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THE HERO & HEROINE:
REID MACGREGOR & MARY-ROBENA WALLACE
“Holy Loki!” Recognition nigh stopped her heart in her chest. She would know those silver eyes on a troll. The last person she expected to await her when she rose from the dive was…“Reid MacGregor.” Alive and in the flesh—tanned flesh.

She’d prayed for his soul when she hadn’t been cursing him to Hell and back. She’d thought him dead. It was easier to accept than the fact that he’d left her.

Wherever he’d been, it hadn’t been on a battlefield. Not one scar marked his clean-shaven face, and his nose was arrow straight. Robbie didn’t know any man who hadn’t had his nose broken at least twice.

Starting at his pinkie, he rolled a coin from knuckle to knuckle, then caught the piece of gold between his thumb and index finger. “I’ve come to collect my kiss.”

She gawked at him, digesting his words. Ye pompous, craven-born scut. I would sooner kiss a bluidy sow than the likes o’ ye. Robbie could
practically feel her tongue forking inside her mouth, but just as she might have tossed a barb or two—or three—at him, Reid hauled her out of the water and onto the cavern floor with a thunk of her iron boots.

The man might be as strong as an ox, but she took great satisfaction in knowing she nearly met his height.

“God’s legions, Robbie. You’re all legs,” he jested with a twinkle in his eyes and pushed the hair from her face. A darkness stole his merriment in an instant when his gaze settled on the scar—the brand that marked her as a MacGregor.

The same brand she’d lived with since the day he left. She cupped her cold cheek and turned away from him. “Leave.”

REID'S COUSIN: LAIRD EOIN MACGREGOR
The man drew up another hawker and blew this one over his shoulder.

“And what makes ye think my Robbie would be goin’ anywhere with ye?”

My Robbie?

Reid’s arms went slack. His gut fell to his toes. He immediately searched Robbie’s hand for a ring, but she wore gloves. He’d prepared himself for every possibility, even her death. He’d vowed to not interfere, should he find her married with bairns. If she’d given herself over to the Church, he
swore he wouldn’t take her from the cloister. However, finding Robbie wed to his cousin had not been a scenario he’d prepared for.

He should leave. He needed to think. “I have gold.”

EOIN'S SENESCHAL: LYALL
Lyall dipped his head once and bent to Robbie’s ear. “If they kill each other, my offer still stands,” he whispered and then kissed her scarred cheek. “God speed, lass.”

 

THE FRENCHMAN: JEAN-PIERRE
Jean-Pierre grinned wide, side-stepped Reid, and dipped an exaggerated bow before Robbie. He then cradled her hand and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. “I am Jean-Pierre. I am the Capitaine when the Capitaine is not the Capitaine,” The Frenchman spouted his foolishness overtop her hand, then had the gall to kiss her knuckles a second time.


THE BOATSWAIN: HENRIK
“Blessed be the light of day, and the Holy Cross, we say. Blessed be the immortal soul, and the Lord who keeps it whole.”

S’help me Odin! Hold your wheesht, man! Robbie would sew the Englishman’s lips together. Was it really necessary for Henrik to announce the rise of the sun? Could one not simply open their eyes to discover on their own that it was dawn?

THE MOPAN CHIEFTAIN: THE JAGUAR KING - B'ALAM
Robbie’s backbone stiffened. Her pulse kicked up a notch. Her smile weakened with every step the Jaguar King took toward her. Though elderly, he was built like a stone drite-house.

Robbie swallowed and forced herself to blink as the Jaguar King set himself before her. While she tried to deny her eyes, the bands around his forearms were unmistakably human teeth. Colored feathers decorated his
shoulders and chiseled bone pierced his nostrils and ears. Tribal markings in a brown color slightly darker than his skin covered his bald head, his
forehead, and his cheeks.

REID'S FRIEND: RUNNING SPIRIT - JAX
“Robbie, meet Yaxkin. He is known by his people as Running Spirit, but I call him Jax.”

Running Spirit? What breed of man bore the name Running Spirit?
This man, Running Spirit…Yax…Jax, cocked his head and studied her. He raised her skirt off the ground and bent to examine her feet, then without warning he squeezed her small breast.

JAX'S WOMAN: BLACK DOVE - MUKUY IK
“And this is Jax’s woman.”

