A Historical Scottish Romance Novel

About the book

He needs her trust, but can she trust her brother’s murderer?

Lady Heather Owens grew up with one notion: the Scots are the enemy. This is encouraged by the recent murder of her brother, for her father insists that the Scottish healer killed him. Yet, when she visits him in the dungeons, she has a change of heart…

Known for his healing capabilities, Laird Owen McCulloch is abducted by the English Earl to save his son. But no healer could save a man who was already on his way to the otherworld.

Despite being accused by her own father, Heather believes Owen when he argues his innocence. Risking her life to free him, they have to flee and stay together to avoid her father’s wrath. But her brother’s dying words will haunt them both...and his secret is stashed in a Scottish woman’s heart…


Chapter One


Southwest of Dunbar, 1650


“We should never have come down from Doon Hill,” Owen McCulloch grumbled, near blind in the driving rain that pelted the forest, turning any hope of a trail or path into an indistinct mass of churned, wet mud.

His friend and man-at-arms, Sawyer Connelly, just grinned and tilted his head up to the downpour. “Och, what could ye be gripin’ for when there’s fresh Scottish rain on yer face and a heart still beatin’ in yer chest? We’re the lucky ones, M’Laird.”

“Lucky?” Owen winced as his horse stumbled over a ditch, jolting his arm and chest. The former was lashed up in a makeshift sling while his ribs throbbed, feeling like they were about to pierce right through his lungs. A few were definitely broken, if the bruising beneath his torn shirt was any sort of indication.

Sawyer shrugged. “We’ll be back in the north in a day or two, M’Laird, so we can lick our wounds with some hearty food and plenty nips of whiskey. I’d rather be doin’ that than shiverin’ and starvin’ in an English gaol, would ye nae?”

“Can ye set our defeat aside so easily, Lad?” Owen shook his head. “We were thoroughly—” He brought his horse to an abrupt halt and held up his good hand, urging Sawyer to a standstill.

A strange sound drifted through the heavy patter of rainfall: a muffled crunch of undergrowth, coming from somewhere to the right.

“What is it?” Sawyer whispered.

“I cannae be certain,” Owen murmured back, squinting into the darkness of the forest. It had been three days since the Battle of Dunbar’s conclusion, and though most of the victorious English army had marched west toward Edinburgh with their Scottish captives, there were no assurances that people lurking in the woodland were countrymen.

Sawyer slowly drew his broadsword, as both men had lost their pistols in the battle. Even if they had still had them, there was a good chance that the gunpowder would not ignite in such wet conditions.

The sound came again, but it seemed to originate from the left, this time. With the darkness of night, the torrential rain, and Owen’s swollen eye competing to diminish his sight, he had to rely upon his gut instinct… and it did not spell good tidings. There was a hushed furtiveness to the noise, though anyone with the benefit of shelter could see they were Scottish. And if the people in the trees were also Scottish, they would make themselves known, once they had realized that. 

They’re nay friends of ours.

“We’ve got one last fight, I reckon,” Owen hissed, drawing his own broadsword. His sword hand was injured but, fortunately, he was skilled with both. He merely preferred his right.

Sawyer nodded. “Aye, M’Laird. Ye cannae mistake that Sassenach stench.”

No sooner had they drawn their weapons than the danger in the forest shot out of their not-so-secret hiding places. A surge of shifting, clanking, roaring darkness that poured onto the vanished path, wielding swords which beaded with rainwater that Owen would not turn red with his or Sawyer’s blood.

“Alive!” someone shouted in the unmistakable accent of an Englishman. “Remember, alive!”

Owen understood the word but not the context, as his horse reared in alarm at the sudden sweep of enemies. The war horse was built for withstanding battles, but not an ambush like this.

“Sawyer!” Owen barked, feeling himself slip from the saddle. Had both his arms been in good health, he might have been able to hold on. Instead, there was nothing he could do but give into the fall and hope for a soft landing.

