The Highlander’s Betrayal Preview

A Historical Scottish Romance Novel

About the book

He couldn’t see her dead, so he decided to die instead…

Sophia Nicholson steals for a living, and she is not proud of it. Her biggest scheme is coming up: disguise herself as a Lady, and infiltrate a royal reeling. What she doesn’t expect is the son of the Laird taking a fancy to her… 

When Callen Patterson sees the most beautiful woman at his reeling, he is mesmerized. But something feels off about her, and catches her stealing. But she also stole his heart in the process…

Giving Sophia a second chance, is his first mistake. Falling for her is his second. Despite her desire to become a law-abiding citizen, Sophia needs to take care of her father-figure. Which helps Callen’s enemies step in his shoes, and get him out of the way…


Chapter One


Nimble fingers weren’t something that most people would admire. They looked too scrawny, moved too quickly, and a thick layer of dirt beneath the nails often caused onlookers to turn away. For Sophia, that was perfect.

She picked her way through the crowded streets of Ardenkeld; weaving through people was as natural to her as breathing. With her head down, Sophia darted closer to the stalls in question.

“Get yer bread!” a baker shouted from his stall. “Only two-pound Scots.”

“Only free for me,” Sophia muttered to herself.

She kept low and used her dark, moth-eaten cloak to blend in. The hood of it covered her face as she passed by the stall, her hands working quickly to find purchase on whatever was positioned at the edge of the wooden table.

The bread slid from one hand to the other, and she was off before anyone was any wiser.

It wasn’t until she was a couple of yards away from the stall that she dared to look at her loot. Two smaller cuts of what must have been a much larger loaf.

It wouldn’t be enough for her and Fraser alone, but Sophia was only just getting started.

The streets were alive with the cacophony of grocers trying to sell their wares. People flocked to the markets in the morning, making it the perfect time for Sophia to steal due to the amount of cover from the crowds.

She knew her routine around the market as though she were in a rat run, a stinking nest that she had experienced every single day of her life.

“Ales by the barrel!”

“Fresh cut meats!”

The shouts of advertisement were always the same. Sophia could feel her sack getting heavier on her shoulders as she acquired more goods. She could normally get enough for them to be satisfied, but she never got too much. They may have been thieves, but they were still appreciative of what they had.

The streets were cramped and filled with filth, but Sophia barely batted an eyelid to this. She was a part of the filth, just another rat in a nest of vermin. She knew the much older rat that she cared for would be waiting, and so she put some haste into her steps as she made her way through the town.

She lodged on the edge of the bustling area, near a small stream. Sophia told people that this was her ‘lodging,’ but it was quite an exaggeration. For her lodging had no walls that one would conventionally think of, and her roof was an old bridge that was more holes than wood. Sophia smiled fondly at her temporary home. She wouldn’t live in that life forever, so didn’t see the point in having brick or wooden structures around them. She wasn’t going to pay to live somewhere when she could do just fine outdoors.

As usual, she only removed the hood of her cloak once she was inside their small abode. Her red hair was far too striking for her to go out and try to steal things; she would catch people’s eye and she would easily be caught in the act.

“I’m back!” she spoke loudly to wake up the skinny old man in the corner.

He was far too old to do what he had once taught her many years beforehand, and Sophia was convinced that he spent more of his time with his eyes closed than he did awake.

“Did ye get caught?” he asked in a rough tone.

His voice sounded as though it was fighting through lumps of gravel to be heard.

“If I was caught, do ye really think that I would be here right now?” Sophia chuckled and shook her head. “Besides, ye ask me that question almost every day. I’ve never been caught.”

“Ye ken, it’s that kind of attitude that will get ye caught one of these days,” he remarked as he started to push himself up with a wince. “Remember what I always taught ye?”

“Dinnae get sloppy, or ye will slip,” Sophia said.

She recalled everything that he had taught her as though she were reciting the gospel. Though, they worshiped at their own kind of church - the church of survival.

“Exactly, and these days I will nae be there to help ye if ye do fall,” Fraser said.

The old man had been a street rat for the majority of his life. Someone now dead had taught him, and he had, in turn, passed down all of his tricks to Sophia. Though they weren’t related, he was the closest thing that she had to a father. He’d been as close as blood for many years, and she could no longer imagine life without him.

