The Highlander’s Sweet Surrender – Extended Epilogue


Even a character, a scene, or anything. You could say no if nothing bothered you.
Even a character, a scene, or anything that you enjoyed.

Four months later

From a blanket in the grass, Helen watched as Ella chased her twins alongside the flower meadow. Cam was watching from his hiding place, and Kai was with him behind a tree, ready to jump out at any moment. The twins squealed when the men scared them, and Helen laughed, looking over to see Cory watching her with amusement.

It was a perfect summer day, and they had just finished eating on the bright green grass outside his castle. Cory still couldn’t believe that this was his life. He had dear friends who had just come to visit, and his wife was so perfect, it hurt. Perfect for him. The past four months had been utterly blissful.

“What are ye thinkin’ about, lass?” he asked as he picked up her hand and kissed it.

She let out her breath and grinned at him. Her green eyes were like two bright emeralds in the sunshine, and her freckles were even more highlighted in the bright, cloudless day.

“I was just thinking about how wonderful it is here with you. I only wish Cecily could be here. She says there is still so much to do in England, and my father’s cousin is worried about her traveling on her own to Scotland.”

“Perhaps we should send someone tae fetch her?” Cory suggested. “I want tae meet her.”

“I will suggest it to her. Thank you.” She smiled at the merry scene as the adults played with the children.

He looked at her profile as she continued to watch them.

“Would ye like tae have a child, Helen? I ken we have discussed it from time tae time, but I never wanted ye tae feel as though ye had tae be a broodmare for a laird. It wasnae why I married ye.”

She chuckled, but didn’t turn to look at him. “I know. You are so kind, for you know just how much I value my independence and my freedom. I love you for that. But I think I would like to have a child one day. For us to have a child.” She turned to look at him with such love in her eyes. “But we do not need to rush. It will happen when it happens.”

“Aye.” He leaned down to kiss her. “I would be happy tae increase our frequency in makin’ one if that would make ye happy.”

She threw her head back and laughed, and Cory didn’t think he’d ever seen a more beautiful sight. “Oh, would you? That is so good to know, my love.” Her hand reached up to stroke his shoulder, and he could feel his desire rising.

It seemed there was no end to his desire for this woman, and she responded with such fervor and passion that he felt so grateful his wife wanted him as well.

“Shall we go for a ride, then?” she asked innocently, and Cory grinned.

He got to his feet and lifted her up as well. Pulling her close, he pressed a kiss on her lips.

“So, shall we go to the stables? I am sure Seamus will be happy to saddle us two horses.”

“The stables?” Cory looked at her with a puzzled expression, and then he shook his head, laughing.

“Oh, you thought I meant…” Helen grinned, grasped his hand. And together, they walked to the stables, leaving their friends as they laughed and played with the little ones.

“Ye will kill me, lass.”

“That would not be very good, since I intend to live out my days with you, husband.”

Seamus was glad to see them at the stables, and he had the young stableboy saddle two horses for the pair of them. Cory had gotten a new horse for Helen soon after they were married, and she went to coo and fuss over it while he and Seamus spoke.

“What a fine day, my Laird,” Seamus said, squinting up into the sunlight.

“Aye, very fine. It is rare that tae have such a fine day in the Highlands, but here we are.”

“Laird Chattan, Cory, I wanted tae say somethin’ tae ye.” The old man turned back, and Cory followed his gaze, watching Helen speak kindly to the young stableboy who was saddling her horse.

“What is it?” he asked, captivated by the sight of his wife.

“Ye have done a good thing here. Even in just a few months ye have made things so much better for everyone. The villages are thrivin’, and there will be a good harvest this autumn. Families willnae starve, and they have money tae rebuild their homes, and tae take care of their families. Me own daughter and her husband are daein’ so much better now, thanks tae ye.”

Cory looked back at the man, who was smiling at him, heavy lines crinkling at the corners of his eyes. “Ye are most welcome, Seamus.” He shook his hand. “I only wanted tae dae what me father would dae, and so I am so glad tae hear ye say that things are goin’ well. Now, all we need tae dae is keep ourselves safe, and then everythin’ will be good.”

“Aye.” Seamus nodded towards Helen who was now walking out of the stables and into the sunshine alongside her horse. “Ye have done well findin’ yer wife, too. I ken that many were skeptical because she is a Sassenach, but I have never met such a kind-hearted lass. And so full of fire at the same time.”

Cory laughed. “Aye, ye have described her perfectly. Now, Seamus, I plan tae take me wife on a ride.”

He walked to Helen’s horse and lifted her up into her saddle. “Are ye ready, love?” he asked, and she nodded.

“Yes, but you had better hurry, or I will beat you to our destination.”

“Where are we goin?” he asked, running to his horse.

With a big smile, Cory chased after her before she said a word. He would chase her wherever.


When they arrived at the shores of a dark blue loch, Helen slowed, and she turned to look at Cory, who was only a few steps behind her.

“We havenae raced for that long since that time we escaped the castle.” He jumped down from his horse and helped her down.

She could do it herself, but she always loved the strong feel of his hands around her waist, and she placed her hands over his.

“Why did ye want tae come here?” he asked softly.

“Because.” She pulled away from him and began to remove her clothing. “I wanted tae remember the past for a few minutes.”

She warmed under his heated look, and within seconds, they were undressed, clutching to one another in the dark waters of the loch. Her hands traced the pendant around his neck. Now the hidden room was empty. There was no need for any secrets or hidden things anymore. And yet Cory kept the pendant as the last token of his father.

He watched her as she toyed with it. “Ye are brilliant, ye ken. For figurin’ it out that it was a key. I wore it most of me life, and I never kenned.”

She lifted a brow. “Well, I thought we already established that, but I thank you for the compliment, Cory. I do like to be thought brilliant.” She kissed him. “And it had been just a thought. I was surprised it actually worked.”

He shifted underneath her, and she could feel his hardness. It never ceased to excite her.

“So, why the loch, lass?”

“I wanted to be far enough away from everyone when we did this.” She slid down over him, and with her legs wrapped around him.

Cory thrust into her, and all talking ceased for a time as they made love in the water. It was never cold when his arms were around her. She became breathless, kissing him sloppily before he came as well, his hands tight on her back.

“Ye are full of surprises,” he said once they were laying together out on the shore of the loch.

“Always. As are you.”

She was on her side, her elbow on the ground, staring up at him. “You know, I think Cecily should come as soon as possible.” Her fingers trailed up to his arm. “What do you think if we asked Kai to stay longer, so he can be here when Cecily is here?”

“I had nae idea that me wife was a matchmaker,” he replied. “But I suppose ye are just so happy that ye wish for everyone tae be so.”

“Well, aren’t you smug?” She leaned forward to kiss him, and then she stood up. “So, I think we return and ensure that Kai will stay with us longer.”

She stalked over to her clothes and began putting them on, chuckling at her husband’s look of shock. “Very well.” He hurried to dress. And then they were on the road again, returning to the castle over the green hills and along the river.

When they got close, they slowed, and Cory reached out a hand. She took it, and he squeezed it.

