"Tisa. Yer betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed. Ye'll marry into the Meic Lochlainn clan of Inishowen. They'll be here in two days time."
The pain in her chest intensified with every word he spoke, like nails hammering into her heart, but her brain refused to understand his meaning beyond his first statement.
Your betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed.
Her betrothal to Tadhg? They'd been betrothed forever. They grew up knowing they would one day be wed. Tadhg was all she wanted in a husband.
Her father's eyes never wavered from her face. Surely he measured her reaction as if he cared.
"Ronan came here to make the agreement on their behalf. He has been a great help to our clan."
The kind eyes seemed familiar but no. Those would have been the eyes of her father that loved her. A father that wanted her to be happy. A father that wanted her settled nearby. This? This was a man that cared nothing for her. A man that would rip away her future dreams of happiness. A man that would send her away from him. A man that would give her to strangers. Strangers that saw her as nothing more than...breeding stock.
No. She was more than that. She would not stand here and be handed off to a stranger and not even a word of protest.
"Why?" Damn her eyes. The tears swelled and her father became a blurry figure. "How?"
He looked away. "The MacNaughton broke our agreement."
Her jaw dropped. A slap to the face would have hurt less. "No!"
"After Moira died, Padraig sent word he would not see his son married to an O'Brien."
"And ye did not think to tell me this?"
Her head reeled with the implications.
"And Moira? Tadhg's mother is dead?" Her breath hitched. Moira had been like a mother to her. "When was she buried? I wish to pay my resp—"
"Ye will not! Padraig would not allow us to come. None of us." Her father finally faced her. "We are no longer welcome on his land. He wants nothing to do with us."
"Nothing to do with us? They are our kinsmen."
"Ye canna just let him cut us off like this."
"I was given little choice in the matter."
"Then go to him! Beg his forgiveness for whatever you have done!"
"I have done nothing wrong! 'Twas Padraig's doing. He chose to give me no reason. I will abide by his decree."
Tisa's mind struggled to make sense of what her father was saying. There must be something he was not saying. "Why would Padraig treat us like this?"
He looked past her. "It matters not. What does matter is that the O'Neill threatens us to the west."
"When will Seamus and Ian return?" Her only unwed brothers had been away going on two years now.
Her father's eyes rounded in pain. "I dinna wish to upset ye but yer brothers will not be returning. They died in battle against the O'Neill."
Tisa cried out. "When?"
"We received the news spring last."
"Again ye decide to keep this from me? Do ye think I am a child? If that is the way of it, 'tis because my own father kept me from the truths in life, shielding me as if I would break."
"Ye brothers went against my wishes. My anger was at them, not ye."
"Be angry then. Be sad. Be devastated! But dunna keep me from the truth."
"A great loss." Her father closed his eyes against the pain.
Her own heart cried out. They were much older than her as were her sisters. The MacNaughton's were closer in age and felt more like family. Brighit was like her own little sister.
"I must make decisions that ye may not wish to abide by—but ye will. The O'Neill will not back down. We need an alliance with a strong clan. I need men I can count on, who will fight with me against them."
"They will not fight for us now. 'Tis not their land that is threatened." He shouted the words, his nostrils flaring. "They have broken our agreement, daughter. We are defenseless. Ronan was good enough to make a new alliance for us."
"At what cost to us?" Tisa knew the answer as soon as she asked the question. The way Ronan had looked at her, assessing her worth as a mate.
"You will marry their tanist."
"So I am to be exchanged for the promise of protection?"
"Ye will have a place of prominence in their clan."
"I do not care about prominence! I want the life I had always been promised. The life I was raised for."
"That life is gone, Tisa. This is the life ye will have."
"I do not accept this...betrayal."
"Ye have no choice."
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BLURB: Drogheda, Ireland 1076
The sixth son bears a curse as certain as the seventh son bears a blessing. When Tadhg MacNaughton’s betrothed is ripped from his arms and married to another, he believes the legend is true.
Tisa O'Brien's life slams into a downward spiral at the news she is no longer betrothed to the love of her life but married to the tanist of a warring, prideful clan with dangerous political aspirations—the Meic Lochlainn. She faces her destiny with all the strength and dignity of her Irish heritage despite dealing with a husband who resents her, fighting off the lustful advances of her father-in-law, Aodh, and longing for the husband of her heart.
Tadhg MacNaughton makes a deal with the devil to ensure the survival of his clan as he is commanded to fight with Aodh who envisions himself the new Brian Boru, High King of Eire. Up close and personal, Tadhg must witness his true love's marriage and remain silent even as it rips him apart. When a sinister plot to over throw King William of England led by the exiled Leofrid Godwin and Clan Meic Lochlainn comes to light, Tadhg is faced with saving his clan or endangering his sister and her Norman husband.
An Irish beauty and a warrior betrayed—doomed in love from the start or does fate have something else in store for them?