Dreaming of a Highland Lass (Preview)

Chapter 1


The light across the moors fell unnaturally; Iain MacThomas could see the sun, but the sky still seemed strangely dark.

The sunbeams that did make it through the thick, blue-gray clouds did nothing to warm or brighten the rolling hills. He perceived everything around him through a haze that sucked the light out of everything he viewed. Even the heather blossoms that should at this time of year be the vibrant purple hue he’d known all of his life was nearly colorless.

He turned to look behind him; a little village with stonework walls and thatched reed roofs was nestled within the slope of the moors. He felt for all the world as though he had seen the crumbling clay wall surrounding the village somewhere before. Behind it, a forest loomed, green and dark as an emerald in the night. He had never seen this place before, and yet it seemed familiar.

The shadows were much too dark, and the light was scant. There was no scent of rain, no chilling wind through his chestnut brown hair, though he knew that there should be. The tall grass of the moors were swaying, as though there should be a breeze. Yet, he felt nothing on his skin.

Confused, he looked across the moors. He had come out here alone to hunt, or had it been to seek some quiet time, away from the noise of the castle?

He couldn’t remember, now that he thought about it.

He turned and faced the west, squaring his broad shoulders. Iain peered through the thin mist that whirled around him, eyes settling on a thin figure. He squinted and put a hand to his brow, thinking that perhaps his eyes were playing tricks on him. When his sight adjusted, he was sure that he’d seen right. There, just beyond the tall, craggy rocks was a young woman.

Strange, for a young woman to be out on the moors alone with no horse in sight. He blinked hard to make sure once more that he was seeing correctly, but yes, there she was.

She was staring at him, her eyes shining with emotion.. One anxious hand clutched her cloak at the base of her neck, near her collarbones. She held it in a white-knuckle grip as the wind blew her jet black hair wildly. Her eyes were wide, desperate, and sky-blue. They were the only true color that Iain could make out in the vast expanse of the hauntingly gray moors.

Iain took a step forward . For some reason, he had the urge to reach out and touch her. Something called him to her, like a siren on the water.

“Help me, Iain,” the woman called to him. Her voice carried eerily across the moors to him.

His brow wrinkled in confusion; how could she know his name?

He could not understand what she wanted from him, but she knew him somehow. It was clear from the expression on her face; she regarded him with such a familiarity that it seemed nearly intimate. He was certain that he’d never seen her before; he would certainly remember a pair of eyes as alluring as that.

Her pale, desperate face held a delicate, but fierce beauty that he had only seen one other woman possess in this life. He gestured with one hand savagely, trying his best to push away the image that came to his mind. It would not do for him to begin remembering, not now.

“Iain,” called the woman again. “I need ye’re help. Please, please…”

Inexplicably, a surge of emotion flooded him at the pleading tone of her voice. It filled his stomach and his lungs; he knew that the only way to crush the feeling that was welling up was to get closer to her. He wanted so much to help her, but what did she need from him?

The urge to reach out to her was strong, beating inside of him with the rhythm of his heartbeat. It was impossible to ignore, so insistent was the desire to protect her, but neither did he want to wave it away.

The young woman held a pale white hand out to him, her fingers trembling as if she were afraid. He could not stand to see her frightened; for a reason unknown to him, he wanted to wash away her fear, erase it from existence. She called out to him again and again, and yet he still had no idea who she was or what she needed.

What could she want from him? And why wouldn’t she answer?

Iain could only guess.

It was not only her vulnerability that drew him to her, but her striking beauty as well. He desired more than anything to see if her skin felt as smooth as it looked, to enfold her into a protective embrace, but against what he could not tell. There was nothing around on the moors that could hurt her; so why did she call for his help so fervently?

Iain wanted to run his rough fingers over her milk white skin, to feel her downy soft hair against his cheeks. Something about her was as addicting as a cool mouthful of whisky or a chilling dip in the lochs in early autumn.

