Scot of Lust – Extended Epilogue

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One month later, Mackintosh Castle

It was a cloudy day, the air turning sharp with chill, but no one in the clan seemed to mind when the wine flowed freely and the great hall was filled with people and laughter, everyone gathered there to celebrate Dunn’s and Elayne’s wedding. The crowd was merry, as it always was when it was time to feast, but the most important thing to Evander was that his brother was happy.

It had been a while since he had seen Dunn smile so sincerely. Though his brother was always cheerful, Evander had been concerned, at times, that a big part of it was a performance he was putting on for other people’s sake. Now he could tell it was real. With Elayne by his side, Dunn was truly happy.

Evander wasn’t so lucky himself. He sat at the table along with the merry couple, his betrothed sitting quietly by his side.

He and Enna had not spoken a single word to each other that entire evening. Evander couldn’t claim that he had made any effort to speak with her, of course, as ever since his betrothal to her had been announced, he had done his best to avoid her. On the other hand, she hadn’t made any effort either and so they ended up sitting side by side that evening, both of them in complete silence unless they were speaking to someone else. Not that she was a bad or boring lass, he just… didn’t care.

Still, this marriage was for the best. He wasn’t as lucky as his brothers, who had all found love. The only woman he had ever loved had broken his heart a long time ago and since then, Evander hadn’t even entertained the idea of trying to find someone else. In fact, it was better if he didn’t love his betrothed, he thought. The last thing he needed was feelings clouding his judgement. Enna, for all her spiritedness and stubbornness, was a good woman from a good family. That was all Evander needed—someone who would be a solid, positive presence in his life. And of course, it didn’t hurt that her family had land, riches, and influence. In the end, that was what mattered the most.

His brothers had married for love. He was going to marry to bring a valuable ally to his clan.

“Shall we dance?”

It was the first words Enna had spoken to him that day and Evander slowly turned to look at her, unable to keep the surprise from showing on his features. He didn’t know what it was that Enna was trying to achieve—every other couple in the family was dancing, that much was true, but that didn’t mean they had to join them.

Besides, Enna could hardly look at him for more than a few moments. It was his appearance, he knew; those tattoos on his skin that she found too menacing, too disturbing. It was unfortunate for her, since she would have to put up with looking at him for the rest of her life, but Evander couldn’t really bring himself to care. Enna was a beautiful woman, there was no doubt about that, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to make his own sacrifices for this marriage.

“I dinnae dance,” said Evander, turning his gaze back to the crowd. Though he couldn’t see Enna’s expression, he was certain she was anything but pleased. The very air around him seemed to get colder and he couldn’t help but shudder, no matter how momentarily.

“Ye could make an exception,” Enna said and there was a strain to her voice, as though she was trying her best to remain polite, to keep up the appearances. Evander himself wasn’t as concerned with such things, though he wasn’t going to start a fight in the middle of the feast.

“Why?” he asked, this time turning to pin her with his gaze. He wasn’t surprised to see that Enna held it, never once averting her eyes. “What does it matter if we dance?”

“It is better than sittin’ here in silence,” she said. “It is only a dance. Perhaps ye will even enjoy it.”

Evander was quick to shake his head. “I doubt that. I never enjoyed dancin’. If ye wish tae dance, I am sure ye can find another partner.”

Enna scoffed, looking at Evander in disbelief for a few moments, before she pushed herself off her chair and left the table. From the other side of it, Evander caught Alec’s gaze, his brother’s disappointment palpable between them.

He had been the one to insist Evander didn’t have to marry Enna, but now he wanted him to act like a good husband. He knew his brother understood this was nothing but a marriage of convenience, as he had told Evander time and time again there were other options, that the future of the clan didn’t depend on this alliance and so he didn’t need to secure it. Why was he so insistent, then, on trying to get them to act like a proper couple?

With a sigh, Evander also made to leave the table. He needed some fresh air, some space to breathe away from all those people, and so he weaved his way through the crowd and stepped out into the courtyard. The sounds from the feast spilled outside through the windows, but it was quieter there, with no one but a few guards and a few guests milling about the grounds, either alone or with company, trying to find a secluded place.

He didn’t go very far. He only lingered by the door, taking a few breaths of the crisp night air, his mind slowly emptying. His fate truly wasn’t so bad. There were worse things than marrying someone he didn’t love. At least this way, he was certain his heart would never break again. Enna didn’t have the power to hurt him.

His thoughts began to drift to May, as they often did when he thought about his marriage. There was a time he was convinced he would marry her, the girl of his dreams. There was a time he had wanted nothing more than to call her his wife, but that time was long gone now, like she was.

She had made her choice. She had left him and even if Evander could do something to bring her back, he never would. He wouldn’t stoop so low as to beg or scheme. As much as it pained him to think about it—and it certainly did, the mere thought of it like a knife to the gut—May simply didn’t love him. Perhaps she never had or perhaps her feelings had faded with time.

Perhaps his would, too, in the future.

Until then he was cursed to think of her every time he saw Enna. Though they neither looked nor sounded alike, simply looking at his betrothed reminded Evander of May, and perhaps that was why he could not bear to be around her. The ache in his chest was too strong. The void inside him only kept growing.

Where are ye now, May? What life are ye livin’?

Evander didn’t know nor did he want to find out. He had been perfectly clear that no one was to say a single word about May in his presence, and so far, for the past ten years, everyone seemed to be following his request. Perhaps they didn’t talk about her at all or even knew anything about her life. Perhaps he was the only one still clinging to the past.

Then Evander heard a familiar pair of footsteps, and he turned around to see Dunn approaching, two cups of wine in his hands. He passed one to Evander who took it gratefully, draining half its contents in one gulp.

“Are ye all right, braither?” Dunn asked. Though he tried to mask it behind a teasing smile, Evander could tell he was worried.

He didn’t want him to worry. This was his big day.

“I am perfectly fine,” he assured him. “What are ye doin’ here? Shouldnae ye be with yer wife?”

“Me wife is schemin’ with Catreena,” Dunn said with a wary sigh. “I can only imagine what our dear sister is tellin’ her about me.”

“Only the best, I’m sure,” said Evander, truly smiling for the first time that night. “If ye dinnae pull Elayne away, Catreena will speak tae her fer the rest o’ the night.”

“Ach, we cannae have that,” Dunn said. “I’ll distract Elayne while ye distract Catreena.”

It was nothing but a thinly-veiled ploy to get Evander back inside, to get him out of his own head. Evander could tell, but he still followed Dunn, huffing out a laugh at his brother’s antics. There he was, at his own wedding, trying to cheer Evander up because he couldn’t go a single day without letting the past swallow him like a tide.

Back inside, the crowds sang and danced. Enna was among them, finally enjoying herself. With any luck, she would manage to build a home there, even if Evander couldn’t give her his love.

With any luck, they could even be friends in the end.


The End.

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Taken by the Highland Brute – Extended Epilogue

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Twelve years later…

There was nothing but green as far as the eyes could see, save the brown of tree trunks in the far-off distance and the white of the daisies even farther than that. The sun, white in its glory, sent down its warm rays.

Two girls were seated on the grass, one eleven and the other seven. Their legs were crossed into little capital letter M’s in front of them. Their fingers were linked and they were leaning into each other so their foreheads were touching. They were cousins twice over: children of Alistair and Jane, and Ramsay and Eleonor.

“Try harder, Isla,” the younger one said.

“I am doing the best I can, Davina!” the older one replied.

“Dae you see anything?” Davina said. “Because I think I can.”

Isla opened her eyes and pulled away by an inch. “Really?!” she exclaimed excitedly. “What dae ye see? What am I thinking now?”

“Shh,” Davina said, and brought Isla’s head back to its former position. Both girls closed their eyes. “Ye cannae move away or it won’t work,” she said.

“Okay,” Isla whispered. “Tell me what ye see.”

“I see…” Davina started, her voice low and mysterious. “I see… something green.”

“Something green?” Isla whispered.

“Yes,” Davina replied. “Ye are thinking about something brown. I am trying to see what it is exactly. Is it the green of the new dress that Aunt Eleonor finished sewing fer ye yesterday? Is it the green of the grass that surrounds us? Or could it be…hmm.”

“What?” Isla said. “What?!”

“Could you perhaps be thinking of the green snake close tae yer left leg?”

Isla shrieked and jumped up. She vigorously shook her limbs and then inspected the area around her feet. There was nothing there. Davina burst into laughter. Isla frowned. “It’s not funny!” she declared. “I’ve told ye tae stop playing tricks on me!”

“But how can I stop when ye fall fer them so hilariously?” Davina asked, holding her belly. “Ye weren’t even thinking of a green snake and so how could I have seen one?”

“Anyone would be scared if they heard there was a snake their them!” Isla declared.