But Fraser’s body was starting to fail him. With each day, he seemed to grow weaker, and it was left up to Sophia to provide for the two of them. Although it was a heartbreaking thought for her, she knew she would be without him one day, then she would have to find a young, struggling street rat to take under her wing.

“I need to go somewhere tonight,” Sophia explained as she watched the old man gnaw on a piece of bread.

“Do I want to know about it?”

“Nay, it’s best that we dinnae discuss it further,” she said in a mutter as she folded up her cloak and slumped down next to Fraser.

Her stomach growled as she reached for the other slice of bread.

Sophia was going to a royal event that night, with a ticket that she had stolen, of course. She smirked at the power that their status got them in life; Sophia realized that you either had to be deathly rich or deathly poor to get anywhere in the world. People barely glanced her way when she walked the streets, and under a good enough disguise, they wouldn’t look her way when inside of the castle either.

“Do we need anything else at the moment?” Fraser asked with a sigh.

“Ye worry too much.” Sophia chuckled as she shook her head. She quickly adjusted the blanket around him to make sure that he was warm enough.

“Nay, I worry just enough,” he quickly fired back. “I dinnae think that ye need to be putting yerself at risk all of the time. We will get by for a few more days without ye having to go out again, surely?”

But Sophia shook her head. She knew that she had always been stubborn, but this was taking it to another level. She had to go to such events to steal things other than food. It was the easiest way for them to get their hands on fine jewelry that they could later pawn off.

“I tell ye, Magpie,” Fraser said as he coughed lightly. “Ye will slip.”

Fraser had called her Magpie ever since he’d found her at the age of fifteen. Showing the recently orphaned Sophia Nicholson the tricks of the trade and how to steal pearl earrings off a noblewoman had allowed them to stay together. Fraser nicknamed her Magpie due to her desire for stealing jewels.

Later that evening, Sophia cleaned herself up the best she could a little further down the stream. They were fortunate in the sense that their home was around a small community of others, but the river on the other side of town was where the sewerage flowed through. Their small trickle of a stream was the perfect area of tranquility that guaranteed them clean water.

After washing in the stream, Sophia walked back toward their shelter. There was only one dress that would be worthy of the evening ahead of her, and that was the finest one that she had ever stolen.

It was perhaps one of her prized possessions; stealing a dress was no simple feat, and the many layers of skirts weighed it down, making it awkward to transport on foot alone. But Sophia had managed to take it from the back of a wagon as it passed through the streets.

“Ye look lovely, Magpie,” Fraser remarked from where he lay.

“Will ye be all right until I get back?” Sophia was starting to doubt whether she should even go. He didn’t look to be in the best condition that evening, and his health seemed to be deteriorating much faster than she had anticipated.

“Aye, go on and enjoy yerself. Give the laird my best.” He chuckled and shook his head.

It was a joke that Fraser made often. Pretending to know the laird of the land was his way of feeling a little better about his life; at least, that was what Sophia thought.

“And who will ye be tonight?”

“I will be presented as the Lady Margaret McAlister.” Sophia tried to pronounce her words a little better in an attempt to sound as though she belonged to the higher class. She produced the invitation from her small bag on her wrist, which had also been stolen.

“Very nice,” Fraser said approvingly.

“I’ll be back in a couple of hours,” Sophia said as she smoothed down her dress.

“Be safe and remember not to be sloppy.”

“When am I ever sloppy?” she asked with a chuckle as she walked over to the cloth that acted as a loose definition of a door.

“That’s exactly what a sloppy person would say.”

 


Chapter Two


Sophia approached the castle cautiously. The guards didn’t know her face as far as she knew, but that didn’t mean that she could walk in like she owned the place. She waited until she could hear music coming from inside before even daring to approach the main road up to the large stone structure.

She could never understand why the laird and his sons chose to live in a building that appeared soulless from the outside. Sophia had managed to sneak into the castle a few times, and she was sure that the stone walls must have made it feel as cold as though they were sleeping outside.

She didn’t walk with her usual slight hunch and her head down. Instead, Sophia let her shoulders relax, her fiery hair flowed down her back, and she put one foot in front of the other at a much more leisurely pace. She knew that the only way she would arise suspicion was that she had nobody with her; she was supposed to be a lady. With nobody to accompany her, it was bound to have some people gossiping.

She smiled as she remembered the time that she had taken Fraser with her. It was just before his decline in health. He had been rambling on about the wealth of the clan and how it wasn’t so equally spread. In the end, Sophia had abandoned her mission and returned home with him. She worked better alone anyway, there was less to think about, and it allowed her to just focus on stealing what she could.