“M’Laird!” Sawyer yelled back, jumping down from his own horse to come to Owen’s aid, at the very moment that Owen’s back collided with the muddy ground.

Covered by the darkness and the trees, it had been impossible to gauge how many enemies were hiding there. Now, it seemed like an entire army had Owen surrounded, as he struggled to raise himself from the sucking, squelching mud.

Nevertheless, he struck forward with his broadsword, using the motion to rock up into a sitting position. At the same time, Sawyer crashed through the barricade of enemy soldiers, swinging his blade like a madman. The distraction gave Owen a moment to lumber to his feet, unhindered, and he wasted no time joining Sawyer in their two-man resistance.

“Careful, men!” that same English voice bellowed through the storm. “Remember your orders!”

Indeed, it seemed strange that the attackers were not fighting back with the full weight of their advantage. They clearly had the numbers to make this an easy victory, yet they were striking and parrying with a hesitancy that puzzled Owen. Why were they acting defensively when they should have been fighting offensively?

“M’Laird! The trees! We need to get into the—” Sawyer’s frantic cries were severed sharply, followed by a guttural grunt and the sound of something collapsing into the mud.

Owen’s head whipped around as he dragged his hand over his eyes, desperate to clear the water away so he could see his friend. But there was no sign of Sawyer among the looming figures who closed in around Owen. Rather too quickly, this had become a resistance of one.

“Ye won yer battle!” Owen rasped, turning around and around to keep a watchful eye over the circle of men that surrounded him. “Let us be on our way!”

A figure stepped out of the circle. “We can’t do that, Mr. McCulloch.”

“Pardon?” Owen’s eyebrows rose in surprise, for the last thing he had expected was to hear these wretches call him by name. Even if they had gotten it slightly wrong.

“You are to come with us,” the leader of the group said firmly.

Owen raised his sword, to hold the man at a distance. “I daenae think so. I daenae ken who ye are, but ye’re English and that’s reason enough to go nay place with ye.”

“You can’t fight all of us, Mr. McCulloch,” the man replied evenly, and though he was right, Owen was not going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that.

Slicing his broadsword in a sweeping circle, Owen bit back the pain that rebounded through his chest and arm as the metal clashed with parries and blocks from the blades of the English. He spun and he spun, but with every rotation, the circle of soldiers grew more suffocating, until Owen could no longer extend his arm at all.

So, dropping his broadsword altogether, Owen snatched his dirk from his shoe and settled in for closer combat. He lunged with the smaller blade, hoping to cause some damage to the enemy, but he could barely make out their faces, much less the shape of their bodies beneath long cloaks. Once or twice, he heard the tear of material, or heard a hiss of pain, but he did not know what use it would be, in the end.

“What do ye want with me, eh?” Owen raged: his dirk-wielding hand now pretty much forced to his stomach.

The English leader sighed. “We have our orders, that is all we know.”

As Owen braced to strike at that man, sensing it might be his only choice, something collided with the side of his head. With his eye swollen shut, he had not seen the blow coming. Still, he felt it, sure enough. Sparks of pain erupted in his skull and though he was still on his feet, he no longer had any control over his limbs. His legs staggered and his torso swayed, his good eye blinking furiously to try and disperse cloudy black dots that blotted out what sight he had left.

“I’ll be… avenged… for this,” Owen hissed, just as his knees buckled and he fell forward, hitting the mud with an almighty splash. Even with all the willpower in the world, he could not rise up again, for oblivion had well and truly claimed him.


Chapter Two


Owen stirred blearily to the scent of woodsmoke and male voices mumbling and grumbling in the near distance, while another sound, like a great beast trying to take flight, throbbed in his ears.

“He’s awake,” someone said, in those clipped, English tones that Owen abhorred.

That “he,” Owen assumed, was him. Though where he had awoken and why were still unknown.