The woman stood far from him, but he could see her nearly perfectly. Her voice carried, though he should not be able to hear her so clearly at that distance. This could only be the work of magic; she was hauntingly beautiful, almost as though she was not of this realm.

“Who are ye, lass?”he asked.  “Can ye at least tell me yer name? How do ye know who I am?”

“Iain, I cannae do it alone,” she said. Her voice was melodic, like the song of a babbling brook with eyes just as clear and blue. “I cannae do it without ye, Iain, please.”

Iain felt something loose inside of him when her voice broke ever so slightly.

She blinked hard at him in silence, and Iain felt his confusion mounting, along with it a well of frustration at her inability to answer him.  She seemed to see him, but she did not ever answer a single question. Instead, she continued on her narrative, seeming to listen for his reply but never truly hearing it.

It was absolutely maddening and heartbreaking all at once.

He took a step forward, anxious but desperate to be close to her. He couldn’t fathom where this rush of emotion came from, but he did not push it away. She seemed to need him gravely, and there was something that lived inside of him that had to protect her at any cost.

Onward he walked, until he was only an arm’s length away from her. Seeing her up close made it even harder not to rush forward and embrace her. He studied her expression, her face. No, he was certain they’d never met before… but why couldn’t she hear him?

“Who are ye?” he asked, his voice nearly pleading. “Please, lass, just tell me somethin’, anythin’ that will help me tae learn who ye are!”

She said nothing; she simply looked up at him with that fragile expression on her beautiful face. It seemed that at any moment she would fall away into tears. If she did, Iain knew he would not be able to resist scooping her up into his arms. Even if he had never seen her before, she certainly knew him and seemed to need him so much.

Iain called to her again, but knew that the effort was futile.

He was about to give up, letting his arms drop in defeat when her expression suddenly changed. He watched her every move like a hawk, his brown eyes locked to her form.

She lifted her head, running her eyes over him. Her expression changed to a smile, soft and grateful, and she opened her mouth to laugh breathlessly. She looked relieved to see him, as though they were familiar with each other. Her eyes roamed over him as she looked him up and down; it seemed as though at any moment, she would throw herself into his arms.

A warmth filled him where before there was longing. Her eyes met his, and Iain felt like the sun was shining on him after a hard, relentless winter. He didn’t want to tear himself from her gaze, wanting only to take another step forward and pull her towards him and never let go.

“Iain,” she said, her blue eyes bright. “Ye’re here, ye’re safe! Oh, thank th’ stars.”

At the sound of his name through her voice, a smile on her lips, he felt his heart soar and dip in joy like an osprey in the sky.

She lifted her hand and for a moment, her fingertips were close enough that they could push his dark brown hair from his eyes. Iain didn’t dare to move; for a brief moment, he wondered if he would feel her touch or if she would pass right through him like a phantom. The woman hesitated for a moment though, and then looked beyond him.

Her sky-blue eyes widened, fearful, and she opened her mouth to scream.


Iain sat up straight in his bed, the quilts tangled around him. His shoulders heaved for breath as though he had been sprinting through the moors. He looked around his bedchamber, confused and frustrated and with a longing that he could physically feel. He could not quell it, no matter how he tried.

That damned dream again.

The woman had come to him yet again and he had fallen into her captivating spell. Each time the dream took hold of him, she would be the only thing his thoughts would settle on, the only image he could visualize. Only when he finally awoke would he realize that he had been pulled once again into the same dream, tricked by his own mind.

Those feelings that she sparked in him even lingered upon awakening, however. Even now, when he pulled up her face in his mind, he could feel the desperate need to protect her lighting up in his heart. It was almost as if he could feel her beside him, as though he could reach out and touch her even at this moment. In truth, no woman of the waking world had even held his interest since the death of his wife. The fact that the only one who would interest him came from his own imagination embarrassed him to admit.

