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The Highlander’s Sinful Bride – Extended Epilogue

 

Even a character, a scene, or anything. You could say no if nothing bothered you.
Even a character, a scene, or anything that you enjoyed.

Two months later…

Only a month after Catalina and Ivar tied the knot, there was more excitement at Castle Matheson when Anastasia and Dunstan walked up the aisle to solemnize their love.

Catalina and Ivar had had a great deal of fun teasing the couple about how they had played such an important part in bringing the pair together and were therefore partially responsible for their happiness. They claimed this was particularly the case after what had happened at Catalina and Ivar’s own wedding breakfast.

The ceilidh that had followed the ceremony had been a merry, raucous affair. It had begun sedately, according to tradition, with Catalina and Ivar surrounded by their family and a multitude of well-wishers as they each drank the traditional dram of whisky from the ceremonial quaich. The two-handed lovers cup signified the bonding of two hearts as well as two clans.

After the bride and groom had drunk from the quaich, it was passed around for all to take a drink. It was then that another happy event occurred that had made their wedding day all the more memorable and precious.

When the quaich had been passed to Dunstan, who was standing with Anastasia, he had set it down carefully on the table and suddenly turned to Ivar and Catalina instead of immediately drinking from it. The unorthodox action had subdued the crowd, who watched with interest to see what he would do.

Anastasia had cast him a puzzled look. “What are ye at, Dunstan? Are ye nae going taee drink?” she had asked.

“Aye, in a moment,” he had replied, suddenly looking to Catalina and Ivar. “I ken we’re here tae celebrate yer weddin’, but would ye mind if I said a few words?”

“Of course, we wouldnae mind, would we, Cat?” Ivar had asked her, grinning broadly, his arm around her shoulder.

“Nae at all,” she had agreed cheerfully, intrigued to notice that her husband spoke with the air of a man who knew exactly what was about to happen.

“Ye go ahead and say yer piece, man,” Ivar had told Dunstan, slapping him on the back jovially and winking at him. It was at that moment that Catalina had realized that he did indeed know what Dunstan was up to, and she had thoroughly approved.

“Aye, go ahead, Dunstan,” she had said, smiling at her sister’s bemused expression. “I’m sure we’d all like tae hear what ye’ve got tae say.”

“Thank ye both,” Dunstan had said, looking a little nervous as he had turned to Anastasia and had taken her hand in his. He had gazed at her earnestly. “Anastasia, ’tis nae secret now that I love ye dearly. I’ve loved ye fer years, and I hardly could have imagined in me wildest dreams that this moment would come. But here it is.”

He had paused for a moment and had taken a deep breath, appearing to gather his courage. “Anastasia Matheson, I want tae ask y if ye would ye dae me the honor of bein’ me wife?”

Ivar and Catalina had hugged each other in excitement as they had watched, and the room had held its breath, as everyone had awaited Anastasia’s response. For a few moments, she had gazed up at Dunstan, an expression of wonder on her lovely face. Then, her lips had curved into a radiant smile, and she had replied, “I love ye too, Dunstan, and I can think of naethin’ I’d rather be than yer wife.”

Dunstan had given a whoop of joy and had seized her in his arms, lifting her off her feet and whirling her around as she had hugged him, and they had exchanged joyful kisses. The whole hall had erupted into cheers, hoots, and applause to congratulate them. When it had all calmed down a little, and Dunstan had set Anastasia on her feet again, the pair had drunk from the lover cup to seal their engagement. Then, as if remembering something, Anastasia had suddenly looked over at her father questioningly.

Catalina had watched, wondering how her father would react, but his face had split into a grin of obvious delight, and he had raised his tankard high at the couple. “I’ve already given the lad me blessin’,” he had declared. “Tae be truthful, I’m glad tae have the last of me daughters taken off me hands. And I couldnae ask fer a better pair of son-in-laws.” More applause and cheers broke out at this.

