Coming this fall!
Book 2 of the Macinnes Sisters Trilogy
Highlander’s Rebellious Love
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Patience was looking forward to a bath and a decent meal after two grueling weeks on the road. How anyone lived in this desolate area of Scotland was a mystery to her. She wanted to get this matter settled and be on her way home.
Her bold green eyes widened with each step her stallion took into the village, though it resembled anything but a village. There was a cluster of buildings, each in desperate need of repair, and a longhouse for communal meetings that needed attention as well. The villagers themselves eyed her suspiciously, though that was not surprising. She did not dress like most women. She wore a man’s shirt made to fit her slim size and she wrapped her plaid around her body like a warrior. Leather strips crisscrossed her chest, leaving no doubt she was a woman and that she carried weapons; a sword in her back sheath and one at her side. Leather boots rode up mid-thigh and leather leggings covered the rest of her legs. She wore her dark hair pulled back taut and tied with a leather strip.
She had been told numerous times that she possessed a stark beauty that caught men’s eyes, though her intense, bold green eyes intimidated, which was fine with her.
When Patience saw a lanky man about her height step out of the longhouse, she directed her horse toward him. Her father had described Craig McFarden to her, though he had warned her to add several years to his description, since it had been some time since he had last seen the man. And he had been right, though the years or perhaps the harsh land had not been kind to Craig McFarden.
Gray hairs dominated his long dark hair and deep lines accented his eyes and mouth, though his dark eyes were sharp. And though his body was slim, he stood straight and tall and looked fit enough. He wore no smile when he saw her, but then she had not expected a warm welcome.
“Macinnes sends me a woman to deal with our problem?” Craig McFarden called out as she and her warriors approached him.
“Do I need to teach you manners, McFarden?” she asked, though it sounded more like a warning as she stopped her stallion in front of him.
McFarden laughed, a robust laugh that echoed in the spring air. “You can try, lassie.”
Patience slipped off her horse with ease and walked over to him. She stopped almost face to face with him. “Apologize loud enough for all to hear,” she ordered.
“Or what?” he asked with a mocking smile. “You will tear up and cry?” He laughed again.
She leaned in close and whispered. “No, I will cut off your balls.”
McFarden froze and his laughter died instantly when he felt her blade slip between his legs.
“Now!” she warned, pressing the blade to his skin, probably nicking it a bit, but then he would know she was a woman of her word. “And make sure all know that I am Patience Macinnes, daughter of Donald Macinnes here to settle the dispute.”
“I am truly sorry for my unmannerly welcome,” McFarden called out. “The clan is most pleased to welcome you, Patience Macinnes, daughter of Donald Macinnes, and more than pleased that you are here to settle the dispute with the McLaud clan. I invite you and your men to join me in the longhouse for food and drink.”
“Much better,” Patience said and returned her dagger to the sheath at her waist. With the scowl that crossed McFarden’s face, she knew she had made no friend, but she was not here to make friends.
They were soon ensconced in the longhouse, a structure that held a few tables, benches, and a fire pit in the middle. The smoke went out a hole in the roof, though a portion of it lingered in the confined space, creating a hazy cloud that settled overhead.
A group of women came and went with food and drink, their worried expressions obvious, and Patience wondered if the situation had grown worse here. Craig McFarden minded his manners and spoke not a word about the problem while the meal was eaten. But Patience, wanting this done with, broached the matter.
“Tell me what goes on here,” she said to McFarden as she dunked a stale piece of bread into the thin stew broth to soften it.
McFarden took a swig of ale before answering her, as if needing to fortify himself. “The McLauds want our land, plain and simple. Several McLaud warriors have set up camp a good distance from where our land borders theirs to the north and are refusing to leave. Greer McLaud claims the area belongs to him, and I fear he will be moving more warriors in any time now.”
“Why, after all this time of peace between the two clans, has it changed?” she asked.
“Greer’s father, Ewart could be an uncompromising man, but he respected your father, since they had fought beside each other on several occasions. So, he made no move on our land. Greer holds no such respect. He is a greedy man who cares naught but for himself, and with his brother Rab marrying Hew McDolan’s daughter, Greer has grown brazen.”
“Has McDolan showed any signs of helping Greer McLaud?”
“None that I can see, but I know he is at least whispering in Greer’s ear and urging him to make a claim.”
“And start a battle he cannot win,” Patience said.
“Are you so sure?” McFarden asked with concern. “The daughter of Donald Macinnes arrives with only forty men. Greer will find that laughable, as would most warriors.”
“My forty warriors are worth a hundred of his and I have far many more that will come if needed and you can add to that the MacClennan warriors as well, since my sister Emma recently wed Rogan MacClennan.”
