By Eliza Knight
Book Three in THE STOLEN BRIDES SERIES
A Highlander tamed…
Laird Daniel Murray seeks adventure, battle and freedom for his countrymen. Putting off his duties as laird—with a promise to his clan he’ll return come spring—Daniel sets off with his men to fight alongside William Wallace and the Bruce. But soon he stumbles across an enchanting lady in need. She tantalizes him with an offer he simply can’t refuse and a desire he attempts to dismiss.
A lady’s passion ignited…
Escaping near death at the treacherous hands of a nearby clan, Lady Myra must find the Bruce and relay the news of an enemy within his own camp. Alone in a world full of danger and the future of her clan at stake, she must trust the handsome, charismatic Highland laird who promises to keep her safe on her journey—and sets her heart to pounding.
Together, Daniel and
will risk not only their lives, but their
hearts while discovering the true meaning of hope and love in a world fraught
I’m excited to announce the release of the third book in my Stolen Bride series, THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY (available in print and ebook). Today, I’d love to share an excerpt from the first chapter of my new release! Thank you, Chicks, for letting me visit with you!
A loud crash sounded from below stairs, startling Lady Myra from her prayers. What in all of heaven was that?
She’d been sequestered in the chapel for most of the morning—penance for her latest bout of eavesdropping.
The chapel was dark, lit only by a few candles upon the altar. A fierce winter gust blew open the shudders, causing the candle flames to waver.
rushed to the windows, securing the shudders once more, feeling the wood rattle against her fingertips. Myra
Her stomach muscles tightened with unease. There were not often sounds like this at Foulis. In fact, she’d never heard such before.
The very floors seemed to shake. Imagination going wild, she pictured the boards beneath her feet splintering and falling through to the great hall below.
The castle was never this silent.
“Astrid?” she called out to her maid—but there was no reply. Not even the scurrying of her servant’s feet across the floor. Where had the maid gone? She was supposed to wait for
outside the chapel door. “Astrid!” she called a little louder this time, but still there was no reply. Myra
’Twas as if she were alone, but that made no sense.
was always bustling with people. Unable to stand the silence, Foulis Castle scrambled to her feet. She lit a tallow candle by the hearth to light her way in the darkened corridor and slowly crept toward the door of the family chapel. Nothing but a whisper of a breeze from her gown disturbed the areas where she passed—’twas how she was able to eavesdrop so often. Locked away, supposedly for her own good, since she was a girl, she learned an important lesson. If she were to find out anything of import, she had to be secretive and slick, so she learned to creep. Myra
She did so now with practiced ease, sidestepping boards known to creak and pausing every few moments to listen for sounds. She strained to hear a whisper, someone’s breathing, anything that would assure her that she had in fact let her imagination get the best of her. But there was nothing.
Fighting hard to keep the fear from suffocating her, she reached the door, and with tortured slowness gripped the cool iron handle. She wanted to throw it open, and ignore the dread that held her hand still. But she had to trust her instincts. Something was terribly wrong. She could feel it.
leaned in close, pressing her ear to the frozen wood. She remained motionless, listening. Again silence. Satisfied there was no imminent threat, she began to open the door. An earth shattering shriek and another loud crash broke the silence. Myra slammed the door. Was that…? She shook her head. It couldn’t be. Scrambling away from the door, she dropped her candle which snuffed itself out. God’s teeth! Was that a battle cry? Granted, she’d never heard one before, but ’twas not just any shout. Nay, this sound was terrifying. A cry that sent her knees to shaking and her lip to bleeding from biting it so hard. Myra
She could barely see, the candles at the altar weren’t putting off enough light. What in blazes was she supposed to do? How would she protect herself? Damn those guards. Why hadn’t there been any warning? Shouts of caution. Why hadn’t the gates been closed?
Was it possible that she’d just not heard the warnings? She had been deep in prayer, worrying about her sore knees, and to add insult to injury she’d needed to use the privy for hours. Had she been that preoccupied? Angered? So distracted that if someone had shouted in her ear she probably wouldn’t have heard it? She took a deep breath to figure out her next course of action.
The secret stairways! Lucky for her, the chapel was located in a tiny corridor off the gallery above the great hall. A hidden stair, inside the chapel, led up to the master’s chamber. Embarrassed after her penances—which were often,
chose not to venture into the great hall, instead she preferred to use the hidden stairs. She knew them well. All of them. When she was just a girl, her father had shown her where they were located, and when she’d once found them fun, she now found comfort in their obscurity. Now they would not only help hide her embarrassment but they might even save her life. Myra
But this was no time to think back on that conversation. Or was it?
