Home > You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(3)

You've Got Plaid (Prince Charlie's Angels #3)(3)
Author: Eliza Knight

   Fiona knew how to protect herself. Had made it her business to learn to fight against men bigger than her, so she’d not be made a victim. She was well versed in the use of daggers and knew which spots to hit to fell a man. The pins in her hair were also sturdy and sharp enough to inflict damage. More often than not, she could be found with daggers hidden horizontally in the layered leather of her belt, as well as in her boots. One could never be too prepared.

   “Aye, but at least then I could come to your aid if ye need me.” He pressed his lips together, and the recollection of how close they’d come to being attacked by dragoons over the years sat heavy between them. “I canna save ye if I’m in a bloody battle.”

   She didn’t need saving, but she wasn’t about to make him worry about her while he had dragoon pistols pointed at him. Better to placate her brother now and apologize later.

   “Aye, fine, Ian. I’ll stay put. But ye better come back, else I’ll be angrier than a stuck pig that ye made me rot in this keep while ye went away to have all the fun.”

   Ian sighed with great relief and rolled his eyes. “I’ll come back, I promise.”

   “Good. Because if ye die, I swear I’ll kill ye all over again.”

   Ian laughed at the line the four siblings had been repeating to one another since their first encounter with dragoons in the woods so long ago.

   “Until we meet again, wee sister.”

   “I’m older than ye.” Fiona slugged him in the chest, not hard enough to hurt.

   Ian grinned. “But ye’re still smaller.” He danced backward away from her, out of reach of her swinging hands.

   “I’ll spare ye the energy now, because we both know the Colonel is going to run ye ragged, but when ye return, Brother, we’re going to spar.”

   Ian pointed at her and nodded. “Ye can count on it.” He leapt up onto his horse and issued orders to their men.

   The summons to join Jenny’s army had directed them not too far from MacBean lands. Prince Charles Stuart—the regent for his exiled father, and rightful heir to the Scottish throne which had been usurped by Hanoverians—had set up camp at Culloden House. This had forced Duncan Forbes, owner of the house, to either rally with the Jacobites or run. Fiona couldn’t understand why a Scot wouldn’t want their natural king to take his place.

   Having grown up surrounded by men focused on the return of the Stuart line, it came naturally to her. So unsurprisingly, she’d kept up a childhood pact with her two dearest friends to do everything in their power to make certain the prince regained his rightful place.

   Jenny was a natural leader and soldier, Annie a healer. And Fiona, well, she’d learned subterfuge early on, and she had an excellent memory. Relaying messages from one Jacobite camp to another had been a skill honed as a girl and now had earned her the nickname of the Phantom because of it. She was proud of the work she’d done for the prince. Proud that he’d taken note of it as well.

   “Be well!” Fiona called out to the men as they crossed under the gate, waving her arm and watching until the very last of them had disappeared down the road.

   She waited an hour.

   That seemed a sufficient amount of time to allow to pass before she changed out of her day gown and into her sturdier traveling wool.

   “Going, my lady?” Beitris had been her lady’s maid since they were both fifteen years old. There was an eager look about her eyes, as she’d begged on more than one occasion to go with Fiona, but the risk was too great. Traveling through the woods alone was dangerous enough. Taking a maid along would slow her down. There was also the fact that even the sight of a wee mouse had Beitris screaming and running for the nearest chair.

   “Aye. The duty of a postmistress calls.” Of course, being a postmistress was the perfect position in which to conduct business in a more clandestine fashion. The dragoons tended to leave her be if they saw her delivering mail, as she was officially appointed by the royal government. It allowed her to roam freely, but it wasn’t always a safeguard either—especially since she used it as a cover to deliver rebel messages.

   “What of your brother’s order?”

   Fiona raised a brow. “The prince himself named me one of his most loyal messengers.” And he’d given her a ring to prove it. She glanced down at the simple round cabochon emerald on her right middle finger. Any message delivered from the prince clearly could not contain his signature or seal, but a simple presentation of this ring denoted that she carried his official business.

   Which was why she had to get herself to Culloden House and the battlefield.

   “Stay safe, my lady. Ye’ve told your brother much the same, but as ye oft leave in secret, no one has been able to tell ye as much.”

   “I will.” Fiona pulled Beitris in for a hug. “I’ve kept myself alive this long, have I no’?”

   “This is true.”

   Like everyone else in their clan, Beitris worried what ill could befall Fiona while on the road. The royal postmistress badge could only take her so far and wasn’t a guaranteed free pass from a ruffian, be he an outlaw, a dragoon, or a drunkard.

   Fiona didn’t fear the repercussions for herself, but rather for the men in her life because of what they might do to protect her honor. Her father—God rest his soul—had been horrified when she first took the position and had passed his fears on to her brothers. Any of them would have gone to battle and died for her, and their deaths would be forever on her head, which was why she was damn careful whenever she left the house.

   She didn’t want men to die for her. She wanted them to fight for the cause. And so she’d bid her father and her siblings to allow her to keep her postmistress position for the sake of their country. They’d agreed on one condition, and that was if she ever found herself at the end of a dragoon’s pistol, she would quit. Fiona agreed, and she didn’t regret that decision. Nor did she regret not telling them when such occasions occurred. They all had to do their part, and this was hers.

   Remaining quiet allowed her father to fight many a battle, keeping their family safe, until he’d finally fallen on a beach in the north when a government ship fired a cannon at the gathered warriors.

   Destroyed by the loss of her husband, Fiona’s mother had withdrawn even from her own children, and several summers past went to live with her sister in Orkney. She didn’t even write, not wanting a memory of her life at Dòchas, which Fiona tried not to take personally, though in truth she felt quite abandoned. The loss of both of her parents so quickly put her into a melancholy from which she couldn’t seem to pull herself out.

   It was actually a missive that Gus brought her from her old friend Aes that caused her to rise up and believe in herself once more.

   Over the mountain of fear is your dream attained.

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