The deep male voice caused Margot to slow her walk along the east garden path and glance over her shoulder. A tall, sandy haired man approached. Blue jeans hugged long legs, and a brown bomber jacket stretched across broad shoulders. Arresting blue eyes held her gaze. Margot’s pulse skipped a beat. Well, damn, Scotland was the place for good-looking men.
She stopped and turned so he could catch up with her. “Sugar, I don’t think we’ve met, but I’m glad you didn’t let the possibility of rejection stop you. Not that there’s much chance you’ll get rejected.”
A corner of his mouth twitched. “Special Director McNeil, at your service.”
London Heiress kidnapped by the Marquess of Ashlund, read the headlines. Yet no one tried to save her.
Phoebe Wallington was seven years old when a mass assassination attempt rocked Regency England. Her father was the only accused traitor to elude capture. Now as a grown woman and a British spy, she is no closer to learning what really happened that day.
Phoebe's quest for the truth takes a sudden turn when she's kidnapped by suspected traitor Kiernan MacGregor, the Marquess of Ashlund. However, Kiernan may not live long enough to stand trial. Someone wants him dead…and Phoebe stands in the killer's way. Kiernan knows only one thing will keep her out of the killer's reach. Marriage to the Marquess of Ashlund.
Use of the chamber pot, along with hot tea and cakes, revived Phoebe. She set her cup of tea on the tray and glanced at the armoire where Mrs. Grayson said her cloak hung. Any hope of discovering if her reticule was there with the cloak was dashed by the presence of her highwayman. Phoebe studied the scoundrel. He rested, once again, eyes closed, head reclining on the high back of the chair.
“I didn't think to ask your name,” she murmured.
“Kiernan MacGregor, at your service." The sound of his voice startled her. He opened his eyes and sat up. “How's your head?”
“That was a foolish move, Heddy.”
Phoebe opened her mouth, but the intensity in his gaze stopped the retort. She took a deep breath. “I did it because I wish to avoid the scandal of being away for days with a strange man.”
Surprise melted into a cool look. “A man you know will do, though?”
Her response was forestalled by a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Kiernan instructed.
The door opened and Mather stepped inside. “Dr. Connor here to see the lady, sir.” Mather stepped aside and a small, gray haired man entered the room.
Kiernan came to his feet. He strode forward, hand extended. Dr. Connor grasped one side of the gold-rimmed glasses he wore and set them farther back on the bridge of his nose. He switched the black bag he carried from his right hand to the left and grasped Kiernan’s hand in a warm greeting.
“Good to see you, Connor,” Kiernan said.
“How are you, lad?” the doctor asked. “Mather, here, tells me you're not taking care of yourself as ye ought.”
Kiernan laughed. A deep rich laugh, Phoebe grudgingly noticed, that filled the room and settled deep inside the heart of the listener.
“Mather, long ago, appointed himself my mother,” he said, giving him a stern look.
Mather bowed and backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Dr. Connor frowned. “You look as if you could use a rest.”
“Soon, Connor, soon. But first,” Kiernan motioned to Phoebe, “you have a more pressing patient.”
The doctor approached. He sat down on the bed beside her and, setting the black bag on the floor, eyed Phoebe. “A nasty fall, my dear.” He placed a hand on her forehead, tipping her head back slightly. “Let me have a look.” He leaned in closer and studied the gash on her forehead, then said with a glance at Kiernan, “Have you a candle?”
Kiernan looked around the room, then strode to the small secretary in the alcove. He picked up the candle sitting there, and hurried to the fire and lit it.
“Put it on the nightstand,” the doctor said as Kiernan approached.
Kiernan placed the candle beside Phoebe's tea cup on the tray and Dr. Connor placed a thumb on her right eyelid and gently pulled the lid up as he tilted her head toward the candle light. He studied the eye for a moment, did the same with the left eye, then released her.
“How is your sight?” he asked.
“Fine now,” she replied. “When I first awoke, it was blurry.”
He nodded, then reached into his black bag and pulled out a stethoscope. Phoebe grasped the end of the stethoscope and examined it much as he had her head.
She looked at him. “A binaural stethoscope. Where did you find one?”
His face lit with surprise. “You're familiar with this instrument?”
