Rich with history and betrayal, RL Syme's book The Outcast Highlander is featured on Medieval Monday today.
From The Outcast Highlander, by R.L. Syme
“Bring them forward.” The fat man reached across his table and picked up a charred leg of some animal. Broc had never seen a sheriff eat in court before and hoped this was a sign of his gluttony. Men with deep desires always had a price.
The front guards stepped aside and Elizabeth walked between them, leaving Broc in their midst. With his broad sword strapped to his back, it wouldn’t have taken him long to cut through them if he’d had to. Most of them were boys, even compared to his own years, but more importantly, they were not well-fed nor well-trained. The soldiers were in use elsewhere and those who remained filled what boots they could.
They would be quick fodder if someone threatened Elizabeth.
“My lord and sheriff.” Elizabeth’s voice wavered, but she executed a perfect curtsey, staying near the floor until he bade her rise.
Until he got a good eyeful of her spilling décolletage, more like. Broc shuffled uneasily. She played a dangerous game.
“Rise, lady.” The sheriff burped and set down the leg of fowl. A wild turkey, by the look of it. Large, browned skin, dripping with fatty juices. He licked his lips like the lecherous fool he was and leaned over the table. With a smile, he followed her rise.
“I’m here to beg you for the release of my husband, Lord Andrew de Moray, Twelfth Viscount of Avoch and Strathaven, servant to the king.”
Broc held his laugh in. Servant to which king? The sheriff would assume Edward, who had taken the rule of Scotland along with England. But when Andrew said it, he meant Robert Bruce, whom he considered to be the true King of Scotland.
The sheriff only leered at Elizabeth and grinned. “I’ve heard of your coming, lady. I trust you were safe, even with your company.”
“I am safe.” Elizabeth turned to the dungeon door and cringed visibly. “I’ve heard of my husband’s capture and impending doom. I wish to bargain for his life.”
“And what did you bring to bargain?”
Elizabeth straightened and lifted her chin. This was at least not the posture of a woman who planned to prostitute herself for her husband. For that much, Broc relaxed.
“I have a suit of armor made by Spanish monks in the 11th century for my lord’s father.”
The sheriff pulled a knife from his side pocket and began to pick his teeth. “Yes?”
“And enough gold and silver to fill three chests, but I’m sure I could get more.”
He kept picking his teeth, flicking pieces off the blade to toss at various courtiers. Each one looked disgusted at the act, but smiled in return. He had these men well-trained
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“My lord is wise, as always.” Elizabeth turned to Broccin and a hint of regret passed across her face.
She was about to offer herself.
Broc’s hand went immediately to the hilt of his sword, but before he could draw, ten long spears had come down around him. Each tip was so close to his neck, if he moved in any one direction, he would be a dead man.
“I have as my captive, the leader of the renegade group of Highland warriors that have been falsely raiding and plundering in my husband’s good name.” Elizabeth sank into another curtsey. “As a token of my good fellowship, rather than having him killed upon capture, I offer him to you in exchange for my husband’s release and the clearing of his good name.”
Broc couldn’t breathe. If there hadn’t been ten sharp edges within striking distance of his throat, he would have pushed forward and demanded she speak sense.
Beneath the spears, a boy snuck forward and twisted rope around Broc’s hands. Suddenly, the knot was so tight, he couldn’t move at all. The spears raised and one of the guards pulled his sword from its sheath, and tossed it forward.
The long weapon slid all the way through the circle of guards, almost to Elizabeth’s side, and she glanced back in her curtsey. Broc met her eyes and seethed, but her countenance did not change.
“They call themselves the Mac Ri Albannach.” Elizabeth over-pronounced the Gaelic like a true English, then returned to the refined, long tones of the court. “Sons of the Rightful King.”
Broc snorted. They did no such thing—they didn’t need to call themselves anything. But to the English, there was nothing more fearsome than an organized group of rebel warriors from the unknown mountains. He struggled against his bonds and one of the spears sliced into his shoulder.
The cut was deep and the hot, thick blood flowed down his back in double time.
“I hear tell there’s a real man behind this legendary Highlander who raids English strongholds and beheads shire magistrates.” The fat sheriff stood and walked around the table.
“I had friends at Carlisle.” The fat man spat from outside the circle of armed guards. “Friends who were killed by some band of rebels, intent on savagery and filth.”