Davina shook her head. “A green snake? Not me. I would have been excited. I would have put it in me little jar and fed it grasshoppers and termites until its stomach hurt. Then I would make it me pet and name it Fiona. I want it to be a girl snake. I dinnae like boys, and so I dinnae think I would like a boy snake. Haven’t ye ever wanted a pet, Isla?”

Isla shook her head. “Never. Pets scare me. They’re small but ye never ken what they can dae if they just decided tae be bad one day.”

Davina rolled her eyes and stood up. “What harm could a pet snail dae, fer example?”

“Well,” Isla said, and went into deep thought. “I presume it could escape the house ye’ve made fer it and drag its slobber all over yer favorite dresses.”

“Drag its slobber all over me favorite dresses,” Davina repeated. “And ye think that is scary? Not hilarious?”

“Yes,” Isla said. “Leave me alone. We should head back. All this talk of green snakes has ruined the play. I dinnae even think that it is real. Ye cannae read anyone’s mind by just putting yer forehead tae theirs.”

“Ye’ve got it all wrong, Isla!” Davina cut a small blade of grass and put it in her mouth.

“That is disgusting,” Isla said. “Ye would never dae that if adults were watching.”

“Correct,” Davina said. “Anyway, of course ye cannae read anyone’s mind just by joining foreheads. That was just fer fun. Ye can read yer sister’s mind, though. Because ye love each other and dae everything together.”

“We are cousins, Davina!”

“It is the same thing,” Davina said. “It doesnae matter-” She stopped suddenly, for she had just sighted a man walking toward them out of the corner of her eye. She had never seen him before, so she was sure he was not from their clan. He was wearing English clothes, the likes of which her mother, with her very limited drawing skills, had illustrated to teach Davina about her own side of the family.’

Isla, having sighted the man too, took Davina’s hand and began to fidget. “Let’s run,” she whispered to her cousin.

“Why?” Davina asked. “We are not supposed tae run from anything. A Scottish lass should be, above everything, brave and kind. Or have you forgotten what Aunt Catrina has told us?”

“Yes, but…” Isla said. Beginning to fidget. “He doesnae look kind. Nae kind at all.”

“If ye run from people that are nae kind, they’ll think you’re scared of them and become even unkinder.”

“Davina, that doesnae make sense!”

“Hush, he’s here.”

The man stood before them, big and bulky, blocking the sun. He looked like someone who had rolled in the dirt for a considerable amount of time. His clothes were torn in places. His eyes were small and stern. He appraised them, head to toe and back to head, for all of four seconds. Isla edged closer to Davina and squeezed her hand.

“Who are you?” the man asked finally.

“Me faither says I cannae talk tae strangers,” Davina said, her chin jutted in the man’s direction.

“Is that so?” the man asked.

“Tae answer yer question would be tae talk tae ye,” Davina said. “And I have told ye that I cannae dae that.” She turned to Isla. “Let’s go.”

“Don’t move,” the man ordered. Something in the quality of his voice rooted both girls to the spot.

“You,” the man said and pointed at Davina, “come here.”

Davina shook her head. “Ye cannae tell me what tae dae.”

The man’s movement was swift. He dragged Davina away from Isla’s hold as though she weighed nothing.

“Davina!” Isla cried. Davina stomped on the man’s boots and attempted to dig her teeth into his side, but he was faster. With one hand, he swung her over his shoulder. She pounded on his back, but if he felt it, he made no indication that he did.

“You,” the man said, facing Isla, who was trembling in the breeze, “run home and tell your clan that the debt that they owe the Duke of Lancaster shall be paid.”


Both couples stood right outside the castle. The horses were ready. The warriors were waiting. Ramsay was holding Eleonor’s hand as he whispered into her ears. Jane and Alistair were locked in an embrace. Jane pulled away and put her hands on her belly. She was six months gone. When Isla, accompanied by Donald, the warrior whose responsibility it was to watch the girls, returned with the news, Jane had nearly fainted. On hearing the message that the abductors had asked her to relay, her eyes had widened in horror.

She had known that the Duke would have his revenge, and because of this, Alistair and Ramsay had taken extra care to fortify the castle, but days had turned into weeks and weeks into months, and it had appeared that the Duke had chosen to busy himself with other things. It had taken eleven whole years for him to fight back. And he had chosen the little girl as the object of his revenge. An innocent in all this. Anytime she thought about it, it made her throat tight. Her little girl, among Englishmen who hated her for her mixed parentage. It was enough to make any mother delirious with worry.

Alistair and his warriors would get her darling Davina back. They had swung into action immediately. Alistair was every inch as worried as Jane, but he did not show it. “Save our daughter, Alistair,” Jane said, her eyes pleading.

Alistair nodded and planted a kiss on her forehead. He then got on his horse. Ramsay bent to hug Isla. Since her return and conveyance of the abductor’s message, she had become reticent, only speaking when spoken to. Her parents – as well as Alistair and Jane – had reassured her that it was not her fault that her cousin and best friend had been taken, but guilt bore heavily on the little girl. Ramsay then kissed his wife goodbye and mounted his horse.

Nearby, Catrina hugged Tasgall. Now 22 years old, he was a sturdy young man with a formidable physique. He towered over his mother, who was pulling away from him with pride. Her eyes strayed to her husband’s, and his reflected the emotion in hers. He, too, was proud of the man that his son had become. Following the end of the war, there had been no battles to fight, and this would be Tasgall’s first mission as a warrior of Clan Fletcher.

Tasgall made to mount his horse, but he was stopped by a tap on the arm. It was Isla. Her shy blue eyes could barely meet his. “May I kiss yer cheek?” she asked.

“Of course,” Tasgall said, and presented his right cheek. Isla planted a peck on it and stepped quickly away.

All the warriors had mounted their horses, and it was time to leave. Alistair raised his arm, and brought his horse to a fast trot away from the castle. The other warriors followed.


The End.

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Stealing the Highlander’s Bride – Extended Epilogue

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Three years later…

Reyna grunted in pain as another contraction passed through her, stronger than the last. Beside her, Tessa made a soft soothing noise. “Och, they’re coming closer taegether. I wager ye’ll be ready tae give birth soon.”

“Och, I wish ye werenae… gods above… right.”

She wanted Blake. She hadn’t expected to go into labor so soon, still several days out from her due date. Her daughter had been born on time, exactly when the midwife predicted.

As if her thoughts had been spoken aloud, Tessa growled out “Where’s Blake? He should be here! ‘Tis his bairn she’s birthing!”

Hannah, working beside the midwife to change out water and linens, answered her. “I’ve sent a messenger lad fer him. He’s out hunting with the other lads.”


“Aye. That tae.”

“Out hunting when he should be with his wife…”

“’Tisnae his fault.” Reyna gasped her way through another contraction. “I sent him away. He didnae want tae go. I told him he could…. Argh! …bring me some game, or I’d have his bollocks and give him something tae truly fret about.”

Tessa laughed. “Ye would at that. And good fer ye. ‘Tis a woman’s right tae say what she likes in the last month or so o’ her lying in.”

Another contraction, and she couldn’t help screaming a little at the pain. She heard her daughter outside, Freya, being watched over by Kenzie. Reyna was about to ask for someone to bring her daughter and Kenzie in, so she could comfort her child, when a commotion sounded at the door.


Being chased out of his home by a temperamental lass wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to him, but it was close. Preston and Finlay, louts that they were, weren’t helping by snickering at him.

The two men had accompanied their wives to Sinclair Castle, so that the women might keep Reyna comfortably occupied during the last days of her lying in and had been only too glad to follow him out on a hunt after Reyna had threatened to castrate him if he didn’t stop hovering over her with concern.

That didn’t stop Preston’s muttering “Lass has got ye near whipped, lad.”

Finlay grinned agreeably at the Murray laird, with whom he’d formed a steady friendship over the past two years. “Aye. But that’s Reyna fer ye. She always was able tae bend Faither and I tae her will. Dinnae think Blake had a chance.”

Blake growled at his brother-by-marriage. “Aye, and how well dae ye stand up tae yer lass, when she was carrying yer bairn in the final months?”

“Nae at all. Which is why I’ve nae shame about teasing ye on the matter.” Finlay was far too cheerful as they rode out into the woods, hunting bows, waterskins and a satchel of food each slung across their saddles.

Preston was still chuckling when they finally found a good spot to dismount and ready themselves to track game. Blake glared at him. “Ye laugh now, Preston, but we’ll see how funny ye find it when yer lass is having yer firstborn.”

Preston smirked. “Did I nae tell ye? Kenzie’s expecting. ‘Tis early days yet, but by winter’s end I’ll have a son or daughter o’ me own. One reason she was fair set on coming tae visit yer lass afore it gets uncomfortable fer her tae ride.”

Blake smirked back. “Then ye’ll have the joy o’ a temperamental lass on yer hands soon enough.”

Preston shrugged.

Finlay snickered. “Oh, man, ye wait and see.”

