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Michelle Willingham

Her Irish Warrior

Her Irish Warrior

Series: The MacEgan Brothers - Book #3


Click here to read Chapter 1

The Island of Erin, 1171

Genevieve de Renalt’s breath burned in her lungs as she ran. Every muscle in her body cried out with exhaustion, but she refused to stop. With every step, freedom came a little closer. But in the distance, she heard hoof beats approaching. He was coming for her.

I am such a fool, she thought. She needed a horse, supplies, and silver if she had any hope of success. But there had been no time. She had seen the opportunity to flee and had seized it. Even if her flight was doomed to failure, she had to try. 

This was her only chance to escape her betrothed, Sir Hugh Marstowe. The thought of Hugh was like a dull knife against an open wound, for she had loved him once. And now she would do anything to escape him.

Hugh kept his horse at an easy trot. He was playing with her, like a falcon circling its prey. He knew he could catch her with no effort at all. Instead, he wanted her to anticipate him. To fear him. 

He had controlled her for the past moon, deciding how she should behave as his future wife. She felt like a dog, cowering beneath his orders. Nothing she said or did was ever good enough for him. Her nerves tightened at the memory of his fists. 

Loathing surged through her. By the saints, even if her strength failed her, she had to leave. She stumbled through the forest, her sides aching, her body’s energy waning. Soon, she would have to stop running. She prayed to God for a miracle, for a way to save herself from this nightmare. If she stayed any longer, she feared she would become a shell of a woman with no courage, no life left in her at all. 

A patch of blackberry thorns slashed at her hands, the briars catching her cloak. The afternoon light had begun to fade, the twilight creeping steadily closer. Genevieve fought back tears of exhaustion, pulling at the briars until her hands were bloody. 

“Genevieve!” Hugh called out. His voice sent a coil of dread inside her. He had drawn his horse to a stop at the edge of the woods, letting her know how easy it would be to claim her. The sight of him made her stomach clench.

I won’t go back. Stubbornly, she pushed her way through the underbrush, past the gnarled walnut trees until she reached the clearing. Frost coated the grasses, and she stumbled to her knees while climbing the slippery hillside. 

A strange silence permeated the meadow. From her vantage point atop the hill, she caught a glimpse of movement. The dying winter grass revealed the presence of a man.

No, men, she realized. Irishmen dressed in colors to blend in with their surroundings. Behind them, at the bottom of the hill, she saw a single rider. The warrior sat atop his horse, his cloak pinned with an iron brooch the size of her palm. He did not reach for the sword at his side, but his stance grew alert. A hood concealed his face, and a quiet confidence radiated from him.

Tall and broad-shouldered, he watched her. She could not tell if he was a nobleman or a soldier, but he carried himself like a king. With a silent gesture to his men, they scattered and disappeared behind another hill. 

Her heart pounded, for he could strike her down with his sword. Nonetheless, she squared her shoulders and stared at the man. She walked toward him slowly, even as her brain warned her that warriors such as him did not treat women with mercy.

But he had a horse. A horse she needed, if there was any chance of escaping Hugh.

The man’s gaze locked with hers. If she screamed, it would alert Hugh to their presence. Precious seconds remained, and soon Hugh would overtake her.

“Please,” she implored him. “I need your help.” Her ragged voice sounded just above a whisper, and for a moment, she wondered if the soldier had heard her. Upon his cloak she noticed a Celtic design. This time, she repeated her request in Irish. The man’s posture changed, and after a moment that stretched into eternity, he turned his horse away. Within seconds he disappeared behind a hill, along with Genevieve’s hope.

***

Bevan MacEgan cursed himself for his weakness. From the moment she spoke, he had recognized the woman as a Norman. The familiar hatred rose within him, only to be startled by the desire to help her. 

She had awakened the ghost of a memory. With her face and dark hair, the first vision of her evoked a nightmare he’d tried to forget for two long years. He closed his eyes, willing himself to block her out.

But in the distance, he’d seen her fleeing, long before he had given the order for his men to hide among the hills. Her attacker did not intend to kill her. Were that the case, he could have done so already. No, the Norman’s intent was to capture the woman. 

And by turning away, Bevan had let it happen. 

He’d been forced to choose between the safety of his men and a woman he didn’t know. And though he knew he’d made the right decision, his sense of honor cringed. He was supposed to protect women, not let them come to harm.

