Taken by her Highland Enemy – Extended Epilogue
7 years later
Isabelle Wilson never thought it was too early to teach her child and her niece how to fight. Rose had taught them the beginning skills of using a sword, but now that she was busy as a newly pregnant mother and feeling a little too ill to spend much time on her feet, Isabelle had taken over the lessons lately and was focusing on archery. She would line up apples or acorns on far stumps, and the two girls would practice for hours, squinting their eyes and sticking out their cute little tongues as they tried to focus on their targets.
“Use your mouth as a guide. Hold tight to your bows.” She stood behind the two cousins and laid her hands gently on their backs. She whispered, “fire,” and the beautiful sound of whooshing arrows was sent through the air, and they landed perfectly in each of their targets.
Isabelle clapped with delight. “Beautiful, my girls!” She hugged her daughter, Orla, and squeezed her niece Shana’s shoulder. “You have learned so much. I am so proud!”
“Mommy, when will we be able to practice again? I know that Shana has to go back and help Auntie Rose today.”
Isabelle knelt down so that she was on a level with the pair of 7-year-olds. “Well, that is very nice of Shana. You can go to help too, Orla. Auntie Rose needs a lot of help right now, but do not worry. We can practice again tomorrow and every day after that if you so wish it.” The two little girls both smiled and wrapped their arms around Isabelle’s neck. She felt a warm happiness tingle through her belly. Not only did she have her own beautiful child, but a lovely niece as well.
They were so alike in spirit and appearance, one would often think they were twins. “Now, can you tell me where your dad and your uncle is?”
Shana pointed away towards the field of corn off in the distance. “He is with my daddy right now. I think they are arguing about some sort of farming.”
Isabelle rolled her eyes and laughed. “Of course they are. One would think they had no other interesting topics to discuss!” The girls giggled, and Isabelle sent them on their way back to the village, and she smiled after them and watched as they skipped home, hand in hand, both carrying their bows in the other.
Isabelle leaned down to pick up the quiver and the arrows that remained from their practice. Slinging them over her shoulder, she wandered towards the field, enjoying the feel of the hot sunshine on her face. This village was absolute bliss. For the last seven years, she and Eamon had enjoyed contentment and happiness that she had never expected. It was so overwhelming at first, to be surrounded by such love and care, but it was what her heart had so greatly needed. She was happy that her daughter Orla had such a happy, loving home, where her parents truly loved each other, and her father treated her with such affection.
As she approached the field, she heard Sean and Eamon discussing how best to harvest the corn this year. “I think we could preserve manpower if ye would bloody get a plow and a few more animals.”
Sean said back, “I thought we wanted tae get away from the world, and ye are always trying tae modernize.”
“Gentlemen,” Isabelle said after clearing her throat. She came upon them and put her hands on her hips. “You know, if an outsider was to see the two of you right now, arguing over proper farming techniques, then I do not think they would ever know what brazen warriors you were in the past. You two are like a pair of old men now.” She stifled a giggle at their aghast faces.
Eamon replied, “Now, Sassenach, ye think that we have forgotten all our sword skills, but of course we havenae. We can fight just as we used tae.”
Isabelle nodded. “Of course, and Sean, do ye agree?”
“Of course. We could prove it.”
“Well, I am certain that both Rose and I would enjoy that scene greatly. We might hear a few extra sounds as well, you know, like the popping of joints and the pulling of muscles.”
She laughed and was just about to leave when Eamon grabbed her. “Now, ye cannae say rubbish like that and get away with it, lass.”
“I have work to do, Eamon Wilson, I cannot spend all day deriding you both in the cornfields.” Eamon was about to protest when she turned to Sean. “Shana is coming along nicely with the archery. She has rushed home like a dutiful daughter to help Rose in the house. Is she well today?”
Sean nodded. “Aye, but she still feels sick now and again. She never can predict when it will happen, so Shana has been a big help tae her. I think I will go and check on her now and leave ye two lovebirds tae sort out yer differences.” With a smirk, Sean left the two of them on the edge of the cornfield, bathed in a lovely golden light.
Eamon nodded. “That is right. As a husband, I ought tae punish ye for such bold behavior, woman.” Isabelle grinned and wrapped her arms about his neck, looking lovingly into his eyes. Eamon had aged, of course, but it was more like a lovely ripening which matured his face and made him look both kinder and stronger. He had tiny flecks of gray at his temples, and a few lines as well. She bore her own lines too from the birth of their beautiful daughter, but not one day had her love for him dampened. It only grew and grew, like she knew that it would.
“You would never think of punishing me, Eamon, for you know that I would come after you with a fiery vengeance.”
He chuckled, leaning closer to her, wrapping his rough hands around her waist. “Aye, yer too right, lass. I would never survive.”
