The English Beauty and the Highland Beast – Extended Epilogue
Three weeks later,
Had there ever been such an exquisite sunrise? The sky was pink, and gold shot through with slivers of purple like a glorious canopy stretching over Castle Ardtun. Bathed in the golden light, Edina stood on the battlements, breathing in the fresh, salty air from the sea.
As the church demanded, the banns had been proclaimed three Sundays ago, and today was her wedding day. Tonight, she’d lay with Errol, and wake with him in the morning for the first time.
This was the day that only a few short weeks ago, she’d believed would be forever denied her. Her heart sang with happiness. At long last Errol MacKinnon would make her his wife.
Fear of her father’s barbarism no longer hung over her like a giant shadow. Her sisters were safe within the castle, embraced by the MacKinnons. As was she.
Ivy, Hannah, and the twins immediately took Skye and Margaret under their wings, showing them around the castle. Even though her sisters were still timidly finding their way amongst such a merry and rowdy family, now and again her heart lifted at the sound of their laughter. Her sisters were getting along so well with Hannah, probably because their age was almost the same. Along with her new sisters, Ivy and Hannah, Skye and Margaret would be her bridesmaids today.
After taking one more look at the glowing sky and breathing in the pure air, she turned, and with a light heart, retraced her steps to her chamber.
She found Joan fretting there with her break-fast, a bowl of honeyed porridge, boiled eggs, fried fish and freshly baked manchet.
She bobbed a curtsy when Edina entered, a brilliant smile splitting her face.
“Ye hardly need me tae urge ye tae eat milady. Today is a long day, and ye’ll need tae keep yer strength up.”
Ever since their triumphant return from Wemyss, Joan had waited on her anxiously, determined to ensure that she slept well enough and kept her appetite. She’d nursed Edina after she’d been brought from the infirmary and still insisted on treating her as if she were a most delicate flower needing special attention.
Edina laughed. “I thank ye, Joan. Ye’ve looked after me well. But today my happiness kens nae boundaries. I’ll wed my love, eat my fill, and dance together at the feast.”
Joan left her, nodding in approval.
Today’s preparations were much the same as those for the handfasting that had never taken place. Hannah and Ivy dressed her in a beautiful pale blue silk gown and braided her hair as they had before. But today, there was no dark secret weighing down her heart, no tears, no fear of betrayal. Her love new her. And he loved her still.
“Ye look like a princess of the fae,” Hannah exclaimed. “Ye’re sae beautiful, Edina. My brother is, indeed, a lucky man,” she sighed. “I look forward tae the day when I’ll find my true love.”
Edina smiled. “Hannah, that day will come soon. I can only wish ye tae be as happy as I am today.”
Ivy smiled at her. “And I pray for ye and Errol tae find that same happiness every day of yer life as I have with Blaine.”
Just then, the door flew open, and Ivy’s twins came sliding into the room, closely followed by Margaret and Skye, who were both dressed in newly tailored kirtles and tunics, their hair streaming with ribbons and flowers. However, they looked flushed, probably running after the babes.
Margaret looked in awe at her older sister. “Ye look beautiful, Edina.”
Edina twirled, and her long skirt flew out in a circle around her.
They all laughed, and young Skye clapped her hands delightedly. “I love our new life here,” she said solemnly. “And I love all my new sisters.”
The path to the chapel was lined with villagers, and when Edina appeared on the steps to the keep, a loud cheer went up. The entire village would join in the feasting and celebration after the wedding.
By the time Edina arrived at the huge oaken chapel doors, Errol, according to custom, was already waiting with the priest at the altar and the wedding guests were all seated. She took a steady breath, straightened her shoulders and held her chin high as the doors opened. Then, walking behind Ivy, Hannah, and her two sisters, she stepped into the flower-strewn chapel to the lilting strains of the beautiful Scottish harp, the clarsach.
Walking slowly down the aisle, breathing in the perfumed air, her heart beating a joyous rhythm against her ribs, Edina was aware of a sea of smiling faces turning toward her.
But she only had eyes for Errol.
He stood proudly beside the priest, clad in his laced shirt and great kilt, his tartan across his shoulder, his precious broadsword in a scabbard by his side, his blonde hair combed and trimmed, his brown eyes sparkling. His face lit up in a joyous smile as she walked toward him.
They stood side by side, never faltering, as the priest delivered the long mass in Latin. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, came the vows.
“…DO ye, Errol MacKinnon, take this woman tae be yer lawful, wedded wife?”
Errol’s voice rang out loud and clear through the chapel. “I do.”
Edina’s heart swelled with pride and joy as she pledged herself.
The priest bound their hands together in a strip of MacKinnon tartan and tied the knot, which tightened as they pulled their hands apart.
“Bound for life,” he said, beaming, as he presented Errol MacKinnon and his lady to the assembled guests as man and wife.
Once outside, they were met with wild cheering from the villagers and a bombardment of flower petals.
The sun shone brightly, warming them as they walked the short distance to the keep, accompanied by bagpipes and cheers.
