Highlander’s Sinful Choice (Extended Epilogue)


It was six months later, and Phoebe and Bernard were skimming stones by the lochside. It was fall now, the leaves turning upon the trees and the glen taking on a golden, red hue, the woodlands flushed with vibrant colors before they gave up their beauty for the winter snows. Bernard had just bounced his stone a dozen times across the water’s surface, letting out a triumphant cheer, as Phoebe took aim.

“I’ll wager ye cannae bounce yers as far as I,” Bernard said, and Phoebe laughed.

“You just wait, Bernard Moncreiffe, I will show you. I have been practicing,” Phoebe said, and with a careful aim, she skimmed her stone so that it bounced as many times as Bernard’s before landing in the water with a great splash.

“Ye have been practicing. Did my father show ye how?” Bernard asked, and Phoebe laughed.

“Your father cannot skim stones, or if he can, he has never shown me. I have taught myself well enough, and it seems that you now have competition,” she said, smiling at him.

Bernard laughed, picking up another stone, just as the sound of horse’s hooves came from the road above. Phoebe looked up to see a cloud of dust as five horsemen rode past toward the castle gates, a horn blowing, as though they were to announce some important message.

“Who dae ye think they are?” Bernard asked, and Phoebe looked puzzled.

“I do not know. Was your father expecting messengers? They look like the King’s men. Perhaps it is some important business. The affairs of a Laird are never at an end,” she said, turning to look back out across the loch.

The day was clear, and she could see almost to the tops of the high mountains, which stretched their wooded slopes down to the shore, the heathers on the upper rocks now turning a deep purple with the changing of the season. She had fallen in love with Glen Taetnire almost as much as she had fallen in love with its Laird, the landscape, and the man entwined in her affections, inseparable in her thoughts.

“When I am Laird, I shall spend all my time huntin’ on the mountainside and fishin’ in the loch. I will let Stewart make the important decisions,” Bernard said, pulling off his tunic and jumping into the water below with a splash.

He struck out a few yards, treading water and turning, floating on his back, before diving below the surface and emerging with a cry of delight.

“Your father would not like to hear such talk, Bernard. Besides, I hope it will be a very long time before you are Laird, for your father has much life in him yet. And I am certain he shall outlive Stewart, whatever you might say to the contrary,” Phoebe said.

“I didnae mean it like that, but come now. The water is still warm from the last of the summer sun. Swim out to the islands with me,” Bernard called out.

Phoebe was about to join him in the water, for despite the coming of fall, it still looked inviting. But just then, there came a shout from behind them, and she looked up to see Leyla hurrying toward them, waving to attract their attention.

“Mistress, oh, mistress, daenae let the master swim out just now. The Laird wishes him to return to the castle. I am sent to bring ye both back,” she called.

“Come on, Phoebe, dae nae listen to  Leyla, she will nae catch us in the water,” Bernard said, but there was something in Leyla’s tone of voice which made Phoebe curious, and she called out to Bernard, beckoning him back to the shore.

“You do not wish to anger your father, Bernard. Come now, show your obedience. We shall return to the castle. The loch will still be here when we have heard what your father has to say,” she said, as Bernard swam reluctantly to the shore.

“Ye are nay fun, Phoebe. I will push ye in next time,” he said, grinning at her as he pulled on his tunic.

Together, they followed Leyla back to the castle. The gates were open, and there was much milling around and excitement amongst the clansmen, the messenger’s horses standing patiently, as they were groomed by the stable boys.

“Hurry now,” Leyla said, “the Laird is waiting in the great hall.”

Phoebe and Bernard followed her inside, exchanging puzzled looks as they went. Diarmad had made no mention of any visitors, let alone ones delivering an important message which they both needed to hear. As they entered the great hall, Phoebe could see Diarmad standing by the fireplace, deep in conversation with the men who had ridden past them on the lochside a short while ago. Now, Diarmad turned, beckoning them over, as the five men turned and bowed.

