Maggie lounged back amongst the fragrant blossoms, the soft sunlight no more
than a golden glow along the horizon. Though the air remained damp, the promise
of warmth comforted her, and she closed her eyes, letting its delicate cocoon
engulf her weary body. A few yards away, a thrush welcomed the coming day,
tweeting its morning song in perfect harmony with the steady bass of a croaking
frog. The sweet melody soothed her cluttered mind and lulled her into a light
Images of beaches and warm summer days at the shore filled her dreams.
Memories of sandcastles and dabbling her toes in the ocean sent her senses
reeling. She could almost smell the salt air, hear the surf crashing against
the shore. But wait—those were no breaking waves she heard, but something else,
something far more menacing.
With a sudden jolt, she woke, the predawn tranquility shattered by a distant
rumble. Maggie sprang up, her eyes widening as she recognized the thunderous
beat of hooves rising from beyond the ridge. Behind her, about five hundred
yards away, pressed against the graying sky, stood her uncle’s tower. He’d
warned her about venturing from the safety of its walls, but she’d been too
stubborn to take his words to heart. Perhaps she should have put her dislike of
the man aside just this
Frantic visions of vengeful reivers sprang to mind, and she rose, determined
to make a sprint for the distant peel tower. With the creak of leather armor
already echoing in her ears, she struggled to gain purchase on the dew-covered
ground, but she slipped and fell into the tall grass of the gentle slope.
Pushing herself up, she chanced a glance over her shoulder and froze. He was
nearly upon her, his steel-blue eyes reflecting the mood of the moor. A wave of
terror washed over her, for somehow she knew this time Will Foster wouldn’t
turn and ride away.
She slumped back on her elbows, unable to move, the world around her fading
into obscurity. Riders rode by on their way to the tower, their images blurred
and distorted, for nothing could pry her attention from Will or the amulet he
wore around his neck. He paused a few feet from where she’d fallen, tugging
hard on the reins, hunger burning in his gaze.
Maggie swallowed hard, anger and fear lodged in her breast. She tried to
embrace the former, but it was tempered by a sudden desire that caused her
thighs to quiver and her mouth to long for the touch of the striking young
reiver before her.
Will nudged his horse closer, the fire in his eyes intensifying, and this
time fear surged to the fore, jarring Maggie back to her senses. No matter how
handsome he may appear, he remained at heart a murdering barbarian, his
intentions all too clear. Digging her heels into the soft earth, she pushed
herself into an upright position and started running for the