“Ye ken that every time I look upon this castle whenever I am returnin’ home, I thank God that ye stayed with me. That ye didnae go back home.” He stopped, and she pulled on the reins to stop her horse so that she could look him fully in the face.

To her surprise, he looked pained. “I ken it was a lot tae ask of ye, especially since ye lost yer brother, and then ye had a sister ye wanted tae see as well. I am so sorry for that. I should have taken tae yer home as soon as we’d gotten married so that ye could help yer sister, and she could return with us.”

“No, Cory, please. Don’t say such things. I wanted to stay right here with you. My time in England is over, and if you had come with me to help my sister, I know there is much you would be missing as Laird. You have much to do, and I confess I would not have wanted to be away from you for so many months just after our wedding if you had to return home. We did the right thing.” She smiled at him. “I promise you. I love you dearly, husband, and I do not regret a single moment. I just am surprised that it is taking so long for Cecily to return. She states the cousin is a good man, but I worry he is becoming too similar to Anthony or will wish to marry her himself.”

Cory jumped down from his horse and then helped Helen down. Together, they walked the horses to Seamus and returned to the castle.

“Well, I could send me men for her, and then neither of us would have tae leave or be apart from one another.”

“I will think about it.” They entered the main hall, hand in hand, to see Ella, Cameron, and Kai sitting in front of the hearth, drinks in hand.

“Ye’ve returned!” Ella called with a smile. “We thought perhaps we had lost ye for the rest of the day.”

“I’m sorry.” Helen blushed as the approached them, and Cory wrapped his arms around her from behind. “But we wanted to ride, and I did not wish to disturb your play.”

Helen could see the joking eyes Cam and Kai made at Cory.

“Ye have every right tae that, me dear,” Ella said, pouring them each some wine before passing them their glasses. “I ken that after Cam and I were wed, it became very difficult nae tae snatch time when we could.”

“Aye, she speaks the truth.” Cam wrapped his arm around Ella’s waist, and Helen leaned back against Cory.

“Tae ye both.” Cam lifted his glass in the air, and the others did the same. “Ye have done well, and we have kept the English from these parts as best we could. And Helen, ye have made me friend happier than I have ever seen him. Tae ye both and yer happiness.”

“Hear, hear,” Cory said from behind her, and they all drank.

Helen was touched. But her mind was on other matters. She turned to Kai, who was no longer facing them but looking into the hearth. Even after the time she’d known him, Kai was still a little of a mystery to her. He was kind and generally cheerful, but there seemed something dark about him on the inside, as if he was often troubled. But he never spoke of it, and Cory did not tell her either. As she looked at him, she thought of dear, sweet Cecily, full of light and laughter.

What she might do for a troubled soul.

“Kai, I wondered something,” she said, and he turned around.


“Will you stay with us a little while longer? I know you have your own duties, but I would very much like you to meet my sister, since you are like a brother to Cory.” She tried not to smile so that he did not suspect anything. “It would be nice to have you for longer, anyway. I hope she will be here within the month. What say you?”

Kai looked surprised, and his eyes moved from one person to another as if he was seeking a trick.

“Well, that would be kind of ye tae have me. But I daenae want tae overstay me welcome.”

“Ye couldnae, old friend,” Cory said. “We would be glad tae have ye. And like she said, ye are like a brother tae me, and so I want Cecily tae be able tae meet the last remainin’ member of me family.”

Kai nodded, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “Aye, then, I will.”


They spent the rest of the evening feasting, playing games, and enjoying the company. Helen had never had such friends, and she hoped it would continue. While Kai, Cam, and Ella were engaged in conversation over some humorous situation, Cory leaned over and whispered, “Tell me. Why dae ye want tae matchmake?”

“I think Kai and me sister could be very happy. I just thought that with Cecily’s brightness, she could scare away whatever shadows lie in Kai’s past.” She shrugged and looked at Cory.

He was narrowing his eyes at her. “But is it also true that ye are so happy that ye want everyone else tae be so? Ye didnae answer me earlier.”

“Ah, I forgot,” she teased. Leaning forward, she whispered against his mouth, “Yes, my love; you are right. I am so terribly, disgustingly happy. It seems only fair that I should help others to find the same.”

He kissed her, and when he drew back, he said, “Only fair, indeed.”

The End.

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The Highlander’s Sweet Surrender (Preview)


Foyers, Scotland, near Loch Ness, 1644
Chattan Castle

“Shite,” Cory Chattan muttered under his breath as he ran down the long passageway to the Council Room.

He was perpetually late, but it surprised him to be late that morning. That was the morning they were to read his father, Laird Gregor Chattan’s, will, and he was going to have an enormous responsibility on his shoulders soon enough.

Ye can dae this. Ye can be Laird of yer clan.

It was something he’d told himself as soon as his father had been found dead suddenly in his study just a few days ago. It had been odd to see him so cold and… gone, yet his eyes were open, and he’d worn a look of surprise that death had come for him so soon. Cory had been surprised as well. His father had always been hale and hearty, a loud, aggressive presence in Cory’s life ever since he could remember. As he rushed, he tried to tell himself again that he could do this, even though his father had hardly taught him anything about it and neglected him in the past few years. It had been Ruairidh, his cousin, who had been his father Gregor’s favorite, but now they could at least be united in their grief.

He slipped inside the sizeable oaken door of the Council Room, his boots making loud sounds on the stone floor, which might have been hidden if the room was not so silent.

“Forgive me, Council members,” Cory announced, nodding his head at the line of old men at the table in the front of the room, all looking solemn and fatigued.

When he sat down next to his beady-eyed cousin, he let out his breath and faced the council. When he was a child, his father had brought him to a few meetings, and he’d thought then that the men were older than life itself, but even now, years later, they seemed positively ancient. At twenty-two, however, perhaps all men with white hair and beards seemed older to him. He wondered if they had ever cracked a smile in the whole of their lives.

The man in the center, the most frightening and oldest of all, narrowed his steely-eyed gaze at Cory. “Now that we are all together, we might begin the reading of the will. Let it be noted that it is nae like a future laird tae be late when there is so much at stake.” If it was possible, the old man’s gaze narrowed even more.

“Forgive me, Elder McCreary.” Cory nodded and gave the man a brief smile, which was not returned.

He sat up in his chair and looked around the room. The other servants and soldiers of his father’s castle were there, and they all stared stonily ahead. Only a few glanced his way, and it was with pity, he realized. Everyone undoubtedly believed that his heart was sunken in grief, when it was much more with surprise and fear. When he turned back, Ruairidh nudged him.

“Listen, ye dobber. Ye are about tae hear of the fate of yer clan,” his cousin whispered in his ear. “Nae a surprise that ye would show up late.”

Me clan.

His whole life, Cory had thought of it as his father’s clan, feeling like an outsider even though he was a laird’s son. And now, it would all be turned over to him. People would look his way, expecting him to know what to do in times of battle. He folded his hands together on his lap and leaned forward, eager to hear what the old men had to say. The oldest man cleared his throat, unrolled a scroll, and read.

