About the book
They grew up hating each other, only to fall madly in love…
Margot McCann’s life changes abruptly when her brother, and only member of her family, mysteriously dies. Devoid of hope, she is certain her life is over, yet even from beyond the grave, her brother helps her: he has appointed a protector for her. The only catch? He’s the person she hates the most.
Man-at-arms to the late Laird, Zak Wilson vows to continue protecting the clan of his best friend. And as much as he dislikes it, that includes the little sister too. What the job description never prepared him for was having to choose a husband for her. Especially when he wishes himself in their position…
What began as years of hatred and intense banter slowly transforms into deep passion and true love. However, their decision to marry each other comes with its own share of trouble. And this time, the instructions her late brother left to protect her, just might not be enough to save her life, or Zak’s...
“I have attended too many funerals in my life,” Margot muttered to herself as she stared at the mirror.
Her blue eyes that were normally so bright and full of life were staring back at her, glistening today. Her pale face was blotchy with redness as she tried to ward off the tears.
Before she could say anything else to herself, there was a knock at the door.
“Nae now, Ayda,” she called to her lady’s maid. “I… I need to be alone for a little longer.”
That morning, she had attended Anthony’s funeral. Standing beside his crypt as his casket was added to the family mausoleum in the chapel, had brought all the horrors of her new world into perspective. She ached for missing Anthony, of course she did, but it brought new challenges, too.
I have nay family, and nay protector. I am alone in the world now.
“It is nae Ayda,” a deep voice came from the other side of the door. At the familiar sound Margot snapped her head up, gazing back at her reflection with wide watery eyes.
“What do ye want?” she said, lacing the usual venom in her tone that she used when speaking to him.
“I need to speak to ye, Margot. Please, let me in,” he said softly. Margot didn’t know what to make of his soft tone.
“Ye dinnae sound like ye,” she said clearly as she walked across her chamber. Stepping over a rug and walking past settle chairs, she laid a hand nervously on the handle, not quite ready to turn it.
“In what way?” the voice asked on the other side.
“Ye are nae teasin’ me or belittlin’ me now,” she said plainly. “That is how ye always speak to me.”
“Ye think I could do that today of all days?”
“Well, it would make things seem more normal,” she said, wishing she could smile with the words.
“If normal is what ye want, well, maybe I can attempt it,” the voice said before clearing his throat. “Margot, open this door, ye cannae hide in here like a mole forever.”
“Aye, that’s better,” she said and turned the door handle, revealing the face belonging to the voice.
Good afternoon, Zak, Margot thought to herself. Her brother’s best friend and his man-at-arms was standing before her, his countenance as miserable as her own.
“Are ye all right?” he asked, disturbing the silence that had descended between them as they stared at one another.
“Dinnae ask me such a foolish question,” she said, though her tone was gentle as she turned from him and walked back into the chamber. She took up a seat by the mirror and tried to reapply some powder to block out the sight of the redness and the tears.
“I ken,” Zak sighed as he walked into the room, leaving the door ajar behind him. “Foolish question, indeed, but consider it me way of tryin’ to say somethin’ comfortin’.”
“Ye? Comfortin’?” Margot scoffed. “Wolves have more ability to comfort in them than ye do.”
“Ooh, harsh words, indeed,” he said, his voice holding a trace of humor before his face appeared behind her in the reflection of the mirror, with not a single smile in sight. “I lost someone, too, Margot.”
“He was me brother,” Margot said, watching Zak’s eyes.
“I loved him like he was me brother,” Zak said, holding her gaze. For the first time, Margot could see something beyond just the intense cinnamon-colored eyes staring back at her.
“Ye are cryin’,” she said, still looking at him in the reflection.
“As are ye,” he said, pointing at her in the mirror. He stood straight and walked away a little, breaking the connection. Margot turned from the mirror, allowing her eyes to follow him across the room.
He was tall, much taller than her, and over the last few years he had broadened out significantly in his shoulders, though his narrow waist professed his muscularity. His usual soldier garb was replaced by his own mourning clothes of a black waistcoat, dark trews, and a white shirt beneath, with a plaid thrown over his shoulder.
“Why are ye here?” she asked him, forcing him to glance back to her over his shoulder. “I stood by yer side at the funeral. Leave me in peace to mourn alone.”
“Why? So ye can grieve alone? Aye, cryin’ by yerself sounds like a merry way to spend a day.”
