A Historical Scottish Romance Novel

About the book

Their past was stolen, but they will claim their future together…

She remembers living in a Castle, but Isla Sutherland’s life is far from royal. Residing with her potty-mouthed aunt in the forest, she makes ends meet as a healer. When she finds a living corpse near her house, she vows to help him, even if he is dangerous…

Arran Woods finds himself staring at the most beautiful woman on Earth: the one who healed him. With no memory of his past, he adjusts to life in the forest. Until the day a new injury helps him remember: he is the missing Laird.

Despite the threats all around them, Isla and Arran’s love protects them from the outside world. When he returns to claim his Lairdship, he finds another man sitting on the throne. Arran has to earn back his clan, but Isla remembers the man from another lifetime…


Chapter One


The fresh dewy air trickled into the cottage that lay within the thick woods. Birds were waking with the growing dawn light, and the wind was blowing heavily through the mass of branches from above. A thin stream of smoke rose from the chimney as Isla Sutherland rose from her slumber, ready for another day of gathering herbs.

After getting changed into a simple cotton dress, she allowed her long hair to cascade down her back, dark like a tree trunk. Isla lived a relatively simple life in the middle of nowhere with her aunt. Every day was a similar day that brought similar challenges, but she didn’t mind.

Her life consisted of working with nature to help heal the patients that came to see her aunt; they were the kind of people who were desperately in need of medical help, yet the physicians in the towns they had come from would be too expensive.

She always felt fulfilled in healing people, it was the kind of role that allowed her to help in some small way.

Isla stepped out of her small bedroom to see that her aunt was already beginning to boil leaves and extract certain materials out of flowers.

“Good morning,” Elsie, her aunt,u said without looking up from what she was doing. She wore a thin pair of glasses on the end of her nose and her tongue stuck out as she was clearly focusing deeply on the delicate flower between her fingers.

“Please tell me that ye have been to sleep,” Isla said with a chuckle as she walked over to her station of herbs.

“Aye, I was able to sleep for a couple of hours.”

But Isla knew that wasn’t the truth. She’d been woken before dawn by the sound of her aunt shuffling around in the kitchen. The strong scent of burning that drifted into Isla’s bedroom confirmed to her that her aunt had been infusing certain herbs just before dawn. She always said that they were much more effective that way.

“I’ll head out to pick some more herbs,” Isla said while grabbing her bag that hung from her shoulder.

“Can ye make sure to get lots of foxglove, please? We’re running a little low,” Elsie said while sitting at the table. She still hadn’t looked up from her work, but Isla knew that it would take precedent in her mind.

“Aye,” she nodded while heading for the door. “I will.”

“And dinnae forget about yarrow again!” Elsie called as Isla shut the door.

The woods were quiet as soon as she left the contained world of her aunt’s cottage. It was always alive with the sounds of a pestle and mortar, or the clinking of wind chimes if there was a light breeze.

But that morning felt very still, and Isla wasn’t sure why. She tried using her senses as her aunt had taught her; the lack of wind against her skin was the first thing that properly caught her attention, her palms tingled as she stretched the limits of her senses. It felt as though the forest was holding its breath for something, waiting for her to explore deeper.

Isla walked carefully along the moss-covered stones, she had to get to the small stream where the herbs would normally grow in abundance. She smiled at the birds that cut through the trees, dodging branches as they chirped, adding more sound to the environment around her than just her old boots on the stones.

Isla kept her gaze down to make sure that she wouldn’t slip on the greener areas, knowing that they held enough dampness within them that would cause her to fall should she lose her footing and slip.

Something scurried into the undergrowth on her left, but Isla knew that it would be perhaps a squirrel or a mouse. She was used to the sounds of the animals around her, but she still preferred it when they made themselves known.

The first few patients would be coming to see her aunt soon, and so Isla knew that she was going to have to hurry to gather up what she needed. She bit her lip and quickly crouched down as she approached the stream; her arms were outstretched as her feet balanced precariously on the uneven ground.

The water trickled down from the Highlands; it cut across the land as though it held the power to slice through thick stone, but it was the purest water that she had ever tasted. Her aunt had told her that there was no other water like it in the country, that it was so pure and came from the caves within the rocks around them. Isla had stopped listening when her aunt had spoken about its source being blessed by fairies; while she could entertain most of Elsie’s whims, that was slightly too far.

Isla had lived with her aunt ever since she was a child. The kind woman had taken her in after her parents had disappeared one night. It was perhaps the greatest mystery that still made no sense to Isla. She had thought about her parents for years, but she was still no closer to understanding where they could have gone.