It began with minor details, discussing his father’s plans of what to do for the servants and soldiers of the clan. Cory felt his mind wandering to what he’d been doing that morning as Elder McCreary drifted on and on, his voice not changing as he divided Laird Chattan’s wealth.

Only half an hour before, Cory had been stood out by his father’s grave, a thing he thought he’d not be doing for years and years. He’d watched it with a sort of distance. He and his father had not been close for many years, and he knew his father disapproved of him in many ways.

After leaving the grave, he had to see Millie again before the will was read. Her green eyes, red hair, plump lips, and her way of looking at things made life so much easier to bear. He knew she would know what to say, and so he’d hurried off to her home in the village, but Millie had been waiting for him on the edge of the graveyard.

“All will be well,” she had said, allowing him to kiss her lips and pull her close, breathing in her familiar scent.

They were to be married soon, and he couldn’t wait. He’d been in love with her ever since the day he’d laid eyes on her. But then, his father died, and now there was this burden of the future upon him. Could he possibly take over a clan and be a new husband?

When the old man cleared his throat again, Cory’s mind jumped back to the matter at hand. “And now we will read who is tae take ownership of Clan Chattan and become the laird. Because Cory and his cousin, Ruairidh, were raised by the laird, and they are the same age, it was up tae Laird Chattan who would take over the clan once he passed.”

Cory nodded, but he could feel an icy chill over his skin. His father would never have believed he could take the clan, but who else could have? He was the man’s blood heir, his rightful son, and he even looked just like him with dark red curls, a light reddish-brown beard, and blue eyes. Even though Ruairidh had come to live with them long ago and had been considered family, Cory was certain that his blood would win out in the end. As the old man took a breath to read his next lines, Cory reached up to touch the golden chain around his neck, which held a pendant from his father. It was the shape of a C, with a pointed V at the bottom edge. He’d been given it years ago in a rare show of affection from his father.

Never take this off, no matter what. One day it may give ye all the answers ye need ,” his father had told him, his blue eyes bright with urgency.

The Elder continued. “And Laird Chattan had specific and perhaps unique wishes for the transfer of ownership of Clan Chattan.” Cory glanced at his cousin, who was leaning back in his chair, arms crossed.

“The lairdship of Clan Chattan will go to Ruairidh Chattan, son of Arya Chattan, sister to Laird Gregor, raised by Laird Gregor Chattan and now Laird of Clan Chattan.”

For a moment, everything was still. No one spoke after the elder councilman spoke the last words, and Cory felt like he’d been submerged in an icy loch. No, it couldn’t possibly be true. How could his father have chosen his cousin to be the laird? Cory was his own rightful heir. He tried to breathe, but the air would not enter his lungs. He felt as though he’d been punched in the gut. At the same time, his veins filled with ice.

Ruairidh slowly rose, and Cory realized this was all a reality. He had been pushed aside for his cousin. His rude, angry, and cruel cousin who had not shown Cory one moment of kindness in all their years together.

“Yer father had always approved more of me, ye ken.” Ruairidh gave Cory a thin smile. “It is only natural that I should be chosen. I thank ye, council members,” he said louder. “I will lead this clan with honor as me uncle did.”

Cory sat there, amazed, a silent room behind him until they all rose to give their allegiance. While he felt himself dragged to his feet, his mind raced. If he was not the laird, then what in God’s name was he supposed to do?

Chapter One

1650, six years later

Helen Ridley pulled at the bodice of her work-worn woolen gown, adjusting it so that her cleavage was just a little more pronounced than usual. Once it was settled, she stared at the tavern in front of her and grimaced a little. One of the best places in the country to get information about each side during a war was the tavern, but after so many taverns, Helen was never eager to set foot inside one. Men’s eyes felt like they were undressing her with each moment, and more than once, she’d felt a rough hand on her backside as she walked around to seek just the right man.

I suppose I cannot complain too much. I am attempting to play a lady of the night, after all.

With another deep breath, she stepped forward, ensuring her cloak was open enough to reveal her bosoms on display. She hesitated only once outside in the breeze of a March night, pushing aside a dark blond curl that had sprung free. Biting her lip a few times to give them more color, she pulled open the door, and the loud sounds of merry men, drinking songs, and perhaps a little arguing filled her ears. So did the smells. The wheat of the ale, the savory warmth of the food, and the scent of about fifty male bodies all cramped into a small space after a long day of work.

She walked in; head held high. One must always portray confidence in every situation. Helen had learned that over the past year. People responded to confidence and courage. It was why so many foolish men were in power when they should not be, including her brother, Anthony. He never faltered, and he never backed down, even when he was making terrible and sometimes cruel decisions.

Noticing a few eyes watching her, she made her way to the center of the activity, a long wooden counter stretching nearly the entire room. Chairs were lined up against it, and she sat on one, pulling a letter out of her pocket and placing it on the wood surface in front of her.

“Whisky, please,” she said to the oily barkeeper, who only grunted at her before pouring her a glass.

“Here,” he grunted, and he pushed it towards her.

She looked up at him with her bright green eyes and flashed him a smile, tilting her head slightly. In a moment, as she expected, the man colored, and his stern expression melted.

“Thank ye,” she said, and he nodded, looking a little more flustered but less grumpy than before.

It always helped to make alliances when one could, especially in a place like this. That was why she was always polite, if possible, and why she would use her Scottish accent that she’d learned from her mother rather than her true English one. No better way to remain hidden in Scotland as an English lass than to speak the brogue as much as possible. As she spun the whisky glass in her hand, her eyes glancing down at the letter, she watched things out of the corner of her eye. Men were looking her way, and that was a good thing. It meant she would find some secrets out that night. It would also mean she would have to listen to the terrible flirtations of old, drunken highlanders who thought little of the care of their own bodies but wished their women to be pristine.

But none yet approached her, so she had time to reread the letter in front of her for the hundredth time.


I hope you are not wasting your time gallivanting about on my coin. You always were the more frivolous of all three of us, but you will make it up to me with your service to the English. Since I know you are desperate to know, Cecily is fine. I have kept my word and have not married her off as I threatened. But I will not keep to that if you do not come back with information about the Scottish plans for their next moves. You have been away long enough. You need to return to England as soon as possible to avoid that. I never understood how you could never forget your Scottish mother and turn away from our father, but do your country justice now. Help the English side defeat those bastards, who are little more than creatures among the rocks in those dark Highlands. Send word.


Helen folded the letter quickly and took a breath before gulping down a large swallow of whisky.

One of these days, Anthony will receive his due. And I sure as hell hope it’s me who gets to give it to him.

She took another sip and let out a breath. She had never thought to find herself in this position, but it had been the only way in her mind to save Cecily from having to be married to a complete stranger by their half-brother, Anthony, now Lord Seton, an earl. Cecily was the one person who did not despise her for their shared the hot, Scottish blood of their mother, even though Cecily had favored their father, and she was far warmer and more tractable than Helen had ever learned to be. But at the same time, home had become insufferable since her father died. Her family hated her for what loyalty she held to her mother, especially now that the Scottish and the English were now at war.

