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Authors: Hildie McQueen

Highlander's Return

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Highlander's Return

Highland Temptations (Book 3)

 

Hildie McQueen

 

Published by Pink Door Books—Smashwords Edition

 

 

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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Hildie's Website:
www.hildiemcqueen.com

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Highlander's Return

Hildie McQueen

 

 

With a frustrated sigh, Victoria Westcott put the thick poetry book down on to her lap, and looked through the window to the back garden. No use in attempting to read the same refrain again.

That her thoughts strayed too often to the handsome Highlander who'd brought her to Somerset Keep, no longer surprised her. Conor McDougall was now at the forefront of her thoughts and dreams since she'd descended into his bed, into his arms. The impression he'd left with his soft caresses a
nd hard body remained with her.

No, she would not deny it. She'd fallen in love with Conor
McDougall
. What a predicament. Victoria pulled her legs up onto the chair and curled into a ball,
pressing
the book against her chest.

Footsteps sounded. Victoria started to let her presence be known, until she heard Calum McDougall. "Conor must marry the McNeil lass,” the laird said. “Go to the borderlands and find him.
Tell
my brother
about my
missive, it's time to stop this war between the clans."

A deep voice grumbled a reply she could not hear past the sudden, hard beats of her heart. In hopes they'd not find out she overheard, Victoria kept quiet and listened.

"What of the Englishwoman?" asked the other male, whom she now recognized as Conor's cousin, Dugan.

"I've a thought to marry her to you, you're in need of a wife." Calum's flat response gave the impression he found her a bother. "We cannot return her to England, it's too dangerous
. It would be an
acknowledge
ment
that Conor took her
,
an admission of guilt in the death of Lord Turner."

"Aye," Dugan replied, then finished, "I can get my own damn wife." Victoria was astonished, considering how the man openly ogled her every move.

"As your laird, I have a right to chose for you. It's time, Dugan."

Victoria cringed. Although she did not wish to marry the huge Scotsman, the thought of Conor put to death for murder brought tears to her eyes. What he'd done was justified. Lord Turner, her cruel husband, had killed a member of
the McDougall
clan, who defended Conor's sister from Turner’s rape attempt.

"Several wenches wish to travel to the camp
site," Dugan informed the laird and getting her attention once again.
"It will be a while yet
,
before the men return
from the battlefield
. What say you?"

The laird replied with a noncommittal grunt. "If they wish to go, they may go."

The men left, and Victoria did not move, her jaw clenched. The
laird
planned to pass her off like an object to someone, without discussing it with his brother. Frantic to formulate a plan to escape, she went to the window and looked down into the courtyard. Several groups of people milled about. It was midday; a group of men stood near some women, who stirred a large pot. Single men with no wives to cook for them wait
ing
for their meals.

A short distance away, three
women stood in a tight circle and talked, their attire a bit overstated for daytime. Victoria immediately recognized their ilk. Dugan McDougall's unmistakable large figure went to them. Responding with squared shoulders and fingers twirling through their hair, the women circled him.

 

****

 

Conor
held
down a clansman while the healer stitched up a nasty gash to the unfortunate man's side. The man stopped struggling
and let out a breath
. Thankfully, he'd passed out. The healer kept stitching, then proceeded to bandage the wound.

A commotion
outside
broke out, and Conor exited the Healer's tent to see what happened. A wagon approached, driven by Dugan, who was accompanied by four women, all dressed brightly and waving at the men.

Camp whores
. The last thing they needed right now. They'd not been away long enough for the men to need the distraction. He considered sending them away.

"Can I speak with you?" Adam, a young clansman, materialized before him. Conor nodded and continue
d
to watch the women
climb down from the wagon. They sauntered
behind Dugan, towards a tent they'd no doubt take over from the men
inside
without any protest.

A trio moved with exaggerated sway of hip towards the dwelling, while the fourth dallied behind, her gait more hesitant. Something appeared familiar about her.

"Lord?" The young man got his attention. "I must ask if I may return to the keep. My wife is about to
give birth
our first babe and this…" he waved toward the empty field, "battle seems to be at a stall."

"Err," Conor tore his gaze from the woman who'd stopped outside the tent, the other
whore
s had gone into
. She stood stifly,
holding her hands over her mouth and nose while staring at two men carrying the newly bandaged clansman back to his own shelter. He looked at the youth before him
. The
lad looked to be no more than ten and four. "
Did you say babe?
How old are you?"