“How else am I supposed to spend the rest of me days now? Anthony is gone!” Her harsh words made him fall silent. “I miss him more than I can say. And… what happens now? I am the only family left. I cannae be Laird.”
“Well, we’ll have to see what Anthony said himself on the matter,” he said and walked toward her, stopping by her side. “The council asked me to summon ye. They wish to read Anthony’s will.”
“So soon?” she asked, looking up at him, startled.
Had Zak been any other man, she would have happily acknowledged he was handsome—with his chiseled features and strong jaw which looked like they belonged on one of the marble statues from the Roman-inspired garden in the grounds of the castle—but she never could. She would always hate Zak, that was the way it was.
“They cannae wait any longer. Each minute we delay the readin’, the clan’s enemies conspire against us.” Zak’s voice took on a formidable tone. Gone were the tears in his eyes, replaced by a manner that was much more businesslike. “Without a Laird announced, other clans could move against us at any moment. We have to do this now.”
“I need five minutes more,” Margot said, turning to look back at the mirror. Picking up the powder, she brushed another time.
“Leave me be, Zak, in the name of the wee man’s sake. Just wait outside.” She gestured to the door.
“So ye can wallow in yer tears for longer? Nay, I cannae let ye do that,” he spoke emphatically.
“Ye think I can stand there peacefully why ye are cryin’?” he asked, gesturing to her, his voice abruptly wilder than before.
“Why would ye care if I did?”
“Margot, that is enough.”
She felt a hand on the back of her chair—it slid her backwards.
“Zak!” she complained, gripping the seat of the chair as he swiveled her to the side, forcing her to look his way. Then he dropped to the floor, down on his knees, inches from her. “Well, this is new.”
“Listen to me, please,” he said, with no humor at all in his tone. “I ken ye hate me well enough, but I am nae the monster ye seem to think I am.” She looked away from him, down at her lap. “Ye are me best friend’s sister, and despite what ye may think, it pains me to see ye in this way.”
Her head shot up again, looking straight at his eyes.
“I cannae undo what has been done. What I can do is give ye a shoulder to cry on now. I promise, I will nae let anythin’ happen to ye,” he said with surprising strength, earning her gaze once more.
“Why?” she asked, swallowing around a lump in her throat as she tried to stop more tears.
“Because I couldn’ae live with meself if anythin’ did happen to ye,” his words made her look down at her lap, trying to hide the tears that were coming anyway, despite her attempts to stop them. “Or maybe I should say that I give the promise because of me loyalty to yer brother. Would ye like that more?”
“A great deal more!” she said, looking up again.
“Aye, then let’s say it’s that,” he said, betraying his first small smile. As the tears trickled down her cheeks she watched as Zak reached into a pocket in his waistcoat and pulled out a handkerchief, handing it to her. “Now, dry yer eyes. We need to go see the council and hear yer brother’s last wishes.”
She took the handkerchief and began to dab at the tears on her cheeks, drying them.
“Ye ready?” he asked, standing to his feet and offering her his arm. Margot stood slowly to her feet, too, looking between his arm and his face in surprise. He never offered his arm, ever!
“I like this new promise of yers to protect me,” she said, earning his gaze, “but that does nae mean I want ye to be someone ye are nae.”
“Och, I see,” he said, lowering his arm and walking to the doorway. He flung the door open wider and turned to her with a small smile. “Then come on, dafty. Stop dallyin’ and makin’ yerself look like a fool.”
Margot’s spine instantly stiffened in response to the nickname ‘dafty’. It was a term for a fool that he had often used for her when they were children.
“That’s better,” she said, walking past him and shoving the handkerchief back into his hands for good measure. As she hurried out of the chamber, her thoughts turned to the will, and what future Anthony had laid out for her.
“Peace, gentlemen!” Zak let his voice ring out above the council’s heads. He had not walked in three steps with Margot at his side before he could see the council had descended into an argument. To his surprise, the council listened to him.
One by one, all the elderly and middle-aged gentlemen around the room swiveled in their seats, turning to look at him. The bald patches and white hair spun their way, with evident fervor and concern.
“What is the argument about?” Zak asked, walking around the circular table where all the council members sat.
“The neighborin’ clans,” the deputy of the council called up.
“McNamus, we have discussed this already,” Zak said, pausing and leaning on the ornate gild table beside the chair that Anthony used to occupy. Since Anthony’s passing, Zak had heard McNamus make the same argument again and again. So far, he had managed to end the discussion, but he couldn’t help but fear who the next Laird would side with.
