Highlander Most Wanted

By: Maya Banks


“My brother, Laird Montgomery, is with his wife, Eveline, whom Ian captured and sorely abused. He will remain at her side until he’s satisfied that she has fully recovered and is safe from any and all threats. Patrick McHugh is a threat to Eveline and to both the Montgomery and the Armstrong clans. And we do not tolerate any threat.”

The people tightly grouped together in the hall began to grow nervous. Their agitation was evident as they began to fidget and exchange fearful glances.

“I claim this holding and all that belongs to Patrick McHugh for my laird until such time as he decides what is to be done with the land, the keep … and the people.”

Bowen held up a hand when everyone began talking at once.

“My brother is a fair and just man. Give me, and him, no reason to call you enemy and you will fare well. For the interim, I will act as laird and my brother will assist me in compiling a full report as to the workings of this keep and land so that I may pass it to Laird Montgomery and he may determine what is to be done. If you work hard and give me no cause to doubt your loyalty, there will be no issues. If you betray my trust, you will be dealt with swiftly and severely. There will be no second chances. Are we understood?”

There were murmurs of “Aye” and grim expressions all around. Some were fearful. Some were resentful. Some were angry. But not a single McHugh voiced their disagreement.

Bowen glanced at Taliesan, as well as Genevieve, to gauge their reaction to his strong words, but neither lass was so much as looking in his direction.

Taliesan had retreated behind the older man who’d supported her when she would have fallen, and Genevieve stood rigidly a short distance away. She resembled a statue. Cold and imposing, as if she felt nothing at all. But Bowen knew that to be untrue. He’d seen the flash of emotion in her eyes in that one unguarded moment. He had the feeling that beneath the icy façade she presented to the world was a fiery, passionate woman who seethed with tightly held emotion.

Shaking off his thoughts and the distraction posed by Genevieve, he turned to Teague, Aiden, and Brodie. “We must assess the situation with all haste. I do not like leaving my brother and his wife nor your family,” he said to Brodie and Aiden, “without adequate protection, and we have the might of our combined armies here. We have no need of so many.”

Teague nodded his agreement. Then he glanced back at the McHughs, who were still watching the four men fearfully.

“Let us go back to our men and discuss what it is we will do,” Teague said. “I do not want every McHugh privy to our conversation.”





CHAPTER 4


As soon as the Montgomery warrior quit the room, Genevieve’s shoulders sagged, and for the first time she allowed her gaze to sweep over the gathered McHughs.

If she expected there to be any remorse in their eyes for their misjudgment of her, she was sorely mistaken. There was the usual mixture of disgust, disapproval, outright sneers, pity—yes, pity from a few—and confusion, because many of the McHughs had yet to determine why she hadn’t tried to murder them all in their sleep.

There was only one McHugh she’d dreamed of making suffer a long, drawn-out death. She’d actually been disappointed when Graeme Montgomery had ended Ian McHugh’s life so quickly. It hadn’t been bloody enough. Or painful enough. Ian deserved to suffer because he was a horrifying human being who deserved no mercy and no leniency.

Pity that Graeme had been concerned only with hying his wife to safety and so had dispatched Ian with ruthless precision so that he would no longer be a bane to anyone’s existence.

One day Genevieve would like to thank the laird in person, but there would be too many questions she had no intention of answering were she to do something so unladylike and unbecoming a gently bred lass as to offer her grave thanks for the killing of another man.

“Genevieve?”

Genevieve broke from her bloodthirsty thoughts and blinked rapidly to bring her focus back to the present. Taliesan stood in front of her, her delicate features pulled tight with concern.

Genevieve sighed. Taliesan was the closest thing to a friend that she had—not for lack of trying on Genevieve’s part to remain aloof and distant. The very last thing Genevieve had wanted was any kinship with these people.

Nay, they weren’t to blame for the actions of Ian McHugh, but Genevieve was resentful of the situation that had been forced upon her, and every slight she suffered at the hands of the McHughs had only compounded her determination never to form a bond. She wanted to be gone from this place. Someplace where she could be alone, and then maybe she could forget the last year of her existence and she could find peace.

Such an elusive creature. Peace and happiness were things she’d long taken for granted, sheltered in the loving bosom of her family.

Even now, just remembering them made her chest ache fiercely. Sorrow weighed down on her, as if she carried a load of rocks on her back.

A year ago, she’d been so happy. So very naïve, convinced that nothing bad could ever befall her. Ian McHugh had proved her wrong, and had changed her, irrevocably, from a starry-eyed young lass ready to take on life’s challenges with a smile and a laugh to a mere shell of her former self. A person she could never hope to regain.