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Authors: Madelyn Hill

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For the Love of a Gypsy

BOOK: For the Love of a Gypsy
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Table of Contents

FOR THE LOVE OF A GYPSY

MADELYN HILL

SOUL MATE PUBLISHING

New York

FOR THE LOVE OF A GYPSY

Copyright©2015

MADELYN HILL

Cover Design by Rae Monet, Inc.

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Published in the United States of America by

Soul Mate Publishing

P.O. Box 24

Macedon, New York, 14502

ISBN: 978-1-61935-
793-8

www.SoulMatePublishing.com

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

To my entire family.

Acknowledgements

Authors would not be able to exist without a support system. Family, friends, and fellow authors create a supportive group, sounding board, and sometimes an ear to vent when the muse goes missing.

I want to thank my Michigan family who has always supported me, encouraged me, and spread the word far and wide about my novels. Dad, even though you jokingly call this smut, you never stop sharing that I’m a writer and tell people to buy my book. My sisters Shavonne and Janine have also been there for me and encouraged me from the start. The Garner family, especially Aunt Sue, Kim and Dawn, your love has been a huge part of my life. Thank you! And the Martin family—I love your enthusiasm for my writing.

And my mother. You are no longer with us, but I know you were proud of my writing and your strength has been a constant inspiration to me. I miss you terribly.

Prologue

London, England 1811

The magistrate burst into the study. Officers filed in, weapons drawn.

“Declan Forrester, you are under arrest for treason.”

Treason?

Declan shot his gaze between the officers and his father as sweat began to bead over his brow. He feinted right, then left, twisting out of their reach.

“Father?” he questioned, begged, as he gauged the distance between him and the only door in the chamber.

His father stared forward unseeing, uncaring, as the magistrate continued to read a list of laws Declan had supposedly broken.

Crimes against the crown? Sedition? Threat on the King’s life?
He was innocent. How was his father sitting so calmly as his twenty-year-old son was accused of treason?

One officer grabbed his arm. Another gripped his shoulders from behind. They surrounded him. Tried to lock him in chains. He ripped from their grasp, crashed into a table, splinters lodging into his skin. His heart pounded in his ears as he saw the fate before him.

Prison.

“You will receive a trial,” the magistrate said as he rolled up the parchment that listed Declan’s crimes. “And if God has mercy, you will be put to death and not sent to Newgate.”

“Father,” Delcan yelled as they dragged him from the study, his voice screeching, echoing against the walls and falling on deaf ears. “Father!”

No answer to his plea. His father calmly stared ahead as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Then he nodded to the magistrate as if saying
Good day
.

Declan’s heart crumbled as his world crashed around him. Aye, he was used to his father’s apathy. But not when a son was being dragged from the family’s English estate. Not when the father was a member of the
ton
.

As they threw him into a locked carriage, Declan gripped the bars in the window and yelled, “Father,” as dread seized his heart and cold sweat dripped down his back. He’d no resources, save his father.
I’m as good as dead
.

He spied three black carriages waiting just inside the entrance of the estate as they departed. Two were decorated with a unique familial crest. He committed the crests to memory—one with a rearing steed and white plume, the other with a black knight with a silver shield.

Deep in his gut, he knew the crests would reveal who had accused him of such heinous crimes.

If it took until his dying breath, he’d hunt down the bastards who were sending him to hell.

Chapter 1

Kilkenny, Ireland 1819

He’d been a free man for three years, yet he still felt imprisoned. Instead of steel, the bars around him were made of loosely veiled threats and malcontent conversations.

He couldn’t find peace no matter how far he searched. He inhaled and exhaled, yet his lungs never felt as if they were gaining air.

“Saddle my horse,” he yelled to the stable hand.

“But, m’lord, Lord Ettenborough demands your attendance.”

Declan stopped and pinned the lad with a look that had him squirming. “I don’t give a damn what my father-in-law demands. I’m going for a ride.”

While he waited for the stable hand to saddle his steed, he slapped his gloves hard against his leg. Did his father-in-law think he could rule him? Dictate his every move? Aye, he’d married Abigail knowing her father would secure his freedom. He didn’t know freedom would have so many strings
and
threats attached.

If only the bastard would go back to London.

Declan mounted his stallion, Kindred, damn tired of participating in his ill-fitted life, letting rage suffused his body. As if sensing his rider’s urgency, the horse leapt into a smooth gallop.

“That’s my lad,” Declan urged.

The horse responded further by racing at a full run. Their path was obvious, one trod deeply into the fresh green field. Kindred’s thunderous hoof beats nearly drowned out the vicious thoughts coursing through Declan’s mind—thoughts that had plagued him for what seemed an eternity. Thoughts he didn’t voice, couldn’t voice.

One prison exchanged for another.

He thought of his wife. They’d grown to respect each other, created an amicable union, but her father—he made Declan’s life miserable.