Sophia’s smile only grew as she passed by the first set of guards. It was all too easy. Her invitation felt like a great pass into a world where she didn’t quite belong. But for one evening only, this was her new domain, and she was going to have to act naturally to get away with it.

She was led through to the Great Hall by a rather attentive member of staff. His smile beamed back at her as he spoke about how good the evening was forecast to be.

“And where have ye come from, did ye say?”

She froze at his question. It was one that she hadn’t quite gotten around to thinking about properly.

“Edinburgh,” she said as she brushed it off. “I’m from one of the noble castles around the edge of the city.”

“And ye are here on behalf of yer father?”

“Aye.” Sophia nodded. She was trying to maintain an air of nonchalance to her words, as though she was bored of discussing the information with him. “He wishes me to give yer laird his best, but he is unfortunately too sick to travel at the moment.”

“Well, we here at Ardenkeld wish his quick recovery too,” the man said and nodded to a door. “Just through there is the Great Hall, hand the announcer yer invitation, and he will present ye.”

Sophia hated that bit of the night. There would be nothing that she could do about the draw of eyes to her lonely form. The entire point was for the court of people to look at her and make inferences about her attire and the kind of family that she had come from.

“Presenting the Lady Margaret McAlister of Edinburgh,” the guard shouted over the music of the room. People had already started reeling and dancing in the center of the room. Others lined the room in a crowd of judgment for whoever was next to walk down the main staircase.

Sophia took a deep breath but kept her expression neutral as she started down the stairs into the room. She tried to maintain steady breathing and keep an air of poise about her that looked as natural as though she had grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth. It was a lot harder than she had thought the first time that she’d attended such an event, but Sophia was starting to get used to the stares.

Her biggest fear was that someone would recognize her from the streets, but she was hoping that she looked a lot more presentable than usual and that alone would throw them all off. She bowed at the landing halfway down in the direction of the Laird Alexander Gunn and his sons. It was a custom that she was quick to remember as she continued down the stairs until she was just another face in the crowd.

The sea of people around her was a welcome relief to deter attention away from her. Sophia was in no rush to hear what people had to say about her. If one were to look too closely, they might spot the way that her red hair was matted beneath the first layer or that the hems of her skirts were laced with mud that refused to come out of the fabric no matter how much she scrubbed.

This was to be her biggest attempt at securing jewels for a long time. An event of this size hadn’t been put on for quite a few months, and Sophia knew that she would have to be quick if she wanted to get out of there alive.

The dancing officially started after a little while, and Sophia used the fresh commotion to start around the room. Sophia avoided colliding with a woman in front of her who was throwing her head back in laughter. She used the slight moment to swipe an earring. She had sown a deep pocket into one of the folds of her dress, and Sophia quickly deposited the small piece of jewelry into it.

Like at a battle, there was a shift inside of her after taking the first piece. The game was on, first blood had been drawn, and now nothing was stopping her but herself from getting more.

“Ye are looking very fine...Lady Margaret, was it?” A man stopped her in her tracks as she realized that she had to look less determined with what she was doing.

“Aye, that’s correct, sir” —she nodded to the man as she bowed slightly to him in greeting— “and yer name is?”

“Laird McFinn,” he said with a slight smile.

The man looked to be quite a few years her senior, and the expression on his face reflected the kind of hunger that wouldn’t be satisfied with food alone.

She felt her stomach twist as she stepped back slightly. It seemed that it didn’t matter whether you were out on the streets or inside a grand castle; men and their desire would follow you anywhere.

She wasn’t sure if she was just being paranoid, but she could feel eyes on her. Eyes other than those of the man in front of her.

Sophia quickly glanced around, but she saw nobody staring at her directly.

“Would ye dance with me?” he asked while holding out a hand.

“I’m sorry, my laird, but I injured my ankle on the journey here. I’m sure that there are many other fine women who would love to take ye up on that offer though,” Sophia said while maintaining a sweet smile on her face.

Everything about the man in front of her made her skin crawl, but she knew that she was going to have to keep up an appearance that she was nothing more than an innocent lady.

“Perhaps a drink then?”

“Would ye excuse me for one moment?” Sophia said eventually.

Before giving the man a chance to respond, she relied heavily on her instincts of being out on the streets to disappear into the crowd of people around them. However, Sophia had to remember that her red hair and gold dress caused her to stand out much more than she was used to.