Catalina, excited and happy for her sister, had hugged her. “Congratulations, me dear sister, I’m so happy ye’re actually marryin’ the man ye love, as I always said ye should.”

Anastasia had laughed and hugged her back, her face radiant with happiness. “Thank ye, Cat, fer makin’ it possible by fallin’ fer me betrothed. At least this way there’s nae need fer me tae run away as ye always said I should,” she had said jestingly.

Catalina had then turned to Dunstan, who was looking happier than she had ever seen him. Ivar and Arne and their father had gathered round him, all grinning and offering their congratulations in their hearty masculine way. When she could get a look in, Catalina had given him a kiss on the cheek and hugged him too. “Well done,” she had whispered, “I ken ye’ll be as happy as me and Ivar. But dinnae forget who it was that brought ye together,” she had added jokingly.

“I willnae,” he had promised, laughing as he returned her embrace. Catalina had gone to Ivar’s side then, and he had beamed down at her and drawn her to his side.

“Ye kent all about this, did ye nae?” She had asked him.

“I cannae tell a lie. Dunstan came tae me a few days ago and asked me about it. Since our love brought them together, I was happy tae agree,” he had explained.

“But why did ye nae tell me?”

“I didnae want tae tae spoil the surprise.”

“It certainly was a surprise. A wonderful one,” she had told him, kissing his cheek, full of love for him.

Just at that moment, the musicians had started up a merry tune, a county reel.

“Husband, d’ye recognize this tune?” she had asked Ivar, tugging at his sleeve.

He had nodded. “’Tis engraved in me mind for some reason,” he had told her with a mischievous glint in his eye. “I seem tae recall gettin’ very wet dancin’ tae it with ye in the woods in a rainstorm.”

“That’s right,” she had told him. “I’m pleased ye remember that. So, shall we dance tae it again, as man and wife this time?”

He had nodded and bent to kiss her lips before leading her to the dance floor. “I think we definitely should.”

Now, two months later, towards the end of a fine September, Anastasia and Dunstan were married. Haldor, Sofia and Dahlia had returned to Castle MacLeod shortly after Catalina and Ivar had married. It was another happy occasion, and Cat was thrilled to see her sister joined to the man she adored, just as she was.

Then, a few days after that, she and Ivar made their farewells and set off overland on the long journey back to her new home with the MacLeod family. They settled happily into their married chambers as they began their life together as a couple.

It was at the beginning of November, when the days grew short and darkness fell early, that another event occurred that was to indelibly mark the annals of the MacLeod family.

With people’s thoughts starting to turn to Christmastide, Ivar and Catalina had traveled to the nearby town to do some early gift buying at the market. It had been a joyous day spent together. On the way back, they had stopped at the inn where she and Anastasia had spent that first night on Skye all those months ago, when her sister had been on her way to wed Ivar. They had only just arrived back at the castle when they encountered Arne in the vestibule of the keep. He looked very serious.

“What’s up, Braither,” Ivar asked him as he helped Catalina off with her cloak. “Ye’ve a face like a disappointed horse. Has somethin’ happened while we were out?”

“Aye. A summons from Haldor. He wants tae see us all in his study right away,” Arne replied with none of his habitual light-heartedness. “He’s received a letter,” he added grimly.

“So? He gets letters every day,” Ivar said, frowning slightly. “What’s so special about this one?”

“That’s what I wantae ken. Are ye comin’?”

“Aye.” Ivar exchanged a concerned look with Catalina who shrugged. She linked her arm in his, and they followed Arne along the hallways to the door of Haldor’s study. Just as they arrived, they saw Dahlia hurrying along from the other direction. They waited for her. She too looked worried.

“What’s goin’ on,” she asked them.

“We have nay clue why Haldor’s called us all here,” Ivar explained, while Arne rapped on the study door.

“Come in,” came Haldor’s deep, raspy reply from the other side.

“I’ve a bad feelin’ about this,” Arne muttered as he opened the door, standing aside for Dahlia to pass before entering himself, with Ivar and Catalina following him. Ivar shut the door behind them.