That news actually brought a smile to McFarden. “Then you should send for them, for I have no doubt you will be needing them.”
“Perhaps, we will see,” Patience said, “but first I will see if I can persuade the McLaud warriors to leave our land.”
McFarden’s smile disappeared. “I mean no disrespect, Lady Patience—”
“Patience, call me Patience,” she said, cringing at being called Lady Patience. She was far from what was expected of the title Lady and had no want to be addressed as such.
McFarden bobbed his head. “As you wish, Patience. The McLauds are going to laugh at you.”
“Like you did?”
McFarden’s face burned red with embarrassment.
“My father would never have sent me if he did not think me capable of seeing this matter settled. I will have it done soon enough and you will have nothing to fear from the McLauds. Now tell me why your village is in such disrepair?” She banged a hard chunk of bread on the table. “And your food stale?”
“This is a harsh and unforgiven land and what little we can grow has not done well and this situation has not helped, since the people fear hunting and fishing the stream with the McLaud warriors lurking about.”
“Have they harmed any of you?” Patience was quick to ask.
“One lad took a beating from a couple of them for protecting one of our lassies, and I complained bitterly about it to Greer. He assured me he would see the warriors punished, but he never had any intentions of doing anything. He knows his warriors outnumber ours and it would take weeks for the Macinnes warriors to reach us, and by then,” —he shrugged— “most, if not all, of us would be dead.”
Patience’s anger grew and though she was tired from her long journey, it was still early in the day, enough time for things to be seen to. And since she was not one to wait, she said, “Take me to these McFarden warriors who encroach on our land.”
“How much further?” Patience asked McFarden after they had traveled about an hour.
“Not long now, just over that rise,” he said, pointing not far in the distance. “We will stop at Lyall’s croft to rest the horses a bit and quench our thirsts. She is a bit of an odd one, though harmless. Many believe her a witch, but she is just a bit different and a good soul.”
Patience nodded, glad they would be stopping briefly before she dealt with the McLaud warriors. She had already instructed her warriors at what might need to be done, but it was always good to go over the plans again.
It was not long before they came upon the small croft. To Patience’s surprise it was better maintained than the places in the McFarden village. She did wonder how the woman could live here alone in such barren surroundings, empty land stretching as far as the eye could see. But then McFarden had remarked about her being a bit odd.
McFarden rode ahead and had already dismounted when Patience and her warriors reached him. He was not far from the cottage door when a woman and a man, both half-dressed, stumbled laughing out of the cottage in each other’s arms.
The woman was attractive and had a robust figure. Her flaming red hair was a mass of curls that looked as if they refused to be tamed, and she was quick to pull up her blouse to cover her plump breasts when she caught sight of her visitors.
The man on the other hand made no move to hide the fact that he was aroused beneath his plaid or cover his naked chest with the shirt he held in his hand. His strong features caught the eye. He was a good looking man, but there was something more about him that appealed than just his attractive features. Maybe it was his muscles that rippled over his lean frame or his dark hair that just about touched his shoulders or the brash look from his alluring blue eyes. Whatever it was, it was obvious that he was a man confident with himself… and women.
Patience noticed that McFarden was hesitant to speak and when he did, she understood why. “Hunter,” McFarden said, acknowledging the youngest of the McLauds with a nod. “Have we interrupted you?”
“Aye, you have,” he said, turning to give Lyall a hungry kiss while squeezing her backside. “I promised to take this beautiful woman to the stream for a swim.”
“There is still a chill to the spring air,” McFarden said.
“Hunter will not let me get chilled,” Lyall said, running her hand over his naked chest.
Patience watched as passion soared in Hunter’s blue eyes for the woman. He looked ready to devour her with unrelenting lust. He seemed like a stallion after a mare in heat. And curiosity had her wondering just how powerfully he would ride the woman. And damn if her own body did not flare to life. She silently scolded herself for such a foolish reaction.
“Do not let us delay you,” McFarden said, then turned to Lyall. “I just stopped to see if you were faring well.”
Lyall’s smile widened. “I fare quite well thank you, Craig McFarden.”
“Then we will be on our way,” McFarden said with a nod.
“What? Leave without introducing us to your friends,” Hunter said, his stark blue eyes turning to Patience. “That is not mannerly.”
“Nor is it any of your concern, Hunter McLaud,” McFarden said tersely.
Hunter shrugged. “It matters not to me, though the McLaud warriors over the rise will find your small troop amusing, especially the scrawny woman.”
