His hand clamped down roughly across my mouth, effectively silencing me. "Quiet, woman!" He whispered sharply. His voice held a lilting Scottish brogue that would have made my knees go weak, if they hadn't been already.
My eyes widened in terror. This guy may have been the offspring of Adonis, but he'd just come out of a freaking book! He could have been an axe-murderer for all I knew. A Freddy Krueger of the 13th century. A naked Freddy Krueger.
His eyes searched the room, and it looked like he was listening for something. I was too shocked to do anything, say anything or even think about anything other than the fact that he was naked. All I could do was stare at him.
Seeming satisfied with whatever he found, or didn't find, he returned his piercing blue gaze to me. I felt it rove down my body and then back up again, though it seemed to hesitate on my chest before he turned those deep blue eyes on my own green ones, which I'm sure, were still filled with shock and fear.
"Be easy, lass." He soothed gently, as though I were a child, rubbing his thumb across my cheek, while his hand still firmly held my mouth. "I'm not going to hurt you."
Fear quickly turned to anger, anger quickly turned to fury, and somehow, some way I got the gumption to bite down on his hand, hard. He hissed and immediately retracted his hand and I made a bolt for the door, despite the fact that it was locked. Did I take a major dose of Brain-Be-Gone this morning or what?
"Hel—" His right hand reached around and silently smothered my cry for help. His other slid around my waist and pulled me straight back into him. Oh man, how had that man kept up that six pack in that book? Maybe they were drawn on…
Oh stop it, Kessa. The man is manhandling you and all you can think about are his abs.
I seriously needed to get out more.
"I said that I am not going to hurt you, lass." He reiterated through clenched teeth. It was obvious I'd pissed him off a little. "Now be still."
My eyes narrowed, even though I knew he couldn't see them. I'd been through this just three days ago. And I was getting damned tired of men thinking they could drug me, and haul me anywhere they damn well pleased just because they thought I was too weak to fight back.
So it was with a fixed determination that I reached back and made a grab for his cajones. Well, it had worked the last time. But he must have anticipated that because the hand that held a firm grip on my waist grabbed my wrist in a death grip before I could get anywhere near his groin. It wasn't painful by any means, but I knew I wasn't going to get out of it without a crowbar.
Instead of getting even more pissy than he already was, which I fully expected, he chuckled. I'm serious he chuckled. And believe me when I say that that was the sexiest chuckle I have ever heard in my life. Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt need not apply. "I am not thinking that would be such a good idea, lass." He whispered into my ear.
Oh damn, Kessa, you sure know how to pick 'em.
"Let me go." I ground out, but it was muffled by his hand so it sounded more like, "Meph uhm gah."
But he seemed to understand what I was saying, I mean what else would a girl say when some psycho book-man had her by the wrist and mouth. Well you know, aside from "Take me, please, take me. I'm desperate." Not to mention insane.
"I will let you go, but I would not recommend alerting the ones who hold you captive to my presence. It would not end well for either of us." I got the feeling he was looking straight into my eyes, even though he was behind me. Although, he was tall enough that I imagine he probably could have.
He was at least 6'3". Which meant that I could get away with wearing heels with this guy, not an easy feat when you're 5'9", believe me. "I will get us out of here. But I can only do that if you cooperate. Do you understand?"
I sighed wearily before nodding. What could it hurt to try? Well, aside from getting killed I mean. It was obvious I wasn't going to be able to get out of here myself, and so far, this guy hadn't drugged me or threatened me. Oh what the hell was I thinking? This guy wasn't even real. There was no way he'd come out of a book. I had to be hallucinating. That was the only logical scenario.
He let go of my wrist and my mouth and I spun around angrily. "Ok, never do that again, unless you want to be a shish kabob."
He smiled, the bastard actually smiled. "I have no doubt that you would carry out that threat, lass."
"And don't call me lass." I countered angrily. "I'm not a girl."
"No." He agreed, looking me over with those deep, sapphire blue eyes. "You're not."
"Oh. Ok, time for this dream to end now." I stood and waited, waited for reality to come back. I shut my eyes tightly, then squinted open to see if he was gone. Nope he still stood there staring at me like I was crazy. He was probably right.
I let out the breath I'd been holding, blowing a few stray red curls that had escaped my ponytail away from my face. "Ok, this isn't real." I told myself as I started to feel a panic attack coming on. Oh like you wouldn't have one if some strange naked man popped out of a book and started coming onto you. "This is just a hallucination. You hit your head during the earthquake and any minute now, someone is going to come through that door and…and…well I don't know they'll do something." I started pacing, but a bare, muscular arm, shot out and halted my progress.
