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Loved By a Warrior

By:Donna Fletcher

name. I wish only to slip away into oblivion and let everyone assume what they may.”

“More than likely they will assume you dead, your bride price stolen.”

“That would be best . . . for all.”

Reeve could not imagine slipping away from his family, leaving them to believe him dead. Besides, if there was no body to be found, his parents and his brothers Duncan, Trey, and Bryce would search until they found him and then bury him on MacAlpin soil where he belonged. Was there no one who loved her enough to make certain of her fate? Or would her family be relieved that they were finally rid of her?

He watched her gather a few of her belongings and some clothing, rolling them up in a dark green wool blanket and tying it with gold cord that she stripped from one of the garments she was leaving behind.

He was surprised that no servant maid had been sent along with her. That she worked without complaint and not asked for help made him wonder if she was accustomed to tending to herself.

Reeve had to smile. She was certainly sturdy enough to handle chores, not petite like his brother Duncan’s wife, Mercy. Mercy could stand behind her husband and not be seen; that was how tiny she was, or perhaps that was how big Duncan was.

Tara was no wee woman. He was a good two inches over six feet, and her head reached past his chin. She wasn’t slim and certainly not weighty, though there was solidness to her. Her red dress displayed her plentiful bosoms nicely though it failed to distinguish her other curves. So, naturally, he couldn’t help but wonder what lay beneath all that red velvet. Narrow waist, full hips? He loved full hips, loved the feel of thick flesh in his hand when a woman rode him.

Why?

The question echoed in his head. Why was he thinking about this now? He almost laughed since the answer was simple. He was a man, and men enjoyed drinking in the beauty of women. Yet Tara wasn’t a beauty, attractive, but he’d seen far more beautiful woman. Duncan’s wife being one of them. Why, then, did he find her enjoyable to gaze upon?

“I’m ready,” she said.

Reeve reached out to take her bundle from her, but she ignored his offer and slipped the cord over her head so the rolled blanket could rest against her back. She certainly was an independent lass. Another trait he admired.

“The bride price?” Reeve asked, not having seen her retrieve any coins or jewels.

“I have it. And you’ll receive it when I am safely ensconced in my new home.”

Chapter 2

“And your name?” Tara asked, intending to remain focused on the immediate situation as they kept a steady gait. If she allowed her mind to wander off in memories, as it so often did, she’d be in tears soon enough. And if there was a time that she truly required her wits about her, it certainly was now.

“Reeve,” he answered.

“Of the clan?” she asked wanting further clarification of the man she had entrusted with her life.

“What does it matter?”

Tara knew he was merely mimicking her own response to his similar query. And he was right. She should have thought of ascertaining that information before asking for his help.

“You’re right. It makes no difference,” she said. What did make a difference was that she believed him an honorable man. And that was the only thing that kept her feeling safe, though the dirk she had slipped into her fur-lined boot also helped her feel safe. So did the fact that she knew how to use it.

The few inches of snow crunched beneath their footfalls, and the air was crisp, but, then, it was the deep of winter. And they were in the Highlands, the precious, beautiful Highlands that she loved so dearly. She had not wanted to leave her home. She had not wanted this arranged marriage, but her father had insisted. She would have much preferred to have remained living the solitary life she had planned on since her last husband had died three years ago, when she was barely twenty.

However, her father had a different idea, and so she had been sent from her home to wed a man she had never met and had never wanted to wed. It seemed, however, that fate had interfered and had sent someone to rescue her, and she couldn’t be more relieved.

She cast a quick peek Reeve’s way. Strong, bold lines made up his fine features. And no doubt many a woman thought him handsome, and rightfully so. He had dark, piercing eyes that just about matched his long, dark hair. Thick braids entwined with the wool stripes the color of his plaid, red and black, hung at the sides of his angular face. His lean body wore his black shirt and plaid well, and he had wrapped an additional plaid around himself for warmth, draping one end over his shoulder.

He was lean in body though not by any means lacking in strength. That had been obvious from the way he had so easily handled the thieves. Add to that an unwavering confidence, and that made him a man who stood out amongst men and one much sought after by women, though not her.

She couldn’t allow herself to think of him in any terms other than her rescuer. She had been lucky that he had happened her way and had unknowingly provided her with an escape and a good one at that. Surely, her father would believe her dead, her bride price stolen, and he, as well as she, would be free at last. And sadly, she wondered if he would be relieved.

Enough dwelling; she needed to remain focused on the present situation, and so she asked, “You know where you will take me?”

Reeve nodded. “That I do.”

“Is it far?”

“Four or five days’ journey at most.”

“Far removed from people?” she asked.

Reeve stopped abruptly, a

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