Read To Capture A Highlander's Heart: The Beginning Online

Authors: Teresa Reasor

Tags: #short story, #historical, #medieval, #celtic romance, #highlands historical fiction, #scottish highlands, #scottish medieval romance, #campbell clan, #highland moonlight

To Capture A Highlander's Heart: The Beginning

BOOK: To Capture A Highlander's Heart: The Beginning
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To Capture A Highlander’s Heart
The Beginning

 

A Highland Moonlight Short Story

 

by

 

Teresa J. Reasor

 

 

 

To Capture A Highlander’s Heart: The Beginning

Copyright 2013 Teresa J. Reasor

Cover Art by
Tracy Stewart

Formatted by
IRONHORSE
Formatting

 

Smashwords Edition

 

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rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
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or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic,
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prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above
publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author
acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various
products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used
without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not
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Contact Information:
[email protected]

Teresa J. Reasor

PO Box 124

Corbin, KY 40702

 

Publishing History: First Edition 2013

ISBN 13: 978-0-9886627-3-5

ISBN 10: 0-9886627-3-6

 

 

Table of Contents

The Beginning

Coming Soon

Other Books by Teresa J. Reasor

 

 

 

The Beginning

 

Scotland 1330

 

 

Gabriel eyed the bedclothes and other
garments spread on the bushes around his hut. He approached his
cottage with a combination of caution and curiosity. The wee folk
had visited his home while he was away again? This time they—she
had been cleaning.

Since the visits had begun, his surprise and
pleasure had melted into wariness.

The fresh baked bread, the herbs tied with a
scrap of ribbon, his mended shirt, though enjoyed at first, now
made him feel—obligated. Whatever was given, there would be a price
for later. Were these small gifts the bait? Would the trap be
sprung today?

The scent of stewing vegetables and meat
wafted to him before he reached the door. Shoving open the portal,
he ducked his head to clear the lintel and swept the cabin with a
quick, questing gaze. His clothing hung upon pegs, his wooden
plates and bowls, now washed, were stacked on the shelf. The
hearth, swept clean of ash, boasted a newly laid fire. The stew he
smelled bubbled in a pot balanced on the iron stand above the
flames. Aye, she had been cleaning—and cooking. He breathed an
oath. Who was she? And what was she about?

 

****

 

Grace tucked the empty basket beneath her arm
and raised her skirts to climb the steep hill to the village. She
had bolstered her nerve to announce her presence, but one look at
Gabriel’s expression had shriveled the desire like a dried pea, and
she had fled. Why had he been angry? What had vexed him so?

Her steps flagged, and she stopped midway up
the hill to rest amongst the wild hyacinth blooming along the path.
Setting aside the basket, she plucked one of the clustered blossoms
and raised it to her nose to breathe in its fragrance.

She was nothing like Tira, the woman he had
once loved. She could not give him beauty, but she could mend his
clothes, clean his cottage, and cook his food.

She could bear him children.

And she would do it with a love in her heart
that would make the offer sweeter.

If only he could
see
her.

She studied the work-roughened fingers that
grasped the flower’s stem. But why should a man such as he settle
for a homely little mouse when he could have beauty as well?

Her love was no small thing. Was that not a
prize worth more than a pleasing face?

She lay down amongst the flowers and their
scent surrounded her. If their bellies were full and their clothes
mended, did men ever think of love? Mayhap not.

Then why would she not do as well as any
other woman?

But for him to consider her, she had to make
him
see
her. But how? And if he did and turned away? Pain
grabbed her throat and threatened her composure.

At the snap of a nearby twig, she jerked to a
sitting position.

A gasp escaped as the object of her thoughts
stepped from the stand of trees and came to a halt in the clearing.
Black trews hugged his muscular legs. He wore the shirt she had
mended for him beneath leather tunic that clung to his torso and
emphasized the width of his chest and shoulders. Grace scrambled to
her feet, her cheeks hot.

Gabriel’s long strides seemed to eat up the
distance between them, and with every step her heart beat a flighty
rhythm.

“Good morn, lass.”

The deep timbre of his voice with its hint of
raspiness brought delightful chill bumps to her skin. She fought
against a sudden breathlessness to speak to him for the first time.
She swallowed and forced her voice to work. “Good morn.”

His dark brows, angled in a V over the
straight slope of his nose, hinted at the anger she had recognized
earlier. His neatly trimmed beard darkening the lower half of his
face outlined the sensuous curve of his lips.

“How long have you been here, lass?”

“Only a wee time.”

“Have you seen anyone about? Has anyone
passed you on the path?”

She shook her head. “Nay.” He was hunting for
the person who had been in his hut. He was not happy about their
trespass—her trespass.

He nodded. “Good day then.”

As she watched him ascend the hill, Grace
drew a despairing breath. All he saw when he looked at her was Lady
Mary’s maid, not a woman. For a man who was known as one of
Alexander Campbell’s most fierce warriors, he was as blind as a
harry coo in a snow storm. She climbed the path behind him.

****

 

Gabriel topped the rise and looked down into
the village. There were few people about and none of them women.
Who was she? Where could she have gone?