If he interfered now, his battle plans could go awry. He dared not risk the lives of his men by giving away their position. Their attack depended upon the element of surprise. He needed to watch and wait for the right moment.

And yet, he found himself issuing orders. “I want five men to accompany me inside the fortress. Take the others and surround the outer palisade. At sunset, light the fires,” Bevan ordered.

“You’re going after her, aren’t you,” the captain of his men remarked.

“I am.”

“You cannot save them all. She is only a woman.”

“Do as I command.” He knew it was an unnecessary risk. But in the woman’s eyes, he had seen pure terror, the same terror in his wife’s eyes just before the enemy had taken her captive. And he’d felt the same helplessness now. 

Bevan chose the men who would accompany him and led them toward the fortress of Rionallís. It was his land, stolen by the invaders. With the help of his men, he meant to take it back.

Rionallís was not a rath, like the other fortresses but was slightly larger. Within it, he’d built an earth and timber castle, similar to the Norman style. He knew every inch of it and exactly how to penetrate its defenses.

At his command, the men moved into position. Bevan waited until they were ready and pushed away the brambles hiding the entrance to the souterrain passage. The secret tunnel led beneath the fortress, into the chambers used for storage. 

He glanced up at the donjon, silhouetted by a blood-red sunset. Inwardly, he prayed for victory.

The chill of the air within the stone souterrain passage surrounded him as he entered the fortress. Bevan had not been here for the past year and a half, and he noted the emptiness of the storage chambers. They should have been filled with bags of grain and clay-sealed containers of food. His people would suffer this winter unless he did something to help them.

Though he hadn’t known about the conquest of his lands until now, he blamed himself. He had allowed his grief to consume him while he’d hired his sword out, becoming a mercenary soldier. And last spring, the Normans had descended upon Rionallís like locusts, feeding off the labor of his people and desecrating his home. His small army was outnumbered, but he knew the territory well. He would stop at nothing to drive out his enemy.

When he reached the ladder leading into one of the stone beehive-shaped cottages, he paused. He wished he had not seen the Norman woman, her eyes filled with fear as she pleaded for help. It would have been easy to simply hate them all and kill them, spilling their blood for vengeance. But the woman complicated matters.

She was a pretty cailín, with a sweet face and deep blue eyes. An innocent, who deserved his protection. He had been unable to save his wife from her attackers. But he could save this woman.

It should have made him feel better. Instead, it added a further element of risk to an already dangerous attack. And yet, his mind grasped the possibilities. She would make a good hostage, providing him with the means to regain the fortress. Afterwards, he would grant her the freedom she so desired.

Bevan climbed the ladder, surprising the inhabitants of the cottage. He held a finger to his lips, knowing his people would never betray him. The blacksmith moved toward his hammer in an unspoken promise to give aid, if needed. 

At the entrance to the hut, Bevan counted the number of enemy soldiers in the courtyard. He would enter the fortress tonight, he decided. And Rionallís would be his once more.

***

“Genevieve, I am glad to see you safe.” Sir Hugh embraced her while Genevieve fought to breathe. Her strength had given out, and he had caught her at last. She held back tears of frustration, her skin freezing cold. 

Dark memories assaulted her, and she knew what he would do. She closed off her mind from her body, for it was the only way she could bear the pain.

There was no one left to help her. Her father had sent close friends of his, Sir Peter of Harborough and his wife, to act as guardians until his arrival. He might as well not have sent anyone at all. Both were blind to Hugh’s deeds. They saw only the strong leader, a man respected by his soldiers. 

When she’d complained of Hugh’s punishments, Sir Peter had only shrugged. “A man has the right to discipline his wife,” he’d said. But she was not Hugh’s wife, not yet. And nothing she said would convince them of any wrongdoing. 

Her father’s men refused to interfere. The last man who had tried to shield her from a beating was discovered dead a few days later. The soldiers obeyed Hugh without question, emptiness in their eyes. They were afraid of him, and he knew it. 

“I feared for you, out here alone.” Hugh pressed a kiss upon her temple. The gesture felt like a brand, burning into her skin. His words mocked her attempt to escape, seemingly gentle. But she recognized the hardened edge to his voice, the promise of punishment.

Possession dominated his blue eyes, his dark gold hair cut short. She had once thought him handsome. But his heart was as cold as the chain mail covering his strong form.

She steadied herself. “Let me go home to my family, Hugh. I am not the wife you need.”