The Great Hall was bursting. There were twice as many guests for the wedding as had been in attendance for the ill-fated handfasting and Errol’s welcome home celebration. Today all the Clan chiefs had brought their ladies, each of whom was outdoing the other for the finery of their gowns and jewelry.
Errol strolled with Edina among the guests, introducing his new bride to the loyal clansmen and their wives. She was pleased to recognize Laird Finlay MacPhee and Lady Kellina. Alongside them was their son, Lachlan, now happily recovered from the injuries he’d received during the battle with Sir Michael’s troops.
The Great Hall shone with the light of a thousand candles and resounded to the light-hearted music of strolling musicians.
As Edina and Errol took their places at the center of the flower-bedecked high table, they were flanked on their right by Blaine and Ivy and their left by Hannah, Gillebride, Margaret and Skye. Further along the table, Edina caught sight of Lyall McPherson. He was still pale and far too thin, but there was color in his cheeks as he raised a tankard of ale with another man wearing the MacKinnon tartan.
Like Edina and her sisters, it seemed Lyall was finding a welcoming home among the MacKinnon Clan.
The twins were seated with other bairns at a special table under the watchful eyes of Muriel and the other nursemaids.
She and Errol led their guests in the first reel of the night. Before long, the Great Hall was filled with flute, bodrhán and lute music amid cheers and wild cries as the guests joined in for a joyous ceilidh dance.
Quite out of breath, she and Errol returned to the table, and yet another serving of the feast. Blaine approached, also breathless from dancing, and poured himself and Errol over another tankard of ale. He leaned in, keeping his voice almost inaudible, but Edina heard the word “Taveon,” and her ears immediately picked up.
“In Inverness?” Errol queried.
“Yes, he was spotted there, and reports came back to my scouts. My men are heading there now.”
Edina wished she’d not been reminded of Taveon on this, of all days, but she was relieved to hear it appeared he was still in the Highlands and had not reached the English with his secrets. She could only hope he never would.
The hours wore on, and at the stroke of midnight, Ivy took Edina’s arm. “It’s time for the newly wedded couple tae take their leave. The barn is ready for ye. The animals have been herded out, and all the rats chased away.”
“Well, as delighted I am that I’ll nae be sleeping this night with a sheep or a cow, but is it clean?” Edina said, the hint of a frown appearing on her brow. It was a wedding custom that the noble bride and groom should spend their wedding night in a lowly barn, to indicate to the villagers that they, too, had humble beginnings in their married life and would never rise above them. Ivy and Blaine didn’t do it. However, Errol seemed to like the idea.
Ivy chuckled. “Aye, ‘tis clean and sweet-scented with lavender and roses. Ye’ve a comfortable bed awaiting ye, wi’ quilts and pillows. It’s a good enough place for the Laird’s brother tae be wi’ his new lady.”
Errol, who had been listening to this exchange, leaned in, grinning, to take Edina’s hand in his. “At last, the time I’ve been longing for has come, lass.”
Edina felt her cheeks heat. This night had been in her thoughts for so long. She could hardly wait to be alone with her husband and discover the secrets of lovemaking that she’d ached for.
As the couple stood to take their leave, a great cheer went up from the assembled guests.
Errol pushed open the door of the old barn. The shabby timber building was lit with lanterns hung from the beams; the floor was covered with mats constructed from rushes. A freshly laid flower-strewn carpet led from the doorway to the great four-poster bed, hung with velvet drapes that had been erected at the center of the barn.
Edina sighed. Apart from a few quick kisses here and there, she’d only had minutes alone with Errol since the night they had liberated her sisters and Errol McPherson from Castle MacDuff. They’d both been longing for this moment.
“My wife,” he said and bent to kiss her. He took her mouth in a long, precious union with his, their lips and tongues relishing the taste and feel of each other. Edina knew she would treasure the memory of this first kiss of their married life forever.
They pulled apart, gasping for breath, and he hoisted her into his arms.
He strode across to the bed and lowered her gently onto the piled-up pillows and quilts where she lay, gazing up at him. Her chest heaving, catching her breath, her body stirred in delighted anticipation of what was to come.
He pulled the drapes around the four sides of the bed, excluding the rest of the world from this, their little private world of pleasure.
After laying his broadsword on the floor, Errol undid the belt holding his scabbard and let it drop to the rush mat beside the bed. Then he pulled the tartan cloth from his shoulder and unwound the length that had formed his great kilt until all he had on was his long shirt.
Edina gazed rapturously at him as he pulled the shirt over his head and stood naked before her. Her eyes roamed over his well-muscled shoulders and traveled down his broad chest to his navel and the dark arrow of hair below it.
His manhood stood erect and proud, and she gasped at the sheer size of it. How could something so big possibly enter her body? She could only take his word that lassies were made to take in such a hard, enormous rod.
Errol took his time with Edina. First, he lifted her silk dress by the hem over her shoulders and head. Then he untied the laces of her chemise and peeled it off, leaving her breasts bare.