He pulled Elizabeth to her feet. “And yet you captured this man? How do you intend to prove it was him and not your husband who led these raids?”
The sheriff called out. “Bring the raider out.”
From the corner of the room, a man in chains was pushed forward. Broc’s heart sank. The man they’d assumed dead, Tearny MacDonnogh, was almost no better off than if they had indeed killed him. His once muscular frame was now emaciated, with skin hanging from his arms. He was bare to the waist and the scars of beatings reminded Broc of just how long it had been since they had been to Berwick.
“Is this the man who led you at Carlisle?” the sheriff asked. “And is he leading the Mac Ri Albannach?”
Tearney’s greasy, matted hair swung around his face as he nodded. His eyes were half-closed and his mouth hung open, but he managed to make his affirmation known.
The sheriff cackled and threw Elizabeth to the ground. “I’ll be knighted for this for certain.”
With broad gestures, he pointed to Tearny and then the dungeon door. “Release both of them to her care, as we agreed. And take this one down to the bowels. I want the smithy to make him special chains with double-thick cast and no slack.”
He took his captain of the guard by the throat. “And by God, he had better be who she says he is, or it’s going to be your head on a silver plate instead of mine.”
“He’s the man, my lord.” The captain scratched at his throat where the fat hands had gripped him. “He bears the marks from Lord Hobble’s double-bladed Arabian weapon. I saw the scars on his arm.”
Broc swallowed. He did bear such a scar, and he had been the one to kill the perverted English lord in the battle of Carlisle, but only because the man had nearly killed Andrew and was about to disembowel him when Broc discovered and beheaded the man.
He was outnumbered, his weapon lost to him, bound, and soon to be imprisoned. Fighting back now would only mean Andrew’s certain continued imprisonment and possible death. At least if he kept quiet like a captive, he could know Andrew was free. Even if it meant he would rot in the dungeon himself.
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The Outcast Highlander begins the Highland Renegades series of medieval romance novels by USA Today bestselling author R.L. Syme (also writing as Becca Boyd). Please visit http://rlsyme.com today to get The Outcast Highlander for FREE! Happy reading!
I'm visiting with Mary Morgan today, chatting about writing and The Highlander's French Bride.
Come visit with me!
The Highlander's French Bride, book 5 in The Highlander's Bride series by Cathy MacRae, is now available on Amazon!
Medieval Scottish/French romance
Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.
Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.
Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.
Look who grabbed the Thursday Threads spotlight this week! Me!
Meet Ranald and Riona in The Highlader's Reluctant Bride, the prequel to the 5th book in The Highlander's Bride series, The Highlander's French Bride, scheduled to release in December.
Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.
Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.
Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a four-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?
Absently Riona brushed a wayward strand of dark auburn hair from her face as she took two quick paces to catch up with him. The movement reminded Ranald of her as a child.
“I don’t suppose ye were too anxious to come here,” she said.
He formed a rueful expression. “Nae. ‘Twas no’ my first choice.”
“I know ye dinnae like it here. Ye always seemed relieved to depart.”
Ranald laughed. “‘Twas ye I dinnae like.”
Rather than take offence, Riona nodded again. “Nor I ye.”
“Ye were a difficult lass.”
She drew up short, staring at him. “Me? Difficult? All I ever wanted was to be included. Ye were forever running off, trying to leave me behind.”
Ranald did not check his pace. “Ach, we did let ye play sometimes.”
With a huff, Riona scrambled to his side. “Oh, aye. Ye let me play ‘princess.’ The princess ye kidnapped and held for ransom by tying me to a tree all afternoon.” She grabbed at her skirt again as she stumbled and caught herself.
Ranald paused and his horse tossed his head at his master’s sudden halt, but Riona didn’t slow her stride. With one long pace he was even with her again.
“And what about the time ye let me go fishing?” she tossed at him. “Except I had to sit in the bottom of the boat and use my skirt to hold yer catch. I smelled of fish for a week.”
Ranald chuckled and shook his head. “That wasnae me, lass.”
She bit her lip, and Ranald wondered why her straight, white teeth fascinated him so. He stared at the reddened mark her bite left behind.
“True,” she allowed. “Ye dinnae like the water, do ye?”
Ranald swallowed back his wayward thoughts. This was Riona, his childhood nemesis, not the sweet widow he’d left behind at Scott Castle.