Blake nodded. “Aye. Reyna’s done everything from stoking the fire when it is boiling, to opening the windows in midwinter. One moment she’ll be demanding me attention, the next she’ll be after kicking me out o’ me own bed tae steal me pillows fer her comfort. And I’m fair convinced that castle cooks are women so they willnae be startled by whatever a lady wants tae eat when she’s carrying. Being sent tae hunt is naething new.”

Finlay nodded sagely. “Tessa wasnae so demanding until her eighth month, but she couldnae stomach much beyond certain foods. Thought she was fair sick, drove me out o’ me mind with worry fer her.”

Preston looked much less smug now, and Blake grinned. After a moment, they three of them turned their attention to hunt.

Blake was stalking a herd of deer through the woods, hoping some venison would soothe his beloved wife’s temper, when the messenger found him with the message that Reyna had gone into labor. The words he used as he wheeled the horse around had likely scared the game away for a fortnight or more, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to care, not unless his love really was upset that he’d not brought home fresh meat for her.

Well, if she was, he’d send the master of the hounds to get some. Right now, he had more important concerns.

Blake shoved his way into the birthing chamber, heedless of the hissing of the midwife and the shocked exclamations of the servants at the door. He didn’t care that tradition said men were supposed to wait outside the birthing room, or that he might upset someone.

His wife was having his child. He’d not leave her side unless she chased him away as she had this morning. He still felt guilty that he’d permitted himself to leave the castle with Finlay and Preston, rather than simply finding a quiet place out of his wife’s view.

Reyna screamed again, and he went to her side, reaching out to embrace her and take her hand in his. “I’m sorry I wasnae here sooner, ey love.”

“Ye shouldnae be here now.” The midwife was practically bristling with outrage, but Tessa and his mother both exchanged knowing looks as Reyna latched onto his hand with a bruising grip.

“Leave it alone, Marina. Ye’ll nae get rid o’ him.” Hannah directed a pointed look at the hand Reyna was currently trying to crush with her own. “She’s the only one who could, and she’s not after letting him go anywhere.”

The midwife huffed but nodded. “All right, me lady, let’s see how yer doing…”

Another contraction, another scream that wrenched his guts worse than any battlefield had ever done, and a satisfied sound from the midwife. “Ye’re ready. On the next wave, push as hard as ye can.”

He could see the next wave hit his wife, even before she screamed, loud enough to hurt his ears. Her hand clenched on his with a force that would leave bruises, if not break bones. He didn’t care. He simply held her close as wave after wave passed through her.

It seemed to last forever, each contraction worse than the last, and he could see what looked to him like far too much blood, too much sweat, and too much pain. He couldn’t believe this was normal, no matter how much his mother said otherwise. His mind kept racing, and he couldn’t stop the thoughts any more than he could end Reyna’s screams.

Gods, surely our firstborn didnae take so long… oh, gods…Reyna!

Then there was one final wave that seemed to bend his wife in two. Reyna screamed like she was being torn apart and pushed. The, the wave passed and the sound of crying split the air, a thin wail that sounded like the sweetest music ever produced to his ears. The midwife straightened with a squirming, crying, red bundle in her arms and a broad smile. “Well done, me laird, me lady. A fine son fer ye, and perfectly healthy from the lungs on him.”

“Thank goodness.” Reyna went limp against him.

Blake remained where he was as the midwife helped deliver the afterbirth, and Tessa helped clean his exhausted wife up. Meanwhile, his mother helped clean the babe and wrapped him in a soft blanket. Once both mother and child were clean, she approached. “A fine lad fer ye, indeed.”

Blake watched as Reyna took the babe into her arms. Without thought, his hand reached out to stroke the tiny face, now peaceful and drowsing. Reyna’s smile widened. “He looks like ye, Blake.”

“’Tis tae soon tae tell.” Blake laughed.

Tessa approached. “He’s a bonny bairn. Have ye thought o’ a name?”

Blake nodded. “Aye.” He shared a glance with Reyna. “His name is Leith. Fer me faither.”

His mother gasped and clasped her hands over her mouth, tears in her eyes. “Blake…”

He smiled. “Me faither deserves tae be remembered. Even if I didnae always agree with him, he was a good man.”

“Aye.” His mother squeezed his shoulder.

Reyna smiled, then offered him the child. “I ken if ye came back so did Finlay and Preston. Ye might as well go show him off. I ken ye’re dying tae dae so.”

“And how could I nae be proud o’ me bonny wife and me wonderful new son?” Blake laughed as he rose and accepted the precious bundle.

Slowly, carefully, he turned away, so mesmerized by the sight of his son’s sleeping features he could scarcely breathe.

Leith. Me son.

As he walked toward the door, Blake found himself laughing in sheer happiness.

After so long, he was finally, truly, home and at peace.


The End.

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Sleeping with her Highland Enemy – Extended Epilogue

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Something you liked, a specific scene, a character's quality, some detail that caught your eye.
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A few months later…

“Let me in! I have tae be there!” Duncan shouted.

“Me laird, ye cannae go in!”

“Aye, ye will only distract-”

“Aaaaaaaahhhhh!” His wife’s scream rent the air. Duncan’s chest tore to pieces. His vision blurred and he pushed the women stopping him aside. The door was jammed open with his shoulder and he shoved his way inside. On a bed, surrounded by his mother, sister and two women, was his wife. She was covered in cold sweat, hair scattered all over the pillow. Her face was red from screaming, her eyes wide and wet. She thrashed around, yelling for death.

Duncan rushed to her. He knelt by the bed and took the hand grinding into the sheets. “It hurts! It hurts! Make it stop!” She cried. Duncan would have cried, but he needed to be strong.


Duncan bit into his mouth. “I’m going to die! I’m dying! Help me!”

Her fingernails dug into the back of hands, drawing blood. Duncan ignored the pain shooting through him. “Maither! What can be done? It has gone on fer too long!” Lady Fiona was not her usual self either. No one in the room was. Her hair had come loose, she was drowning in the same sweat.

It was the sixth hour since the first strokes of pain had begun. Lady Fiona raised the slim dress Grace wore and peered between her legs. Duncan looked at his mother, hoping this would be it.

“Be strong, child. It will be over soon.”

She looked as if she did not believe her own words. “’Tis okay, ‘tis okay…” Duncan repeated to his wife.

“It’s not!” she exploded. “Why in the hell did you get me pregnant…Ooooohhh.” Duncan asked himself that very question. Solemnly swearing silently that this would be first and last time Grace would suffer this pain. Another loud scream rippled in the room. Duncan bit his mouth deeper. He wanted to go closer to his mother, ask if this was normal. He could not afford to lose Grace.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry… oh gods I’m dying!”

“Nae, nae honey. Dinnae say that.” The seventh hour came and slipped by. Lady Fiona’s frown deepened. She paced the room, sending encouraging words to Grace occasionally.


Ninth hour.

Grace rambled unspeakable cusses, while clutching his hand. Her belly throbbed, with the child kicking it left and right. Duncan could not imagine the level of pain she was suffering. The agony made him want to rip his own skin out.

“Go, get out! I don’t want to see you.”

She shouted this repeatedly, until the women tried to show him out. She bellowed his name and asked why he wanted to abandon her. He’d not moved a step from her bed. Tenth hour. His mother smiled. There was a glimmer of hope. She nodded at Grace, “Just a little while, dear.”

His wife panted, heaving her chest up and down. “Ye ken why I called meself Jo?” she rasped on one of the mysterious breaks. When the pain seemed to disappear for several seconds. She looked at him now with a glimpse of her former self.

Duncan wanted to climb onto the bed and hold her. Only he’d been warned against it. He almost blurted that all he cared for now, was for her life and nothing more. She fostered a weak smile. “John. Me faither’s name.”

“Aye, me love. I understand.”

“He would have…” her chin trembled. “He would have been the best grandfather.”

Duncan nodded, patting her hand.

“Dae ye think Harris will make it in time?”

“He promised. He will be here.”

“Duncan, go now. Eat and rest. Ye seem tired.”

Duncan fingers seized mid-stroke. He stared at her, incredulous. “Ye’re banned from worryin’ about me n.”

“I-” her face twisted, a herald to the next bout of incoming pain. Duncan ignored their warning and got on the bed. He placed her head on his thighs, holding her hands, Duncan’s heart thundered through her screams. She wriggled on the bed as though she lay on a pile of coal and needles.



Thirteen hour.

From the lone window, Duncan spied rays of the sun gushing through the gaps in the curtains. “Sheena, ye should go,” Duncan told his sister. She shook her head resolutely.

“Nae.” She sat at the edge of the bed, massaging Grace’s legs, one after the other as she’d been doing for most of the night.

“He’s r-right…” Grace stammered. “Ye need rest, if nae fer yerself, fer the baby.”

Sheena rubbed her palm across the developing bump on her belly. “I’m certain he wants to be here, welcoming his cousin.”

