The Highlander’s Sweet Surrender – Extended Epilogue
Four months later
From a blanket in the grass, Helen watched as Ella chased her twins alongside the flower meadow. Cam was watching from his hiding place, and Kai was with him behind a tree, ready to jump out at any moment. The twins squealed when the men scared them, and Helen laughed, looking over to see Cory watching her with amusement.
It was a perfect summer day, and they had just finished eating on the bright green grass outside his castle. Cory still couldn’t believe that this was his life. He had dear friends who had just come to visit, and his wife was so perfect, it hurt. Perfect for him. The past four months had been utterly blissful.
“What are ye thinkin’ about, lass?” he asked as he picked up her hand and kissed it.
She let out her breath and grinned at him. Her green eyes were like two bright emeralds in the sunshine, and her freckles were even more highlighted in the bright, cloudless day.
“I was just thinking about how wonderful it is here with you. I only wish Cecily could be here. She says there is still so much to do in England, and my father’s cousin is worried about her traveling on her own to Scotland.”
“Perhaps we should send someone tae fetch her?” Cory suggested. “I want tae meet her.”
“I will suggest it to her. Thank you.” She smiled at the merry scene as the adults played with the children.
He looked at her profile as she continued to watch them.
“Would ye like tae have a child, Helen? I ken we have discussed it from time tae time, but I never wanted ye tae feel as though ye had tae be a broodmare for a laird. It wasnae why I married ye.”
She chuckled, but didn’t turn to look at him. “I know. You are so kind, for you know just how much I value my independence and my freedom. I love you for that. But I think I would like to have a child one day. For us to have a child.” She turned to look at him with such love in her eyes. “But we do not need to rush. It will happen when it happens.”
“Aye.” He leaned down to kiss her. “I would be happy tae increase our frequency in makin’ one if that would make ye happy.”
She threw her head back and laughed, and Cory didn’t think he’d ever seen a more beautiful sight. “Oh, would you? That is so good to know, my love.” Her hand reached up to stroke his shoulder, and he could feel his desire rising.
It seemed there was no end to his desire for this woman, and she responded with such fervor and passion that he felt so grateful his wife wanted him as well.
“Shall we go for a ride, then?” she asked innocently, and Cory grinned.
He got to his feet and lifted her up as well. Pulling her close, he pressed a kiss on her lips.
“So, shall we go to the stables? I am sure Seamus will be happy to saddle us two horses.”
“The stables?” Cory looked at her with a puzzled expression, and then he shook his head, laughing.
“Oh, you thought I meant…” Helen grinned, grasped his hand. And together, they walked to the stables, leaving their friends as they laughed and played with the little ones.
“Ye will kill me, lass.”
“That would not be very good, since I intend to live out my days with you, husband.”
Seamus was glad to see them at the stables, and he had the young stableboy saddle two horses for the pair of them. Cory had gotten a new horse for Helen soon after they were married, and she went to coo and fuss over it while he and Seamus spoke.
“What a fine day, my Laird,” Seamus said, squinting up into the sunlight.
“Aye, very fine. It is rare that tae have such a fine day in the Highlands, but here we are.”
“Laird Chattan, Cory, I wanted tae say somethin’ tae ye.” The old man turned back, and Cory followed his gaze, watching Helen speak kindly to the young stableboy who was saddling her horse.
“What is it?” he asked, captivated by the sight of his wife.
“Ye have done a good thing here. Even in just a few months ye have made things so much better for everyone. The villages are thrivin’, and there will be a good harvest this autumn. Families willnae starve, and they have money tae rebuild their homes, and tae take care of their families. Me own daughter and her husband are daein’ so much better now, thanks tae ye.”
Cory looked back at the man, who was smiling at him, heavy lines crinkling at the corners of his eyes. “Ye are most welcome, Seamus.” He shook his hand. “I only wanted tae dae what me father would dae, and so I am so glad tae hear ye say that things are goin’ well. Now, all we need tae dae is keep ourselves safe, and then everythin’ will be good.”
“Aye.” Seamus nodded towards Helen who was now walking out of the stables and into the sunshine alongside her horse. “Ye have done well findin’ yer wife, too. I ken that many were skeptical because she is a Sassenach, but I have never met such a kind-hearted lass. And so full of fire at the same time.”
Cory laughed. “Aye, ye have described her perfectly. Now, Seamus, I plan tae take me wife on a ride.”
He walked to Helen’s horse and lifted her up into her saddle. “Are ye ready, love?” he asked, and she nodded.
“Yes, but you had better hurry, or I will beat you to our destination.”
“Where are we goin?” he asked, running to his horse.
With a big smile, Cory chased after her before she said a word. He would chase her wherever.
When they arrived at the shores of a dark blue loch, Helen slowed, and she turned to look at Cory, who was only a few steps behind her.
“We havenae raced for that long since that time we escaped the castle.” He jumped down from his horse and helped her down.
She could do it herself, but she always loved the strong feel of his hands around her waist, and she placed her hands over his.
“Why did ye want tae come here?” he asked softly.
“Because.” She pulled away from him and began to remove her clothing. “I wanted tae remember the past for a few minutes.”
She warmed under his heated look, and within seconds, they were undressed, clutching to one another in the dark waters of the loch. Her hands traced the pendant around his neck. Now the hidden room was empty. There was no need for any secrets or hidden things anymore. And yet Cory kept the pendant as the last token of his father.
He watched her as she toyed with it. “Ye are brilliant, ye ken. For figurin’ it out that it was a key. I wore it most of me life, and I never kenned.”