He caught her sideways glance at him and realized he’d not answered her. “Nae. ‘Tis all that up and down and sideways motion. Makes my stomach churn.”
“How do ye intend to be laird of a people who live by the sea?”
“I cannae say if I’ll ever be much of a sailor, but I will be laird.”
BUY LINK: http://www.amzn.com/B00J1PNPPC/
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This week's Thursday Threads features The Highlander's Accidental Bride by - me!
This also qualifies as a throwback Thursday as it was my first book published by Soul Mate Publishing.
And to make things even better, it is on sale through June 7 on Amazon for only 99 cents!
"Shocked to find herself married to the laird, Mary sees little to recommend her new life as Lady Scott. Until Laird Scott sets out to prove their accidental marriage was no mistake."
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Heat level: sensual
Chaos reigns between the Scott and Barde clans in 14th century Scotland. To end the generation’s long feud, King Robert II of Scotland decrees Eaden, Laird Scott, and Lady Miriam Barde wed with all haste. When marriage negotiations break down, King Robert threatens Eaden with the loss of his lands and title. Forced to take matters into his own hands, the laird kidnaps his bride, only to find the young woman he mistakenly drags to his marriage bed is not Laird Barde’s daughter, but her lady companion.
Mary Marsh fights for her freedom from the laird and the unwanted marriage, refusing to accept her new life as Lady Scott. Realizing his error, Laird Scott develops an attachment to the feisty young woman he has accidentally married. Can he win her heart and convince her she is more than just a ‘duty’ to him? Or will the bond forged between the lady’s companion and the laird be destroyed by secrets and a feud that will not be laid to rest?
King Robert frowned fiercely. “What have ye done?” he asked, his voice hard.
“I’d tried speaking to Barde and doing things the traditional way. He was less than enthusiastic and mentioned hell freezing over as the only possible wedding date. His daughter was equally certain she’d no’ marry into the Scott clan.” Eaden shrugged. The feud between their families was generations old. He hadn’t wanted a Barde bride, either. “So I kidnapped her, carried her back to Scott Castle, and we married the same day.”
King Robert sat bolt upright in his chair, shocked surprise clear on his slack-jawed face. “Ye kidnapped her?” He wheezed, unable to inhale a proper breath, and pointed an accusatory finger at Eaden. “Ye actually forced her to marry ye?”
“Nay, Sire. I simply saw ‘twas done in a timely manner and without bloodshed.”
“How certain are ye her father is not, this instant, standing before the walls of Scott Castle, demanding his daughter be returned to him? Are ye trying to promote peace or war?”
Eaden gave an exasperated snort. “He cannae cry foul. I have the papers ye signed. And I have men keeping an eye on Barde.” He shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “The marriage is irrevocable. She is now well and truly my wife.”
King Robert collapsed back into his chair. “Do ye no’ ken the ruinous upheaval yer actions could provoke? ‘Tis true I commanded the marriage. I know how ye dinnae favor the alliance. But kidnapping the lass is a far cry from having the marriage properly planned and executed!”
The king stewed for a moment, as if consumed in vigorous contemplation. At last he shrugged. “Scott.” His voice invoked not Eaden’s friend, but Robert II, King of Scotland. “Inasmuch as ye have followed my orders to the letter, if not their actual intent, I hereby commit yer title and land to ye and to yer descendants.”
He leaned forward and clasped Eaden’s shoulder. “I hope ye dinnae have cause to regret yer hastiness.”
Eaden winced. He already did.
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Buy link: http://www.amzn.com/B00BMFPT12
For a sizzling blend of Medieval romance and passion, read Camulus, by Bambi Lynn.
Camulus Vass wants a simple life, absent the power and responsibility that can consume a man. But being laird of a clan as large as the Munro does not offer such luxury. Always under the domineering heel of his uncle, Cam has allowed himself to become a pawn. But the arrival of a mysterious newcomer awakens a beast within him that will not be tamed.
Màili has been given the task of rooting out the spawn of an ancient god. It’s the only way to take her revenge against the man who betrayed her. But getting what she wants means taking the life of the man she loves. Will her hunger for a mortal man wreak further havoc on her already bleak future?
