XXVIII. Coming up with a Solution
His youngest brother did not look amused at all.
"So, what do we do now? Is Darla will be alright?" Lady Lockwood asked before James was looking around. Magnus and Will were the only ones that looked at him in the eyes, sending a message through them.
"She is alright. If I knew from the experience, they would be making their way through Fik Forest to go to Norkins where the slave markets were," Casey said as she was hugging the shawl tightly against her body. Magnus was whispering something into her ear as she leaned in against her husband.
"Then, we should intercept them in the forest. We should have the advantage then," the baron said as James shook his head.
"I would not risk it. I don't want Darla to be in any trouble more than she already is," he said before leaning against the mantle. He was staring at the fire as his blood boiled when Darla was likely in danger right now and he was unable to do anything.
"Then, we go and rescue her, brother. We have done it before, we can do it again," Will spoke for the first time before he turned to look at his youngest brother. Will was stirring his tea.
"But the ransom—"
"Is nothing to be worried about. We don't have to follow their instruction since we're not negotiating with the bandits. They don't have power over us if we don't give it to them," Will stated before James was rubbing his face. Then, Magnus was gripping his shoulder.
"We will get her back, I promise you," his older brother said before James caught that Baron Cascadian was looking at him before turning away. He could have sworn that the baron was smiling.
"Then, what are we waiting for? We have a lady to rescue," James said as they went to plan the best possible route to intercept them and rescue Darla before it was too late.
William was strapping the saddle and his panniers for the journey to retrieve Lady Darla Lockwood. He was looking at his older brothers as they were talking to their new family. Magnus was whispering to Casey as she was hugging him and kissed him for the longest time that Will had to turn away.
Then, there was James who was talking to Lord and Lady Lockwood, the Baron and Baroness of Cascadian as they were hugging him. Only Will who was not talking to anyone at the moment until someone was tapping on his shoulder. He turned to see that Lady Ashley Flemington, the old dowager countess, was smiling at him.
"They are happy, wouldn't you say?" the dowager said as Will just nodded. He was not good with words as he was trying to ignore the ache inside his cold heart.
"I saw that you were talking to someone at the party. What's her name?" she asked before Will sighed. Of course, his grandmother would saw that Will was talking to a lady.
A lady with jet black hair and the color of amethyst brightened her eyes. He shook that image from his mind.
"I touched her ungloved hand. It was a mistake and I apologized to her. It was no big deal," he said as he was making sure the girdle and the rein were in place.
"And yet when I asked about her, you don't want to share it with me. Are you keeping secrets, William Anne Flemington?"
Trust his grandmother to use his full name.
Will turned to look at the old dowager before he saw that she was smirking at him. Will sighed as he was pinching his nose bridge.
"Look, Grandma, you have one granddaughters-in-law and another is going to be another one if the rescue mission was a success,"
"It will be," the old dowager said but Will was not buying.
"And please spare me from your matchmaking. I don't have time to look for a potential bride when I was busy in Hamptor. I don't think I would be a good husband to her as well," he said before the old dowager was smirking at him.
"Are you sure, William? Because from what I heard in Hamptor, you are quite the ladies' man," his grandma said before he grunted.
"That was different and I will not be one of your matchmaking mission. Spare me this once," Will said before he mounted his mare. He turned to look at his grandmother before leaning down to kiss her on the cheeks.
"Stay safe, grandma. We don't know when we will be back," he said before Magnus and James were on the lead. Will took the rear and left for Fik forest. Even after that conversation, deep down, William knew that his grandma will do anything to make sure that Will will be someone's husband.
Not if I have anything to say about that, he mused before riding into the second rescue mission since last time.
Darla was hunching in the carriage as her evening gown was tainted with dirt and grime. She tried to hold her tears back for she did not want her captors to know that they were getting to her. They have been traveling for a few hours now since the night of the Tempest Ball and she was feeling lonely than ever.
Then, the carriage stopped. She heard that the driver was getting off and walking toward the door. Darla tried to sit up straight and looked defiant when the leader of the bandits was opening the door and smirked at her.
"Time to break your fast, my lady," he said as he was gripping her ankle and pulled her toward the door. Darla yelped before the leader was gripping her arm as they were moving toward the group of bandits that were settling on the ground.
"Where are we?" she asked the leader before he turned to look at Darla. He smirked before leaning in.
"We're in the Fik forest, sweetheart," he said before settling her on the ground, on the outskirts of the bandits that were looking at her with hungry eyes. She shifted so that her gown will cover most of her body.
Please, James, come save me, she prayed before the leader was barking orders at the bandits.
"You will not touch the merchandise. We have lost one last month and I don't want that event to repeat itself. We will break our fast and move to Norkins toward the slave markets." The leader turned to look at Darla before smiling at her.
"I think we will fetch a good price for this one," he said before taking a plate and piled up some food then dropped it on her lap.
"Eat and then we're moving," he said before the leader was sitting among his goons. Darla looked at the food on her plate and was shocked to see that the leader was filling it up. Then, she turned to look at the leader, trying to figure him out.
Who are you, really? She mused as Darla saw that the leader would smile and nod when his bandits were saying something. However, there was something about his eyes that told a story of his life and how he became to be one of them.
After Darla finished the food on her plate, the leader was gripping her arm, not hurting her, before opening the door to the carriage and about to shove her inside when an arrow was striking the door.
"We're under attack! Take cover!" the leader said before he dragged Darla to sit under the coach as he shoved her aside, taking his place next to her.
"What's going on?" she asked before the leader was loading his crossbow and he turned to look at her.
"Do not move from this spot," he said before the leader was making his way to fight the fighters that Darla did not know where they were located. Some of the bandits were hit by the same arrows that she saw stuck on the door.
Then, someone was pulling her from under the carriage.
Darla yelped as she was trashing, trying to get away from the tight grip that they had on her ankle. She was gripping the railing of the carriage before someone was shutting her mouth. Darla bit the palm before a familiar voice was cursing behind her. She turned to look at who was it and was surprised to see that James was there.
"If you're hungry and would like to eat, next time do not bite my palm," he said before he was looking around the forest.
"You're here," she whispered as Darla was touching his hard chest. James' sapphire orbs were looking for threats before he turned to look at Darla.
"I'm here," he replied.
"You came for me,"
"I will always come for you," he said before Darla did something that was unexpected. She pulled him by the nape and the next thing they were doing was kissing and biting against each other.
Darla was gripping his lapels before James was pushing her to the ground. He was kissing her savagely as if he was afraid that Darla would disappear from his arms. Darla was raking her fingernails over his broad shoulders and back before James broke the kiss and put his forehead against hers.
"Not here, we have to get to Red Cast first," he said as Darla was breathing his scent. Then, she nodded as James was instructing her to follow him.