Patience refused to lash out at the arrogant warrior, since he was obviously baiting her. He was insignificant when it came to the problem. Let him go poke the willing woman while true warriors settled the issue.
She signaled her men, then turned and rode off without a word or a backward glance at the one McLaud who was not worth sparing her breath on.
McFarden joined her after a few moments, echoing her thoughts. “Hunter McLaud is a worthless warrior and will give us no trouble.”
“Still, you did not want him to know who I was.”
“Blood ties run deep. There is no point in taking a chance he would alert McLaud warriors to our arrival.”
“I surmised as much. Are you sure he will not hurry to warn them?”
McFarden laughed, shaking his head. “That fool is only interested in one thing.” His cheeks heated red. “Excuse my ill-manners once again.”
“There is no need for an apology when you speak the truth.”
Patience signaled her men to be on alert as they approached the rise. Once they reached the top, one glance told her she could disperse the motley group without a problem. There seemed to be no leadership. The warriors, if they could be called that, roamed or lazed around with no purpose and the camp itself had been poorly established.
McFarden rode up beside her. “As I feared, Greer has moved more men here. They have twice the men you have.”
“And not a warrior among them,” she said and signaled her men to follow. Her warriors were trained well and would take these men down without much effort.
Patience led the group as they entered the camp, some of the men getting to their feet, others remaining as they were, and most all of them snickering.
“Who leads this poor excuse for warriors?” Patience called out.
A barrel-chested man lacking height stepped forward. “What foolish woman dares enters my camp and dares to make a demand?”
“The woman who is going to throw your sorry ass off Macinnes land.”
“This is McLaud land,” the man shouted his face flushing red.
“This is, always has been, and always will be Macinnes land, “Patience said her voice rose loud enough for all to hear.
The man went to speak.
“Spare me your ignorance,” she snapped. “I have no patience for it. Now gather your men and get off my land.”
Another warrior who stood at least two heads over the barrel-chested one approached, laughing.
“Make us,” he challenged.
Patience dismounted and approached the big warrior. Snickers, laughter, and rude remarks following every step she took. “I will give you one chance to leave with your honor intact. If you do not take my offer, then I will send you home defeated by not only fewer warriors than yourselves, but a woman as well.”
The warrior threw back his head and laughed. Patience did not wait. She lowered her head and rammed it with such force in the man’s stomach that he went flying back off his feet, landing on his back with a heavy thud, and grasping for breath. She then let loose with a battle cry and her warriors descended on the unprepared group and had them rounded up with hardly a weapon being drawn.
“Your name,” Patience demanded of the barrel-chested man, so red in the face with anger that she thought he would explode.
“Taber,” he spit out as he got to his feet. “And you are going to pay for this.”
She took a quick step at him and he stumbled away from her almost falling to his knees. “You dare threaten me?” She turned to McFarden who had not moved off his horse, so stunned was he by what had happened. “How far to their home by horse?”
“And hour or more.”
Patience turned back to Taber. “You will be walking home.”
“You cannot steal our horses?” Taber said and his men began to grumble.
“I will return them when I come to speak to Greer McLaud tomorrow. And let him know that I expect a warm welcome, for if any harm befalls me or my warriors, the Macinnes and MacClennan wrath will fall upon the McLauds.”
Brows furrowed and eyes turned wide at the mention of the two strong clans being united.
“Now douse the fires and clean your mess before you take your leave,” Patience ordered.
“Do it yourself,” Taber snapped.
Patience was on him in an instant, her dagger drawn and at his throat. Color drained from the man’s face and sweat sprang from his brow.
“You learn much too slowly, Taber. Shall I leave you with a small reminder of what happens when you disobey my command and treat me rudely?”
“You would not be so brave if your men were not here to protect you,” Taber challenged in an attempt to save face in front of his men.
“And did her men help her get that dagger to your throat?”
Patience did not turn to see who had spoken, she recognized that mocking voice.
“Her troop surprised us,” Taber said.
“A liar as well as a slow learner,” Patience said and went to prick his skin with the tip of her dagger. Her wrist was grabbed quick, a band of steel feeling as if it coiled around it.
“I cannot let you harm one of my warriors, though useless as they may be,” Hunter said and yanked her hand away from Taber’s neck.
Patience glared at him. “Let go of me.”
“You promise to be nice?” Hunter said with a grin that warned and titillated at the same time.
“I promise that if you do not release me, you will be sorry,” Patience threatened.
Hunter lowered his head so that his nose almost touched hers. “And I promise you that when I have hold of a beautiful woman, I am never sorry… and either is she.”
He released her so quickly that she stumbled.
