fbpx

A Highlander Bound By Oath – Extended Epilogue

 

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

A few months later…

Charlotte was exhausted and excited. Today had been an eventful day, and it still wasn’t over. She smiled as she looked at her husband. It filled her with excitement that she could now call him that. Charlotte had been so nervous about the ceremony, scared that she might do something wrong, but Margaret quickly reassured her that everything would go smoothly. True to her promise, the ceremony had gone by in a blur, and Charlotte had been too focused on Owen to let her nerves get the best of her.

The hand-fasting ceremony had been one of her favorite parts of the wedding. As she moved around in a circle with her hands tied to his, Charlotte felt like she had been given the opportunity to start anew and create for herself the life she had always wanted to have. The other thing she had loved was the vows. She could not contain herself when Owen spoke his. Her eyes watered as he promised to love her and cherish her because she knew he meant it. Throughout the time they had known each other, he had proven to her over and over, the reason she could trust that he meant every word of his vows, and when it was her turn to speak her vows, she said it with all sincerity and truth because she meant it.

Charlotte was happy. His family had cheered them on when they said their vows and whistled when they kissed. Charlotte was glad that she met them. She could not have wished for a better family. She was happy that she could now call them her family as well. The past months before the wedding had been wonderful. Charlotte had spent the time getting to know every member of the Elliott family. Her mother-in-law had been so welcoming.

After they had returned from the battle at William’s, Charlotte had locked herself away to weep for the family that she had lost. With the death of her uncle, she believed she owed it to herself to let out the grief that she had bottled up. Charlotte had refused to let anyone in, not even Owen, but when his mom knocked, she had been forced to let her in.

It was the best decision Charlotte could have made. Her mother-in-law had wrapped her hands around her as she told her it was all right to cry. To mourn.

“I ken that ye have been through a lot, and I ken that I can nae replace yer maither. Nor me family can nae replace the one ye have lost. But I hope ye ken that we will always be here for ye if ye let us be. Ye are part of us now and we take care of our own.”

Charlotte had cleaned her eyes and looked up at the woman. Unlike the others she had spoken to before she ran off, she had interacted with the reserved woman only in passing. Yet here she was, treating her as if they were friends. Charlotte choked back a sob. Her uncle had tried, but in the end, he had failed to take everything away from her. She had a place with these wonderful people who were strangers to her only a few days ago.

“Thank you. I do not know how to repay you for the kindness you and your family have shown me,” she said, but her mother-in-law shushed her and smiled before rising to her feet.

“Ye dae nae have tae thank me. It is like I said earlier, ye are one of us now. I will leave ye alone now, but when ye feel like ye can join us, please dae. I am sure me son misses ye already and will only spend the time paving until he wears a hole into the ground.” She winked at her before she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Charlotte felt hands wrap around her from behind, and her smile blossomed when she looked back to see Isla. She had come to love the woman as much as she loved her own mother, and she knew that Isla loved her just as much. She had ensured that Charlotte knew that every day, both with her words and her action.

“Ye are now officially part of us, although ye have been one of us for a while now. How dae ye feel?” she asked her suddenly.

“I am happier than I have ever been,” Charlotte beamed, and she knew she meant all of it. She hugged her mother-in-law just as Owen came up to them.

Their wedding feast was filled with laughter and happiness. Charlotte danced with Rory and Margaret before she was carried off on Owen’s shoulders amidst the hoots and loud whistles. Embarrassed, her face went completely red, but she allowed herself to be carried off.

It was their first night as a married couple. Charlotte was quite nervous. After Owen asked her to marry him, he informed her that he wanted to do things the right way and that for him to do that, they would have to abstain from intimate practices while he courted her. Charlotte had been a little disappointed, but also quite excited. It was the first time she was going to be courted the right way, as opposed to the terrible experiences she’d had before. In the days that had followed, Owen had brought her flowers and asked her to accompany him on evening strolls around town. They went for picnics and even a swim in the lake at the back of their property. They followed the proper rules of engagement with a chaperone, and Charlotte felt pride and love for their new beginning.

Charlotte had not known how much she would enjoy the process, and she was glad that Owen had chosen to court her. The tension between them had been thick enough to cut through with a knife, but they had settled for the occasional kisses, never allowing themselves to go past that. Charlotte had counted the days until she could be in his arms again, the way she had been the night before the incident. She wanted to experience the intimacy she’d shared with him that night. She could still remember how gentle he had been with her and the whispered words in her ear that had made her feel safe and happy, content to be with him in that moment.

Charlotte giggled when Owen kissed her, and suddenly her hand came up to cover her mouth in shock. She had never been the sort to giggle. It was such a strange sound, but she did not much mind it. She was happy, that much she knew, and he was happy also, that much she cared about.

“Where’s your mind at? Why did you suddenly go quiet on me?” Owen asked her. Charlotte debated whether to tell him as he climbed the stairs with her still on his shoulders.

“I was thinking about how perfect the last few months have been,” she said. She bit her lip before adding, “I was also thinking about being with you again.”

Charlotte blushed when Owen chuckled. He opened the door to their room and gently placed her on her feet.

“Feel this,” He took her hand and traced a path down his body from his chest to the waistband of his trousers and a little lower until she was cupping him in her hands. Charlotte gasped in shock and he held her there, squeezing tightly before he let go.

“Trust me, love, ye are nae the only one who has been thinking about it. It is all I have been able tae think about since the minute we agreed tae nae be intimate,” he said, looking pained. Charlotte laughed suddenly. She knew he wanted to be with her, but she had not known how much until she saw his expression. Her face morphed into confusion when he suddenly looked serious. She noticed he seemed to look at something near and Charlotte froze in worry.

“What is it?” she asked worriedly. She turned around, but he shook his head at her.

“Nay, dae nae move, me love. Ye have got a spider on ye.” Charlotte froze for a second as his words registered in her mind before quickly removing her clothes. She could not get it off her quick enough. Charlotte flung pieces of fabric around as she jumped up and down in fear, her mind returning to the spider that had climbed into her dress in the monastery.

“Get it off! Oh, please get it off, Owen,” she screamed, still taking off her clothes. She continued to undress until she was naked before him, jumping as she shook her hair to make sure that it had not tangled itself in her hair. Her hair had grown slightly longer since her uncle cut it, though it was still a long way off from what it had once been, but she found she did not much mind it. Charlotte had begun to love her hair as it was, although she still intended to grow it out. Now, however, the strands tickling her neck felt like the legs of a spider, making her even more scared.

Charlotte stopped when she heard Owen laugh. She stopped and glared at him playfully when she realized there had been no spider.

“You need to stop doing this, Owen. If you wanted to get me out of my clothes so bad, then all you have to do is ask.” She watched his eyebrows shoot up and a grin form on his lips.

“Oh, is that so?” he teased. Charlotte’s heart raced as Owen slowly advanced toward her. He undid his shirt as he got closer and took it off, taking off the rest of his clothes until he was completely naked before her. “There. Now we are even.”

Owen wove his fingers into Charlotte’s hair and pulled her into him, kissing her deeply. She gasped when he pressed fully against her. She could feel the hardness of him. Owen pulled his lips from hers and took her by the hand, leading her to the bed. She felt the heat pool in her core when he groaned above her, his eyes closing as he sniffed her neck. “I love the smell of yer skin. It does things to me that ye can nae understand,” he murmured.