Robbie tried not to ogle her, but it was nigh impossible. Tattooed bands of delicate designs embellished her ankles, arms, and neck. Her features were exotic—thick lips, smooth light-brown skin, and lush black hair. Gold piercings decorated her face and chains of turquoise and brown beads hung around her neck, but didn’t hide her ample breasts with large
brown nipples.

“Robbie, meet Mukuy Ik.”

“Och, nay! Call me Black Dove. I be Jax’s wifie an’ the mither o’ his bairns.”

BLACK DOVE'S SISTER: WILD TIGRESS
“My daughters; Gentle Fawn, Stream Dancer, Songbird, and Wild Tigress.” the Jaguar King named them from left to right, ending on the beauty eying Reid.

Black Dove stepped up beside Robbie and leaned into her side. “Da calls her Wild Tigress, but the rest o’ the kin call my sister On All Fours as that’s how the harlot spends most o’ her time.”

BLACK DOVE'S SISTER: SONGBIRD
Songbird lowered inky black lashes only to peek at Henrik from beneath them.

“Ye have eyes for Henrik?” Robbie’s question came out with more pitch than she’d intended.

Songbird frowned. “He is not good?”

“He is bluidy English.”

“Is bluidy English not good?”

Robbie gawked at her. These people had no knowledge of continental warfare.
No prejudices against the English or other countries. Regardless of how odd
the pairing might be to Robbie, who was she to stand in the way of two
peoples’ attraction? “Nay. Henrik is good.”

BLACK DOVE'S DAUGHTER: YELLOW PEACOCK
A small girl with the longest lashes Robbie had ever seen leaned close and pointed. “Your eyes match our jungle. They are…green. Verra pretty.”

“Verra good, Pea-nut.” Reid moved to the side and caught the child when she jumped into his arms.

“Welcome home, White Serpent. You were missed.” The girl, no more than eight winters, pressed her tiny hands against Reid’s cheeks and kissed his whiskered chin.

“Am I still your favorite white man?” Reid brushed noses with the girl.

She nodded fiercely. “And I your favorite peanut?”

“Oh, aye."

REID'S PET: OSCAR
The cat lunged from the bed and pinned Robbie to the desktop. Its heavy
paws held her shoulders down and its pink nose hovered over her face.
Robbie screamed two more times.

Just as she was certain her heart would explode through her ribs, the feline beastie dragged its thick raspy tongue over her cheek.

A pounding of footsteps preceded the whoosh of the cabin door. “God’s
legions, lass!” An audible breath followed. “I feared ye were under attack.”

Robbie thought Reid’s relief premature as the cat lying atop her still felt very
much like a threat to her. “I am under attack. Get this beastie off me!”

REID'S PET: MYAH
Reid followed Robbie's perplexed gaze to a firebox mounted at the top of the tallest tower. “Are there others here? Manservants? Maids?”

“Nay.”

“Then who just lit that torch?”

Reid pointed at a yellow flame bobbing up the vines. The beastie holding the taper was nigh invisible against the black starlit sky. “That is Myah. ’Tis her duty to alight the garden at night.”

“Ye’ve a monkey who goes about lighting torches? Surely ye jest.”

ANOTHER PET: KHAN
She supposed she should announce herself, but didn’t want to break the
silence or wake the enormous multi-colored bird warbling atop a perch
beside another open doorway.

 

 

YET ANOTHER PET: KANTICO
A thunderous rumble sounded to the right of them.

Reid’s eyes widened. “Dinnae move.” His grip intensified, bruising her soft flesh.

The fear painting his face scared her, but not half as much as the menacing growl escalating just feet away.

From the corner of her eye she saw gold fur and black rosettes. “’Tis just Oscar,” she said without conviction.

His head barely shook. “Loosen your hold. She thinks you’re hurting me,” he ordered, his words hushed, but she felt him tremble beneath her.

Robbie retracted her fingernails from his shoulders, leaving behind eight half moons that quickly filled with crimson red. She had to look. She had to see what was there. With the slow turn of her head, she found a monstrous beast four times the size of Oscar. ’Twas more muscular, more fierce, much more threatening. It stared straight at Robbie, then it stretched its jaws wide, exposing large sharp teeth, and screamed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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