Hunter turned to Taber. “Do as she told you. Douse the fires and clean your mess, then start walking. Let Greer know to prepare for an important guest tomorrow.”
Hunter turned back to Patience after Taber angrily nodded and walked off grumbling. His blue eyes seemed to capture her in a soft caress and for a mere moment she felt a flutter in her stomach.
Annoyed at herself for letting a rogue like him affect her so, she said, “This is Macinnes land and you McLauds will do well to remember it.”
“My brother seems to think differently, though I daresay there is an easy solution to the problem.”
“And what might that be?”
“Marry me and unite the clans.”
Hope you enjoyed the sneak peeks of Highlander’s Rebellious Love, available fall 2014. If you want to make certain you don’t miss any of my book releases sign up for my Book Alerts. Just go to the top of the page and you’ll see a narrow white box and above it Subscribe To Donna’s Book Alerts. Put in your email, click on subscribe and your done! And look for the cover of Highlander’s Rebellious Love coming soon!
“You cannot be serious, Father.”
Anytime his middle daughter Patience called him Father, Donald Macinnes knew he was in trouble. Unlike his eldest daughter Heather who was sweet and kind, or his youngest daughter Emma who was too interested in learning all she could about everything she could, Patience was nothing like her name.
“I have not been home a full day. I have yet to see my sister Emma who I have learned is wed to Rogan MacClennan and who had been Heather’s intended. I also have not yet found my sister Heather who has been abducted by the vile Dark Dragon.” Patience threw her arms up in the air. “And what does my Father want of me? He wants me to go settle a squabble for a clan that claims us kin, but we have not heard from since,” —she threw her hands up into the air again— “since when, Father? Heather is my priority, not some distant, inconsequential squabble between two insignificant clans.”
Donald Macinnes pulled himself away from the pillows that supported his back in bed and glared at his daughter. “The last time I looked, I was still laird of this clan and your father, and that means you will obey whatever order I give you.”
“Why would you think that would work now, Father, when it has not worked since I was young.”
“Because you are not only the finest warrior I have, but you are the most capable to see this matter settled without a war ensuing.”
“You think to ply me with compliments, so I will do as you ask?” Patience asked, planting her hands on her slim hips while a glint of fire surged in her bold green eyes.
“I ply you with the truth,” Donald snapped. “You are an exceptionally skilled and capable warrior and as your laird I am sending you where your talents are most needed. I am in correspondence with the King to see what can be done to have Heather returned home to us.”
“King James do something?” Patience laughed. “He is too afraid of the Dark Dragon to do anything. We must rescue Heather ourselves.”
“Enough!” Donald demanded. “Whether I speak to you as my daughter or one of my loyal warriors, you have no choice but to obey me on this, and do not think it insignificant. You know full well that the McFarden clan is necessary to our clan’s safety and we to theirs. Their land borders McLaud land. They are fierce and mighty Highlanders that will not be ignored and they are claiming that a portion of McFarden land belongs to them. If we allow them to stake claim to it, then they will not stop there and soon McFarden land—our land—will belong to the McLauds.”
Patience understood the importance of what her father was telling her, but what mattered more to her was finding her sister Heather. If it had been herself who had been captured, Heather would not rest until she was returned home. And Patience intended to do the same for her sister. She would not rest, would not relent in her pursuit to find Heather.
“Let Rogan MacClennan send a troop of warriors to settle this dispute, since our clans have now been joined by marriage.” Patience’s eyes flared a fiery green once again. “Did you even bother to ask Emma if she wanted to wed Rogan MacClennan?”
Donald dropped back against the pillow, worn out from arguing with his daughter. Ever since she had been young, it had not been easy getting her to obey. She had a mind of her own and a sharp mind at that, and she was full of confidence. She had all the requisites of a fine laird, which made her exasperating to deal with.
“Emma and Rogan happen to love each other,” he said.
“You are sure of that?” Patience asked. “Rogan had not wanted Emma and now he claims to love her?”
“I understand your misgivings, but their love is there for all to see and your sister is happy. And I am happy and relieved that the arranged marriage turned out so well for her.”
“You will not marry me off to anyone without my consent,” Patience warned with a shake of her finger.
“I would not dare, Patience. Your husband is yours to choose.”
A fit of coughing gripped Donald and Patience hurried to his side to help him sit up and drink some of the brew kept on the chest by his bed. Her father had appeared much improved since last she saw him over a month ago, but that did not mean he had completely recovered from his illness. She had failed to keep that in mind when he had summoned her to his bedchamber. She had assumed he wanted to speak with her about formulating a plan to rescue Heather. To learn that his only intention where Heather was concerned was to keep in correspondence with the King had infuriated her. And that she was to be sent off to deal with witless warriors infuriated her even more.