At the whisper of skirts behind him, he
turned and waited for Grace to come abreast of him. His attention
dropped to the basket she clasped. The ragged container looked
familiar. Was it not the same one that had held the loaves of bread
someone had left for him? Shock punched the breath from his lungs
and his gaze leaped to her face.

“Who sent you, Grace?”

Pain whipped across her features. She
straightened her shoulders and met his gaze. “No one sent me.”

She strode past him and started down the path
to the village.

In two paces he caught up and matched his
long strides to her shorter ones. “Why would you clean my hut and
prepare food for me, lass?”

“You are not dull witted, Gabriel.”

From the bite of her tone, nor was she. He
studied the tender slope of her jaw. She had a small heart-shaped
face, dominated by large dark lashed eyes. Freckles sprinkled
across the bridge of her nose.

“Grace.” He grasped her arm drawing her to a
stop. “You are a wee, young lass. Too young to waste your youth on
a man nearly half a score older than you.”

“I am a score and one year old. Old enough to
be a wife. Old enough to be a mother.”

Surprise held him immobile.

“I am not the same young, ignorant girl I was
when first I came here to Castle de Sith. Lady Mary has taught me
to read. And though I have not grown in body, my mind has grown and
I am more than I was. Good enough for you or any other man. If you
canna believe that, I have made a grave mistake in my judgment of
you.”

Gabriel’s face flushed at her tone and his
jaw grew taut. “And how many other men have you been cooking and
cleaning for then?”

 

Color stormed her cheeks and her eyes
narrowed in anger. She swung the basket, hitting him in the
shoulder. Reeds, fragile with age, splintered and the vessel
collapsed. As she broke into a run, she threw the damaged container
with a backwards sling. Only his quick reaction kept it from
smacking him in the face. He eyed the basket. Dry bits of debris
flaked away to scatter upon the ground. All the thing would be
useful for now was to feed his fire.

He studied the angry twitch of her hips as
Grace stormed down the path in the direction of the castle. He
frowned at the instant response that ran straight to his groin.

The bread had been fresh and the stew he had
tasted before leaving the hut had been well seasoned and tasty. But
marriage seemed a steep price to pay for them. And marriage was
what she was after. But why him?

It was after he had supped on the stew Grace
had cooked that he looked about his small cabin and noticed how her
light touch about the room had changed the cluttered space. And how
the food rested in his belly.

As he climbed into his bed, the soft scent of
soap and greenery on his threadbare sheets wafted over him. Grace
had washed them and hung them on the brush outside his door to
dry.

Gabriel punched his pillow and turned on his
side. ‘Twas nonsense. She was too young for him. To wee for a man
as large as he. His response to the tight swish of her hips as she
stormed down the hill, gave a lie to the belief. He had never
thought of her in that manner. Before now. And now it was all of
which he could think.

 

****

 

Gabriel’s eyes narrowed as he focused on the
braid that swung back and forth like a pendulum at the small of
Grace’s back as she whipped the length of tartan fabric from around
her shoulders and hung it on a peg at the door. In the four days
since their conversation, every word she had spoken had woven
through his thoughts, triggering feelings he had tried to deny but
couldn’t. Fed by the knowledge that she had already been inside his
home, he found himself envisioning her in his cabin, preparing a
meal, mending his shirts, sleeping beside him. The images had taken
root in his mind and whetted his desire for —something more than
imaginings.

He had hoped to speak with her at the evening
meal, but she had accompanied Lady Mary to attend a sick child in
the village. Now that she had returned, he saw his chance and rose
from his seat. He quickened his pace as she slipped between the
heavy wooden tables in the great room crowded with men finishing
their meal.

A long muscular arm whipped out from one of
the tables and caught her about the waist. Bruce Campbell dragged
her down onto his lap.

Grace’s eyes looked large and startled as she
stared at the clansman.

Too far away to hear what was said, Gabriel
bore down on the couple in time to see Grace shake her head and
push against Bruce’s shoulder.

The other men at the table laughed, and her
cheeks flushed berry red. She gripped the edge of the table and
attempted to lever herself out of his grasp, but the man held on.
Ignoring her struggles, he buried his face against her neck.

With the speed of a loosed crossbow, an
emotion Gabriel had never experienced shot through him. Mine. The
word reverberated through his mind. Outrage fueled his temper as
every protective instinct in him took aim at the man holding Grace.
As he reached them, he gripped Bruce Campbell’s wrist and peeled it
loose from her waist. He grasped her forearm and, with an easy tug,
plucked her free of the man’s lap. Pushing her behind him, he
turned to face Bruce. Consternation clouded the clansman’s face as
he half rose. Gabriel shoved him back into his seat and thrust his
face close. “I’d hate to split your head over a woman, but I’ll do
it if you press the matter, Bruce.”

The surprised look on Bruce’s face, as well
as the other men seated at the table, brought Gabriel’s temper
under control. He’d as good as laid claim to the lass before the
whole company. For one long tense moment, silence reigned.

Bruce spread his hands in an acquiescent
gesture. “There are always other lasses, and I winna have to suffer
a broken noggin’ to have them.”

BOOK: To Capture A Highlander's Heart: The Beginning
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