Ah, Anthony. Why did ye have to leave us so? Ye were the Laird I would have defended to me dyin’ day.
“Aye, we have,” McNamus nodded, his long white hair and narrow beard bobbed with the movement. “But discussin’ it is nae enough. We must make a military stand to show we are still defendin’ ourselves.”
“What is this?” Margot’s voice made Zak snap his head back toward her.
“Margot, sit here,” Zak turned to Anthony’s chair and pulled it out for her.
“I must object!” McNamus said, jumping to his feet so quickly with his walking stick so precariously in his fingers that he nearly toppled over. “That is for our Laird. Nae…” he gestured to Margot.
Zak could see what Margot was feeling even without words. She stood a little straighter, just as she always did whenever anyone insulted her. Her nose pinkened, too, suggesting she was thinking of a good retort. He had sparred with her enough times to see the signs. Ordinarily, he loved to spar with her, it was one of his great thrills in the castle walls, but today was not the day for it.
“She carries the lairdship on her shoulders while we dinnae have a Laird,” Zak said, gesturing for Margot to take a seat again. “By right, she can sit here.”
“I still object!” McNamus thrust his stick onto the floor, the jab on the stonework emphasizing his words.
“Then ye can take the matter up with me,” Zak said, walking past where Margot stood and moving to McNamus’ side, rather threateningly.
McNamus, wobbling on his feet, seemed to re-think his objection as he looked up at Zak.
“Would ye like to sit back down again?” Zak asked, holding McNamus’ gaze, unblinkingly. McNamus said nothing, but he retook his seat, appearing thoroughly put out. “Margot,” Zak pulled out the chair for her to sit.
She betrayed a small smirk as she did. The sight of that tiny smile did something inside of him. He had known for some time now that he had a soft spot for Margot—it was why he had always teased her when they were children, and why he continued to do so now—but that soft spot felt different ever since Anthony’s death.
“Me Lady,” McNamus to her, “there are some of us that believe we should send our armies to our borders, to ensure that nay other clan tries to harm us.”
“Sendin’ an army at this time may just look like provocation,” another gentleman said from across the table. Zak leaned on the back of Margot’s chair, watching the even more elderly man. His name was Derek Jacobs, perhaps Laird Anthony’s most trusted advisor. He was completely bald, and his skin sagged around his cheeks and jowls. “We move soldiers to the borders, and we could be invitin’ a battle at a time when we are nae strong.”
“I—” Zak opened his mouth to agree with Derek, but he was beaten to it.
“I agree with Derek,” Margot said decisively, sitting tall in her chair.
“Quite frankly, me Lady, that is nae yer decision to make,” McNamus said, sitting back in the chair and fiddling with his cane.
“Disrespect her again and I will ensure there is punishment for it,” Zak let his words ring out clearly, watching as McNamus shifted in his seat.
“Calm down, Zak,” Margot flicked her head his way, talking to him as though he were some sort of wild dog that she was trying to tame. It stirred something inside him, surprising him. “Me point is, I am sure me brother would have said the same. We dinnae move our soldiers unless there is a threat.”
“Then I say it is time for the will readin’,” McNamus declared as other men nodded eagerly. “Derek? Do ye have it?”
In answer, Derek held up a sealed scroll. It was thick and wide, fastened with a large blotch of red wax that possessed the emblem of the Duncan Clan. In the center of the circular emblem was a wolf with its head reared high as he bellowed at the clouds over his head. Around his feet were a field of thistles, showing the strength of the wolf that was prepared to cross the thorny danger.
“Lady Margot, yer brother made this will in me presence and me scribe’s presence when he became Laird, five years ago,” Derek’s words clearly made Margot stiffen in her seat.
“I was one of the witnesses,” Derek explained as he broke the seal and slowly began to unwind the scroll of parchment.
“The will reads,
I, Anthony of the Duncan Clan, Laird, bein’ of sound mind and body, declare that if I pass without issue, the line should be carried by me sister until she marries. Whereupon her marriage, her husband shall be the next Laird of the Duncan Clan.”
As Derek paused, there was a ripple around the room.
Men whispered back and forth.
“Until a marriage can be made, she will be seen as the protector of the lairdship.”
“Ye cannae be serious,” McNamus said, sitting forward so urgently that his chair slid beneath him. “He wishes to leave a woman in charge?”
“What did I say about disrespectin’ her?” Zak asked, watching as McNamus jerked back again in his seat.
“Why is it ye fear a woman bein’ in charge, McNamus?” Margot’s strong voice brought a smile from Zak.