War was a way of life between the two nations, and they’d been battling for years. But now, the Anglo-Scottish War was underway, and when Anthony suggested to help him get information about the English, she’d taken it. Just a little excitement about the dangers of it had made her heart beat faster. That she was constantly on the road and focused also helped to lessen the pain that she felt she had no real true home any longer.

Trying her best to calm her thoughts to focus on the matter at hand, she finished the whisky and put out her glass for another. A few drunken mumblings about war and position and the English caught her attention. She turned slightly to see a rough and tumble group of men bending over their cups, leaning close to each other, whispering.

One man, a round-headed balding man, looked up and saw her watching; he shooshed the others and then smoothed a hand over his shining head. Swallowing back her bile, Helen rose from her seat.

You know what to do. Think of it as finding another secret.

Swaying her hips just so, she took her newly filled glass of whisky and walked towards the table. It was four men, all soldiers in dirty uniforms, and they all gazed up at her with bleary-eyed drunken looks of lust.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” she said. “One of ye might be interested in an evening of company.” She gave them her charming smile as well, and all men’s eyes darkened with lust, and she sat down next to the balding one.

He slid a hand around her waist and pulled her close, smiling into her face. Helen tried to smile back, but she could feel the bile rising in her throat at the scent of the man. Sweat and ale and stale breath. His teeth were also filled with bits of food, and his clothes looked as though they had not been washed in an age.

“Just give me a minute or two, lass, and then ye and I can go.”

“Och, I am nae rush, lads. Why dae I nae join ye for a wee whisky first?” Helen lifted her glass and tried to slide away from the man, but he held tight.

“Very well. Now, Angus, get back tae what ye were talking about,” the balding man said. “About Clan Chattan.”

Helen smiled and looked down at her glass. It was the reason she played this role. No one believed that women of the night cared about anything and that they didn’t matter. They were consistently underestimated, as were women. But Helen could feel that she was right on the brink of finding out something good.


Cory Chattan stood on the battlements with Laird Grant, also known as Cam, and they stared out over the lands below. Cory had been Cam’s advisor for a year, but they had become more like friends and confidants. The man next to him was a good one, strong and true, with long blonde hair that often reminded people of a lion. And he loved his wife Ella dearly and their twins. There was so much to like and envy about the man, but Cory couldn’t help but feel only good things about him. It was evening and both cold and dark, but the moon was full, and Cory took a deep breath of icy air. His auburn hair was tied back, but he could still feel the tickle of a loose hair on the back of his neck.

“It will snow taenight,” he said. “I can feel it in the air. It hangs heavy.”

“Aye,” Cam said. “The village will need some help. The last time, too many rooves caved in. We tried tae rebuild, but we will see if these new rooves can handle the weight of this snow. Och, there it is, the first flake.”

Cam reached out a finger to catch a snowflake as it fell, and Cory smiled. “Aye, it seems we are tae be plagued with snow, even in the spring. Let us hope April brings us less trouble.”

“I hope so. Plus, it is too bloody cold of late. I cannae drink enough whisky or sit in front of enough fires tae warm me bones.”

“Och, but what of Ella?” Cory teased. “Surely that is a wife’s duty, is it nae? As it is a husband’s. Tae keep one another warm at night.”

“Aye, true enough.” A look of pleasure passed over Cam’s eyes, but then he coughed, and his face turned a bit more serious. “Sorry tae ye for yer disappointment with Ada. I ken that ye were interested in her.”

Ada was Cam’s sister-in-law, who had just been visiting last year at the end of the year. She was bright, beautiful, and intelligent. She was feisty, and she fought, taking nothing she didn’t want to. For a brief time, Cory had flirted with the idea that perhaps she could be the woman for him. That he could finally forget about the past, his failures, and the way he’d lost his clan and family and move on. But it was not to be. Ada had been in love with her guard, Blair, right from the beginning,

“Och, it is nothing. It is nae as if I really expected anything tae happen.” Cory shrugged and shivered a bit when an icy breeze blew past him. “I suppose we ought tae go inside again. Maybe drink a dram or two ‘afore I set off again.”

Cam put his hand on Cory’s shoulder and faced him. “I can send the men, Cory. Ye are always doing too much, and ye donnae have tae. There are plenty a thing ye can dae here in the warmth, as me advisor.”

Cory smiled and laughed, but he knew he would not listen. He had to make himself feel useful.

He patted his stomach. “I could dae that, but then I fear I will get a bit longer around the waist.” He winked at Cam. “I have tae keep up me physique if I am going tae find another lady, one who is nae already in love with another.”

“Aye then.” Cam patted his shoulder, and the two of them headed down from the battlements to a door in the wall.

Once inside, the air was instantly warmer, and Cory could hear the whipping of the wind.

“The storm is comin’ fast,” he warned.

He always helped during storms and any other times the clan needed him, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t sometimes afraid of how a storm could turn into something ugly in moments. And just like Cam had said, it would take many whiskeys and many hours in front of the fire to warm his bones again once he returned.

“They always dae. I daenae have much use for God, but in storms, I find meself praying like a zealot.”

They went to Cam’s study and found that Lady Ella was already there, bringing in a pot of tea.

“Och, the two of ye,” she said, smiling up at them from a chair by the fire. “Come and sit. I heard ye were up on the battlements, and so I brought ye both some tea.” She stood and pointed to the pot, but Cam took her in his arms and kissed her.

Cory looked down and folded his hands in front of him. He had never seen a husband and wife so taken with one another, and even though it was unusual, he found he rather wanted that for himself. It made him think of Millie and what could have been.

Och, traitorous, heart-breaking Millie.

Once the announcement of Ruairidh’s ascension as Laird of the clan had been made, Millie pretended as if whatever she and Cory had had not existed. She’d claimed passionate love for Ruairidh instead, and they’d been married, making her Lady Chattan with all that went with it.

“Are ye cold, Cory?” Ella asked, and he looked up again to see her smiling at him.

“Nae. Thank ye. I am well. I will leave the two of ye.”

“Nonsense!” she cried, pulling herself out of her husband’s embrace, but he still held one hand on her waist. “Ye two have much tae discuss, I’m sure, with the storm coming. I was only passing by. A good evening tae ye.”

“Until later, love,” Cam said, kissing her again before she giggled and pushed his arms away, nodding at Cory before she went.

With a sigh, Cam sat down and poured each of them hot tea flavored with rich spices to warm the heart. He handed Cory one, and he lifted a brow.

“Ye look as though ye have something on yer mind. Besides the storm, of course.”

“Just thinking about ‘afore, I suppose.”

“Yer family?” Cam took a sip of tea and leaned back, his keen eyes watching him. Nothing seemed to get past the man, even though Cory had done his best not to share everything about his life. At least not the painful parts.

“Aye, something like that. Dae ye ken how me cousin fares as laird?”

Cam nodded, staring into the flames as he thought. “Aye, just a bit. We daenae have much dealings with one another as ye ken. But I hear he has strength in numbers, and he is a rather strong leader, nae always so focused on kindness and compassion.”