Cam pulled the linen from his shaggy, ebony mane and locked his rich brown eyes, glistening with excitement, on hers. He stepped out of the tub, dropping the linen to the floor. "Come to me, woman." Cam wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her against him. He claimed her mouth with his, prying her lips open and invading her with the sweetest tasting tongue she had ever known.
Màili lost herself in that kiss. The power of it sent jolts of pleasure to every pore in her body. She tingled all over, her senses melding until she could no longer remember anything other than the man before her. She kissed him back with all the self–pity of a woman who had been betrayed by love and yearned to get even a piece of herself back.
The power of her desire for Cam surprised her. Màili was certainly no stranger to the ways of men and women. She had learned a lot over the centuries. This was the first time she had found anyone she thought could teach her anything. A nagging possibility tickled the edge of her thoughts, but she pushed it aside.
Màili dragged her mouth from his, nibbling along his jaw and across the pulse at his throat. With her hands on his chest, she urged him back toward the bed all the while trailing her lips, her tongue down his body. He tasted like nectar and all Màili could think of was more, more, more.
This week on Thursday Threads I have Meggan Connors and her Highland romance,
Heat Rating: Sensual
Genre: Historical Romance
When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.
Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.
Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their marriage, and she’d long since given up hope on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel’s heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if there were family. Who, for the first time, cares about her as if she is, too.
Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear them apart.
She ignored Grant’s angry protests behind her and ran for her husband’s bedchamber. Slamming open the door, she stumbled inside.
Malcolm lay in the great bed. Alone.
Alone. She tried not to speculate about what meant.
His breathing was shallow, as if he’d been running. As the door bounced back and closed, his sky-bright eyes shot up and met hers.
No, not sky-bright. Darker, the color of the forget-me-nots that bloomed in the gardens in spring. The color of the night sky as it lightened with the first rays of dawn.
“Milord.” She gasped for breath.
Malcolm had never looked at her like he did now. This time, when he studied her, it was as if he didn’t dislike what he saw.
Being honest with herself, Malcolm had never disliked her. After all, the term dislike implied a depth of feeling he almost certainly lacked.
Grant was suddenly at her back. “Sir, I apologize. She’s faster than you’d think.” He laid a hand on her shoulder, as if to steer her from the room.
She shook him off.
“Indeed.” Malcolm smiled, and a charming dent in his cheek appeared.
How had she not noticed that before?
“We will leave at once.” Grant took her by the arm.
She wrenched out of his grasp. “I’m not going anywhere. Not until I have my audience.” She glanced around the room and saw no sign of Malcolm’s mistress.
“Lady Mackay,” Grant began.
Malcolm held up his hand. “‘Tis fine, Grant. I can always make time for my lady wife.”
Isobel barked a hollow laugh, alleviating the ache, just a little.
“Are you certain?” Grant’s eyes shifted from Isobel to Malcolm and back again. A wrinkle formed between his brows, and the muscle in his cheek worked as he ground his teeth together.
He’d only ever done that when he was agitated or anxious.
But there was no reason for that, as Malcolm had never truly cared enough to keep secrets from her in an attempt to spare her feelings. Nor had he ever forced others to do the same.
Malcolm’s eyes met Grant’s, and something passed between the two men. Her husband gave Grant a clipped nod. “If you’ll excuse us, Grant.”
Grant released his breath slowly. His eyes narrowed first at Malcolm, then at Isobel. Scowling, he bowed his head. “Mackay,” he said stiffly. He turned to Isobel. “Lady Mackay.”
Isobel watched him go then waited until the door had closed behind him. “So, where is she?”
Malcolm arched a dark brow. “Where is who?”
“You know. Her.”
He lifted a single shoulder, as if she didn’t have a right to know. “I doona ken.”
The silence that fell between them was deafening, damning.
Finally he said, “Your arrival was unexpected.”
She breathed a mirthless laugh. “I have no doubt.” She expected him to look ashamed, but his expression didn’t hold even the slightest hint of remorse. She swallowed against the betrayal rising in the back of her throat and tried again. “Why are you abed?”
“I’ve been ailing. Naught to fash yourself over.”
She approached his great bed tentatively. “Ailing how? Has your cough worsened?”
He glanced down at his coverlet and then brought his gaze back to her face. “For a time, aye. I believe I’m on the mend now.”
Isobel pressed her hand to his forehead, then his cheek. His skin felt cool beneath her palm, if a little damp.
