Read The Trouble With Kilts (The MacLarens of Balmorie) Online

Authors: Kam McKellar

Tags: #contemporary romance novella set in Scotland

The Trouble With Kilts (The MacLarens of Balmorie)

BOOK: The Trouble With Kilts (The MacLarens of Balmorie)
9.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Title Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Author Note

Other Works

Excerpt of Any Scot of Mine

Quick Links

















Copyright © 2013 by Kam McKellar

Excerpt of Any Scot of Mine Copyright © by Kam McKellar


ISBN: 978-0-9885225-4-1


All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, uploaded, shared, or transmitted in any form or means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting and supporting author rights.


Cover Design: Lewellen Designs







Chapter 1


"A bonny lass alone at the bar. Isn't right," Hamish said with a friendly smile as he took a seat and ordered a drink. "What's the world coming to?"

Riley shrugged, toasted his glass with her own, and then downed her third straight shot of whisky. "Beautiful wedding," she commented, watching the reception. It was winding down now, the bride and groom—her cousin Lucy and cousin-in-law Ian—having already left for their honeymoon.

"Aye, that it was," Hamish agreed. "Have never seen the chapel look like that before with all those white flowers and candles, the snow outside…"

It had been one of the most romantic, intimate weddings Riley had ever seen. Like a dream. The five-hundred-year-old MacLaren chapel, the groom and his two best men/brothers in honest-to-goodness kilts, the bride so pretty it made Riley cry before the wedding had even started.

Yeah, a dream. A wonderful freaking dream.

She was ecstatic for both of her cousins, amazed that Lucy and then Kate had gone to Scotland and found love. But weddings and happily-ever-after? Not in the cards for her. She was done. Her marriage was done, no matter how hard she'd fought to save it. Divorce papers had arrived the morning she'd left New York for Scotland. They were still in the envelope tucked in the bottom of her suitcase.

It was a failure that stung her soul, and one that fed the bitterness already growing inside her.

Hamish turned in his seat, resting his back against the bar to watch the small gathering in the Great Hall. "Suppose they're next." He gestured to Kate and Devin slow dancing along with a few other couples.

Riley smiled at the picture they presented. Kate looked amazing in the champagne-colored bridesmaid gown, her black hair setting off the color to perfection. And Devin, the broad-shouldered hunk, only had eyes for Kate. Their dogs, Hildie and Terry, lay by the massive hearth at the far end of the hall chewing on dog bones. "I wouldn't be surprised if they eloped. Kate's never one to do things the traditional way."

Hamish snorted, obviously finding the idea of elopement appalling. "Fran will have none of that."

A laugh escaped her. Fran and him both apparently.

Riley glanced over her shoulder and signaled to the bartender for another shot. She could feel Hamish's eyes on her and knew if she looked his way she'd see concern and, most likely, a frown peeking through that bushy red beard of his. So she avoided meeting his gaze and instead turned back to watch the reception.

"I know ye've suffered a nasty break, lass. But dinnae let it get ye down. Have some fun. Half the MacLaren clan turned out and a good lot of the American side too. And ye have ta admit, the lads here are a decent-looking lot."

She couldn't argue with that. There were several impressive men in attendance. Most in kilts. A few, she had to agree, were pretty damn attractive. There was a time in her life that being in Scotland, in a Scottish castle, among men in kilts would have made her inner romance-loving self squeal like a happy pig in a mud spa.

"I ken yer not in the market for a husband, but ye can still have a wee bit of fun. Get out there and dance." He flung his arm toward the reception, nearly choking on the sight of Grammy Lin squeezing the ass of a grinning old Scotsman as they danced. "Dear God."

"Oh, geez." Riley took her drink from the bar, downed it, and hopped off the stool. "Pretend you didn't see that. I swear, can't take her anywhere."

Hamish laughed. "I do like yer grandmother. She's got the right idea, and ole Fergus doesna seem ta mind."

"No," she paused, realizing. "He doesn't." This was, in fact, the happiest she'd seen her grandmother in a long, long time. And while it made Riley glad, it made the present difference in their emotional states all the more stark. "Think I'll get some fresh air."

"Take a coat, lass. Tis cold out there."

With a nod and a smile, she left the makeshift bar area, wondering if this was going to be her life. Single forever. Watching from the wings. Bitter. Unhappy. Companion to her grandmother. The two old spinsters. Maybe Hamish was right. Maybe she needed to let loose and have a little fun. God knew, she was well on her way to being drunk—and there was nothing like a rugged Highlander with a sexy accent to put her over the edge and make her forget her troubles.

Hell, Liam MacLaren had been trying to make a move on her all night. He was twenty-six, smoking hot, and completely shameless. She was seven years older, but it may as well have been a hundred. Her life experiences, the things she'd gone through made her feel tired and ancient.

She'd been separated from Mark since last summer, since begging Lucy to go to Balmorie Estate in her place so she could go to Aspen and try to work things out with her husband. Riley loved her job as a travel writer, but she'd loved Mark more. She'd taken a risk, convincing Lucy to go in her place. She could have gotten fired over it. And in the end, nothing had turned out the way she'd hoped. Mark had crushed her in Aspen, listing all her faults in the most minute detail, his voice sounding so disgusted with her, so hateful. The things he'd said had eviscerated her confidence, her worth. And then to drive the knife in further, he'd told her he'd found someone else, someone not her, someone perfect.