“Lady Moncreiffe, Master Bernard, it is an honor to greet you in the name of his majesty,” one of the men said, removing his hat with a flourish.

The five of them were each young, dressed in colorful uniforms; swords slung at their sides. Each wore a beard, and Phoebe thought she recognised them from amongst those men who had come to their aid at the Ralstone castle all those months ago.

“Englishmen? It is an honor to welcome you to Glen Taetnire and to my husband’s hall,” Phoebe said, glancing at Diarmad, who nodded and indicated for her to be seated.

“We have received word from his majesty, Phoebe. Important news that ye must hear. But ‘tis news most especially for Bernard, and that is why I have called ye both here,” Diarmad said.

“Me? But what could the King want with me?” Bernard asked, glancing nervously at Phoebe, who looked as puzzled as he.

The man who had first spoken now reached into his tunic and drew out a parchment of paper, unfurling it with a flourish and glancing at Diarmad, as if seeking his permission to continue.

“Please, let the lad hear his happy fate,” Diarmad said, and the man began to read.

“His imperial majesty James, by divine providence and right King of England and Scotland, defender of the faith, Lord protector of his sovereign realms and territories, to our beloved in Christ Bernard Robert Taetnire Moncreiffe. We do hereby commend to you our most noble and good intention, that you, at the right coming of age, shall henceforth be known as Laird of Glen Roche, master of the Ralstone clan, its territories, and lands. From which you shall pay due right and obedience to us, your King and ruler. Furthermore, we entrust to your keeping the hereditary rights of the Moncreiffe clan that you and your sons to come shall be Laird in that place too and pay due right and obedience to us. Give and sealed at our court of Saint James, London, 1611 Anno Domini,” the man read, and gave a second bow, as he handed the parchment to Bernard for inspection.

Bernard looked astonished, and he turned to Phoebe, his eyes wide in disbelief.

“Is this true?” he asked, and Diarmad nodded.

“Of course, it is true, Bernard. By happy fault, ye are the grandson of Hamish Ralstone, who, havin’ nay children of his own, except yer mother, has forfeited his lands to his descendants. That is how such things work. The King is makin’ ye the Laird when ye come of age, and until that moment I shall act in yer stead, though I shall ensure that ye learn all that ye must know before the burden of responsibility is yers. His majesty also reminds us that one day ye shall be Laird of two glens, though I hope it will nae be for many years to come,” Diarmad said.

“But what of Hamish? The man who calls himself my grandfather. What has become of him?” Bernard asked.

Diarmad sighed, turning to the messengers and raising his eyebrow.

“Does the Laird still lay claim to his lands?” he asked.

“No, Laird, the King was emphatic upon that point, and Hamish Ralstone resides at his majesty’s pleasure in the gaol in Edinburgh. He will not trouble you or anyone else again. His supporters are scattered, and those clansmen who remain have sworn allegiance to the King and to the one appointed lawfully to oversee them,” the man said, turning to Bernard and bowing once again.

“Then I am to be Laird,” Bernard said, his voice sounding awfully small and timid.

“And you will be the very best of Lairds, of that I am certain,” Phoebe said, putting her arm around him.

Just as she did so, she felt a pain in her side, which caused her to wince and let out a groan. She staggered back as Diarmad rushed to her side, catching her before she fell.

“Phoebe, what is wrong? Are ye all right?” he asked, and again she clutched at her side, a terrible pain shooting through her.

“I … I cannot stand,” she said, collapsing onto a chair.

“Fetch Leyla. Tell the servants to have water heated and a fire stoked. We must get Phoebe to bed,” Diarmad cried, and Bernard ran off to see to his instructions.

“We shall ride to Drumkiel and bring one of the physicians from the garrison,” the messenger who had read the declaration said, and the five of them hurried from the great hall, just as Leyla came running.