Haldor was standing by the hearth, where a large blaze was cracking, throwing heat out into the room. As they all joined him by the fire, Ivar’s mind went back to a few months before, to the summer day when he had learned that he was betrothed to Anastasia.

Suddenly, he felt in his bones that the letter Haldor had received was from The Bruce, just as it had been back then. He realized then why Arne and Dahlia were looking so worried.

“What is it,’ d’ye think?” Catalina whispered to him.

He shrugged and said, “I dinnae ken, but I feel like we’ve been through this before, and it doesnae bode well.”

“Thank ye all fer comin’ so quickly,” Haldor greeted them, his face unreadable. Sofia was sitting in a chair nearby, her pretty face devoid of its usual warmth. She greeted them with a nod. “I’m sure ye’re all wonderin’ why I summoned ye,” Haldor said gravely, looking around from face to face.

“I’ve got a feelin’ I ken why,” Arne muttered grimly, “and I’m nae lookin’ forward tae hearin’ what ye have tae say one bit.”

Ivar looked across at Dahlia, and she looked even more worried than before. Her hands were clasped in front of her, and she was twisting her fingers nervously. Ivar could relate to that feeling, and his heart went out to his brother and sister, for he had a horrible suspicion what was coming, as they evidently did too.

“I’ve had another letter from The Bruce,” Haldor said, his keen blue eyes flicking from Arne to Dahlia.

“Ach, for the Wee man’s sake,” Arne murmured, rubbing a hand through his hair.

“Well, dinnae keep us in suspense,” Dahlia said testily. “What does he want this time?”

“Another match,” Haldor replied simply.

“I kent it!” Arne said, shaking his head, his expression dark. “So, who’s the victim this time?”

“Aye, which one of us is it?” Dahlia echoed, her voice tense. Haldor looked at her. “Me?” she breathed, her hand going to her chest in obvious shock. She tottered slightly, and Ivar quickly pulled a nearby chair over and pushed her into it. Catalina went to stand next to her, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“But I’m nae sure I can agree tae what he’s proposin’. ’Tis a step too far,” Haldor said, an edge of disapproval to his voice.

“Are ye goin’ tae tell me or nae?” Dahlia asked, looking at her brother with drawn brows. “Who is it I’m supposed tae wed?”

“I told ye, I’m nae sure we can agree tae it,” Haldor repeated. Ivar detected a reluctance on Haldor’s part to disclose the name of Dahlia’s intended. That was not good at all, and he had a sense of foreboding.

“Now, when I tell ye, Dahlia, dinnae go mad,” Haldor hedged.

“Haldor, ye’re nae helpin’” Sofia interjected. “Just tell them.”

“All right. Well, ye’re nae going tae like this, but The Bruce wants a match between Dahlia and none other than Bairre MacKinnon. The braither of the man responsible fer Thor’s death.”

The End.

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  • Wow this was a totally amazing book I loved Catarina and Ivar story and can’t wait for the next one

    • Thank you so much my dear Gari ! I’m thrilled you enjoyed Catarina and Ivar’s story. Your excitement for the next one means the world to me! ❤️

  • I loved this book Kenna. I am so pleased to see we will be able to read Dahlia’s story. Hopefully soon? As always, you have given a new twist to Caterina and Ivar’s story, making it another page turner.

    • Thank you, Heather ! I’m glad you loved the book. Dahlia’s story is coming soon, and I’m excited to share it with you. Your support means a lot! ❤️

  • There seemed to be a familiar thread to the start of this tale, however it absolutely evolved into a truly unique and wonderful story! I love this one, and can’t wait for the next!!

    • Thank you so much for the feedback, my dear! I’m delighted you found the story unique and wonderful. Your excitement for the next one means the world to me! ❤️

    • Thank you so much for your excitement, my dear Rhonda! I’m so glad you’re looking forward to the next book. I can’t wait to share it with you! ❤️

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