Isabelle sighed contentedly. “I have never been as happy as I have been here, my love. I hope you know that.”
“So I do. But you must know that I have also never been so happy. I much prefer arguing over farming like an old man, rather than having to save my wife from the brink of execution.”
Isabelle smiled. “Yes, I do not think I would wish to revisit that part of our lives, although I am glad we never received any renewed visits from the English forces.”
“Aye, well, after the King heard about the fire and the massacre and all of Cutler’s extreme actions, he decided tae let his vengeance be, did he nae?”
“It was good of him. A surprise reaction.” She leaned up to kiss Eamon lightly on the lips. “You are just as handsome as the first time I saw you.”
“Now, that is nae fair, when ye have grown more beautiful each day I have known ye.”
Isabelle wrapped her arm in his, and they began to walk towards the village. “Is that so? I must be a lucky woman.”
“That ye are, lass, that ye are.” Growling, he hoisted her up into his arms, laughing, and when they reached the door to their hut, they pushed inside together. “I shall show ye just how lucky ye are, my love.”
Isabelle sighed with delight and let him do just that.
Shana Wilson sighed with boredom as she shot an arrow towards the nearby stump and heard the satisfying squelch as it landed squarely in an apple’s red flesh. She had done this time and time again ever since she could remember. The practice was growing dull. Once she pulled it out and bit into the apple, she slung the bow over her shoulder and decided to head to the village’s small library. It was one of the great aspects of the village of The Scots she called her home. Her aunt Isabelle had begun gathering books whenever she could, while she was off collecting supplies, and bringing them back so that the schoolchildren could use them to learn, and adults could while away any free hours. It was where Shana had learned about the excitement of the outside world, and it had ignited a desire for adventure in her. The more she read, the more she knew she wanted, no, needed, to see the world for herself.
She had heard her aunt speak of England, and her parents speak of Loch Ness and its shining waters and a smoking fort that stood on its bank. All of them had had so many adventures, like when her father and her aunt were on the brink of execution, and her uncle saved him. One of her father’s friends, Donovan, had missing fingers to prove what kind of danger they had all been in. So, Shana had begun to read whatever she could about England, and that day she was reading about the history of its kings, with all their mysteries, scandals, and secret deaths. Once inside the hut, which contained the books, she found her well-used copy, and instead of staying within the dim walls, she decided to take it to the border of the woods, where she and her cousin Orla would often walk.
The border of the village was as close as she had ever come to leaving the village, and it gave her a thrill to be so close to the edge. Sadly, today, Orla was not with her. She had rejected Shana’s invitation to practice archery and had run off to meet Robert, a boy who was wooing her day in and day out.
Pushing her brown hair out of her eyes and squinting into the sun, Shana traced her steps along the usual walking path underneath the trees. She threw the apple core into the woods, hearing the crunch of sticks and grass as it landed. One day she would leave, and her parents would just have to understand. She could come back one day, but right now, Shana knew that she wanted to get away for as long as she could.
A new crunching sounded in the forest. She turned around, expecting to see a curious deer or rabbit coming to see who was tramping through their beloved woods. Instead, she saw a glimpse of the colors of a different Scottish clan kilt moving behind a tree. Slowly, gingerly, she pulled an arrow from her quiver and placed it into her bow, holding it taut, using her mouth as a guide. “Who is there?” she called out to the tree, trying not to let her hands tremble too much.
A man stepped out, holding his hands high. “Lass, I dinnae wish tae scare ye.”
“Who are ye?” Her brows twisted as she stared at him. He was a young man, well-built, with long, reddish-brown hair tied behind his neck. He wasn’t carrying anything, and it seemed so odd to see him out on his own. She had never seen anyone new visit the village before, and it intrigued her. His white shirt was ripped, and Shana could see the smooth, muscled skin underneath. It made her focus wander dangerously.
“I am from another clan, far away. I only seek these woods for refuge, I swear. I wouldnae think tae harm ye in any way, even though ye are quite bonny.” He tried to smile.
Shana scoffed, trying to ignore the pleasure of hearing herself called bonny. None of the other boys in the village had ever called her that. “Ye would get an arrow pierced straight through yer heart before ye could even try tae do that.”
She kept the arrow tight, but the man looked so eager that she slowly lowered her weapon. He was far enough away that if he decided to lunge toward her, she still had enough time to aim and shoot at his chest.
“Now that ye have seen me, I wonder if ye might give me help. I only need tae spend a few nights here, and I need a bit of food.” He took a step forward, and Shana could feel her grasp tighten on her bow once again.
