How to Capture a Duke(10)

By: Bianca Blythe



Once they were at the castle, well then they would be so grateful she intended them no harm that they would help her. Neither the driver nor the gentleman appeared to be from Yorkshire. She could get away with this.

Something like hope fluttered in her chest. Perhaps, just perhaps, this would be worthwhile.

Fiona thought of mosaic fragments and ancient civilizations and her dear grandmother. She held the gun steady and flung her curls. She channeled every single story from Loretta Van Lochen and raised her voice. “They call me the Scarlet Demon.”

Both men’s eyes widened, and she attempted her very best snarl.





Chapter Four




So much for a quick dash to his new estate and back to grab the jewels. He should have trusted a servant to bring them after all. He hadn’t liked the thought of appearing weak before the dowager, but finding himself in this position rather seemed to epitomize weakness.

Blast.

So much for not protesting when the mail coach guard fell ill, in some mad attempt to not draw attention to the value of what he was transporting and to arrive in London on time. His nostrils flared. How on earth had the woman found him?

Double blast.

Everyone knew forests in remote areas were dangerous. Everyone knew the war had made people more and more desperate as the economy had plummeted, and everyone knew local magistrates struggled to control their respective districts, when all their strong young men battled overseas.

She was mad if she thought he would give anything to her. His grandmother’s sapphire ring, his great-grandmother’s pearls, and a few other pieces the dowager spoke in raptures about, but which he had never quite managed to keep straight, were intended for somebody else.

He pulled his gaze from the woman to the dark trees that loomed behind her. Thick pine trees that smelled like Christmas, and nothing like the nightmare he’d been hurled into, stretched overhead. The dark green needles and sweet-scented pine cones conjured images of yule logs, long days of sledding with a cousin who no longer existed, and mince pies. Slender trees stretched beside the pines. Their leaves were gone, the branches ready for snow to descend on them. They ranged from a cold white to a warmer amber, and he focused his attention on the spaces between their branches. Maybe he might spot another thief and see just how many people were robbing them.

The Scarlet Demon raised her chin. “I’ve got four other men with me.”

“Indeed.”

“They’re large men,” she said. “Very muscular.”

“And armed?” Graeme asked her, his eyes wide.

She nodded gravely. “We were able to overtake a wagon filled with army supplies last week.”

“Oh?” Graeme’s lower lip appeared to be trembling.

Percival fought the urge to bite back a laugh. Clearly a viper-tongued woman was all it took to dissipate Graeme’s arrogance.

“Yes.” The highwaywoman nodded her head again.

“Is that so?”

“It is indeed.”

“And you managed to overtake the British army’s wagon?” Graeme stammered.

“Indeed.” The woman paused. “You don’t want me to call for my men. Any signal from me is a signal for utter destruction. My men are fearful of being identified. If you obey, you can escape with your lives. If not, the men will come forward, and if they’re recognized, they’ll have to kill you.”

“We won’t recognize them,” Percival said.

She tossed her head. “They won’t believe you.”

A series of loud shots fired from the forest. Percival stiffened, his chest constricting, and the Scarlet Demon only smiled. “Those are my men now.”

“Don’t kill us,” Graeme pleaded.

“It would be amusing.” The Scarlet Demon tapped her long, slender fingers together, and then exhaled. “But I don’t want that to happen. You’re very fortunate—I have another thing you can help me with.”

“We’ll do anything!” Graeme cried. “Anything at all.”

Percival scanned the forest again. “It’s possible she might not actually have a swarm of men hidden—”

The woman swung towards him. “How do you think my hair turned so red?”

“Blood!” Graeme gasped. “I always knew redheads weren’t trustworthy.”

Percival fought the urge to roll his eyes in the face of the woman’s earnestness and Graeme’s credulity.

The woman’s face tightened, but she simply replied, “Then sir, you are a very wise man indeed.”

Graeme’s chest jutted out.

“What do you want?” Percival finally asked.

She hadn’t referred to him as His Grace yet. If there was a chance she did not know his identity, he wasn’t going to tell her. He was thankful he’d kept the fact a secret from Graeme. Who knows what she might do with the information. They could overpower her, but he rather doubted he and Graeme could tackle four strong, muscular men.

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