Scoundrel's Vengeance by Sky Purington
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing
Date of Publication: July 23, 2020
Number of pages: 175
Word Count: 48K
Tagline: A scandalous second-chance romance rife with passion, intrigue, and a life-altering secret.
Despondent from years of war, Keenan returns home to find his clan has been reduced not only in numbers from plague, but the family coffers are nearly depleted. Dedicated to restoring his clan pride, Keenan strikes a bargain with his brothers, they will each marry, but not for love, only for the generous dowries their future wives will bring.
Fionna has suffered the consequences of endless wars and plague, leaving her the unlikely laird of Clan Taylor. When her past love summons her to his keep under the threat of killing her clansmen he captured trying to steal horses, she has no choice but to meet him.
There she discovers a man much changed, heartless and bitter. Especially when he demands that Fionna help him get engaged to her best friend!
Unable to deny him, Fionna plays along, waiting for the right moment to strike, save her clansmen, and celebrate teaching Keenan the hardest lesson of his life.
But not everything is what it seems, and Keenan and Fionna discover that distance and time cannot change what their hearts truly want—each other.
Book 1 - Scoundrel’s Vengeance
Book 2 - Scoundrel's Fortune
Book 3 - Scoundrel's Redemption
She wrung out the cloth and turned back, doing her best not to show any reaction to his body. He was far more muscular than before, the hard ridges of his abdomen obvious. Having clearly swung many a sword, his biceps and forceps were larger, too. She cleared her throat and kept her mind to the task instead of focusing on his exceptional physique.
Rather, she eyed the various new scars riddling his upper body. There were so many. Too many. Which told her just how rough things had really been. The endless battles he had fought. The wounds he had suffered. Something she could not help alluding to as she began washing the slash he had received protecting Dougal.
“The battling seems never-ending, aye?” she said softly. “It has taken its toll.”
She had been relieved to hear he’d arrived home safely from France, then felt renewed dread when he went off to fight alongside King David II. It was too much for any one man. She could only imagine the horrors he’d seen. The men he had watched die.
“It hasnae been easy,” he confessed, saying more than she anticipated. But then the look on his face, as she stood close, was telling. He appeared lost as he gazed at her. As though her proximity somehow allowed him to speak freely. To confide.
“Nay.” She understood that he was not just talking about the battling but the illness that had swept through Scotland. Maybe even based on the sentiment she swore flashed in his too-tender gaze, the long years between seeing one another. “Many of my men fought, as well.” She met his gaze, overly aware of the heat coming off his strong body. “Verra few fought alongside both the French and King David, though.” While tempted to touch his cheek to soothe him, she held back. “’Tis a lot, Keenan…for any man.”
“’Twas what needed to be done,” he said softly, his gaze lingering on her.
For a moment, she thought he was going to reach out and touch her hair like he used to. Or brush his knuckles along her jaw. She nearly closed her eyes, remembering the sensation well.
Instead, she spoke unintended words. “Why did ye do it?”
“Because Da expected it of me…and because my country needed me.”
“Nay, not that,” she murmured, pouring a dab of whisky over his wound. She really should leave this be, but her curiosity had only been growing. With it, a sense of frustration she couldn’t quite place. “Why was my chamber at yer castle unchanged?” Her gaze returned to his face. “After all these years?”
“I dinnae know,” he said a little too quickly. “Ma left it that way.”
“Did she, God rest her soul,” she replied, not questioning but stating, because she knew he lied. She could see it in his eyes. “Why did ye not change it when ye returned then?”
“There was no reason to.” He shrugged, fibbing away. “Honestly, I didnae give it much thought until I knew ye were coming.”
“Ye mean until I was summoned.” She sighed and wrapped his shoulder with fresh cloth. “Dinnae mistake such for a civil invitation. One that came after so many years.” Her gaze lingered on his face again. She tried to keep emotion from her voice. “After nearly twelve years.”
His pupils flared, and emotion churned in his gaze, simmering just beneath the surface. He didn’t let them get the better of him any more than she did hers, though. Rather, instead of responding, he redirected the conversation.
“Tell me, Fionna.” He stood, no doubt on purpose. His sheer size a means to prove he was not vulnerable. “Tell me why Clan Cameron just attacked us.” His gaze narrowed. “And why, if I am not mistaken, they thought to take wee Dougal?”
“’Twas not Dougal they were after, but me.” She stood up a little straighter, not letting him intimidate answers out of her. “Their chieftain thought to take me as his wife, and I refused him.” She shrugged. “Now he thinks ‘tis his right to take me with or without my approval.”
“Is he not near yer late da’s age?” He frowned. “And those clansmen were after Dougal. I dinnae doubt that.”
“Their chieftain is younger than Da but still considerably older than I am.” She flinched at the idea of his meaty paws anywhere near her. “And if they thought to take Dougal, ‘twas merely to get me in the end.” She was careful to keep an even expression. “The Camerons know well enough that I take the welfare of my clan’s bairns verra seriously.”
“So, Laird Cameron thought to take Dougal as a bargaining chip?”
“Aye.” She nodded and started back toward the others only for him to grab her forearm in passing.
“That is all the more reason ye shouldnae let yer bairns do yer horse thieving,” he rumbled. “Because one of these days, the Camerons will catch one of them, and ye’ll find yerself wedded and bedded in no time.”
“I would attack before I agreed to that,” she assured.
“I dinnae know,” he mused. “Ye didnae attack me.”