There’d been a warning. Rumors of an impending attack. But who would attack Foulis? Any why? Such an act was foolish. They had excellent fortifications. A stone gate tower was built at the front of the castle walls, with at least a half dozen guards on watch at a time. Her brother Byron made sure the gate was always closed, and most often barred. Their walls were thick and she’d thought impenetrable. If they were being attacked, there should have been fair warning. The guards could see all around the castle. No hidden spots for an enemy to hide. Her brother’s retainers kept guard upon the walls and the lands. This she knew—so how?
remembered— from a neighboring clan, Laird Magnus Sutherland had told her brother that they suspected an attack would come from a trusted ally. There would be no warning. Anyone could be the enemy. Except Magnus had warned of one. Myra
Upon her father’s deathbed this past spring, he’d signed a betrothal contract between
and Laird Ross—despite Ross being old enough to be her father. Myra and Ross’ daughter, Ina—who made Myra want to pull her own hair out—were the same age. Myra crinkled her nose. Wasn’t it wrong to be the stepmother of a woman who shared her birth year? Myra
Could it be him? Was that how the enemy had gained entrance without warning? If ’twas Ross, the he probably tricked everyone into thinking he’d come to discuss the impending alliance between their two clans. Byron wouldn’t have suspected an attack—despite the warning—he was too trustworthy.
tamped the candles on the altar, putting the chapel into shadows and stalked toward the tapestry of a great wildcat on the hunt. She flipped back the covering, not even a speck of dust to make her sneeze since she used it so often. Pressing on the rock that opened the hidden door, she slipped into the black, closing the door behind her. Silent, she welcomed the comfort of nothingness as she slid her feet along the landing until she reached the first step. Finally something positive had come from her many penances, after using this particular staircase at least a thousand times, she knew the exact measurements of each step. The depth, the height. They fit her feet perfectly now. Myra
Fingers trailing over the dusty, crumbling stone walls, she made her way carefully but briskly down the stairs until she reached the wall behind her brother’s study. She peered through the imperceptible crack in the wall where she often stood to listen—as she had just the day before. The room was lit by a few candles as though her brother had been there, but he was not now. The room was empty and undisturbed.
Where was he? And Rose?
That had to be it. A mock battle of some sort.
Yet, this felt different. Every nerve in her body strained and her teeth chattered with fear. Why was she reacting so physically when it might possibly be nothing more than a bit of rowdy warrior fun? Her overactive imagination? Probably. But, she would have to see for herself.
continued along her path, winding down and nearly to the great hall when she heard a distant whimpering. Nothing more than a whisper of a sound, but in the complete and silent dark, it was telling. Recalling the number of steps she’d taken, she calculated that she must be just outside Rose’s solar. She ran her hand along the wall searching for the small metal handle, then nudged the door an inch ajar. It was indeed Rose’s solar, and the whimpering was coming from inside, but she couldn’t see who it was, since the doorway was hidden behind a bureau that was pushed against it. Myra
The whimpering stopped.
“Hello?” came the tentative voice of her sister-by-marriage.
She called to her softly, “Rose, ’tis
A scuffling, like shoes scooting across the floor sounded within the room. Within moments Rose’s tear-stained face peered through the crack. Her brown eyes were red rimmed and her fiery curls jutted in frantic wisps from her head.
!” she whispered frantically. “Ye must help me. They’ve come. I think they killed Byron. Everyone.” Myra
“Who? Wait, help me push this door open, ye must come in here.”
Rose shook her head. “They are tearing the castle apart as we speak. If I come in there, then they will too.”
Rose looked about frantically, as if expecting the door to her solar to bang open at any moment. She nodded, fear filling her eyes.
“I will meet ye there. Go. Quickly.”
reached her fingers through the door and gripped Rose’s, hoping to give her some measure of comfort. “I will be there waiting.” Myra
Rose nodded again, squeezing
’s hand with trembling fingers. Myra
“I’m going now,
There was silence and then a creak as Rose opened the door. For several agonizing heartbeats,
waited. Waited for Rose to be struck down. Waited for the sound of shouts as she made her escape. Waited for something horrifying to happen. But there was nothing. Myra
Her heart felt as though it would explode, racing like sheep hunted by wolves.
crouched low to wait for Rose, hoping that should the enemy enter she’d have time to shut the hidden door without their notice. Myra
Dear God, let Rose make it here safely.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.
Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com
*Get your copy of THE HIGHLANDERS LADY TODAY! And check out ELIZA'S website for a look at her other books.*