Elsie would fix her up a tincture that sent her back to sleep with no more dreams, although Isla would wake up feeling groggy rather than refreshed.

She hoped more than anything that her parents were alive, even if they had left her; she just wanted the promise that life was still flowing through their blood. But it was a promise that Elsie couldn’t make to her.

Isla loved her life within the woods, and she felt as though she wouldn’t change it for anyone, but she just wished that her parents would be able to see that she was doing all right.

She hopped over a large puddle as she approached the stream. Her foot caught on the edge of the water’s surface and Isla felt small splashes of the cold water kissing her heels. She shuddered and continued around the slight bend to where the number of trees thinned out.

Isla was keeping her eyes peeled for the sight of the purple flowers that shot out of the ground and rose high. She’d always thought they looked like vibrant church bells, signaling to her that the leaves she needed were just below them.

Yet as she approached the stream, her eyes widened and she stopped in her tracks immediately. She could feel her heart hammering in her chest as her brown eyes widened, her body still but poised.

Her mouth hung open slightly as she stared at the figure before her. His eyes were closed, his body still, and from her position, she couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

“Oh my god,” Isla muttered as she quickly dropped her bag and rushed over to the man. “Excuse me, sir? Can ye hear me?”

The man gave no response, but as she approached him, prodding him with her fingers, Isla finally saw the rising and falling of his chest. It was slightly irregular, but it was still a better sign than if he wasn’t breathing at all.

Isla thought about all that her aunt had taught her, and she quickly grabbed his wrist. She felt with her fingers on the underside of his arm for a pulse. The quickening tap against his skin was just as irregular as the way that he’d been breathing.

She spotted a cut on the side of his head and a scar across his brow. Whoever he was, Isla was starting to realize that he must be important. He was wearing a kilt of colors that she recognized, but she didn’t keep up with the world outside of their forest enough to know who he was.

Most of his body was still in the stream, and so Isla worked quickly to pull him by his shoulders out of the water and onto the rocky bank where she was.

“Are ye all right? Can ye hear me?” she continued to ask him, but his eyes remained closed.

His hair was the kind of brown that reminded her of the forest floor; an amalgamation of leaves and dirt that had been pushed together to create one surface. Isla stared at his handsome face, feeling slightly spellbound by the attractiveness of the man in front of her. However, she also felt rather intimidated since it wasn’t every day that she would find a man like that in the woods.

The man was incredibly pale, and she started to realize that he probably had water in his system. Isla had no idea how to get the water from his lungs; she thought back to the times that she had seen her aunt helping people. There had been people with things trapped in their throats and her aunt had helped by hitting against their backs.

She didn’t have time to think of a better alternative, and so Isla turned the man slightly onto his side and hit against his back.

“And again,” she said, although more to herself since he still wasn’t conscious. She bit her lip and pressed down on his back in quick succession, hoping that her actions would do something. “Come on,” she muttered while continuing.

Isla was just about to give up when she felt his chest convulse, followed by the man coughing. She pushed him gently until he rolled onto his side, allowing a large amount of water out of his mouth. He coughed a little more and struggled for breath for a moment as Isla rubbed his back.

Her eyes were wide as she stared down at him. The vibrant blue of his unseeing eyes took her by surprise, they were large and almost bulging as they watered slightly. He stared up at the canopy above them for a moment before they started to roll back.

“No, no, no,” Isla quickly sat up and shook him lightly. “Ye have to stay awake! Please, dinnae close yer eyes.”

She started to hit his back a little in case there was still water that he had to expel, but it didn’t seem that he had anymore within him. Just before he fully drifted back into the realm of unconsciousness, he uttered one word.

“Murder.”


Chapter Two


“I’ll be right back, I promise,” Isla murmured as she quickly straightened up and ran back the way that she’d come.

Isla ran as quickly as she could. Her legs were moving carefully so that she wouldn’t slip, but her eyes were ahead of her, making sure to dodge the trees.

All of a sudden, it felt as though the forest around her had come to life in a collective panic. Birds were whistling erratically from up above and the leaves blew around as though a storm was due. Isla winced at the branches that were ahead of her and put her arms up to protect her face.

“Lachlan!” she shouted while approaching his hut. She had tactfully skirted around her aunt’s cottage so as not to alarm her with her shouting. Isla knew that her aunt would already be helping other patients and would be torn about leaving them to come out into the wood. It was Isla’s job to go out and gather the herbs, and so she was the one that should deal with the issue.

