This is Chapter Two—after Graham has received his “sentence” to be sent to the future and married off to Lilia Sinclair to prevent clan war.“Sit.” Mother Sinclair pointed to a short bench snugged up against the wall beside the stone hearth. “The both of you.”
Graham strode across the room, taking his stance in front of the cold fireplace. “I’ll stand, thank ye.” ’Twas true he respected the women and looked upon them with no small amount of leeriness, but he’d be damned if he would sit on a bench like a lad due a scolding. They’d already named his sentence. Time to get on wi’ the details of his fate.
Angus huffed out a disgusted harrumph then obediently stomped over to the bench and plopped down. As soon as he sat, a golden-eyed black cat hopped up beside him and sat glaring at him with an unblinking stare. Angus edged to the end of the bench farthest from the cat, crossing his legs and turning away as though shielding his man parts from the creature’s piercing gaze.
Mother Sinclair chuckled. “Very good, Kismet. Keep an eye on Angus and make certain he pays attention.”
The tip of Kismet’s long sleek tail flipped a bit faster.
A warm heavy weight leaned hard against Graham’s leg. Without looking down, he leaned to one side and scratched behind the massive dog’s ears. I thank ye, lad. At least he had one ally in the room.
Lady Trulie’s hulking black beast of a dog, Karma, had taken up with him since the first moment he’d arrived at MacKenna Keep. Of course, ’twas probably because the MacKenna’s five-year-old daughter, Chloe, had named him her favorite uncle. The dog worshiped the wee lass and considered her word law.
“Stay wi’ me, lad. I appreciate yer strength,” he whispered down to the dog.Karma thumped his heavy tail against the floor.
Mother Sinclair and Lady Trulie settled in the cushioned chairs pulled close to the hearth. The band around Graham’s chest loosened the barest bit as the MacKenna strode over to the waist-high cabinet filled with bottles, pitchers, and assorted cups and glasses. He wouldna mind a wee nip if the MacKenna was so inclined.
Gray promptly filled two pewter goblets with the deep ruby contents of one of the pitchers. He carried the glasses to the women then returned to the bar, filled three tankards from an amber bottle, and waved the men forward. “Come. I’ve whisky for the both of ye and I’ve a feelin’ ye’ll be a needin’ it.”
Angus beat Graham to the bar, snatched up one of the mugs then, with a fearful glance at Mother Sinclair, obediently returned to the bench.
Coward. Graham shook his head at Angus then purposely sauntered across the room as though he had nary a care in the world. He’d do as they bid him but he’d damn sure no’ sacrifice his backbone in the doin’ of it. He looped his hand through the handle of the tankard then strode back to his position at the hearth.
“Sláinte.” Gray lifted his glass and nodded to each of the men.
“Sláinte,” Graham repeated as he lifted his glass first to Gray then to the ladies before taking a deep draw. He welcomed the burn of the fiery liquid. It reminded him a great deal of when he’d been a dragon and housed burning coals in his gullet. A bitter laugh snorted free as he stared down at his reflection in the bit of whisky left in his cup. At least he could say his life had ne’er been dull.
“I think you and Lilia are a wonderful match,” Lady Trulie said while turning to slide her goblet to the small arm table snugged between her and Mother Sinclair’s chair. “She’s strong-willed just like you. I bet there’ll be sparks.”
Sparks? Hell’s fire. Tha’s all I need. Sinclair sparks t’singe me arse. Graham finished his drink in one quick gulp, silently wishing there was more. He politely nodded. “And ye ken the lady will be agreeable to this match ye desire?”
“Probably not,” Mother Sinclair observed. Her soft chuckling echoed in her cup as she took a long slow drink. Merriment glistened in her eyes as she placed her glass beside Trulie’s. “Lilia’s quite the hellcat. Stubborn. Opinionated. And if she thinks it, you can damn well bet she’s going to say it.”Then all mirth faded from her as she reached for Trulie’s hand. “But our strong stubborn Lilia thinks allowing anyone to help her is a sign of weakness . . . of failure. Only a year ago, this isolation and selfish guarding of her insecurities nearly caused her to end her life.”