"This is real, lass. I am here. You did not hit your head, and I am most certainly not a hallucination." He actually looked offended by the very idea of it.
"Hah! I've got you. In the movies, hallucinations always say that!" Unfortunately I had no idea what the hell I was saying.
His eyes narrowed, as though he were deeply in thought. "What is a 'movie'?"
I shook my head. "Not important. What is important is that you disappear. I'm tired of arguing and I want to sleep. So, shoo" I waved my hand at him impatiently. "Do whatever it is that you hallucinations do when you're not bothering the people your supposed to be haunting or whatever word you use to describe what you do."
The man rubbed his face in frustration. "For the last time, I am not a hallucination. Do not the people of this age recognize magic when they see it?"
I smiled this time. Ok I got him. "Magic? Of course, it's in those movies I was talking about. But anyone with half a brain knows it's not real."
He smiled back at me. Like he knew he had me. "Then how do you explain what just happened?"
"You're a figment of my imagination." My oversexed imagination. But I'd never say that out loud, especially not around him. But what else would my subconscious be trying to tell me by making me see a very tall, very naked man except for the fact that I really needed to get out more?
"While I have oft been accused of being every woman's fantasy," He bragged with a certain male arrogance. Bastard. "I assure you, lass, I am most certainly real."
"Not a hallucination?" I practically pleaded with him to admit that he was. Because if he wasn't, then a naked Scotsman really had popped out of that book, and he really was here talking to me.
"Afraid not." He replied without the least bit of pity in his eyes.
I nodded unconsciously, still unsure of what to make of this whole situation. "Well, crap." I sat down precisely where I was, on the cold hard floor, and began to take stock of my life. "This is so not my week." I groaned and plunked my head on my upraised knees.
I probably would have cried if I wasn't so damn tired, and if a very uncomfortable looking Scotsman hadn't been staring down at me, no doubt trying to figure out how to handle me. That thought was what got me going again. I was not some fickle woman who needed a man to do everything for her. I was a confident, professional, and independent woman who could handle anything that was thrown at her. Right, and if I honestly believed that I really did need psychiatric help.
But I could at least get through this without breaking down. I could do that later. I'd trust him far enough to get me out of this place, and then I'd decide whether or not he was really real or not. "Ok," I finally said, standing up to face him, doing my best not to look down. "What do you want me to do?"
He was downright adorable when he looked confused.
"You said that you could get us out of here if I cooperated." I elaborated a little testily. Well, it really had been an Oreck of a week. "So, tell me what I need to do."
He nodded, but gave me an odd look that I couldn't discern. It could have been admiration, a bit more confusion, or trying to figure out if I really was insane. I was starting to wonder myself.
"You don't have to do anything. Just be ready." He turned to the table that held all my borrowed tools. Fifty bucks says that they stole them too.
"Ready for what?" I questioned, not wanting to get any closer to him than I already was. He apparently didn't have any problem with his present state of dress, or the lack thereof, but I was a sheltered, unsophisticated woman and this was the first time I'd ever seen a man naked. I'm dead serious.
Oh sure I'd seen pictures, I'd been to France, Rome, seen the statues and paintings, but here was a real, live, very virile man who appeared to be perfectly content with his birthday suit. And it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The man was certainly fine with a capital 'F'.
"To run." He replied absently, picking up a page-turner that was meant to handle old books. His finger ran over the edge, testing the sharpness, before scowling at it.
"They took all the sharp stuff." I informed him, immediately knowing what he had planned. He turned back to me and lifted a questioning eyebrow. "I picked the lock." I explained a bit sheepishly. "They caught me just before I made it outside." It was true. I'd actually seen daylight. And then I saw I stars. And then I woke back up in this hell hole.
His eyes widened a bit then he smiled and nodded to himself, muttering something in…Gaelic, I think. But it wasn't any Gaelic I'd ever heard. The syntax was all wrong and the accents were on the wrong syllables. That thought brought about another question, however. "I'm going to assume that you're from the 13th century. Because that book you just popped out of is too. Now if you're not really a hallucination, then how come you can speak English?"
"I may have been imprisoned in the book, but I could always hear everything that the book heard, and occasionally when it was opened to my page, I could actually see out as well." Now he was ransacking the drawers in the desk.
I had to resist the powerful urge to roll my eyes. "Books are inanimate objects. They don't see and they definitely don't hear."
I didn't have to get a good look at him to know that he was smiling. "Then how do I know that you think I am a—what was it? Ah yes, a 'hot, sexy stud?"
That one left me a little speechless. Not to mention mortified beyond belief. "You—you—heard that?" I stammered, trying not to let the embarrassment show on my face when he turned around to flash that devilish smile at me.