A shadow stretched over Owen and an unfamiliar face appeared. Damp blond hair plastered on a forehead, wrinkled in concern, which curved down to a proud, bulbous nose and a small, pursed mouth. Ruddy cheeks, peppered with fair stubble, matched reddened eyes that glistened with barely contained tears. The eyes might have been blue, but Owen’s sight had not yet cleared enough to be sure.

“Mr. McCulloch?” the man belonging to the face whispered, in a voice that reeked of desperation.

Owen groaned, struggling for breath as the full weight of his injured ribs threatened to stop all air from getting into his chest. “It’s… Laird Dunn to ye,” he managed to spit, as he lurched into a sitting position.

After a few deep, restorative breaths and some measured blinks, he could see well enough to take in his surroundings. He was inside a large, rectangular tent with a peaked roof. A fire crackled in the center, sending billows of grayish smoke up through a funneled hole in that roof, though the raindrops that snuck back down made the flames hiss. The flapping sound, he realized, came from the front of the tent, where the stormy winds battled against the limply tied canvas.

“Apologies. I am Elias Spencer, and I am in dire need of your assistance, Laird Dunn.” The blond man cleared his throat. “I realize that we are neither allies nor friends, and your side has suffered a great defeat, but… you are the only one I can trust. The healers among my army are sawbones and quacks, but your talents are famed.”

“Aye, and they’re nae for the likes of ye, for the reasons ye’ve just so plainly noted,” Owen shot back, searching the tent for any sign of Sawyer.

Moreover, Owen knew precisely who Elias Spencer was—the Earl of Gallagher, and one of the highest-ranking commanders of Cromwell’s army. Perhaps, the very last person on Earth, barring Cromwell himself, who Owen would feel inclined to help in any way.

“I had no choice, Laird Dunn. Truly, I did not.” Elias gestured toward another cot, on the opposite side of the tent, where a limp figure lay beneath bloodied blankets. “My son, my darling son, will die if you do not help him. Heal him and you may leave, with your man-at-arms. I shall pay you handsomely, in addition, but you must do this. I beg of you, not as an English enemy, but as a father who cannot bear the thought of losing his only son.”

There was something about the plea that struck a chord in Owen’s chest. A moment ago, he would rather have spit in his own eye than help this man, but it was hard to look at Elias as an enemy when he appeared so woefully pitiful.

“How handsomely?” Owen muttered.

Two choices lay before him, and neither were particularly pleasant. On the one hand, he could remain stubborn to the already defeated Scottish cause and risk his death and that of Sawyer, with little hope of seeing home again. On the other, he could do as Elias asked, gain a reward, and be on his journey back to Dunn Castle within a few days, with Sawyer intact. In truth, it did not seem like much of a choice at all.

“Would this suffice?” Elias took out a heavy coin pouch and placed it in Owen’s hand for a moment, presumably to let him feel the weight. Of course, he removed it quickly, so Owen would not have the chance to snatch it.

Sighing, Owen ran a hand through his thick, fiery red hair. It felt rough with dried mud and dirty from weeks of marching without so much as a stream to bathe in. In his mind’s eye, he imagined a steaming bathtub, placed before the fireplace in his chambers at Dunn Castle. He could almost smell the fragrant oils and feel his tight muscles loosening at the pleasurable sensation of being submerged in warmth.

“I suppose it’s goin’ to have to.” Owen nodded toward the wounded man. “What happened to him?”

“William?” Elias clasped his hands together in a strange, praying motion. “I cannot be certain, but he has several injuries and has been struggling to breathe. I am sure you will be able to understand his wounds better if you look at him yourself? I must leave to speak with my officers. Please, do all you can; I beg of you. Jenkins here will fetch anything you require.” He gestured to another man in the tent, before departing in a rush, likely so Owen could not refuse.  

***

For two seemingly endless days and nights, Owen toiled with barely a snatched hour of rest here and there. The small vessel that sat beneath the hollow reed, which Owen had inserted into William’s side, needed to be checked frequently in case the color changed. Moreover, the wounds, though sewn up, needed to have their bandages replaced every few hours.