Lady Trulie patted Mother Sinclair’s hand then rose from her chair and stepped closer to Graham. “We’re sending you to the future not only to woo Lilia but to save her from herself. She needs to be loved whether she wishes it or not. She can’t survive in this world alone—no matter what century. She’s an empath and isn’t always able to shield herself from the cruelties around her.”
Trulie cleared her throat then turned away but not before Graham noticed the moisture of unshed tears shining in her eyes.
An empath? What the hell is an empath? Be she crippled?
Trulie sniffed and pressed the back of one hand against her mouth. Recovering quickly, she lifted her head and smoothed both hands down the folds of her skirt. She returned to her chair and sank into it, slowly blowing out a deep breath through pursed lips. “And even with the prophetic visions the Fates send her, Lilia doesn’t realize she’s in danger.”
“What is this danger she faces?” Graham placed his empty tankard on the shelf above the hearth. He couldna stomach the thought of a helpless woman facing danger alone. Perhaps empath meant the poor lass was under some sort of curse or being hunted down by demons. He understood the feelings of utter helplessness well. Curses did that to a soul. The verra idea grated against his hide. Women were to be protected and cherished from such unpleasantness. “What danger?” he repeated.
“The danger of depression—of a dark hopelessness.” Mother Sinclair shook her head. “Lilia’s blessing from the Fates is also a curse. She’s able to see future events—usually dire events. Sometimes, she can save those she sees in the visions. Sometimes not. And when we say Lilia is an empath, we mean she feels the pain and suffering of the world more than most. She can stand inside a crowded room and experience what every individual in that room feels—be it sorrow or joy or anything in between—and she’s not always able to shield herself from others’ emotions. Soon, she’ll be alone. The guardian I sent to watch over her is dying. Lilia must not be left alone. Alone, the darkness of despair could very well overpower her and pull her down to her end.”
Mother Sinclair rose from her chair, crossed the room, and thumped Graham on the chest. “But if she is properly wooed and married—the greatest energy of all would help keep her from that darkness.”
Graham clasped his hands to the small of his back, fighting the urge to fidget beneath Mother Sinclair’s intent gaze. “What energy do ye speak of? I’ve no magic, nor powers to keep the woman safe. I can only protect her with m’sword—and would consider it an honor t’do so.”
He’d gladly do that if that’s what they wished. He sorely regretted endangering the clan with his behavior. They’d welcomed him in and named him as one of their own when he’d declined to return to Draegonmare Keep with his beloved friend, Ronan, and his new wife, Mairi—another of the Lady Trulie’s sisters.
The thought of returning to Loch Ness, the land he’d been anchored to for so verra long, had rankled his soul. So the MacKennas had adopted him and bid him stay as long as he liked. Graham’s gaze lowered to the floor, his heart sinking to his gut. He was keenly aware of all that the MacKennas had done for him. And look how he’d gone and repaid that kindness.
Mother Sinclair moved forward and rested her bony fingers atop his arm, her touch gentler this time. She leaned in close and smiled. “You can protect her with the greatest energy of all. You can protect her with your love and understanding.”
Graham sucked in a deep breath, uncertainty threatening to squeeze the air right back out. Love? Surely the woman jests. I’m no’ capable of love. He’d hardened his heart against that fickle emotion whilst he was cursed. After all, ’twas the foolishness of enchanted love that had drawn him to the beauty of the vile witch what had damned him to the form of the dragon. “I will give her my honor and protection. I can guarantee no more than that.”
Mother Sinclair wrinkled her nose, resettling her wire-rimmed spectacles a bit higher. Her sparse gray brows knotted together in a disapproving frown. “You will have one full month.” She held up a slightly bent finger, knotted and twisted with age. “Just one full cycle of the moon to win Lilia’s heart and convince her to be your wife. The Fates aren’t the patient sort—especially since we’re blatantly tinkering with their web by attempting to permanently relocate you to the future. They will not permit you an extended stay in a time other than your own without a proper anchor to keep your heart and soul grounded. If, at the end of that month, you and Lilia aren’t as one, your happy ass will be yanked right back here to the past—and to the Buchanans.”