She heard him gasp as his finger brushed her puckered nipple, and she moved against his hand, aching for his touch. But he moved on, slowly untying the strings of her petticoat and slipping it down her legs, leaving her as naked as he was.
Twisting against him, Edina could scarcely wait to feel his bare skin against hers.
But he wasn’t done.
While she lay beside him, her eagerness for him growing by the second, he began taking the pins out of her hair. He tenderly unraveled each one of the many woven braids comprising her coiffure and spread the golden strands upon her pillow about her head.
He gazed at her up and down, studying her with eyes like burning coals.
“I cannae wait, Errol,” she gasped, groaning, reaching her hand to touch his thigh.
“I’m feasting my eyes,” he answered. “This is my delectable wedding banquet.” He flashed her a grin. “I’m starving for it, but I want tae take pleasure in the luscious sight before I take my fill.”
She laughed. “And when ye’re done with eyeing yer meal? What then?”
“I’ll taste ye first,” he said, bending to touch her lips with his tongue. She opened her mouth to him, finally relishing his feel.
“And after ye’ve tasted?” she asked when the lack of air ended the kiss.
His chest heaved. “Why, more tasting,” he said huskily, lowering his mouth to her breast he cupped in his hand, sucking her pink nipple.
She cried out his name, “MacKinnon,” as the wild sensations flowed from her breasts to the place between her legs that ached for him. She eagerly wriggled her hips against his hardness, wanting to hear him moan.
He kissed her again, and she writhed against him, the ache between her legs needing relief. She pulled his hand down to her core.
“Touch me, Errol. Please.”
His fingers found the space between her slippery, moist folds and he stroked her slowly, igniting the fire into an inferno. Her hips moved against his exploring hand as it met her inner opening. She gasped as he gently pushed two of his fingers inside her.
He groaned. “My God, Edina, ye’re so wet, so ready for me. Is this what ye’re wanting?” He moved his fingers deeper inside her and then slowly withdrew.
“Errol, please,” she cried. “Dinnae stop. I’ll die if ye do.”
He thrust his fingers inside her again and again, his thumb circling her swollen bud. All the while, he kept his mouth on her nipple, sucking hard.
“I cannae stand it,” she cried out, bucking against his hand as waves of pleasure built to their peak. Her entire body bucked and thrashed, consumed by the exquisitely intense sensations.
“My God, MacKinnon.” Edina brushed her fingers over his hardness as the last tiny waves washed over her. “I’ve waited for this night for sae long, but I still dinnae ken how it feels tae have that part of ye inside me.”
“And are ye ready now, tae find out how it feels?”
“Aye,” she said.
Errol took his erection in his hand, and Edina rolled on her back, eyes closed, legs bent, and he guessed from the tension in her jaw that she was expecting it to hurt.
She was dripping, so wet he could slide his tip in with no resistance. Then she raised her hips to meet him, and he slipped further inside.
He eased himself onto his elbows, desperately restraining the urge to plunge himself deep inside her. More than his own pleasure, he wanted this to be good for her.
He looked into the depths of her eyes.
“Dinnae wait another minute, MacKinnon. Come inside me now.”
Waiting, poised, he felt her tightening around him. And finally, he allowed himself to thrust the full length of himself inside her velvet sheath.
She moaned, her hips rising to meet his rhythm, and he was lost in sensation, taken higher than he’d ever been before.
This overarching need for her was all there was. The world disappeared, and the taste, scent and feel of Edina consumed him.
She moaned, her hips reaching for his. As he thrust harder, she met him stroke for luscious stroke until he felt her tightening around him, pulsating deep inside, calling his name as she came under him with a wild, exultant scream.
He could restrain himself no longer.
“Edina,” he cried out, thrusting hard. Then, as he grunted and moaned, he felt the tide of desire wash over him, drowning him in wave after wave of violent, earth-shattering pleasure.
Afterward, they lay silently, slipping in and out of a dreaming sleep, stirring to touch the other briefly before being claimed by their dreams again.
He woke to find Edina stroking his cheek and whispering in his ear.
“At last, I ken…” she breathed, “…the joy of being a woman with my man.”
Errol seized her, wrapping his arms around her in a mighty embrace.
Edina gave him a dreamy smile. “I ken what it is tae be in heaven.”
He grinned at her, smoothing her hair from her forehead. “Aye, lass,” he said. “So do I.”
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This was a wonderful book. Errol and Edina story was so well written there was betrayal and adventure and love so glad she got her sister’s away from that terrible father kinda wish he would have got some kinda payback.
I agree and wondered what revenge was being planned by Edina’s father.
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear A! ❤️
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear Gari! ❤️
What a wonderful adventure! Errol and Edina were the perfect pairing. Well done, Kenna. Thank you for sharing their story.
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear Young at Heart! I appreciate your support! ❤️
This is a wonderful story about Errol and Edina and so glad love won over betrayal
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear Gwen! ❤️
Loved the story but wished something had been done to pay her father back for his mistreatment of her
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear Phyllis! ❤️
Loved the storyline but agree with others more to punish the father would have been good
Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear Jacqui! ❤️