He cupped her chin, his fingers tightening over her flesh. “You will learn to be the wife I need.”

“There are other women, wealthier than I.” She could not meet his gaze when his hand moved lower, to her waist.

“None of such high rank.” His palm spanned her back, his thumb brushing against a bruise that had not healed. “None with land such as Rionallís.” His voice grew tinged with ambition. “Here, I can become a king. These Irishmen are primitive with no knowledge of what it means to fight.” His mouth curved upward. “And you will reign at my side. The king has commanded it.”

She said nothing. Hugh’s prowess on the battlefield had earned him King Henry’s favor. When he had offered for her and received the king’s blessing, Genevieve had fallen prey to his flattery. She’d begged her reluctant father for a betrothal after believing Hugh’s false words. Now, she wished she had remained silent.

Hugh lifted her atop his horse, mounting behind her. At the contact of his body against hers, she shuddered with revulsion. He spurred the horse onward, his harsh embrace imprisoning her. When the fortress came into view, the last vestiges of her courage died. 

Denial and panic warred within her. Was there anything else she could do to stop this wedding? More than anything, she needed her father’s help. Each day she prayed to see his colors flying, heralding the arrival of his entourage. And still he had not come. 

They rode beneath the gate, and she did not miss the pitying looks upon the faces of the Irish. Hugh dismounted and forced her to accompany him. “You must be weary,” he said. “I will escort you to your chamber.”

Genevieve knew what would happen as soon as they reached the chamber. Closing her eyes, she searched for an excuse, any means to delay the inevitable punishment.

“I am hungry,” she said. “Might I have something to eat beforehand?”

“I will have food sent above stairs. After we discuss your . . . journey.” Hugh gripped Genevieve’s arm with a strength that reminded her of the retribution to come. Her eyes filled with unshed tears. She would not grant him the satisfaction of making her weep. 

She concentrated on the pain of Hugh squeezing her arm as he directed her up the stairs and toward the chamber. He bolted the door behind them with a heavy wooden bar. Alone, he stood and watched her. 

“Why did you run from me?”

She didn’t answer. What could she say? 

“Don’t you know I will always come for you? You are mine to protect.” He caressed her hair, tangling the strands in his fingers. She stood motionless, trying not to look at him.

“The king has summoned us to Tara,” Hugh said, releasing her suddenly. “We will be married there within a few days.” Pride swelled within him. “He may grant me more land, as a wedding gift to both of us.”

Leaning down, he brushed a kiss upon her closed mouth. “Do not look so glum. It will not be long now.”

His claim was not at all reassuring. She had been thankful that King Henry had delayed Hugh’s earlier requests to come. Political alliances with the Irish kings took precedence. Now her time had run out.

“I will not marry without my father.”

“Thomas de Renalt will come.” His expression tightened. “He should have arrived by now.”

“He was ill,” Genevieve argued. Her father had ordered her to continue on to Rionallís without him. With an escort of soldiers and her guardians, Papa had believed her to be safe. Genevieve had bribed a priest to send missives, pleading with her father to end the betrothal. She had sent the last one only a sennight ago. But Thomas de Renalt had given no reply, and she feared Hugh might have intercepted the messages.

“I will not wait on him any longer.” Hugh shook his head. “I know not what the earl’s intentions are, but the betrothal documents are signed. With or without him, I will wed you.”

“I will never wed you,” she swore. “I care not what the king says.”

His fist struck the back of her head. Pain exploded, ringing in her ears, but Genevieve refused to cry out. 

“You have not lost your spirit, have you?” Hugh remarked.

She swallowed hard, wishing she had not provoked him. She knew better than to fight him for his strength was far greater than hers. If she offered her obedience, he was often more lenient in the punishment. She struggled to force back the words of defiance.

Then he smiled, the cruel smile she had grown to despise. 

“Remove your garments.”

Bile rose in her throat at the thought of him holding her down. For the past few weeks, he had gloried in humiliating her. If she refused his commands, he beat her until she could no longer stand. Though he had not breached her maidenhead yet, she knew it was but a matter of time. Fear pulsed through her at the thought.

When she did not obey, Hugh struck her stomach, causing her to double over. She clutched her side, unable to stop the moan of agony from her lips. Was this what her life would become? Would she surrender everything to this man, letting him dominate her? 

She closed her eyes, afraid it would be so. Though another woman might consider ending her life, Genevieve did not want to risk eternal damnation. She’d not let him take possession of her soul as well.

