Highland Revenge (Fated Hearts Book 1)(6)

By: Ceci Giltenan


“Nonsense,” she barked.

He stared at her. “Grizel, don’t ye understand what I’ve told ye?”

“Of course I do. I haven’t taken leave of my senses in the last few days, and I’m not going to deny that ye were beyond foolish. Honestly, Eoin, going on a secret raid with three other green lads was absolute idiocy. Ye only proved yer Da right. He never doubted yer skill, but yer wisdom and judgment are still woefully lacking. Even so, ye didn’t get the others killed. Ye all entered into this folly willingly and each of ye bear yer own responsibility in the outcome. The others paid with their lives. Sadly, Eoin, yer price is greater.”

“I’m alive, Grizel. There isn’t a price greater than death.”

“Unfortunately, lad, there is. Ye will bear the guilt of living forever.”

Eoin frowned.

“Aye tis true. Even though they were each responsible for their own part in this, ye will never believe that. It will shape who ye become and the decisions ye make from now on. If not, their deaths were truly in vain.”

“I’ll avenge them, Grizel. I will not rest until the MacNicols have paid this debt.”

“That’s not what I mean, lad. Ye will remember that sometimes the decisions ye make will unavoidably result in death. Ye must not take that lightly ever again.”

“Nay, I won’t. But I will have my revenge too.”

Grizel shook her head and clucked her tongue. “Revenge. Why are men more prone to revenge injury than to requite kindness? It was a MacNicol who risked his life to save ye, lad.”

“But he wouldn’t have had to if Bhaltair had treated me fairly.”

“And good Saint Peter said, ‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this ye were called so that ye may inherit a blessing.’ Always look up lad. Ye will find yer blessing and salvation there, not in revenge.”

Eoin took her hand but said nothing. She was a woman. She couldn’t possibly understand.

As if she had heard him, she said, “Aye, I’m a woman, but mark my words. If ye follow this road of revenge, ye will live to regret it. The pain ye cause will not be just yer own.”





Three


A half-day’s ride from Castle MacNicol, May 1340

Fiona grew more uneasy as they rode. Morag, her dappled mare, whickered and tossed her head. She was not normally a skittish mount. Perhaps she sensed something amiss or was spooked by her rider’s nervousness. In fairness, Fiona hadn’t been herself for days. She had been on edge ever since Uncle Bhaltair announced her betrothal to Laird Sutherland’s heir, Bram, two weeks ago. She remembered her utter shock when he told her she was to foster with the Sutherlands for a time before the wedding.

“Fiona, dear, this will give ye time to get to know them better, and Lady Sutherland will teach ye what ye need to know to be a laird’s wife one day.”

Perhaps he meant well, but she hated the thought of leaving home. Arguing with her uncle was nearly always a mistake, but she had tried. “I understand, Uncle, I just…well, this is my home. I don’t want to leave it.”

“Fiona, it’s time ye marry. Ye know I have been trying to make a good match for ye for ages now.”

That was true, and she knew she must wed, but she didn’t want Uncle Bhaltair choosing her husband. Her parents had been dead for eight years now. After her father and oldest brother were killed at Dupplin Moor, her mother fell ill with a terrible fever and died barely a month later. Fiona herself had nearly died with the same illness.

Sixteen at the time, her brother Alec was too young to assume leadership, and was still in training with Laird Munro. Before taking men to join the Earl of Mar in defending Scottish independence, their father had left Uncle Bhaltair, his second in command, in charge. Bhaltair continued to lead the clan, but it was only temporary, until Alec was older and more seasoned. He would be coming home soon to become Laird MacNicol. He had promised Fiona he would consider her wishes in selecting a husband. He told her when the time came, he would try to arrange a marriage that allowed her to stay at Castle MacNicol.

She had tried one last time to reason with her uncle. “I know, but I told ye, Alec said—”

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