She quivered when he bit her neck, licking the sensitive bite mark. Charlotte wrapped her hands around him and pulled on his hair, kissing him hard on the lips. She moaned into his mouth and lifted herself until her breasts were pressed against his chest, making sure that her unspoken request was understood. She gasped when he lined himself with her center and pushed into her gently. Charlotte moaned softly when she felt the fullness of his sheath completely inside. Something about it made her feel whole, like they were meant to be.

She gasped and then moaned with pleasure when he began to move inside her with a rhythmic dance of their hips. Her hands wrapped around his hard bottom as she moved with him, chasing her pleasure. Charlotte could feel the tightening in her core increasing rapidly. His deep grunts filled her with excitement. Her legs shook when he thrust deep and slow inside her, grazing at a spot that sent sweet sensations racing through her body. Charlotte bit his shoulder when he did it repeatedly, the same feeling running through her body repeatedly. She moaned his name and tightened her grip around him. Her legs wrapped around his waist to better accommodate him. She let out a low-pitched scream when the pleasure overtook her, just as Owen jerked above her and collapsed on her.

Charlotte played with the short strands of hair at his nape, feeling complete. Her life had taken a turn for the better and she could not be more grateful.

The End.

If you haven’t already, please leave your review on Amazon

Readers who enjoyed this book also bought

Phantom of the Highlands

★★★★★ 266 ratings

This is the story of Gillian, an adventurous English lady who finds herself captured by a mysterious and alluring Highlander. This Highlander will do whatever it takes to save his people from hunger, even abduct the daughter of his enemy. But life seldom goes as planned. What will happen when the Highlander starts falling for Gillian? And will her feelings or her logic prevail in this peculiar turn of events?

Read the book
Temptation in the Highlands

★★★★★ 208 ratings

This is the story of Julia, an intelligent English lady who runs away to escape her woes and finds herself in the keep of an enticing Highlander. This Highlander, as handsome as he may be, has serious economic troubles, and only a miracle can save him. But perhaps one's answer is closer than he thinks. How will he help her face the past that is haunting her? And how will she save him?

Read the book
Highlander's Cursed Heiress

★★★★★ 213 ratings

This is the story of Gale, an adventurous English lady who runs away to escape her murderous mother and finds herself in the company of an alluring Highlander. There she is called to change her ways, and he helps her see the world from a different point of view. But her past is catching up with her. How will she elude her mother? And will this be the only obstacle in their relationship?

Read the book

The Highlander’s Vixen – Extended Epilogue

 

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

One year later…

“Should we just come in? Or should we have planned some sort of a surprise first?” Blair asked, looking out of the window of the carriage, Ada next to him.

She squeezed his hand. “I think our arrival will be surprise enough! It has been far too long since I have seen me family. Writin’ them letters was nae enough for me.” Ada leaned against his shoulder, and Blair leaned over to kiss her head and breathe in her scent.

She was his Ada, forever and ever. Even after one year of marriage and glorious travel around much of Europe, it still didn’t seem real.

“Ye dinnae regret it, dae ye, all that we have done and all that we have seen?”

“Nay, nae at all! It was everythin’ tae me!” She lifted up her head and touched his cheek to turn his face towards hers. “Never think that I have regretted it. It is only that Ella now has children, and I have never seen the babies! It is time. And she says that Father is gettin’ tired. She worries for him.”

“Aye, the troubles with the English abound it seems.” He rubbed at the back of his neck, remembering the letter he’d received from Laird MacPherson a few weeks before, asking for their return.

I would like ye tae take over the clan, Blair. I ken that ye feel ye have a duty tae Cameron, but now that ye are like a son, I would wish ye tae take a son’s place as laird. And then yer son will be the heir tae the MacPherson Clan.

He had not told Ada, fearful that she would not wish for that, fearful that she would get upset about her father attempting to force them back to her old prison again. But he hoped that age had mellowed out the older man and that the distance from his one daughter had done so as well. Perhaps she would be keen to stay and live in her old home and to have Blair take over the clan while her father took his retirement.

“It is all so lovely,” Ada sighed. “I am glad we came before the cold, but I can feel it coming. Despite the beautiful, sunny places we’ve seen in France and Italy, I confess that I have missed the cold air of Scotland. The way it bites at ye,” she chuckled, “it makes ye feel alive.”

He chuckled with her. “Aye, what a description. Quite right. And it makes one keen tae get close under the covers at night,” he added jokingly.

She pushed against him. “Ever the seducer, me husband.”

“Aye, of course.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “What man would have a bonny wife like mine and nae always be thinkin’ about ways tae seduce her and get her intae his bed?” His eyes widened. “Ye dinnae think yer father will try tae keep us away from one another again as punishment for bein’ away for so long?”

She burst into laughter and shook her head. “Surely nae. We are married this one year! And he would have tae fight against me if he wished tae dae somethin’ as nonsensical as that.”

He could see Grant Castle approaching through the window. He drew Ada in closer. He was excited to see his old friend and in-laws again, but he was also a little nervous. He hoped that a year had passed and that he had changed for the better. They’d left so soon after their wedding that no one had seen them as husband and wife. He was concerned that they would find him unsuitable as a husband in some way.

He shook his head. Despite Finley’s absence and his need for vengeance, Blair still struggled with himself and believing in his own worth. The darkness had weighed heavily on him for a long time, and the guilt he felt for killing those men had burned a hole inside of him. Ada’s love had healed him so much that he felt better all the time. He was still worried that he was not good enough for her. He was worried about being good enough for Laird MacPherson’s plan for him to take over the clan.

“Here we are!” Ada said excitedly as the carriage slowed.

He couldn’t help but smile at his wife’s happiness. The door opened, and he jumped out first so that he could help her down. He pulled her into his arms so that her back was against his chest, and resting his chin on her head, they looked at Grant Castle.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Aye, I cannae wait!” She wriggled free and walked towards the gates. When they opened, Ella, Cameron, and two young children who looked exactly alike rushed out.

Ada screamed with delight, running towards her sister while Blair laughed, walking up to Cameron.

“Blair!” Cameron cried, pulling him into a warm, brotherly embrace. “God, it is good tae see ye.” When he pulled away, he squeezed Blair’s shoulders. “Ye look well, brother.”

“I feel well,” he said, only partially truthful. “Ye look well too.”

Cameron had grown in maturity in the last year as if much more time had passed. More lines were fanning out from the corners of his eyes, and his smile lines were also deeper grooves. He was happy, and that made Blair happy.

“We did nae ken when exactly ye were comin’. I swear, Ella has been waitin’ at the window for the past month, hopin’ that day would be the day.” He hugged Blair again. “Come, meet me bairns.”

“Blair,” Ella said, hugging him and kissing him on the cheek before she reached for Ada again. “We’ve missed ye both so much.”

Her eyes were moist with tears. “We’ve missed ye,” Ada replied with equal emotion.

“These are the twins,” Ella said proudly, grasping at them as they clung to her skirts, almost not able to stand straight. “Danny and David,” she added with a twinkle in her eye.

Danny was toddling next to his older brother, and Ada reached down to scoop them both up in a hug. “What a pleasure tae meet ye all. I am yer Aunt Ada, and this is yer Uncle Blair.”

Blair smiled at the children. The boys were identical to their father. He knelt in front of them.

“Greetings tae ye, lads. Has yer father let ye hold a sword yet?”

They shook their heads at the same time.