He sighed and shook his head, his thumbs circling at his temples as he attempted to shake the afterthoughts of the dream away. Mooning after some dream woman… He really needed a drink. Somehow though he couldn’t shake the desire to fall back into sleep and see her again.

He rubbed his face, cold sweat clinging to his hands. His breath came heavy and his shoulders sagged with the mental exertion the dream always put him through. Iain rubbed his eyes, seeing colors for a moment and then stood uneasily. He had to get out of this room; it seemed all of a sudden too confining. He felt as though he could burst out of it.

Seeing the raven-haired woman again had taken a toll on him. He felt so tired, so restless. He’d experienced this same dream for two long years now, over and over, and still had no answer for who she could be or why she needed his help. Her voice was so full of desperation and pain that he couldn’t help but want to ease it.

It was eerie, but he had no fear of her, only that strange compassion that glowed in his heart when he thought of her. It felt like something blooming in his chest, something sunny, warm and pure. He thought of how her familiar smile towards the end of the dream and let out a breath.

But what had she seen that had caused her face to fold in so much fear?

Iain could make no sense of it. He strode towards his chamber door, feeling how the handle cooled his sweating palms. He could be sure that this was real, at least. He longed for a dram to cool his parched throat and to soothe the thoughts that were churning around in his head. He made his way towards the larder, his steps slow and thoughtful. Every time he blinked, he saw the woman’s face over and over again.

If she would have touched him, would he have felt it?

She was so enthralling and otherworldly. Was she some sort of spirit of the moors? But she had known his name, and had spoken it aloud nearly every night for two years.

Iain shook his head, wondering, as he made his way down the stone steps.

“Ye’re out wanderin’ round late,” an amused voice said. Iain nearly jumped but got a handle on himself before he turned around.

“Mother,” he said, a wry smile playing at his lips. “Ye’re no’ exactly slumberin’ sweetly in ye’re own bed.”

“Ye’re well aware tha’ I enjoy my nightly garden walks,” she laughed. Her voice was like motherly sound of a hen clucking over her chicks; he had always loved that about her. Her face turned serious as the smile faded away, though, and he knew what she was going to say. “An’ what are you doin’ up so late, my lad? Is it the dream come again?”

Though she wanted to seem easy and relaxed, Iain could see the pull of concern on his mother’s face. She knew the toll the dream took on him.

“Aye,” he said, after a moment passed between them. “Tha’ it ’twas. The lass with the raven black hair, callin’ out t’me again. I cannae make heads nor tails of it, Mother. What could she be tryin’ tae tell me?”

His mother simply shook her head, her honey-brown eyes that so mirrored his own blinking back at him sadly. She patted him reassuringly on his shoulder, sighing.

“I want tae be a good, wise mother t’ye, lad,” she said. “But, truly, there’s naught that I’ve ever heard of that’s similar to your situation. But, Iain… has the dream nae started since the tragedy? Do ye no’ think it could be somethin’ to do with—?”

“Mother, please,” he said, harsher than he’d meant to.

But the damage had already been done. He already saw Seona’s face in his mind, already felt the way her skin had grown cold beneath his touch. He saw the tiny, lifeless face of their newborn daughter in her arms, Seona’s fingers still curling up against the back of the child’s head. He blinked, willing the image away, but when he opened his eyes, it was still there.

It never truly went away, no matter what he did or how much he tried to drink it away.

His face had gone stark white, he knew; his suspicions were only confirmed when he saw the concerned look his mother wore.

“I’m sorry, my son,” she said. “Perhaps ‘twould be best for ye to head out hunting tomorrow, get some fresh air on the moors. Maybe some time out in the wilds will help ye to feel yerself again.”

He knew that his mother was only trying to help, but he pulled away from her all the same. The wounding memories were too much to bear now, had been too much since that terrible night. He had been unable to digest the trauma at all and had barely even bothered to try. Losing his wife and child both on what should have been one of the happiest days of his life had rendered him half the man he had once considered himself.

