Read Taming the Heiress Online

Authors: Susan King

Taming the Heiress

BOOK: Taming the Heiress
13.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Taming The Heiress

The Scottish Lairds Series

Book One


Susan King

National Bestselling Author

Published by
ePublishing Works!

ISBN: 978-1-61417-759-3

By payment of required fees, you have been granted the
-transferable right to access and read the text of this eBook. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented without the express written permission of copyright owner.

Please Note

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The reverse engineering, uploading, and/or distributing of this eBook via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

Copyright © 2015 by Susan King. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

Cover by Kim Killion

eBook design by eBook Prep


To David, for his endless patience, with love


Many thanks to many friends for support and some valuable plotstorming—especially to Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, Pat Gagne, Jaclyn Reding, and Julie Booth. I'm very grateful to Victorian costume expert Meredith Bean McMath for dressing my characters from the inside out, and for suggesting that gorgeous Worth gown. Thanks are due also to ex-diving instructor and dear friend Linda Lawhorne for inspiring the diving scenes. And lastly, thanks go to Matt Jachowski—who knows why.


Scotland, the Inner Hebrides Summer, 1850

He washed out of a cold sea in darkness, finding a desperate grip on a huge rock that soared upward through crashing waves. As he lay motionless on the bulwark of rough stone, the water swept over him, withdrew, and surged high again.

Lungs burning, he crawled higher on the sloping rock and collapsed, shivering and half-naked. Peering through darkness and lashing rain, he gradually recognized the unique profile of his sanctuary: Sgeir Caran, the largest rock in the notorious Caran Reef that lay west of the Inner Hebridean islands. The half-mile crescent of black basalt rocks, many of them entirely submerged, formed a wicked lure of eddies and whirlpools, trapping countless boats and ships over the centuries. He had found safety in an unlikely place.

For now, enough to lie on the still, solid breast of the rock; enough just to breathe. He knew this reef, had studied and measured its jagged points in his capacity as a lighthouse engineer, listed the ships wrecked upon these rocks, numbered the lives lost. Some of those names were known to him—his own kin.

This reef had taken his parents, wrecking and sinking their ship as they sailed on a holiday journey, having left their thirteen-year-old son and his sisters in the care of a relative. The devastating loss had changed the course of his life, altering him heart and soul. Now he wondered if he was destined to join his parents here.

Perhaps he was already dead, and with his usual obstinacy had simply not recognized it yet. He lowered his head, closed his eyes, clung to the rock.

Pelting rain brought him back to awareness, confirming that he was indeed alive. The gale raged on, black storm clouds smothering the half-light of the Hebridean night. Daylight had been a warm glow when he sailed out, with no hint of a storm.

He had been a fool to come out alone, sodden drunk, on a dare. But Dougal Robertson Stewart, heir to the estates of Kinnaird and Balmossie, never turned down a challenge or quailed at danger. He welcomed risk—perhaps he ought to reconsider that, he thought wryly, as he crawled up the black, slippery incline of the rock.

A high, fierce wave rose and crashed over him as he scuttled toward the upper plateau of black basalt. Two hundred feet away, a stack rock soared in an eerie natural tower. Caves permeated the far end of Sgeir Caran, he knew, but he was too exhausted to seek them out yet. He lay, summoning strength while he watched the writhing, turbulent sea and felt the sting of rain on his bare back.

They had vanished, the beautiful ones who had carried him here through the storm. Graceful yet frightening, the creatures had appeared as he was drowning in the deep. They had drawn him onto their backs and galloped forward with the waves, their manes pale froth, their hooves whipping the sea to wildness.

Sea kelpies, the legendary water horses who raced through the foam—he had never believed such nonsense, but tonight he had seen them, had twisted his fingers in their wet, white manes and placed his feet on their magnificent backs while they carried him forward like the steeds of Neptune.

Surely he had dreamed it.

My God,
he thought,
drunk indeed, and in a sorry state.

Concussed too, for he had taken a blow to the head when his borrowed fishing boat had overturned in a high swell brought on by the sudden storm. Fighting to stay conscious, caught in the waves, he had clung to the boat's underplanking. When his heavy coat and wet clothing dragged him under, he had stripped free of most of it to save himself. The sinking boat sucked him downward—and then the legion of pale horses had appeared to sweep him onto the shoulder of the great rock.

As he got to his feet, an arching wave caught him, and though he reached out for a rocky handhold, the water's force knocked his head against the rock. He sank into a black void.

Opening his eyes—how long had passed?—he saw a pair of perfect bare feet.

Pale and delicate, mere inches from his face, the small toes and slender ankles showed beneath the hem of a white gown. Rain splashed all around her, soaking her garment.

A sea fairy, Dougal thought dimly. Kelpies and sea fairies, and he lost to another realm entirely.

She sank to her knees, a sweet blur of a face above her simple gown. Wet hair spilled down in tendrils. A plaid shawl was draped over her shoulders, and she slipped it off to wrap it around him. Its thickness felt divine.

He tried to thank her, but his hoarse voice failed.

"Ach Dhia,
you are alive, and come from the sea," she said, her voice soft and calm. "I have been waiting for you."

He understood some, spoke only a little. Waited, is that what she had said—for him?

"You are cold, shivering—not used to human form." She tucked the shawl higher. "I have been waiting here to keep the ancient promise. Perhaps you are a king in your world, but you need care in ours."

Ancient promise? He stared at her. "I am out of the sea," he said in awkward Gaelic. His mind felt muddled. Who was she, he wondered—where was he, what had happened? "I—"

"Hush you." Taking his arm, she helped him to rise on shaky legs, tucking her shoulder to let him lean on her as they stepped forward. She might look elfin, but she had solid strength. They set out over the rock, heads bent against the winds, the blanket whipping about them.

BOOK: Taming the Heiress
13.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Head Case by Cole Cohen
Hadrian's Rage by Patricia-Marie Budd
Casanova in Bolzano by Marai, Sandor
When the Storm Breaks by Heather Lowell
Battleaxe by Sara Douglass
Mad Moon of Dreams by Brian Lumley
The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart
Otherworld 02 - Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Jingo by Terry Pratchett