*** RELEASING JUNE 5th! ***
Cree and Dawn are about to depart on their much delayed journey to see Cree’s sister, Wintra. Dawn hopes they arrive in time so she can be there for Wintra when she delivers her baby. To their surprise, Torr, Wintra’s husband, arrives looking for his wife. It seems Wintra left home just before a snowstorm hit and though he followed after her when he found out she was gone, the blinding snowstorm forced him to take shelter.
Torr is mad with worry for his wife. Cree is ready to beat Torr for not keeping his sister safe, and Dawn attempts to calm both men as the three wonder…where is Wintra?
Cree spotted Torr on his horse only a short distance from the keep. Anxious to know what brought him here without Wintra, and warning the heavens that nothing better have happened to his sister, Cree threw his arm around his wife’s waist, hoisted her up against him, and hurried down the keep’s steps.
Torr approached the bottom of the steps just as Cree set Dawn on her feet. He was not as tall as Cree, but he was of good height, being taller than most men and powerfully built, unlike most men. And while there was no one who was as handsome as Cree to Dawn, Torr came close even with the scar that ran down the left side of his face, but then she was partial since Torr was her half-brother.
“Tell me Wintra is here,” Torr demanded, slipping off his horse and hurrying to Cree. “Tell me she made it here. Tell me she is safe inside the keep.”
Cree scowled at Torr. “Wintra is not here and God will not even be able to help you if you let anything happen to my sister.”
“I will deserve anything you do to me,” Torr said, “but first you will help me find her.”
Dawn felt her husband’s hand fall away from hers and she knew his intention. She took tight hold of it before he could reach out and grab Torr.
Torr looked to Dawn. “I told her you would come. I told her that the snowstorm had delayed you and you would arrive soon, that nothing would stop you from keeping your word.”
“We were leaving today,” Cree said, fighting to keep control of his anger at Torr and his worry over his sister.
Torr shook his head. “Wintra did not want to face the birth alone and as the snow grew heavier, she grew more anxious that you would not arrive before the baby would.”
“What did my sister do?” Cree demanded.
“She rode off in the snowstorm while I slept. As soon as I discovered what she had done, I went after her. When the snow turned so blinding that I could not see, I found shelter. I had hoped with her leaving before me that she missed the worst of the storm and arrived here safely.” Torr’s piercing blue eyes were filled with determination when he turned them on Cree. “Do what you will to me for failing to protect my wife—your sister—but first you will help me find her.”
Dawn stepped forward before her husband could. She had felt him grow taut beside her as Torr demanded like a mighty warrior, but then Torr had proven himself to be a fierce fighter and skilled swordsmen, and Dawn knew her husband respected him. That would not, however, stop Cree from thrashing his brother-in-law. A fight between the two men would not help the situation. What was more important was for them to find Wintra and that was what Dawn attempted to explain with her hands.
She was relieved when her husband agreed.
“Dawn is right, finding Wintra takes priority. I will give you a good beating later when we find my sister.” Cree did not say what he assumed Torr already understood. That if his sister had lost her life, through her own foolishness, Torr would lose his as well.
“We leave now,” Torr said with some relief and turned to mount his horse.
“No!” Cree commanded. “You will go in the keep and warm yourself and eat while I see that all is made ready for our departure.”
Torr stepped toward Cree, his eyes blazing. “I am not one of your warriors who will jump at your command. I will not sit idle when I do not know where my wife might be or what danger she may be in. Do what you will, but I intend to go find my wife.”
Dawn stepped in front of Torr and placed her hand on his chest, patting it gently.
Torr took hold of her hand. “It is only because you are my sister that I do not beat your husband in front of you.”
That had Cree stepping forward and Dawn’s other hand swinging out behind her to stop him from taking another step.
When Cree stilled, she gestured so both men could see her hands.
Torr looked to Cree, his blue eyes filled with more worry now than anger. “Dawn is right. Arguing will solve nothing and neither will my pigheadedness.”
“On that we can agree,” Cree said and turned a scowl on him. “We waste time. If you take a brief respite to get warm and eat, you will be stronger for the journey. It will also give us time to determine what path to follow in our search for Wintra. We can take our leave in thirty minutes.”
“I do not like taking any time away from the search for my wife, but I would be foolish not to take your advice,” Torr said with a nod. “I will wait for you in the Great Hall.”
“My sister was doing well otherwise?”
“Wintra was well. Though she was heavy with child, it did not stop her from doing what she wished, no matter how many times I threatened to lock her in our bedchamber.”
Cree looked at Dawn. “She is much like—”
Dawn tapped her husband’s chest before he could finish.
“You are right, Dawn. Wintra is much like her brother,” Torr agreed, “and I am glad for it. It means she will do whatever she has to—to survive.”
Torr was right and Cree was proud of it. Wintra had the strength and courage to survive her own foolishness, her obstinate nature would permit nothing less.
A plan was hastily formed. According to Torr, Wintra knew only the path they had traveled when he had brought her home to the McClusky Clan. It would be wise for them to follow that path, though they had to consider that Wintra had been traveling in a snowstorm. When it worsened, she could have been forced off the path to find shelter just as Torr had been forced off the familiar path.
McClusky land bordered Cree’s property. Both were vast holdings and while Cree was familiar with the area, he had yet to explore every inch of his property.
Torr explained there were a few crofts once you crossed from Cree’s to McClusky land and a keep or two that had crumbled with age.
A plan was made to take the route Wintra was familiar with and stop at the crofts and see if she had sought shelter at any of them or if anyone had seen her. If not, they would extend their search. They were soon ready to start.
When Dawn mounted her horse and saw that only six of Cree’s warriors waited for them, she turned to her husband.
Cree understood her questioning look without her having to gesture. “Six of my best warriors are enough, anymore will only slow us down. Besides, this is a search for my sister, not a rescue.”
Dawn hoped he was right.