The baby, his first precious child, had died in the womb at some point. Seona had lost too much blood, the birth gone horribly wrong, and she had faded away in his arms. The image had followed him during his waking hours and had tormented him every day. He had tried everything to rid himself of the terrible memory, from drinking to solitude, but nothing had given him any respite. After a while, he had decided that they were his burden to carry and remembering Seona and his daughter’s deaths could only honor the two of them.

I cannae move on; not now, nor ever, Mother. I’m sorry, but these thoughts, these memories… They need tae stay with me.

          If not for Iain, who would carry on Seona’s memory?

Iain felt his eyes become wet and he blinked away the emotion, shoving it away. It still twisted inside of him, still hurt in places he had barely begun to touch. He put away the thoughts that stung his heart in favor of unraveling the mystery of the dream woman. It was slow-going at first, but the more he distracted himself from the pain, the better he felt.

He searched his memory again, thinking that perhaps he had seen the woman somewhere before, but no… She had such striking features. He would have certainly logged that beauty away in his mind. She would be easy to find in the crevices of his thoughts.

He stole a glance at his mother; her eyes were sad and her breathing was soft. He knew that she was thinking of Seona and of him.

It bewildered and frustrated him, but he didn’t think that it had anything to do with his late wife, as his mother did. No, she and their daughter were sleeping peacefully in the earth. There had to be another reason, a deeper meaning to the dream that haunted him so often and so fervently.

“I just want tae see that bright smile back on your face, my son,” his mother said, her voice soft. “I dinnae think I’ve seen a happy look upon your face in many months. Years, now. You used to be so full o’ cheer.”

Iain sighed, brushing his hair back. There was no use in smiling any longer, yet no one seemed to understand. While they could move on and forget the sightless eyes of his wife and child, he could not. His mother, though she had loved Seona greatly, urged him to put her memory away and stop cutting himself open with thoughts of her. Iain desperately wanted that peace, but it felt like a betrayal to do so; he didn’t think he ever could.

He could not fault his mother. She only wanted what was best for her son; he knew what that felt like well enough. His mind re-visited him holding his daughter for the first and only time.

“Goodnigh’, Mother,” he said, his voice sullen, though he did not wish it to be. “I’m goin’ tae head back up tae bed; see if I can get some sleep before the sun peeks its head o’er the hills. As it is, I cannae stay awake any longer.”

He tried to smile at her, but he knew that it could not have been convincing. His mother looked at him with his expression mirrored on her face; a small smile that could have been happy if her eyes had not been so sad.

Iain turned then, not bothering for the whisky. The thought turned his stomach sour with bitter thoughts. Perhaps if he went to sleep, he would see that woman again. Perhaps she would tell him what she wanted with him, what she needed from him. In his heart of hearts, he craved her presence, was desperate to hear her voice saying his name again. He didn’t want to admit it to himself, but she had a calming effect on him that was intoxicating. It was as though he was under a spell that he never wanted to be released from.

If he truly tried, perhaps he could attempt to move past this and pretend that the feelings that bloomed in his heart for her were but nothing but smoke and mist. Even as that thought occurred to him, he wondered if he would be able to forget her; a sizable portion of him doubted it highly.

He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to. She had been something of a comfort. When he was engulfed in the dream, she was the only thing that mattered to him. Hearing her voice was a balm compared to the dull gray monotony that had become his life. He craved to see her again, to sleep and fall into his illusion. It was the only thing that soothed the pain of living lately, though he hated to admit it to himself.

Defeated and with his head and heart aching terribly, he crawled back into his bed, pulling the quilts up and around him. Iain tried with every bit of will in his body to relax his muscles and let sleep claim him, but it did not come so easily this time.

He tossed in his bed, trying to shut his mind against the onslaught of thoughts that plagued him. The only thing that calmed him was the image of her face; he let himself think about the blue of her eyes, the clear melody that was her voice. They felt like cooling waters over an aching wound.