“Oh, mistress, what is the matter?” she cried, as Phoebe again winced with pain and let out a cry.

With some difficulty, Diarmad, Leyla, and several of the servants carried Phoebe to Diarmad’s chambers. She was growing weak, and it seemed as though a fever were taking hold, her whole body wracked with sweats, the pain in her side almost unbearable. As she lay upon the bed, Leyla mopped her brow, soothing her with quiet words, a glass of wine brought to soothe her nerves, as the fire was stoked, and blankets brought.

“Phoebe, have ye some relief from yer pains?” Diarmad asked as he kept vigil at her side, the evening now drawing in.

“I think so, but it came so suddenly, and I cannot imagine what is wrong,” she said, as he took hold of her hand and raised it to his lips.

“Whatever is wrong, I am here, and I will nae leave yer side until ye are better,” he vowed, as Bernard entered the room and came to the bedside.

“I have brought some dried lavender. They say the scent has medicinal properties,” he said, as the sweet scent of the plant-filled the room.

“Thank you, Bernard. You are very kind,” Phoebe whispered, letting out a deep sigh and closing her eyes.

She felt overwhelmed by exhaustion, unable to understand the sheer force of the fever which had come upon her. It was unlike anything she had experienced before, though the pain had now subsided, and she felt as though she might sleep forever and never wish to wake, so great was her fatigue.

“Try to drink a little more; it will dae ye good,” Diarmad said, but Phoebe could only manage the tiniest of sips, her head falling back upon the pillow, as her waking thoughts turned to sleep.


It was the sound of the door opening and hurried footsteps approaching the bed, which woke her. For a moment, Phoebe was unsure of where she was, her whole-body aching, as she struggled to sit up. Gradually, her senses returned, and she blinked in the daylight streaming through the windows. How long had she slept, she wondered? A man now approached the bed, looking her up and down and smiling.

“Phoebe, this is the physician, one of the finest in the country,” Diarmad said, for he was sat by the bed, as though he had not moved since she had fallen asleep.

“How long have I slept?” she asked, and Diarmad smiled.

“‘Tis now the afternoon and ye were asleep by the evenin’ of yesterday,” he said, as the physician knelt at the bedside.

“My name is James Archibold. I am the King’s physician in Scotland, but his majesty is in the south at this moment, and so, by a happy chance, I was able to ride here when I received your husband’s message. Might I be permitted to examine you?” he asked, and Phoebe glanced at Diarmad.

“Ye may make any examinations ye see necessary,” Diarmad replied, and the doctor began his task.

Phoebe lay rigid, wondering what fate he would describe for her. Surely this was something serious, something from which she may not recover. It pained her deeply to think that the happiness she and Diarmad had come to experience might so cruelly be snatched away by the hand of fate. But, if she were to die, Phoebe knew that she would do so in the arms of the one she loved, a man whom she knew would stand by her until the bitter end.

As the physician concluded his examinations, he paused for a moment, as though choosing his words carefully. Phoebe found herself praying, muttering familiar words from childhood, in a last vain effort at hope. But to her surprise, the man smiled, turning to Diarmad and nodding his head, as her husband looked at him with an equally puzzled expression upon his face.

“Whatever sad words ye are about to speak, make them quick,” Diarmad said, but the physician shook his head.

“Not sad words, Laird, but happy. Your wife is with child. The pain she experienced is quite normal in the early stages of maternity. It is that which has confined Lady Moncreiffe to her bed, nothing more. I should say another four months, and the baby will be born. There are further examinations to make, and it would be wise to seek the services of a midwife, a local woman wise in such matters, but I am confident that all will be well. Indeed, the Queen herself experienced such pains during her own term. You are in excellent company, Lady Moncreiffe,” he said, as Phoebe let out a cry of delight.

“But I had no idea. I was showing nothing,” she gasped. “Oh, Diarmad, we are to have a child. Oh, what a joyous day this is,” she said, as he threw his arms around her.