“He?” Grace asked. Duncan took a wet cloth from a bowl beside the bed and dried her fore head gently.

“Aye, he. Me dreams come true, ye ken.”

“Please dream of his cousin coming out of me belly.”

Sheena forced a laugh because Grace had fallen silent. The telltale tremors had begun at the tips of her toes. Lady Fiona commanded, “hold her legs apart.”

One of the women and Sheena did as she’d asked. At the seventeenth hour, Lady Fiona examined Grace once more. This time, she gave a full-blown smile. She signaled the other women. Grace rasped. “Now?”

Duncan’s chest did wonderful things. His wife would not need to suffer the pains anymore and he would soon meet his child.

Duncan shifted to kneel on the floor and absolutely refused to imagine the worst. til Grace started to push. This time, his face was covered in tears. He held her hands, all sorts of encouragement sailing past his lips.

Yet, he could hardly bear to see her pain. Just when Duncan though he would lose it all, his mother popped her head up, “One more, love. Just one more.”

Grace heaved a great breath, raised her head and pushed with all her might. At first, there was only silence in the room. Slowly, his mother emerged from between Grace’s legs.

“Blanket!” she called in a shaky voice. “’Tis a boy!”

Then the small, bloody bundle in her arms wailed. “Tis a boy!” Duncan cried, hugging his wife delicately. “Ye did it, ye did it, me love. I love ye, thank ye… thank ye!”

The new parents laughed and cried together, neither remembering to hold their baby yet. It was in that moment of jubilation that his mother returned. “Okay, this one should be easier.”

Grace froze. “W-what is she sayin’”

“One more on the way, me child. Ye did well afore, dae it once more.”

Grace raised panicked eyes turned to Duncan. He tried hard not to show his fear and ultimately failed. The best he could do was hold her hand again. When she roared their second son into the world, he was there with her. His wail was instantaneous. Little arms kicking into the air, protesting the whole injustice of leaving his mother’s womb.

The birthing chamber, outside and beyond the castle erupted in thunderous cheers. The people finally let out their breath at the birth of the laird’s sons.

Duncan held his wife and waited for a few minutes. While the women cared for his wife, they brought the babies to them. One was placed in each of Grace’s arms. “Me beautiful, gorgeous wife. Thank ye, ye made two miracles fer us, they’re just… just like ye. Thank ye for holdin’ on.” he was rambling and didn’t care. His kisses landed on three cheeks, one after the other.

“Congratulations, Gracie,” Sheena cried, hugging her. Then his mother, and the other two women.

“I’m a grandmaither now…” Lady Fiona repeated, cleaning her cheeks with the back of her hands.

Duncan’s arms weighed heavier than his body. He was scared to carry the babies, he would certainly drop them. Grace, like she read his thoughts, held the one with a shocking mop of red hair up to him. Fearfully, Duncan sat and she placed him in his arms.

“Fergus, meet yer faither,” she said.

“Oh,” Lady Fiona gasped, then fresh tears of happiness poured down her cheeks. Grace lifted her second son, who had not stopped crying since he was born. Brown-haired and blue-eyed and absolutely annoyed with the world. “And you must be commander John Dankworth. Bit of a mouthful so I’ll call you, John.”

Duncan would have given her the world in that moment if she had asked for it. His heart was blooming with irrepressible joy. Duncan gingerly kissed his wife. “I love ye, Grace Hay.”

Through her sweat and tiredness, she mustered, “And I love you.” Shortly after, Duncan chased everyone from the room, including his new children, while his wife went into a deep, peaceful sleep.


The End.

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In Love with a Highland Outlaw (Extended Epilogue)


The warm summer breeze hit Troy’s skin the moment that he stepped out of the door. He couldn’t help but smile; peace had settled over his clan like a bank of clouds in the winter. It had been peaceful for so long that Troy was confident they had many years left of it in front of them. The union with the Mackenzies had proven popular and was respected by many other clans. He could have never anticipated that making one truce, would inspire others to do the same.

The sounds of laughter and giggling erupted from the grass before he brought his thoughts back to the present. It was a sound that was music to his ears; the sound of his children. Lorraine was standing to the side, the gentle breeze tugged tugging at the ends of her hair. Troy always felt an immense wave of calm fall over him whenever his eyes found his wife. She had such a calming air about her, one that he couldn’t understand but simply accepted.

“Good of ye to come and join us,” Lorraine said as Troy stood at her side. One hand trailed down her arm while the other came to rest at her stomach.

“Well, how could I nae spend time with my four favorite people,” Troy said while shrugging his shoulders. Her stomach belly was growing by the day, and each day that passed let them be a day closer to meeting their third child.

“I felt kicking today,” Lorraine said absentmindedly. He focused on his hand that was pressed against her stomach, determined to feel it too. Troy could feel his heart fluttering at the thought of the baby kicking. They had already been through those emotions twice before, but his body was reacting as though it was his first child and he hadn’t even conceived the thought of being able to feel the baby yet.

“Does everything feel all right?” Troy asked carefully. He knew that he could sometimes ask too many questions. Lorraine let her eyes close for a moment before she nodded slowly.

“Aye, everything feels fine,” she smiled. “I already promised ye that I would tell ye if something does nae feel right.”

“Good,” Troy said while breathing out. He was at least a little more comforted with the notion that she was going to let him know if anything was going wrong. He couldn’t bear the thought of something going wrong., It would be devastating for them both.

But Troy chose to focus on the positives, two. Two of which were running toward him at that moment.


He broke out into a wide grin as two balls of red hair ran toward him. They were both barefoot, taking after their mother. It was something that he had been concerned about in the beginning; Troy had thought they could step on something sharp and hurt themselves, but Lorraine had argued it was exactly how she had grown up with her mother. Troy couldn’t imagine them being any other way now.

A boy and a girl. He couldn’t believe that they had been so blessed to have such beautiful children, and an heir to continue on the lairdship.

“My children,” Troy smiled at them both. “Go and play while I talk to yer mother.” He rested his hands on both of their heads, ruffling up the tufts of red hair as he went. He loved them unconditionally, even if they could be rather naughty at times.

Troy knew that they took after their mother in terms of not liking to listen to authority.

“They will nae be able to play out here in the winter when it arrives,” Troy said while straightening up to his full height.

“Oh really?” Lorraine smirked said while cocking an eyebrow.

Troy was trying to keep a straight face, but he couldn’t continue to say no to Lorraine, not when she was looking at him like that. She had such effortless beauty, and being pregnant seemed to cause her to glow.

“We’ll see,” Troy grumbled.

Lorraine’s chuckle tinkled in the air. He felt her move closer to him and placed his arm around her. Lorraine sunk against his chest, fitting against him as though they were two pieces that had been carved to fit together.

“I love ye,” he whispered in her ear. Lorraine breathed out heavily, her chest rising as she laughed lightly. “Ye make me the happiest man on earth and ye dinnae even have to do anything to make that happen.”

“Ye make me happier,” she smiled while turning to look up at him. “I love ye more, and I dinnae think ye ken how much ye have saved me.”

It was something that Lorraine said from time to time. He had saved her. Lorraine had been destined to marry someone who may not have accepted her ways of wanting to roam free. Troy loved her for who she was, and he knew that was more than she had ever anticipated.

He leaned in before she could say another word, deciding that the only appropriate response was to kiss her. His lips against hers felt right; she kissed him back with equal passion, her hands finding his and giving them a squeeze. Troy was careful to pull her close while not touching her bump. He was terrified of even the slightest thing causing her pain.


A chorus of noise started up, noises of disgust. Troy and Lorraine turned to see their two children laughing and making noise while staring up at them. Lorraine scrunched her nose up and shook her head, Troy could only laugh at the way that his children were reacting.

“Get out of here. I need to kiss yer beautiful mother some more!” Troy declared, listening to their laughs as he turned back to his wife. “Now then, where were we?”

“I think ye were telling me that ye love me again,” Lorraine teased.

“I think ye could be right about that.”

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Wicked Highland Spell (Extended Epilogue)


In many ways, the little village was nothing like Maisie remembered. But at the same time, it was exactly as it had been when she left. Maisie looked around as children ran past her, chasing after chickens and goats. It was a lot brighter than she remembered, that was for sure. It was funny what eleven years could do to a place. The pathways and the layout of the soil was still the same, but many buildings were much different. Even the yards were different. There was only one house that was exactly the way she remembered it. It was the house that she had grown up in.

Maisie was back in her old village, the one where she had been living in when she and her mother made one mistake to heal a child that led to her mother being burned at the stake. It had been a year since her wedding with Creighton and she had been helping her husband make good on his promise to make sure that nothing like the witch hunts ever happened again. Over the year, apart from helping rebuild the villages that were destroyed, Creighton had also been personally visiting the villages in his clan one by one to speak to them about superstition and witchery. He visited each village to make sure he gave them knowledge and uprooted the fear of the unknown from them. He hoped that next time someone was accused of being a witch, they would stand as a village and protect that person.