“Well, perhaps I should be the one tae show ye.” He grinned, winking at Cameron, who shook his head.

“Ye are goin’ tae kill Ella, Blair.”

“Greetings!” A familiar voice called from the doorway. Both Blair and Ada looked up, and they saw Laird MacPherson coming out of the gates to meet them. “I was wonderin’ when ye’d arrive after me letter, Blair.”

Blair groaned inwardly when he heard Ada say, “Letter?”

He turned to his wife, the woman he’d sworn never to keep secrets from any longer.

“Aye. Yer father has sent me a letter,” he said, just as the laird came to hug Ada and shake Blair’s hand.

“I want Blair tae take over the clan.”

***

Ada knew perhaps it wasn’t very fair, but she was angry at her husband. Once they were all settled inside and Ella and Cameron were off speaking to the servants about meals and preparations, Ada looked between her father and Blair.

“When were ye goin’ tae tell me?” she asked, and he had the decency to look abashed.

“Here and now,” he said. “I did nae want tae worry ye.”

“Ada, come now,” her father admonished in his usual tone.

She tried her best not to wince at it. It had been three years since she’d last seen him, and she’d been afraid of seeing him again. They had made up before the wedding, but he was still the same man. Would he attempt to try to scold her as always? Would he even attempt to imprison her in his old ways?

“What is so terrible about this idea? Blair would make a wonderful laird, would he nae?” Ada’s eyes dragged to her husband.

She couldn’t help but smile a little. Blair had grown in maturity, wisdom, and good looks. Their time abroad had made his skin more golden, and it brought out the lines around his eyes. He’d laughed and smiled more than he ever had since she’d first known him. Her heart swelled with love for this man, and she knew she could not be angry at him for long. But the fact that he’d kept such a big secret from her hurt her. It made her afraid, made her remember the feeling of the past when he’d tried to keep her out of the situation with Finley.

Occasionally, despite all his actions to the contrary, she worried that he would run away again.

“Of course, he would. I only wish that he had told me. I could have talked about it with him instead of havin’ it sprung upon me without notice.”

Blair nodded, and he reached across the table for her hand. “I ken, lass. I am sorry about that.”

“Well, what did ye decide?”

He shook his head. “I have nae. I was waitin’ tae tell ye and talk about it with ye.”

“But of course, there is only one option,” her father said.

She narrowed her gaze at him. “Father, ye must let us make our own decision.” She softened a little, attempting to avoid the old tension which had seeped into her muscles. “But I thank ye for thinkin’ of us. Are ye unwell? Ella has written tae me about a few things.”

“Has she?” He chuckled. “Aye, I am nae so spry as I once was, and I think I am tired of rulin’ from an empty castle. Ye should go and fill it with yer own family.” He lifted a brow. “I wonder why ye dinnae have any bairns of yer own.”

Ada blushed. “Father, it is nae a question one asks.”

This time, Blair spoke. “We wanted the freedom tae travel, me laird. But now, perhaps if we choose yer solution, we can have a place tae settle.”

His soft eyes looked into hers, and she smiled. It had been so beautiful to travel and see the world. Ada had experienced a wonderful freedom that she’d never thought possible. She’d seen things so many in the Highlands had never and would never see. But the idea of returning home after so long away did appeal to her. It would be nice to sit in one’s own chair in front of one’s own fire.

“Here we are,” Ella said, returning to the hall on Cameron’s arm. “The children are settled, and the meal will be served shortly.”

Ada turned her mind away from the issue at hand, and they ate pleasantly as a family, Ella filling them all in on the latest goings-on of the village, Cameron’s ruling, as well as how the children fared. Ada smiled and laughed, and with each breath, she was grateful she’d been able to return to her family. She was tired and ready for bed when it was all over, and Ella met her at the base of the stairs before she went up.

Ella looked back at the men who were deep in conversation about something. “What will ye dae, Ada? Ye ken that I would love tae have ye close by, but ye must dae what is in yer heart. Ye would be welcome here as well, for Blair tae serve as Cam’s man-at-arms as planned. Dinnae let Father push ye intae it.”

“I will nae,” Ada said sharply and then looked up at her sister. “I’m sorry. I spent a long while thinkin’ about what it would be like tae be around Father again. I’ve been very nervous, plannin’ out what I might say tae him. He seems more subdued, of course,” she said, stealing a glance at him. “But I can tell he still wants me tae dae as he asks. I just worry that he will lord over me while we live in MacPherson Castle. That, I could nae abide.”

Ella lifted her chin. “Then ye will simply tell him what tae dae. Ye will be the lady of the castle if Blair chooses the lairdship. Ye are both a grown, and a married woman. Ye dinnae need him tae tell ye what ye must dae.”

“Thank ye, Ella. But I think that ye should also have him come and visit ye very often.”

Ella chuckled, just as her children came rushing into the entranceway, their nanny not far behind.

“And a good night tae ye all,” Ada cried, leaning down to squeeze and kiss them. When she rose, she touched Ella’s arm. “I am so sorry that I missed their birth. But I am here now. I want tae get tae ken them. I feel like I dae from all yer letters about them.”

Ella beamed. “Aye I was tryin’ tae keep ye well-informed. But I’m glad ye will nae go away anytime soon. I missed ye terribly all this time, but I was so happy that ye got tae have the freedom ye deserved.”

Smiling, Ada hugged her. “Aye, so am I.”

She felt Blair’s touch on her back, and she pulled away. “Ready?” he asked.

“Aye, I am so fatigued, I can barely stand up.”

“Go and rest!” Ella said, waving them both away. “A bath has been put in yer room for ye both.”

They wished her family good night, and Blair kept his hand on her back as they found their way to their room. Once inside, Ada was warmed by the fire and the sight of a steaming bath in front of it.

“How lovely,” she said, and Blair came behind her.

“I am glad they ken we wish tae bathe together. Let me help ye,” he said, slowly unbuttoning her bodice, untying her stays and helping her out of her clothing until she was fully naked.

When she turned around, he smiled and shook his head as he took her in. “Ye are perfect, Ada. I still lose me breath every time I look at ye.”

“And ye,” she said, helping him out of his jacket and shirt.

When he was fully bare, they walked to the tub and slipped inside. He pulled her against him, and she closed her eyes.

“I am sorry, Ada. Will ye forgive me?” he asked before he kissed her temple.
“Aye, of course. What would ye like tae dae?”

He traced a finger along her arm. “I dinnae ken. I fear that ye may nae like tae return tae yer home, lass, with yer father.”

“Aye, but Ella says that I must simply tell him his place.”

“So ye should.” He chuckled, and she felt the hum against her back. “He would listen tae ye now. There is nothin’ holdin’ ye back any longer.”

She nodded. “Aye, but what dae ye want? Dae ye want tae be laird?”

He hesitated for a moment. “Perhaps ye think me foolish, but I still think of how I took the lives of those men when I was young. I have taken other lives, of course, but those stick with me. I fear there is a darkness in me that could still come out and that I am unworthy.”

She pulled his arms tighter around her. “That is what makes ye the best laird. Ye dinnae already think yerself a gift tae mankind. Ye would have the humility tae help those in need and tae keep yer people strong.”

He didn’t say anything else, and they finished bathing. Once out of the water, Blair took a towel and wrapped it around her.

“I am only better with ye at me side.” He kissed her. “Would ye be willin’ tae be a laird’s wife?”

