There is nothing like a wicked hero to keep you reading. So for Wicked Wednesdays in August I’m going to be writing about wicked heroes that I never got a chance to write about and future ones.
There was a wicked hero who unexpectedly popped into one of my books and many of you asked if he would have his own book. Though I had intentions of writing his book, it didn’t work out that way. Now he’s on my heroes-to-write list.
His name is Rath… and my book he popped into… Irish Hope, the sequel to The Irish Devil. He appears nothing more than a common thief, but his character belies that so who then is he? An aristocrat who lost it all or had it stolen from him? Or is he on the run from some evil deed? Or was it a gallant deed that has him living the life of a thief?
Here’s when Rath pops in the book:
Eric and Colin took a guarded stance in front of Faith, their hands braced on the hilt of their swords. Rook stood at her back, a warning growl for all to keep their distance.
A tall man with confident strides stepped from the darkness. He was a sinfully handsome one and astute, his eyes taking in his surroundings in a quick yet studious glance. He spoke with an eloquence that belied his trade and bordered on arrogance, and he carried himself with pride of one accustomed to privilege.
“Please forgive our intrusion. We will take only a moment of your precious time.”
“Speak your piece then and be gone,” Eric ordered in a commanding voice that the band of thieves immediately respected.
The man acknowledged his worthy opponent with a gracious nod. “I seek a donation for the needy. Whatever you have on you I am sure you will be willing to share with those less fortunate.”
Colin realized that if it were just the men there, Eric would waste not a moment putting the thieves in their place, but because of Faith the Devil would relent and give the thief what he asked, though he doubted it would be the last the thieves saw of the Devil.
“Be generous, men,” Eric ordered and stared straight at the thief in charge. “My wife has nothing to donate. She will be left undisturbed.”
The man wisely nodded in agreement. “I will take your word, my lord, for I know you yourself will be generous. And I” —the man said with a wide smile— “have a helper who will collect your donations.”
Rook whined and Colin felt dread grip the pit of his stomach.
“Lad,” the man called out. “Make haste.”
Colin and Eric both shook their heads when Hope, dressed in the lad’s garments, stepped out of the darkness. Lady followed close by her side, whining pitifully with fear, which caused Rook to growl all the more.
“Be done with it, lad,” the man instructed. “We do not wish to keep these fine people waiting when they are so willing to share with the needy.”
Hope walked the perimeter of the camp first, collecting from the men who stared at her with wide eyes and grins. They seemed entertained by her plight or was it the consequences that entertained them?
Hope finished up and with steps that were far from hasty approached the trio in the center of the camp. Did she step up to the Devil first or did she face Colin? She somehow thought that in this situation it would be easier to face the Devil.
The choice was not left to her. As soon as she was in close distance of them both, Colin reached out, grabbed her arm and yanked her to his side. Lady hastily hurried to Rook’s side where she leaned against him and whimpered.
“One word,” he warned her, “and I will throttle you.”
The tall man took quick steps toward Colin.
Colin halted him with a raised hand and a firm voice. “The lad belongs to me.”
Though startled by his words and the strength with which they were issued, Hope remained silent, displaying no emotions and hoping no one could hear how wildly her heart beat.
“How so?” the man asked, his hand cautiously resting on the hilt of the knife tucked in his leather belt.
Colin stood with a warrior’s pride and arrogance and a tight hold on Hope. “First tell me whom I address.”
“A reasonable request, as long as it is reciprocated,” the man said.
Colin nodded, intending that he receive his answer first.
“I am called Rath. And you?”
“I am Colin and this is—”
Rath finished when Colin looked to Eric. “The Irish Devil himself.”
Eric demonstrated not an ounce of surprise, though he asked, “You know me and yet you attack my camp. Not a wise move.”
Rath smiled as if he knew better. “It is common knowledge how much you favor your wife. I knew you would do nothing to jeopardize her safety.”
Faith attempted to step forward and protest, feeling she had made this trip difficult for her husband. His large body blocked her attempts and no amount of shoving would budge him from his protective stance.
Rath looked back at Colin. “And the lad… who is he to you?”
“The lad,” Colin said with the annoyance of a frustrated man, “is a lass, and she is my wife.”
Hope glared at him and was about to protest his lie when he turned a chilling stare on her that warned of his mounting wrath and the dire consequences if she should choose to disagree with him.
Colin continued. “She is a temperamental woman who has yet to learn her place and duties, though I intend to teach her well to obey me.”
That brought a laugh from Rath. “I have known the lad but a few hours and I would say that you have taken on more of a chore than you realize.”
Laughter circled the camp not only from the band of thieves but from Eric’s men as well. Though strangers, they all seemed to be in agreement.
When the laughter subsided Rath asked, “Tell me, Colin, how much is your wife worth to you?”
Colin laughed when he answered, “Not much.”
Hope grew furious but felt disappointed. Naturally, she wished to hear that she meant the world to him and that no monetary value could be placed on his feelings for her. Her anger made her react and she pulled to free herself.
Colin only tightened his grip on her and whispered harshly, “Stay as you are.”
Reluctantly she obeyed, seeing that she had no other choice.
Rath grinned and shook his head. “Come now, Colin, she must be worth something… even a small purse. She does, after all, possess a courage and strength not found in many women.”
Colin realized that the thief wished to barter and that the man fully understood the value of the possession he bartered over. “And what do you think her worth?”
“A heavy purse, for sure,” Rath said with confidence.
Colin had to keep up a pretense that he thought her worthless when her worth, to him, was priceless. “A weighty purse?” He shook his head. “I think not.”
The two men seemed to take joy in their bartering, as did the others in camp. In the end when all was settled it was a heavy purse that Colin agreed to.
“Now for delivery of my reward for seeing to your wife’s safe return,” Rath said, finishing negotiations. “The two women will remain behind in my protection while the rest of you see to collecting my coins and returning them to me.”
The Devil’s voice boomed in the darkness. “Absolutely not.”
A few men shivered; Rath merely stood his ground. “I am afraid I must insist, my lord, but fear not—your wife will be safe in my protection.”
“My wife will remain protected for she will remain by my side, and I am sure Colin feels the same about his wife,” Eric said emphatically.
Colin agreed with the Devil. “Aye, that I do. Hope will not leave my side.” It was then he finally released her and gently pushed her to stand behind him.
“I can understand your misgivings,” Rath said, “but it is the payment of coins that I am concerned with. Your wives will remain with me until the payment is received. If you wish to join them so be it, but then make arrangements for the payment so that your stay with me is a short one.”
Eric spoke up. “I will arrange for my men to return for the coins and instruct them as to where payment will be made.”
Rath seemed satisfied. “An acceptable arrangement. We will finalize the plans this evening. Until then we all might as well make ourselves comfortable for the night.”
If you haven’t read The Irish Devil and Irish Hope they’re available at:
And look for Sizzling Sundays in August to start on the 12th!