“That sounds just about right.” Cory drank a sip so fast that it burned his tongue, and he winced. The tea did, however, warm him a bit. When he finished, he put it down and stood. “I suppose I ought tae go.”

“Ye should get some food in ye ‘afore ye leave. Keep watch when yer out there,” Cam frowned. “There are always English soldiers about these days. Sometimes, they like tae use the storms tae take advantage of weak moments.”

“Aye, ye can be sure I will be on the watch. Thanks for the tea.”

“Cheers. Good luck tae ye.”

Cory left the room and shut the door, focusing on the night ahead. Hopefully, no one would be in need of too much help so that he could soon return home and sit in the warmth of his fire.

Chapter Two

1650, six years later

Helen tried her best to sip her whisky slowly as she leaned in to hear the mumbled and slurring words of the old soldiers.

“Aye, that new laird is a right blaigeard,” the one called Angus said. “Only put in place six years ago, and he is nae even the son! He has taken the clan and made it strong, but I heard tell. Of his evil around. That he is so cruel, even the devil himself would nae wish tae face him.”

“Och, but what of their loyalties? Ye think they want Scottish independence?” Helen’s bald man asked.

Angus shook his head, his dark eyes narrowing as he put two fists on the table. “Nay. All he cares about is money, so he does.” He leaned in, as did the others, and Helen did so as well, as slowly and softly as possible. The stench of the group was a little unbearable, but she breathed into her mouth as she listened in. “I heard that he is selling weapons tae the English, and giving them space on their lands tae camp, prepare, and even give them some insight intae what other clans are doing. I ken those English blaigeards are planning the attack soon enough. They daenae like the king we’ve chosen.”

“Nay, they daenae,” a ruddy-faced man at the far end of the table said. “I ken ye had always better keep a close eye on an English lad or lass. Cunning is in their blood.” All eyes turned to Helen, and she pulled back quickly, showing the men her bright smile again.

“’Tis a good thing we have a proper Scottish lass here among us.” The bald man put his arm around her again and kissed her cheek. “Come then, lass, shall we go have us a good time.”

He let go of her long enough for her to slide away, and he rummaged in his pocket for a few coins to put on the table. The other men did the same, standing up and not looking at her any longer. Helen’s breath came quickly. She could deal with one man, but more than one would be more difficult to handle, even if they were drunk off their feet. With them being soldiers, even if they were older, she knew they would still be strong.

“Come along then, lass.”

“Aye,” she said, again trying to muster a bright smile.

Stop being afraid. You have done this many times, and you can do it again.

Now that she had some interesting information, she wanted to start making her plans immediately, but she had to deal with this man first.

“What is yer name, then?” she asked, sliding a hand through his arm to act as if she was eager to go. “I think ye should be the man tae pay me bill at the bar.”

“Och, is that so?” He winked at her before producing another coin and slapping it onto the counter, making the barkeeper jump slightly.

He pulled on Helen’s arm, and she followed confidently, swaying her hips once more, catching the eyes of a few men on her way out.

Just play the part.

“Come with me,” she said to the man once they left the tavern.

Thankfully, the other men had not followed them, so she’d only have this man to deal with. Pulling him towards the alley, he chuckled and stumbled along drunkenly after her. This would be easy enough.

“Eager are ye then, lass? Havenae had a real lad in some time, is that it?”

“Of course. Surely ye can rectify that, sir.”

“I certainly can.” His eyes darkened, and once they were in the alley’s shadow, he drew closer, his breath hot on her cheek.

“Just a moment,” she said, giving her best feminine giggle as she pushed against him. “Turn around for a moment. I want tae undress a bit for ye.”

“Och, ye dae ken how tae entice a man.” Slowly, the man turned around, and her girlish smile fell instantly as she raised her hand and made it fall hard against his neck, hitting the vein in just the right spot.

As she hoped, he crumpled to the ground like a sack of potatoes, and she breathed a quick sigh of relief. “Thanks be to God.”

Hurrying away, she took one more look behind her in the alley, where she saw the shadow of the slumped man. She put up the hood of her cloak, buttoned up the front over her bodice and continued on.

An evening’s work done. Now to find the Chattan Castle and get there before they give too much information to the English. Can’t have Scotland getting too much of the short end of things.

She smiled at herself as she hurried off into the night. She noticed the snowflakes falling around her and cursed aloud, searching one way and then the other. It wasn’t safe to stay in an inn, not when she’d just made an impression like that. Her eyes moved to the far woods.

Perhaps the snow will not be so bad. I could wait it out until the worst is over. Then no one would be out and about as I return to my room to gather my belongings.

Convincing herself of her choice, she trotted toward the woods as the wind blew harder, and the snow came faster. Once inside the woods, the wind abated somewhat, and she wrapped her cloak a little tighter about herself. She wished she’d eaten a morsel or two at the tavern instead of only drinking two drams of whisky. But that would keep her bones warm, at least.

She had to hide after what she’d just done. They would not notice for a while, but the men inside, drunk as they were, were sure to come after their friend soon enough, and then they might think something of her. Helen could not afford to arouse suspicion. When she’d walked far enough into the woods, she came across a large boulder facing away from the wind, and gleefully, she sat down against it, protected from the wind much more now. Slowly, she watched as the snow fell softly around her. No one would find her there, and she could rest peacefully for a few hours. But her eyes fell. The whisky and the rush of what she’d just done hit her now. Protected from the wind, she felt a little warm and cozy, and she fell right asleep.


“God in Heaven.” Cory’s teeth chattered as he rode back to the castle on a lone, wintry road.

The storm had taken a turn, and quickly, snow was piling up on the edges of the road, and the villages were getting covered. He was just on his way home from securing one of the newly built rooves in the closest village, and everything in his body was cold. It felt as if his very veins were made of ice, but he tried to stay focused as he rode home in the dark, clucking and saying soothing words to his horse, Maitheanas.

“Come now, lad. We can dae this.” Cory clucked and nudged against the poor steed’s icy sides, hoping to encourage the horse to continue.

“Jesus, it’s feckin’ cold,” his friend and soldier, Tobias, said at his elbow. “I cannae believe anythin’ could survive this.”

In the silence of the night, it felt as if they were the only three beings in the world. When he and Tobias blew out their breath, it swirled around them like twin clouds, making Cory dream of whisky and fireplaces.

And perhaps a warm body tae come home tae.

Where in God’s name had that thought come from? He blinked in surprise at the train of his thoughts and encouraged Maitheanas to ride faster to get home all the quicker. He had not thought of being with anyone in such a long time. Not in that way, the way that meant he would return home to them night after night. For so long, it had only been Millie in his mind: her lovely mouth, warm, smooth body, and the way she’d always screamed her pleasure for him as if he was the only one who could give it to her.

All a lie. She had cared nae a whit for me.

But after that evening’s conversation with Cam, Cory had thought of it again. The thought that perhaps one day, there could be someone he could return home to. Who would smile at him, embrace him, and lead him to bed?