But she knew that she wouldn’t be able to lift the man all the way back to the cottage on her own, and so she enlisted the help of her only friend who also lived so remotely. Lachlan was similar in age to Isla, and she had known him for the majority of her life. She thought about all of the memories that the two of them shared and how far back their friendship stretched. Isla knew that if there was one person who would be able to help her, it would be him.

“Lachlan!” she called again while nearing his cottage. It was a lot smaller than the one that she shared with her aunt, but he always seemed content with it.

“What’s the meaning of this?” he grumbled while stepping out into the morning sun. “It’s still early for normal folk like us.”

“Aye, I ken, and I’m sorry to disturb ye, but ye need to come now!”

“What is it?” he asked, suddenly much more alert. It was as though her words and urgent tone had knocked the sleepy grogginess from his voice. His dark hair still flopped over his brow, and it was evident that her words had dragged him out of sleep only moments before.

He eyed her wet dress, causing his brow to furrow even more than it already was.

“I’ve found a man in the woods and I need ye to help me carry him to the cottage,” Isla said quickly, ignoring the way that the confusion intensified on his expression.

For a moment Lachlan was poised as though he wasn’t going to help her, he was hesitating while standing still in his nightshirt.

“Let me get my boots,” he muttered quickly before turning around and disappearing into the darkness of his cottage, having not yet opened his shutters. “Where is this man? And how did ye find him?”

“I was just going to gather herbs when I found him by the stream. Well, he was actually slightly in the stream and-”

“Does he have a weapon on him?” Lachlan asked quickly as Isla showed him the route back to the mysterious man.

“He’s nae conscious, Lachlan, how would he be able to attack us?” Isla said with surprise. She hadn’t even thought about the possibility that he could be dangerous; she just knew that he needed help.

“I’m just being careful,” Lachlan grumbled from behind her.

“Watch out for the moss,” she called back to him while rushing ahead. “I dinnae want ye to slip and hit yer head too.”

“I’m fine,” he grumbled from behind her while continuing to keep up with her. “I’ve got to say, I did nae think that this would be how I would start my morning when I went to sleep last night. Rescuing grown men from a stream.”

Isla could hear the way that Lachlan was grumbling; he had never been a morning person and would often be in a sour mood if he was woken with a start.

“He hit his head, I think,” Isla said while trying to defend the unconscious man. “I dinnae think he just decided to try and swim in the stream.”

His muttering became inaudible as Isla pushed on, blocking the incoming branches with her arms once more, but holding them for slightly longer to help Lachlan too.

They reached the stream quickly, and Isla was relieved to see that the man was still where she had left him. His chest was rising and falling heavily, but regularly, and relief washed over her as she saw that a little bit of color had returned to his previously pallid cheeks.

“This is him?” Lachlan asked while holding back slightly.

Isla had seen the sword that was sheathed at his waist, it was ornate and long. She had no doubts that it would be able to cut down both of them if the man was to come to and feel threatened.

“Nay, there are plenty of unconscious men on the banks of streams in our woods,” Isla remarked in a sarcastic tone.

“All right, I was just asking,” Lachlan said, holding his hands up in defense.

“Help me to get him up,” she said while beginning to hold him by his shoulders again.

Lachlan made no more complaints as he took the man’s legs and lifted them effortlessly. Isla was struggling slightly to hold onto him, her body unable to match the strength of a man’s, but she did her best to make sure that he was off of the ground.

The walk back to the cottage was a large struggle for both of them; while Isla was struggling with the weight of the man, Lachlan was struggling with his footing since he was walking backward.

“A little to yer left,” Isla said while trying to guide him. Her grip was constantly slipping as her hands grew slick with sweat, but she continued on while trying to ignore the groaning of the muscles in her arms. “Nay, the other left!”

“Which left?” Lachlan asked with a heavy sigh as he closed his eyes for a moment. “Do ye ken which is left and which is right?”

“Aye, but ye are backward and so yers are different to mine,” Isla said in her own defense. “All right, to yer right.”

They continued on like this for what felt like a small eternity. The rocky surface of the forest floor close to the stream posed enough issues without Lachlan having to blindly navigate his way through the trees. He would occasionally grunt as his shoulders bumped into trees and he would wince at the feeling of it, but still, he didn’t complain.

Finally, Isla could see the smoke coming from the chimney and a few people milling about outside of their cottage. They were no doubt patients that her aunt would be busy treating, but Isla knew that as soon as they walked through the door, the attention would be on the mysterious man in their arms.

