No Choice But Seduction Page 10

She gritted her teeth. “Mark my words, it’s going to rain. Look up at the sky if you don’t believe me.”

He barked a short laugh. “When doesn’t it look like that in this country?”

“You’re saying it’s not going to rain?”

“I doubt it. It’s looked like that all morning and it hasn’t rained yet.”

“I’m still cold.”

He leaned his chest against her again to say suggestively, “Well, you could turn around to face me. I guarantee that will warm you very fast. Or you could put my jacket on.”

“I’ll take the jacket.”

She heard his sigh as he leaned away from her again. A moment later, his jacket was draped about her shoulders. Katey didn’t thank him, but she quickly put it on. She wished it didn’t smell like him, though. It made it seem as if she were surrounded by his warmth.

A few minutes of silence passed as she snuggled deep into that warmth. Her legs were resting on his with her sitting in front of him on the saddle. His arms on each side of her hugged her more tightly, too, until it felt as if he were actually holding her in his arms. Him, him, him. God! She needed to think about something else!

“You didn’t say what gave you pause a while ago, when you mentioned the Malorys,” she said.

“It merely occurred to me that you don’t need to be scared of any constables, sweetheart. You do need to be scared of Anthony Malory, though.”

She rolled her eyes. He really and truly did think she was guilty, while she was sure she’d have nothing to fear from Judith’s father. Boyd was going to be the one who would have to account for his mistake, and she relished that. But that was assuming that Judith would think to mention Katey’s part in this little adventure, and if she hadn’t, if Katey would be allowed to speak to the child first before…before what?

“This isn’t the first time you’ve implied the Malorys are to be feared. Just who are they?”

“One of the more powerful families in this realm, and very family-oriented. Hurt one and you’ve hurt them all. But Judy’s father, well, he beat your husband, Geordie, so severely it’s doubtful he’ll ever look the same again. He’s been so out of his mind with worry that he’ll take heads off before he asks questions.”

Katey stiffened. “I told you, I don’t know this Geordie person. And Judy was much too sweet to have a father like the one you’re describing, so stop trying to scare me.”

She felt him shrug when he replied, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Anthony isn’t likely to lay a hand on you. I didn’t mean to imply that. You’re a woman, after all. But he can make sure you spend the rest of your life behind bars. In fact, my first thought when I found you knee-deep in this was to rescue you.”

She decided to humor him by asking, “I suppose you mean from prison?”

“Yes. I could get you out of the country instead. That’s still an option. Think you could manage to convince me to do that?”

She snorted. She should have known he wasn’t being serious, that his thoughts had taken a sensual turn. “That doesn’t deserve an answer.”

“By the end of the day you’ll think otherwise.”

“By the end of the day,” she shot back angrily, “you’ll be on your knees begging my forgiveness, which won’t be forthcoming, I promise you. In fact, if I ever see you again after today, you’ll be lucky if I don’t shoot you. You, sir, are a…a…a stubborn jackass!”

She heard his chuckle. “But you like me anyway, don’t you, sweetheart?”

“Oh!” She wasn’t going to say another word to him. Odious man. But he would be sorry!

It started to rain. Big drops. She smirked for all of two minutes, until she was quite drenched.

“Now look what you’ve done!” she said accusingly.

“Sorry, but I didn’t summon up this downpour.”

“I’m freezing!”

“You’re nothing of the sort,” he said, but his arms did close around her a bit more tightly.

“I’m going to catch my death and it will be your fault. I told you I was going to London. We could have been riding in my nice, warm coach! But, no, you couldn’t be sensible about this, could you?”

She sneezed to make her point. It wasn’t a feigned sneeze, but it wasn’t a true sign that she was catching a cold either. Raindrops had gathered on the tip of her nose, tickling the sneeze out of her.

But it was enough to make him ask, “I don’t suppose you know of any shelter nearby?”

She blinked. He was going to be sensible? A bit late, but still…

“As it happens, there’s a small town about ten minutes from here. You just passed the road to it. Go back. There’s an inn there.”

He turned around. It took him less than five minutes on horseback to reach the town she’d stopped at that morning, but then he’d spurred his mount to a gallop again to get them out of the rain sooner.

She pointed out the inn when they were in the center of the small town in case he hadn’t noticed it yet. He whisked them straight inside, leaving her in front of the fireplace in the common room to start warming up, while he paid for a room where they could wait out the storm.

She wasn’t really cold. The rain might have brought a little chill to the air, but the weather wasn’t even close to wintry yet. She’d merely been trying to make Boyd feel guilty, not that she thought he was capable of remorse. Yet. But he would be when he finally found out what a colossal mistake he’d made.

She kept an eye on him while she held her hands out to the fire. Unfortunately, he was keeping an eye on her. She sighed. There’d be no slipping out a side door without his noticing—yet.

She also thought about making a scene now that they were around other people again. Having a constable summoned could go either way, though. Without her servants here to verify her story, Boyd might be believed instead, and she could well end up in jail after all. She decided not to risk that. Besides, she would rather make her way back to Northampton, collect her belongings and her servants, and put what had turned into a ridiculous adventure behind her.

“Come on,” he said, taking her arm to escort her upstairs. “If this rain doesn’t stop within the hour, I’ll see if I can find a coach to hire for the remainder of the journey.”

Concessions? So he could make them? But he should have thought of coaches before he galloped them out of the much larger town of Northampton. He wasn’t likely to find one to hire here. But she didn’t mention that. Anything that would separate them long enough for her to escape she would agree with.

To that end, she said as soon as he ushered her into the room, “I’m starving.”

He ignored her and went straight to the fireplace to get it lit. She wished he’d forget that she’d said she was freezing. He was so single-minded!

