Sacrificing his Highland Heart – Extended Epilogue
Two years later
“Are you well, Rose?” Her father asked, holding her elbow as they walked up the most prominent hill near the Prestone Castle. She and her family had gone to the Prestone to celebrate Beltane.
“Yes, Father, why would I not be well?” she scoffed good-naturedly. It seemed the way of men to become overly protective when a woman was with child, even if for the second time.
“Well, I just want everything to be fine,” he said, and Rose smiled at him. He looked older and a little more fatigued than when she’d left him two years before, but he was still hardy. In the last two years, so much had happened. She and Euan had decided to remain married and raise their child, a daughter named Fortune. They had gone to England when Fortune was still a baby to visit their family.
Rose was reunited with her father, mother, her maid Mary, and Mrs. Drummond. It was a thing of perfection to bring together her old and new life. But, when she returned to Scotland afterward, she knew that she had made the right choice. England was like a foreign land to her now, and she would always and forever be Scottish in spirit, if not in blood. Her children would have that Scottish blood running through their veins, and they were the perfect example of an alliance. English and Scottish heritage in one.
“Thank you, Father. You are very kind. But I want you to focus on the festival, not me. You will have a wonderful time, I am sure.” She was breathing heavily now as they were nearly cresting the hill with the other Prestone villagers and clans’ people. They were preparing for the Beltane festival with a large fire. Rose was cheered at the memory of how well she enjoyed the festivity last time at her own home on Laird’s Hill.
“I think so,” he said, his attention taken by the sight of all that was taking place upon the hill. Village men were piling the wood high in the fire area. Women were tending to tables, and musicians were preparing their instruments. “So many people, so much to look upon,” he said in awe.
She squeezed his arm. He was a good man, although a little pious. She feared that he would be afraid when the villagers began to engage in their “pagan” traditions, but that would come later. There was still light in the sky, and they arrived early so that Rose did not have to travel in the dark. It was his first Beltane as they could not attend the last year.
“I thought just the same on my first trip.” She smiled. Siobhan and Walter’s clan were creating everything so perfectly. It would be a beautiful festival, and she knew that her father and brother would learn to love Scotland one day, as she did. But it would take a lot of time, longer than she needed because of their memories of war.
“It seems your brother has found someone to entertain him,” her father added, sounding a little disapproving. Rose turned her eyes toward the edge of the hill where she saw Susan and Henry walking together, speaking animatedly. Ever since her conversation with Henry two years before at her castle, a change had come over him.
She wasn’t sure what he had decided within himself, but he was happier, less full of vengeance and the need for power. He was kind and gentle now, and when she’d first seen this change on her visit to England, she was shocked. Even her father had been surprised. “He has found a companion in your lady’s maid, I see,” her father said, watching them.
“Yes, so he has.” Ever since Henry’s arrival to Rede Castle, he had finally met Susan, and they’d struck up a conversation. She knew it wasn’t exactly normal or perhaps proper, but Susan made Henry’s face light up again, and a woman who could do that was worth a fortune. So, she let it be, even if her father disapproved. “Susan is a good woman. Kind and gentle. Earnest. There is no reason to disapprove.”
Her father nodded. “I suppose I can no longer have opinions on the matter after all that has happened. You were forced into marriage, and yet it has turned out happily. Life is a strange thing,” he chuckled.
“You are right. It has turned out better than we could have ever expected.” Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Henry whispering something in Susan’s ear, and Susan blushed prettily.
“My dear,” Euan said as he approached, taking Rose’s hand and kissing it. “I am sorry that I have been gone almost the whole day. There was much tae do in Walter’s village. Thank ye, Sir Sayer, for escorting her tae the hill. I wanted her tae be here afore the darkness came. Are ye well? Do ye need anything?”
“Nothing at all, Euan. You can stop fearing for me.” She spied Fortune holding Siobhan’s hand as they crested the hill. She waved, and Fortune broke free from Siobhan’s grasp and rushed into Rose’s arms.
“Mother!” she cried. “Aunt Siobhan has shown me much today. May I tell you about it?’
“Certainly, my dear.” She smiled at her beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed daughter and wondered for a moment what her new child would look like when the time came.