Now desperation spurred him to nudge Kindred faster and faster as dirt flew and rocks cracked like whips against the saddle and horse’s hooves.

He pushed the animal hard, yet at the moment he didn’t give a damn as the breeze sifted over his body and the scent of Ireland mingled within it and shrouded him in familiarity. He grinned as he pitched his face toward the wind.

He’d prayed Abigail would accept him, and she did. Even though he knew she pined for another, one her father would never allow her to marry. They each sought an escape—him from prison, her from a domineering father and forbidden love. Yet at every turn the estimable Lord Ettenborough threatened to send him back to hell.

He urged the stallion toward the dense protection of pines. Declan chuckled as the foliage seemed to bow open and consume him as he rode through. A quick camouflage, a cloak from the outside world.

Declan lowered his chest against the horse’s neck until he felt as if they were one, breathing and flexing and straining muscles together. The trees shielded him in a cloud of green, tinged with the aroma of pine and loam, and infused him with a peace.

Temporary peace and shade from the sunlight dripping from the sky. The same sunlight that aggravated the megrim pulsing at the base of his neck. As the horse and rider ventured further into the thicket, Declan’s mind cleared. He continued to ride mindlessly, eager to be free of problems and worry.

What would it take to be this calm every moment of the day
?

The grove of pine thinned as a clearing rose before him. He dismounted and slapped Kindred on his well-muscled hindquarters. The horse trotted toward a stream trickling through the secluded area.

Hands clasped behind his back, Declan searched the glen for something to distract him. The scents of the earth, grass, and air swirled around him in a pleasant aroma. Here, he could breathe. The quiet stretch of field lay empty. Nothing proved worthy as a distraction, unless he counted the winsome croak of a frog and the flutter of a breeze through the tall grass.

His mind continued to think of his predicament. Married to the daughter of the man who’d freed him. The same man who continued to threaten and berate him.

And now Declan was the lord of an estate in Ireland, part of the bounty the English government awarded to English settlers in Ireland during Cromwell’s reign. And luckily for him, Ettenborough had an estate that needed a lord, and Ettenborough hated Ireland. ‘Twas why he’d sought out Declan who was rotting away in the pits of Newgate prison. He needed a titled suitor for his disgraced daughter.

Titled
. He shook his head. The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on him. Och, how he hated the term
lord
. It was lords who’d sent him to prison for five years. His father was a lord and upon his death, Declan was now Lord Forrester. An inherited title Declan’d quickly shed if possible.

Not that he’d forsake his responsibility to his tenants and the villagers. Not to mention the numerous staff it took to run Riverton
,
an estate he’d come to love. The hills of his land offered him an openness he’d savored since arriving in Kilkenny. No longer limited to the rank confines of his cell, Declan moved about the land as much as possible, relishing the feel of loam beneath his feet and the sight of rolling green meadows. Simple tasks such as checking the fields and inspecting the animals gave him solace, even pleasure. He bounced his heels against the earth to see if it was as fertile as his fields. ‘Twasn’t.

In the distance a dog barked. Another joined in. Declan shook his head to break his reverie and strode in the direction of the barking.

At the edge of the stream, not many lengths from his horse, two handsome Lurchers pranced about, baying, nipping at each other. Their caramel coats glistened in the sun with a brightness that told the dogs were well cared for.

Och, and there was their caretaker. No doubt a caravan was nearby.

He watched the woman as she commanded the dogs. She stood haloed by the light and open glen. Her laughter twinkled along the wind, reaching out to him.

She turned, saw him, and moved to flee, but she hesitated and fully faced him with a curious glint in her eyes, the tilt of her head.

She had large eyes, a full mouth, and high cheekbones. Bright colors comprised her long skirt that failed to hide her bare feet.

A Gypsy.

As he watched her, she narrowed her gaze and gave a signal to her dogs, all without taking her eyes from him.

The woman raced from the area, her dogs giving chase as they melded into the forest and to where ever they’d made camp.

No doubt the villagers had heard. Soon, he’d have an angry crowd to deal with, wanting him to remove the Gypsy clan.

Gypsies were trouble—and he certainly didn’t need any more trouble in his life.

Martine ran from the glen until her lungs felt hot and tight and her breathing hitched in her throat. Leaning against a tree, she attempted to slow the rapid beat of her heart as she sucked in heaping gulps of air. She needed to calm herself, gather her composure before returning to the encampment. The dogs circled around her excitedly, then mimicked her relaxed position as they nuzzled close by. She cast a doleful glance at the pair and leaned her head against the rough bark of the tree.

Despair and curiosity battled in her mind. If her brother Rafe knew she’d wandered so far from camp, she’d receive a stern wag of his finger and a lecture on how to behave in relation to her position in the clan.