He took her with him to explain to the people that healing was not witchery, and she demonstrated making medicine in front of the people as well as treated whatever ailments they had. Of course, there were some who did not accept being made to watch what they considered witchery in broad daylight, but they never got as far as actually harming Maisie. That was what the soldiers were for. Those who spoke hate against her or tried to harm her were held by the soldiers led by Jamie.

Creighton would then explain to the people that what he taught them was the truth, but he understood that some would not accept it so quickly, which was why he was going to give soldiers the extra duty of dealing with such people if they made trouble for those who wanted to pursue knowledge. He made it a law in the villages that if someone who was studying was bullied by anyone or shunned because of their knowledge or called a witch, the victim could report to the soldiers guarding the village and the matter would be dealt with as seriously as stealing.

In truth, Jamie, who had only just married Fiona was not very happy about following them around on their trips to enlighten the villages of the clan. But he knew that it was for the benefit of the clan in the long run, so he did not complain too much and tried to be patient with them. Fiona stayed behind in the castle to hold down the fort as head maid while they were away and keep things running. Maisie knew she would not be bored as Darla was staying with her since her husband, Obadiah, was also on guard duty and following Creighton and Maisie.

They were all one big happy family doing their part in changing their clan for the better. This village was the last one they were visiting, not necessarily because it was the furthest away, but because Maisie was not sure if she was ready to face the village again. However, she had decided she was ready now, especially since she had a huge surprise for Creighton. She was handling being back better than she had thought she would. Even when she saw the spot for the burnings, still charred from how many fires had been burned there all those years ago, she had had just squeezed the wood carving of her family that Creighton had given her.

Now they were standing in front of her old house. The door was still broken in, but now there were a million spiderwebs in the doorway, and dust had made the house its home over the years. It seemed that no one had touched the place since she and her uncle left. Probably, wanted nothing to do with the witch’s home. Maisie was happy, in a way. At least their fear made them leave her home exactly the way it was so that she could come to it now and watch her husband on one knee in front of the house, butchering what was supposed to be an introductory speech to her mother.

“So, what I am saying is that it is nice to meet ye as the man who is making yer daughter happy. I mean, I think I am making her happy? Alright, maybe trying to make yer daughter happy? No, the man who wants to make your daughter happy,” Creighton was saying. Jamie, standing behind him, had a terrible grimace on his face as he watched him fumble.

“This has been going on for ten minutes now, oh me God, stop him! Or I will lose me mind!” Jamie whispered to her urgently as she passed him.

Maisie chuckled under her breath. It was true that Creighton was doing an awful job. He had been nervous the whole way because he said he wanted to attempt an introduction to her mother. If her mother had been alive and this was how he came to introduce himself, she would have chased him away with a broom already. Still, she would not allow Jamie to make fun of her husband like that.

“Oh, but ye are one tae talk, I remember very well how ye were stuttering and falling all over yer words when ye were set to meet Fiona’s mother. Ye dae nae get tae laugh at all,” Maisie said. Jamie pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at her, causing her to laugh out loud.

“Ye make a hard argument to follow,” he said and she nodded, giving him a look. Passing him, she went over to Creighton and wrapped her hands around his neck.

“So, what Creighton has been trying tae say, Mother, is that he is now me family, and he will take good care of me in yer stead and dae his best tae make me happy,” Maisie said, saving Creighton from his stuttering. He chuckled and got to his feet, holding her in his arms.

“Aye, ma’am, that is what I meant,” he said. Maisie smiled; this was a perfect time to give him the news she had.

“Aye, Mother, and I wanted to introduce you to a new member of the family. I hope ye will continue to watch over us three,” she said and put his hand on her belly. It took Creighton a few moments to understand, but Jamie, who got it immediately, had his eyes and mouth wide open. He hopped from foot to foot in a moment of pure excitement, but then pulled himself together and waited for Creighton’s reaction.

“Maisie… Maisie does that mean what I think it means?” Creighton asked, his voice shaky.

Getting emotional because he was getting emotional, Maisie felt tears fill up in her eyes as she nodded.

“Aye… with the symptoms I have been getting and how long ago I last saw blood, I am pregnant, Creighton,” Maisie said.

Creighton was still staring at her with the same shocked expression, but now tears were flowing from his eyes uncontrollably.

“I… I am going tae be a father?” he asked, sobbing, and falling to his knees with his face to her belly. In the corner of her eye, she could see Jamie having a field day laughing at Creighton and she shot him a look. Oh, she would definitely remember that for when it was his turn. She would make sure that Creighton heard of what he was doing, and they would mock him into the ground that day.

She laughed happily as Creighton lifted her up, spinning her around.

“I am going to be a father!” he declared. Maisie laughed and enjoyed the breeze in her face as he spun her.

I hope ye are watching, Mother, yer daughter is doing just fine. Please continue tae watch over us as we become even happier.

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To Hell with a Highlander (Extended Epilogue)


Six months later

“I am nae sure that it is such a good idea,” Bryce said as he blocked one of his wife’s swings with her broadsword. “Ye are four months pregnant, Lorna!” he cried again as he ducked out of the way of her next swing.

“Donnae say such things, Bryce, or ye will feel even greater wrath from me,” Lorna said, and they parried for a little while, Bryce backing away, feeling the strength in Lorna’s movements. She had experienced much sickness in the first few months of her pregnancy. Now that she was feeling better, she was eager to return to fighting.

“But what of the baby?” he asked, wincing a little as he felt a particularly strong swing against his sword.

“Ye ken that the healer told me it was fine. That a little bit of movement is a good thing. We must take a walk later, too. I willnae be imprisoned in me own home because of this. It is nae a disease. It is a natural thing that many women experience.”

“Aye, I ken.” Bryce stopped holding back, and he fought against her for a little while until they were both breathless and moist with sweat. He had other thoughts of how to make her breathless, and none of them included fighting.

After they stood, swords in hand, breathing hard, Lorna slid hers into the belt around her waist. She looked around them. “Thank ye. I needed that greatly. I would prefer tae fight outside, but the snow is too thick for that.”

“I am glad that ye didnae decide tae fight outside anyway,” he teased, sliding his own sword into its scabbard. “It is too damned cold, and I had nae interest in freezing me bloody bollocks off.”

She laughed, and Bryce was reminded of how bonny Lorna was, how she had grown in beauty each day in their marriage. The pregnancy had also brought out a new glow in her. “Aye, well that wouldnae be a good thing, would it?”

She pulled him close and place a kiss on his mouth. He laid soft hands on her waist. “Nae. But even though I fear for the baby, I do enjoy sparring with ye. It gives me great joy.”

“And I saw it in yer eyes. Ye were a little afraid I might decide tae run ye through a few seconds ago.”

He laughed and together they walked up the stairs, his arm around her. “Maybe only slightly. I should have learned after all this time that I cannae make me wife do anything she doesnae want.”

“Aye, a good lesson tae learn.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. “But I am grateful that ye care so much about me health and that of the child. I swear tae ye, though, that I did speak with the new healer, and he said that it would be a good thing. Nae too much, mind, and I should nae fall or anything of that sort. But movement is nae a bad thing.”

“Good, good. Then I would be happy tae walk with ye later. We must just wrap up warm. Furs and cloaks and strong boots. There is a small path made in the snow by the servants that leads down tae the village. We can walk that way if ye like.”

“Aye, that sounds lovely.” They wandered through the hall until they reached the stairs to the upper floors. “I think that I should like tae bathe before we eat our morning meal. Kyla has put a tray in the room.”

“Och, good,” Bryce said in a low voice. “I want ye all tae meself for a little while. Without yer grandparents or anyone else.”

Lorna giggled as they entered their shared chamber. A fire was crackling, and the room was warm and comfortable. The bed looked even more so, strewn with thick furs. He had intentions that morning, but she was so eager to get up and move a little that they hadn’t had time.

“What a beautiful tray of food,” she said, her eyes wide with pleasure as she looked down at it. She popped a piece of fruit into her mouth and turned back to smile at him. Bryce grinned and took off his belt and began to unbutton his shirt.

“I think ye should ken Lorna that even though I was slightly scared for me life a little while ago, I still love ye. It only gets better with time.”

“Well,” she said lifting a brow. “That is a good thing tae hear. I am happy that our lives are a mixture of love and danger.” She began to pull at the shoulders of her morning gown. Bryce’s eyes were drawn there.

He turned to the basin of water against the wall and picked up a cloth and wetted it. He lifted it in the air. “May I assist ye with bathing, then?”

She grinned. “Of course, but first ye must help me with undressing.”

“Now that I am most happy tae do, me love.”