His breath hitched, then he cleared his throat. “Satisfied? As you can see, I am on the mend.”
“Perhaps,” she whispered. She ran her hand around to the back of his neck, then descended to his back.
He wore a thin linen shirt, unsuitable for the cool nights of the Highlands in late fall. She placed her hands between his shoulder blades. He was thinner than she remembered, but there was no mistaking Malcolm’s unique strength.
“Breathe,” she said, and then reminded herself to do the same.
“I hardly think—”
“If you want me to leave you be, you will appease my curiosity. Breathe.”
Malcolm tilted his head up and studied her.
She fought the desire to look at him for as long as she could before meeting his gaze. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw something in his eyes she hadn’t seen before.
“Breathe, milord.” Heat spread up her neck to her face, and, to keep her free hand from shaking, she clenched a fist. The warmth of his body seeped through his nightshirt, scalding her hand not with fever but with something else.
The corners of his lips tilted upward before he smoothed his features. He paused for a moment too long, then held her gaze as he took an extended, deliberate breath.
She shoved the raging emotions aside and forced herself to view him as a person who needed her help.
She felt no hint of the cough that had been nagging him before she’d left.
Swallowing hard, she slid her hand between the linen and his skin, against his chest.
His heart rate kicked up.
“Breathe.” She struggled to force the word out.
I feel nothing. Nothing. He needs my help.
She closed her eyes and listened to his breathing, feeling the rise and fall of his chest beneath her hands, the steady beating of his heart. His skin scorched hers.
Her mouth dried, her tongue thick and heavy. She removed her hand. “You seem to have mended nicely.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded strangled.
His gaze searched her face. “Aye.”
Isobel cradled her hand against her chest and stepped back from the bed, nearly tripping over her own feet. “I will leave you now, sir.”
Malcolm gave her a clipped nod. “Very well, my lady wife.”
“I—I will be in my chambers should you require me.”
He didn’t laugh, as he normally would have. “Then I shall find you there if I do. Or I will send for you.”
She backed up a few paces, bumped into a trunk, and immediately turned her attention to her skirt, trying to smooth wrinkles undoubtedly permanent from long days of travel. It was better than looking at Malcolm.
“By your leave.” Her eyes locked on the floor as she dipped into a hasty curtsy and fled.
The moment the door closed behind her, she put her back against the cold, stone wall, cradling the hand that had touched him as if she had injured it.
She’d touched his skin, felt the heat of his body, and the responding heat of hers.
He hadn’t forced her hands away. He hadn’t mocked her.
Instead, for the first time since their marriage, he’d called her wife.
With me on the blog today is Sherrie Hansen, author of the Wildflowers of Scotland series. She is sharing her latest book, a romantic suspence, Shy Violet.
Buy Link – Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00XLUEE9E
When a poor choice and some wild fluctuations in the space time continuum leave school teacher Violet Johansen stranded in the car park of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, Violet wonders if she’ll ever find her way back to her comfort zone. She has two choices – to trust a piper who looks exactly like someone she dated a decade ago, or a band of nefarious pirates.
Pirates. Pipers. People and mistakes from the past that threaten to haunt you forever... A castle that’s been ravaged and rebuilt... Will Violet and Nathan’s fragile new friendship survive the storm and see love reborn?
Shy Violet Excerpt:
“I’ve a passenger who needs transporting,” the red- headed girl said to the pirate at the stern of the sailboat. “She needs to go far, far away and stay there until everyone is gone.”
The girl didn’t appear nervous, but Violet was. The man didn’t look like a tour guide. He looked like a real pirate. His hair hung in long, matted dreadlocks around skin stained dark from too much sweat and sun.
“Will ye do it? We have precious little time.”
“For the price of the rest of the day’s tours.” The pirate used his fingers to scratch his skin under the greasy headscarf tied around his forehead. “Lost revenues, I cannae afford. Much as I’d like to help the lass.”
“I have no money.” Violet blinked away tears for the first time. She’d been so close.
The man must have sensed her desperation. “Climb on board. We’ll take ye for a spin in the loch and find a way to work things oot.”
A stream of tourists spewed out of the mouth of Eileen Donan castle and began to cross the moat. She took the hand that was offered, leapt aboard, then ducked and crawled to the deepest part of the boat. Her legs were crossed under her, her head bowed.