And if he knew she’d seen a
Gajo
? And a
Gajo
had seen her? Martine shuddered at the thought, remembering he’d threatened to shackle her if she ever spoke to an Irishman. She knew his motives, even agreed with them, but she was sorely tempted to make acquaintances outside of the clan. Something, anything to forge a relationship with the outside world, the world she used to belong to.

Martine chuckled despite the unease rustling in her stomach. The tall Irishman had seen her, had seen her dogs. Gypsies were infamous for training the Lurchers. Perhaps he’d keep it a secret. Aye, and she was the Queen of England. There wasn’t hope of silence, that much she knew.

She thought of him again, so different he seemed from the men of her clan. His long hair flowed free of a tether, his shoulders broad, muscular. Her heart skipped a beat as she thought of his purposeful stride. Controlled, regal. Gypsy men were sleek, lanky, not broad and muscle bound. Something about the man had intrigued her even as his presence frightened her. Was it his ardent interest? The slight cock of his brow as he watched her, studied her with too much scrutiny. A tiny flutter filled her abdomen, eased along her limbs, awakening feelings she knew should be held for her betrothed, Magor.

Oh, but the Irishman’s eyes—Martine sighed at the mere thought of them—sparkled a rich blue that rivaled any dye her
púridaia
skillfully created. And her grandmother made quite the coin when she bartered her colorful cloth. She’d only crossed the ocean once, but the color, the vibrancy, how shades shifted and merged together created the blue of the Irishman’s gaze.

Och, she shouldn’t even think upon him. She was betrothed.

To Magor. A man she didn’t know but was expected to accept as her husband because the clan deemed it so. Her heart clenched at the prospect of a marriage to a man so foreign to her.

She rose from the damp ground and swept her skirt clean, stalling, she knew. The dogs stood at attention, ears perked for a command.

“Go,” she said in a low, even voice. The Lurchers obeyed and trotted toward the caravans.

Martine checked her appearance once more, knowing Rafe would pounce on any dishevelment. His exalted position in the clan as the eldest of the Pentrulengo children caused her undue scrutiny as well.

She followed in the wake of the dogs, their barking antics widened the once hidden path, and her mouth tipped up in a grin at their enthusiasm. The busy activities of the clan proved useful as she slipped into the feminine circle chatting by the fire.

“Martine.”

Rafe’s tone tangled her nerves. She’d earned the wrath of her brother, and worse, that of their leader. She rose and turned to face him, lifting her gaze from the ground, knowing he was vexed. “The dogs were restless.”

“Aye, and mayhap their mistress as well,” he said after a shrewd assessment.

Resentment welled up. “I’m not a prisoner, Rafe. I alone know the needs of the dogs.”

He nodded. But she didn’t miss his scrutiny.

Rafe kept his posture rigid as the wind caught on the full sleeves of his shirt. His dark eyes revealed little, but the clenching of his jaw told her he was aggravated as his scar, shaped like a sliver of the moon, shone white against his tan cheekbone. “You mustn’t act so impetuously. The woods are not safe for the likes of us.”

Martine clenched her fists in the folds of her full skirt.

“What is it?” her brother demanded. Rafe narrowed his eyes. They seemed like the pits of darkness as they skewered her. “Tell me,
Siskkaar
.”

No matter how he was scowling at her, it always touched her when he spoke with endearments, called her sister instead of treating her with the detachment he reserved for other tribesmen. She missed the young man he used to be before he became a leader. The time when the clan had rescued her after a carriage accident had killed her family and she was found lost and injured. But she mustn’t allow this slight mellowing to force her to reveal anything of importance.

His scowl told her he didn’t believe her. “I am responsible for the safety of the clan.”

“Aye,” she said as she nodded. Nerves rattled her as sweat began to moisten her palms.

He tipped up her chin. “
Siskkaar
.” His tone stiffened and held a warning that he knew she wasn’t being truthful. Ire bunched the muscles along his jaw. If she tempted him further she’d be stuck laundering the clan’s garments as a punishment.

She sighed as she searched for something to say. “’Twas nothing. Just a man refreshing his horse at the stream.”

Rafe grabbed her arms and brought her face close to his. His rough actions contradicted the concern and softness reflected in the lines of his face.

“Next time bring Thomas.” His strained voice unnerved her.

“’Twas only a short distance,” she stammered.

He lessened his grip, but the imprint of fingers stung her arms. “You are too trusting. These people mean us only harm.”

She twisted away and rubbed her arm. “He never saw me,” she lied with a simplicity unlike her. What would it be like talking with an Irishman? Was he friendly? Harsh? She knew she’d forsaken her true heritage when she chose to stay with the Rom, but he was one of her own.

“And what if he did? Would you be able to protect yourself?”

She hesitated and he turned with a grunt of disgust.

No, she wouldn’t be able to protect herself against the handsome man. And although she was betrothed, Martine wasn’t certain she wanted to.

BOOK: For the Love of a Gypsy
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