“You are all unclothed, Kayne…you have not been out in this weather?”
“Aye,” he murmured.
“To find a measure of peace.”
Sorrow knifed through her, far more painful than what her body had just experienced. “Oh, Kayne,” she murmured sadly, stroking strands of wet hair from his face. “’Tis all my fault. I am so deeply ashamed and sorry.”
He shook his head. “You are not the one to blame, Sofia. It is my own sickness that makes me ill within. You are my only refuge from the misery of it. I need you, Sofia.” Whispering the words this time, he said again, “I need you. But if you tell me to leave, I will go at once. Indeed, I should go. I have no right to ask anything of you.”
Sofia swallowed heavily. “I want you to stay, Kayne. But I am afraid…!”
The Stolen Bride
Harlequin Historical #535
#536 SILK AND STEEL
#537 THE LAW AND MISS HARDISSON
#538 MONTANA MAN
The Stolen Bride
Susan Spencer Paul
Available from Harlequin Historicals and SUSAN SPENCER PAUL
*The Bride’s Portion (as Susan Paul) #266
*The Heiress Bride (as Susan Paul) #301
*The Bride Thief #373
*The Captive Bride #471
*The Stolen Bride #535
To my beautiful daughter, Carolyn,
who came up with the title for this book, and who fills each day of my life with joy.
“Nay, Father, I tell you I will have none of him. And I’ll not see him. Sir Griel must suffer the disappointment, I fear.”
With this, Sofia returned her attention to the needlework in her lap. She was perfectly calm.
Her father, however, stood in his place near the door, sweating profusely and wringing his hands.
“Sofia, you must come and speak with him,” Sir Malcolm pleaded. “You know what it means to overset Sir Griel. I beg you, daughter, only speak to him, show him a measure of sweetness, such as you alone can do. That will be enough to sate him for a time.”
Sofia was unmoved by this.
“Sir Griel is a violent, evil, untoward man, Father, and I’ve no wish to sate him in any way. What I desire is that he leave us in peace, for I vow I shall never wed him.” The thought made her visibly shudder. “Nothing could induce me to it.”
“God’s mercy,” her father said, shaking his head. “He’s brought twelve men. Twelve, Sofia, and all fully armed. They’re standing with him now in the great room below, awaiting your arrival. If you don’t go to him, he’ll wreak havoc. I know he will.”
“He only means to intimidate you, Father,” she said soothingly. “If you refuse to be thus cowed, he’ll leave you be, in time.”
“Nay, he’ll not leave at all, until you’ve come to speak to him,” her father insisted. “He has said so, and I’ve no desire to put such a challenge to the test.”
Sofia sighed loudly.
“Sofia, please,” Sir Malcolm begged.
She set her needlework aside and stood.
“There,” he said with relief. “That’s a good daughter you are, Sofia. A very good daughter. Make certain to tell Sir Griel that—”
“I shall bid him to the devil, my lord,” she stated, striding out of the room, “as I do every time I see him.”
Sir Griel Wallace was a dark, ominous man, short but muscular, with hair, beard and eyes as black as coal. He was standing near the large hearth in the great room as Sofia descended the stairs, and turned to watch with open appreciation as she approached. Just as her father had said, a dozen of Sir Griel’s fighting men were with him, standing on either side of the room, looking very much as if they had prepared for a battle.
Sofia could scarce blame her father for being so distressed at the sight of them. Sir Griel had clearly brought them with