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The Hostage Bride Jane Feather

The Hostage Bride

Jane Feather

Published
ISBN :
ebook
384 pages
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 About the Book 

Edinburgh, ScotlandDecember, 1643Acrid smoke billowed around the windowless room from the peat fire smoldering sullenly in the hearth. The old crone stirring a pot over the fire coughed intermittently, the harsh racking the only sound. Outside, theMoreEdinburgh, ScotlandDecember, 1643Acrid smoke billowed around the windowless room from the peat fire smoldering sullenly in the hearth. The old crone stirring a pot over the fire coughed intermittently, the harsh racking the only sound. Outside, the snow lay thick on a dead white world, heavy flakes drifting steadily from the iron gray sky.A bundle of rags, huddled beneath a moth-eaten blanket, groaned, shifted with a rustle of the straw beneath the sticklike frame. Brandy, woman!The crone glanced over her shoulder at the hump in the corner, then she spat into the fire. The spittle sizzled on the peat. Girls gone fer it. Altho what shes usin to pay fer it, the good Lord knows.The bundle groaned again. A wasted arm pushed feebly at the blanket, and Jack Worth struggled onto his elbow. He peered through slitted eyes into the smoke-shrouded room. Nothing had improved since hed last looked, and he sank back into the straw again. The earth floor was hard and cold beneath the thin and foul-smelling straw, pressing painfully into his emaciated body.Jack wanted to die, but the flicker of life was persistent. And if he couldnt die, he wanted brandy. Portia had gone for brandy. His enfeebled brain could hold that thought. But where in the name of Lucifer was she? He couldnt remember what time shed gone out into the storm. The blizzard obliterated all signs of time passing, and it could as well be midnight as dawn.His pain-racked limbs were on fire, his eyes burned in their sockets, every inch of his skin ached, and the dreadful craving consumed him so that he cried out, a sound so feeble that the crone didnt even turn from the fire.The door opened. Frigid air blasted the fug, and the smoke swirled like dervishes. The girl who kicked the door shut behind her was wire thin yet exuded a nervous energy that somehow enlivened the reeking squalor of the hovel.Brandy, Jack. She came to the mattress and knelt, drawing a small leather flask from inside her threadbare cloak. Her nose wrinkled at the sour stench of old brandy and decaying flesh exuding from the man and his sickbed, but she pushed an arm beneath his scrawny neck and lifted him, pulling off the stopper of the flagon with her teeth. Her father was shaking so hard she could barely manage to hold the flask to his lips. His teeth rattled, his lifeless eyes stared up at her from his gaunt face, where the bones of his skull were clearly defined.He managed to swallow a mouthful of the fiery spirit, and as it slid down his gullet his aches diminished a little, the shivers died, and he was able to hold the flask in one clawlike hand and keep it to his lips himself until the last drop was gone.Goddamn it, but its never enough! he cursed. Why dye not bring enough, girl!Portia sat back on her heels, regarding her father with a mixture of distaste and pity. Its all I could afford. Its been a long time, in case youve forgotten, since you contributed to the family coffers.Insolence! he growled, but his eyes