She lifted a brow. “Well, I thought we already established that, but I thank you for the compliment, Cory. I do like to be thought brilliant.” She kissed him. “And it had been just a thought. I was surprised it actually worked.”
He shifted underneath her, and she could feel his hardness. It never ceased to excite her.
“So, why the loch, lass?”
“I wanted to be far enough away from everyone when we did this.” She slid down over him, and with her legs wrapped around him.
Cory thrust into her, and all talking ceased for a time as they made love in the water. It was never cold when his arms were around her. She became breathless, kissing him sloppily before he came as well, his hands tight on her back.
“Ye are full of surprises,” he said once they were laying together out on the shore of the loch.
“Always. As are you.”
She was on her side, her elbow on the ground, staring up at him. “You know, I think Cecily should come as soon as possible.” Her fingers trailed up to his arm. “What do you think if we asked Kai to stay longer, so he can be here when Cecily is here?”
“I had nae idea that me wife was a matchmaker,” he replied. “But I suppose ye are just so happy that ye wish for everyone tae be so.”
“Well, aren’t you smug?” She leaned forward to kiss him, and then she stood up. “So, I think we return and ensure that Kai will stay with us longer.”
She stalked over to her clothes and began putting them on, chuckling at her husband’s look of shock. “Very well.” He hurried to dress. And then they were on the road again, returning to the castle over the green hills and along the river.
When they got close, they slowed, and Cory reached out a hand. She took it, and he squeezed it.
“Ye ken that every time I look upon this castle whenever I am returnin’ home, I thank God that ye stayed with me. That ye didnae go back home.” He stopped, and she pulled on the reins to stop her horse so that she could look him fully in the face.
To her surprise, he looked pained. “I ken it was a lot tae ask of ye, especially since ye lost yer brother, and then ye had a sister ye wanted tae see as well. I am so sorry for that. I should have taken tae yer home as soon as we’d gotten married so that ye could help yer sister, and she could return with us.”
“No, Cory, please. Don’t say such things. I wanted to stay right here with you. My time in England is over, and if you had come with me to help my sister, I know there is much you would be missing as Laird. You have much to do, and I confess I would not have wanted to be away from you for so many months just after our wedding if you had to return home. We did the right thing.” She smiled at him. “I promise you. I love you dearly, husband, and I do not regret a single moment. I just am surprised that it is taking so long for Cecily to return. She states the cousin is a good man, but I worry he is becoming too similar to Anthony or will wish to marry her himself.”
Cory jumped down from his horse and then helped Helen down. Together, they walked the horses to Seamus and returned to the castle.
“Well, I could send me men for her, and then neither of us would have tae leave or be apart from one another.”
“I will think about it.” They entered the main hall, hand in hand, to see Ella, Cameron, and Kai sitting in front of the hearth, drinks in hand.
“Ye’ve returned!” Ella called with a smile. “We thought perhaps we had lost ye for the rest of the day.”
“I’m sorry.” Helen blushed as the approached them, and Cory wrapped his arms around her from behind. “But we wanted to ride, and I did not wish to disturb your play.”
Helen could see the joking eyes Cam and Kai made at Cory.
“Ye have every right tae that, me dear,” Ella said, pouring them each some wine before passing them their glasses. “I ken that after Cam and I were wed, it became very difficult nae tae snatch time when we could.”
“Aye, she speaks the truth.” Cam wrapped his arm around Ella’s waist, and Helen leaned back against Cory.
“Tae ye both.” Cam lifted his glass in the air, and the others did the same. “Ye have done well, and we have kept the English from these parts as best we could. And Helen, ye have made me friend happier than I have ever seen him. Tae ye both and yer happiness.”
“Hear, hear,” Cory said from behind her, and they all drank.
Helen was touched. But her mind was on other matters. She turned to Kai, who was no longer facing them but looking into the hearth. Even after the time she’d known him, Kai was still a little of a mystery to her. He was kind and generally cheerful, but there seemed something dark about him on the inside, as if he was often troubled. But he never spoke of it, and Cory did not tell her either. As she looked at him, she thought of dear, sweet Cecily, full of light and laughter.
What she might do for a troubled soul.
“Kai, I wondered something,” she said, and he turned around.
“Will you stay with us a little while longer? I know you have your own duties, but I would very much like you to meet my sister, since you are like a brother to Cory.” She tried not to smile so that he did not suspect anything. “It would be nice to have you for longer, anyway. I hope she will be here within the month. What say you?”
Kai looked surprised, and his eyes moved from one person to another as if he was seeking a trick.
“Well, that would be kind of ye tae have me. But I daenae want tae overstay me welcome.”
“Ye couldnae, old friend,” Cory said. “We would be glad tae have ye. And like she said, ye are like a brother tae me, and so I want Cecily tae be able tae meet the last remainin’ member of me family.”
Kai nodded, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “Aye, then, I will.”
They spent the rest of the evening feasting, playing games, and enjoying the company. Helen had never had such friends, and she hoped it would continue. While Kai, Cam, and Ella were engaged in conversation over some humorous situation, Cory leaned over and whispered, “Tell me. Why dae ye want tae matchmake?”
“I think Kai and me sister could be very happy. I just thought that with Cecily’s brightness, she could scare away whatever shadows lie in Kai’s past.” She shrugged and looked at Cory.
He was narrowing his eyes at her. “But is it also true that ye are so happy that ye want everyone else tae be so? Ye didnae answer me earlier.”
“Ah, I forgot,” she teased. Leaning forward, she whispered against his mouth, “Yes, my love; you are right. I am so terribly, disgustingly happy. It seems only fair that I should help others to find the same.”
He kissed her, and when he drew back, he said, “Only fair, indeed.”
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