Shana pursed her lips in thought. Her parents would never approve of her helping a strange man without their knowledge, but after her original wave of panic and fear had passed, she felt a thrill at having a sort of new adventure fall into her lap. “All ye need is food? And then ye will go away?”
He nodded. “Aye. I need tae stay a few nights in hiding, and then I will be off tae my next place. Some bread and a bit of meat will be what I need.”
Shana pulled an extra apple out of the bag hanging at her side and threw it to him. “Ye can start with this, but I shall get ye what ye need. I may return tae this place?”
The man nodded and smiled. For a moment, Shana was surprised at how handsome the man looked when he smiled. It transformed his pained demeanor entirely. He was boyish and intriguing. “Thank ye, lass. Aye. I shall wait for ye.”
“If I see ye coming intae the village, stealing, or out tae set ruin tae any of us, ye shall receive that arrow tae the heart.”
He nodded. “Understood.”
She was about to turn to go when she said, “What are ye running from? What is yer name?”
“Logan. I am running away from something. Someone has died, and the English officers are after me, but I am innocent. I swear tae ye!”
He held his hands up again, as if he was in court, pleading his case. “Someone was killed?” She knew her voice held a note of interest, but she couldn’t help it. He nodded, and she scrutinized him. He didn’t look like a murderer to her, but how did one know what a murderer looked like? Surely a murderer would not be as handsome as this.
“I see. Well, ye must be gone tomorrow or the next day. Ye cannae bring the soldiers tae this land. It is a secret village, of a sort.”
“I shall do naething tae harm my beautiful rescuer.” He smiled that handsome smile of his, and, satisfied, Shana turned around, her imagination spinning with what this man’s story was. She snuck into the village, trying to avoid her parents, her aunt, and uncle, and Orla if she could. She thanked God when she arrived at her family’s home and, peering inside, saw no one. But that could change at any moment, for she had two younger brothers. She rushed in, grabbed some salted pork and a loaf of bread from the pantry. Pushing the items, she hurried back to the woods, her heart beating wildly in her chest.
This was the most exciting thing she had ever done. Coming back to the border of the woods, she moved slowly, calling out Logan’s name softly. He appeared before her so soundlessly that she jumped a little in surprise. He was a lot closer this time, and she clenched her fist to realize that she had left her bow and arrow in the house. How could she have been so clumsy? This man could be dangerous!
Her heart told her he was not, but she did not want to risk anything. She held out the bag before her, saying, “I have brought you a few things. I do not know how long they will last, but here you go.” He moved forward, closing the space between them even more, and Shana could feel the heat from his body. His hand brushed against her own as he took the bag from her.
“Thank ye, lass.” He opened the bag and smiled. “How can I show ye my gratitude?” He looked up at her, watching her with a piercing green gaze. She was close enough that she could see flecks of brown in his eyes. She took a breath. None of the boys in her village ever looked at her this way. She saw the way her father looked at her mother, and it was a little like this. To have such a gaze directed at her felt strange, yet pleasurable.
“Ye will leave our village.” Her voice was soft. She had lost the edge from before. He placed the bag down, stepped a little closer, and looking into her eyes for a moment, he pulled her to him, and he kissed her.
Shana tensed as her body registered what was happening, but then she felt weak at the knees as she felt the delicious warmth of his lips on her own, firm yet gentle. The smell of him was strong, earthy, and manly. He pulled away and went to grab his bag again. “Thank ye, again, lass. I thought that was the only way tae thank a beautiful woman.”
Shana touched her lips. “The only way to…” Anger flashed in her mind. While she had enjoyed the kiss, he seemed all too confident that his kiss would provide enjoyment. She clenched her teeth to his apparent amusement. “I suppose ye think every girl wants a kiss from ye, lad. Well, good day tae ye. If ye are nae gone by the time I come tae the woods taemorrow, then ye shall find that arrow in yer chest.”
Logan chuckled, his fear and eagerness for help gone now. “Next time, in order tae do so, ye shall have tae bring the bow and arrow.” Shana opened her mouth to reply but instead stomped off back to the village. How dare the man be so impertinent? She could hear his laughter as she left the woods, and she hoped she would never see him again. Never before was she so embarrassed at how easily she had fallen for his handsome charms. Perhaps he truly was a dangerous man and could not be trusted to leave their village?
Walking further down the path, for she was not yet ready to return to the village, Shana pondered what had happened in her mind. In one way, the heavens had heard her cries for adventure. She met a handsome stranger with a mysterious past, and she had her first kiss, which was blissful. But now, it was almost as if the heavens wanted to teach her a lesson. She had been rightly punished for her over-excitement at the opportunity for adventure by a selfish, cocky Highlander who only used her to get what he wanted. She would go back to the woods tomorrow to make sure the man had fled the border. And next time, she would not forget her bow and arrow.
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