Oh for crying out loud it was practically impossible to feign nonchalance when a man like that flashed a grin like that at a girl like me. I must have had some ridiculously bad karma, because lately the universe seemed to have some kind of an OCD when it came to tormenting me. And right now, that torture was in the form of a tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed, man with a tan that no tanning salon could ever hope to imitate.
He turned back to his work, and made a low grunt of satisfaction when he appeared to find exactly what he was looking for.
An awkward silence seemed to hover in the air as he walked towards the barred door of the jail cell with what a flat-tipped tool that I didn't recognize. What exactly was he planning to do with that? "So," I began in an effort to break the ice. "What's your name?"
"Tristan." He responded as he stuck his hand through the bars, and began unscrewing the screws that held the lock bolt in place. Now why hadn't I thought of that? "Lord Tristan MacLachlan son of Iain."
Lord huh? Well that certainly explained a lot about his cocky, know-it-all behavior. Lord Tristan MacLachlan. It suited him. "Kessa Connelly." I offered my own without being asked, without thinking actually. If I'd thought about it, I probably wouldn't have said anything.
"Yes, I know." He stopped long enough to send me another knowing look before he got right back to work again. Definitely aristocracy, man was too arrogant for his own good, or my own good anyway.
"How old are you?" I inquired, desperate to keep the conversation going so I wouldn't have time to focus on other things, like the fact that I'd never seen such a strong, sinewy muscles in a man's back before. The man practically oozed masculinity.
"I had eight and twenty summers before I was imprisoned in the book." So, he was about eight and a half years older than me. Actually he was more like 808 and a half years older than me if you counted all that time he'd spent in the book. He stopped again for a moment, and appeared very deep in thought. "What is the date?"
I pulled sheepishly on the hair in my horribly put together ponytail, and suddenly remembered that I hadn't showered in four days. And they hadn't given me make-up or deodorant. I must have been a sight for very sore and probably blind eyes. I was still wearing the long-sleeved denim shirt and jeans that I'd been wearing the day they took me.
I honestly had no idea how many people were involved in my kidnapping. I'd seen only three others aside from the old creep who'd visited me three days ago right after I woke up, but it was quite evident that none of them were women. Only a man would be idiotic enough to expect a woman to be perfectly content to spend four days in the same underwear. Oh when I got my hands on that old psychopath, I was going to shove that cane somewhere very unpleasant.
"July 2008." I told him, folding my arms, and trying to ignore the layers of dirt, sweat and grime that covered every inch of my skin, including my hair.
Note to self: Don't look in a mirror until after you take a shower.
The crestfallen look on his face was enough to make me regret telling him. But it was gone as quickly as it had come, and he returned to his work with a new vigor that quite honestly, scared me a little. Let's just say that I was happy I was not that lock.
I glanced at the clock on the wall that ticked ominously above the desk I'd spent the last three days working at. "Um, one of the guards usually starts making his rounds in about half an hour."
"I plan to be gone long before he discovers us missing, lass."
I ground my teeth together at the name. "I told you not to call me that."
"I will try and remember that, lass." He replied as he finished the last screw and let the bolt fall into his waiting hands. Very carefully, he pulled it through the bars and placed it gently down on the ground. I wondered absently what it might be like if he placed me gently down on the ground.
Oh, get a grip, Kessa. Not only is this guy way out of your league, he's got Casanova written all over his face. Not to mention the fact that he's spent the last 800 years inside a book. Not exactly dating material.
Tristan took one more look down both sides of the darkened hallway, and slowly opened the cell door. We both winced when it made horrific screeches that resembled a dying cow more than a door that needed oiling.
"Get the book." He commanded. And when I say commanded, I mean he really commanded me, like I was his servant or something.
"Oh yes, sir, right away sir." I responded with a sarcastic enthusiasm as I gave an equally mocking salute, before I ran to the desk picked up the insanely heavy book. With a groan, I walked over to Tristan and shoved it into his arms. He barely caught it before it fell, but it was with an ease and grace that made me jealous and a little disappointed. He had to be bad at something. I mean come on.
He sent me a glare that I'm sure had sent many a serf running the other direction, but just served to piss me off.
Ignoring my scathing look, he held out his hand for mine, as he stepped out of the cell and began looking for anyone who might have heard the ear-splitting noises.
I reluctantly put my hand in his and suppressed an embarrassing girlish sigh when his fingers closed around mine. Of course, the whole moment was spoiled when he began dragging me down the hallway. Especially since it was the wrong way.
"You're going the wrong way!" I whispered sharply, tugging on his hand. But have you ever tried to tell a man that he was going in the wrong direction? Might as well have been talking to the dying cow for all the good it did me.