“Fear? Pah! I hardly fear it. I just think it…” McNamus paused, clearly looking for the right word.
“Ye think it an ill idea,” Margot said clearly again. “Dae nae deny it, yer true thoughts are written on yer face. I was blessed with a mind from God, the way ye were, upon birth. Maybe God did nae bless me with other things ye were given,” she said tartly, clearly referring to anatomy.
The reference made McNamus shift uncomfortably in his seat. Zak was so impressed he had to hide his temptation to laugh behind a hand. “But somethin’ he did give me was the ability to think. Dae nae fear a female carer for the Lairdship, McNamus. The only person ye shame by speakin’ so is yerself.”
McNamus had turned so red in the face he was turning purple, his face resembling a giant beetroot.
“I still think it is an aberration,” he said, his voice shaking. “I must insist we see ye marry at once.”
“Here, here,” another voice said from the table. Zak’s gaze flicked around the faces to see the men were somewhat divided.
“Derek, what else does it say?” Zak urged him from across the table.
“Well, the next part is about who the lairdship would be left to if Laird Anthony had children, then it circles back to this situation,” Derek unrolled the scroll a little further.
“This is the relevant part,
Until such a time that me sister marries, she will have a legal guardian and protector awarded to her. This guardian will assist nae only in ensurin’ her wellbein’, but in selectin’ her husband and the future Laird of the Duncan Clan.”
“I cannae even choose me own husband?” Margot asked, veering forward in her seat and gripping the edge of the table.
“Of course nae!” McNamus declared. “We could hardly leave it up to ye alone to decide who is the next Laird.”
“To be fair,” Derek continued, “it says the guardian will assist ye in yer choice. It is yer choice as much as it is yer new protector’s.”
“Then who?” Margot asked, abruptly standing to her feet. “Who is to be this new protector I must bow down to?”
“Yer brother says,
Margot’s new protector will be me man-at-arms, and me good friend, Zak Wilson.”
Margot flicked her head round to look at Zak.
Nae him. Anyone but him!
It couldn’t be possible. Would her brother really leave her in the hands of a man she as good as hated? Anthony had seen the two of them fight since they were children, constant rivals, and now he was leaving her at Zak’s mercy? Zak could marry her off to someone she despised for all he would care about the matter!
“Did ye ken this?” she asked, kicking the chair back a little, out of the way so she could step out from the table.
“Nay, I swear,” he said quickly, looking toward her with an outstretched hand. He did, indeed, look just as stunned, his eyes wide and his jaw agape.
“Are there nay other options?” Margot asked, darting her eyes back to Derek. She was tired of this meeting already. She was sick of the sideways glances from men that hated her just because she was a woman, McNamus being the main culprit, of course. She was glad he hadn’t been put in charge of her marriage. Who knows who she would have ended up marrying then?
“Nay,” Derek said, lowering the scroll back down to the table. “The only option yer brother gave was in the event of Zak’s death, but he is here, and is therefore yer protector.”
Margot turned her head back to Zak, who felt as though there was fire in her eyes from the sheer strength of her gaze.
“Why do I suddenly feel like I would be safer in the mausoleum with yer brother?” he asked her, stepping back from her.
“Ye would be,” she said slowly, stepping away from the chair as she began to pace up and down.
“It was nae me decision, Margot,” his loud words brought her to a sharp halt. She covered her face instead, refusing to look back at him as she thought of her brother.
The brief imagination of him made her chest ache with longing to see him again. She pictured him clearly with the same blue eyes she had, smiling and laughing away. He was always laughing, always looking at the brighter side of life.
I miss him so much.
The more she thought of it, the more sense it made from Anthony’s perspective. He trusted Zak more than anyone else in the world—why wouldn’t he make Zak her guardian?
“This cannae be happenin’,” she muttered to herself.
“It is done already,” McNamus said. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that it is for the good of the clan that ye marry quickly, me Lady.”
Margot lowered her hand from her face and sought out Derek across the room. He was a kindly man, he always had been, and at that moment she felt as though he were her one true friend in that room.
“Derek?” she said his name only, in the vain hope that he would somehow disagree with McNamus.
Solemnly, Derek pushed the scroll away and rested his elbows on the table, holding her gaze across the council room.
“I wish I did nae have to give the answer I am about to give.” He sighed with the words. “Though I dinnae have a problem with what a woman thinks as me leader,” he cast a glare with these words in McNamus’ direction, “I am well aware of what other clans will think because of us. The longer we have nay Laird, the more they will perceive us as weak.”