For those two days and nights, William had drifted in and out of consciousness, groaning and muttering and speaking in fevered tongues. Something Owen had witnessed countless times in soldiers who were suffering as William was.

“Am… I dead?” William croaked, taking Owen by surprise on the eve of the third night.

Taking a cup of watered ale, Owen lifted it to the man’s lips. “Drink this, Lad. Ye’re nae dead, though ye’re nae out of trouble just yet.” He rested a hand against William’s forehead and grimaced at the heat of it. “Once yer fever breaks, ye’ll mend more quickly.”

“Where is… my father?”

Owen tilted his head toward the entrance. “He’s gone to speak with his men about movin’ ye back to England. I wouldn’ae have ye move so soon, but I’m eager to be on me way, too.”

I’m sure Sawyer is, an’ all. He had visited his friend once since their capture, and though Sawyer was unharmed, he was being held in a wooden cage. Naturally, Sawyer was not taking kindly to that sort of treatment, and it would not be long before one of the English soldiers retaliated at Sawyer’s spitting and throwing attacks.

“Do ye want me to fetch him back?” Owen reasoned that a son probably wanted to see his father, but William shook his head limply.

“No. I do not… want him to… know,” he murmured: his eyes foggy with delirium. “It all… happened so… quickly. I do not know… what is real and… what is not. I… am drowning, and I do not know… what to do. It is so… warm. Is it warm? Who… are you?”

Owen smiled. “I’m the fool yer faither captured to help ye. If I’d kent that healin’ men could forge a truce between the English and the Scots, I would’ve taken me needle and thread to auld Cromwell and stitched him up.” He sank back on his haunches. “Are ye breathin’ easier?”

“Breathing? I cannot… breathe with this… weight on me,” William hissed in reply, sounding panicked. “It is all… too much. It is crushing… me. I need to… get it off… my chest. I need it… gone! Save me, whoever you are! Save me!”

The injured man began to writhe and thrash, twisting up the fresh bandages that Owen had just wrapped around him. Already, fresh patches of red were appearing against the white material, where the violent motions were opening up healing parts of the wounds.

Seriousness furrowed Owen’s brow as he leaned forward to push down on William’s shoulders. “Ye have to stay still, William! If ye daenae, ye’ll tear everythin’ all over again!”

“William? You know… my name? How do… you know me? Were you… sent to… kill me?” William’s eyes widened with the madness of his fever, prompting him to flail and thrash harder against Owen’s restraining push. “He is… killing me! He… is killing me… again!”

With only one arm possessing its full strength, Owen knew he would not be able to hold William down without resorting to less comfortable measures. So, he pressed his good arm across William’s collarbone and heaved down with all of his weight, while his injured hand clamped as best it could over William’s mouth. It would not do Owen any good to have an Englishman shouting that he was trying to kill him.

“Hold still, William!” Owen commanded. “Ye’re goin’ to undo all the healin’ I’ve done, and I will nae be doin’ it all again for ye! I’m nae tryin’ to kill ye. I’m tryin’ to save yer life, so ye best do as ye’re told!”

Gradually, William relaxed, and his breath returned to a steady, albeit shallow, rhythm. Still wary of another outburst, Owen slowly removed the pressure of his arm and weight and sat back.

“Are you… truly trying… to save me?” William whispered.

Owen nodded. “Aye. Nae willingly, but aye.”

“Then, there… is something you… must—” William’s words turned into a spluttering cough that shuddered through his weakened chest, darkening the red stains of the bandages.

Owen placed a gentle hand on William’s chest and tapped lightly to release some of whatever was building up in there. “Daenae try to speak, William. Conserve yer strength.”

William’s eyes widened and he shook his head. “I have to… tell you. I have to… you are going… to save me, so I have to…” He trailed off into mumbling incoherence as his eyes rolled back into his head, wheezing out the nonsense of those with a burning fever. However, two hoarse words stood out, making Owen lean closer: “attacked… me.”