“Aye, of course,” she said. “I would dae anythin’ for ye. And if ye need further help in bein’ humble, I would be happy tae assist.”

Laughing, he drew her closer and pressed a kiss to the base of her neck.

“Blair,” Ada said softly, wondering what reaction she’d get.

“Hmm?” he asked, still holding her.

“Seein’ the children today has reminded me. We have put it off for so long. I ken that we have nae had children because of our travels. But now…” She pulled out his arms and looked at him. “Would ye like one of yer own?”

She feared that he would turn away or make her feel a fool. But instead, he put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her.

“Aye, lass, that would make me very happy.”

Grinning, she jumped into his arms, and he spun her about, their towels dropping to the floor in their haste. When he slowed, his hands caressed down her back and grasped her buttocks.

“Well,” he said in a low voice that never failed to send tingles down her spine, “shall we begin right now?”

“Aye, laird,” she teased. “That would make me very happy.”

Blair scooped her into his arms and carried her to the bed, smiling the whole time. It was a new chapter, and she was fearful of many things. But, for the time being, Ada had more pleasant ones on her mind.

The End.

If you haven’t already, please leave your review on Amazon

Readers who enjoyed this book also bought

Phantom of the Highlands

★★★★★ 266 ratings

This is the story of Gillian, an adventurous English lady who finds herself captured by a mysterious and alluring Highlander. This Highlander will do whatever it takes to save his people from hunger, even abduct the daughter of his enemy. But life seldom goes as planned. What will happen when the Highlander starts falling for Gillian? And will her feelings or her logic prevail in this peculiar turn of events?

Read the book
Temptation in the Highlands

★★★★★ 208 ratings

This is the story of Julia, an intelligent English lady who runs away to escape her woes and finds herself in the keep of an enticing Highlander. This Highlander, as handsome as he may be, has serious economic troubles, and only a miracle can save him. But perhaps one's answer is closer than he thinks. How will he help her face the past that is haunting her? And how will she save him?

Read the book
Highlander's Cursed Heiress

★★★★★ 213 ratings

This is the story of Gale, an adventurous English lady who runs away to escape her murderous mother and finds herself in the company of an alluring Highlander. There she is called to change her ways, and he helps her see the world from a different point of view. But her past is catching up with her. How will she elude her mother? And will this be the only obstacle in their relationship?

Read the book

The Wrong Highland Bride – Extended Epilogue

 

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

Eight months later…

“Will ye calm down?” Magnus pleaded with Scott as he paced the corridor outside their bedroom.

“How can I be calm?” Scott demanded, his heart in his throat. “My own wife is risking her life tae bring our child into the world!”

“Or ye could think that she is doing what women have done for years!” his brother countered. “Ye ken that anyone as strong as Evelyn can do anything!”

“Aye, ye should go drink something, brother!” Tate said, not moving from his position guarding the door even as Evelyn moaned and battled behind it. They had all decided, especially Evelyn, that it would be too much for Scott to witness the birth of another child. His wife had decided that she would face the challenge with her womenfolk, and Scott was very displeased about it. He had tried to tackle Tate three times already.

“I dinnae ken why ye came back home, ye are a pain in the behind,” Scott snapped.

“Well, ye must get used to it, I’m nae going anywhere,” the youngest brother said easily. That stopped Scott in his tracks and Magnus too, who turned to stare at their younger brother.

“Yer staying?” They asked in surprise.

“Aye, well, I have a wee nephew tae corrupt, dinnae I?” Tate said cheekily, winking at Magnus.

“Ye willnae corrupt my son!” Scott snarled, resuming his pacing and wincing when he heard Evelyn groan in the room beyond.

“Aye, and what if they have a wee lass?” Magnus demanded.

“Then I will dote on her till she is spoiled as a princess!” Tate laughed, but his laugh was cut short by a long, guttural scream, unlike anything they had ever heard. All three men stood and stared at the door, thinking of the woman they all loved suffering beyond.

“I cannae bear it when she screams so,” Magnus said, surprisingly heartbroken for such an even-tempered man.

“’Tis an agony worse than the battlefield,” Scott moaned hoarsely. “Tae ken that she fights so fiercely and I cannae fight for her.”

“Evelyn has never wanted anyone tae fight her battles, brother,” Tate said sternly, folding his arms and resuming his position as guard lest Scott think of taking another run at the door.

“Aye, this is Evelyn’s fight, and ye must ready yersel,” his other brother said, clapping his hand on Scott’s shoulder.

“Why?” Scott asked distractedly.

“For the bairn,” Magnus continued softly. “Ye will fight every day of yer life for him, will ye nae?”

“Aye, I shall,” Scott nodded. After all, there was nothing he wanted more than to protect his small family.

“Or for her,” Tate said, reasonably. “Shall we take bets?”

“I should toss ye out on yer arse, ye rake!” Scott threatened.

“Ach, yer sense of humor isnae better, brother,” Tate chuckled, rolling his eyes. Suddenly, a small, thin wail sounded through the door and Tate.

“Is that—” he asked in a hushed voice.

“Aye,” Scott stared at the door. “’Tis.”

“A wee bairn.” Magnus’ voice was utterly broken with relief, and he gripped Scott’s arm so hard it hurt. “Alive.”

The door opened slowly and all of them held their breath. Then, Alba came out holding a bundle wrapped in her arms, a beatific expression on her face. She looked up at Scott with pure joy as she stepped in front of him and passed the impossibly small bundle into his arms.

“Scott,” she said joyfully. “Yer a da.”

Scott stared down into the wizened face, the startling blue eyes that looked like a seal pup’s and fell endlessly in love. He choked when he saw the thatch of reddish hair, aware that tears of joy had started to fall.

“A healthy wee lad,” Alba said, wiping her own tears. “And Evelyn is well, praise God!”

“Praise God,” Magnus muttered, still clutching Scott’s arm. Scott stared down at his newborn son.

“Hello lad,” he crooned. “I’m yer da.”

“And I’m yer uncle,” Magnus murmured, looking over his shoulder, his tears dripping on Scott’s sleeve.

“And I’m yer other uncle,” Tate said, popping up over his brother’s other shoulder. “Yer better uncle.”

“Yer idiot uncle,” Magnus snapped.

“Yer a fool,” Alba sniffed, giving Magnus a distasteful glare.

“Dinnae start with me, Alba Menzies, my nephew is here!” Magnus snapped back and Scott rolled his eyes, too in love with his son to even consider why his sister-in-law and brother were always at odds.

“He’s got yer nose, Scott,” Tate whispered, pressing a finger to the baby’s cheek in a soft stroking motion. “And Evelyn’s hair.”

“Aye, he does,” Magnus whispered. “A little firecracker.”

“He’s grand.” Tate said, clapping his hands with delight. “We must celebrate! Drams for everyone!”

“Ye go ahead, brothers,” Scott said, moving to the door. He opened it and peered around. Evelyn lay in the bed on her side, utterly exhausted, as Lana gently wiped her face.

“Love,” he said, kissing her forehead with heartfelt of emotion in his throat. “Ye did so well. I am so proud of yer courageous battle.”

“Aye, ’twas a battle,” she sighed, her eyes closed as she gratefully grasped her husband’s hand. “Ye’ve seen him?”

“Aye, here he is,” Scott said, gently laying the small bairn next to his mother, turning his face to root for her breast, and seeing him latch immediately. Scott felt a burst of pride for his son’s achievement, and Evelyn let out a soft moan of motherly love.