Six months of their marriage had passed, and yet Lorna still felt like every day was something new and fresh. They’d spent the first two months traveling around Scotland and down to London, and it was like the world had opened tenfold. She had met new people, eaten new food, seen new sights, and afterward, she’d felt like a different person. A new happiness had settled upon her life, and when she’d returned to her grandparents at the keep, even their relationship was different. She could see the different way they looked at her now, and after so many years of feeling overlooked and mistrusted, she finally felt accepted.

Bryce was also changing before her eyes. He had lost some of his old tension and was beginning to relax, smile more, and savor the life they had together. She knew that he would be a perfect Laird to her clan and a perfect father to their child.

His fingers were right then on her bodice, helping unlace it so that he could pull it from her shoulders. “I am nervous for ye tae see me body in the light of day. There have been so many changes tae it, with the new baby.”

He silenced her with a sweet kiss. “Ye are gaining in beauty every day, me love. I will always want ye because ye are ye.”

She sighed with surprised contentment at her choice of husband and reveled in the feeling of him removing her bodice. She untied her skirt and let the heavy wool drop to the floor. Her stays were soon freed, and her shift pulled from her body until it dropped to the floor.

He placed the washcloth on her neck and over her shoulders, down over her breasts and swollen stomach. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling of tenderness as he cleaned her from the morning exercise. “So beautiful,” he said, brushing a kiss to her stomach, her breasts, and her shoulders.

“And what of ye?” she asked softly. “Do I nae get tae clean ye?”

“Aye, I suppose,” he said with a swipe of the cloth along her back. He nibbled her ear. “Although I am enjoying this greatly.”

She twisted around and grabbed the cloth. “Now it is yer turn tae undress,” she smirked and went to wet the cloth again. From behind her, she could hear his clothing fall to the floor, and when she turned around, he was fully naked before her.

His body had never stopped being impressive to her. He was tall, broad, and strong, and his muscles were well formed, creating beautiful lines along his skin, along with the scars he carried. Her eyes trailed from his face down to his manhood which was now hardened, long, and ready.

“Eager?” she asked in a teasing tone.

“Always, Lorna,” Bryce said seriously.

“Well, then I should be sure tae move quickly.” He closed his eyes, looking pained as she made her way with the cloth slowly across his skin, cleaning as best she could. She lowered before him and cleaned his length before dropping the cloth to the ground and taking his hardness in her mouth.

Bryce gasped and looked down at her, and she tried her best not to laugh with pleasure at the delight she was giving her husband. As her mouth moved up and down on him, she could hear deep groans coming from him. Soon after they were married, Bryce taught her that this was another way to pleasure him. It gave her great pleasure too, as well as power.

He touched her shoulders. “I want tae be inside ye, lass.”

She stood up again, and she could see the heated desire in her eyes. He took her to the bed and laid her down. The bed was high, and it reached to his hips. With a grin, he pulled her against him and wrapped her legs around his torso. Quickly, he entered her, and she cried out in surprise.

“See? I can surprise ye too, dear wife,” he said, looking down at her, and he began to move.

Lorna loved when Bryce took control, and her body moved in a familiar rhythm against his, lifting her hips to meet his thrusts as they grew in energy and passion. He swirled his hips against her, and her breath grew ragged. She closed her eyes, arching up toward him, feeling that lovely clench of pleasure in her limbs.

“Aye!” she cried as he continued to move faster and faster. He gripped her thighs even tighter as she trembled around him in her climax. She opened her eyes to watch him as he kept moving, new sweat coming out on his brow. She loved that she made him frenzied and wild, bringing out the manliness from deep within him.

After a few more harried thrusts, Bryce cried out her name as he spilled his seed inside her. When he was down on the bed, Lorna pulled him close. “Ye are perfect, Bryce,” she said. “I am so lucky at the husband I have chosen.”

“As am I.” He kissed her brow, still breathless. After a few minutes, they both got up and went to sit before the fire, still unclothed, to share in their meal.

“I didnae get tae speak tae ye yesterday when the news came in about Athol. Are ye happy that he has left? Gone away tae the New World?”

“Aye. I think after all this time, it was time he moved on. He willnae have an easy life in the New World, but it will be better tae have him away from Scotland. I didnae like the thought of him in the fort for so long.”

“Tobias told us of how he has fared all this time. But aye, I agree. And what has Fergus and Arrin said?”

“They are sad, but I think they believe they can now move on with their lives.” She bit into an apple as Bryce cut into a slice of pork.

“And Kyla,” Bryce said with a smile. “I wonder if she will be with us for long now. She has been spending a lot of time in the village of late, visiting with the butcher.”

Lorna laughed. It was true. Kyla was too ashamed to speak of it, but she was always willing to be the one to pick up the meat for the keep, and she knew just how handsome the young butcher was. “I hope that she does move on. She has deserved her own happiness.”

“Ye willnae be sad if she leaves?”

“Of course I will. But it will be a good thing too. I want her tae find love. It has been the thing that saved me life.”

“And mine,” he replied with a smile.

After their meal, they dressed slowly, and once he was ready Bryce said, “I am off tae assist yer grandfather with some new farming plans. He wants tae discuss them in his study.”

“Ye have become like a son tae him, ye ken that?” Lorna said, placing her hands on his chest.

“Aye, and he a father tae me. I never thought it possible.” He leaned down to kiss her. “I will see ye later in the day for our walk?”

“Aye. I look forward to it,” she grinned. She watched him leave, and she put a hand on her chest and sighed.

Life is a beautiful thing.

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Highlander’s Sweet Vengeance – (Extended Epilogue)


Scottish Highlands 

October 19, 1304 

 Elsy cradled the baby in her arms. “Alistair,” she whispered while pacing back and forth, unable to stop looking at her son, birthed only a week before. “My beautiful, sweet Alistair.” 

“Can I hold him?” Scott asked, holding out her arms. 

Elsy smiled as she nodded and carefully handed Alistair to Scott. She watched the girl smile sweetly down at her new baby brother, taking in Scott’s long hair, now in a plait going down the length of her back. She was becoming a woman. It was so strange to see her now, compared to when they first met. Scott looked so beautiful in her blue dress. 

The door opened and both Elsy and Scott turned, finding Connell standing in the doorway, looking sheepish. “Is he asleep?” Connell whispered while tiptoeing inside. 

Elsy nodded. “I just got him to sleep.” 

“The lairds have arrived. Father wants us to greet them.” 

“Now?” Elsy asked. 

“I can watch him,” said Scott while moving to sit in a chair in front of the window. “I’ll be here if ye need anything.” 

Elsy pursed her lips, not wanting to leave her son alone, but knowing as the new Lady MacArthur she had duties to attend to. She gave a curt nod and allowed Connell to guide her out the door. As soon as it clicked closed, she wanted to rush back to Alistair’s side. 

“It will be alright,” said Connell while patting her hand. “A short greeting and then ye will be back at his side again.” 

Elsy sighed. “I suppose ye think I’m foolish.” 

“Not at all,” said Connell while brushing her hair away from her face. “I could never find a good mother foolish.” 

Elsy blushed under his gaze and leaned into his touch. “Thank ye, Connell,” she whispered. “Yer a good father, as well.” 

Connell grunted. “And a good husband.” 

Elsy chuckled and shook her head. “Humble, as always.” 

“Aye, tis a lad,” she heard Laird MacArthur boom. The man hadn’t stopped speaking about Alistair since he had entered the world. Elsy thought it both endearing and frustrating the way he spoke of his new grandson, as if he could already lead men into battle. “He’s a strong lad, too. Takes after me, I tell ye.” 

Connell and Elsy shared a look before breaking into a fit of laugher. “I wonder if he will ever stop boasting?” Connell chuckled, his voice soft as they drew closer to Laird MacArthur and the group of elderly men surrounding him. 

“I don’t expect him to anytime soon,” Elsy whispered. 

“Ah,” Laird MacArthur called, gesturing toward Elsy and Connell. “And here they are now. The happy new mother and father. This is my son, Connell.” 

Connell bowed his head dutifully. “A pleasure,” he said under his breath. 

“And his lovely wife, Elisabeth.” 

“Ye may call me Elsy, if ye wish,” Elsy said with a quick curtsy. 

“Tis a pleasure to finally meet ye,” said one burly Laird with a portly stomach and pinked cheeks. His beard was white and thick while the top of his head was completely bald. He was Elsy’s height, not very tall compared to the other lairds surrounding him, but Elsy immediately liked him. He seemed genuinely kind and looked her straight in the eye. 

“I am Ferguson MacDonald and this,” Ferguson frowned as he looked around, “well, where is she?” 

Elsy looked around, not knowing exactly who Ferguson wanted to introduce her to. She suspected it was his wife, but her gaze landed on Brann, speaking to a woman dressed in a beautiful red gown. Elsy tilted her head, wondering if the woman worked in the kitchens, but her attire was too immaculate to be a servant girl. Her brow furrowed as she noticed Brann’s freckled face, flushed bright red as the girl smiled up at him.  

