Home > Honour Bound (Highland Magic #2)(3)

Honour Bound (Highland Magic #2)(3)
Helen Harper

The area below was well lit with fluorescent lights hanging from the steel ceiling which gave off a harsh glow. It was also surprisingly tidy. I glanced at the first huge pallet; I couldn’t tell exactly what was inside but it looked like sections of black, smoky plate glass. Certainly it contained nothing worth stealing – or nothing worth a Sidhe getting their knickers in a twist about. I shrugged and kept going, passing crate after crate filled with similar material. It was only when I heard the rattle from ahead that I paused. That was … interesting.

More wary now, I pushed on. The rattle sounded again. I rounded another pallet, spotted a large cage and halted immediately. Was there an animal inside? Or something worse?

I strained my eyes to make out what was in there. The cage seemed empty but it was in a prominent position, with a clear space around it. That signified its importance; this was more than just an empty cage ‒ and it was also worryingly large.

Just as I was about to take another step, there was a cough behind me. ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ said a dry voice.

I whirled round. It was a rare day when someone managed to sneak up on me. Deciding to brazen it out, I shook out my hair and tilted up my chin. ‘Why not?’

A merman stepped out from behind one of the pallets. ‘She doesn’t like strangers.’

Tension knotted across my spine. She? I licked my lips. ‘Lord Carnegie asked me to…’

Before I could finish my sentence, the merman boomed out a laugh. It reverberated around the hold and bounced off the steel walls. ‘You’re no Carnegie Sidhe.’

‘Maybe not,’ I said softly, ‘but I am Sidhe.’ Usually that detail was enough to prevent further questions.

‘I know exactly who you are.’

Uh-oh. That wasn’t good. I thought quickly. The sailors above deck had been terrified of the Carnegie lord so maybe I could use that to my advantage. Right now, the merman was blocking my exit and, lithe as I was, I didn’t think I’d make it back up that narrow staircase without him grabbing me. I’d have to continue down the intimidation route, distasteful as it might be.

‘Then you know what I’m capable of,’ I said clearly.

The merman folded his arms. ‘Bad jokes and safe cracking?’ He smirked. ‘Because if you crack that safe, Integrity, you’re not going to get out of here alive.’

I blinked, taken aback. He really did know who I was. ‘How do you…?’

‘I have a cousin,’ he said. ‘A sea-fearing idiot of a cousin. Instead of enjoying all that the ocean has to offer, he lurks around cities stealing shit.’ He snorted. ‘Landlubber.’

My shoulders sagged in relief. ‘Brochan.’

The merman inclined his head. ‘Just so.’ He regarded me for a moment. ‘We don’t tend to talk about him. His parents aren’t exactly proud that their firstborn is thalassophobic.’

Afraid of the sea. I had to admit it was certainly an unusual – and not particularly welcome ‒ trait in a merman. But Brochan was also my friend. ‘He’s far more capable than most. He might have turned his back on the ocean blue but he doesn’t have to kneel to a Clan and he doesn’t have to worry about getting wrinkly fingers from spending too much time in the water.’ I raised my eyebrows pointedly.

The merman grinned. ‘Indeed. We meet up from time to time. He likes you a lot. He’ll be pleased to know that you’re sticking up for him.’

‘He doesn’t need me to stick up for him. He can fight his own battles.’

He took no offence at my sniffy comment. ‘Just so. I’m Jimmy, by the way.’

I inclined my head in wary greeting and watched him for a moment. ‘So what’s in the cage?’ I asked finally.

‘Nothing you’d want to nick.’

I smiled. ‘Come on, Jimmy. We’re practically family.’

He laughed wheezily. ‘Good one. The day I’m practically family with a Sidhe is the day my parents disown me too.’

I frowned. He already knew that I wasn’t like other Sidhe. Surely he could grant me a little leeway. ‘Tell me what’s in the cage,’ I coaxed.

He was still amused. ‘If you really want to know…’ He raised his head and whistled. There was another rattle, followed by a hiss. I turned to see a creature out of my worst nightmares drop down from the roof of the cage.

‘We call her Debbie,’ Jimmy said.

I stared at the giant spider. Her glittering eyes were fixed on me and she was the size of a horse. One long hairy leg tapped impatiently on the steel floor. I swallowed, taking in the expanse of her rounded belly. I hoped its size meant she’d just eaten because, frankly, I’d never seen anything so terrifying. ‘Why the hell does the Carnegie Clan want a giant spider?’ I whispered, more to myself than to Jimmy.

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