“Yer refreshed, my lady,” Anne the healer said, spreading a fresh blanket over Evelyn. She carefully made space for Scott to climb into the bed beside her, holding the bairn against her breast. Evelyn gave a contented sigh and leaned her head on Scott’s chest, both of them staring at their suckling babe as Lana quietly left the room.

“He is brawny, like ye,” Evelyn whispered.

“Aye, a big lad,” Scott said, his eyes shining with pride and joy.

“He will be tall—a great fighter like ye,” Evelyn stroked their son’s small thatch of red hair in amazement.

“And ye, my love,” Scott kissed the top of his wife’s red hair and marvelled at her strength.

“Ach, well, when he has a sister, he will have tae teach her how tae hold a dirk,” Evelyn joked.

“Ye’d do it again?” he asked in a whisper. “Even after the pain?”

“Aye, just to look at it,” Evelyn smiled so broadly that Scott was amazed. For he’d never seen her smile that way before. “What could be better?”

“He’ll need a name,” Scott pointed out.

“Aye, what do ye think?” Evelyn stroked her son’s soft cheek as her husband stroked her own.

“Robert,” Scott said instantly as the thought popped into his head.

“Aye, ’tis good for the cause, young Robert,” Evelyn agreed.

“Nae, love,” Scott turned her face up to him and gave her a kiss. “’tis the name of the man who brought us together, who made all of this happen.”

“I suppose it is,” Evelyn laughed and then looked down at their son. “Robert Murray. Welcome tae the family, son.”

“Welcome, son,” Scott repeated, and did not think he could ever be happier.

****

“Eve, Eve, darling…”

Evelyn was pulled out of sleep by the sensation of a warm tongue exploring her, licking her center. She sighed heavily, joyful to be woken in such a way by her husband. He had not become less ravenous for her body and touch since the babe was born. He often woke her this way, either gently thrusting inside of her or softly licking and exploring her cleft to bring her to a gentle, teasing climax before she went to care for their son.

This time Scott brought her to a slow, gentle climax as the dawn rose. Then, when she was still in spasms, he slid inside her to bring himself to a quick, satisfying finish before he kissed her eyelids, her cheeks, her chin, and her nose before returning to her lips. Evelyn returned his kiss passionately, her hands tangled in his hair, pulling his head closer. Her hands explored the muscles of his chest and through his shirt, delighting in their firmness.

“Have I ever told ye how much I love yer strength?” she whispered as her husband wilted with his finish and slowly withdrew from her.

“Nay, but I have always suspected,” Scott laughed against her lips, kissing them chastely. “Shall we go again, aye?”

“Nay, get away,” Evelyn laughed, even as Scott’s mouth moved to find her nipple. “Ye may have already made another bairn this morn!”

“Aye, God willing,” Scott grinned. He was eager for another child and so was Evelyn, eager to have as many as she could whilst she was still fit and well enough to bear them. Scott had been clear that as soon as the healer said Evelyn was not fit enough, they would stop. He would not risk her life for anything. Evelyn felt loved and treasured by her husband.

“I must tend tae our Robbie,” Evelyn smiled, swinging her legs out of bed and going to the crib where the baby was mewling softly. “Good morning, my little laird.”

She picked him up and instantly, he nuzzled at her breasts and Evelyn sighed, adjusting to make room for him.

“How is my bonny lad today?” Scott asked, pulling on his trews and watching appreciatively as his wife fed their child.

“Well and hungry,” Evelyn said, holding her son’s foot in her hands. “I dinnae ken how he grows so fast.”

“Aye.” Scott dragged on his shirt and looked at her with wonder in his eyes.

“What?” Evelyn demanded, rocking the babe from side to side.

“I love ye,” Scott said simply. “All the time, but especially when yer so…” he gestured at her, standing naked in the dawn light with her chestnut curls tumbling down her back and the babe at her breast. “Ye look like a goddess. I could watch ye like this all day and never tire.”
When he spoke like that, so reverent and eager, Evelyn had to fight the urge to force him back to bed. That he loved her so much, that he wanted her so desperately, was always miraculous to her.

“Aye, ye may never tire but Magnus would,” Evelyn said, laughing drily. “Ye have work tae do, my laird, and yer son must feed!”

“Am I distracting ye?” Scott said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Aye, with yer lewd thoughts,” Evelyn laughed. “Get away!”

Scott smiled and walked across to her, kissing her tenderly. “Have a good day, love,” he whispered, before leaving the room, and Evelyn sighed, looking down at her baby.

“Arenae we lucky?” she whispered, believing it with her whole heart.

“My lady?” Lana knocked and peeked through the door. “Are ye roused?”

“Aye, Lana,” Evelyn called her in, not concerned for her bareness. “Will ye fetch my shift?”

“Aye, my lady,” Evelyn switched Robert to the other breast and let Lana drape the shift over her, covering her nakedness. She noticed, suddenly, that her maid’s eyes were very red.

“Are ye well, lass?” she asked, jiggling the babe. Lana gave her a desperate look, staring between Evelyn and her child before tears spilled down her cheeks.

“I dinnae want tae scare ye, my lady,” Lana said, choking on tears.

“Then ye must tell me,” Evelyn said firmly

“Me father,” Lana gasped. “I think he kens where I am.”

The End.

If you haven’t already, please leave your review on Amazon

If you want to know what lies ahead in our story, you may want to get the sequel…

When Alba Menzies is pressured into an unwanted betrothal, she refuses to surrender to fate’s cruel hand. In a daring gambit, she enlists Magnus Murray, the very man she despises, to play the role of her false husband. Amidst the tangled webs of their fake union, an intoxicating connection takes root. As they journey through perilous lands and situations, they discover that the true danger is buried deep in their own hearts. Will their charade lead to salvation or plunge them further into the abyss of desire and deception?


In the Arms of a Highland Brute

The Laird’s Reluctant Bride – Extended Epilogue

 

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

Three years later…

Ivy McLeod, Lady of Clan MacKinnon, was the luckiest woman in all of Scotland—despite her rotten luck. She arched her back against the bed, more convinced of that fact with each day that passed, but especially convinced of it on that crisp spring morning in her husband’s bed, as he worked her body devilishly.

Blaine had settled between her legs, lavishing her with naughty kisses as only he knew how. Ear-ly morning sunlight draped over her body, adding to her pleasure. She squeezed her eyes shut tight as Blaine pressed his lips to her heat over the thin fabric of her night chemise, and her hand shot up to cup her own breast.

Her husband hummed against her core, and it set her body on fire. He nipped the skin of her thighs playfully, bunching up the cotton of her gown to tease her.

“Ye’re more a daemon than a laird,” Ivy moaned as he slipped a hand beneath her skirts. “Ye’ve nae a saintly bone in yer body.”

“Only for ye, sweet Ivy,” he purred, exposing her completely and sighing his appreciation. “We both ken ye need a daemon to keep ye on yer toes.” He pressed a kiss between her petals, his hair and beard tickling the skin of her legs, and she bucked against his face. “What was that ye said of saints?”

“I remember naething of what I said,” she panted with a whisper, curling her hands around the quilt and pleading for more wordlessly. “Hush now…”

“So ye’re commanding me, is it?” Blaine teased. Before she could react, his large calloused hands slid down her legs and shot back up, grabbing her by the waist. He pulled her down to straddle her, and Ivy laughed in surprise. “I think nae, my lady—certainly nae on yer birthday.”