She waited until she was on the other side of the room before striking again. One of the easiest things to look for was the less wealthy women who wore older dresses. The kind where the jewels were once secure but now only held on by a few pieces of thread. They weren’t the pieces that would go for the most money, but Sophia brushed through the crowd enough to capture a few with her hands as she went.

It felt like nothing more than a slight bump to the women that she stole from; in an instant, she would be gone, and they would be none the wiser.

Sophia stopped short as the strange sensation of being watched returned to her. But this time, there was a face that she could put to this feeling. Upon turning around to glance up at the royal balcony, she could see that the laird was still up there, but his sons were gone.

“May I have a dance?”

A man blocked her path. Although he was much broader than he had looked from the balcony, Sophia had observed the family well enough over the years to know that this was one of the laird’s sons. She swallowed thickly as she knew that there would be no good in refusing someone like him.

“Aye.” Sophia nodded as she quickly took his outstretched hand.

The stares around them started almost as soon as her hand touched his.

Sophia wasn’t sure what it was about the blonde man who stared down at her, but he had her completely dumbfounded in a way that threw her off completely.

“Yer name is Lady Margaret, aye?”

“Aye.” Sophia could only just manage the word.

“And ye ken who I am?”

“Ye are Sir Callen Patterson?”

He smiled at her question, and it was the only affirmation that she needed to know that she had been correct. His smile was intoxicating and heady. The touch of his other hand to her waist had bewildered Sophia in a way that she hadn’t anticipated.

Come on, she urged herself, focus on what ye are here to do. One dance is all it will take, and he will leave ye alone.

“Ye arenae from around here, are ye?”

“Nay”— she shook her head as they started to move around the circle in the center with the other dancing pairs— “I’m from a castle just outside of Edinburgh.”

“That’s a long way to travel for a reeling.” Callen chuckled. “I noticed when they were announcing people’s arrivals that many people from far and wide have come tonight.”

He dipped his head closer to her ear as he spoke. Sophia couldn’t help but shudder at the proximity between them.

She could only hope that he didn’t decide to venture any further with the hand that wandered about her waist. If it were to move down too far, he would stumble upon her pocket and reveal a secret that would have Sophia hanging by her neck by dawn.

“I thought that I would come over to ye because I definitely havenae seen ye around here before,” he continued with the same unreadable smile on his face.

Sophia wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do or say in that situation, since she hadn’t anticipated that one of the laird’s sons would ask for her to dance with him.

“Aye, that is very kind of ye, sir,” Sophia said while looking down at their feet. She had been taught the dances as a child, as most were, but the steps were old memories to her. They were covered with a thick layer of dust in her mind, and Sophia found herself struggling to keep up at times.

“I saw a few other men eyeing ye up, and then, of course there is the Laird McFinn. He wasnae bothering ye, was he?”

“Nay, he was only talking,” Sophia said as she glanced up.

Dark brown eyes stared back at her, causing her to swallow thickly as she glanced around and tried her hardest to think of a way out of the dance.

Finally, the music was coming to an end, and Sophia felt relief flood through her veins as she tried to pull away from him.

“Nae so fast,” he said while shaking his head. “Ye intrigue me, Lady Margaret. It’s nae often that we have a woman of nobility in attendance that people ken nothing about.”

Sophia was stunned by his words, but she tried to maintain an expression that reflected that she was unfazed by his words.

“What would ye care to ken?” she challenged him.

“What would ye care to tell me?” he asked with a smirk.



Chapter Three


After three dances with the laird’s son, Sophia was struggling to keep her anxiety at bay. The man had taken to her in a way that she hadn’t even thought possible. She was a street rat, after all.

Sophia had considered everything, including the number of exits from the Great Hall, the route out of the castle itself, and even a route back to the bridge that would keep her off the main road through the town. What she hadn’t been prepared for was that her disguise would work a little too well.

“Ye are looking ravishing tonight, Lady Margaret,” Callen said with a small smile on his lips.

“And I suppose ye say that to all of the ladies in yer court, sir?” Sophia dared to ask back. She figured if she was going to use the disguise to her advantage, there was no reason for her to not be bold.

“Nae at all,” Callen said with a chuckle. “Only the ones that catch my eye, and - let me tell ye - there are nae too many of them.”

“Ye flatter me.” Sophia smiled at him as she shook her head. “I really am nothing special.”

