The Cursed Highland Kiss – Extended Epilogue
One month later
It had felt torturous to wait so long, but now the time had finally come. Rae was waiting for Líadan to appear in the chapel inside his castle. Everyone was already seated and waiting, and his brother stood at his side. He was nervous, and he kept taking deep breaths. Why was he so nervous?
“It’s normal tae feel like that,” Kai said at his shoulder in a whisper. “I was bloody nervous too. It is a big step, but it is the best as well. Ye are entwinin’ yer lives.”
Rae nodded, grateful for Kai’s strong hand on his shoulder. In the past month, Líadan had stayed with her own family but they’d returned a few days before, and Kai and Torion and Kaden had kept them apart. It had been a long time since they’d been together, and he was ready to be with her yet again. When the doors opened, a hush fell over the chapel, and the flames flickered in the candles.
And there she was. Kaden at her side, Líadan stepped forward toward him in the aisle down to the front of the church. He was sure a collective gasp erupted from the crowd as she entered. Rae put a hand to his chest as their eyes met. Líadan. His Líadan, forever and ever. Yet again, he was reminded of just what a goddess she was. She wore no veil, and her silver hair was plaited behind her head, dotted with flowers and tied with the blue ribbon he had bought her what felt like another life ago to him now. Her dress was a beautiful, brilliant blue, and it brought out her eyes. In her hands was clutched a bouquet of spring flowers. She wore a tartan of McLaren colors over her shoulder, and she was smiling just at him.
When their hands were finally put together, Rae’s mouth was dry, and he could only look at her, barely listening to the sounds of the minister as he began the ceremony. She was everything he had ever wanted. They spoke the words of their vows, and Rae realized that they did not make him feel bound or trapped in the least. They set him free. He had found the other half of himself, and now he was going to spend the rest of his life with her.
He uttered the words, “I dae,” with a big smile on his face.
“I now pronounce ye husband and wife. Ye may kiss the bride, Rae,” the minister said. Rae leaned forward, his hands reaching up to clasp her cheeks, and he kissed her.
It was soft and delicate, but when he pulled away, he saw the heat and hunger in her eyes just as he felt himself. There would be time later. When they turned to face the crowd, a cheer erupted from the people, and he wrapped his arm about her waist.
Whispering in her ear, he said, “A feast awaits us, wife. Shall we?”
“Aye, husband. So we shall.”
At the feast, they had been parted once more to talk to everyone who had come for the wedding. It was not only Clan McLaren but also many of Clan Stuart. Clan MacCallum had not been invited, and Rae found himself searching for Líadan again and again once he finished one conversation and went to another.
He bumped into Kaden just as he’d found her across the way, speaking to a group of ladies. Kaden reached out and shook his hand, a big grin on his face.
“Ye did well, lad. I am happy fer ye both. Ye will take care of her?” he asked.
“Like I would meself, Kaden.” He nodded to her. “Are those villagers from Clan Stuart?”
“Aye. Ever since all came out about the curse and the upcoming marriage, things have been different at home fer Líadan. She is no longer seen as a monster, and they have embraced her openly. It feels like the dark cloud that was over Clan Stuart is now gone. And here ye are, still alive.”
He chuckled, and Rae smiled. “Aye, still alive.” He had never believed that the curse existed but there had been an ever so tiny prickle of fear whenever either of them had stopped to think about it and the distance from each other had made that little more difficult. He glanced at Líadan again. “But now, I should go and speak tae me wife. We have been apart far too long fer me likin’.”
Kaden nodded again and winked. “Aye, of course. Go on then. We’ve tortured ye long enough.”
Rae practically dashed away and pushed through the crowd to find her. He reached out for her hand, taking its smooth softness into his own.
“Will ye come with me, lass?” he asked, and she nodded, making her goodbyes to the other young ladies.
He pulled her away from the crowd and whispered, “I think it has been long enough, dae ye nae?”
“Aye,” she said with a giggle. “Far too long.”
They did not make it to what would be their room in the castle. They found an alcove instead, and she was the one to pull him in. The sounds of the feast were faded, and everyone was there, so she knew they wouldn’t be disturbed. Once she pulled him in, he pushed her against the wall, capturing her mouth with his.
“It has been far too long, me love,” he said as he kissed her jaw, tugging desperately at the shoulders of her gown.
“Aye, too long,” she said, pleasure rippling through her.
She had been aching for him for the past month and seeing him at the end of the aisle at the church had set her heart soaring as well as her body aching yet again. He had been so handsome in his kilt and boots, a dark jacket, and longer hair, his beard cut but still there. When he kissed her, she had nearly wished to jump atop him right then in the chapel in front of everyone.