“Ye’re not trying to wed me,” she reminded. Or bed me. At least not anymore.
“I amnae,” he agreed, surprising her with how tender he could be one moment, then callous the next. “But then, ye dinnae have something I need.”
“Nay.” She cursed the words—the taunt—the moment it rolled off her tongue. “Or so, ye think.”
He yanked off his boots then undressed, looking forward to bathing. In fact, he was just about to lower into the water when Fionna didn’t bother knocking but strode right in only to stop short. Her eyes rounded and swept over him, lingering on his cock before she turned her head.
“Apologies,” she said over her shoulder. “I thought ye’d be in by now.”
Had she really? Because her clanswoman had not been gone all that long.
“’Tis nothing ye havenae seen before,” he reminded, aroused despite himself as he lowered into the water. Having her so close whilst he wore no clothing made him want to toss her on the bed and sample what had been long gone from him.
“’Tis something I didnae want to see again, though,” she muttered, flat-out lying. So said the catch of her breath and the way she peeked when she thought he wasn’t looking.
“Have ye more water for me?” he asked, letting her know he was submerged.
“Aye.” She poured it in, clearly trying to remain focused on his face. “Now, sit forward so I can remove yer bandage.”
He did as asked, noting how her hands trembled ever-so-slightly as she removed it.
“It looks good.” She inspected the scratch, nodding. “After ye wash it, I will apply a poultice and rewrap it.”
“Ye mean after ye wash it,” he said softly. “All of me, for that matter.”
Her gaze snapped to his face and held before she seemed to gather herself. While he thought he had her for a moment, he should have known better.
“Ye’re out of yer bloody mind if ye think that’s happening, MacLauchlin.” She tossed him a cloth. “See to yerself, then I will return and take care of yer wound.”
“I will see to myself.” She would meet him halfway, though. “But ye will stay.”
“I think we both know the moment ye intercepted the lass who filled my bath ye didnae care much about decency.” He began washing. “Ye know how people talk. Especially, I imagine, when it comes to the Taylor chieftain seeing to the MacLauchlin laird's personal needs. And with them undoubtedly knowing about our past.”
“Most dinnae recall such.” Rather than turn away, she leaned against the wall, crossed her arms over her chest, and kept her gaze on him. “’Twas a long time ago, Keenan.”
“Aye, but gossip such as what ye and I shared stays on the tongue for generations,” he assured, because it truly felt like a lifetime ago. Or at least it had until she walked into his castle again. Until he walked into this holding.
“We shared nothing worth gossiping over in the end, though.” Fionna shrugged. “I think mayhap ‘tis just arrogance on yer part.” She shook her head. “The only curiosity ye bring with ye now is the fact ye’re the enemy and holding my brother hostage.”
“But not wee Dougal,” he reminded. “Something it seems yer clan is grateful enough for.” He eyed her, curious how far he could push her. “Or so I assume based on the more than gracious offer I received from the bonny lass who filled my bath.”
Her chin jutted forward a wee bit. “An offer I am sure ye misinterpreted.”
“Nay.” He made a point of thinking about it before he shook his head. “I dinnae think so.”
“Are ye saying my clanswomen are wenches, then?” she bit back, her temper getting the best of her far faster than he anticipated. Which told him she had intercepted the lass, knowing full well such an offer was likely made.
“Nay, not wenches.” He continued washing and nudged her temper along, if for no other reason than to fan the flames of her jealousy. “For I am fairly certain she didnae expect payment for her services.” He winked at her. “Well, anything except a good—”
“Finish washing so I can see to ye.” Her eyebrows slammed together. “I have other things to see to…people to attend to.”
As she no doubt intended, the way she said it made him tense. While it was one thing to taunt her with what he might do with her clanswoman, it was another thing entirely to envision Fionna doing the same with a man. Because there had been plenty of men her age about. Then, of course, the one who rarely left her side.
He knew what Dougal said, but he was just a boy, not savvy to the way men and women worked. And Fionna had hinted last night at just how close she and Tavish really were.
“Aye?” He tried to remain nonchalant when all he could picture was her bedding Tavish. Rage flared that had no place in this situation. In what he must accomplish. Yet, despite his best efforts, he could not leave it alone. “And what people will ye be attending to, Chieftain Taylor?”
“’Tis none of yer concern.” Based on her taunting expression, she knew what kind of effect she was having on him. “It stopped being yer concern a long time ago.”
Had it, then? Aye, he preached to himself.
Yet, he kept pushing.
About the Author:
Sky Purington is the bestselling author of over fifty novels and novellas. A New Englander born and bred who recently moved to Virginia, Purington married her hero, has an amazing son who inspires her daily and two ultra-lovable husky shepherd mixes. Passionate for variety, Sky's vivid imagination spans several romance genres, including historical, time travel, paranormal, and fantasy. Expect steamy stories teeming with protective alpha heroes and strong-minded heroines.
Purington loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at Sky@SkyPurington.com. Interested in keeping up with Sky’s latest news and releases? Either visit Sky’s website, www.SkyPurington.com, join her quarterly newsletter (https://bit.ly/2Mw0yyO), or sign up for personalized text message alerts. Text ‘skypurington’ (no quotes, one word, all lowercase) to 74121 or visit Sky’s sign-up page (https://mobile-text-alerts.com/subscribe/skypurington). Texts will ONLY be sent when there is a new book release. Readers can easily opt out at any time.
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