthony bent to one knee to grab a fistful of red hair before he asked, “Where is she?”

“I dinna know. I swear!”

His fist slammed into Geordie’s face for the second time. “Wrong answer, Cameron.”

“My nose!” Geordie screamed as he tried to stem the blood pouring from it. “Ye broke it again!”

“Did you think you were walking away from here?” Anthony asked. His voice was calm, even when he added, “I’m going to need a shovel by the time I’m done with you.”

“Ye can ask her! She’ll tell ye it wasna me!”

“Ask who?”

“Yer daughter—nae, dinna hit me again! It was m’wife who took her. She brought me down here tae visit her aunt, she said. Then she disappeared for the whole day and came back wi’ yer daughter. She’s oout of her mind and I tauld her sae. The lass knows I had nae part of this.”

“Then where is she?”

“I would ha’ brought her home tae ye this morn, but she escaped on her own! I’m no’ oout here looking for her, I’m looking for m’wife tae make sure she doesn’t find her again.”

“And what gave your wife the idea to do this?”

Geordie blanched again.

Chapter Nine

I’M EXPECTING MY NIECE AND HER SERVANTS. Have they arrived yet?” Boyd described Judith for the innkeeper, adding, “She’s a remarkably beautiful child. If you saw her, you’d never forget her.”

This was only the second inn Boyd had come to, and he still had a lot of ground to cover.

He’d already paid for a room just to get on the man’s good side. And he had a few more questions ready for the innkeeper as soon as the man responded negatively to his niece story. Boyd had suggested that Judith might have been walked through the front door of an inn, but he didn’t really think that would be the case.

So he wasn’t expecting to hear, “Yes, sir, second door at the top of the stairs. Right next to yours.”

After Boyd recovered from his surprise, he asked, “How many servants does she have with her this time?” He made it sound as if he was expecting an extravagant amount, but he was really hoping to find out how many people he was going to be up against when he rescued Judith.

“Only two women came in with her, sir. If there were other servants, she didn’t require rooms for them.”

Boyd gave the man a nod of thanks. Good fortune of this sort didn’t usually land in his lap. And now he had a decision to make. Wait the hour or so until Anthony got to town to tell him that he’d found where Judith was being kept, or get her out of there himself? He favored the latter and was halfway up the stairs when Jeremy hailed him.

Boyd waited for the lad to reach him before he asked, “What are you doing here?”

“Getting lucky. First inn I check and here you are.” And then Jeremy chuckled. “Actually, I recognized your horse out front.”

“I thought we’d agreed you wouldn’t show your face around here because you resemble your uncle too much?”

“Relax, Yank. It’s over—or mostly so. My cousin managed to get herself out of this mess on her own.” Jeremy explained what Geordie Cameron had confessed to. “So Uncle Tony is searching along the highway south of where we ran into Cameron. He sent me north to do the same.”

“Is that why your voice sounds hoarse?”

Jeremy nodded. “Considering how smart my cousin is, if she had no luck catching a ride with someone and is trekking it instead, she’s more’n likely ducking into the woods whenever she sees someone coming toward her on the road. But I got no response to my shouts, so she’s probably further south by now. Uncle Tony would like you to remain here for the day—just in case. He’ll send word.”

Boyd frowned. “I’d say we’re in the middle of ‘just in case.’ She’s here.”

“Who?”

“Who do you think?”

“Now don’t get testy,” Jeremy said. “I just told you she escaped.”

“And I just described Judith to the innkeeper. He said she’s up here.”

“Hell’s bells, the Scot lied?”

“Why would he tell the truth?” Boyd countered.

“Because my uncle was going to tear his limbs off.”

“A much better reason to lie, if you ask me.”

“Bloody hell.” But then Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Wait a minute. Just because she was here doesn’t mean she still is. So this is where they were keeping her—and where she escaped from.”

Boyd nodded, accepting that possibility. “Easy enough to confirm, since I was told which room she’s in. Come on, let’s see if anyone is still in it.”

They stood outside the room. Boyd was about to try the door when they both heard from the other side of it, “I’m famished again.”

Jeremy immediately yanked Boyd down the corridor. “Bloody hell,” he hissed. “That was my cousin’s voice.”

“I heard,” Boyd replied, his pistol now in hand. “We do this with the least danger to Judy.”

“Then put that away. You’re good with your fists. You don’t need to be brandishing a weapon that might get them firing some of their own.”

Boyd agreed, “My thought was to frighten them enough to prevent any actions on their part, but you’re right. According to the innkeeper, it’s just two women with Judy, so a weapon shouldn’t be necessary.”

“Cameron’s wife? It’s sounding like the Scot did lie after all.”

“Either way, we just have two women to deal with at the moment, so here’s the plan,” Boyd said in a whisper. “I’ll kick the door in. You grab your cousin and take her to her father. Don’t stop for anything. There was a lot of money involved in this, so we don’t know how many thugs they might have hired to help and where they might be stationed around town. I’ll take care of whoever is left in the room and turn them over to the constable before I catch up with you.”

“Shh,” Jeremy said as the door they were planning to break down started to open.

They turned their backs on the door. As Boyd tried to appear inconspicuous by unlocking the door to his room, he heard a woman say, “I won’t be long fetching some food. Lock this door behind me.”

A woman’s chuckle came from inside the room. “You worry too much, Grace.”

The woman who was going to get food didn’t even glance down the corridor in their direction. She simply marched toward the stairs, then disappeared from view.

