Captain Jared Allendale is weary of war, but Wellington gives him one final assignment before he is free of his obligation to the Crown: retrieve a package in Scotland and return it safely to London. Easy assignment for a man who’s been an aide-de-camp for the past several years—until the package turns out to be Lucy Cameron, daughter of the Duke of Diamond. Lord Diamonte was banished to France for his treasonous acts.
As Jared fights old demons, the dangerous journey south begins. The spectre of death hovers over them as Lord Diamonte’s minions hunt Lucy and Jared. It will take love, gifts and their faith in God to help them overcome the evil that looms. Can Jared deliver his “package” without either of them losing their lives…and their hearts?
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Jared Allendale screamed as the whip flailed against his back. His once pristine uniform had been filleted and he was certain the red fibers melded with his blood.
“Tell us what you know,” the Frenchie asked in stilted English. The stench of the cretin’s brandy and fish-laced breath made Jared’s stomach roil in protest. Half-starved, there was nothing to cast up.
“I would die before giving you what you want,” he responded through gritted teeth. His head throbbed with weariness. Kill me already. Please. Let me die rather than endure this. He would never give Napoleon’s lackeys the satisfaction of begging for his own death. He would also never give them the information they wanted on Wellington’s troop movements and plans. England would beat the Little Emperor, of that he was certain.
Jared bit back a smile at the memory of his last mission where he’d infiltrated French lines. He came within a hairsbreadth of assassinating the tyrannical ruler, who marched hundreds daily to their deaths. Captured before he could accomplish his goal, he now suffered for his cocky foolishness and temporary feelings of invincibility. The whip cracked within an inch of his face. Jared grudgingly admitted his torturer was good at what he did.
“Speak, you English dog,” the man growled in fury as he raised his arm again. The whip found its mark in the tender exposed skin on Jared’s buttocks.
Captain Allendale screamed again and his bloodied wrists struggled against the rope that restrained him as he knees buckled. The tree he was tied to was rough, and abraded his face and torso as each lash of the leather slammed him into it. He lost count of how many lashes he’d endured.
Hadn’t Paul been whipped? Jesus had. If only Jared were dying for this faith. Loyalty to mad King George and his fat, spendthrift son, the Regent, didn’t seem as noble a cause. Alas, one didn’t get to choose just what one would be tortured and likely killed for. In spite of its figurehead, Jared loved his English homeland. His course was set.
He longed to tell his brother not to worry over his eternal home. Jared forsook his debauchery to embrace the faith of his parents. He didn’t fear death for he would see the former Lord and Lady Remington in heaven. Oh, Dad, would you have been proud of me?
The light of a torch came close to his face, the heat causing beads of sweat to multiply even in the coolness of the night. They never tortured him during the day except to come and poke, slap, or even haul off and punch him.
“Tell us or we will slowly bake you alive.”
Of course, they couldn’t throw him on a pyre and send him home in a box of ashes, they needed to hold the torch close to his backside. He screamed and pushed himself into the rough bark of the tree as if he could escape through it.
Soft fingers touched his face as a sweet, feminine voice cooed, “It wull be a'richt, mah loue.” The scent of heather assailed him. Was this a new form of torture? The lyrical voice continued to whisper, “may loue, yer safe, na yin wull harm ye noo.”
My love? Had they entrapped a Scottish lass to torture him? Soft lips touched his brow as the fingers tickled and tantalized in their exploration of his face. How did he come to be laying on his backside? He moaned. At least he no longer suffered the lashes and the burning. Lips found his and the sweet kiss aroused a new kind of pain. Her hands trailed down to his chest and healed his aches with their very touch. What kind of game was this?
Jared grabbed the woman’s arms and flipped her under him. He touched her face and kissed her with all the agony and longing pent up inside. Her hands went around him, caressing his back. His torn jacket was gone.
She whimpered underneath him. He pulled back and opened his eyes to the most mystical woman he had ever encountered. Ethereal blue eyes sparkled at him in the moonlight. Her frizzy, white-blonde hair was like the finest gossamer strands of silk. And that smile as she gazed back at him, was heaven. Had an angel come to save him from his agony?
She pushed him away and he rolled to his side, allowing her freedom. She kissed him again. “Rest weel, mah loue.”
He wanted more, but in a flash of white, she disappeared into the fog.