“Ahoy, mateys.” There was a clatter as the anchor was raised and ropes cinched and drawn, then a creaking noise as the boat left the dock. The waves hit with a jolt, swell after swell, a roller coaster ride of fear and regret and wonderment and terror.
“What’s yer name, fair lassie?”
She dared not look up for fear Alexander would see her. She let out a deep breath. He was more likely checking the bathrooms, consulting the authorities, or asking around to see if anyone had seen her. Would the red-haired girl be able to resist his charms? He was a knight with a thick pocketbook. He had ways of getting what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to use them, especially on young women who giggled at his good looks and swooned when he wooed them.
She’d been such a fool. “Violet. My name is Violet. Violet Johansen.”
A wave splashed over the gunnels and doused her. She clutched her glasses to make sure they hadn’t been knocked loose, and tried not to cower – it was just water. Water couldn’t hurt her. But it was bad enough, being scared silly and at the mercy of a bunch of marauding pirates who were complete strangers. She did not want to be cold and soaked besides.
The pirates swayed with the rhythm of the waves that were rolling the boat from side to side and talked among themselves, a half indistinguishable mishmash of conversation and sailing lingo in Irish brogues and the lyrical cadence of Scots.
The sea calmed, and she resisted the urge to sneak a peek at the water, the heather-covered hills and the blue-hued mountains she’d glimpsed from the castle.
“So, you’re not really pirates, right?” She didn’t dare lift her head for fear Alexander was eyeing them from the dock or using the binoculars he always traveled with to scope her whereabouts.
“Depends on how ye define pirate.”
She still couldn’t see their faces, but the voice that spoke was deep and husky.
A second voice spoke, softer and gentler. “So if I be a pirate, does that mean ye be the cooking wench from me fantasies, come to feed us delectable morsels and pleasure us on our long voyage, far from land?”
“Um. No. Sorry to disappoint you.”
The other pirates laughed, a few in silly, nervous-sounding dulcets, the rest in deep, frighteningly raunchy hoots.
“There be a group of prospective passengers waiting in line at the dock,” another voice said. That made three. She’d barely looked at the motley group when she’d jumped on the boat, but thought she remembered five or six total crew members.
“What’s this gent look like – the one ye’re hiding from? If he has a defining characteristic I could pinpoint with my eyepiece, perhaps we can determine if it be safe to swing back and pick up some paying passengers.”
Okay. She got the point. She’d always hated being a nuisance. She swallowed her pride. What choice did she have? “He’s wearing a black sports jacket with an ascot around his neck. Red, I think. He was wearing sunglasses and carrying a satchel over his shoulder for his camera, Kindle, and binoculars.”
“Ye were dating a man who carries a purse?”
She pushed her glasses higher onto her nose. “It’s not a purse. More like a backpack only smaller – and designed for men.” Why was she defending him? The man was a blimey bastard. Let them think what they would.
“I’m afraid I’ve lost all respect for ye noo. Ye know what they say aboot women who love men with purses,” said the pirate with the deep, husky voice.
“Got him in my sights,” the gentler-voiced pirate said. “We nae can turn back noo. He’s got his binoculars trained right on us.”
Her fear meter soared off the chart and she jerked involuntarily. She felt like her lungs were being crushed.
“Stay down, lass. He can see twice what I can at this distance. Take a look, Hoodie.”
“Do ye think if we returned her, all nice like, he’d give us his binoculars as a reward?” a gruff voice asked.
Great. Untrustworthy pirates. Just her luck. She mustered her courage and tried to sound intimidating. “Knowing Alexander, he’d have you charged with kidnapping and hauled before Scotland Yard.”
“It weren’t us who kidnapped ye. It were ye who commandeered our ship and made us do yer bidding.” This one had a thick brogue.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drag anyone else into this mess. As for the money you’re missing out on, I’ll make it up to you somehow.”
“Oh, we’ll find a way to extract it from ye awright – sooner or later.”
A new voice. Was it the chill in the wind, or did this one sound more menacing than the others?
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Twenty-three years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer's grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Shy Violet” is Sherrie’s eighth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing, a mid-sized, independent press out of Kernersville, NC.
www.BlueBelleInn.com or www.BlueBelleBooks.com
Books Titles: Wildflowers of Scotland novels - Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet. Night and Day, Love Notes, and the Maple Valley Trilogy – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.