“But ye are someone that I have nae seen before, my lady,” Callen said. “And that is rare up here in our courts.”

Sophia let him have his moment of triumph as she shivered under his touch. She didn’t want to let him think that she was too feisty, but she also didn’t want him to think that she was too easy.

“I have nae heard much about ye either, sir,” Sophia said honestly. “But ye dinnae hear me using flattery, do ye?”

Sophia knew that she was being coyer than she normally would, but she also felt as though she had nothing to lose at that moment.

“I suppose ye are right,” Callen smiled. “But even now, I dinnae ken any ladies that would speak to me in such a way. Ye are truly nae like the rest.”

Callen’s hands wandered up her back, and she realized that he wasn’t afraid of touching her in a way that would horrify others in the hall. Sophia felt as though she was melting into his touch as he smirked down at her. His face was incredibly close to hers, but he never dared to venture any closer than he was. Although, he was already dangerously close to her face.

The third dance was coming to an end, and while Sophia was still anxious about what was going on, she noticed that as soon as he pulled away, her body began to crave his touch.

She had never had a man hold her like that; it made her skin tingle as though she’d been holding onto something that was slightly too hot to be touching with bare skin. Her head felt like it was spinning, and Sophia was suddenly very disoriented in the room.

“Will ye come with me?” Callen asked, causing her to freeze as she realized that he still had hold of her hand. He tugged gently at her arm until she continued to move with him, although fear began to break her out of her trance.

“Where?”

“The library,” he called over his shoulder as he led her through the crowd of people.

Out of instinct, Sophia kept her head down. She couldn’t tell if people were staring or not, but she didn’t want to know. This wasn’t part of the plan at all, and she was starting to panic.

“Why the library?” Sophia frowned as they entered a quiet hallway off the Great Hall.

Instantly, the temperature dropped, and it was much darker since only torches in their brackets lit the way.

“It’s on the other side of the castle,” Callen explained as he continued to step quickly. “I just figured that it would be somewhere a little...quieter.”

“And why do ye think that I would want to enter such a place with ye?” Sophia asked with a smile on her lips.

“Well, I just…I thought that I would show ye around. After all, ye have traveled so far from yer hometown that I thought it would be a nice treat for ye.”

“Mr. Patterson, ye are far too kind.” Sophia chuckled. “There were many women at that ball that could have appealed to ye, I just ken it.”

“Aye, but it was ye who appealed to me.”

Unused to the fancy shoes on her feet, Sophia found it difficult to keep up with him. She still didn’t understand what he wanted with her, but her curiosity was far too strong for her to say no. He enraptured her in a way that she hadn’t felt before, and Sophia found herself unable to draw herself away from him.

She couldn’t take her eyes off him. Callen Patterson was perhaps one of the most attractive men that she had ever laid eyes on. He was muscular, with chiseled features, and she couldn’t even fault his slightly fluffed blonde hair.

“Ye intrigue me,” he muttered as he turned to her.

Sophia stared up at him as they entered the large library. She couldn’t believe the size of the castle since she had never ventured so deep within its walls before. There was a warning going off in her mind as she realized that she hadn’t been paying attention as they had walked through the labyrinth of corridors to get to the library.

“What about me could possibly intrigue a man like ye?” Sophia said with a small smile. She was still trying to play coy, although her mind was telling her to get out of the situation.

“Ye,” he said again. “All of ye, I want to ken as much about ye as ye will let me hear. But I also want to do something, if ye let me.”

“What is it?”

Sophia felt her stomach trying to do a flip as she watched the way that his eyes wandered down to her lips. There was a large bookcase behind her. Only the light of the moon through the small windows illuminated the two of them. His silhouette was painted in the moonlight, but his eyes glistened like dark pools.

Sophia felt as though she were under a spell as his hands moved to either side of her face. As though she was kissing a shadow, she let him press his lips to hers and smiled at the strange sensation that it woke within her. In an instant, her hands flew up to tousle his hair, and her body moved even closer to his. Sophia felt heat flushing her cheeks, but she didn’t care.

She let herself give in to the moment and groaned at the way his lips felt rough against hers. He pulled away for only a fleeting moment, dragging her bottom lip in his teeth as he did so. It was a moment that permitted them both to catch their breath before Sophia found herself raising onto her tiptoes as she tried to kiss him again.

His hands trailed down her back, causing her to arch forward into his chest until they were flush against each other.