“I feared for the very worst,” Diarmad said, as he kissed her, placing his hands upon her stomach, a broad smiling spreading across his face.

“And now the worst is turned to the very best. Oh, we must tell Bernard the happy news. The whole clan will wish to hear it,” Phoebe said, and she attempted to struggle to her feet.

“It is not always obvious that a lady is with child, especially if she does not have experience of the signs in the early stages. But a  moment, please, Lady Moncreiffe. You must rest, for the child will continue to kick, and you will no doubt experience these pains again. Caution must be observed in all things,” he said, and Phoebe nodded.

“Of course, I will do nothing to endanger the child, but I am overjoyed by this news, for I have always wished for a child, one to call my own … our own,” she said, looking up at Diarmad, who already appeared as the proudest of parents.


Four months later, the castle echoed with the cries of a child, the baby girl whom Phoebe had just given birth to. It had been a long and painful labor, attended by several clanswomen, but the child was healthy and strong, with a shock of black hair, unmistakably that of her father.

“‘Tis the proudest of days,” Diarmad said, as he cradled his newborn daughter in his arms, Bernard watching from the side of the bed, where Phoebe lay exhausted but happy.

“What will ye call her, Laird? Stewart asked, for he too had come to see the newborn child, and Diarmad looked at Phoebe, the two of them nodding to one another.

“She will be called Elizabeth, in memory of Bernard’s mother, so that their legacy might live on,” he said, and Stewart smiled.

“‘Tis a fine name, for a fine child. She looks just like a Moncreiffe,” Stewart said.

“Aye, but she shall know that her destiny is entwined with the history of both her clans and her mother’s family,” Diarmad said, as he laid the child gently in Phoebe’s arms.

Phoebe looked down at Elizabeth, smiling at the sight of the baby, now sleeping peacefully at her breast. She felt such love for her, as though nothing else in all the world now mattered except the family who surrounded her. How close she had come to never finding that happiness, to throwing it away on a fool’s errand, in the false belief that happiness lay elsewhere. But fate had had other ideas, and, as Phoebe lay surrounded by all those she loved, she looked up at Diarmad and smiled.

“She will grow up the happiest of children, with her big brother to watch over her and her father to protect her,” she said, and Diarmad nodded.

“And, I hope, to be just like her mother,” he said.



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  • What a wonderful tale! Phoebe and Diarmad’s adventure sucked me in and made me want to keep on reading. Well done, Ms. Wight!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and do not fret about the length. I have been toying with the idea of making them longer and I believe that it would be a good idea! 🌺

  • I enjoyed the book. I did think it was short and somewhat rushed. Phoebe went from never wanting anything to do with Disarmed to being love with him way too fast. Overall though it was a good read

  • A great story of the highlands. Would love to see the highlands and the mountains. I felt she would learn to love her highlander.

  • A good story. Enjoyed reading it. Although it was rather rushed, it seemed for Phoebe to go from hate to love in a matter of just days when it could have been made much more juicy and fun maybe for them to get to know each other a little more slowly! Still though a good read.

  • Oh such a beautiful love story. I loved all of the characters even the bad ones. This is an exciting book to read. I look forward to your next book.

  • Oh. I enjoyed this novel so very much! I read it all in a day
    Of course I am jealous. I am married a Scottish man. However::. He is 73 and I am 70: since we have only been married 2yrs I missed out on the fun stuff

    Thank you!

  • What a wonderful entertaining story. It wraps you up and carries you along for the ride! The interactions between the Lord of the castle and his wife was endearing and the bond that formed with the son was so sweet. I recommend this book highly!

  • Wonderful book. I loved the whole story. Read it in a day as I couldn’t put it down. I loved the ending, what a blessed family. Thank you so much Juliana for making my day a very happy one.

  • Lovely story but please whilst writing about Scotland/England we do not have a season called fall!!!!
    It’s Autumn*********

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