Ivy grinned beneath him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I thought ye’d forgotten.”

“How could I ever?”

“There’s much and more to occupy us now, is there nae? But perhaps, for a moment, there can be only us.” She lifted herself up to trap his lips in hers. Blaine smiled against her mouth, push-ing them down on the bed. Suddenly, a set of high-pitched laughs chimed from beyond the door, and Ivy groaned. “Speaking of which—”

“Let the nurse see to them,” Blaine pleaded, kissing her again. “They’ll be there to greet ye in an hour.”

“An hour?” Ivy exclaimed. She shook her head and pushed her husband away lovingly. “Now ye really are a daemon.”

Ivy wriggled herself free and sat atop the bed. She took a moment to admire her husband, still in disbelief, despite their three years of marriage, how handsome Blaine MacKinnon truly was. He had grown out his hair since first they had met, and it was a touch darker than the sunny blond she had come to love—this color she loved even more. The ends of it lapped against his chin, where a decent scruff had taken form. He had a few more wrinkles than the day of their marriage, little indents at the sides of his eyes and in his forehead. Too much smiling. Too much frowning. She supposed that was a good thing.

He leaned forward to kiss her again, wrapping his hand in her long brown hair. “Happy birth-day, my wife,” he whispered, kissing her again. The voices chimed again, more desperately, and Blaine sighed. “I shall have to give ye my gift later.”

Cocking a brow, Ivy nodded and slipped from the bed before settling in it again. The couple dressed hastily and performed their ablutions—Blaine in his shirt and chausses; Ivy in her morning gown—before the laird moved to open the door.

Two fair-haired little girls came toddling in, one significantly louder than the other. Alba raced through Blaine’s legs, tapping at the edge of the bed. “Mama!” she cried, and Ivy reached for-ward to lift her up into her lap, planting a wet, loving kiss on her daughter’s cheek.

Mirin approached the room more cautiously, settling beside her father. Blaine crouched down to pop the thumb from her mouth, before picking her up into his arms. He pressed his fore-head to hers, and Mirin smiled at last. “There’s my girl,” he said, beaming.

“I’ll send them down to Fiona to break their fasts,” their wet nurse said, lingering in the door-way. She was a portly woman from the burgh, who had recently birthed two sons of her own, and Ivy was more than grateful for her presence. Ivy had taken to motherhood like a duck to water, but juggling two girls was a feat, to say the least. With Blaine traveling often to help with Robert the Bruce’s war effort, she often needed all the help she could get.

“Och, must ye?” Ivy said, offering a gentle smile. “They can stay with us for the time being. Have Fiona send one of the girls up with a trencher or two for us, please. It’s as braw a day as any to get crumbs in the bed.”

“In my bed,” Blaine corrected as Mirin pawed his face.

“As ye wish, me lady, me laird,” the wet nurse said, turning from them and closing the door.

“There’ll be nae quiet today if our Alba has anything to say about it,” Blaine noted, nodding at their bouncing daughter. “I hope ye hadnae wished for peace this morn.”

“Never,” Ivy said, holding Alba tightly against her. The little girl squealed and laughed, kicking her feet as Ivy tickled her. “This is all I need.”

She locked gazes with Blaine and was overcome by a wave of pure, unadulterated joy. Blaine had made clear his fear about becoming a father, but he had surprised her and impressed her with every act of fatherly tenderness. He loved his girls, and they loved him, and Ivy knew she would never have to worry that her daughters would lead lives similar to hers.

Whatever Blaine intended to gift her later that day, she knew nothing could compare to the simple blessing of his presence as a laird, a father, and a husband.

***

Ivy leaned back on the cloth that Hannah had set out for them in the fields behind the kitch-ens. She fanned her face, both grateful and disquieted by the weather, watching as her girls played a little further on with their nurse.

“They really are beautiful,” Hannah said, propping her elbows on her knees. She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes full of admiration. “I mean really, I cannae believe such sweet bairns came from Blaine.”

Laughing, Ivy closed her eyes to relish the sun instead of fighting it. “Cannae ye? He can be sweet when he wants to be. Naw, but the girls remind me of ye more than anything.”

“What would make ye say that?”

“Their shining hair for one,” Ivy said. Alba’s loudness for another, which she kept to herself.

Hannah turned back to look at them, flicking the hair from her face. It was not so different in length than Blaine’s now. She had taken shears to it one afternoon when she had been particu-larly bored, and despite what the girls in the burgh said, Ivy thought she looked beautiful with her unconventional style. She knew it was more of an act of rebellion than fashion, however. Hannah made no secret of her restlessness as of late.

“How are ye feeling now?” Ivy asked as naturally as possible.

Hannah looked at her wide-eyed, then scoffed. “Och, that? I’m fine,” she said unconvincingly. Ivy opened her mouth to press the issue, but Hannah spoke for. “Well, fine’s a funny word and perhaps not fitting. I’m waiting, and I think that’s fine.”

“Waiting for what?”

Suckling on her lower lip, Hannah shrugged. “For something to happen, I think.” She sighed. “I ken it’s silly, but I want to start my own life, Ivy. I see ye and Blaine and yer bairns. I see Errol gone with Gilly to war… and I stop and think to mysel, well, what are ye doing, Hannah? And I think the answer is, naething much.

Ivy shielded her eyes from the sun. “Could it be that ye want to go after Errol?”

“He’s capable of taking care of himself, I ken it. ‘Tis that, but nae that. Ach, dinnae concern yerself with it. Maybe ye cannae understand.”

“I can,” Ivy assured her. “I was yer age when I threw mysel from a ship to stop the waiting, dinnae ye remember?” She reached out to take Hannah’s hand. “Yer time will come, Hannah, and it will be glorious.”

“As someone’s wife?” she said dismissively.

“As whoever ye want to be.”

Slowly, Hannah seemed to settle. She wrestled with a smile, before coming to a stand. “Alba! Mirin!” she cried, running over to them to play.

Ivy laughed as she watched the MacKinnon girls at work, dreaming of freedom for them all, knowing she would do everything in her power to make that happen for them.

Suddenly, she heard rustling behind her, and Ivy snapped her head around. Blaine was ap-proaching from the courtyard, having returned from a meeting with the council, and looking worse the wear for it.

“I take it there were nae receptive to yer proposal?” Ivy asked cautiously, reaching up her hand for him to take.

He squeezed it and settled beside her, smiling as he caught sight of his daughters and his sister. Then his expression shifted, and his frustration wrote itself across his face. “Of course, they were nae. Nae council wants to watch their laird run off to war.” He swallowed hard and turned to face her. “Nae wife either, I ken it.”

“I dinnae want ye to leave, Blaine. But I ken what must be done.” She sat up straight and brushed the back of her hand against his face. “Yer brother needs ye. Yer country needs ye. Robert the Bruce needs ye most of all—I wager he willnae win this war without ye.”

“I think ye overestimate my importance in the grand scheme of things.”

“Maybe, but that’s my duty as yer wife, to think ye’re special. Nay,” she mewled, crawling closer to him, “to believe it in my heart of hearts. I’ll watch ye go, and I willnae like it, but I’ll ken it’s right. And I’ll be waiting for ye when ye return.”

