Kila had just finished washing her face, when her step-mother stormed into the bedchamber.
"You are in need of a new gown for the Earl's ceilidh, and there is a most reputable dressmaker in Port-na-craig." She placed several coins on the table. "See if she has a ready-made gown to your liking."
Inwardly, Kila groaned. "I have many beautiful gowns from which to choose. I'm in need of no more."
Verona's jaw muscles tightened, as they always did when Kila argued with her. "I'll not have you embarrassing me in one of those drab things of yours. Now hurry, before you miss the mid-day meal." She turned on her heel and exited the room.
Kila looked at Wyn and blew out a long breath. Accompanied by Wyn and Fergus, she left The Blackbird Inn and stepped into the narrow street across from the dressmaker's tiny shop.
A man on horseback suddenly appeared from out of nowhere and bore down upon her. Behind her, the maid screamed, but before Kila could be trampled to death, a pair of strong arms pulled her out of harm's way and against a chest of stone.
"I'll fetch Lady Murray, m'lady," sobbed Wyn, before disappearing inside the inn.
Fergus stood nearby, his usual red face void of all color. "I dinnae see him, m'lady, until he were nigh upon ye."
"Are you well, lass? asked the Highlander who had rescued her.
"Aye," she nodded, noting how devastatingly handsome he was.
He frowned. "Are you certain?" Concern was clear in his voice.
"The fool," he growled, shaking his head. "How could he have no' seen you? 'Twas as if he was bent on running you down."
Her knees suddenly felt weak, and she swayed on her feet.
The Highlander must have realized her predicament, for he lifted her into his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather.
She should insist he put her down immediately, but it felt so wonderful being held in his strong arms."Might I ken your name?"
He grinned, and her heart lurched against her chest. "Duncan, Duncan MacDonnel. And your own, lass?"
"Kila Murray—Lady Kila Murray."
"Glad to be of service, Lady Kila Murray," he said with a devilish grin and a slight tilt of his head. "It appears you're staying at The Blackbird Inn as well."
"Aye, along with my step-mother and a small party."
"Then I'll see you to your bedchamber." With Fergus following close behind, Duncan pushed open the door and carried her inside, then headed for the stairs, but was interrupted by the nearby screeching of her step-mother.
"Put my step-daughter down immediately," she ordered the Highlander.
Duncan made no move to follow the woman's demand. "The lass was nigh on trampled to death, and is yet unsteady on her feet. I plan to see her to her bedchamber."
"What the man says is true, m'lady." Fergus offered. "Seen it m'self."
"Nonsense," she snorted, ignoring the guard. "Put her down, or else I'll have her taken from you."
Duncan clenched his teeth to keep from telling the blasted female to go to the devil.
Kila gently placed her hand on his arm. "Please, I dinnae wish to cause you any trouble."
He looked into her amber eyes, noting the tiny flecks of gold, and gently set her on her feet. "Then I bid you good day, my lady."
She smiled. "Much thanks."
He nodded, then headed upstairs to his bedchamber. He stretched out on the bed and crossed his arms. He would like to have spent more time with the bonnie lass, but her infernal step-mother had put a stop to that.
Obviously, the woman was unaware of how close Kila had come to being trampled to death, or else she certainly would have shown more concern for her step-daughter's welfare.
To be honest, the whole ordeal puzzled him. The rider would have had to be blind not to have seen the lass standing there in the open. He frowned, as an icy finger trailed up his spine. Aye, something was amiss.
I hope you enjoyed!