“Where have ye been? I tell ye all the time to be quick when gathering-”

Elsie’s words were cut off upon seeing Lachlan and the man that Isla and he were carrying. Her eyes widened for a moment, but Isla quickly saw the way that she settled herself before her voice became incredibly calm.

“Set him down on the table there,” her aunt quickly pointed to the table in the kitchen. Isla and Lachlan heaved the heavy man onto the table while pushing its contents away from him to give him some space.

Elsie apologized to the woman that she had been talking with, but the current emergency was clearly going to take precedent against anyone else.

“What happened?” her aunt asked, tying back her hair quickly and glancing over the man.

“I found him in the stream,” Isla said and then proceeded to explain the same story she had told Lachlan. “There was water in his system, and I think he has hit his head.”

Her aunt’s eyes were scanning over the man as though trying to make a diagnosis of him, but her hands were already beginning to reach for certain materials that she was going to need.

Lachlan stepped back as Elsie started talking to her niece and ordering her around to get certain items. Isla suddenly felt rushed off her feet as she started to gather the necessary herbs and remedies that her aunt would use.

“I’m still going to need more foxglove though,” Elsie said after a while. “Will ye go and gather more?”

“But what about-”

“He’s going to be fine,” Elsie cut her off. “He’s breathing regularly, but this tincture will bring down his temperature. Lachlan, will ye build up the fire, I dinnae want him to catch a fever while he’s still wet.”

The cottage was suddenly alive with activity, but Isla felt strange leaving the man that she had found. She was worried for him, as though he wouldn’t pull through without her being around. She would have been lying to herself if she said that he wasn’t perhaps the most handsome man that she had ever seen, but she wasn’t about to admit that out loud to the room.

Instead, she reluctantly handed over some herbs before heading for the door to continue the task that she had been given that morning by her aunt.


Chapter Three


It took several days before the man woke from his unconscious slumber. Isla had started to fit staring at him into her daily routine, and watching over him in the evenings had become a task that she took on without complaint.

She’d seen the way that Lachlan narrowed his eyes whenever he entered the cottage to see her by his side, but she ignored it. She and her aunt had moved the man to one of the beds that the very sick patients would normally take if they were too ill to leave the cottage. It was much more comfortable for him than the table.

Isla had started to wonder if he would ever wake up or if he’d traveled to a realm that he preferred to the life that he’d left behind. His breathing was constant, and his pallor had significantly improved since she had first found him out in the stream. He’d been as white as a sheet back then, whereas he now had a much healthier glow.

Isla had been daydreaming when he’d woken up. She’d stared at one of the walls so intensely that it had appeared as though there were swirls and dots patterned into the blank wall.

The man gasped while jolting back into consciousness, and the sudden movement caused Isla to jump so much that she yelped with surprise.

“Oh, ye are finally awake!” she gasped.

“What happened?!” he said, suddenly trying to sit up. “Where am I?”

“Shh,” Isla muttered, knowing that her aunt was sleeping in the other room. “Ye are safe, I promise.”

The man quickly stopped protesting so that he could wince and put a hand to his head. It was clear that he still had some recovering to do.

“I have something that I could give ye if ye have a headache?” Isla quickly offered the man, but he shook his head very slowly.

“Who are ye? How did I get here?” he continued with his questioning.

“I understand that ye must be very confused right now and that ye will have a lot of questions,” Isla said while sitting up in her seat.

She could feel her cheeks heating up slightly from the burn of his piercing gaze. His eyes were so captivating that she was forced to look down at her hands so that she wouldn’t get lost in them.

“I dinnae remember how I got here,” he muttered, lying back against the pillow.

“I found ye by the stream. Ye was barely breathing and had water in yer lungs, ye hit yer head too. We brought ye here and my aunt has been healing ye,” Isla explained, daring to look at him again.

The confusion on his face was evident, but it was still clear that Isla would have to do more explaining. They had taken off the shirt that he’d worn days ago so that he would be more comfortable, but Isla had made sure to keep it close to him for when he woke up.

“What is yer name?” she asked to fill the confused silence that had come over him.

“I... I…” the man frowned while staring down at himself in the bed. “I dinnae ken what my name is.”

For a moment, Isla thought that the man was playing some kind of trick on her. That he was managing to find a joke while in such a strange predicament.

“Ye dinnae ken what yer name is?” she asked, sitting back and pursing her lips. “Well, all I ken is that ye are from the McCann clan, right?”

“How do ye ken that?” the man asked in confusion once more.

“Well, the colors of yer kilt,” Isla said as though it were one of the more obvious pieces of information in the situation.