“That was the one thing that I think began to convince them,” Blaine said, leaning into her touch before she pried her hand back. “Kenning that they would have ye to watch over them while I’m gone.”

“Now ye’re the one overestimating me, and their esteem.”

“Maybe, but that’s my duty as the man who loves ye.” Blaine broke into a smile, then settled back. “Shall I give ye yer gift now?”

Ivy almost choked. “Here? Ye really are mad!”

“Come now, Ivy. Ye ken I cannae share ye with anyone.” He grinned. “Nay, I have another gift for ye. Something I think ye’ll like even more.”

“Nae possible.”

Tutting playfully, Blaine reached into the pack on his belt. He drew forth a small bundle in red cloth, about the size of Ivy’s hand. She fought a smile as she reached for it, surprised at how light it was. Gently, she unraveled the package, and when she saw what was inside, she reeled back.

In the palm of her hand, on a bed of red velvet, was the carving Peter had gifted to her all those years ago.

“Nay,” she breathed, her eyes misting over suddenly. “How did—” She thumbed the carving of that oddly shaped deer, recalling the coolness of its wood, the clumsy dents and curves that made it so special. “How?” she repeated, turning to Blaine incredulously.

He looked at her with love, and he tucked a strand of fallen hair behind her ear. “Years ago, Hannah told me of yer brother’s gift to ye. The only one ye’d ever received. I remembered it, and I didnae think it possible, but when last I ventured to St. Andrews, I asked Robert whether I could rummage around in his stores for something we’d lost at the clansmeet. Yer father didnae bring back yer belongings with him when he left.”

“Robert the Bruce kept it all this time?” she murmured in disbelief.

“I dinnae think he did it on purpose, my love. I found it in his stores, with all the other things guests had left.”

“I cannae believe it… ‘Tis akin to a miracle.”

“And ye dinnae believe in miracles?” Blaine teased. “Nae like jumping off a ship and swim-ming away? Nae, like walking through fire and living to tell the tale? Nae, like falling in love, and kenning it to be true? We’ve kenned miracles and more, Ivy.”

A tear fell upon the carving, and Ivy clutched it to her chest.

“Aye,” Ivy agreed. “Miracles and more.”

The End.

If you haven’t already, please leave your review on Amazon

If you want to know what lies ahead in our story, you may want to get the sequel…

Errol MacKinnon is presumed dead after fighting the English. In reality, he is imprisoned in Sir Wemyss’ dungeon until Edina Wemyss offers him a way out. But only if he takes her to his homeland, no questions asked. Little does he know that she has a mission on her own. And if she succeeds, his heart will be left in ruins…


The English Beauty and the Highland Beast

The Deceived Highland Bride – Extended Epilogue

 

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

Two months later…

As Laird Grant, the last two months had been blissful for him. He was wedded to the woman of his dreams, and his close friends were now soldiers in his castle. Julia and Seamus were thriving, and he made a point of visiting them often. And in turn, they had free rein to visit him whenever they wished. After the wedding, Cameron had surprised them by transferring ownership of the tavern to them. They were overjoyed, although sorry to see him go. He took pains to always have guards posted at the tavern for their safety as well as that of the patrons.

In the past few weeks, however, something had been off with Ella, and Cam was puzzled. They’d promised one another no secrets, but it seemed she was keeping one and was in fact avoiding him to hide whatever it was. He didn’t want to press her, since he fretted about losing her, but it bothered him more than he wanted to admit. He was working in his study when Blair found him to announce the arrival of his father-in-law.

“Och, good,” Cameron said, standing up, glad to be done with the study for the time being. Inside work often chafed him when he could be outside. At least in the tavern, he’d been able to move about, purchasing goods, seeing to the grounds, and talking to patrons. But now that he was often in the study, he found it gave him a crick in the neck. But his father had made things rather difficult. Laird Grant, like Laird MacPherson, had been so consumed by vengeance that he’d turned a blind eye to his tenants, farms, and his own clan, whose protection he was responsible for. Cameron had been astounded to discover that his father had failed to collect tax, and his affairs were in disarray.

“What’s wrong?” Blair queried as Cameron walked first out the door.

“What dae ye mean?” He began to itch at the question.

He knew he’d been acting irritable with his men because of the change in Ella. There was also the stress of dealing with his father’s unruly management of his men, but it was Ella that was bothered him most of all. He’d thought they were in love, that he made her happy now that she was her own woman, and far from the castle that had been a prison for so long. But he feared that something had happened to make her avoid him, although for the life of him he didn’t know what it could be.

“Ye have been sullen lately. What is chafin’ ye? Have the men been givin’ ye trouble? Just say the names, and I will take care of it like we took care of those rapin’ bastards.”

“Nae, nae, it is naething like that.” He paused in the hallway and fixed Blair with a serious look. “Have ye noticed that Ella has been actin’ differently of late? Like she’s quiet, often up in her chamber alone, and avoidin’ me it seems. I’ve been wrackin’ me brain over it and cannae figure why. I fear she doesnae care for me anymore.”

“Well, ye have been gone a lot on business,” Blair suggested. “Maybe it just seems like ye havenae seen her a lot because of that.”

“Nae,” Cameron shook his head. “I dinnae think so.”

“Why nae ask her?” Blair asked with a smirk. “Ye are man and wife now.”

“Och, I’ve turned that over in me head many a time. I could dae that, but I want tae tread carefully. With women, ye just cannae go bargin’ in demandin’ answers. Especially nae tae a woman who has been imprisoned most of her life by a worried faither, and lied tae for quite some time.”

“Aye, true enough,” Blair agreed, grimacing.

Blair had witnessed a few of Ella and Cameron’s fights over the last two months. They had gotten heated at times, and he knew Ella wanted to demonstrate that she could make her own decisions, that she knew her own mind. It was all part of marriage, and they’d always reconciled in a pleasurable manner. But this was different. She’d always been fiery, but never distant.

“Well, I suppose I must ask her, once her faither and sister are gone after his birthday celebration,” he conceded as they strode to the hallway.

Ella was already there greeting Graeme and Ada. Cameron thought he saw Blair tense at the sight of Ada, but he remained where he was, hands behind his back, like a proper man-at-arms. He and Ella would have to work on that after the celebration.

He wrapped his arm around Ella after shaking their hands. Ella tensed beneath his touch.

What is goin’ on? I’m simply flummoxed.

“Ye are most welcome,” Cameron said cheerfully. “And a happy birthday tae ye, Laird.”

“Och, thank ye. I’m getting too old for that now,” he said, chuckling.

Over the past two months, a transformation had taken over the man, and he was far happier than he’d ever been. Even his relationship with Ada had changed dramatically.

“But he still has enough breath and strength tae scold me,” Ada said, grinning.

Her eyes moved to Blair. “Good tae see ye, Blair,” she said, nodding, her cheeks coloring a bit.

“And ye, Lady Ada,” he returned with a hint of a smile. “And ye, Laird MacPherson.”

“Aye, well, I suppose we should take ye tae the main hall for a meal. Yer celebration is this evenin’.”

“Very good, very good,” the laird said, and Ella scampered out of his grasp and rushed after her sister, linking arms with her as they led the way to the hall.

“Dae ye see what I mean?” Cameron asked Blair as they followed behind. He shook his head. “Strange, that.”

“She is excited tae see her sister, nae doubt, but yer right. Them together is a force tae be reckoned with,” Blair clapped Cameron’s back. “I wish ye luck, lad.”

