Winter's Warrior (The Wicked Winters #13) - Scarlett Scott
East London, 1815
It had taken three of her brother’s guards to carry the felled giant from the streets and settle him in Caro’s bed. But after he regained consciousness and began to fight, it had required five of them to help her tie the thrashing monster to the posts so she could tend him.
“Bloody madman,” cautioned Randall as Caro secured the man’s left wrist.
“Touched in the ’ead,” counseled Hugh with a grunt as he narrowly escaped a swinging right fist before catching the man’s arm and holding it to the post.
Good thing she was a bloody expert at securing prisoners. That was what spending her entire life in a gaming hell did to a girl. The beast would not escape a Caro Sutton knot.
“If he is mad, we will send him on his way,” she promised, slipping around the bed to tie his other wrist as Bennet, Timothy, and Anthony held the man’s legs.
“Sutton is going to rip out our guts and feed them to ’is dogs when ’e gets a sniff of this, miss.” The warning, issued by Bennet, was an exaggeration.
“I have never seen Jasper feeding entrails to his dogs yet,” she said calmly, finishing the knot.
The man suddenly roared, half-insensate yet still struggling for his life.
She laid a gentle hand on his brow, which was matted with blood. “Calm yourself, sir. I only aim to help.”
“I’ll kill you,” the man growled, thrashing some more.
It was impossible to tell if he was awake or in the grips of violent delirium. His eyes had swelled closed. The beating he had received had been merciless. There was the distinct possibility that he was also drunk, though she did not smell spirits on him. She had seen more than her share of sotted fools getting beaten and robbed in the alleys around The Sinner’s Palace over the years. ’Twould be nothing new.
When she had first come across him in the alley behind her family’s gaming hell, she had believed he was dead. A closer examination had proven otherwise; his chest had been rising and falling. That had been when she’d fetched Randall, Hugh, and Bennet. But from the moment she had first touched him, she had known instinctively there was something different about this man.
Her reluctant patient aimed another kick at Bennet and Timothy, landing a boot in the latter’s abdomen. Timothy fell on his arse, clutching his belly and gasping for breath.
“Damn it,” she grumbled.
Fortunately, she was accustomed to unruly men in need of healing. She tended to her brothers whenever there was a fight involving knives, fists, pistols, or sometimes all three at once—the Suttons were a bloodthirsty lot. There was no other solution when a man was out of his head as this one was. She was going to have to pour some laudanum down the poor cove’s throat.
“Hold his head still for me, Randall,” she ordered, fetching the bag she always kept at the ready and plucking the vial she required from it. “But take care where you touch him. We don’t want to give him further injuries.”
“If ’e bites me, I ain’t going to be ’appy,” the guard said.
A few months ago, her brother Rafe had accidentally bitten Randall’s finger instead of the leather strap he’d been meant to gnaw on whilst she had stitched up a particularly vicious knife wound. Randall had not forgotten. Nor had he entirely forgiven Caro, even if he did favor her over all her siblings.
Caro did not fool herself for the reason. If the men were on the wrong end of a knife stick, they wanted to be certain she would be at their sides. The whispers circulating about her in the hell—that she could heal anyone—had not been aided by her natural inclination toward the medicinal. Nor all the treatises she spent each night reading until the stub of her candle flickered out.
“He shan’t bite you,” she told Randall, drawing nearer as the man continued to thrash and shout curses. “As long as your hold remains firm, that is.”
Randall glared at her, but he did as she asked, dutifully holding her patient still as she held the vial to his lips and forced the laudanum into his mouth. Just to be certain he would swallow—for there was no telling with a man in his condition—she pinched his nostrils together. He made a choking sound but complied.
When she was satisfied he had swallowed enough of the liquid to calm him, she turned to the three men at his feet. “Hold him