After Connell returned to the MacArthur clan, his men had all gone their separate ways. Connell still spoke with Donald and Grant, who worked alongside Robert the Bruce, protecting Scotland from the ill wills of the English. Unfortunately, Donald had written that Glenton was able to talk his way out of the rope, given the lack of evidence against him. Elsy had given her testament, but it had been her word against his, and a woman didn’t have much say in a man’s world. Grant and Donald had been keeping an eye on Glenton, should he harm any others. 

Elsy smiled as she thought of Ian, who had met a sweet lass from the local village. They had married soon after Elsy discovered she was with child. She suspected it wouldn’t be long until they expected their first. 

Brann, unlike the others, had decided to follow Connell, pledging his loyalty to the MacArthur clan, and becoming a guard tending to the walls. Often, he was patrolling the battlements, however, today he had become distracted from his duties. Elsy didn’t blame him, for the young woman was quite beautiful. 

Elsy covered her mouth, trying in vain to hide her smile as Ferguson called, “Edina, lass, what are ye doing over there? Come over here and meet Laird MacArthur’s son and daughter-in-law.” 

Edina turned around, a soft smile on her lips as she sauntered toward them. Elsy’s smile grew as she watched Brann quickly stalk away toward the battlements. She noticed the confused look he cast toward Edina before continuing up the steps. 

“Good day,” said Edina while curtsying low before them. “My name is Edina. I am Laird MacDonald’s daughter.” 

Ferguson beamed, displaying his pride, and Elsy found him absolutely endearing. She peeked up at the battlements, her smile growing. “And how long will ye be staying with us, Laird MacDonald?” Elsy asked. 

Ferguson chuckled, his stomach shaking with the movement. “Through all the festivities, of course.” 

“Wonderful,” Elsy muttered, earning a perplexed look from Connell. She shook her head at him, her smile filled with promise. She would explain to Connell later what she had seen between Brann and Edina. “It will be our pleasure to have ye.” 

Edina smiled brightly and Elsy guided her inside, excited to share in this new life with Connell, within this castle she never thought she would be welcomed in. Finally, they had a family together, and soon, it might grow even larger.

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Taste of a Highland Lass – (Extended Epilogue)


Extended Epilogue

Small hands gripped the wooden sword, taking it from Gawain before suddenly swinging at him. Gawain was quick enough to evade the first attack on his knees, but was not as lucky as another attack came from behind him, a wooden sword smacking the back of his legs, causing him to hiss in pain as he stepped out of the range of the two boys.

“Ha! I got a hit in!” His second son, Ian jubilated. Throwing down his sword as he ran over to his scowling father. “I hit ye, so I win. That was the rule!”

“Nae! The rules are nae fair, and this sword is nae good enough. ‘Tis too small. Give me a proper sword, and ye will see if I’ll nae get a hit in.” Gawain only shook his head at his oldest. Fingal was aggressive almost every day of his life. There was no way Gawain was going to hand over a sword to the angry child.

“Fingal, ye need to practice before ye can use a real sword or else ye will end up cutting yerself in half before ye even nick yer opponent. And I already showed ye how to grip the sword. Yer stance was off as well. If both are nae accurate, ye cannae get a good hit on yer opponent.”

In response to his father’s lecture, Fingal tossed the wooden sword at Gawain’s feet. “I do nae even want a sword! I want some other weapon.”

“Well, what if I gave ye a short sword or a dagger?” Gawain produced two other wooden weapons from the ground behind him, but Fingal scoffed at them.

“I want a bow and arrow.” Gawain nodded, impressed that the boy was willing to try out different weapons before turning to his younger brother, who shrugged.

“I want a sword. Bow and arrows are useless when ye’re in close combat battle, which most raids and wars will contain. Arrows are only fer defense.”


“Ye just do nae want to use it because the only thing ye ken how to use is that stupid sword,” Fingal accused, and Gawain immediately stepped back, knowing a fight was about to break out. The last time he intervened in a fight between his boys, he not only sprained a finger, but Fingal almost bit off his hand.

“At least ken how to use a sword. Ye keep switching weapons because ye don’t ken how to use anything properly!”

Gawain backed away from his children to go stand next to his own brother. “I never will understand why they always fight over little things.”

“Well, squabbles are normal between siblings and how is yer hand, by the way?” Gawain turned his hand over to see the healing skin that had taken the shape of a bite mark on his palm. “Healing quite well, I see. They remind me so much of ye when we were younger. ‘Tis like Davinia managed to create two other versions of ye, ‘tis amusing at times.” Caillen laughed as Gawain looked back at his sons.

They had an interesting relationship. Fingal was born only a year after his marriage to Davinia, and Ian came along three years later. Gawain would not exactly call them polar opposites as both boys had loud and brash personalities. Fingal only took it to the next level.

An angry child who stomped about the keep with a scowl on his face, almost daring someone to talk to him and surprisingly, even if Davinia would never admit it, he was her favorite. His brother, on the other hand, was friendlier but only to a certain limit. It was not uncommon to see both boys squabbling, arguing, or full-on fighting about something. Gawain was sure they hated each other at some point until Caillen’s last child was unfortunate enough to play a cruel joke on Ian in the presence of Fingal. It was not a situation either Gawain or Caillen wanted to remember.

A loud cry caught the attention of Gawain. Fingal had managed to wrestle his brother to the ground and had his head pinned on the floor with his knee. Gawain sprang into action just as fast as Caillen did. While Gawain snatched up his more abrasive son, Caillen helped the other off the ground. Ian tore himself from Caillen, grabbing a handful of sand as he did, but before he could fling it at his brother, who was still struggling in the hold of his father, Gawain turned around, using his body to shield the sand attack from Fingal.

“Oi, what is the matter with both of ye!” Caillen grabbed Ian by the scruff of his shirt as Gawain turned around, Fingal still wildly kicking at the air.

“He said I was weak!” Fingal kicked up sand at his brother, and Ian did the same to retaliate.

“Well, ye’re! Ye cannae even hold a sword properly, and ye’re older than me,” Ian shot back.

“Oi, do nae say such things to yer brother.” Caillen dragged Ian back as he made to kick up sand once more.

“He insulted me first!” Ian accused, and Fingal scoffed, looking away from his brother.

“Listen to me, the both of ye. I’m starting to get tired of yer fights. If ye keep fighting like this all the time, how will ye be able to work together when ye grow up?” Gawain shook Fingal almost harshly when the boy scoffed again.

“Aye, yer father is right. Ye two have a certain part to play in making sure the clan continues to thrive long after we have gone. Our duties will fall onto ye, and if ye’re to work with another person to get proper results, ye’ve to ken how to work together, trust each other and certainly nae try to take each other’s eye out.”

Gawain let go of his son’s arm, and Caillen let go of Ian, both on alert in case either boy decided to pounce on the other.

“Lads! I’m back.” Gawain looked in the direction of the entrance where Davinia stood with Emer by her side, a basket of what Gawain knew were treats in her hand. Almost immediately, both boys took off, scampering toward their mother or, to be specific, toward the basket. Davinia was faster, and she raised the basket high, earning whines from her sons.

Gawain caught up to his sons, pressing a kiss to his wife’s hair as Emer left to meet her husband. “What did the healer say?” He had been frightened when she claimed she felt faint the night before during supper and sent her to the healer with Hansel as her guard. She did look much better than she did in the morning before she left.

“Ah, nothing much.” Davinia finally lowered the basket allowing the boys to take their fill of the sweet treats. “Do nae eat too much now.”

“Aye, ma,” they chorused, mouths full, and Gawain shook his head at them

“I do nae ken how they will be when they grow a wee older. They are practically monsters at this point. I do nae ken how ye deal with them.” Davinia chuckled as she took his hand in hers.

“Patience, dear. Ye are just as hot-tempered as they are.”

“If it is ye, I cannae argue with that. But really, tell me what the healer said.” She hummed to herself as she leaned her head against his shoulder and she watched her sons resume their training, this time with their uncle as their instructor.

“I think our boys will grow into marvelous gems.” She mused, causing Gawain to turn to the boys as well. Sure, his sons were rough around the edges, they were still good at heart.

“Even if they only have one responsible parent. I’ve nae idea what I’m doing half of the time.”

“I suggest ye learn quickly, and ye can impress the third one.”

“The third one, aye.” Gawain fell silent as he turned back to his wife when the realization of what she had said hit him. “The third one?!”

“Aye! The healer said I’m with child again.” Davinia grinned as her husband swept her off her feet.

“We are having another child? Are ye teasing me?” He asked, looking around until he caught the eyes of his brother. “Caillen, I’m going to have another child!”

“Good fer ye, Gawain. That is precious news, but Davinia, can ye nae spit out another version of yer husband. ‘Tis starting to get painful.” Caillen winced when Ian’s wooden sword hit the back of his legs for the second time, more of a smack than a strike. “And I mean really painful.”