“Thank ye for watching her, Siobhan,” Euan said, and he kissed Fortune on the cheek as well as Rose before returning to Walter’s side at the edge of the fire. He was giving instructions as to its size and the laying of the wood.
Euan chuckled, and he slapped Walter on the shoulder when he approached. “Would ye happen tae be nervous about yer first Beltane festival with a lady at yer side?”
“Is it that obvious? Nae only that, but ye are here as well as with yer wife’s family. I feel as though the goings-on of my clan are on display for all tae see. And if they donnae live up tae a standard, I donnae ken what tae do.”
“What standard, ye fool?” Euan laughed, even though he could understand his friend’s sentiment.
Walter shrugged. “I donnae ken. I just ken that I want tae continue tae convince Siobhan that she made the right choice in marrying me.”
“She kens that, Walter. Why fear so?”
“I think that she misses home sometimes; she has said as much tae me.” He looked over at Siobhan, who was laughing and smiling with Rose and her father.
“So does Rose. And yet she is here, happily living the new life she has.” He smiled at his friend. “Donnae worry so. I ken that it is yer nature, even though ye often appear confident, but all is well. Siobhan is happy. I ken her, and I have kenned her for a long time. I have never seen her so happy.”
Walter smiled widely. Thank ye, Euan.” He looked over at Rose. “It took ye some time, but I am glad that ye got over yer…disinterest in yer Sassenach wife.”
“Och, ye are in a teasing mood, are ye? Well, should I try tae stir up some trouble between ye and Siobhan? I think I ken just what tae say.”
Walter laughed. “Ye are a far better warrior than I am, Euan. But truly, I am happy for ye. Things have gone will in yer life.” He paused. “Yer parents would be happy for ye. I am glad ye heeded my advice and chose love over vengeance, over pride.”
“It was nae easy task,” Euan sorted. “But I am glad tae. I donnae think that I would have ever relinquished my pride or my need tae help the clan and give up my own happiness tae do so if ye hadnae said something. Ye have saved me, friend. I hope that I can save ye someday.”
“But ye have!” Walter laughed. “The night ye spoke of Siobhan and me at the dinner table when Henry was there as sour as could be after the ill-conceived battle. It changed everything. I donnae think Siobhan would ever have listened tae me if it wasnae for the embarrassment we suffered at that moment. Nae only that, but Rose noticed my regard for Siobhan before even I did or before I even kenned of its strength and depth. My life has changed because of the two of ye. I thank ye.” Walter shook Euan’s hand, and Euan shook his head.
“Look at the two of us. Old warriors, and now we clasp hands and look as if we are about tae cry. Come let us get the Beltane fire lit and begin the festivities. The sun is soon slipping down the horizon, and I can feel the chill in the air.”
“Fine, fine,” Walter chuckled, and he instructed his men.
An hour later, Euan had his arm about his wife as they watched the men move the cake amongst themselves, attempting to find the one who had to jump the fire. “You did not wish to participate this year, my love?” Rose teased.
“Nae. I wanted tae give the honor to Walter tae participate as laird, and he refused to let me, kenning that if I did, it would cause ye distress. He doesnae wish tae upset ye in yer condition.”
Rose laid her head on his shoulder. “I will scold him for his overprotectiveness, but I thank him as well.” Rose looked at her father, and Euan followed her gaze. Susan explained the festivities to Henry and his father-in-law, and they both looked dumbstruck with surprise and interest.
“Do ye think yer father will ask ye tae leave Scotland after he sees this ritual?” He chuckled.
“No. I think his mind has changed on many things in the last two years. You can see how he holds Fortune in his arms. He is a happy grandfather, and he would not wish to change anything.”
“Good. Because I do not wish to change anything either. My life is perfect as it is.”
“Is that so?” Rose looked up at him. The crowd cheered when the man was selected. They watched as he backed away from the fire and then took a giant leap over the flames. “I am glad that you were not selected as the sacrifice this year, Euan.”
“Ye are right. I am also glad. It was a little too warm for my liking.” Rose giggled, and he held her closer. “Besides, we have already sacrificed so much for this life we lead.”
