I thought I'd share one of my favorite heroes with you today. Devyn MacGregor, the handsome red-heided Bard leads a double life. By day, he's the meek and mild, slightly bumbling Bard who works for the Qui'arel. But by night, he's the Reiver Lord who fights for the freedom of humankind. In this excerpt, Devyn has just run into, literally, the strange young woman who claims he's her husband. He's attempting to get her to safety before the Qui'arel discover her but runs into a patrol led by one of their chief warriors. Devyn isn't sure what to make of the strange woman - is she innocent or is she the bait in a trap to capture the Reiver Lord?
Sweet Mai! Devyn kept his expression bland by sheer will.
The Qui’arel lord, Gabriel, turned to him with a questioning lift of silvery brows. “Bard?” “Your pardon, my lord. She’s a wee bit confused.” He looked down on the crown of tousled hair beneath his chin. “She’s not an outlaw, though, I’m fair sure of that.”
“All MacGregors are outlaws.” The man’s smile did not lighten his eyes. “Your clan has a history of it.”
Devyn’s horse tossed its head and sidled sideways. He spent a moment longer than necessary to settle it. “And not all MacGregors are born to the name.”
“Were you born a MacGregor?” Gabriel demanded.
Her fear sang through the temblors of her body as she shook her head. What was wrong with the lass? She acted as if she’d never seen a Qui’arel afore. And, though he wished it could be true, it was damned impossible. He put his hand on her arm, to offer comfort he told himself but, more than that, to let her know he was there. That he would do everything in his power to keep her safe.
A sudden gleam entered Gabriel’s eyes. “Ah, then you are wed to a MacGregor, are you?”
His gaze shifted to Devyn while he continued to speak to the lass. “Who is your husband?”
Her knuckles whitened on the pommel but she sat straighter of a sudden. She took a breath, then said, “Devyn MacGregor.”
“What?” The word barked out of his mouth. Of all the things he’d expected, that claim was the very last. It was a claim that jeopardized all his plans. “We’re not wed, my lord. I found her on the coast. Alone. The victim of, well, I dinna ken what but she’s confused, maybe a bit addled.”
Behind Lord Gabriel, the other two Qui’arel snickered. Gabriel slanted a dour look at them until they fell silent. “Yet, she claims to be your wife.”
“She’s not.” He made an effort to speak calmly. “I am not allowed to wed, not without Lady Cuini’s sanction.”
“It is a conundrum, is it not?” Gabriel returned his attention to the lass. “Where were you taking her?”
He’d intended to take the lass to the Village. But with Gabriel’s knowledge of her, that was impossible. He donned his Bardish smile, the one that said he was as simple as they all believed. “Why, to Reach Seagate, of course.”
Gabriel continued to watch the woman. Then, with a cool flat stare at Devyn, he said, “You were wrong, you know. You do not need Lady Cuini’s permission to wed. You need mine.”
Devyn stilled, an odd foreboding creeping up his back.
“The woman claims you as her husband. I ask you now. Do you accept her as your wife? Or should she be given to the Bounty?”
“My lord, this is–” Devyn broke off. If he didn’t accept her, the poor demented lass would end her days as a slave. He looked away. But, supposing she was not what she seemed? Neither innocent, nor demented? Suppose she was a spy for the Qui’arel purposefully set on that beach awaiting his arrival? That meant they suspected his identity as the Reiver Lord. Refusing her would only confirm it. “This is most kind of you.”
Gabriel shrugged, dismissal firm in every line of his body. “Is it? I suppose you’re right. You may continue on your way.”
“And Lady Cuini?” Devyn lifted a hand. “What shall I tell her?”
“The truth, of course. She will not be entirely happy, I fear, but–” A smile spread across his face. “That which we see so clearly is often seen just as clearly–but differently–through other eyes. Go. Take your bride to Seagate before the Reiver steals her away. Coreas will accompany you.”
Annie turned her head to look back as Devyn maneuvered the gelding past Gabriel, but he shifted his arms and leaned forward to murmur, “Dinna look back, lass. ‘Tis bad luck, you ken.”
“Bard,” Gabriel called.
Devyn halted the gelding, his stomach clenched into a painful knot. “Aye, my lord?”
“Where have you come from?”
“Just now? From Beanwich Cove. And before that, Stiller’s Freehold.”
“Have you seen anything unusual?”
“No, my lord.”
Gabriel nodded in dismissal.
Devyn wondered what Lord Gabriel was searching for. The Reiver Lord? Or something else?
“Who are they? What are they?” she whispered. “Elves?”
His harsh laugh startled the horse, which shied for a moment until he regained control. He hesitated, waited until Coreas fell behind them on the narrow trail. “Dinna say you’ve ne’er seen a Qui’arel afore?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Ach, well, it’s a wondrous odd place you come from then.” Devyn fell silent. When they reached the narrow road, he hesitated. Between one breath and the next, the lass had ruined a plan set into motion years ago. Why? For fear of the Qui’arel? Not likely, if she didn’t know who and what they were.
“Bard? Seagate is east,” Coreas said. “Turn right.”
“Aye, your pardon. I was just lost in thought for a moment.” Devyn followed the road, north and east. The lass sat stiff and straight, obviously trying not to touch him. Yet the gelding’s rolling gait kept her warm, shapely arse rocking against his eager roger. He must be as barmy as she was.
Somehow he had to find a way out of the trap. He needed the liaison with Cuini. He needed to preserve his secret identity. He did not need a woman living with him, spy or not, who might discover his secrets.
“If they’re not Elves, what are they?” Annie asked quietly.
“Why did you tell Lord Gabriel I was your husband?”
She was silent so long, he thought she wouldn’t answer. Finally, she spoke, keeping her voice low so their guard would not hear. “Those, what did you call them? Kee-arell?”
She fumbled the name. Devyn didn’t care. “Aye. Go on.”
“A lot of weird stuff has happened to me. Stuff you wouldn’t believe. For now, I’d rather stay with you.”
He frowned. “Me?”
“I...I think I can trust you.” She twisted to look into his face. “I can, can’t I?”
The air of familiarity struck him again. Who was she? Why did he find her so appealing? Then another thought struck him. “You asked about the moon. Why?”
Disappointment flickered in her eyes. She turned, faced forward and said, “It exploded.”
A peal of sadness rang in his soul. The lass had surely lost her mind. “Nae, it didna explode,” he said gently. “You may trust me on that.”\
“But nothing else?”
Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Altered-Destiny-ebook/dp/B00579FKFO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308920443&sr=8-1
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Praise for Altered Destiny
"ALTERED DESTINY is a rousing tale of despair, hope, love and courage. ...I recommend ALTERED DESTINY."
Vi Janaway, Romance Reviews Today
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