The only thing that had turned out as planned? The article she'd written for Balmorie's castle turned guest house was one of The Ambler's most popular to date. Lucy's photograph of the castle had even made the front cover of the magazine.

And Lucy had found love.

Almost seven months had gone by. And now here she was skirting around the enormous hall, through the conservatory, and out into the late November night. The bridesmaid dress offered little warmth—a strapless number with a fitted bodice, empire waist, and flowing knee-length chiffon skirt over satin. The champagne color went perfectly with the white and cream-colored candles and flowers that adorned the chapel. The dress had come with a faux fur shoulder wrap in white, which Riley had left lying across a chair in the hall. With the alcohol flowing through her veins and making her warm, she didn't need it.

The wide patio had been swept clear of snow, but she took her time, being careful in the strappy heels. It was quiet outside—the muted echoes of music from the hall seeming far away—and dark, the sky clear and black, the stars as bright as the moonlit snow. Riley had more than once reflected on how beautiful it was here, how she wished she could live in a place like this. It sure made the hustle and bustle of New York seem like another world. A world and life she was, maybe, getting tired of.

She wrapped her arms around her waist and stopped at the stone wall. While the alcohol helped to keep her warm, it also, unfortunately, made her emotional. And tonight, above all nights, she didn't want to cry. Not at her cousin's wedding.

Sniffling, she drew in an arctic breath and hugged herself tightly.

She was lonely. Lonely and confused and lost.

And she was tired of everyone being gentle and understanding with her, walking on eggshells. She appreciated their concern and thoughtfulness, but she was starting to feel like a charity case. Only James, Ian and Devin's younger brother, hadn't shown her any deferential treatment. Not that he was mean. He just didn't seem to care either way.

"Here, put this on."

Startled, she turned to find James pulling off his jacket.

She frowned. The last thing she wanted was to be in the presence of the gloriously hot and usually pissed-off veteran. James had a chip on his shoulder a mile wide. According to Lucy and Kate, he hadn't always been this way. He'd been something of a wild child, the quick-witted, sarcastic, devil. The kind of man who could smile a certain way at a woman and lustful thoughts instantly filled her mind. He still had a wicked vibe surrounding him, but now it lacked the spark Lucy had told her about.

Couldn't blame him.

No one could.

Riley glanced down at the artificial limb and then away. The guy had stood up as one of Ian's best men, in a kilt with the slick-looking carbon fiber leg replacing what he'd lost below the knee. Riley couldn't begin to imagine what he'd gone through and how he struggled to re-adjust to life outside of the military and then to life as an amputee. He'd only been back at Balmorie for a month or so, having spent the last several back in the States recovering, going through therapy, and finally being fitted for his prosthetic. Shortly after Kate had fallen in love with Devin, word had reach the MacLarens that James had been wounded in combat. Both brothers had flown to Germany to be with James, and then Devin had accompanied him back to their mother's home in North Carolina, where they'd grown up.

From what Riley knew, the entire family had rallied around James.

And, apparently, according to what Lucy had told her, he'd become a different man.

James MacLaren radiated a hardness, even when he was smiling. There was an edge about him. A determination, a stubbornness. And every time Riley was around him, it made her uncomfortable. His energy, the sharp, accessing blue eyes—like two hot lasers that cut through anything and everything—made her blood pressure rise. She didn't like him. Didn't like the way he towered over her and filled wherever he was with an all-consuming presence.

When she didn't take the jacket, he put it around her shoulders. "You're welcome." His deep voice made goose bumps rise on her arms.

"Thanks," she replied tightly, wishing she was alone and that his jacket didn't smell so freaking good. How she missed the smell of a man... "What are you doing out here?"

He stared over the wall at the white landscape and the black loch beyond. "Same as you, I reckon." He tossed a glance back to the house, the windows glowing with warm light. "And escaping your Grammy Lin. She keeps asking me what's under my kilt."

"Oh God. Sorry about that. She, um, has a preoccupation with all things Scottish. Been dying to come here for as long as I can remember. All these men in plaid has her head spinning."

James rested both hands on the wall and bent over a little and Riley wondered if he was easing some pressure off his leg. His hands, she noticed, were big and strong, a few scars here and there. He bent his head for a moment and she saw the edge of a black tattoo on the back of his neck as the collar of his shirt was pulled downward.

As he straightened, she turned her attention back to the scenery and felt his gaze on settle on her with those laser-y eyes of his, making her feel more rattled than she'd been in a while. She wasn't real fond of being rattled and the feeling drew out the old Riley, the one who faced things head on. Emboldened, she met those blue eyes head on. "What?"

A slash of brown eyebrow lifted and one corner of his mouth twisted into a half-smile, one that didn't reach his eyes. "You're not what I expected."

"How so?"

He shrugged, his voice devoid of emotion when he spoke. "All I've heard from your cousins is how tough you are, a force to be reckoned with, the fearsome leader of you three—"

BOOK: The Trouble With Kilts (The MacLarens of Balmorie)
9.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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