Home > Honour Bound (Highland Magic #2)(4)

Honour Bound (Highland Magic #2)(4)
Helen Harper

‘Why do the Clans want anything?’ He shrugged. ‘All I know is we need to get this darling up to the Cruaich without anyone seeing.’ He wagged a finger in my direction. ‘Without any Sidhe seeing.’

Was the Carnegie Clan planning some kind of assault on the Cruaich? I shook my head. It didn’t make sense. As far as I knew, the Carnegies were in a good position but they certainly weren’t strong enough to challenge Aifric of the Moncrieffe Clan for Stewardship. He’d been the leader of the Sidhe Clans since before I was born after all. I couldn’t think of any other reason why this thing was here, though.

As if sensing my thoughts, Debbie gave another rattle and scuttled towards me. I squeaked and jumped backwards.

Jimmy laughed. ‘Relax. She’s a sweetie really.’

My mouth was dry. ‘Really.’

‘You just need to get to know her.’ He stepped past me and up to the bars. I watched horror-struck as he put one hand into the cage. Debbie drew up as if she were preparing to strike – until Jimmy started scratching her under her chin. She let out an unmistakable hiss of delight. Okay then.

‘As I said,’ Jimmy continued, ‘she doesn’t like strangers. But she’s alright, she doesn’t kill mermen.’ He threw me a sidelong look. ‘We’re too salty.’

I took another step back, just to be on the safe side.

Jimmy grinned and pointed at the vicious-looking pincers protruding from either side of her gigantic mouth. ‘Watch out for them. One shot of that poison and you’ll be paralysed for a week. Debbie likes taking her time over her meals. It would be a long week.’

I tried to smile back but I only managed a grimace. ‘Yeah. She’s a real sweetie.’

The pager clipped to my belt began to buzz. Jimmy glanced at me. ‘You seem to be vibrating.’ He pulled his arm out of the cage. Debbie stared at him for a moment, waiting to see if this was merely a momentary lapse of concentration. When no further caresses came her way, she sprang up and twisted in the air until she was hanging from the roof of the cage once more.

I took out my phone, ready to snap a quick photo. Jimmy shook his head. ‘Can’t let you do that. If Carnegie finds out someone saw her, he’ll stuff my gills with cotton wool.’

It took some effort to push that image out of my mind. ‘So you won’t tell him I was here?’

‘Nah. But no photographic evidence. I don’t trust technology.’

He didn’t trust a mobile phone but he was happy to thrust his hand out in the direction of a giant flesh-eating spider? Brochan was obviously the only sane one in the family – and that was saying something.

‘Okay,’ I conceded. I still didn’t understand why the Carnegies were so keen to take this hairy monstrosity to the seat of Sidhe power but I certainly wasn’t going to steal her from them. My pager buzzed again. ‘I have to go.’

Jimmy shrugged. ‘Okay. Tell that dry-footed freak I said hi.’

I backed away, keeping my eyes on Debbie the entire time. She’d already dismissed me but I wasn’t about to turn my back on her – cage or no cage. ‘Will do.’ As soon as I reached the stairs, I turned and ran out of there like hell itself was on my heels.

*

I made it to the mountain rescue centre with seconds to spare. Travis, the gruff leader of our rescue team, shot me a look as I jogged up.

I checked my watch. Any rescuers on call had to show up within thirty minutes of their pagers sounding otherwise the team would leave without them. ‘Sorry,’ I called. I was within the limit – just – but it was clear the others had been waiting for me.

Travis merely nodded. If I’d been anyone else, he’d probably have chewed them out for taking so long to appear but he was too nervous of me to say anything to my face. Much as he appreciated my skills in picking up the injured and foolish from the surrounding mountains, he still found it hard to accept that he was working alongside a Sidhe. I had the impression that he was expecting me to demand everyone’s fealty at any moment. It didn’t matter that I’d explained a million times that I was Clan-less. In fact, when I said I was Clan-less because my father had been the Chieftain of Clan Adair, things got worse. Considering the world believed that my father had committed genocide against his own people and destroyed Clan Adair in one single afternoon over twenty-five years ago, that wasn’t hugely surprising.

I’d also believed those stories until recently. I still wasn’t sure what had happened to my parents but a vision I’d received in the sacred grove at the Cruaich told me that my father wasn’t the murderer everyone thought he was. And I was betting that Aifric Moncrieffe had something to do with it. After all, the Sidhe Steward had tried to kill me by handing me a bottle of water laced with poison. That’d make even a damn sheep suspicious.

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