“Then…” Margot walked toward the table, stopping beside it. “Ye think I should marry soon, too?”
“Sadly, I do,” Derek said, looking truly pained with the words. “A few months at most, me Lady. Anythin’ longer, and I can see another clan attackin’ us.”
Margot felt dizzy from this news. She reeled on her feet, back and forth for a minute. She couldn’t condemn her brother’s people to war, she would never do that to them. Yet at the same time, protecting them meant possibly enslaving herself to a man she didn’t know, a man she could hate, a man who may well be cruel.
“This is absurd,” she muttered to herself.
“It is decided,” McNamus declared, rising to his feet using his cane. It shook beneath his hand. “Lady Margot will marry within two months at most, and Zak will help her select the new Laird. We must retire from the end of the meetin’ now.” With his words, he struck the floor with his cane.
At once, the elderly men jumped to their feet, some talked amongst themselves, others started making their way toward the door, hurrying to leave. For a minute, Margot was frozen in shock. She just watched them all leave, astonished that her life, her entire future, had now been decided on by a room of white and grey-haired men.
“Margot?” Zak was at her side, whispering her name. He reached out to her, as though about to take her arm, but she couldn’t let that happen.
He was her guardian now. He had control of her life. The bully she remembered from childhood, her brother’s man-at-arms, who called her ‘dafty’ and teased her.
“Nay,” she said, backing away from him.
“Margot, we need to talk about this,” he said, his cinnamon-colored eyes were wide and serious.
“Nae now.” She turned and ran from him, hurrying from the room as quickly as she could. She didn’t care that she was getting in the way of the councilors as she ran, neither did she care that she bumped McNamus’ shoulder on the way out. She needed to be alone.
She ran through the corridors as quickly as she could, grabbing the skirt of her mourning gown to aid her in running. It wasn’t until she reached the tall staircase in the center of the castle that she realized someone was following her. As she reached the first landing, she looked down the vast expanse of stone steps to see Zak was pursuing her.
She huffed and ran on, trying to ignore him. Yet he was gaining on her. She took the corridor that led to her bedchamber and hurried through the doorway. She was about to close the door firmly when it collided with something.
“Ah,” she exclaimed and jumped back, seeing Zak had jammed his foot in the door to stop her from closing it. “Zak, get out!” she ordered as he opened the door and stepped in.
“That hurt, ye ken, dafty,” he said, mockingly hopping on one foot.
“Are ye deaf as well as dumb?” she asked, walking away from him. “I said leave me.”
He crossed the room toward her, leaving the door ajar as he had done earlier that day.
“This was nae me decision, Margot,” he said, following her around the room.
She escaped him by walking into the second room of her chambers. This one held two Chippendale settees, placed amongst sideboards and beside great windows that looked over the estate and the neighboring town. To her dismay, Zak followed still. As she walked around one of the settees, he followed too, until they came to a stop with them standing on either side of the settee, with the furniture between them.
“I had nay idea he had done this. Ye have to believe that,” he said emphatically
“I do believe it. That is nae what worries me,” she said quickly.
“Then what worries ye?” he asked, holding out his arms wide in clear exasperation.
“That ye will now be me decision maker!” she said, gesturing toward him. “The man who has belittled me all me life is now responsible for it.”
He paused for a minute, not responding straight away but pinching the bridge of his nose instead.
“I cannae believe me brother would do this to me,” Margot said, walking away from him. She went to the second settee, trying to put even more distance between them, but Zak followed, until they were in the same position as before with him on one side of the settee and her on the other.
“This is nae a curse, Margot,” he said, his voice as loud as hers. “He did this because he trusts me to do right by ye.”
“Well, I dinnae trust ye to do right by me.” She leaned over the settee, lowering her voice to make her anger evident. To her surprise, he leaned toward her, too, until they were inches away from each other.
At this angle, she was closer to the handsome lines in his face. It startled her—she found her eyes dropping to the small signs of stubble along his chin and the angular features of his face. His thin lips were wide, but now they opened and began to speak, pulling her focus back to his words and away from his face.
“Do ye really think so little of me?” he asked, his eyebrows shooting up so high they nearly disappeared into his hair line. “For all our sparrin’, that’s what I am to ye? Ye think me capable of such evil?”
“Ye have never gone out of yer way to persuade me ye are capable of a great amount of goodness,” she said tartly, leaning away from him once more. She needed that distance. The close proximity to him was doing funny things to her stomach again, strange things she hadn’t felt before that day and it was beginning to confuse her.