 “Who attacked ye?” Perhaps, Owen reasoned, he would know the Scot who did it.

But no sound escaped William’s lips. Not even the rush of breath.

“William?” Owen pressed his fingertips to the side of the man’s neck, feeling for the pulse of life. No movement met his touch. “William? William, can ye hear me?”

The man had wilted on the cot, lifeless as a plucked weed. His lips, already drained of color, were now a deathly pale. Nevertheless, Owen brought his ear close to William’s mouth, hoping to hear a faint whisper of breath, but that miracle did not come. The wounds had been too severe, and William had likely waited too long to be tended to by a healer.

“What have you done?” a shaky, terrible voice snarled from the entrance to the tent. “What have you done to my boy?”

Owen’s head whipped around. “I couldn’ae save him, Elias. If ye’d brought help to him quicker, he might’ve lived. Even a sawbones could’ve given him a better chance! I did what I could. I did everythin’ but he was too badly hurt!”

“Did you… kill my boy?” Elias flew across the tent before Owen could even think about defending himself.

As Elias tackled Owen with his full, portly weight, a cluster of guards raced into the tent. Seeing their commander in what must have looked like a scuffle, though Owen was merely trying to stop himself being strangled to death by Elias, the guards hurtled toward the scene and grabbed Owen. Wrenching his arms behind his back, not caring about his injured one, the guards hoisted him backward.

“He murdered my boy!” Elias screamed: his face purple with rage. “Take him out of my sight! Throw him in the cage with the other Scottish vermin!” He flung himself at his son’s dead body, hugging the limp figure tight to his chest as he wailed at the top of his lungs, “My boy! My only boy! My sweet, dear boy!”

In that moment, Owen wished he had done as Sawyer jokingly suggested, and ridden back to the English to have himself captured. That fate could not have been worse than what was surely about to befall him, for if Elias truly thought he had murdered William, there would be only one sentence awaiting him.


Chapter Three


“You will let me through!” Heather Spencer demanded, faced with the crossed pikes of the dungeon guards. “I would look into the eyes of my brother’s murderer, as I will do on the day that he is marched to the executioner.”

The guards exchanged a worried look. Clearly, they had been instructed to forbid Heather from passing into the underbelly of Gallagher Castle.

“It is no place for a lady,” her father would have said, as he had said countless times since returning from Scotland a week ago. Indeed, every time she had made the request to visit her brother’s killer, she had been met with condescension and resistance, as if seeing such a man would somehow make the situation worse.  

Of course, Heather would not be dissuaded. She was no fragile flower who needed to be cosseted and protected. At least, not where the vile Scots were concerned. They deserved to feel her fury.

“I’ll take her through,” a voice interjected from the drafty stone hallway behind her. “She won’t relent until she’s seen him with her own eyes, and I think it’s only right that she’s allowed.”

Heather turned to find Brandon Watson approaching. The tall, somewhat handsome, dark-haired young man might have been the perfect suitor for many a young lady, but he was more like a second brother to Heather.

“His Lordship said we weren’t to let her down there, Mr. Watson,” the first guard faltered.

Brandon tapped the side of his nose. “It shall only be a moment, my good man. His Lordship needn’t know of it. I promise, we shall be there and back within ten minutes. No longer than five-and-ten.”

“Please.” Heather clasped her hands.

The second guard sighed. “Five-and-ten minutes. No longer, else it’ll be our necks on the block as well as that Scot’s.”

“Thank you kindly,” Heather replied, mustering a smile. Such an expression felt peculiar upon her lips, for she had not had any reason to smile since discovering that her brother would never be coming home. Not alive, anyway.

With that, she weaved her arm through Brandon’s offered one, and allowed him to lead her down a set of narrow, winding steps. A cold wind whistled up from the depths of the dungeons, chilling her to the bone as she descended further and further into darkness, until a passage appeared. Torches flickered at intervals, but the shadows between were impenetrable and, once or twice, she feared she might lose her footing.

