"They worked quietly and efficiently, leaving the carriage several blocks from the house. There was a faint light in the window three down from the corner of the house, as if one candle burned there. This was the possible room of the thumping noise, but Lance couldn’t decide if that was a good or a bad sign. When he could see no shadows moving he moved cautiously up the ladder, while Charles held it steady. The open window proved easy to enter, and he silently swung his feet to the floor. Hoping he’d found Shannon and not alarmed her too much, he was already uttering reassuring whispers as he moved toward the bed.
“It’s Lance, sweetheart. I’ve come to take you to my aunt, just as I promised.”
There was no sound, but as his eyes adjusted to the dim light he could see figure curled up on the bed. A figure with skirts. He moved to her slowly and then saw the girl had her hands tied together behind her back. Swallowing his curses he drew his knife from his boot and set her hands free. Worried that she still hadn’t made a sound, he ran his hands over her quickly and found her legs also tied. Cursing under his breath he freed her legs. She still hadn’t spoken and he quickly checked for a gag and found none.
As his eyes adjusted to the dim light he saw it was indeed Shannon. He put his arms around her and tried to assist her in sitting on the edge of the bed, but she lay supine and motionless. By god, she’d been drugged. Powerfully drugged, he would hope with nothing worse than laudanum. The bound hands and legs were simple cruelty. She was not going anywhere on her own for some time. His mental curses grew more profane as he realized with only one eye he could not carry her and negotiate the ladder safely in this pitch-black night.
It was time to summon Charles. Leaning out the window he chirped like a cricket, at least he hoped it was like one, and waited. Charles silently ascended the ladder and stepped into the room. Seeing a girl limp and helpless, he sucked in his breath. He’d need both hands to hold her while carrying her down. Then he saw Lance, holding down a sheet and cutting it into strips, and quickly went to help. They soon formed a sort of cradle and Lance lifted Shannon into it gently.
“Tie her on my back in the most secure manner, Charles. I think that will be around my neck. She’ll be safer that way that any other, and there’s not enough time to fashion a secure sling for my shoulders. I’ll need both hands to make sure I don’t stumble on such a dark night.”
“There’s no way you can do that, Lance, without the sheet damn near cutting your neck in two. Let me take her.”
“No,” Lance hissed. “It would be the same for you. You go first so you can watch out and be ready to take her from me.”
They carefully descended, Shannon’s inert body dragging on Lance’s neck. He made no sound, but stilled at the bottom of the ladder so Charles could take her in his arms. There was enough moonlight that Charles could see blood dripping on Lance’s collar, and he shuddered. He had seldom seen a more selfless act. He just hoped to hell they got away safely, and this girl he was carrying was worth his friend’s pain. He must have damned near choked to death on that slow descent."
Naturally you now want to know what happens. don't you?
The set is packed with good stories at a bargain price. It's at Amazon, and all the usual places.
'Til next month.... Jean