Excerpt from

Blackwood Crossing

British Agent Series

Book 2

from Chapter Three


CHARLES LISTENED TO the howls of wind beyond the glass window panes and  contemplated Rhona’s glances. When she had first set her eyes on him in  the study, her gray eyes expressed no emotion beyond the anger directed  at them all. Davidson had joined them for supper, but Rhona had remained  absent throughout the meal.


Now  he lay on a bed in one of many rooms gracing the interior of Davidson Castle. Unable to find solace in sleep, Charles, still clothed, removed  himself from the bed and looked around the dark interior of the room. Charles and the others had discussed everything they knew about Davidson  and his family, including his wealth, as a possible motive for whatever  happened to his son, Wallace.


None  of them believed that Wallace Davidson had been kidnapped. That he  found himself in dire circumstances because of his older brother’s  illicit actions remained to be seen. Using Rhona as a cover did not sit  well with Charles, but to refuse the plan would be to give her father a  reason to question their true motives.


“Bloody  hell!” Charles’s whispered frustration dissipated in the quiet of the  room. Resolved that he would find no peace on this night, he slid his  feet into boots, lit the lantern Graham left for him earlier in the  evening, and halted. The faint knock at his door led him to believe that  either Tristan or Devon had been of the same mind to go downstairs. He  turned the lantern up and walked quickly to the door. The soft hand  reached out and connected with the side of his face.


“Bastard!” Rhona’s whisper wasn’t much of a whisper, and she looked down both halls before pushing past Charles into his room.


“I  wondered how long that would take.” Charles leaned into the hall to  ensure himself that no one had heard her. He gently closed the door, the  resounding click making them both fully aware that neither of them  should be there.


“I  assume you are not here for the reasons we enjoyed on my last visit.”  Rhona closed the distance between them, her palm once again meeting his  cheek.


Charles immediately regretted his nastiness. “I deserved that.”


“That and more.” Rhona turned abruptly and walked past the edge of the light’s reach. “I want to know why.”


“Not  that I don’t enjoy your lovely company, but I do like my head where it  is. If your father or anyone else caught us—you want to know why what?”  Charles walked toward her. The past two years and his deception created a  barrier that stopped him from reaching out for her.


She turned to face him. “Why come back? I’d almost let myself believe I felt nothing for you.”


“I  didn’t choose . . .” Charles reached for her, ignored her efforts to  tug her arm loose from his grasp, and pulled her out of the shadows. “I  came back now for the same reason I left—orders.”


“Everything  was an order. Get close to me and make me . . . betray my family. Those  were your orders?” She pulled at her arm and his fingers reluctantly  loosened their grip.

Charles shook his head. “Nothing between us was an order, and I won’t  apologize for what I told you back then.” Charles expected to see tears  or regret in Rhona’s eyes, but the grayish-blue orbs revealed nothing.


“I  shouldn’t be here. My maid doesn’t sleep soundly and at times wanders  the halls.” She hesitated. “We were close enough to . . . I thought you  would come back.”


Incredulous,  Charles stepped toward her. “I wrote letters, and I returned once I  resigned. Your father said you visited a cousin, but I went north to  Skye, and they’d not seen you.”


“You came back?”


Charles  slowly nodded and traced her smooth cheek with his finger. “Given my  line of work, I should have been able to find you, but I contacted your  other living relatives. None claimed you’d been there.”


“I  wasn’t. I spent six months with a distant cousin on my mother’s side. I was in Caithness, and I never saw your letters.”  Rhona pulled the  edges of her shawl close to her body and walked toward the door.


Charles  deemed her last letter now irrelevant, certain it was not she who told  him to stay away. “Why did you never to return to England?”


With  one hand on the door handle, Rhona slowly turned around. “How do you  know I didn’t?” Her hand slipped from the handle. “You watched for me?”


Charles remained silent.


Rhona  closed her eyes and breathed deeply. “There was nothing for me there. When you saved me that day on the road, did you know who I was before  you came north?” 


“No, it wasn’t until I saw you again here. When I learned you were  Davidson’s daughter, I tried to forget you, set you from my thoughts,  but nothing I did worked. It was never my intention to cause you pain.”


“And  yet, you did, but I made my choices, too.” Rhona steadied her eyes on  his. “My father hates your people with such passion. He would not have  told either of us the truth. If I had known you came back . . .” Rhona’s  hand reached once more for the door. 
“He hates the British, but you had an English tutor.”


“That was my mother’s doing.” She pressed down on the handle, but Charles stilled her movements.


“Did you ask for the marriage?”


Rhona  attempted to push Charles away. When she failed, she turned angry eyes  on him. “It does not matter because the deed is done.”


“When was it decided? Not when we were—”


She shifted and leaned back to look into his eyes. “No. There’s never been anyone else.”


“Then when?”


“A few days ago. It’s not uncommon.”


Charles  could have left it alone, asked her if she wanted to marry Crawford, but he let seconds pass. Rhona leaned toward him briefly, and Charles  wondered if she might stay. He prayed she would. She smelled of heather and lavender, and the fragrant scents sparked memories of a night years  ago when he held her in his arms as they lay in a blanket of heather near the woods.


“I’m sorry.” Her whispered words barely reached his ears before she quietly exited the room.


End of Excerpt


Excerpted from Blackwood Crossing by MK McClintock. Copyright © MK McClintock. Published by Trappers Peak Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author or publisher.


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