Eventually, she spied the end of the passageway, marked by a glowing brazier. A wooden door, embedded in the wall, stood half open on the left, while the very last cell occupied the right-hand side.

“I believe this is him,” Brandon said quietly, gesturing toward that last cell. “Are you certain you wish to see him? We could pause for a moment, pretend we have seen him, and make a much slower ascent to the top again?”

Heather shook her head defiantly. “I will not be granted this opportunity twice, I fear.” She smiled up at him. “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”

“My own curiosity led me here,” he explained. “So, I cannot be heralded as a saint for getting the guards to let you through. It was not entirely selfless.”

Heather shrugged. “Nevertheless, I am glad I do not have to proceed alone.”

Taking a deep breath, she edged the last few steps that would bring her directly in front of the iron bars of Owen McCulloch’s cell. She had overheard his name being spoken by her father, though he had also referred to the man as “Laird Dunn,” so she was not sure how she ought to address the wretch. Was a Scottish Laird above an Earl’s daughter? In her world, even a murderer had to be addressed properly.

She gasped at the sight before her. Sitting up against the far wall, one leg outstretched, one bent at the knee, was a man of such obscene handsomeness that he looked rather like a portrait. Although, his Scottish heathenry was clear to see by the way he sat so slovenly, with his calves showing where there should have been stockings. He very much looked as though he was wearing the garments he had worn in battle: woolen breeches, a filthy shirt, and an open doublet.

His beauty merely hides his evil, she told herself, as she looked upon fiery red hair that fell in waves, past his shoulders. His eyes shone in the powerful glow of the brazier, but she could not decipher their color. A lighter, short beard that blended red and blond framed a full mouth, leading up to a high nose. Angular cheekbones added a hardness to his appearance; the kind a sculptor might have relished.

“So, you are the one,” she said, more to herself than to the prisoner.

The handsome man glanced up at her, and an expression of astonishment moved across his exquisite face. His brow furrowed slightly, and he rubbed his eyes, as if he had just awoken from slumber. It was only then that she noticed the bruising around one of his eyes. She wondered if her father was the one who had inflicted the dappling of purple and black and yellow and green, when he had discovered this wretch after the fatal deed had been done.

“The one?” the man replied, in a deep, husky voice. “I daenae ken what ye mean by that, Miss.”

Lady Heather,” she corrected curtly, refusing to be swayed by his handsome face and gravelly voice.

He nodded. “Aye, I ken that sort of mistake all too well. I assume ye already ken, but it wouldn’ae be polite nae to make an introduction.” He got up, revealing an immense height and breadth. His shoulders looked like they could be twice as wide as hers, while he towered over Brandon by at least a head, and Brandon was considerably tall.

“There is no need, Laird Dunn. I know who you are.” Heather avoided looking at his half-open shirt, which exposed bare, tanned skin and sculpted muscle, almost to his navel.

He paused by the door to his cell and nodded toward Brandon. “I daenae ken ye, yet.”

“Brandon Watson,” Brandon replied, eyeing the large, calloused hand that Laird Dunn put through the bars. In the end, however, he decided to shake it, though Heather would not have done such an appalling thing, even if her life had depended on it.

Why are you shaking the fellow’s hand? Have you forgotten what he has done? She could not help but be furious at the amenable gesture.

“If ye’re Lady Heather, ye must be the Earl’s daughter. Does that mean ye’re her brother, Brandon? Her cousin? Her… husband?” Laird Dunn appeared to hesitate on the latter, as if it was a difficult question to ask.

Brandon cleared his throat. “I am a family acquaintance.”

“Why, if he were my brother, would you seek to kill him, too?” Heather spat, no longer able to restrain herself. She was not there to indulge in niceties with a vile, albeit unjustly handsome, bastard.