He unsheathed his dagger and her heart nearly stopped when she saw the blade. In a swift slice, he cut the laces until her kirtle pooled at her feet. Clad only in her shift, Genevieve tried to cover herself.

“You belong to me, Genevieve.” He set the dagger upon a table, moving toward her. Genevieve’s glance darted toward the weapon. She avoided another blow and let herself fall against the table. The dagger clattered to the floor.

“Please,” she whispered, “I am sorry.” It was not true, but the apology might slow his fists. Her head ached, blood trickling down her cheek.

He began to strip his own clothes away, revealing a muscle-hardened body. “No. You are not sorry. But you will be.”

He closed the distance between them. “It’s time you learned how to be an obedient wife.” His fingers closed around her nape in a gesture of control. “Soon, Genevieve,” he promised. He kissed her roughly, bruising her lips until she tasted blood. “You have no idea the pleasure I can bring you.”

“No,” she whispered.

“I do not wish to force you,” he said, his fingers suddenly gentle. “I could have taken you at any time, were that my intention. But I am a patient and forgiving man. Give yourself to me willingly, and I shall teach you the rewards of obedience.” His hand curled beneath her jaw. “I know you better than you know yourself. You want my touch, though you fight me.”

Never. At the thought of his hands upon her, nausea pooled in her stomach. She lifted her chin and stared into his ruthless blue eyes. His handsome face repulsed her, and she spat at him. “I hate you.”

Hugh’s hands curled up with rage. Fury flashed in his expression, and he struck her cheek. She turned at the last second, falling to her knees. She shut out the pain, her hand closing around the fallen dagger. Before Hugh could see what she had done, she hid the weapon behind her in the folds of her shift.

Genevieve tightened her grip upon the dagger. The hilt felt cold in her palm, its unfamiliar weight awkward. She didn’t know if she had the courage to use it. A thousand doubts filled her mind, but she clung to the thread of survival.

A furious pounding sounded upon the door. Genevieve’s glance darted toward it. 

Hugh cursed and donned his tunic before opening the door. “What is it?”

“An attack, my lord,” the servant informed him. “Irish invaders have set fire to the outer palisade.”

Hugh snarled to Genevieve, “Stay here.” Within seconds, she was alone. Fate had granted her a reprieve. Genevieve laid her cheek against the wall. It felt as though she could blend in with the wood and plaster, so cold was she. Her fingers clutched the linen of her shift, as though the thin fabric could somehow shield her from Hugh’s return. No relief filled her, for he would come back. And then his punishment would start anew.

She could feel the old fears coming back to taunt her. She let go of the dagger, the opportunity to defend herself gone. Her hair hung down around her face. Blood matted the back of her scalp, so she removed her veil. Her dark hair would hide the injury.

Below, she could hear the men shouting commands. She rested her forehead on her knees, trying to gather her strength. If they were under siege, she had another chance to get away. But she could not remain idle.

Wearily, she rose to her feet. Her body ached, and she wondered if Hugh had broken her ribs this time. It hurt to breathe. Her kirtle lay on the floor where it had fallen. Genevieve winced as she leaned over to pick it up. The stabbing pain eased when she straightened and slipped the gown over her shift. The laces were destroyed, but it would keep her warm for now.

You must leave, she told herself. Now was her opportunity, and she could not let it go.

A strange noise caught her attention. She turned toward a large tapestry hanging upon the wall. It rippled for an instant. Genevieve backed away, not knowing what the movement was. Instinct told her to be on guard. She took the dagger in her hand once more. 

A man emerged from behind the tapestry, fully armed with a sword at his side. He wore trews and a moss-colored belted tunic that fell in folds to his knees. She recognized the large iron brooch pinning his cloak. It was the soldier from the hillside. A quiet authority resonated from his stance, but her anger remained. He had not helped her when she’d needed him most.

“Who are you?” she asked, holding the dagger steady. His hair, black as the devil’s soul, flowed across his shoulders. A thin scar, long ago healed, marred one cheek. 

“I am Bevan MacEgan.” Beneath his tunic she saw the outline of heavy muscle. It occurred to her that he might be a more dangerous threat than Hugh. 

“And what is your name, a chara?“ He crossed his arms, waiting for her answer. Deep green eyes regarded her as though judging her worth. 

Her mouth went dry. “I am Genevieve de Renalt.”

MacEgan stared at her for a moment, his gaze noting her injuries. “What happened to you?”