"I am soon to be twenty," the lad puffed out his chest. "Married almost two years now," he continued.

"Very well then," Conor scowled at the whore who followed after the injured man, instead of entering the tent. "Go see about your wife and babe. Tell Dugan to
take you back when he leaves."

Alan bobbed his head, a wide smile splitting his face. "Thank you, my
laird
, thank you." He
rushed
off toward the tent Dugan and the women had entered.

Conor
followed
the fourth woman. Something
struck
him a
s odd about her. Did the McNeil
send a spy into the camp? If so, she was not very good, stood out right away.

He closed the distance between them, taking care not to make a sound. The oblivious woman peered
into
the tent where the men had deposited the wounded fighter. She toed a pebble as if in thought, and brushed her hair back from her face.

Conor’s brows lifted, and his mouth fell open. For an instant, he almost smiled, but then a heated rage raced through him. He stormed toward the woman. What the hell was
she
doing here?

 

Victoria peered into the tent, hoping the wounded male was not Conor.
The man
seemed a bit smaller
than Conor
, but surely there wasn't much to eat in the smelly place. The stench of sweat and rotting food was enough to curb anyone's appetite. The brightness of the day made it hard to make out the face of the man who groaned when the others placed him onto a rustic cot.

Maybe she could hide behind the tent, and once the men left, go inside to get a closer look. Victoria lifted her skirts, ready to take a step, when she was grabbed from behind and heaved upward. A brute threw her over his shoulder and dashed toward a tent, just opposite the one where possibly Conor lay hurt.

She kicked and pounded his back, not daring to cry out.  She didn’t want to alert Conor, who could hurt himself further if he attempted to help her. When she slammed her elbow against the man’s side, the beast
cursed
. "Damn it, Victoria, stop hitting me."

"Conor?"

He did not reply. Perhaps she heard him wrong, could it be Conor that mishandled her in such a way? She hit him again.

With a swish of skirts, and limbs
flailing
she bounced onto a cot. "Don't you dare touch me, you cretin, I will alert The McDougall, who will have your head," Victoria informed her assailant, as she flung skirts
aside to get a good look at her accoster
.

Blue eyes blazed at her, his mouth in a tight line, a jaw muscle jerked. Conor's hand
s
fisted and loosened while he seemed to be waiting for something to happen. Victoria looked around the tent.
They were alone and nothing in the shelter gave her cause to think of anything pending.
The cot she sat upon was the only
bed
in the spacious
shelter
, so she contemplated this to be his alone
.

She brushed her hair away from her made-up face, and wondered if her lip stain was smeared. "I must speak to you, it's very important."

Conor's mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Instead he took a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut.

"Are you all right?" Victoria leaned forward, not daring to move from the bunk. He didn't seem pleased at her presence.

"What are you doing here?" He opened his eyes and stared at her, his face more composed. "I thought we agreed you'd wait my return at the keep."

She took in the tall, muscular man. His chiseled face, darkened with a shading of beard at his jaw. A lock of chestnut-brown hair fell over his brow, which he raked back with stiff fingers. Irritation pulsed from him.

Although she'd not expected open arms, the hostility he displayed made her wonder if she'd erred in coming. "I am my own person, and not one to sit around and darn socks while you play at your war games. I gave you my word to wait, but I've decided to return to England. I must, for my brother has arrived. His ships are docked offshore, but a short day's ride from the keep."

"You are deft at escaping; why didn't you just go to him?" Conor asked, crossing his arms over his broad chest. "Why come here? To me?"

She bit back a curse and jumped to her feet. "Because I cannot go alone to my brother, I am intelligent enough to know the McDougalls would catch up to me with haste."

"And your brother is also smart enough to know that it would be suicide to attempt a rescue through McDougall lands. He's survived the war by avoiding direct involvement, I'm sure the pirate won't dare come here."

"Ugh," Victoria held back the urge to scream. "My brother is a privateer, not a pirate."

The cocked eyebrow made her look away to avoid swearing at him. "Your brother is well-known. He is called The Red Pirate, correct?"

Victoria stalked to where Conor stood, and put her finger up to his face. "Conor McDougall, do not slander my brother. I will not argue this point further with you.  Nor will I talk anymore until you apologize."

"Ha!" Conor leaned forward and kissed the tip of her finger. "I will not. I spoke the truth."

BOOK: Highlander's Return
3.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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