“We’re only passing, sir,” Fergus said peacefully, disadvantaged against the mounted men. “We travel to Inverness’s harbour. These ladies will soon sail to a Lowlands convent.”
“You might be a few hours from Inverness, but you will not make it there.” Alexander turned to the women. “Where is Nell?”
Marjorie hesitated, yet chose to fake a misunderstanding. “Who?”
“Your sister. A band of MacDonalds will capture you two soon, at your chieftain’s order.”
“Liar!” Fergus shook a fist at him.
“You need proof? You shall have it.” Alexander sheathed his sword onto his shoulder baldric, dismounted, and fished from his sporran a folded piece of paper.
“What manner of trickery is this?” Fergus growled.
“You are right to call it trickery, but we are not doing the tricking. I shall let you read this, but not touch it. You will not destroy the evidence of Daegan Fraser’s deception.”
Fergus hunched his shoulders. “I can’t read well.”
“I can.” Marjorie quivered under the weight of several inquisitive gazes, Mackenzies and Frasers alike.
“A feat for a blacksmith’s ward.” Alexander approached the cart and stretched out a hand. “Fine. But your gaze shall be the sole thing touching this letter. Come down.”
Nell squirmed, her blue eyes huge in her small face. “Go alone?”
Alexander frowned. “Who is this? And you still have not told me where Nell is.”
Marjorie inhaled and braced herself for the mocking looks they received whenever her sibling encountered strangers. “’Tis my sister, Nell.”
Alexander’s two-tone green gaze widened, but no disdain marred his handsome features. Luckily, he did not press the matter either. “Take my hand and come down.”
Marjorie obeyed. Once they were levelled, he roughly twirled her around. She squealed as he trapped her between his body and the cart. She wanted to protest the intimate position. But when he placed his arms on both sides of her, holding the missive on the floorboards to prevent her from snatching it, any objection faded on her lips.
Blood stained the parchment.