Authors: Maeve Greyson
Tags: #Fantasy, #Time Travel
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
A Highlander in Her Past
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Maeve Greyson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Faery Rose Edition, 2013
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-744-1
Published in the United States of America
Praise for Maeve Greyson and…
THE HIGHLANDER’S FURY
: “A satisfying blend of saucy sensuality and heartrending sincerity. ... overall, the pithy dialogue and smooth prose made this a genuine pleasure to read.”
~Angela Blount, RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)
Maeve Greyson won
the RT Book Reviews
2011 Writing With the Stars
Mega-thanks to my family and friends—
I'd never survive this wondrous journey without you.
And to my editor, Sarah Hansen, thank you
for your guidance, advice, and endless patience.
Lord knows you've needed it with me!
“I dinna care what your mother said, Keagan. I’m no’ in need of a wife!” A familiar tingling tickled beneath Maxwell’s scalp as he stomped deeper into the tower library. “And ye’d best leave off trying to plant your wishes in m’mind. Both your parents will tell ye it canna be done.” Damn the headstrong boy. Relentless as his father and wily as his mother.
Keagan sat perched in front of the center work table, a polished bronze plate mounted between an upright pair of blackened iron posts balanced between his hands. The young boy pulled the mirror closer to his chest as Maxwell approached. His ever-widening eyes sparked with determination as he let go of the mirror long enough to rub the back of one hand across the end of his nose.
“I said leave it, Keagan!” Maxwell smacked an open palm atop the work table. The resounding
echoed through the high-ceilinged room. The force set the flames to dancing atop the table candelabra. Keagan’s nose was itching. Maxwell recognized the ominous telltale sign. The boy’s magic had shifted into the hell-bent surge of a warhorse spurred toward battle.
“All ye have to do is look. What harm could befall ye just by looking?” Keagan sat a bit straighter atop the stool while tapping a finger against the scrying disk. A conniving smile lit up his cherubic face as he eased the mirror closer to Maxwell.
Maxwell closed his eyes and scrubbed the roughened knuckles of one hand across his forehead. They needed to be done with this madness and get to the stables. The last thing he needed today was Faolan’s surly remarks about always having to wait whenever he sent Maxwell to fetch his son. The pulsating tingle evaporated away from the base of his skull. Good. Maybe the boy realized he was in no mood for this foolishness.
With a relieved huff, Maxwell dropped his hand to his side and opened his eyes.
A startling image, a moving image, stared back at him from the highly polished scrying plate. Maxwell supported himself against the side of the table. As the woman winked then laughed, an uneasy weight of premonition settled in his gut. His gaze locked on the scrying plate, Maxwell lowered himself to a nearby stool.
Pushing an opened spell book and quill aside, Keagan chuckled as he propped his ink-smudged chin atop his folded hands. “She looks to be a fine woman. Do ye think?”
Maxwell glared at Keagan over the top of the mirror. “What have ye done, Keagan?” The words almost stuck in his throat.
“I found ye the perfect match. What do ye think?”
What did he think? How the hell could he think when faced with a moving reflection trapped inside a damn mirror? No. Not just a moving reflection. A woman. A woman whose image set his heart to pounding and knotted his gut with anticipation. And why? It was just a woman. It wasn’t as though he was a mere lad who’d never known the pleasure of a woman’s softness. Maxwell waved a hand toward the image as though trying to shoo it away. “I think ye’d best send her back to wherever ye found her and leave well enough alone. I can tell by the look of her that she’s no’ from this time. Nothing good can come of this. Send her away and be done with it.”
A disappointed frown puckered Keagan’s mouth as he shook his head. “It took me a fortnight to find her for ye. Ye need to look at her again.”
Look at her again? Her vibrant image was forever burnished in his mind. Maxwell stole another glance at the mirror searching for a flaw to puncture Keagan’s plans. “Aye. I’ll admit she’s quite lovely—if ye like that sort of woman.” Triumph surged through Maxwell as Keagan’s shoulders slumped in disappointment. That would do it. He’d pick apart the boy’s plan until the lad was convinced all this matchmaking business was more trouble than it was worth.
“What do ye mean?
sort of woman?”
Settling his weight more comfortably on the stool, Maxwell motioned toward the woman. “I canna tell for certain but look at her hair. Her curls are shorn close to her head.” Maxwell waggled an eyebrow. “Do ye think she’s been ill?” He paused, relishing the uncertainty settling in Keagan’s eyes. “Or infested?” Maxwell leaned forward, a firm sense of victory tingling across his flesh. He’d have the boy convinced in no time. “And she’s no’ wearing any adornments. Does she care so little for herself?”
“Care so little for herself?” A puzzled look darkened Keagan’s face as he slid off the stool and walked to Maxwell’s side. Resting his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, he pointed to the image. “Look there. She’s got a gemstone hanging about her neck. She’s just modest in her finery.” He frowned as he leaned a bit closer, squinting as he studied the image. “And I think her hair’s just pulled back like mother does when she’s not in the mood to fuss with it.”
