New Cafferty & Quinn!
Zebra Books, Mass Market Paperback
March 2002, ISBN 0-8217-6928-6
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After her husband Afton, Lord of Langley, falls prey to a deadly plague, Englishwoman Igrainia finds herself a captive in her own castle...held hostage by a Scottish warrior Eric Graham, whose wife and son--prisoners of Lord Langley--have also perished there.
To Graham, Igrainia is merely a political pawn, a pretty prize to dangle in front of the English king. But when the king refuses a trade--Igrainia for the wife of Scotland's ruler Robert the Bruce--Graham forces Igrainia to marry him, though the proud noblewoman would rather rot in her own dungeons than accept one gesture of kindness from her captor.
What Graham never expects is the desire that his strong-willed bride stirs in his soul. And when Igrainia discovers the true heart of the fearsome knight, her life--and loyalties--will never be the same...
LESSER OF TWO EVILS?
She looked around the great hall. It seemed as if they were all casting glances her way. Glances that were filled with consternation and sorrow.
Eric had returned with some news regarding her, obviously, and they were all talking about it.
Sounds could be picked up and echoed, and heard across the room. She caught whispered syllables of their words.
With mounting horror, she put them together.
She is to be murdered.
Weakness filled her limbs. Murdered. Her death was to be one of the "events" taking place at Langley tonight. This was a drastic measure. Not even King Edward had executed his female hostages. And now, Eric wanted her to go upstairs so that he could tell her alone, so that she could get some dignity together, compose herself so that her screams wouldn't create an uprising within the castle.
"Igrainia," Eric said, "Jarrett will escort you up."
She shook her head, facing him. "No. Find the courage to tell me here and now."
"The courage?" He arched a brow.
"Tell me now," she said, her limbs like ice. "Am I to be killed?"
"Killed?" Eric repeated, frowning and startled. He shook his head, lowering it, a dry, curious smile curving his lips. "No, my lady, I have not returned with any intent to do murder, legal, royal, or other."
"I overheard the men talking. You don't need to disguise what is happening to me. If I am to be executed, murdered, simply say so."
His smile deepened, and once again, he shook his head. "So you hear them speaking, but I'm afraid you didn't hear correctly. You're not to be murdered. You are to be married."
* * *