Genevieve suddenly remembered her torn kirtle, and she shielded her body as best she could. “I was punished for running away.” 

“By whom?” 

Genevieve hesitated, but answered truthfully. “Sir Hugh Marstowe.”

“And why was he hunting you?”

“Because I refused to give myself to him.” 

His eyes turned cold like the frost-laced granite stones that lined the hills. “I could kill him for you, should that be your desire.”

“You missed your opportunity.” Heat rose in her cheeks, along with anger that threatened to break loose. “I could have been safely away from him by now. But you stood by and did nothing.”

“It’s not over yet,” he said quietly. “And I am here now.”

He was nothing more than an intruder, a man who had abandoned her. But she saw something in his expression when he spoke, something unexpected—sincerity. He might be a rugged barbarian intent upon conquering Rionallís, but the timbre of his voice and the brutal honesty in his face made her reconsider.

It was better than waiting on Hugh to return, she decided. Given the choice between staying here or going with a stranger, she would rather take her chances with Bevan MacEgan.

“If you will see me to safety, that will be enough,” she said crisply, lowering the dagger. “How did you get inside?” 

He pulled the tapestry aside, revealing a narrow space. A single rope hung down the passageway inside the wall. “You don’t expect me to go down that way,” she said, her throat tightening at the thought of the sheer drop.

“No. I will take you another way. His expression changed into a mask of determination. “Come.” 

“Where?”

“Below stairs. I have a condition before I grant your request.” 

“What condition?”

“You will be my hostage.”

For a moment, she hesitated. She knew nothing about this man, and there was a chance he could harm her. 

But he had come back, answering her earlier plea. It seemed she had little choice. “You won’t deliver me into his hands, will you?”

“No. But you may help to grant us more time.”

“Why are you attacking the fortress?” she asked. 

“I am the rightful owner of Rionallís.” 

She decided that now was not the time to inform him that Rionallís was part of her dowry. Especially when she relied upon him for her freedom. He would learn it soon enough.

Her hands closed on the wooden bar, but MacEgan grasped her waist and pulled her aside. At his touch, she gasped with pain. She bit her lip until she had control of herself. 

“I will go first,” he said. “Then you.”

He opened the door and she clutched at her torn kirtle, reluctant to face Hugh. A dark side of her wished fervently that Hugh would fall to MacEgan’s blade. Without him, life could go back to the way it had been before. 

After noting that it was safe, MacEgan pulled her into the hallway. Genevieve saw other men, armed and ready. He gave a sharp command in Irish, an order to follow him and guard their backs. With his hand upon her neck, he guided Genevieve down the winding stairs until they reached the Great Chamber. He positioned a knife at her throat. “Do not flinch. I would not have my blade slice your skin.”

It seemed strange that she should feel safe with him. A sense of calm descended upon her, because he was giving her a second chance at escape. 

When the Norman guards caught sight of them, they moved to defend her.

“Come no closer,” MacEgan said, and they held their weapons steady. Genevieve searched the Great Chamber for Hugh but saw no sign of him. It made her uneasy.

“Tell Sir Hugh I wish to speak with him,” MacEgan commanded. One of the soldiers departed, and he guided Genevieve in front of him. She waited agonizing moments for Hugh to appear. The blade had warmed beneath her skin, and she dared not move. At the touch of MacEgan’s hand upon her nape, her skin prickled. 

The soldiers held their weapons in readiness, but she could tell from their expressions that they would not act until Hugh gave the command.

But Hugh did not come. Instead, Sir Peter Harborough came forward. His graying hair was disheveled, his armor stained with sweat and blood. “Release her,” he commanded. He reached to draw his sword. 

“Sir Peter, wait!” Genevieve cried out. 

MacEgan held the knife at her throat. “If you do not wish her to die, I would suggest you call off the men. And I want to see Sir Hugh.”

Genevieve watched the soldiers, wondering when her betrothed would emerge from the shadows. No doubt he was near.

Sir Peter’s expression held a combination of fury and hesitation. After a moment, he sheathed his weapon. “Damned Irish. Haven’t the sense to know when they’re conquered.” He caught the glance of another soldier and ordered, “Bring in the prisoner.”

MacEgan grew alert. Genevieve had not known of a captive. When the prisoner was brought in, she saw a lad of hardly more than four and ten. He was skinny with reddish-gold hair and a stubble of fuzz covering his cheeks. His head hung down, as though he were ashamed of himself.

