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Seduced by the Soldier

Written by Marguerite Kaye

The soldier she's never forgotten

It's been years since Isla McLeod has seen Sergeant Andrew Raeburn but she's never forgotten the way this dashing Scotsman made her feel. Now, coming face-to-face with Andrew on the battlefields of Waterloo, she realizes the candle she held for him is still burning— and fiercely!

Isla knows that falling for Andrew would be a mistake. But how can something so wrong feel so deliciously, passionately, irresistibly right? And once she's experienced the wicked delight of Andrew's touch, how can she ever live without it?

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Chapter One

Waterloo Battlefield, Monday 19th June, 1815

It had been nearly twenty-four hours since the last gun had fallen silent, and the thick pall of smoke had finally dispersed from the battlefield. The boom of cannon, the crack of muskets, the pounding hooves of charging cavalry regiments had been replaced with other, more haunting sounds—the whimpers, the groans and the sobbing of the wounded and dying. French, British and Prussian soldiers lay side by side, united in death.

Sergeant Andrew Raeburn of the 92nd Foot, picked his way carefully down the steep slope. The supplies of water and rum he had brought with him were long since exhausted, administered indiscriminately to both comrade and foe alike. Even his supply of whisky was almost gone—though that, he had reserved for his fellow Highlanders.

The fortunate few of his own company who had emerged, like himself, relatively unscathed, he had sent to escort the walking wounded back to Brussels to be attended to there. The fate of the more critically injured lay in the hands of the over-worked surgeons at Field HQ. The names of his fallen comrades had been carefully written down in Andrew's notebook. He had just located the last of them. Now he could eat and sleep. Though he could not at this moment imagine doing either of those things.

He surveyed the scene, sick to the pit of his stomach. In all his fourteen years in the army, from drummer boy to the senior NCO in his company, he had never witnessed such a bloody battlefield. Wellington had, against the odds, pulled off a magnificent victory. Napoleon was defeated. Running a blood-encrusted hand wearily through his hair, Andrew found it impossible to savour the exhilaration of their triumph.

He slumped against the barrel of a field gun. Though he never touched the hard stuff, having seen at firsthand what uisge beatha, the water of life, did to his drunken, useless sot of a father, the sweet oblivion it would provide at this moment was horribly appealing. But the drink-addled cuffings his parent had doled out indiscriminately to his bairns and wife in lieu of affection were not the sort of thing that ever left you. He had died leaving them destitute, and Andrew's Ma had not been long in following him, consigning her daughters to the workhouse, a fate Andrew had avoided only by dint of his skill with horses.

A raucous gust of male laughter struck a discordant note amidst the pitiable sounds of suffering. It was followed by another guffaw, and, unbelievably, a snatch of song. Accustomed as he was to seeing men manically celebrating their survival after a bloody conflict, to do so here, among the dead and the dying, made Andrew's bile rise. He got to his feet and strode towards the sound, his plaid flying out behind him.

They were seated in a circle. Guards officers, the elite of Wellington's army, the self-styled crème-de-la-crème. He cursed viciously under his breath. How many of their men lay slain or still in need of succour a few hundred yards away? And yet here these vainglorious officers sat, carousing and singing, looking as if they'd just finished dinner in the officer's mess.

He wanted to knock those extravagantly plumed horse-hair hats from their heads. He wanted to grind their well-bred faces into the mud, and draw some of their blue blood from their haughty, aristocratic noses. Furiously, Andrew watched, knowing he would be a fool to attempt any such thing. The army was overly fond of the lash, and such brazen insubordination would see him stripped of the rank he so prized, not to mention being whipped to within an inch of his life. If he was lucky. Never again would he allow one of his so-called betters the privilege of using the lash on his back.

An incongruous splash of green caught his eye, approaching the circle of men. To his astonishment, Andrew saw that it was a woman. He hoped it was a wife, come to harangue her husband and shame them into silent respect for the fallen. Or at least pack them off to carouse somewhere more appropriate. It seemed his hopes would be fulfilled when she stopped directly in front of one of the men.

She had her back to him. Her hair was dark auburn, pinned in a heavy chignon at her neck. She was tall and curvaceous. Her gown looked as if it had been made for a shorter, slimmer woman. It showed him a pair of well-shaped ankles and a very delightful rear. There was something about the curve of her back, the swell of her derriere, that stirred his blood. Momentarily distracted, Andrew stared at her, half appalled at his reaction, half relieved to discover that despite what he'd been through, he could still react. He was still human, still alive.

His curiosity overcoming his caution, he moved closer, just as the circle of officers gave a hearty cheer and raised their bottles. One man, a captain, was now the focus of attention. He was being slapped on the back. The woman's husband, no doubt. But whatever was going on, she was not amused.

'What were you thinking! A full day since the battle was won, and you have not seen fit to return. My sister has been going out of her mind with worry. We thought you dead!'

The captain she was addressing grinned. 'You may tell my dear wife…'

'You may tell her yourself. Don't you even want to see your new son? For heaven's sake, Ferdinand, my sister Fiona…'

'Under the cat's paw, Captain Burke, what, what?' chortled one of the Guards.

'Two cat's paws, by the sounds of it,' another chipped in. 'Shall I take this one of your hands, Burke? She looks as if she's in need of breaking in?'

'I should think she is. She's a bit long in the tooth, but what is it they say—old leather makes a fine saddle.' Captain Burke grinned lazily up at the woman. 'What do you say, sister-in-law? Shall you take a ride with Millhouse here?'

Andrew saw her back stiffen, and his fists clenched. Too disgusted to think about the consequences, he threw himself into the fray just as the woman dealt her brother-in-law a resounding slap on the cheek. He grabbed her, his arm around her waist, holding her tightly against him. 'Come away lass, for they're too much in their cups to pay any heed.'

He turned his attention to the circle of officers. 'You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Look around you,' he said, his voice full of loathing and suppressed fury, 'and tell me you have cause for frivolity. You bring shame on the colours you wear, and dishonour our troops.'

'Now listen here…'

Andrew released the woman and took a step forward, his face set. 'I'd suggest you would rather do well to listen to me.'

'Are you threatening a superior officer?' Captain Burke barked.

Andrew said nothing, but his point had been made. The other officers got to their feet sheepishly, gathered up their things and wandered off. All save one.

'I will remember your face, Sergeant,' Captain Burke said, before he turned on his heel and strode off to join his friends.

'He's not the only one to remember your face.'

Andrew turned, only now realising that the woman had been left behind. Big eyes, big green eyes stared across at him, stirring a distant memory. Surely, it could not be her. He must be mistaken.

He was not.

'Andrew Raeburn,' the woman said, turning on him. 'You have a wheen of explaining to do!'

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About the author

I was born and raised in Scotland, the eldest of a large family &ndash...

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Marguerite Kaye

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