The story up to this point: Having reached Dublin, Tony, Jackson, and Brenna have arrived at a seedy inn located in a rather rough part of the city. After a happy reunion with her mother, Brenna is back in her room, wondering what her mother has in store for her regarding having her safely married off, and as quickly as possible.
Down below, Dara McIntyre has told Tony what her plans are regarding this marriage, and Tony isn't at all happy with what those plans are...
“Please, do keep your voice down!” Dara ordered in a hot whisper, frowning as she leaned over
the table towards Tony.
“You are mad, woman,” he growled, leaning in to meet her. “I have fulfilled my end of the bargain. I brought her here. That is it. I am done.”
“Do you not understand the seriousness of the situation?” she shot back, reaching over to grip his wrist. “I cannot allow her to go to that man! You saw for yourself how he will treat her, did you not?”
He shook her hand from him. “That is none of my concern now, my lady,” he replied evenly, shaking his head. “I will not be forced into a noose. I upheld my end of the bargain, as I said.”
Dara gave him a long, level look through eyes that were a much darker blue than her daughter’s. From past experiences, he had the feeling this conversation was not going to bode well for him. “I am afraid I must disagree with you, Captain Radcliffe. You are not done. Not quite
The tightness in his chest signaled trouble. Had she been a man, Dara McIntyre would already be lying on her back, staring up at the ceiling and wondering what hit her. However, he could do no more than sit and stew at her bold suggestion that he take Brenna McIntyre as his
wife. Out of the question. He did not accept the job to find a bride. He had no desire whatsoever to marry just yet. Moreover, if he was even thinking about marriage, he already had his future wife chosen and her name was not Brenna McIntyre.
“This conversation is over,” he replied stiffly, placing both hands on the table to push his chair back.
Dara's hands slapped down over his. “I think not, Captain Radcliffe, lest you wish to be explaining to the magistrate why you stole my daughter from her chambers.”
Her voice was mild, but he didn’t mistake the seriousness of her threat. Tony felt an icy chill shoot through him. “You would not dare,” he growled.
“Oh, but wouldn’t I?”
He quickly swallowed the oath bubbling to his lips, trying to swallow his irritation as easily. “And what makes you think a magistrate would believe this wild tale you intend to tell?”
“What magistrate would believe a mother would arrange for the kidnapping of her own daughter?” Dara retorted sharply. “A mite hard to swallow, don’t you think?”
He knew he didn’t stand a chance. She was right. It was madness to think that a mother would do such a thing. Still, he was not about to merely cave in and bow to her wishes. “I’ll have you know, Madam McIntyre, that I have an intended awaiting my return to the States. How am I to explain that?”
“That isn’t my concern. My concern is my daughter.” Dara sat back in her chair, her eyes holding his and her jaw set at a stubborn angle. “Her safety is my first worry and as long as she remains in Ireland, that safety is in jeopardy. I will not allow my husband or that monster to whom she’s been betrothed anywhere near her and you are going to make certain that does not happen.” She jabbed her forefinger into the scratched tabletop. “Should you choose to oppose me, you can be sure I will go to the magistrate. My husband is a powerful man, with many friends. Understand you this, I can make this happen and I will.”
Tony swore softly beneath his breath. He didn’t doubt that this woman would make good on her threats. He had no desire to land inside a jail cell. “Very well,” he said after a long pause. “I will marry her. But, know this—it will be in name only. When we reach America, I fully intend to remedy the situation.”
“Remedy the situation?”
“Do not disillusion yourself, my lady. This is no love match and I’ll not pretend otherwise. I will protect your daughter until such time as we reach New Jersey. Then, I will seek either annulment or divorce.”
“You would turn her out, in a strange land?”
Tony ignored her gasp of surprise. “I will see to it that she is taken care of, but she will live her life and I will live mine. It’s the only way I will agree to this.”
Dara frowned, her forehead creasing sharply. “I will not have my daughter live with the stigma of divorce attached to her name.”
“I can assure you, my lady, annulment will not be a problem, either. I have no intention of consummating this sham of a union. I will not be touching your daughter.” He didn’t miss the blush creeping into Dara's face. “I apologize, my lady, if I seem forward, but I just want you to know the reality of this situation. I have no interest in your daughter. I have no interest in marrying her. I am doing this strictly to preserve my neck.”
Coming Monday ~ Excerpt #4 and another chance to enter for a copy of You Belong to Me!