MacEgan exploded with anger. He spoke in Irish, likely to keep the others from understanding him.

“What were you thinking, Ewan? I told you to stay at Laochre.”

The boy drew back. “I am sorry, Bevan. I thought—“

“You thought you could join in our fight? And how long did it take for them to capture you?”

The boy’s face reddened.

Genevieve could hold her silence no longer. “Leave him be. He is only a boy.”

“Who may not live to be a man if he behaves in such a fashion.” MacEgan’s grip tightened upon her, and his tension became palpable. 

Sir Peter revealed a smile of victory. “And so, we come to the terms, MacEgan. You shall call off your men, return the lady Genevieve unharmed, and in exchange, we will release the boy.”

“What if I refuse?”

“That is your choice, of course. But you are outnumbered.” Sir Peter gave a nod toward the opposite wall where archers waited with bows drawn. “We could kill you before your men could release their weapons.”

Although Sir Peter was trying to protect her, Genevieve wanted to curse the man. He had spent nearly each day of the past two moons drinking ale and eating. Not a finger had he lifted to guard her from Hugh. But the moment an Irishman tried to rescue her, he decided to play the role of savior.

“This fortress was mine, long before the Normans took it,” MacEgan said. “The people are loyal to me. It would not be long before a dagger would slide between your ribs one night.”

Sir Peter shrugged. “That is Marstowe’s concern, not mine. My purpose is to guard the Lady Genevieve until her marriage.”

“You seem to be doing a poor job of it.”

Rage exploded upon the man’s face, and Bevan’s grip tightened around her. She held her breath, afraid of the knife at her throat. Though she didn’t believe he would hurt her, the slightest pressure could make the blade slip.

Where was Hugh? Genevieve did not trust him to stay out of this. Had he run? Or was he plotting against them?

She caught a slight movement from the shadows. The gleam of an arrow tip reflected in the firelight. Out of instinct, she pushed backward against MacEgan with all her strength, just as the arrow fired. The shaft grazed MacEgan’s shoulder and would have struck her, had she not moved in time. 

The knife left her throat for an instant, and strong arms dragged her away. 

“Seize him!” a voice commanded.

Five guards took hold of MacEgan. He fought back, slashing with his dagger, but there were too many of them. Genevieve tried to free herself from Sir Peter’s grasp, but he held firm. After a fierce struggle, they disarmed him. Seconds later, Hugh emerged from the shadows. At the sight of him, Genevieve’s blood ran cold. The expression on his face appeared tender and loving. Genevieve knew the act well.

He took her in his arms and touched the soft part of her throat where the blade had rested. “I will kill him for touching you.” Unsheathing his dagger, he stared at MacEgan. “Perhaps I shall slit his throat now.”

Genevieve closed her eyes, knowing that none of the prisoners would be released. 

Hugh traced a finger down her jaw. The gesture made her skin crawl. “But I would rather have him suffer for what he has done. On the morrow, I will have him executed, so that all will know not to attack Rionallís. He can watch the younger one hang first.”

Genevieve turned to him, unable to hide her hatred. “I thought you would let the boy go.”

“I let no one escape who attacks what is mine. Return to your chamber and bolt the door.” He clapped Sir Peter on the shoulder. “Thank you for defending her.”

“It was no trouble.” Sir Peter’s hand returned to his sword. “Shall we rid ourselves of the rest of them?”

Hugh inclined his head. To his soldiers, he ordered, “Secure the outer bailey. Spare no one.” With those words, Hugh donned his helm and left. 

Genevieve forced herself to go above stairs, each step heavier than the last. She could not allow MacEgan to die, not after he had tried to save her. She cradled her arms against her sore ribs, remembering the hungry look in Hugh’s eyes. He had enjoyed hurting her. Her hands moved down to her hips, and she trembled in fear, knowing exactly how he had intended to hurt her this time. 

She had one last chance. She would find a way to save MacEgan and his brother, even if it meant risking her death.

Summary:

Genevieve de Renalt will do anything to escape her betrothed—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Irish warrior Bevan MacEgan cannot leave a lady in danger, but keeping her safe means endangering his own family. The king orders him to wed Genevieve to avoid bloodshed, but Bevan has sworn never to love again.

He keeps Genevieve at a distance but, as she begins to melt his heart, a shocking secret forces Bevan to make a terrible choice—one that could mean losing her forever.
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