“Cory? Ye all right?” Tobias asked, his teeth chattering loudly.

“Aye, just thinkin.’ I hope that roof holds, but we may have tae think of somethin’ else once the snow melts if it doesnae.”

“Aye. We will. The family was thrilled tae have us come. I am sure of it. I hope the other soldiers sent out were all right on their way back. The snow has calmed a bit, but it came in a big rush there for a while.” A twig cracked in the woods on one side of the road, and both their heads jerked in that direction. “What is that? Dear God, if it is wolves, then I will warm up soon enough, rushin’ back tae the castle.”

Cory chuckled, glad for the distraction from his earlier uncomfortable thoughts, full of longing and desire. “Nay, I doubt it. But the fight would certainly warm our bodies up a bit.” He narrowed his eyes at the woods, where he saw a boulder and some figure slumped underneath it. “Better go and take a look, though. Go on ahead. I can dae this on me own.”

“Thanks be tae God,” Tobias said, riding off, and Cory turned his curious gaze back to the trees.

He turned Maitheanas towards the woods, and the horse diligently obeyed. He stopped at the edge and jumped down, patting the stallion’s flank for comfort.

“Just a wee while more, lad. Just tae check on this.”

He trudged forward, his hand hovering above his dirk in case it was something dangerous. The moon was high and full enough to give a haunting light to the dark trees, bouncing off the snow, painting everything around it the same color: black. When he got close enough, he saw that the slumped figure was not an animal but a person, and he hurried forward to reach them when the figure suddenly gasped, stood up, and Cory, bewildered, found himself on his back in the snow.

“What?” he cried in shock. No one had ever moved that quickly before or had bested him with hardly an effort.

But when he looked up, a young woman stared down at him, her hair falling about her, and her cloak hood fell back. Her hands were on his shoulders, and she was straddling him. He was so surprised by what had just happened that it took him a few seconds to realize that an icy blade was at his throat.

“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” she breathed, her white teeth bared in a sort of grimace.

Her thighs gripped his sides tightly, and he knew that if she had slung them around his neck instead, he would have choked in a matter of seconds. It was such a stark difference from the usual young ladies he met in his life among the clan villages, who batted their eyelashes at him and pretended to faint or feel ill so that he or another young man would have to catch them.

Cory held out his hands to the side. The lass was strong, but now that he had his wits about him, he hoped he could overpower her with a few quick moves, but he waited. The sight above him was mesmerizing, and he had no words for the moment. He wondered if he’d collapsed off his horse and knocked his head on the icy road, for it appeared a goddess straddled him with her strong thighs. Her every breath and slight movement radiated fire, strength, and courage. It was enviable, for he wasn’t sure he had ever looked as powerful as she did right then. Even in the darkness, he could tell that her eyes were fiery, and her voice was strong and confident. For a moment, he did not know what to say, and then he realized that if he didn’t speak soon, his back would become fused with the frozen ground beneath him, and then the both of them would be caught in the woods, freezing to death.

“Listen, lass,” he said, and he felt the blade press even closer, the chill of it making him gasp, only reminding him just how close the point was to his throat.

“I am no mere lass,” she growled at him.

If it was possible, her fiery eyes showed even more sparks.

Ye certainly are nae.

“I—” he started yet again, but then out of nowhere, she sneezed.

The movement was such a stark difference from the one she had started with, her gloved finger moving up to brush against her nose as she turned away daintily to sneeze. The blade loosened on his throat as the sneezes wracked her body. Two more came soon after, and as her body vibrated with the motion, Cory laughed. His goddess was entirely real, it seemed. And much more of a proper lady than she’d wished him to notice, making sure that she did not sneeze all over her prey.

“How dare you laugh?” she cried, looking as if she was about to sneeze again, when Cory reached up, grasped her wrist, and he spun them around until she was now pressed underneath him. Her hand, still holding the knife, was now held above her head, and she was looking up at him wide-eyed in surprise, her red nose pointed in his direction.

For a moment, Cory paused. In those fateful few seconds, the cold was no longer seeping into his bones. The breeze above had blown aside a few of the bare branches of the trees, and the moonlight could now cast light more fully onto her face. He sucked in a breath, wondering if he had ever seen a bonnier lass than the one he was looking at right then. Her lips were parted, and her eyes met his with a confidence he had never seen before in a young woman, except perhaps both Lady Ada and Lady Ella. And with her pressed beneath him, his hips between her legs, his mind had no trouble in immediately thinking of another situation in which he might find himself like this.

But he was a gentleman. He was not his cousin, who had no care for the permission of young ladies and took pleasure where he found it. Clearing his throat, he furrowed his brow and tried to focus. She was no goddess but a woman, and he had to figure out a way to get out of there so that they both did not end up dead.

“By God, woman, we are goin’ tae both freeze tae death if ye daenae come with me. All I wanted tae do was help ye, so daenae fash but move quicker tae my horse and let’s get going.” He squeezed the wrist that held the knife, and she let it go, muttering something under her breath that he thought sounded like “bloody scoundrel.”

He stood, pulling her up with him, and she ripped out of his grasp as quickly as she could, but not before he could reach down and pick up her dirk, pushing it into his boot. He gave her a quick smile.

“In case ye are thinkin’ about stabbin’ yer rescuer again.”

The way her eyes widened and her mouth gaped open made Cory want to laugh again. “That is the last thing I would ever think to call you, you…brute!” she cried indignantly even though she stomped after him out of the woods towards his waiting horse. “More like someone who is keen to interrupt one’s peaceful slumber!”

He grinned, spinning around to face her once he reached the tree around which the reins had been hastily tied. “Och, the peaceful slumber of a lass who is slowly freezin’ tae death. Ye’re right. How dare I dae such a thing?”

She had no response to that except for an angry huff, and Cory tried to stifle another chuckle. He was surprised. He was freezing his arse off, and yet the young woman had made him laugh three times in the span of their brief yet very interesting encounter. And forget the fact that it was bloody cold.

He patted Maitheanas’ gray sides, noting just how cold the horse was. “Listen lass, come with me for the night, and I will give shelter, and ye can go yer way tomorrow. I cannae just leave ye here, but I daenae want tae stay in the cold tae protect ye from the wolves.”

He stared at her for a few seconds while she thought about it, looking him up and down. “I do not care for your smugness. It’s a very unattractive quality.” She tapped angrily with her foot. “You know that I could just put you down on the ground again. You caught me in a moment of weakness with that sneeze.”

“Of course, I ken that. But I think there are other more important matters at hand, such as getting warm and finding food. So? What dae ye say? Will ye come with me?”

She took a breath, and then taking a step forward, she did the last thing he thought she would do. She crumpled into his arms.


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The English Beauty and the Highland Beast – Extended Epilogue


Even a character, a scene, or anything. You could say no if nothing bothered you.
Even a character, a scene, or anything that you enjoyed.