He held up a hand for silence as he tugged me further down the hall. Oh, I know he didn't just shush me. He did not just shush me. now may not have been the best time to start an argument but he could be sure that he was going to get it if we got out of here or not. No one shushed Kessa Connelly. Even Keir wasn't that suicidal.
I tried tugging on his hand again, but he just tightened his grip on mine and pulled me more aggressively down the long hallway. He was manhandling me. Again. Obviously this man needed a good—
My entire train of thought was interrupted as he shoved me, yes shoved me, into an open cell, slamming me up against the wall, pressing his body, his naked body, up against mine. Ok that was it. He could shush me, he could tug me, he could pull me, but he did not, absolutely not press his very, very naked body against mine. No matter how clothed I was. "Trist—"
His hand came up across my mouth. Again. My eyes narrowed to dangerous proportions, and I sent him a searing look that had cowed even Keir back in the day. But it didn't even seem to faze him. Bastard.
That was when I heard it. There was someone coming down the hallway. I immediately looked down and away, anywhere but at him. I was woman enough to admit when I was wrong, and I would have if his hand weren't over my mouth.
We stood there like that for what seemed like forever, even after the footsteps faded away. In my fantasy world it was because he liked being this close to me, but in reality it was probably because he wanted to make sure that whoever had come up the hallway was really gone.
He pushed away from the wall and grabbed my hand again, probably trying to make sure I wasn't going to make a run for it.
It took us twenty minutes and thirty-one seconds to get out of the prison. No I didn't count, I had an internal clock that always told me what time it was. I know, useless and stupid. I'd much rather have an eidetic memory, or you know, super-strength. We only ran into one man and we easily avoided him, or Tristan did anyway. What can I say, I wasn't special-ops material. I never even got awards in P.E. Even though I was no stranger to hard work and manual labor, courtesy of my loving and doting older brother, I had zero-hand eye coordination and the only "sport' I'd ever been good at was dancing. I' even spent my freshman year at college in Julliard and was scheduled to go back for the fall term as well. But keep-away and hide and seek were two games I'd never been good at. And right now it felt like I was playing a combination of both. To me, the corridors were like one huge labyrinth. And we were trying to avoid the minotaurs.
But the moment we stepped outside into what looked like a parking lot and into the daylight, Tristan stopped dead in his tracks. He suddenly became obsessed with the bright midday sky, the abandoned highway the compound was settled next to and the cars that were only a few yards away.
It was obviously my turn to take the initiative. I broke out into a dead run, and dragged him along with me, praying that one of the cars would be unlocked. I didn't have the time or energy to pick anymore locks.
This time apparently, the universe and karma were on my side. As I reached the high-powered SUV, I opened the passenger door and shoved a very stupefied and preoccupied Tristan into the front seat. I hurried around and got into the driver's seat, bending down to reach under the steering wheel.
I'd never told Keir this, but one of the workers, a former Hamas soldier, at a dig site in Israel a few years back taught me how to hot-wire a car. I never thought I'd actually have to use it, but it was something fun and new to learn, and boy was I glad I'd paid attention.
A few moments and a couple of crossed wires later, the SUV started up and I quietly put the car into gear and began a slow exit of the parking lot, not wanting to end up in a high-speed chase. It would have been really stupid and pointless seeing as how I didn't even know where the hell I was.
It took five minutes and a couple of prayers to whomever might be listening at the moment, to find the way out. Unfortunately, the gates were locked, and there was someone standing guard, pacing back and forth in front of the chained gate with a freaking machine gun. Now I'm not a big expert on guns, but it only took a few action movies to realize that that gun could easily penetrate the glass and kill me.
However, I'd also learned in those action movies, that an SUV tops a chained gate. So, taking a deep breath, and letting my survival instincts take over, I punched the gas as I turned the last corner and plowed right through both the man holding the gun and the gate. I both saw and felt his body roll up and over the SUV with a sickening thud that made me want to vomit. I had no doubt that I'd killed him. I really killed him.
Ok, freak out later. Freak out later. Have to escape now. You can barf and cry all you want once you find a hotel and a shower.
I glanced over at Tristan who was still looking around at the world with a childlike and shocked awe. His eyes were practically glazed over.
With a heavy sigh, I laid my head back against my seat and prayed to whoever had answered my prayer before that I could get away before someone followed me.
If I could manage to stay awake that long…
A/n: Long yes, I know. And I forgot to put this up yesterday, so I apologize. I'm halfway through Chapter 4 so it'll probably be up sometime this week. Please review and tell me what you think. Thank you.