“You are right. And now we should continue to be happy instead.” Rose leaned closer, and Euan kissed her on the lips.
“Aye, lass. Let us be happy.”
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Again a wonderful story Kenna! Like all your books, it’s pretty hard to put it away once you start reading! ?
Thank you so much my dear Patty. I am happy that you liked it 🙂
Loved, loved , loved the story. You have such a talent. I couldn’t put it down.
Thank you my dear Cynthia. I am glad that you liked it 🙂
Rose and Euan are one of my favorite couples and the way you told their story was miraculous and entertaining. Thank You, Phyllis ?
Thank you so much my dear Phyllis. I am really glad that you liked the story 🙂
A most enjoyable story, loved the characters, although in the epilogue, it spoke of Roses mum as if she were still alive, which we know she wasn’t, but a very well written story
Thank you my dear Deenise. I am happy that you liked it 🙂
A beautiful written book and enjoyed Euan and Roses story and the happiness at the end through the struggles they both faced to finally realise how much they both loved each other despite their circumstances… the forced marriage and reluctance of Euan and the commitment of Rose for her father’s life…for her family …just loved the story of these courageous characters !!
Thank you my dear Valerie. I am very happy that you liked the story that much 🙂
Euan and Rose’s story was a lovely and enjoyable romance. The characters were engaging and interesting. Looking forward to the release of your next book – perhaps Susan and Henry’s?
Thank you my dear KB. I am delighted that you liked the story. All will be revealed in time 😉
I really enjoyed the story.
Thank you my dear Jackie. I am really glad that you liked the story 🙂
Beautiful and quite refreshing. I couldn’t put it down, so I continued reading till I completed it. I was sad when it ended. Remarkable story.
Thank you my dear Marisu. I am delighted that you liked the story 🙂
Hi Kendra, Thank you for another delightful story. I was impressed with Rose from the get go. She did a great job taking care of her people as her brother and father were at war. Though a turbulent beginning things began to progress, as they could only think of each other. Lots of misunderstandings but,love wins out.
PS I thought that Rose’s mother had passed on and Mrs.Drummond was like a mother to her??
Thank you my dear Sam in NH. I am really glad that you liked the story 🙂 In the ending, Fortune is calling to her mother at one point, if this is the part that you were talking about. Also, when it`s said that Rose reunited with them, it is left unsaid that she went to see her mother`s grave.
Great story.many grammatical mistakes etc.
Thank you my dear Shirley. We always try to improve daily and communicate better with our editors. 😉
As usual, I have a great problem putting down your books once I start one. This was no different. I loved the storyline and the characters. I look forward to your next release.
Thank you so much my dear Audrey. I am delighted that you liked the story. 🙂
I enjoyed this book for the warm characters and romantic setting. The plot was interesting and kept your attention.
Thank you my dear Marie. I am delighted that you liked it. 🙂
A great story of how love, understanding & commitment were able to form a bridge between two warring nations to bring peace. Thank you!
Thank you so much my dear Ann. I am happy that you liked the story. 🙂
Very good story. Sometimes we have preconceived ideas and we learn something new not all is as we think and we should just experience it and than make a judgement. That is what this story is about the Differences from different cultures and people and how to accept that they can be the same as you and have different experiences to show for it and you learn to enjoy and appreciate it for Yourself and make friends and Appreciate and learn from it All. Thank You wonderful Story keep on with your writing and Delight Us with your Resourcefulness and Adventures and for Our Part we will Continue Our Admiration For A Delightful Stories and Adventures with You
Thank you my dear Maria. I am glad that you liked the story. 🙂
Brilliantly written story! I couldn’t put it down. I’m always happy when there is a happy ending after a harsh beginning. Rose was exactly who Euan needed to begin to heal and live again. Well done!
Thank you my dear Teresa. I am happy that you liked it. 🙂
Great job love it and thank you so much
Thank you my dear LesStann. I am glad that you liked it.
Great story loved it. Well done. EE was a little off didn’t quite seem to match the story. Made it sound like Rose and Euan only stayed together for the baby and her mother had passed already. It couldn’t have been Walter and Siobhan first Beltane since they were married for almost 2 years already.
Thank you so much, my dear Mary. 🙂