She felt so small in his arms, but she could also feel her body melting into his touch. It was the strangest sensation, but one that she wasn’t about to fight. A slight moan elicited from her lips as Callen pushed his tongue into her mouth to deepen the kiss.

Sophia hitched up one of her legs as she leaned back against the bookcase; this was escalating in a way that she couldn’t have ever even dreamt of. She thought of Fraser back at their shelter and how he was barely holding on.

She suddenly felt a wave of shame crash over her as she remembered why she was even at the reeling in the first place. It wasn’t to take part in a secret rendezvous with one of the laird’s sons; it was to steal enough jewels so that they would have money to get by on for the next few weeks.

She slowly started to pull away from him and looked up to see the confusion in his eyes. Sophia tried to act natural about what she was doing, but her heart was hammering in her chest and making that rather difficult to focus on.

“I should get back to the dance,” she muttered as she took a step away from him. Sophia let go of his hands, which dropped to his side as though they were lifeless. Even in the gloom of the library, Sophia could see the dumbfounded look on his face. She could tell that the laird’s son was rarely rejected in such a way.

Before he had the chance to say anything else, Sophia darted out of the door and quickly made a run down the closest corridor.

“Wait!” he called from behind her.

She wasn’t sure exactly where she was, but she was sure that the rooms that lined the stone corridor were going to be filled with things for her to take. Sophia quickly opened a door at random and stepped inside before Callen could even turn down that corridor.

Whoever’s chambers she had found herself in, they weren’t home. Sophia smiled to herself as she stayed quiet for a moment. She didn’t dare to move as she could hear Callen running down the corridor in pursuit of her.

“Lady Margaret!” he called out her alias without even knowing it.

Sophia’s smile only grew as his voice moved further away from where she was hiding. Slowly, she inspected the room around her before quickly spying a set of drawers. Her pockets were becoming heavier as she hurriedly stuffed some coins and jewels into them from the drawers.

The castle was a literal goldmine for her; she just had to be willing to be bold in her disguises. If Sophia had told her past self that she would have been kissing a laird’s son to get some coins, she would have probably laughed in her face.

Sophia worked meticulously down the corridor now that she was on her own. She let her fingers work through both drawers and pockets of clothing. Sophia searched through satchels and under some of the beds. She was determined to get as much as she could.

She couldn’t help but wonder where Callen had run off to in his search for her. Her lips were still throbbing slightly from the pressure of his lips on hers. She hadn’t felt a rush like that run through her body in a long time, and Sophia found herself wondering what the worst thing would be if she were to go and find him again.

But she had far too many things in her possession for it to not be obvious that she was stealing from both the quarters and the hall’s guests. Sophia was sure that someone must have noticed by now that there was a jewel or two missing.

She could hear the faded music coming from the hall, and it became much louder as she reached the end of the hallway. For a moment, Sophia froze. She could have sworn that she had heard something, but a quick glance each way showed her that nobody was there.

There was only one room left on that row of doors along the corridor, but Sophia was questioning whether or not it was even worth it. She had enough to easily get by for the next few weeks in terms of finances, but Sophia was being driven by greed. It wasn’t exactly every day that she got to steal from inside of the castle.

Without giving it too much thought, she quickly slipped inside of the room and started to make her way around in a clockwise fashion. She bit her lip as her eyes darted through the darkness in search of where a guest would keep their valuables.

However, the sudden sound of pounding footsteps caused her to freeze. She couldn’t tell how many people were coming up the corridor, and panic had settled into her mind in a way that any logic seemed to have vanished. The door wasn’t properly closed, but Sophia knew that it was too late to make any sudden movements and hide.
The wooden door squeaked slightly as it suddenly jerked open to reveal Callen with another man behind him. Sophia knew that there was nothing she could do about the situation she found herself in. She was, after all, holding onto a necklace, ready to put it into her pocket.

Her heart hammered in her chest as she stayed still in the darkness. She could tell that the two men had already seen her, but she still didn’t dare to make a single movement. Thoughts of what they would do to her started to run through her mind; Sophia winced at the thought of facing punishment for what she’d done. She wouldn’t be able to look after Fraser anymore.

Why was I so stupid?

He would surely die without her providing for him, and it was that thought alone that caused her mind to kick into action in terms of thinking about how she would get out of this one.

“Alan,” Callen said as he gestured to the man by his side. “Arrest her.”

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