Read Captive Surrender Online

Authors: Rebecca King

Tags: #romance, #romantic suspense, #mystery, #historical fiction, #historical romance, #romantic mystery

Captive Surrender

BOOK: Captive Surrender
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



The Star Elite






Rebecca King

© Rebecca King


















Prudence glanced up at
the sound of hooves on the gravel driveway, and froze at the sight
of the men riding toward the house. She shared a panicked look with
her sister, Maggie, and nodded toward the house.

Go and get
Bobby inside.” Although her face remained impassive, inside she was
a bundle of nerves. She pushed her shovel into the soft soil at her
feet and wiped her hands on her apron as she tried to brace herself
against what she knew was coming. Her stomach dropped to her toes
as she studied each of the four riders in turn.

The smallest rider,
Ludwig Levant, was local gentry, and a bully through and through.
His sudden arrival at Dinnington Hall several weeks ago had been a
shock to everyone, given that nobody had any hint that the previous
owner, Lord Dulwich, had even intended to sell his ancestral home.
Since then, Levant had earned himself a reputation for being
someone who would insult, intimidate and downright threaten
whenever he felt like it. It had quickly become evident to
everyone, including Prudence, that Levant was a man to be avoided
at all costs. If she could have avoided the imminent confrontation
she would have but, given that Cragdale Manor was her home, there
was nowhere she could go to avoid Levant’s latest visit.

Even from several feet
away, Prudence watched the man’s small beady eyes run longingly
over the large manor house behind her. He seemed to naturally carry
an air of someone who considered everyone around him beneath him,
and had the mistaken belief that money could buy whatever he
wanted. Unfortunately, he had made it perfectly clear that he had
wanted the house Prudence and her family lived in, and had taken to
visiting several times a week to make ridiculous offers for the
place that were accompanied with snide insults and

The man to his right had
been born and raised in the village, and was nothing more than a
rather dim witted local thug, but it still irked her that he had
taken to accompanying Levant on his visits. Opinion in the local
village of Marchwell was divided as to Humphrey Brown’s
intelligence; some considered him merely strange, while others
suggested that he lacked common sense. Whatever his state of mind,
he was a huge bear of a man who was swift with his fists, however
rather slow with his speech. That combination had landed him in
jail on more than one occasion, and was undoubtedly one of the
reasons why Levant had him in his employ: he didn’t have the
intelligence to ask questions. Right now, his girth sat astride a
horse that clearly struggled to carry his immense weight, but that
didn’t seem to bother Humphrey, who peered around him with all of
the aplomb of a lord of the realm.

The man to Levant’s left
was someone Prudence had only ever seen once before, and that had
been on the day of his arrival in the village with Levant. He had
never actually accompanied his boss on any of his weekly visits to
Cragdale Manor before; the fact that he was present now unnerved
her. Was he someone else who was going to issue sinister threats
toward the house and family? Casting her fear aside, she bravely
threw him a disparaging glance and turned her attention to the
tallest rider of them all.

The last man was someone
Prudence knew she had never seen before; she would have remembered
him. His straight back and broad shoulders had a military bearing
and, if it wasn’t for the large gun on his hip and the company he
rode with, Prudence could have believed that the cavalry had
arrived to help her. She swallowed and studied the handsome
features of the nameless rider. She couldn’t help but think that it
was a pity someone like him was involved with such an awful person
as Levant. The closer he rode toward her, the more she was able to
see of his wonderful amber eyes, and rather austere features
beneath a mop of shockingly jet black hair. She didn’t need to see
behind him to know that it had been rather unfashionably tied at
the nape of his neck, but it made him look roguish rather than

She blanked out the
flurry of awareness that began to distract her and sternly reminded
herself that he was an associate of her arch enemy. It was enough
to embolden her to rake him with a rather rude and disinterested
glance before she turned her attention back to the main perpetrator
of the latest bout of trouble.

At least this time Bobby
wouldn’t be around to witness the insults, vile innuendo and veiled
threats again. The last time Robbie had seen Levant in action, her
young brother had cried himself to sleep at night and spent days
fretting about the family’s future.

Ah, there
you are, Prudence, my dear,” Ludwig drawled in a voice that was as
syrupy as it was insincere. “It is a wonderful afternoon we are
having, is it not?”

Prudence’s face remained
impassive and she remained silent. She wasn’t going to even waste
her time sharing the time of day with the odious creature. She knew
from past experience that if she was hospitable, or even sociable,
he would waste no time in stalking around the place, inspecting
everything while smarming and sniping his way toward offering a
ridiculous sum of money for the house. The last time he had
visited, he had even made an offer for her! It was outrageous, and
something Prudence simply wasn’t going to allow to happen

She watched as the horses
drew to a stop only a few feet from where she stood. It left
Prudence at a distinct advantage, but she refused to give the men
the satisfaction of stepping backward to be able to see them more
clearly. It galled her that she had to crane her neck at an
uncomfortable angle as it was, but it was either that or talk to
the horses.

Determined not to be
intimidated, she merely sniffed dismissively and turned to lift the
shovel out of the ground.

