Temptation in the Highlands – Extended Epilogue
Julia and Calum walked together by the shore of the Sound, Julia’s arm in Calum’s. Uncle Andrew was gone now, and both Julia and Calum had settled into a comfortable life together, free from his poisonous presence.
Julia sighed with contentment and caught Calum’s eye. “I have never been happier, Calum. I hope you know that.”
Calum smiled. “Aye, lass, that I do, but I’m still glad tae hear it from ye now and again. Are ye sad that Charlotte will be leaving us soon?”
Julia nodded. “Yes, I will miss her terribly. She has been like a balm to help me heal from all those years under Uncle Andrew’s thumb. But I am glad she won’t be far. Of course, we must soon go to London for the trial.”
They had received word from the lawyers that their presence would be required in a few weeks. Calum said, “Aye, but we willnae be in London long, Julia. I think ‘twill be a quick and easy trial. There are many witnesses against yer Uncle, I am sure.”
Julia sighed. “Yes, you’re right. I just hate to leave Charlotte alone. She has been to Scotland before, but now it will be for a much longer time, and there will be hardly any other women at the barracks. Unless there is another General coming with his wife.”
Calum winked. “I’m sure Angus will take care of the lass. He’s had his hands full with her already.”
Julia turned to him, a smile on her face. “Yes, what is going on? I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it, and she avoids the subject as well. He’s always telling her what to do or fighting against her ideas. It seems that stoic Angus is back. It’s quite entertaining. But, I thought they’d get on well, and they’re always arguing. Or Charlotte’s yelling at him, and he looks solemn and grim.”
Calum laughed. “Angus has said naught tae me except tae complain about her strong-headedness. He feels ‘tis his duty or something tae watch over her as a guest of yorn. But there is more than meets the eye. Of that, I am sure. I’ve not seen my brother get so angry about anything for years. I think she’s getting tae him.”
Julia put her arms about Calum’s neck and placed a kiss on his cheek. “I hope so. How lovely would it be if they were tae fall in love?”
Calum said, “I doubt that, but we shall see. I think other matters are on my mind at the moment if we could forget my brother and Charlotte.” He leaned down to kiss her, but Julia pulled away and pointed away towards the hill.
“Look! Angus and Charlotte on the hill together.” She laughed, “It appears she is once again giving him a piece of her mind.”
Calum sighed with disappointment at the interruption of his amorous thoughts. But he couldn’t help but chuckle at the verbal beating Angus was getting. “That cousin of yorn has quite the tongue.”
Julia smiled. “That she does. And I admire her for it. Keeps a man on his toes.” She looked at Calum with a lifted eyebrow.
“I have done naught. Dinnae turn her acid tongue ontae me!”
Julia laughed and kissed Calum once again, feeling like life could not get any better.
Charlotte Andrews was frustrated. She was used to getting her way, her father was like putty in her hands, and now someone kept fighting against her with his superior air and grim attitude: Angus MacLean. Ever since she had struggled to keep Uncle Andrew from the brink of death, he had fought her every suggestion and defied her instruction.
He was a man who did not like to be bossed around, but if she was the smarter one in certain areas, like medicine, then why would he not oblige? She was still frustrated about the time when Angus and Calum went without her to Fort William, not allowing her to take part in the plan to save Julia from harm.
It had been my idea, and they did it without me. Men, always thinking that they are better than women in every area. Who needs them?
Even though it had been explained that it was for the sake of her safety, she still couldn’t help be angry. But what annoyed her, even more, was the way that Angus looked at her whenever they were all together. He was stiff, stoic, and grim in his body language, but he always watched her, and his eyes told a different story.
It made Charlotte frustrated that she found him so handsome, the most handsome man she had ever met, and she had met quite a few at the balls in London. Most men were usually falling over themselves to speak to her.
But why should she even care about what he thought? It wasn’t as if she was going to marry him. Charlotte Andrews, a well-known lady in the high society of London, marry a Highlander? Albeit a ruggedly handsome, magnificently well-formed one?
She had stayed on the Isle of Mull to assist in Uncle Andrew’s health and would soon be returning to her father, who had just been transferred to Fort William to be General there. He helped in John Campbell’s case, and at her urging, and his conscience, he freed the man, wrote a judgment letter for General Whiteman, and packed Andrew away to London for his trial.
She wanted to savor every last minute of her time at Duart Castle before she had to go and live at the barracks. She hated to leave Julia just as they’d been so gloriously reunited, but it would be unseemly if she continued to stay there. She enjoyed the freshness of the beautiful isle, and the walk allowed her time to breathe and think all by herself, without someone getting in the way.
She decided to climb the nearby hills to get a better view of the water. “Bloody skirts,” she yelled to the air as she struggled to climb freely, attempting to avoid tripping. The wind was no help either, as the higher she climbed, the stronger it blew so that she felt like she was almost falling backward.
She took another step as she crested the hill, and cried out, “Oh!” as a giant gust of wind pushed her backward, and she began to fall. But then, strong hands grabbed her around the waist and held her steady.
“Ye all right, lass?” she heard over the gust of wind. The voice was all too familiar, and she looked down to see the workworn hands holding her waist tightly. The feeling gave her too much pleasure, and she hurriedly pushed them away and turned to face her rescuer.
“I am very well; thank you. I would have been just fine. ‘Tis simply the wind. I am perfectly able to climb a hill by myself. What are you doing here? Come to instruct me in the ways of climbing?”
Angus was looking up at her angry expression, red curls swirling about her face, their strands whipping across her pink lips.
Charlotte tried to stay angry and show it, but it was growing harder to do so, with Angus’ beautiful light brown eyes looking through her. She lifted her chin slightly, and Angus responded.
“‘Tis a fool’s errand tae climb in such a gale. Ye might fall tae yer death, lass.”
“There you go again, telling me what to do, and enjoying it tremendously, no doubt. There is no end to your admonishments.” She threw up her hands and nearly fell again, but Angus’s hand was there once more to catch her. She looked up and thought she saw a flicker of mirth in his eyes, but it went away just as quickly.
She huffed and began to walk down the hill, Angus following after. “I was only trying tae help the cousin of my sister-in-law from breaking her bloody neck,” he said once they reached the bottom, the noise of the strong wind softening.
Charlotte looked forward. “Your interventions are unnecessary, Mr. MacLean. I do not need any bloody assistance. I’m certain it bothers you very much to put yourself out in this way.”
“Does yer cousin know ye swear like an angry Highlander fighting a boar?”
Charlotte tried not to smile at such a line. She wouldn’t let him see that she thought him funny. “Yes, she knows very well. I care nothing about what society thinks of me. I shall do as I please.”
Angus walked faster and moved around so that he could face her. Seeing him in her way, Charlotte put her hands on her hips and stopped. He was so tall that she had to crane her neck to look into his eyes when standing on flat ground.
Angus continued, his jaw clenched. “Aye, I know ye will do as ye like. Ye often do. But dinnae get yerself killed in the process, or Lady MacLean will have my head.” He then turned his back to her and walked towards the castle.
Charlotte yelled back. “Are you no longer my protector then? Good riddance!”
She watched his back for a moment and then turned the opposite way. “Infuriating man! How dare he? No English gentleman would speak to a lady in such a way!”
Good thing she was leaving soon so that she could escape Angus MacLean as quickly as possible.
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