Laird Dunn visibly flinched. “I didnae kill yer brother, Lady Heather. I did everythin’ I could to save him, though I wouldn’ae have tried if I’d kent this was how yer father would show gratitude.” He swallowed thickly. “I was on me way home when yer father ambushed me and took me captive, havin’ heard of me talents for healin’. He forced me, against me will, to take care of yer brother, but I still did all I could for him.”

“You must have eaten some deceit with your morning porridge, for you lie as if you believe yourself.” Heather glowered at Laird Dunn, clasping a hand to her chest as her stays and bodice conspired to make her faint. She could not breathe properly in the face of such blatant evil.

“I do believe meself, because it’s the truth,” Laird Dunn replied calmly. “Yer brother was too badly wounded. I couldn’ae get the bleedin’ to stop properly, he had a fierce fever ragin’, and he wasnae breathin’ right. I didnae sleep for nearly three days, watchin’ over him with all the care I’d have given to one of me own. I changed his bandages every few hours with me own hands, I mopped his brow, I dripped milk and bread into his mouth, I sewed him up where he needed sewin’, and I put a reed in his side so he could breathe better. Why would I do all that if I was goin’ to kill him, eh?”

Heather fumbled for a response, searching her mind frantically. “My father said he promised you coin if you healed my brother. You likely thought that, if you made it look as though you were healing him, my father would still give you the money and send you on your way. That is why!”

“Nay, if I’d wanted to do that, I’d have just cauterized the wounds and let him fester to death,” Laird Dunn retorted, sounding more knowledgeable than Heather had anticipated. “Yer faither wants someone to blame, that’s all. I happened to be the nearest man available, and now I’m here.”

In the flickering light of the brazier, Heather trembled with rage and disgust at the Scotsman’s haughty indifference. She supposed she should not have been surprised that the wretch felt no remorse for what he had done, but she had hoped for some sort of apology or repentance. Whether or not she would have offered forgiveness was unknown, but she felt she deserved the opportunity.

“You will not be able to lie your way out of retribution, Laird Dunn,” she hissed, balling her hands into fists. “Justice will come for you and I pray it will be as cruel as you were to my brother.”

Laird Dunn frowned. “Ye could’ve witnessed me actions yerself and ye still wouldn’ae believe I tried me best to save him. There’s nay use in arguin’ with stubborn-minded, Sassenach fools.” He turned his back. “I’d ask for a fair trial, but I ken that’s beyond the likes of ye and yer faither an’ all.”

Heather launched herself at the iron bars, flailing her arm through in a vain attempt to reach the awful man. She wanted him to feel pain. Her pain. And though scratching him or beating him would not bring William back, and likely would not make her feel better, she could not bear the idea of just standing there as he said such insulting things.

“Enough.” Brandon grasped her around the waist, hauling her back from the bars. “That’s enough, Lady Heather. I should not have brought you down here. It was too soon, with your grief still so raw.”

She tried to fight her way out of Brandon’s grip, but he was much too strong. As he dragged her away from the cell, she was determined not to leave silently.

“You will see me again, Laird Dunn, and when you do it shall be from the platform of a gallows, with an executioner sharpening his axe beside you!” she howled, kicking out her legs as Brandon continued to wrestle her out of the dungeons.

All she heard in reply was a soft, sad laugh: a sound that boiled her blood more than any retort could have done. Though she knew that he would not be laughing for much longer.


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  • Fantastic start to a book I know I will not put down cant wait to find out the end and the bits between thank you so much

  • An interesting start to an exciting story. Cannot wait to read the adventure of Heather and Owen

  • This is awesome. We all know what happens when a healer ally or not is unsuccessful. That healer will be blamed. This is the enemy and will suffer greatly unless he escapes against all odds. Who attacked the boy? I have a feeling is someone in their camp. Mystery, murder, intrigue I can see it all at play here. Can’t wait to read the rest. Great start. Love it already.

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