“Aye,” he mumbled. “Of course.”

“So how did ye-”

“Arran!”

Isla jumped slightly at the way that he sat up and called out the name. She placed a hand to his bare shoulder, fighting back the blush on her cheeks as she gave him a gentle push. He lay back, but his eyes were wide as they had been when she had first found him.

“Is that yer name?”

“Aye!” he nodded quickly. “It just came to me...  I dinnae ken how. It came like a flash in front of my eyes, a moment of clarity.”

Isla blinked and waited a moment as she hesitated. The man was acting as though he were mad, and Isla wasn’t sure what to do about it. She’d seen her aunt treat many people who suffered from madness, but she was slightly disappointed to see that such a handsome man had also succumbed to the same fate.

“Do ye believe me?” he asked quickly. Something had changed on his face, and the expression was one that Isla couldn’t bear to deny.

“Aye, but how can ye have forgotten yer name?” she asked while running a hand through her dark hair.

“Ye said that I hit my head, aye?”

Of course, she thought to herself.

“Can ye remember anything else, Arran of Clan McCann?” she asked, leaning forward slightly.

The man before her frowned for a moment as she willed him to try and think hard about what had happened. However, Isla found that her heart dropped upon seeing him shake his head.

“Nay, only my name.”

Isla was silent for a moment as she thought about his words and what that would mean for him.

“Well, ye keep trying to remember things, aye?” she said, managing a small smile.

Isla knew that she would have to wake her aunt soon since she would want to speak with Arran herself. She couldn’t believe that the man had lost his memories, and she couldn’t imagine what that must be like to go through.

He looked so innocent and harmless, yet she remembered Lachlan’s cautious tone when they had approached him. His sword was in the cottage, although away from him, but Isla was sure that Arran wouldn’t even be able to remember that he owned a sword.

***

Arran stared at the beautiful woman as she stepped away from him for a moment. Her eyes were the same dark pools that he had seen when he’d woken up in the forest. He had no memory of how he’d got there, but all he’d remembered seeing was the bright light of the morning being shadowed by a woman.

At first, he had thought that she was an angel that had been sent to ease his passing. But he was very much still alive, and now he was starting to realize that she was simply a woman with a very kind soul.

His mind felt like a vast plain that had been ravaged by an army. Like a plain that was left with no remnant of what it used to look like, just a field of mud and destruction. Arran felt his frustration building as he tried to sift through the sands of his mind to find anything that he could remember, but there was nothing.

He could hear the echoes of old conversations haunting him, but he didn’t know what they meant or who was even speaking. Isla had said that he belonged to the McCann clan, but he wasn’t even sure what that meant.

His frustration was almost unbearable, but he knew that there was nothing he could do about it.

“What is yer name?” Arran asked as the beautiful woman turned around to stare at him. Her hair flowed like a curving river, but it was her eyes that he couldn’t take his gaze off of.

“Isla,” she said, flashing him a small smile. “I would suggest that ye get some rest, it may help with bringing back yer memories.”

“Isla,” he repeated her name, causing her to turn back to face him. “Thank ye for saving my life.”

Arran watched her until she left him alone in the room. He didn’t even know where he was, be it a village or a large town, but from the small window, he could see lots of trees and greenery as daylight started to break.

While he couldn’t remember anything from his past, he took Isla’s name in his mind and held onto it tightly. He was going to remember everything from now on and not let anything go. He didn’t like the way that it felt as though his mind was betraying him, as though he had been locked out of his own thoughts.

He tried resting his eyes for a while, but he couldn’t sleep anymore. His body felt stiff, and he knew that he must have been out for at least a few days, although he really had no concept of time. He wondered if there was anyone out there that was missing his presence.

The image of his parents floated up for a moment in his mind, but their faces were blurred. It was as though he had been staring at a painting, but someone had poured water over the faces, distorting the paint and erasing the important details.

Arran gave up trying to make out their features as he stared up at the ceiling. Wooden beams were supporting the ceiling; they swirled patterns in their surface, and he instead focused on them. It felt easy to see the things around them and log them within his memories. Arran just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t do the same with his old memories.

He thought back to the one word that Isla told him he’d said when he woke up the first time. Murder. He couldn’t even remember why he’d said it or what bearing it had on him. But Arran knew that he wouldn’t have just said the word for no reason. His eyes narrowed as he knew that he would have to think a little harder on the subject.


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  • Sounds exciting and obviously there’s a mystery there for Ilsa and Aaran to solve. As usual can’t wait to find out their story.

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