Iain lay back, wondering if he would ever meet her in person and then felt his chest rumble in a laugh. He should not get his hopes up, he knew; men do not meet women out of their dreams. His mind was birthing fantasies; the dream woman could of course not be a real person who he could see and touch. A wry half-smile touched his lips at his foolish desire to pull a woman from his own mind.

He shut his eyes tight, but could not help but hope that he was wrong. Perhaps she really was out there somewhere, waiting for him to find her. Maybe she was closer than he knew.

Chapter 2

When Isla Robertson raised her head from her pillow, the warm sun dancing through the glass pane, she felt a tiny smile grace her lips. She let herself actually sleep in today, as opposed to rousing herself early for a morning ride upon her mare, Brigida. It was a perfect day to spend outside and gratitude rose up in her heart; today of all days she had hoped to walk in the gardens and swim in her favorite loch.

She stretched, relishing the warmth on her skin. Today, she would find some joy and merry-making, even if she had to do it herself; perhaps she would even go on an adventure.

After all, a lass c’n only be twenty-one once in her life!

Isla smiled in spite of herself, feeling for all the world as though she was still a child. The thought of womanhood was daunting, though she’d already surpassed that milestone. She knew that she should be thinking of marriage, but whenever she tried, her mind always took her to the moors, the forests, the lochs of the land.

She sat up straight, pushing her long black hair out of her face. Her legs ached from her long swim and ride through the meadows she’d undertaken yesterday, but she loved the feeling of her body enjoying nature. She pulled one her favorite bright red gowns over her petticoat and pulled her tartan shawl about her, fastening it with her favorite silver brooch.

Isla ran her fingers through her hair excitedly, eager to join her two sisters. She wondered vaguely if her father had anything planned for her today, but did not get her hopes up. It would not be the first time that he had disappointed her, nor did she doubt it would be the last. She told herself that it did not matter if her father treated her birthday like it was every other day.

She would enjoy it nonetheless.

Isla was about to push her bed chamber door open completely and wander the castle to find her sisters, when she thought she heard someone speaking in hushed tones. It wasn’t uncommon to hear people outside of her door, but it was the way the two were speaking that gave her pause. One voice was gruff, angry, and she recognized it immediately.

It was her father. What was he so angry about?

Her father had a temper that could not be matched, but this time there was an edge to his voice that made the nervousness in his voice apparent as well. Isla had heard her father angry many times, but never had she sensed fear in his voice. It was strangely out of character for him and so it tugged on her curiosity, even making her feel a little of his anxiety.

She held her breath, not daring to move the creaky door another inch, and waited to hear more.

The voices came again, quiet, but harsh and urgent. Isla felt her trembling fingers, doing their best to keep steady. The person who her father was speaking to answered him in a meek tone; it was one of the castle’s old maids. She could tell by the unmistakable quavering of her voice.

It sounded as though they were just around the other corner of the stone hall.  If the sound did not carry so well around corners, she doubted that she would have been able to hear them. Isla held her breath, watching their shadows play on the wall from around the corner. Her father’s shadow was looming and furious, while the old maid cowered, hunched at his side.

But what was he talking about?

“I cannae afford her kenning the truth!” her father’s voice whispered gruffly in the hall. “Already there is talk aroun’ the castle, and it cannae be spread any further than ’tis now.”

Truth? What truth? And what talk was there aroun’ the castle?

Isla felt her breath get caught somewhere in her chest.

“Aye, Laird Duncan,” warbled the old maid. “I agree, m’Laird. I meself ‘ave heard numerous maids gossipin’ like geese aroun’ about your daughter. Somethin’ needs to be done, action taken, an’ soon before the lass finds out.”

About ‘his daughter’? Which one?

Isla dared not open the door any wider, though she desperately wanted to.The doors incessant creaking would give her away immediately and then she would never know what they were discussing.

