Authors: Cassidy Cayman
by Cassidy Cayman
Mellie’s having a quarter-life crisis. It’s to the point that she’s taking life advice from Shane Brodie, the notorious village flirt, who’s trying desperately to get to the eighteenth century to keep Catie Ferguson from marrying anyone but him.
She not only decides to help Shane go back in time, but agrees to go with him as part of his plan to distract Catie’s posh English suitor. It won’t be too much of a chore since Oliver is exactly what Mellie’s always wanted in a man.
If she isn’t eaten up with guilt over betraying her friends, doesn’t freeze to death in the forest, and can manage to keep from screwing up history (or the future!), she might just find what she needs to be happy.
In the present, Piper’s going nuts trying to plan Evie’s wedding, which has completely put her off wanting to plan her own, much to Lachlan’s dismay.
Evie can’t find the perfect dress and is beginning to wonder why she wanted a big wedding in the first place. Will Sam ever get a ring on her finger?
Visit online at
Everyone agreed that the gilded birdcages, hand-wrapped with thousands of glittering crystals, were beautiful. Well, Lachlan took a very deep breath and blew it out in a gust, the closest anyone would see to him agreeing.
“The problem isn’t their fine looks,” he said, taking Piper’s shoulders and trying to swallow back a smile. “I’m fairly blinded by them. But why must there be so many?”
He wrapped his arm around Piper, who looked like she wanted to be mad at him, but gave up and nestled under his arm. She turned to her best friend for backup. Evie held up her hand to shade her eyes from the early morning sun bouncing off the birdcages that lined the kitchen wall from floor to ceiling, creating dozens of tiny reflected rainbows. Mellie watched them with affection, tainted by shame over what she’d done.
“There seem to be a lot of them now, because they’re all clustered together,” Evie said diplomatically. “It won’t be so overwhelming when they’re scattered around.”
“That’s exactly right.” Piper reached up to kiss Lachlan’s cheek. “It’s going to look like an enchanted Regency era garden. Wait until you see the little fairies I got to go in the cages.”
He snorted. “Ye’ve found a way to enslave the wee folk for this mad affair of yours?”
“Wait, did we agree on the fairies?” Evie interjected, looking uneasy. “Weren’t they too creepy with their tiny doll eyes?”
“Remember, we found different ones? The porcelain ones from Italy, with the painted faces that didn’t look like Satan’s minions.”
Lachlan let out a blend of laughter and groan as Piper and Evie settled down at the plank table to make a big mess and get very little done.
Mellie tuned out the increasingly frantic wedding chatter and folded chocolate chips into the muffin batter. Concentrating on the mundane task helped ease her guilt over spilling the secret she’d been keeping for more than a year.
She still didn’t know what made her tell Shane Brodie that the girl he thought he was in love with was from the eighteenth century. That their employer was a witch who could travel through time, though she hated to do it, because something terrible always seemed to happen. That the big, handsome, and somewhat scary Highlander who lived with them at the castle had also come here from the eighteenth century and would most definitely not look kindly on Shane trying to get back there to go after his sister.
Mellie had been hoping he’d get over it, and had been dodging him at every turn, not an easy task when he worked at the castle every day, and seemed determined to squeeze more answers out of her. Even though she swore up and down she didn’t have any more.
The lad was pathetic in his supposed heartbreak, and she was a pushover. Not a good combination. She knew if he managed to get close enough to work his sad, green-eyed charm on her, she’d fold as easily as the chocolate chips, so she’d been avoiding him for the past three days. It was exhausting, especially since everyone who worked at the castle ended up popping into the kitchen for a snack or drink at least once during the day.
She’d been hoping to have some peace and quiet as soon as Piper and Evie left for their shopping trip in Inverness, shoving down the new flash of guilt she felt over her plan to skip her nursing school class that day. She’d wanted to use that stolen time to get some baking done, get a start on dinner, maybe futz around in the herb garden, but she was going to have to hole up in her room with headphones on, hiding from Shane when he inevitably came looking for her.
He was daft, of course, for wanting to chase after Catie Ferguson. She didn’t doubt his feelings for the sweet teenager who’d come to this time thinking she needed to rescue her brother Lachlan from the fierce witch, Piper. The problem was, once she realized Lachlan was perfectly, blissfully happy here, she chose to go back to her own time, without a backward glance in Shane’s direction. And why should she, when she had a chivalrous, thoughtful, and yes, Mellie was going to go there, sexy guy from her own time.
Mellie put the muffins in the oven with a little more clatter than she meant, remembering Oliver Cliffstone. Even a broken nose couldn’t hide his good looks, and she smiled to herself, thinking of his soulful, kind eyes, and thick, glossy brown hair. On the drive to visit his ancestral land to see what it looked like in this time, he’d been funny and interesting and … she sighed. None of it mattered.
She’d never see him again, and he was also in love with Catie. If Catie hadn’t been so sweet, she’d certainly hate her, and that added another layer of guilt. When had she become such a bad person? Spilling secrets, coveting men who weren’t hers, impure thoughts— yes, she’d had them! And shirking responsibility. A glance at the clock told her she could still make it to her class. She was nowhere near being late. But she knew she wouldn’t go. What was the point? She didn’t even want to be a nurse anymore.