“Now would be a good time to get Judy, while there’s one less person for me to deal with,” Boyd said.

He didn’t have to kick the door in. They got to it before it was locked from the inside and burst into the room together. The element of surprise worked well.

Jeremy went straight to his cousin. She started to say his name excitedly, but he put a hand over her mouth as he cautioned her to be silent, and within seconds he’d swept her up in his arms and was gone.

Which left Boyd staring incredulously at the remaining occupant of the room. Likewise, she was staring back at him. The woman of his passionate dreams, supposedly a mother with children of her own—or other children she’d stolen?—had abducted Anthony Malory’s daughter. He grabbed her and, putting a hand over her mouth, pulled her out of there and into the room next door.

Chapter Ten

NOT ONE WORD,” Boyd told the woman in his arms. “If I even hear you breathe, I’ll gag you.”

He hadn’t removed his hand from her mouth yet! When he realized that, he knew he was in trouble. He ought to set her down and put some distance between them. His mind might clear then. It certainly wasn’t clear now. But he couldn’t bear to take his hands off her yet.

Mrs. Tyler in the flesh, not a dream this time. Whether he was sleeping or awake, she’d filled his mind to the point of becoming a nuisance ever since he’d clapped eyes on her. But this was real. And she wasn’t the spirited, kindhearted young woman he’d thought she was.

“Those children you sailed with, they weren’t yours, were they? You stole them, too, didn’t you?”

He wasn’t letting her answer. He didn’t think he could withstand a barrage of excuses from her. He’d end up believing whatever she chose to tell him, and he’d let her go with an apology and a smile. But she was starting to squirm against him. Oh, God…

He walked across the room, dragging her with him, and kicked an armless chair toward the center of the room. He thrust her into it, then leaned down, putting his face close to hers.

“You can’t imagine how close I am to ravishing you. Get up from that chair and I’ll consider it an invitation.”

“You’re making a really big—!”

He quickly put his finger to her lips. There was enough warning in his eyes that she didn’t try to finish what she had started to say, despite how angry she’d sounded.

“Do I need to be more explicit in how close you are to ending up in my bed?” he asked as he removed his finger. “Or was that an invitation?”

She shook her head at him without breaking the virulent glare she had pinned on his face. She had big, beautiful eyes, dark emerald, furious—did she think he cared?

He straightened up and looked down at her. “Not going to try to get up?”

She shook her head again.

“I’m disappointed. If I were thinking clearly, I wouldn’t have warned you, and then we might be bouncing around on that bed over there instead. That’s still an option. Go ahead and stand up. Please.”

She didn’t move a muscle. He gritted his teeth. He wasn’t sure whom he was more angry at, himself, or her. The rules of decency might be suspended—she was a criminal, after all. But he still couldn’t bring himself to take advantage of that fact, despite how beautiful she was, despite how much he still wanted her.

She was dressed in a simple light blue frock. With long sleeves and a high collar, there was nothing sexy about it—except it hugged the luscious curves of her body. Her long black hair was in a thick braid down her back. It was how she’d worn it on the ship. She’d even hooked the end of it on her belt to contain it. He’d thought she’d done that because of the fierce wind out on the ocean, but she’d laughed at one of the dinners she’d shared with him and his captain and told them it was to keep her from sitting on it. So why didn’t she just put it up in some fancy coiffure the way other women did? Because she wasn’t like other women!

He moved around behind her to try to end the visual temptation she was putting him through. It didn’t help at all. Why the devil did he bring her in here? He still couldn’t think straight. He should have carted her straight to jail. He should at least have sent for the local constable. He didn’t move to do either. The idea of Katey Tyler in jail turned him cold.

He could hie off with her, get her out of England. He owned a ship. It would be easy enough to do. But then what? Enjoy her for a week or two, then let her go at a port on some other continent? So she could get back to her business of child stealing, just somewhere else? When he thought of Roslynn Malory crying all day over the well-being of her daughter, he knew he couldn’t do it.

Then what the hell was he going to do with her? He knew he was just avoiding the inevitable.

He hadn’t moved far enough behind her. He caught a whiff of her scent, uniquely hers, a little floral, a little spicy like hot apple pie, a little earthy. He closed his eyes, fighting the urge to touch her again. He lost.

Chapter Eleven

KATEY WASN’T FRIGHTENED—YET. She’d noticed that Judith had recognized and been glad to see the young man who’d carted her off, so she wasn’t worried about the child. And she’d instantly recognized the man who’d dragged her into this other room. Boyd Anderson, the owner of The Oceanus. How could she ever forget him? He was the first handsome man ever to show an interest in her, the first really handsome man she’d ever met, for that matter. But what was he doing here?

She’d been so surprised to see him burst into her room when she’d thought she’d never see him again. But he obviously thought that she was the culprit in Judith’s abduction, and he was treating her like a common criminal because of it! He was going to be quite embarrassed and deservedly so when she corrected him—if she ever got a chance to.

It infuriated her that he’d threatened her into silence. Would he really ravish her? But she’d get her explanation out first, surely, and then…what if he didn’t believe her? He did seem positive that she was guilty, and he was quite angry about it. What if he’d rather ravish her than believe her?

She shivered. Oh, my, she wished he hadn’t mentioned that. She couldn’t get the thought out of her mind now. And then she realized, incredulously, that he was touching her! She swatted his hand away, but it came back to caress her cheek again. Gooseflesh spread down her back and arms. His fingers moved toward her neck. She drew in her breath and held it, waiting…waiting…

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