Mother Sinclair spoke as though that were a bad thing. Surely, after a month in the future, the Buchanan clan’s ire wouldha cooled enough for him to safely return to his life in the thirteenth century. Graham felt more settled, calmer with the certainty of it. Aye. I’ll be back here in no’ time a’tall. All will be well.
“Nay. I ken what yer thinkin’.” Gray stepped forward, shaking his head. “If ye return to this time, I’ll be forced to turn ye over to the Buchanan to avoid clan war. His ire toward ye willna be set aside so easily. Ye ken, at the verra least, the man wishes to see ye drawn and quartered. Ye cuckolded the man within his own keep and ’tis said his women keep his hatred fanned and well fueled by singin’ of yer ‘talents’ to any and all who’ll lend an ear.”
Gray watched Graham over the rim of his glass while drawing in another long sip. He lowered the mug and slid it to the cabinet beside him. “The Buchanan has accepted the offer that yer to be banished from Scotland—forever. ’Twas the only option other than yer head on a pike that came remotely close to coolin’ the man’s rage. Ye can wager his people will be watchin’ and willna fail to report if ye return—no matter how long ye’ve stayed away from yer beloved Highlands of this time. Clan MacKenna can no longer be yer sanctuary.”
Well, damn me arse straight t’hell and back. But surely the chieftain errs in his thinkin’. Surely I can return after a bit of time. Graham stood taller. A Sinclair woman. To wife. May the gods have mercy on his soul. Surely ’twould no’ be that bad—no’ as bad as torture, or even worse—the dungeons. And eventually . . . perhaps he could someday return and reunite his new wife with her kin. Aye. Surely that would be his future.
“I’ll make certain the woman agrees to be m’wife.” A growing sense of uncertainty stirred uncomfortably in his gut like a poorly digested meal. God a’mighty. What the hell am I to do with a wife?
“See that you do.” Mother Sinclair returned to her chair and scooped up her goblet in a pale knobby hand. She put the glass to her mouth then paused and instead lifted it to Graham in a toast. “Know this—if you cause my granddaughter any pain, the Buchanan will be the least of your worries.”
ABOUT MY SEDUCTIVE HIGHLANDER
In this scintillating novel from the author of My Tempting Highlander(“Another exciting and heartwarming time-travel romance.”—Vonnie Davis), the ladies’ man of Loch Ness meets a hot-tempered lass who sets his heart aflame.
Though part of a legacy of time-traveling sisters, Lilia Sinclair is planted firmly in twenty-first-century Edinburgh. Her granny’s matchmaking with thirteenth-century Highlanders isn’t about to lure her into the past, especially as ancient Scotland enters troubled times. After all, Lilia is blessed—or cursed—with dire prophetic visions. To protect herself, she’s put up an icy emotional wall no man could cross—until a pair of gorgeous, rippling arms breaks right through.
Graham MacTavish is pure trouble. Once the dragon bound to Loch Ness, he’s transformed into a philanderer of the first order. In fact, because of his dalliances with other men’s wives, a rival clan wants his head on a pike. Before he provokes an all-out war, Graham is banished to the twenty-first century, where he must win Lilia’s hand—or return to die. But after meeting a lass as fierce as any Highland warrior, Graham knows one thing: life with Lilia, in any century, is a fate to embrace.
Praise for My Seductive Highlander
“Ms. Greyson pens a masterpiece of visions, kilted passions, and humor to cast a spell of utter delight over her readers. My Seductive Highlanderis a perfect romance you won’t want to miss.”—Vonnie Davis, author of both the Highlanders Beloved and the Black Eagle Ops series
“For lovers of Scottish time travel romance—I’m a new fan!”—USA Todaybestselling author Angela Quarles
“Maeve Greyson weaves a magical tale. My Seductive Highlander will have you holding your breath and flipping pages late into the night.”—Lisa Kessler, author of the Moon series
“Just like all the other books in this series, I loved it. I’m sad to see the series end as the books and characters were always entertaining.”—A Crazy Vermonter’s Book Reviews
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