Sliding out from under Keagan’s hand, Maxwell rose and headed toward the door. “No, Keagan. I think yer magic happened upon an unlikely match. Best leave it to the Fates.”
Keagan stared at the mirror one last time then cut his gaze back to Maxwell. With a stiff nod and a humorless smile, he dismissed the image with a wave of his hand. “Perhaps yer right.”
Maxwell paused at the doorway, resting his hand atop the coolness of the weighty iron latch. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but something just wasn’t right. Keagan hadn’t put up much of an argument. Had he given up so easily? “So ye’ll leave it?”
Keagan crossed his arms over his narrow chest and bobbed his head in a curt nod.
Maxwell tried to shake off a distinct weight of foreboding as he yanked open the chamber door. “Good.”
“Aye, Uncle Maxwell. I’ll be leavin’ it to the Fates.”
Maxwell spun and studied the boy’s smug look. What the hell did he mean by that?
“Hello, my minions!” Trish paused, stretching to peer over the strategically stacked packages balanced in her arms. “Where are you, my little heathens?” Trish bounced her backside against the heavy door, forcing it closed against the persistent push of the frigid Highland wind. Balancing the boxes on one hip, she peeped up the winding stone staircase to the right of the entry hall. Nothing stirred but the colorful tapestries hung along the rough gray surface of the ancient stone walls. She eased a step closer to the base of the stairs, anticipation building like a boiling teakettle about to whistle. Trish held her breath and angled an ear toward the archway. Any minute now a dozen thundering feet should echo from the upper region of the castle. She listened closer. Nothing. How odd. Especially for her favorite bunch of imps.
Sucking in enough air to force a shout into every level of the keep, Trish bellowed another enticement. “I don’t hear you, my little curtain climbers. I guess I’ll have to take all these gifts back to the store since there’s no one here who wants them.” She slid the armload of brightly wrapped bundles onto the marble-topped entry table, pausing once she’d relieved herself of the arm-numbing load to drum her fingers atop the uppermost box. Surely the promise of gifts would get the little rascals moving.
A shrill war whoop cracked the silence, bounced off the beams of the high ceilings, and was followed by repeated booms of multiple slamming doors. The pounding of a herd of scurrying feet thumped louder as they emerged from the depths of the second floor. “Auntie Trish! Auntie Trish!” A cacophony of excited shrieks and the thud of little bodies ricocheted down from the second floor, nearly rattling the stained glass windows in their casings.
“Do you have any idea how many times I’ve told them
to run down that staircase?” Nessa heaved a tired sigh as she waddled through the stone archway.
“Oh, give me a break, Nessa. You know as well as I do that any kind of staircase holds a special kind of magic for kids.” Joy filled Trish’s heart to near bursting as she spotted the first curly mop of silvery blond hair bounce around the corner. “Especially with your lively bunch.” Amazement raised Trish’s hand to the base of her throat. “My gosh, they’ve grown at least a foot since the last time I was here.”
The boisterous jumble of young children spilled down the last bend of the staircase like bees swarming from the hive. The chattering group surrounded Trish with a jostling flurry of sharp little elbows and flying hands vying for her embrace.
“Whoa, minions!” Trish laughed as the crashing wave of little bodies scooted her sideways across the floor. “Hold on, you wicked little beasts. You know I’ve got enough hugs for all.” Trish buried herself in the wiggling bunch, swallowing hard against the lump of emotions threatening to cut off her air. Damn, she’d been away too long. They weren’t babies anymore. Trish sucked in a deep breath, inhaling the squeaky clean scent of each and every child then closed her eyes against the sting of happy tears. She’d missed this rowdy bunch.
Straightening from the strangle hold of little arms, Trish rested a hand atop the nearest tousled head. “My goodness, I’ve never smelled such a clean bunch. Have all of you already had your baths for the evening?”
Nessa cleared her throat and five pairs of little eyes swiveled in her direction. “Your minions will be going to bed early tonight…to
about the results of poor choices.”
A collective groan rose from the group as they pressed closer to Trish. The boy closest to Trish’s elbow looped a spindly arm tighter about her waist as he pouted a quivering lower lip toward Nessa. “But Momma, we want to stay up and visit with Auntie Trish.” His wide eyes glistened with unshed tears as he snuggled his curly brown head up under Trish’s arm. “And besides, it was Ramsay’s fault. He tricked us. Ye know he’s the troublemaker.”
Trish frowned. Where
Ramsay? Waving a finger through the air, she pointed at the top of each little head, silently adding up the number of bodies milling about her.
Five? Trish touched the curls of each slightly damp head and called out each of their names. “Catriona, Beathan, Hamish, Sawny, and Gordon. Where’s my sixth minion? What have you done with my Ramsay?”
Catriona and Beathan tightened their little mouths into unhappy flat lines and shuffled a few steps back. “Auntie Nessa told cousin Ramsay not to come down from the north tower ’til he’d cleaned up the terrible mess.”
Trish turned to the three boys still crowding her elbows. “What did your brother do this time?”