“Och, thanks. What good are ye?” Cameron said, striding ahead of him into the hall, wondering if he’d could focus on his father-in-law when Ella would hardly look at him.

***

After the meal, Ella squirreled Ada away into her private parlor. She shut the door, sighed, and leaned against it.

“I am so glad tae see ye, sister. It has been far too long. I cannae believe ye didnae visit before now!”

She sank into a chair while Ada smiled at her benignly. “I ken. Ye look well, Ella. Beautiful and lovely and happy.”

“Thank ye. Ye too.”

It was true. Ada did look very well, blooming even; far happier to be here than Ella would have expected.

“Yer happiness doesnae have anythin’ tae dae with seein’ a certain man-at-arms again, does it?” Ella teased, fishing for information.

“Nae!” Ada said, paling, picking up the bottle of wine that had been left for the two of them. “What nonsense. Now, ye must tell me all about yer life, and what it is like tae be married tae a man.”

Ella laughed, leaving the subject for now. She accepted some wine from Ada and leaned back in her chair. “I dae have a secret, and I have been unable tae figure out how tae tell Cameron.”

“What is it?” Ada asked, leaning forward. “I have been starved of gossip of late. Even if faither and I go many places together, and I am nae as locked up as before, it is often with dull people we spend our company.”

Ella wanted to laugh, but she was too worried. She put a hand to her stomach, and Ada’s eyes went there instantly.

“Ye are with child!” Ada shrieked, jumping up to lean over Ella and embrace her.

Shocked, Ella nodded. “Aye, I am. How did ye…”

“I am smarter than ye think, sister,” Ada said. “What other secret could ye have? It is nae as if ye nae longer love yer husband or wish tae leave.”

“Nae, but I am terrified tae tell Cam.”

“Why?” Ada frowned. “He will be happy, nae?”

“Aye, but takin’ over after his faither has brought him naething but struggle. His faither was a madman, and he left everythin’ tae ruin. He has been so busy and heavy laden. I dinnae wish tae burden him further.”

“It will be nae burden, Ella, ye must tell him,” Ada said kindly. “Cam is nae like faither or any man we have kent. He is kind and gentle, and he loves ye. One has only tae look in his eyes tae ken that.”

Ella nodded. She knew she was being mad, but she still worried. “I will tell him, then,” she said with a nervous nod, and they both jumped at the sharp knock at the door.

Ella went to answer it, and she saw Cameron and Blair on the other side. “Cam? Are ye all right?”

“Aye,” he said, his brow furrowed. “Can I speak tae ye, my love?”

“Of course.” Her heart fluttered nervously. She’d been acting strangely around him for weeks now, and there was nae way he hadnae noticed.

“I will take me leave,” Ada said quickly, darting into the hall next to Blair. “We can speak later.”

“But—” Ella began, but Cameron didn’t let her finish as he stepped into the room and shut the door.

“Ella, is somethin’ wrong? I couldnae wait tae ask ye any longer, for I am goin’ mad. Did I dae somethin’? Are ye angry with me? Dae ye nae love me anymore? I thought we were so happy, and now…” He began to pace, and Ella’s heart softened, her fears subsiding.

She reached for him and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. “It is nae that, Cam, me dearest love. Ye are wonderful. I am sorry I made ye feel that way.”

He was shocked, but he didn’t move away from her. She cleared her throat.

“There is some news I must share, and I was only nervous because I didnae want tae burden ye.”

“What is it?” he asked, eyes wide. and she took his hand and placed it gently on her belly. “It is early yet, but I wanted tae tell ye that I am with child. Our child. A wee bairn.”

Cam blinked for a few moments, and she was afraid he would react with fear, but then his face broke into a wide smile.

“Truly?” he asked, excited as a young boy.

“Aye,” she nodded, the weight of her secret slipping off her shoulders.

“What a blessin’!” he cried, lifting her up and spinning her about until they were both laughing. “Ella, I am sorry ye were afraid tae tell me! After ye marryin’ me, this is the best news there could ever be!” he kissed her soundly, and cupped her face in his hands, beaming.

“I ken ye have so much tae dae, and I didnae want tae add ta eyer worries, but I confess, I am happy that ye are happy.”

“Of course, I am happy, love. And thank God ye are nae leavin’ me.”

“Never,” she said and stroked his cheek. “I promise I willnae hide secrets ever again.”

“Good.” He leaned down and took her mouth again, and with a sigh of relief, she kissed him back, pulling him close.

“Ella,” he said huskily. “Are ye nae too fragile tae…”

“Nae,” she said, desperate now for him.

“Thank God. It has been too long since we touched. I didnae want tae press ye.”

“Press me now,” she said breathlessly, and he quickly lifted her skirts and picked her up, her legs wrapping around his waist.

There was no divan in her sitting room, and she was far too ready to wait until they found another suitable place to go, but the wall was handy and ready for use. He was right; he’d not touched her in recent weeks other than a kiss here and there. It had been tense and awkward, and now, their unfulfilled lust took over. She lifted her skirts even higher while Cam pulled himself out of his kilt.

They were both more than ready, and he quickly pushed inside her until she let out a moan of relief and desire. Cam whispered sweet words of love in her ear as he thrust into her, slow at first and then faster. Ella’s legs wrapped tightly around him, and he angled her hips to reach deeper inside her. Her fingers pressed into his flesh, and she threw her head back, moaning loudly as she came fervently, her body trembling around him.

When it was over, he pressed a kiss onto her neck. “I love ye, Ella.”

“And I ye. I never wish for ye tae doubt it again.”

Their interlude was swiftly interrupted by a shrill scream of fear, and Cam pulled out of her quickly, gently placing her on the ground while they both adjusted themselves.

“Dear God, could it be Ada?” Ella worried, and together they rushed from the room to the main hall.

Just then, the doors to the main hall burst open, and Blair entered with Ada in his arms.

“Dear God, what happened?” Ella said, rushing to her sister’s side.

“Och, naething. If he had hadnae scared me, I would never have fallen out of that tree.”

“Tree? What?”

Ella looked at Blair, who was grim. “She had climbed the tall tree at the back of the castle, and I came up tae warn her that the branch was weak, and she fell, screamin’ all the way. Luckily, I caught her.”

“I would have been fine if ye werenae always so fretful,” Ada said angrily, and he set her down in a chair, sparing her not a glance.

“Are ye well, lass?” her father said while Ada nodded.

“Naething is broken. I am very well. I only wanted a better view of the sea. I dinnae see why me every move should be monitored,” Ada glared at Blair.

Ella’s fear now subsided, she looked at Cameron, and in turn they both burst out laughing. Her suspicions confirmed, Ella knew then that if Ada simply stayed away from windows, castle walls, and trees, then Blair—steadfast and true—had a clear and speedy path to wedded bliss with her dear, bold, and fearless sister.

The End.

If you haven’t already, please leave your review on Amazon

If you want to know what lies ahead in our story, you may want to get the sequel…

Blair MacDougall, Ada MacPherson’s guard, is hopelessly drawn to her, but his darkness can never stain her pure heart. And just as he’s about to leave his post as her protector, hoping to save her, destiny intervenes, binding them together yet again. But Ada’s betrothal to another and the darkness that threatens to destroy them becomes overwhelming, for time is rapidly slipping away, and soon he’ll have to choose between love or death.


The Highlander's Vixen


>