Not only that, but if her father caught her eavesdropping…

She did not like to think about how his temper would flare. Instead, she pushed the door until it was nearly open only a sliver and peered through the crack.

She heard the tell-tale sound of boots stomping across the stone; they were long steps full of frustration and anger followed by quicker, anxious ones.

They were approaching her door; her father likely assumed that she was already out in the meadows, as she was every day. Isla thanked the heavens that she had chosen this morning to indulge herself in a lie-in.

“We’ll have to arrange a betrothal as soon as possible then,” her father huffed. “Prefer’bly to a Laird across the highlands, perhaps Laird Thompson’s son will do. We’ll send word soon; I want this done without another word said about Isla.”

Her stomach dropped to her bare feet and she felt her blood run as cold as an icy loch on a winter’s morning. She could barely breathe and her thoughts were pulled in directions that she could not even fathom.

Me? What does Father mean? And why does he want to send me so far from my home?

Her older sister, Elayne, hadn’t even been arranged a marriage yet. It puzzled Isla as to why she should be married off first; and why so quickly? Their father had always spoken about Elayne and Isla’s twin sister, Annabella, being sent to castles nearby, so that he could keep an eye on them. Never once had he mentioned Isla’s name during those conversations.

So why now?

It did not make any sense at all. And yet…

Isla thought back to her long, black hair and her bright blue eyes, running a finger through the locks. She sighed, melancholy in the fact that she would never compare to Annabella’s and Elayne’s beauty.

Even their father had noticed it; he was ashamed of her features. That had to be it. He could not stand that Isla did not have the familiar features of a Robinson; she shamed him by looking so terribly different. Isla wanted to cover her face, suddenly ashamed of herself. She had never thought that she was unattractive.

Annabella looked more like a twin to Elayne than to Isla. They both shared the same healthy head of bright red hair and their eyes were similar shades of green; Elayne’s more emerald where Annabella’s were hazel. She had always envied them those lovely traits; it had nearly made her two sisters look like fae out of the fable’s they’d loved as children.

And so she would be sent off far away, likely to never hear from her father again. If he wanted her gone that quickly and that badly, surely he cared nothing for her. She had always known her father to be distant towards her, but never did she think that his heart could be filled with hate and disdain for her.

It did not help her cause that she’d always been so fiercely stubborn and bull-headed. She knew that she caused her father grief in her desire to be of her own mind and follow her heart, but did he really hate her with such fervor?

Could he really not even stand to look at her that much?

Her shoulders drooped as she lowered her head, ashamed. Isla now wished that she hadn’t been quite so willful as a girl and now as a young woman. Elayne and Annabella had always been obedient and quiet, never arguing with their father nor anyone else, not even between themselves. Never once had they shirked their duties in favor of an autumn ride on Brigida. She had rarely if at all saw them doing anything that would turn any heads.

If only I could have been tha’ way… Perhaps Father would not be throwin’ me away quite so fast.

The footsteps were right next to her door now, but they rounded the corner and kept going. They were headed downstairs somewhere, presumably to carry on this conversation about her.

“Och! If only there was a way to get word to Laird Thompson faster,” her father complained, bitterness in his voice. “The lass has caused me far too much trouble these last few years. And now…”

Her father’s voice faded out of earshot and Isla let her eyes fill with tears. Her vision blurred as her heart ripped at the seams, little by little. Not only would she suffer through another affection-less birthday from her father, she would have to carry the knowledge that he held no love in his heart for at all.

She did not know if she could face her sisters with these thoughts burning in the back of her mind, but either way, they would seek her out soon if she did not find them first. It would not do to be surprised, not while she knew what they did not.

She scrubbed at her eyes hard with the back of her hand and pulled the door open. Isla took one solid breath and stood up tall; no one would be suspicious of her if she acted as she normally did. She would smile, keep that glint in her eye and be as stubborn as she always had. If he was going to send her away regardless, then it did not matter if she changed her ways from wildcat to sheep-like anyway.