“Indeed I am.” She fingered one of the tubes. “The article in the London Gazette was most informative.”
“You read that article? That came into print in eighteen twenty-nine.”
Phoebe thought for a moment. “August twelfth, I believe.” She looked from the incredulous doctor to Kiernan, who regarded her with a tilt of his head. “A woman can read as well as a man,” she said.
“Aye,” Dr. Connor agreed, pulling her attention back to him. “That she can. That-she-can.”
“How did you come by it?” she asked. “I didn’t think they were in use.”
“You’re correct. But I have a friend who knows the inventor.”
Phoebe’s gaze followed when he looked at Kiernan.
“You know Nicholas Comins?” she demanded of Kiernan.
“Not I, Miss Ballingham, my father.”
“Now, if you don't mind,” Dr. Connor pried the stethoscope from her hands, “I will finish."
The poking and prodding came to an end twenty minutes later with Dr. Connor’s instructions that Phoebe was not to move from her bed, and that her head was to remain elevated. “You took a nasty blow,” he admonished. “You’re lucky it didn't crack your skull wide open.”
“Is that any indication of how hard the head is?” Kiernan asked.
Dr. Connor chuckled. “It has more to do with luck. But it wasn't very wise.” He looked pointedly at Phoebe.
“You would have done the same had this—this—”
“This what?” Kiernan inquired.
“This man,” she retorted. “If he had kidnapped you, you would have done the same.”
“Kidnapped?” Dr. Connor’s attention riveted onto Kiernan.
Kiernan shrugged. “The fall addled her brains.”
“Kiernan,” the doctor began.
“You remember Lord Stoneleigh?” Kiernan cut in.
“Miss Ballingham is his special guest.”
Comprehension lit the doctor’s eyes and Phoebe knew Lord Stoneleigh's reputation as a womanizer had preceded him even here, in the wilds of Scotland.
The doctor snapped his bag closed and rose. “Remember,” he said in a stern voice, “you're not to get out of that bed today. I'll see you tomorrow.” He started for the door.
“Doctor,” Phoebe cried.
He turned. “Yes, Miss Ballingham?”
“You aren’t going to leave me here?”
“You can't be moved, young lady,” he replied in a kindly, but firm voice. He looked at Kiernan. “Inform Lord Stoneleigh she isn't to be moved until I give permission.”
“I'll see to it, Connor. Thank you for coming.”
Phoebe watched, mouth agape, as Kiernan escorted him to the door. Dr. Connor exited, and Mather entered.
“I am returning to Edinburgh the moment I recover,” Phoebe burst out.
“Don't excite yourself,” Kiernan said.
“Cease this foolishness,” she snapped.
“I'm not the one who jumped from a moving carriage,” he replied.
“I am not Heddy, I tell you."
“Who might you be, then? Cleopatra?”
Phoebe stiffened. I will seek recompense for this, Heddy, she telepathed. “For a man who thinks so little of the lady, you are going to a great deal of trouble to keep her in your company.”
A smile twitched one corner of his mouth. “A man has a right to change his opinion.”
Phoebe cut her gaze to Mather. “Sir, do you write?”
“Fine. Be so good as to fetch paper and pen.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” She shook her head in exasperation. Her vision blurred and she pressed the fingers of her right hand to her temple.
“Heddy?” Kiernan demanded.
“You are to write a letter for me,” she ordered Mather.
Mather looked at his master.
“Do you intend to inform your other…er, friends that you are no longer at their disposal?” Kiernan asked.
“Never mind, Mather,” Phoebe said. “I will not require your help after all.”
Kiernan made a tsking sound. “You're going to keep the poor fellows hanging?”
“All I need from you, Mather,” she went on, “is an address.”
“Yes. One I am sure you have.”
“I know very few addresses,” Mather hedged.
“I'm in need of only one address. I must—no, it is my duty—” she pinned him with a hard look “—your duty, as well, to inform this person’s father of his dishonorable actions.”
Mather paled and satisfaction surged through her.
Kiernan took the two steps to her bed and squatted down face level with her. “Miss Ballingham, I have been far more honorable than I would have preferred. I assure you, my father would agree.”
Phoebe blinked, aware of a frustrated heat rising to her cheeks. Her head began to pound. “Please leave,” she rubbed her temples. “I require privacy.”