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Enchanting the Highland Rose – (Extended Epilogue)


Extended Epilogue

Northern Hispania, 1322

The sun was terribly bright, and the seagulls squawked so loud that they could be heard from the pink stone harbor all the way to the luxurious palace, made in the Southern style, with black and white striped pillars and glittering domed roofs. A methodic call went out through the city, and Kyle wandered to the balcony, his soft silk robe hanging open, blowing out from his waist in the warm wind.

He leaned his elbows on the smooth stone railing and looked out at the exotic city. It was a fascinating place, and like nowhere he had ever seen. About a fourth of the city’s population answered the call to prayer, and Kyle watched them in the streets and on their roofs and in the markets go to the ground in prayer.

“You’re up early,” Laila said, approaching from behind and gently wrapping her hands around his waist.

“It’s too warm here to sleep late,” he answered, leaning over to kiss her good morning.

“Indeed,” she agreed, kissing him back and then smiling.

“I’m moving out today,” he said to her, his voice growing a bit more serious.

“Yes,” she said, “And I’m coming with you.”

“I thought that was only to happen the once?” he replied with a grin.

“Too late for that already,” she said back, and they kissed once more.

“I am sure the fortress will be even grander than the palace,” Kyle said, raising his eyebrows.

“How can they build such grand things?” Laila asked, glancing out from the balcony toward all the buildings stretching out before them.

“Perhaps, it is the heat,” Kyle answered, spinning her around as to face her head-on.

“It is remarkable, isn’t it?” Laila added, and they shared a long, tentative kiss on the balcony, letting the Spanish breeze blow through their thin garments and tussle their hair.

They stood together for a while longer, letting the climate warm their bones as the sun began to shower the city with its radiance. The harbor’s water reflected the dazzle up at the walls of the port structures, and the happy couple drank in the salt air.

“Kyle,” she said, drawing back, a bit of seriousness creeping into the edge of her mouth.

“What is it?” he asked.

“How would you like to be a father?” she asked, looking deeply into his eyes.

“How would I like it?” he asked, smirking briefly before he settled on her gaze and then suddenly looked down to her torso, the world spinning around him. “Do ye mean…?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, I should like it very much!” he exclaimed and lifted her up, spinning her around with the warm ocean breeze. They kissed again and slowly edged back into the palace chambers, letting down each other’s clothes and laying down for a while, letting the morning slip away past their naked, loving forms.

Eventually, it was time to go. The noon bells wrang, and they reluctantly got out of bed, taking a few more playful swipes at each other while they got their garments in order, and finally went out into the day.

They were staying in the East Wing of the palace, and they walked through the lush gardens that draped the walls and city overlooks as they made their way to the main yard. Yard was quite simply an understatement. It was a gorgeous courtyard, complete with fountains and small gardens that filled the corners. The floor itself was a striking checkerboard, and in the middle of it stood a fresh batch of recruits, waiting for Kyle’s instruction.

Word of the Scottish victory over the English almost thirty years ago had spread far and wide throughout the world, and one element of the victory had been particularly important to the Spaniards when they listened—that of the spearmen repelling the English heavy horse.

In Spain, the wars between the Christians and the Muslims raged endlessly on, and one area of warfare that the Spanish continuously found themselves outmatched was that of heavy cavalry. The Moorish riders were fearsome foes and often baited Christian knights too far afield, only for them to find themselves ambushed in the pursuit.

It was a brutal cycle, and it cost the Spaniards more horse and armor than they were prepared to lose if they ever hoped to prevail in this ideological battle for the Spanish subcontinent. So it was that the local lords, from Baron to Dukes, sought out Scottish mercenaries to teach their men the art of the hedge wall of spears and fighting heavy cavalry, and it was this relationship that brought Kyle and Laila to the Kingdom of Castille.

It wasn’t particularly hard work, nor dangerous, for Kyle did not ride off to fight, save for a few times. Mostly he just advised, and Laila was there to correct him when he was wrong and drink in a foreign land’s cultures.

They spent the afternoon in the Spanish sun, running the new Spanish levies through a series of formations with their long spears—much longer spears than they were used to wielding—which made for a tedious training process. But Kyle ran them through the drills regardless, and eventually, they began to learn.

The English were not that foreign to the Spanish, for the English presence at Bordeaux was not terribly far away, and the Norman culture had spread as far as Sicily, but Kyle’s thick accent and his bright red hair drew all sorts of looks and laughs. However, they stopped laughing when they saw how quickly he could put a man on the ground in the training yard and how perfectly he thrust out his spear in demonstration.

“Right, lads!” he called, hunkering down in formation. “And step! One! Two! Three! Four!” and they advanced across the courtyard, thrusting out their spears like the hoplites of old and the Scotsman of the Bruce’s great army.

Laila sat with some of the other ladies in the court, watching the training procedures and smiling when Kyle did just about anything. The other ladies laughed and talked about how clearly in love they were, professing their jealousy and complementing their life. Laila barely heard any of it, just nodding politely and smiling when she thought it proper. That sort of gossiping life was not for her. Instead, she preferred to watch her husband perform his duties, looking terribly good while he did it, and give him notes, carefully building his routine together until he was known as the greatest Scottish mercenary in all of Hispania.

“You were too loud today,” Laila said, rolling over him in bed that night.

“Tae loud?” Kyle gawked. “I’m tae train them. I must be loud.”

“There is a difference between loud and commanding,” Laila said, tracing the lines cut in his chest by his fierce muscles. “You must be the latter.”

They stayed awhile in Castille before moving West to Galicia, down to the Southern border with the Emirate of Portugal, where the fighting was thicker at the time. They both became distinguished, Laila for her wit and charm and Kyle for his prowess and tactical genius.

The King of Galicia heard of the two foreigners in his Kingdom and invited them to the capitol in the North, where they lived just short of the standards of royalty for a time until their child was born, a strong and healthy boy they named Robert, after the King. There were more Roberts born to Scots that generation than any other time in history.

The King was so enamored with the pair that he offered them permanent residence there in his palace, but they declined after considering it for a moment. When the King asked why clearly slightly upset by being told ‘no,’ they simply smiled and said there was more of the world to see.

From Hispania, they went to Italy, where little Roger learned how to walk and hold a sword. There they found patronage in the court of the Count of Sienna and advised on the constant military struggles that the local landowners engaged in time and time again. Italy, they liked, but not as much as Spain.

From Italy, they went to Greece, where the politics of the Roman Empire were overwhelming, and altogether too much, they decided, so they did not stay long as the Ottomans began creeping into Anatolia, winning battle after battle, and so they fled to the Holy Land.

Robert grew to the height of a man in Antioch, and they entered into the Lord of Tripoli service, where they stayed until Robert was eighteen, and thoughts of home became more and more pervasive. They had been abroad a long time, and their son was now a man. It was high time for him to see the lands they hailed from, and so they brokered passage back halfway across the world.

They made port in Sussex and traveled North along the roads of England, showing young Robert the countryside that he had never known, feeling the cold breeze and laughing as their son shivered in the English cold.

“If ye think this is cold,” Kyle chuckled to him, “Wait until we get tae Scotland.”

After a few weeks of leisurely travel, they came to Willby Valley and stopped for a moment to look down at the small castle in the distance. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but it looked far more maintained than it ever had, and the banners blew brightly in the strong North wind.

Beyond the valley to the North stood the tall, proud Scottish mountains Kyle had grown up in, and seeing them sent a chill down Kyle’s spine. They stood there like an immovable statue, welcoming him home with a solemn grin.

“What are those mountains?” Young Robert asked, gesturing with a nod.

“Scotland, son,” Kyle answered. “They are Scotland.”

“We shall be there soon enough,” Laila said, spurring her horse down the track that led through the valley to Willby castle. “Come on then!”

“Ye gonna let her win?” Kyle asked with a grin, and Robert went off after his mother, trying to keep up along the narrow road as they rode down into the valley.

They came at last to the bottom, where the road flattened out and eventually looked up toward Castle Willby, and Laila smiled to see it so well maintained, with new stonework around the base of the walls and new banners hanging from the freshly cut parapets. It was altogether a different castle than the one Laila remembered, but it was still home, and it was beautiful.

Kyle came up beside his wife and son, and the three of them stood on the valley floor, looking up at Willby castle, drinking in the view as the Northern air continued to wash over them, sending more shivers down young Robert’s spine as he struggled to adjust to the air that blew from the frigid North Sea.

“Where are we?” the boy finally asked, glancing strangely between his parents, who seemed to be sharing some long-forgotten memory of the walls they looked upon without speaking. They were quiet for a time and shared a look with one another that Robert found all together a bit uncomfortable but made them smile and laugh.

At long last, Laila turned to him, and with a smile, said, “Home, son. We’re finally home.”

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