Forbidden Highlander

By: Donna Fletcher

Chapter One

Dawn listened to the tolling bell with a sinking heart. Cree’s future bride would soon be entering the village. There had been a flurry of activities in preparation of her arrival the past week. And a light snow that had fallen a few days ago had some worrying that she would be delayed.

The villagers were probably gathering now, lining up along the entrance to the Village Dowell just as they had done when Cree had been captured and strutted before the village a couple of months ago, though he had not been greeted with joy, but rather fear and trepidation.

While Dawn had been as eager as the other villagers to get a look at the infamous warrior Cree; she was not as anxious to see his intended. And if she heard one more whisper of sympathy for her plight she would scream... if only she could.

There were so many times she wished that she had a voice, that she hadn’t been born unable to make a sound. She would love to laugh as others did, even cry, though most of all she’d love to scream out in pure pleasure when Cree made her climax over and over.

She shook the sorrowful thoughts away. She would never have a voice so why dwell on the impossible. What mattered now was that she carried Cree’s child and he knew nothing about the babe. She had managed to avoid him this past week by feigning illness after having learned that he was to marry, though she hadn’t been able to avoid Elsa. Cree had insisted that Elsa tend her, and she had been relieved when the woman claimed that she suffered from a sour stomach and suggested a light fare and rest for a few days.

How long she could keep Cree at a distance when their appetites for each other were ravenous, she didn’t know. She missed him already but then she had foolishly fallen in love with the mighty warrior... a mistake. One, however, she had no control over. She could not stop loving him no matter how hard she tried. And he had told her that he would never let her go, that she belonged to him and always would.

She wondered if he would feel the same when he discovered she carried his child.

A knock sounded just before the door opened and she prayed it wasn’t Cree. She didn’t want to see him now even though she missed him terribly.

Old Mary shuffled in the cottage, a light dusting of snow covering her hooded cloak. “The snow will be heavy by nightfall. It is good the bride arrives soon.”

Dawn nodded, though didn’t smile and motioned Old Mary to join her at the table filling a tankard with hot cider for her.

The old woman sat, her gnarled hands eagerly seeking the warmth of the tankard. “Tongues are wagging so fast about the pending arrival of Lucerne Gerwan that it makes my head hurt. I hear tell that her father and mother will be arriving soon as well. I have also heard that Lucerne is beautiful and thought you might want to have a peek for yourself.”

Dawn raised a brow.

“Don’t tell me you don’t want to see what she looks like?” Old Mary whispered conspiratorially. “How could you not want to see the woman who will wed the man you love?”

Dawn’s eyes turned wide. She had not dared tell anyone how she felt about Cree. It had been her secret or so she thought. Was it that obvious that she loved him?

Old Mary nodded, as if answering her silent question. “Anyone would have to be a fool not to see how much you love him.” She reached out and patted Dawn’s hand. “But then I see more than most.”

Dawn shook her head and circled her finger over and over again at her temple.

“You most certainly are not crazy for falling in love with him. Love is the crazy one. I sometimes think that love is a prankster that enjoys playing tricks on people until finally love stops its antics and brings two people happily ever after together.”

There would be no happily ever after for Dawn, though she had to agree with Old Mary... love was certainly a prankster.

“You should go take a peek at the woman who thinks to steal Cree from you.”

How could the woman steal what rightfully belonged to her? An arrangement had been made and Cree would honor it. She had been irrational to think that she would be anymore to Cree than what she was... a kept woman.

“Go see for yourself that you have more to offer him than she ever would,” Old Mary encouraged.

Even if she wanted to, and there was a part of her that did, everyone thought her ill and resting. Lila had stopped to see how she was doing and had told her that many villagers inquired as to her well-being. Dorrie had even delivered her meal one evening and had fussed over her as had Flanna. And then there was the warrior who stood guard outside the cottage door. If she dared step foot outside Cree would be informed of it immediately.

Old Mary eased her bony frame out of the chair and slipped off her cloak to hand it to Dawn. “Pull up the hood and hunch yourself over and no one will be the wiser. Go observe from the covering of the big pine by your old cottage. No one pays me heed so you will be ignored. Have your peek and satisfy your curiosity.”

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