She heaved a massive sigh and realized both Piper and Evie were looking at her expectantly. Had they been talking to her? And where had Lachlan run off to?
“Sorry, what?” she asked, focusing on a fabric sample board Evie held up. It was about fourteen different shades of pink and Mellie pointed vaguely at the middle row. “That one’s pretty.”
“Okay, but do you like these better?” She held up another one in various shades of peach, barely distinguishable from the first sample board. Seriously? Trying not to laugh, she pointed at the top row.
“God, Mel, get your head in the game,” Evie said, holding up a new board, this one at least on the opposite side of the color wheel, with shades of green.
Mellie couldn’t help it, and laughed. “What’s this for? Bridesmaid dresses? I like the green if I’m going to be wearing one of those colors.”
“Well, of course you are. And you haven’t even seen the turquoise samples yet.” Evie rummaged for it, getting frustrated when it wasn’t near to hand. She reached for her plate of toast, only to find it empty.
“Why don’t we concentrate on your dress, first,” Piper said soothingly, pushing her own unfinished breakfast plate closer to the pregnant Evie. “It’ll make it easier to choose a bridesmaid color.”
“Won’t your dress just be white?” Mellie asked, getting a double death glare.
“There’s different shades of white,” Piper said. She looked at her watch and gasped. “Oh, we better get going.”
“I found the turquoise samples,” Evie said happily. “What do you think, Mel? And, what do you think about these shoes? They’re dyed to match, or we could just do nude.”
Mellie wrinkled her nose at the sky high satin heels. Normally, she would have eaten this sort of thing up with a spoon, but her sour mood affected everything these days.
“I think when I get married, I’m going to elope,” she said, feeling bad when their faces fell at her lack of enthusiasm.
Evie stood up and stretched. “That actually doesn’t sound so bad.”
“I will murder you for even thinking it,” Piper said. “You’re having a proper wedding. Your family will be there, Sam’s family will be there, my family will be there. The train on your gown will be thirty feet long—”
“And there’s the crazy,” Evie interrupted, with a wink at Mellie, who motioned to keep her out of it.
Piper snorted. “The thirty foot train makes you think I’m crazy? Not the murder? Anyway, just wait until you see yourself in a wedding gown, you’ll change your tune.”
As much as she loved them, Mellie was glad to wave goodbye to them. She’d never been happier since Piper offered her the live-in job at the castle, but the last few days had been difficult, and she was delighted for the silence that settled over the huge kitchen.
She took the muffins out of the oven, poured herself a cup of tea and went to sit by the fire, letting the comforting crackle and warmth relax her for a few minutes before she hid away in her room. Piper was always telling her she could have a room upstairs if she wanted. They were bigger, and many of them had their own fireplaces, but she liked her little room that was a part of the old servant’s quarters. It was cheerier down near the kitchen. She wasn’t going to lie, the upstairs spooked her, ever since Lachlan had mysteriously appeared in the tower room, sent here accidentally by a crazed witch from his own time.
As soon as she began to relax and daydream in front of the roaring fire, she spied Shane through the window, making his way toward the back door, his hand covering most of his face. She jumped up and made a run for it, but he saw her when he flung open the door. He stopped swearing and smiled, removing his hand to reveal a face half covered in blood.
“Tawny kicked me in the head,” he said, heading for the sink.
She opened her mouth to tell him she had to get ready for class, and there was a first aid kit in the pantry, but then she imagined the huge mess he would make if left on his own. Red drops already splattered all over the tile counter. God, he looked pitiful, grinning at her as blood oozed down his face. With another sigh, she got the first aid kit.
“Did she knock you senseless?” Mel asked, shoving him onto a bar stool and pressing a towel against his hairline, where she suspected the cut originated.
“Aye, a bit. I saw stars, for sure. Those wee trotters of hers are sharp. I hope we eat her for Sam and Evelyn’s wedding,” he said.
“Ah, she won’t be fat enough by then.” After swabbing at him, she saw it was a superficial head wound. A mess, but nothing to be alarmed over. “I thought your brother was supposed to take care of her. Didn’t she try to kill you once already? And why was your head near enough for her to kick?”
He held up a finger, wincing as she dabbed him with alcohol. “Danny is out of town with my da. Aye, that murderous pig has been out to get me since she arrived, all tiny and cute.” He paused, held up another finger, realized he’d already answered two of her questions and held up a third. “And I had to fix the fence. She was pretending to sleep on the far side of her pen, and as soon as I got down there, raced over and attacked me. Bloody fast, like a blur.”
“Will you be able to sleep tonight?” she asked, brushing aside his hair to stick on a plaster. The bright red blood streaked his deep ginger hair like a punk dye job.
“Ye can laugh all ye like. That beast is possessed.”
She rinsed the towel and wiped the remaining blood off his face as he sat patiently like a sweet child. Feeling suddenly awkward under his earnest gaze, she stiffly patted his shoulders and stepped back.