Aren’t we
speaking today?” Ludwig sighed theatrically. “Your manners really
do leave a lot to be desired, Prudence, I must say.”

Prudence remained
stoically silent and continued to dig the ground over, however the
rich scent of the dark brown soil did little to soothe her frayed
nerves. It was odd that she felt so on edge. Ludwig Levant’s usual
visits, often thrice weekly, hadn’t bothered her all that much
before. She knew that as long as she stood firm, and continued to
refuse to sell the house, there was nothing that Ludwig, or any of
his men, could do to force them out. What was it about this visit
that was so different? Why were her nerves all on edge?

She glanced up and
groaned inwardly as two of her sisters, Maggie and Georgiana, came
out to join her in a show of solidarity. They were only trying to
offer their support, but had unwittingly just set themselves up as
targets. She threw them a dark look that warned them to keep quiet,
and didn’t have to wait long before Levant began to peck away at
the fresh prey that had just presented itself.

Morning, my
dears,” Levant called and doffed his imaginary cap in their
direction. His swarthy face broke into an insincere smile. “I am
glad that you could join us. I was just telling your sister here
that it is a wonderful, fine day we are having.”

Maggie and Georgiana
merely glanced at each other, and followed Prudence’s approach and
remained silent.

Levant glanced askance at
his associates and folded his arms defiantly. “Well, I think that
we must leave and come back again because I don’t think that they
know we are here.” He coughed loudly and leaned forward in his
saddle. “I think, Prudence, that you must pay attention a bit more,
my dear, because we won’t go away, you know.”

Prudence lifted her eyes
and met his with a directness that made the squire sit up and study
her with a frown. It was the first time in her entire life that
Prudence had been deliberately ill mannered toward anyone before
and she hated it; almost as much as she hated him. Her conscience
and good breeding demanded that she at least acknowledge the man’s
presence, and she would have done, if she hadn’t been pushed into
being rude by the desperate need to do everything within her power
to protect her home and her family.

I have
nothing to say to you, Levant,” Prudence snapped in disgust. She
wished the man beside him, the handsome stranger, wouldn’t stare at
her so intently. He unnerved her more than the loathsome squire.
“We aren’t selling and that is that.”

Well, how
about I do you a deal then?” He paused only briefly to gauge
Prudence’s reaction and sighed deeply again when she continued to
remain silent. “I will purchase your beach and grounds, and you can
remain in the house. I cannot say fairer than that, now can I? You
cannot remain here all alone, without a man to protect you for very
long though, now can you?”

We aren’t
all alone,” Maggie snapped and glared at Prudence in outrage. Why
was Prudence so quiet? What was she up to? She opened her mouth to
tell them to go only to wish that she had kept her mouth closed
when all four of the riders turned their attention in her

Oh, I am
sorry, my dear, I was forgetting about your young brother. What is
he now, ten, perhaps? Old enough to work, isn’t he?”

My brother
will not work for the likes of you,” Prudence growled and
accompanied her brisk statement with a filthy glare. She flicked
the handsome stranger a dark look and turned away, desperately
trying to ignore the flurry of awareness that frayed her nerves
even further.

I think that
your mother must need him at home, what with you ladies being
without a proper man in the house,” Levant smarmed.

Prudence threw Georgiana
a hard look when her sister opened her mouth to speak. As astute as
ever, Georgiana closed her mouth with a snap and returned to the
house without uttering a word. It was all Prudence could hope for.
She had to dig the rest of the garden over so that they could plant
the winter vegetables before the rain set in. Dark thunder clouds
were already gathering on the horizon and, if her predictions were
correct, she had approximately one hour before the first deluge
would arrive to turn their garden into a muddy, unmanageable
quagmire. The sooner she could get rid of the unwanted visitors,
the quicker she could finish the garden and get inside.

I am going
to purchase your lands and beach. My man of business here has the
paperwork,” Levant declared confidently. All pretence of charm had
vanished and been replaced with a brisk, business-like arrogance
that rankled Prudence’s temper even further. She clutched the
handle of the shovel tightly and had to draw in a deep breath to
fight the urge to swing it at the horrible little man. Instead, she
almost too carefully began to dig over the ground at her feet. When
she made no attempt to collect the paperwork off Levant’s man of
business, he dismounted, walked over to her, and held the paperwork
out for her to take. Prudence merely glanced at it and continued to

I think that
if one of us has a hearing problem, it is most definitely you,
Levant,” Prudence snarled and paused only briefly to glare at him.
She eyed the paperwork the man of business held out to her, but
made no move to take it off him and glared at him before she turned
her back. “I told you on many occasions that nobody in this family
will sell you anything.”

BOOK: Captive Surrender
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Black Sentry by Bernhardt, William
Midwife in a Million by Fiona McArthur
Blood Moon by Jackie French
The Nothing Man by Jim Thompson
Preston Falls : a novel by Gates, David, 1947-
Zombiekill by Watts, Russ
Saddle the Wind by Jess Foley
William by Claire Cray
Deception by Silver, Jordan