Three weeks later,
Castle Ardtun

Had there ever been such an exquisite sunrise? The sky was pink, and gold shot through with slivers of purple like a glorious canopy stretching over Castle Ardtun. Bathed in the golden light, Edina stood on the battlements, breathing in the fresh, salty air from the sea.

As the church demanded, the banns had been proclaimed three Sundays ago, and today was her wedding day. Tonight, she’d lay with Errol, and wake with him in the morning for the first time.

This was the day that only a few short weeks ago, she’d believed would be forever denied her. Her heart sang with happiness. At long last Errol MacKinnon would make her his wife.

Fear of her father’s barbarism no longer hung over her like a giant shadow. Her sisters were safe within the castle, embraced by the MacKinnons. As was she.

Ivy, Hannah, and the twins immediately took Skye and Margaret under their wings, showing them around the castle. Even though her sisters were still timidly finding their way amongst such a merry and rowdy family, now and again her heart lifted at the sound of their laughter. Her sisters were getting along so well with Hannah, probably because their age was almost the same. Along with her new sisters, Ivy and Hannah, Skye and Margaret would be her bridesmaids today.

After taking one more look at the glowing sky and breathing in the pure air, she turned, and with a light heart, retraced her steps to her chamber.

She found Joan fretting there with her break-fast, a bowl of honeyed porridge, boiled eggs, fried fish and freshly baked manchet.

She bobbed a curtsy when Edina entered, a brilliant smile splitting her face.

“Ye hardly need me tae urge ye tae eat milady. Today is a long day, and ye’ll need tae keep yer strength up.”

Ever since their triumphant return from Wemyss, Joan had waited on her anxiously, determined to ensure that she slept well enough and kept her appetite. She’d nursed Edina after she’d been brought from the infirmary and still insisted on treating her as if she were a most delicate flower needing special attention.

Edina laughed. “I thank ye, Joan. Ye’ve looked after me well. But today my happiness kens nae boundaries. I’ll wed my love, eat my fill, and dance together at the feast.”

Joan left her, nodding in approval.

Today’s preparations were much the same as those for the handfasting that had never taken place. Hannah and Ivy dressed her in a beautiful pale blue silk gown and braided her hair as they had before. But today, there was no dark secret weighing down her heart, no tears, no fear of betrayal. Her love new her. And he loved her still.

“Ye look like a princess of the fae,” Hannah exclaimed. “Ye’re sae beautiful, Edina. My brother is, indeed, a lucky man,” she sighed. “I look forward tae the day when I’ll find my true love.”

Edina smiled. “Hannah, that day will come soon. I can only wish ye tae be as happy as I am today.”

Ivy smiled at her. “And I pray for ye and Errol tae find that same happiness every day of yer life as I have with Blaine.”

Just then, the door flew open, and Ivy’s twins came sliding into the room, closely followed by Margaret and Skye, who were both dressed in newly tailored kirtles and tunics, their hair streaming with ribbons and flowers. However, they looked flushed, probably running after the babes.

Margaret looked in awe at her older sister. “Ye look beautiful, Edina.”

Edina twirled, and her long skirt flew out in a circle around her.

They all laughed, and young Skye clapped her hands delightedly. “I love our new life here,” she said solemnly. “And I love all my new sisters.”

The path to the chapel was lined with villagers, and when Edina appeared on the steps to the keep, a loud cheer went up. The entire village would join in the feasting and celebration after the wedding.

By the time Edina arrived at the huge oaken chapel doors, Errol, according to custom, was already waiting with the priest at the altar and the wedding guests were all seated. She took a steady breath, straightened her shoulders and held her chin high as the doors opened. Then, walking behind Ivy, Hannah, and her two sisters, she stepped into the flower-strewn chapel to the lilting strains of the beautiful Scottish harp, the clarsach.

Walking slowly down the aisle, breathing in the perfumed air, her heart beating a joyous rhythm against her ribs, Edina was aware of a sea of smiling faces turning toward her.

But she only had eyes for Errol.

He stood proudly beside the priest, clad in his laced shirt and great kilt, his tartan across his shoulder, his precious broadsword in a scabbard by his side, his blonde hair combed and trimmed, his brown eyes sparkling. His face lit up in a joyous smile as she walked toward him.

They stood side by side, never faltering, as the priest delivered the long mass in Latin. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, came the vows.

“…DO ye, Errol MacKinnon, take this woman tae be yer lawful, wedded wife?”

Errol’s voice rang out loud and clear through the chapel. “I do.”

Edina’s heart swelled with pride and joy as she pledged herself.

The priest bound their hands together in a strip of MacKinnon tartan and tied the knot, which tightened as they pulled their hands apart.

“Bound for life,” he said, beaming, as he presented Errol MacKinnon and his lady to the assembled guests as man and wife.

Once outside, they were met with wild cheering from the villagers and a bombardment of flower petals.
The sun shone brightly, warming them as they walked the short distance to the keep, accompanied by bagpipes and cheers.

The Great Hall was bursting. There were twice as many guests for the wedding as had been in attendance for the ill-fated handfasting and Errol’s welcome home celebration. Today all the Clan chiefs had brought their ladies, each of whom was outdoing the other for the finery of their gowns and jewelry.

Errol strolled with Edina among the guests, introducing his new bride to the loyal clansmen and their wives. She was pleased to recognize Laird Finlay MacPhee and Lady Kellina. Alongside them was their son, Lachlan, now happily recovered from the injuries he’d received during the battle with Sir Michael’s troops.

The Great Hall shone with the light of a thousand candles and resounded to the light-hearted music of strolling musicians.

As Edina and Errol took their places at the center of the flower-bedecked high table, they were flanked on their right by Blaine and Ivy and their left by Hannah, Gillebride, Margaret and Skye. Further along the table, Edina caught sight of Lyall McPherson. He was still pale and far too thin, but there was color in his cheeks as he raised a tankard of ale with another man wearing the MacKinnon tartan.

Like Edina and her sisters, it seemed Lyall was finding a welcoming home among the MacKinnon Clan.

The twins were seated with other bairns at a special table under the watchful eyes of Muriel and the other nursemaids.

She and Errol led their guests in the first reel of the night. Before long, the Great Hall was filled with flute, bodrhán and lute music amid cheers and wild cries as the guests joined in for a joyous ceilidh dance.

Quite out of breath, she and Errol returned to the table, and yet another serving of the feast. Blaine approached, also breathless from dancing, and poured himself and Errol over another tankard of ale. He leaned in, keeping his voice almost inaudible, but Edina heard the word “Taveon,” and her ears immediately picked up.

“In Inverness?” Errol queried.

“Yes, he was spotted there, and reports came back to my scouts. My men are heading there now.”

Edina wished she’d not been reminded of Taveon on this, of all days, but she was relieved to hear it appeared he was still in the Highlands and had not reached the English with his secrets. She could only hope he never would.

The hours wore on, and at the stroke of midnight, Ivy took Edina’s arm. “It’s time for the newly wedded couple tae take their leave. The barn is ready for ye. The animals have been herded out, and all the rats chased away.”