Isla made her way down the stone steps in the opposite direction that her father had taken along with the maid; it was the long way to the gardens but she did not care. She did not know if she could hold herself together enough to look her father in the eye. Besides, her sisters were probably already down in the grass with handfuls of herbs, braiding each other’s red hair.

She hurried her step, feeling the coolness of the air around her grow colder as she descended to the first floor of the Robertson Castle. As she had suspected, Elayne and Annabella were already giggling about something under one of the apple trees. They were making flower crowns of heather and knotgrass and looked as though they were having a fine time without her. Though she loved the both of them much, her twin had always seemed closer to their older sister than to Isla.

“Isla!” Annabella cried when she spied her. “Oh, sister, ye’re finally up! Sleepy head, we thought ye would slumber your entire birthday away!”

Elayne looked up, her green eyes brightening. “We did,” she said. “Neither of us wanted to wake ye, though. Thought ye might attack us like some sort of wild beast if we dared to!”

The two of them fell about laughing and Isla felt her heart soften; at least the two of them still loved her and had always.

“Here, love,” Elayne said, holding something out to her. “We made this one as a birthday gift; Annabella thought tha’ it would make your dark hair stand out in such a lovely way.”

It was a flower crown but it was crafted from a different set of flowers. Interwoven together was the bright, cerulean blue of heath milkwort and yellow marsh marigolds. Annabella hopped up, her tartan cloak catching the wind and placed it upon her head.

“There!” she crowed. “Ye look like a sprite about to drink the dew from the waterlilies, sister. Lovely as ever!”

Isla felt her eyes grow teary at the words, feeling her doubts about her appearance slip away. It was only the most terrible shame that she would be sent away from her sisters soon enough, though they did not have to know that. She smiled as they chattered to her idly, secretly committing this moment to memory.

She wanted to bring this thought up in her mind when she was carted away, far across the highlands. This one, and many others. Just because her father wanted to erase his existence from his memory did not mean that she wanted to forget her sisters.

Isla knew that she could not take her time with them for granted. Once she was married off to some far off clan, it would be quite difficult to ever see them again. Any day now might be the last time she ever sees them. She did not know when that time would come, but it was sure to be soon.

They spent most of the afternoon together, picking the buds from the wild clover flowers and wandering around the orchard. The late summer had the scent of fresh water and rosemary, carried on the breeze. Isla told herself she would remember this forever.

When Isla left her sisters, she felt a little better, though not much. The beginnings of homesickness had already begun to sprout in her heart; she could either pull it out by the roots or foster it and accept its existence. She chose the latter. Isla miserably trudged up the stone stairs towards her bedchamber and down the hall, unable to mask her sadness any longer.

She pushed the door open and hung her tartan up on the back of the carved wooden chair in her room, sighing. She collapsed into her bed, defeated and upset, and contemplated sleeping the rest of her birthday away when there came a sound like parchment sliding against wood.

Isla sat up, frowning. When she glanced down at her door, there was something there that had certainly not been before. She stood warily, her eyes locked on the sheet of parchment, folded into a little rectangle. Confused, she quickly stepped over to it, staring at the paper for only a moment long before she bent low to pick it up.

With the parchment in her hands, she wrenched open the wooden door and quickly stepped outside. To her surprise, there was no one outside of her door. Her breath hitched, and she swiveled her head to see if she could spy anyone, but there was no one at all.

She was completely alone.

All that was left of whoever had just visited her was the quickly fleeing footsteps that disappeared down the stairs and out of sight, into the shadows of the floor below.


If you liked the preview, you can get the whole book here


  • It will be interesting to see how Iain and Isla’s futures combine. Captivating beginning 🙂

  • Great start to the story! I found myself invested in the characters immediately. So many questions that I need answers to. Looking forward to the release date.

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