Home > Highlander Most Wanted (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #2)(3)

Highlander Most Wanted (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #2)(3)
Author: Maya Banks

“Cowardly bastard,” she spat, startling all four of the men with her vehemence—and the base language. Not that any disagreed with her assessment.

“ ’Tis the lass who directed us to the dungeon where Eveline was being held,” Brodie said in a low enough voice not to be overheard.

The hairs at Bowen’s nape prickled and stood on end. Aye, ’twas so. When Graeme had despaired of uncovering his wife’s whereabouts, the shadowy, caped figure had appeared at the stairs and directed them below, where they’d indeed discovered where Eveline was being held prisoner.

“Is what the lad saying true?” Bowen directed at the lass. “Has Patrick McHugh fled, leaving his clan and his keep to fall as they may?”

The lass went still, her hands leaving the lad to curl into tight fists at her sides. If her body language was any indication, she was furious.

“Aye,” she said coldly. “All that is left are the women and children, those who are old and cannot travel, and the warriors who have wives and children they refused to leave. The others left at dawn.”

“And where are those who remained?” Brodie persisted.

“Inside the keep. Huddled in the great hall, wondering if each breath will be their last,” she said in a disdainful voice.

Something about the lass’s tone rubbed Brodie the wrong way, and it irritated him fully that she was hiding her face from him.

“Remove the hood, lass,” he ordered. “I’d know who it is I speak with.”

She froze, her hands lowering to her sides until they pressed against the skirts of her dress. Did she dare openly defy him in front of his men and the Armstrongs as well?

His expression darkened and his lips thinned. “Do as I have ordered,” he snapped.

With shaking hands, she pushed the lad behind her and then slowly lifted her fingers to the edges of the hood. She was turned so that her right side was presented to him and his men, and as she lowered the hood from over her head a gasp went up behind Brodie.

Jesu, but the woman was beautiful. Perhaps the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen in his life. Her features were rendered with perfection.

Long brown hair fell in waves over her shoulders. There were varying shades mixed in and, with the sunlight beating down on her, the different colors were highlighted in a dazzling array. He’d thought the lass had raven hair the first time he’d seen her. She’d been in the darkness of the keep and only the barest strands had peeked from her cape. But here, in the full glory of the sun, it was evident that her hair was not simply plain black. Nay, it was a magnificent mane of hair that seemed to change color depending on the way she moved and the source of light.

Her bone structure was small and delicate, her cheek high and her jawline firm, leading to a perfect bow of a mouth. A dark eyebrow arched, and long eyelashes heavily fringed the vivid wash of green.

It felt as though someone had punched him solidly in the gut, for he could not draw breath. His men were no less affected as they gaped at the sheer perfection before them.

Why on earth had she taken such pains to hide her beauty?

Then she turned to face him, her mouth set into a firm line, her eyes wounded and guarded, as though preparing herself for further reaction.

Another gasp—this time of horror—echoed harshly through the air. Bowen recoiled, as though he’d been struck and he hadn’t been prepared for the blow.

The other side of the lass’s face was … ruined.

A jagged scar ran the length of her face, starting at her temple and ending at the corner of her mouth. ’Twas obvious no care had been taken in the stitching of it. There was no smoothness to the scar and it was equally obvious that the wound had not been inflicted so very long ago.

He saw her flinch at the reaction of his men—at his own reaction—and it shamed him. But close on the heels of regret came … rage. Already furious at the turn of events and all that he’d learned since his arrival, he grew even angrier as he stared upon the lass.

“What the hell happened to your face, lass?” he demanded.

Chapter 3

Color suffused the side of her face that wasn’t scarred. Humiliation dulled her eyes, and Bowen felt a twinge of regret for so baldly stating his demand for information.

She was quite possibly the most fascinating female Bowen had ever laid eyes on. One side of her face was impossibly perfect. The other was a complete tragedy.

Curiosity burned in his veins, making him impatient and edgy. He wanted to demand the whole of it. Whether it was an accident or done apurpose. The shame in her eyes hinted at something as dark and sinister as the scar itself, and it made him all the more determined to ferret out the truth.

“By what name are you called?” Bowen asked, switching tactics when it became obvious that no reply was forthcoming.

’Twas obvious that she wasn’t comfortable on the topic of her scar, and there was plenty more information he needed in light of the developments within the McHugh clan.

“Genevieve,” she answered softly.

It was as beautiful a name as the one side of her face was. A name to match the woman she surely must have been before the other side of her face was flayed open by a blade.

“Genevieve McHugh?”

Her chin came up, her eyes glazing over, becoming unreadable.

“Just Genevieve. Who I was is of no import, for I am that woman no longer.”

Teague’s eyebrows went up at the cryptic statement. Brodie and Aiden were equally taken aback.

“Well then Genevieve, it would appear as though you are acting as the spokesman for your clan. Take us within to meet the remainder of the McHugh clan, so I can decide what is to be done with them.”

Genevieve’s lips twisted in scorn, her eyes sparking with anger.

“Your arrogance is misplaced, good sir. These people had naught to do with the mistreatment of Eveline Montgomery. They are as much a victim of Ian’s and Patrick’s cowardice as Eveline herself.”

Brodie stepped forward, his lips curled into a snarl. “I doubt they were imprisoned in a dungeon and tormented with their fate. My sister was ill-used by Ian McHugh for years. He has long acted as her tormentor.”

Genevieve eyed Brodie with a level gaze. “There are many kinds of torment, sir. Nay, the clansmen were not imprisoned in a dungeon. Nay, they weren’t threatened or subjected to the kind of abuse Eveline was. I am sorry for her. I would not wish Ian McHugh on my worst enemy.”

Her face flashed with pain and a sorrow so deep and gut-wrenching that it bathed Bowen with discomfort. Her distress radiated like a beacon, and it was instinctive to comfort her in some way.

He extended his hand, his intention to touch her arm, but she shied instantly away and stared warily at him as she put careful distance between herself and him.

“Never think they have not suffered, though,” Genevieve continued. “They have long endured without a strong leader. Patrick was laird in name only. Ian was a bully who thrived on making others fear him. His own father feared him. Anyone who dared to speak out or disagree with Ian suffered dearly for the perceived slight.”

“Aye, I believe it,” Teague said grimly. “ ’Tis not a pretty picture that has been painted over the last while. We learned of his character from Eveline. Anyone who would torment a sweet, young lass at such a tender age is a monster who should be consigned to hell.”

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