“Well, as delighted I am that I’ll nae be sleeping this night with a sheep or a cow, but is it clean?” Edina said, the hint of a frown appearing on her brow. It was a wedding custom that the noble bride and groom should spend their wedding night in a lowly barn, to indicate to the villagers that they, too, had humble beginnings in their married life and would never rise above them. Ivy and Blaine didn’t do it. However, Errol seemed to like the idea.

Ivy chuckled. “Aye, ‘tis clean and sweet-scented with lavender and roses. Ye’ve a comfortable bed awaiting ye, wi’ quilts and pillows. It’s a good enough place for the Laird’s brother tae be wi’ his new lady.”

Errol, who had been listening to this exchange, leaned in, grinning, to take Edina’s hand in his. “At last, the time I’ve been longing for has come, lass.”

Edina felt her cheeks heat. This night had been in her thoughts for so long. She could hardly wait to be alone with her husband and discover the secrets of lovemaking that she’d ached for.
As the couple stood to take their leave, a great cheer went up from the assembled guests.


Errol pushed open the door of the old barn. The shabby timber building was lit with lanterns hung from the beams; the floor was covered with mats constructed from rushes. A freshly laid flower-strewn carpet led from the doorway to the great four-poster bed, hung with velvet drapes that had been erected at the center of the barn.

Edina sighed. Apart from a few quick kisses here and there, she’d only had minutes alone with Errol since the night they had liberated her sisters and Errol McPherson from Castle MacDuff. They’d both been longing for this moment.

“My wife,” he said and bent to kiss her. He took her mouth in a long, precious union with his, their lips and tongues relishing the taste and feel of each other. Edina knew she would treasure the memory of this first kiss of their married life forever.

They pulled apart, gasping for breath, and he hoisted her into his arms.

He strode across to the bed and lowered her gently onto the piled-up pillows and quilts where she lay, gazing up at him. Her chest heaving, catching her breath, her body stirred in delighted anticipation of what was to come.

He pulled the drapes around the four sides of the bed, excluding the rest of the world from this, their little private world of pleasure.

After laying his broadsword on the floor, Errol undid the belt holding his scabbard and let it drop to the rush mat beside the bed. Then he pulled the tartan cloth from his shoulder and unwound the length that had formed his great kilt until all he had on was his long shirt.

Edina gazed rapturously at him as he pulled the shirt over his head and stood naked before her. Her eyes roamed over his well-muscled shoulders and traveled down his broad chest to his navel and the dark arrow of hair below it.

His manhood stood erect and proud, and she gasped at the sheer size of it. How could something so big possibly enter her body? She could only take his word that lassies were made to take in such a hard, enormous rod.

Errol took his time with Edina. First, he lifted her silk dress by the hem over her shoulders and head. Then he untied the laces of her chemise and peeled it off, leaving her breasts bare.

She heard him gasp as his finger brushed her puckered nipple, and she moved against his hand, aching for his touch. But he moved on, slowly untying the strings of her petticoat and slipping it down her legs, leaving her as naked as he was.

Twisting against him, Edina could scarcely wait to feel his bare skin against hers.

But he wasn’t done.

While she lay beside him, her eagerness for him growing by the second, he began taking the pins out of her hair. He tenderly unraveled each one of the many woven braids comprising her coiffure and spread the golden strands upon her pillow about her head.

He gazed at her up and down, studying her with eyes like burning coals.

“I cannae wait, Errol,” she gasped, groaning, reaching her hand to touch his thigh.

“I’m feasting my eyes,” he answered. “This is my delectable wedding banquet.” He flashed her a grin. “I’m starving for it, but I want tae take pleasure in the luscious sight before I take my fill.”

She laughed. “And when ye’re done with eyeing yer meal? What then?”

“I’ll taste ye first,” he said, bending to touch her lips with his tongue. She opened her mouth to him, finally relishing his feel.

“And after ye’ve tasted?” she asked when the lack of air ended the kiss.

His chest heaved. “Why, more tasting,” he said huskily, lowering his mouth to her breast he cupped in his hand, sucking her pink nipple.

She cried out his name, “MacKinnon,” as the wild sensations flowed from her breasts to the place between her legs that ached for him. She eagerly wriggled her hips against his hardness, wanting to hear him moan.

He kissed her again, and she writhed against him, the ache between her legs needing relief. She pulled his hand down to her core.

“Touch me, Errol. Please.”

His fingers found the space between her slippery, moist folds and he stroked her slowly, igniting the fire into an inferno. Her hips moved against his exploring hand as it met her inner opening. She gasped as he gently pushed two of his fingers inside her.

He groaned. “My God, Edina, ye’re so wet, so ready for me. Is this what ye’re wanting?” He moved his fingers deeper inside her and then slowly withdrew.

“Errol, please,” she cried. “Dinnae stop. I’ll die if ye do.”

He thrust his fingers inside her again and again, his thumb circling her swollen bud. All the while, he kept his mouth on her nipple, sucking hard.

“I cannae stand it,” she cried out, bucking against his hand as waves of pleasure built to their peak. Her entire body bucked and thrashed, consumed by the exquisitely intense sensations.

“My God, MacKinnon.” Edina brushed her fingers over his hardness as the last tiny waves washed over her. “I’ve waited for this night for sae long, but I still dinnae ken how it feels tae have that part of ye inside me.”


“And are ye ready now, tae find out how it feels?”

“Aye,” she said.

Errol took his erection in his hand, and Edina rolled on her back, eyes closed, legs bent, and he guessed from the tension in her jaw that she was expecting it to hurt.

She was dripping, so wet he could slide his tip in with no resistance. Then she raised her hips to meet him, and he slipped further inside.

He eased himself onto his elbows, desperately restraining the urge to plunge himself deep inside her. More than his own pleasure, he wanted this to be good for her.

He looked into the depths of her eyes.

“Dinnae wait another minute, MacKinnon. Come inside me now.”

Waiting, poised, he felt her tightening around him. And finally, he allowed himself to thrust the full length of himself inside her velvet sheath.

She moaned, her hips rising to meet his rhythm, and he was lost in sensation, taken higher than he’d ever been before.

This overarching need for her was all there was. The world disappeared, and the taste, scent and feel of Edina consumed him.

She moaned, her hips reaching for his. As he thrust harder, she met him stroke for luscious stroke until he felt her tightening around him, pulsating deep inside, calling his name as she came under him with a wild, exultant scream.

He could restrain himself no longer.

“Edina,” he cried out, thrusting hard. Then, as he grunted and moaned, he felt the tide of desire wash over him, drowning him in wave after wave of violent, earth-shattering pleasure.

Afterward, they lay silently, slipping in and out of a dreaming sleep, stirring to touch the other briefly before being claimed by their dreams again.

He woke to find Edina stroking his cheek and whispering in his ear.

“At last, I ken…” she breathed, “…the joy of being a woman with my man.”

Errol seized her, wrapping his arms around her in a mighty embrace.

Edina gave him a dreamy smile. “I ken what it is tae be in heaven.”

He grinned at her, smoothing her hair from her forehead. “Aye, lass,” he said. “So do I.”

The End.

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