Dae nae think about what that means.
“In the name of the wee man, I have had about enough of this!” he said, rounding the settee.
“What does that mean?” she asked, setting off in the other direction, only this time, she was too slow. Zak caught up with her and took hold of her arm, spinning her back round to face him. “Zak!?” she complained, stunned at his action.
“Ye think so ill of me? Then I am goin’ to have to go out of me way to persuade ye otherwise,” he said.
“Let me go,” she ordered. “Right now, I wish to be on me own and as far away from ye as possible.” She tried to walk away from him, but he merely pulled her back toward him. His greater height and muscle made the task too easy for him. She collided into his chest, her hands going flat against him.
When her stomach made those somersaults, she retracted her hands quickly.
This is new… I am nae sure I like it.
“I will leave ye soon, as ye wish, but there is somethin’ I must say first,” he said quickly, looking down at her.
“Then say it, be done with it, and be gone,” she gestured to the door. She tried to walk away from him another time, but he didn’t let her. Instead, his hands didn’t go for her arm, they went for her waist. She was so startled by the close proximity that she said nothing.
He lifted her cleanly off her feet and moved her around the room until they were in front of one of the settees then he plopped her down onto the cushions. She was tempted to rant and rave at him for it. How dare he manhandle me! Yet those somersaults were still taking place in her stomach, marveling at the strength he’d used to move her so.
“Listen to me, I beg of ye,” he said, dropping down to just one knee. They were so close to one another that she stayed silent, too perplexed by his actions. “Maybe ye have decided to hate me forevermore for the past we have shared. I can see there is little I can do to change that, but that does nae mean I will nae try.”
“How do ye intend to do that?” she asked, crossing her arms.
“By makin’ a vow to ye,” he said, straightening his spine as he knelt before her. She recognized the stance instantly with his hands clasped on one knee. It was a formal stance for when her brother signed in knights or soldiers, or even asked them to make a pledge to him.
“What kind of vow?” she asked, tilting her head to the side as she watched him.
“I have already promised to ye today to protect ye. I now make that promise to God, too.” His voice was so deep that she hung on his words. He crossed himself and looked to the heavens. “I vow from this day forward to pledge me body in yer service, as I did with yer brother. Whatever ye need, I will be there for ye. Come hell or high water,” he said, lowering his gaze back down to hers.
Margot was too stunned by the formality and the depth of the vow to move. She stayed perfectly still, watching him with her mouth hanging open.
“In that same vein, I pledge to help ye find a man that is nae only right for the Duncan Clan, but right for ye.” He motioned to her with the word. “I will nae be like McNamus and swear yer hand to the first man that comes callin’. I will ensure the man we marry ye to is good-hearted, devoted to the Clan and ye, and above all, is someone ye can respect and love.”
“I… erm…” she stammered, uncertain what to say. “Ye would really make this vow to God? For me?”
“I will nae condemn ye to a life of sadness and anger, married to a man that does nae deserve ye.” These words made her watch his face closely. There was a twitch in his jaw, as though there was something else that he wanted to say. He lowered his gaze instantly, back down to the hands clasped on his knee. “This is me pledge, and me vow. I beg ye to take me seriously for it.”
She said nothing for a minute, still lost in her surprise. When he looked up to her, she nodded slowly. He stood to his feet then, moving to the doorway.
“Now, I will leave ye. As ye requested.”
“Why?” she asked, startling him so much that he whipped his head back round toward her. “I mean, why make this pledge to me?”
“Maybe I do it out of fear of yer brother?” he said with a smile, making her narrow her eyes. “Think on it. When I die, I dinnae want him beatin’ the stuffin’ out of me in heaven for nae lookin’ after ye more.”
“Ah, thank ye,” she said snidely. “Ye are doin’ this because ye are merely thinkin’ of yer own welfare.”
“I did nae say that,” he said, earning her gaze, now that his tone was completely serious.
“Zak,” she said, biting her lip with uncertainty, “there is another problem we have here.” She shifted in her seat, fiddling with the skirt of her gown. “I have never even been courted. What if nay man wishes to… court me?” she asked, unable to look him in the eye.
“Believe me, any man that ever saw ye would wish to court ye,” he said, urging her to snap her gaze back to him. He had his usual insufferable smirk in place. “I shall leave ye now.”
He turned and fled, closing the door behind him. Margot stared open-mouthed at the closed door.
What did he mean by that?
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