Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(117)

By: Ceci Giltenan

Grace nodded, but she couldn’t meet his eyes.

“What changed?”

“I fell in love with a man who I had no right to love.” Grace gave the man an imploring look. For some reason, she felt the need to make him understand. “I tried not to—I swear I did. But I couldn’t. I love him so very much, the thought of losing him causes me more pain even than the deaths of my parents and my husband.” She turned her head away for a moment.

When she looked at him again, he smiled gently. “I can see how much he means to ye. Does he feel the same way?”

She nodded. “Aye.”

“And who is this lucky man who has won the heart of such a lovely young woman?”

She bit her lip and looked away. “Ye said ye were a Sinclair. I’ve said too much. Please excuse me.” She struggled to lift Kristen from her lap.”

“Stay put. Ye needn’t wake the bairn. I know who ye are and who ye fell in love with.”

“Ye do?”

“Aye, it’s causing a bit of a stir at the moment. I understand ye married Bram Sutherland last night.

She nodded and looked at him again, expecting to see censure.

His smile was warm. “Are ye happy?”

Her mother’s voice came to her, Grace, be happy. She smiled. “Aye, I’m happy. I suspect we’re in quite a bit of trouble with Laird Sutherland, but I’m very happy to be Bram’s wife.”

“I dare say. Perhaps if his father knew ye were a noblewoman—”

“But I’m not.”

“Aye, Grace, ye are. Ye didn’t say so, but the only man who could have had the power over yer parents which ye describe would be the laird of a clan, or a close member of his family. Am I right?”

She nodded. “He was the laird.”

“Then we should try to find out who they are.”

“But I promised my mother…”

“I understand. Still, yer mother extracted that promise from ye because she had no other way to protect ye. Now ye are married to Laird Sutherland’s heir. Ye can’t be forced to marry another. Frankly, I don’t think any reasonable man would visit vengeance on his own granddaughter but even if he were still alive, ye are well protected and yer parents are beyond his reach now.”

She frowned. “I hate to break my promise, but ever since I learned the truth and saw the pain it caused my grandmother, I have worried about my mother’s family. I would like for them to know. I can’t imagine losing my daughter like that. But I really know nothing about them.”

“Do ye have anything belonging to yer mother?”

“Aye, I have a small box with a few personal items.”

“Have ye shown them to anyone? To Bram or Laird Sutherland?”


“Perhaps something on them will identify her clan. If I could see them, I might be able to tell ye who they are.”

Grace hesitated. “I don’t know…”

“It is up to ye, lass. But if ye want to know who yer mother’s people are, if ye want them to know what happened to her, her belongings could hold answers.”

He was right, but he was a stranger. “Mayhap. But I should probably show them to Bram first.”

“Aye, that may be best. I should be getting back anyway.” He stood. “I’ll carry the lass to yer cottage and perhaps yer grandmother will mind her while we go to the keep.”

“Ye needn’t. I’m not going to the keep.”

“Aye, Grace, ye are.”

“Nay—but—I can’t.”

Despite her protests, he gently lifted Kristen from her lap, adjusting the child so she laid against his chest. “There is something altogether wonderful about holding a sleeping child and I haven’t done it since my own were wee ones.”

She stood and brushed the bits of grass from her skirt. “I appreciate ye carrying her to our cottage, sir, but I can’t go to the keep.”

“Aye, ye can, and ye will. And what’s more, ye’ll bring yer mother’s belongings. Eanraig will need to see them.”

Chapter 35

Grace stopped and stared at the man who had introduced himself as simply, “Ranulf.” Realization flooded her. “Ye called Laird Sutherland by his given name.”