Annoyed, she said, “Did you hear me? I’m starving?”

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “Really?”

“Yes, really. I haven’t eaten since yesterday,” she lied, but for good measure added, “My maid had just gone to fetch us food when you burst into my room.”

He still got the fire going before he stood up, dusted his hands, and said, “All right, I’ll see about getting some food sent up and maybe a hot bath, too. Dry off while I’m gone, but stay the hell away from that bed. Is that clear?”

“I didn’t say I was tired,” she quipped.

He just stared at her until a blush appeared on her face. She knew what he’d meant. He’d mentioned her and beds in the same breath enough times for her to never forget just how much he wanted to get her into one.

“We’re clear,” she was forced to say.

He ran a hand through his wet hair and glanced at the comfy bed. “This is probably a bad idea,” he said in a half groan. “We should just wait out the storm downstairs. We can get food down there as well.”

That wasn’t going to help her to get away from him! “You wait downstairs,” she quickly said. “I’ll take that hot bath you mentioned. Really. It will probably keep me from catching a cold.”

He stared at her for another long moment before he nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. She immediately heard the scraping of a key in the lock and ground her teeth in exasperation. Well, no wonder he’d so readily agreed. He knew damn well he’d be locking her in!

But Katey wasted no time in examining other options. The room had two windows that overlooked the street, and the street was empty because of the rain. One of those windows was even directly over the slanted porch roof at the front of the inn. And it wouldn’t be that far of a drop if she dangled from that roof.

Ten minutes later Boyd stood at that same window that Katey had left open in her escape. Although he’d tossed a coin to one of the inn workers downstairs to get his horse stabled, he could see out the window that the horse wasn’t where he’d left it and had a feeling Katey had gotten to it first. It was just as well.

As soon as he’d left the room and Katey’s presence, he’d started having doubts about her involvement in Judith’s abduction. It just didn’t feel right labeling her a criminal. She befriended animals, for God’s sake! And with that thought he began to think he’d wanted her to be guilty. Then he could put her from his mind, finally, as unworthy of his regard, and for a married woman, she’d been on his mind far too long as it was.

But whether he was making excuses for her now and she was actually guilty as sin, he wasn’t going to chase her down. Judith was safe now. And he couldn’t really bear the thought of Katey Tyler in jail.

Chapter Thirteen

KATEY RODE QUICKLY BACK to Northampton despite the rain. Halfway to her destination, she rode out of the storm. Although the road ahead of her was completely dry, the solid bank of clouds wasn’t breaking up. And while the clouds weren’t as dark as they were farther south, the rain could still drift north and drench her again. But that was the least of her worries.

The storm clouds were probably making it seem later than it was, but the day was still nearly gone. There was no way she could gather up her servants and her belongings and reach London before nightfall. She was afraid to travel that same highway again anyway because she didn’t want to risk running into Boyd again.

She’d delayed him by taking his horse, so she didn’t expect him to be right behind her. But she didn’t expect him to give up and go home, either. He’d proven to be too stubborn for that. But he wouldn’t find her in Northampton again. She’d leave his horse there for him to find, not that she felt the least bit guilty for taking it after what he’d done, but she’d have no further need for it once she was on the road in her coach again—heading in some other direction.

She made quite a sight riding into town wet and bedraggled, wearing a man’s jacket. Even her hair had come loose, and she hadn’t wasted time to stop to rebraid it. She probably should have. She was attracting far too many curious looks, though that might be because her calves were showing. Embarrassed, she dismounted so her legs would be properly covered again.

Leading the horse behind her now, Katey walked by the town’s marketplace, which reminded Katey just how hungry she was now.

The market was closing down for the night, not that she had any coins to buy anything. But a few customers were still making their purchases, and one woman was shouting at a fruit seller whose stand Katey was passing.

“Just point me toward the nearest docks, mon!”

“I’ve already told you, you dafty woman, we don’t have docks.”

“I ken ye dinna hae any, but which way tae the nearest town that does? Did I no’ say my husband is trying tae kill me? I hae tae leave the country, ye ken?”

Katey stopped in her tracks. She wasn’t just hearing an interesting shouting match. Was that the same Scotswoman she, Grace, and Judith had spent half the morning trying to lose? With the woman’s back to her, she couldn’t be sure. But having twice been accused by Boyd of being Geordie Cameron’s wife, she had a name now to put to Judith’s abductor. And here was a Scotswoman trying to escape her husband, which made her think of what Boyd had mentioned about Anthony Malory beating Cameron senseless over what the man’s wife had done.

Katey didn’t really have any doubts by then, which was why she stopped a young boy running past her and whispered for him to fetch the constable. She’d detain Mrs. Cameron until he got there, and she was angry enough not to care how she did it. The woman had stolen and mistreated a child, chased them all over Northampton and the surrounding area trying to get the child back, and if it wasn’t for her, Katey’s memories of Boyd Anderson wouldn’t be utterly ruined now. The woman wasn’t going to walk away from all the trouble she’d caused without retribution if Katey could help it.

She approached the woman from behind. “Mrs. Cameron?”

The Scotswoman swung around immediately. Katey almost laughed at how quickly the fruit seller took off in the opposite direction to escape any further harassment. And Katey had no trouble recognizing her now. Her hair was still in wild disarray, and her eyes had a wild look to them as well.

“How’d ye know my name, eh?” she demanded in the same belligerent tone she’d been using with the fruit seller. “From the inn? We paid for that room, though we should’ve got our money back. Bluidy lock was broken on the door!”

Katey realized the woman didn’t recognize her, but that didn’t surprise her. Her clothes soaked and disheveled, her hair wet and windblown, Katey looked nothing like she did that morning, and in fact, she probably looked as wildly unkempt as the Scotswoman.

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