Caught In The Act…of Spying?

Mrs. Chase jumped.

He had not expected the lass to jump. And he certainly had not expected her to hurdle right into his chin whilst doing so, causing him to bite his tongue in the process. But she had. And he did. And dammit, it hurt like hell. He swallowed the coppery tang that tainted his mouth.

Mrs. Chase spun around, one hand rubbing her head, her eyes watery with pain, and jumped right into her own accusation. “What in the blazes do you think you are doing, MacLeod?”

“What am I doing?” Really?

“Yes. What are you doing? Don’t you know better than to sneak up on a person when she is…um… When she is…” Mrs. Chase licked her lips. “…erm…concentrating?”

He snorted and stepped closer, crowding her before the door, his eyes drawn to her wetted, plump lips.

Nae, dammit. No lips. Especially not from sneaking, spying, temptresses.

He jerked his gaze up to hers, pinning her in place with his regard and searching for the truth in her golden-brown orbs. Against his better judgement, which was normally quite sound, he felt the beginnings of a smile tug at his lips. “Och, is that what you were doing?”

When he’d witnessed Mrs. Chase follow Dansbury upstairs, he’d become convinced her actions were nefarious. All right, maybe not nefarious. Suspicious, at the very least. He had trouble truly believing her a spy, for based on her behavior downstairs, she obviously wasn’t aiming for secrecy.

And now this? Real spies didn’t spend their evenings peeking beneath locked doors. Obviously. But her reaction to getting caught? Audacious. Preposterous. And utterly suspicious.

If matters with Dansbury weren’t so serious, he’d add borderline charming. But they were. He had to remember that.

With the little space he’d left her, Mrs. Chase reached down and felt around for her reticule, her gaze never leaving his. Still, she smiled when she asked, “Well, what else would I be doing?”

MacLeod very nearly snorted once again; instead he forced himself to look serious rather than incredulous or worse, enchanted. “It looked to me like you were spying on the occupants of this room.” He nodded his head toward the room in question.

Mrs. Chase fiddled with the strings of her reticule, not quite meeting his eyes now. Still, he heard her clearly when she replied, “Ridiculous.”

MacLeod frowned. “So you weren’t on your knees just now, spying through that verra keyhole?” He nodded his head toward the aperture in question.

She looked over her shoulder, following his gaze, then back at him, wetting her lips once more. “Well, that would be silly now, wouldn’t it?” She grinned as if she found him infinitely amusing, then reached up and patted his arm. “M-my, you have quite the imagination, MacLeod.”

Her words of denial were ridiculous. They both knew he’d caught her doing just that.

MacLeod shook his head and found himself once more on the verge of a chuckle. “I can honestly say no one’s ever accused me of that before.”

That’s when he realized what he had to do. Oh, he could play her game; he was here for the night anyway. If she wanted to spend the evening standing in a drafty, smelly old hall while he listened to her invent some imaginary yarn he would not believe anyhow, he could accommodate her and play along. But he was better off questioning her where they were not likely to be seen or heard, especially by Dansbury. And he really should take a more serious, harder look at her motives.

Mind made up, MacLeod stepped forward and leaned down. He was so close, he could hear her shaky intake of breath before she gulped. He waited a second more, then said, “I’m also no’ much of a talker.” He reached out impulsively and tugged at a loose lock of hair, “I’m more a man of action, you ken?”

And without another word, MacLeod scooped her up and tossed her over his shoulder.