Donald took hold of his daughter’s hand as she helped him to lie back on his pillows. “I know what I ask of you makes you angry, but sometimes a laird has no choice but to do what must be done even if he does not like it himself. And if you dare to think that I am giving up on your sister, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I love all three of my daughters with all my heart and I would give my life to keep you all safe and see you all happy.”
The anger drained from Patience like a receding wave, leaving a heavy dose of guilt in its wake. Her da was right. No one could ever doubt his love for his daughters.
“I am truly sorry, Da,” she said and hugged him.
He patted her back. “It has been a difficult time for all of us, but fear not, I will see that all turns out well.”
His reassuring words lightened her heart a bit and reminded her of what she should have realized that her da would not rest until Heather was rescued.
Donald patted the bed for Patience to sit and she did. “It is a most unwelcoming area, mountainous range and barren land, another reason McFarden joined with us. We provide them with much needed staples. They in turn keep watch over that area and let us know of any unrest.”
“There is always unrest in the Highlands, all of Scotland for that matter. I sometimes wonder if Scotland will ever be at peace.”
“A feeling felt by all,” Donald said, “which is why we must make certain we do all we can to keep our clan and holdings as strong as possible.”
Patience had no choice but to agree. “You are right, Da, but I hate delaying my search for Heather over nothing but a—”
“A matter that can be settled with relative haste,” Donald said, “thus avoiding a major conflict that if left unattended could cause far worse delays in finding your sister. And need I remind you again that I do not sit idle when it comes to your sister’s abduction. You must trust that I am doing more than you realize to see everything ends well.”
Her da was a man of his word and he was a wise and courageous laird. He had taught her much and she continued to learn from him. She could see to this matter and return home in no time. Another thought struck her that made this mission more appealing. It would give her a chance to extend her search for the Dark Dragon’s lair. The trail she had followed had gotten her nowhere. It seemed the Dark Dragon’s warriors lived up to their name—ghost warriors. Their trail had led nowhere. Their tracks were there one moment and gone the next. The only thing she had learned was that the Dark Dragon’s army was vast and would not be easy to battle against. It had made her reach the conclusion that it would take a much wiser plan to defeat the evil beast.
“I will ready your warriors and leave in the morning,” Patience said.
“Take a new batch of warriors with you. Your faithful group needs a rest.”
“They go where I go,” Patience insisted, knowing her men would not take kindly to being left behind.
“Think, Patience,” her da said. “Your men are worn out. Fresh warriors will serve you better and help keep your mission brief.”
If anything, she wanted this mission to be as brief as possible. “Another point conceded, Da, though my men will not be happy about it.”
“Nonetheless, they will obey you as you do your laird,” Donald said. “Now listen well, for you need to know about the McLauds. Greer is the oldest of three sons and laird since his da’s passing a few months ago. He is a fierce one and short-tempered, so tread carefully around him. Rona, his wife, is as short-tempered as her husband. Rab is the middle son, skilled in weapons and battle, and it is he who leads the McLaud warriors when it comes to conflict. He recently wed and her name is Saundra. She is the eldest daughter of Hew McDolan, laird of the McDolan clan and you know well that we have almost come to conflict with them several times. So, it is easy to assume that he is behind this attempt to confiscate some of our land. And there is no need for me to tell you that land is power here in the Highlands.”
Patience hated to admit it, but her da was right in seeing to this matter immediately. Left unattended the McLauds would seek to encroach and lay claim to more Macinnes land. “From the little I recall about the McLauds, they are a more brute than intelligent lot. Do you think Hew McDolan is behind this encroachment?”
“Craig McFarden will know if there has been interference from the McDolans.”
“And if there has been?” Patience asked and grew upset watching her da take a deep breath, as if trying to lift a heavy weight off himself. She spoke up before he could answer, wanting to lighten his burden. “I will see to it, Da.”
“With little or no bloodshed,” he said, though more commanded. “Now about the youngest McLaud, though there is not much to tell. From what I hear, Hunter keeps himself busy entertaining the lassies. I do not think you will need to worry about him. His father, Ewart, when he was alive, spoke poorly of him. And it is well known he came to blows with Hunter on more than one occasion. I do not think you have much to worry about when it comes to him.”
“Men are men, Da, I can handle them,” Patience said with confidence.
Donald shook his head. “And what happens when there comes a day you cannot handle one?”
Patience laughed. “I will marry him.”
Sneak Peek 2 of the Highlander’s Rebellious Love, Macinnes Sisters Trilogy book 2 coming tomorrow. Release date fall 2014!
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