She let out a little gasp when he freed one breast and then another, leaning down to flick his tongue across both nipples before taking one into his mouth, his green eyes watching her reaction. Her breath came in little pants, and she leaned back as he pleasured her other breast, making her wet, and making her fingers reach out to pull him closer to lift him higher so that their mouths could meet again.
“It will be fast this time,” he said, reaching down to grasp her skirts. “But tonight, I will take me time.”
“Good,” she said with a little giggle as he lifted her off her feet, her legs wrapping around his waist.
He had pressed her back against the cold stone, but she thought nothing of it. The warm, hard chest pressing her to the wall was warm enough. With his eyes on her, he slid a finger inside her, and she let out a shaky sigh. So long, far too long, and now, her body was even more responsive than usual.
“Now,” she said with a fast nod.
He fumbled with this kilt and then he was there at her entrance, his eyes still boring into hers. When he thrust into her, she arched up, her breath held. And then he grinned as she slid her hands over his shoulders.
He licked his lips. “I’ve missed ye, me love.”
“And I’ve missed ye.”
He didn’t stop looking at her as he thrust deeper into her, his hands clutching at her buttocks to keep her pressed where she was, taking him inside her. As her pleasure built, far faster than she expected, she called out his name, her fingers trying to grasp onto something. She pulled at his clothing and then it came.
She closed her eyes and leaned her head back and stifled a scream as it swept through her body, filling her with love, warmth, and safety. Rae was her one true love, and there could never have been anyone else.
He thrust once more before he held her tight, trembling as he spent inside her. His kiss upon the skin of her shoulder was soft and sweet, and then he lifted his eyes to hers, kissing her once on the lips.
“God in Heaven, I missed ye. I hate me brothers fer what they did, but it did make it all the better.”
“Aye,” she said with a nod as he helped her to her feet, and she put her dress back in place. She hugged him. “I have dreamed of ye night after night and now, finally, it no longer has tae be a dream.”
“Nay,” he said, holding her tight. “Nay dream. And look at me now.”
She pulled back from him with a confused look. “I’m still alive.”
“Aye,” she said. “The curse is gone.”
He nudged a finger under her chin and kissed her again. “Ye look bonny, Ban-dia. I couldnae take me eyes of ye.”
“Well,” she said, grasping his hand. “Ye look very handsome too. Far too handsome fer yer own good.” He laughed as she pulled him out of the alcove and down the stairs.
“We need tae go back tae the feast. Yer family has been so good tae me that I dinnae want tae keep them waitin’.”
“Aye, I understand.”
He kept her close, however, as they entered. They found their whole family together, including Étaín, who seemed to be a little drunk, as well as Kaden, listening to Étaín as she giggled and sipped at her wine. Just as they arrived, Líadan overheard what Étaín was saying to him.
“The woman in the woods! Nae a spirit after all!” Étaín hiccupped, and Líadan’s eyes went wide.
“It was Líadan of course. In a cottage. With Rae.” Étaín winked, and everyone burst into laughter, and Líadan blushed so red, she could feel the heat burning her cheeks.
“Étaín!” she cried, turning to a grinning Rae, and she spotted Kaden, glancing at her with a lifted brow.
“So, I wasted bloody time searchin’ fer an injured woman when …”
“Aye, just so,” Rae said, not looking embarrassed at all. “We couldnae possibly tell ye, but it is good ye ken now.”
Étaín put a hand over her mouth. “Och, Líadan, I’m so sorry! It slipped out! Kaden mentioned it, and I—” there was another hiccup. “I shouldnae have said that!”
“Nay, so just be sure when ye have a secret of yer own, I will be tellin’ Kaden straight away.” Líadan crossed her arms, and Kaden laughed.
“Och, it is nothin’, Líadan,” Kaden said. “Ye are married now. Nothin’ can touch ye. But perhaps I had better put that cottage out there tae better use.”
“What better use than that?” Rae asked, getting an elbow in the ribs from Líadan.
Kai laughed. “Welcome tae the family, Líadan.” Pulling his wife close, he said, “it seems ye will fight right in. Too bad I dinnae have another brother fer Étaín.”
Líadan was still blushing, but her tension loosened. She turned to her sister.
“Aye, too bad.” She turned to Rae. “She would be very lucky tae have one, fer I must admit, tae have a McLaren is a gift, indeed.”
“Here, here!” Cecily cried, lifting her glass, and Adelaide did as well.
This time, it was Rae who looked surprised, but he lifted his glass as well. “Ye spoil me, Ban-dia.” He leaned down to whisper in her ear, “And I mean tae spoil ye, again and again and again and—”
Líadan pushed him away, a blush stealing over her cheeks again. But she gave him a bright smile. She was happy, safe, and free of the darkness of the past. And she had the best husband in the world. No curse could ever touch her again.
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