Bound by Wish and Mistletoe (Highland Legends, Book 1.5)

BOOK: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe (Highland Legends, Book 1.5)
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AWARDS
AND PRAISE FOR

FORGED IN DREAMS AND MAGICK

 

 

First Place - Unpublished Beacon Award

Best Paranormal Romance

 

First Place
- Hold Me, Thrill Me Award

Best Paranormal Romance

 

 

 

“A beautifully woven tale about love, choices, courage and destiny,
Forged in Dreams and Magick
is one of the best time-traveling novels. Fans of Gabaldon's
Outlander
will love it." ~
Bookish Temptations

 

“I was gripping my iPad like a crazy woman and fanning myself from the smoldering romance. Lawdy!” ~
The Flirty Reader

 

"Bastion's debut is pure perfection, a combination of romance, magic, emotion, adventure and surprising twists and turns. This is a truly unique romance that should not be missed!" ~
TheBookQueen

 


Forged in Dreams and Magick
definitely makes my BEST OF list for 2013…” ~ VampBard from
That’s What I’m Talking About

 

 

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

 

The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark owners of products, names, and/or phrases mentioned within this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication of the trademarks are not authorized by, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe

COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Kat Bastion. All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, copied, stored, scanned, transmitted or distributed in any form or by any means, including but not limited to mechanical, printed, or electronic form, without prior written permission of the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. To reach the author, please visit either her blog at www.talktotheshoe.com or her website at www.katbastion.com and complete the contact form on her Kat’s Connections page.

 

First paperback edition November 2013

 

Cover Art © by Stephanie Mooney. All rights reserved.

 

 

Publishing History

First Edition, 2013

Print ISBN:
978-0615869254

 

Published in the United States of America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To every lost soul and dreamer...

May you find your happily ever after
.

 

 

Chapter
One

 

 

 

 

Scotland
—Thirteenth Century

 

The forest...
pulsed
.

Robert Brodie stood in the middle of a bitter winter storm on a mission of debatable absurdity when something rippled through him. The vibration spread across the ground and through the forest canopy like wildfire.

“’Tis a tree like any other. I doona understand Lady Isobel’s desire with the wee sapling,” Duncan remarked as he approached a Scots fir that was substantial enough to demand his hefty ax.

Robert glanced at his two guardsmen, intrigued that
Duncan and Seamus hadn’t sensed the odd change in air pressure. The lone twelve-foot pine they’d been tasked to collect from the edge of their holdings had a wide red ribbon woven through its boughs. Snow curled into a funnel beside the tree, whipped high into the air, and disappeared. Cloud cover reflected the last angled light of the sun, casting their frosty world in a silver hue.

Seamus lofted his larger ax into the air and placed a flattened palm on
Duncan’s chest. “Step aside. ’Tis not the tree, but the want of the lady that matters.”

Duncan
lowered his head and growled, angling around Seamus. “Touch me again, and I’ll cut you down before the tree.”

Robert turned away from the two posturing friends and squinted through dense snowfall toward the darkened forest to the southwest. Before a battle, he’d always been able to feel an approaching enemy deep in his belly, and in a similar manner, something raced their way as sure as the cruel wind blowing.

The men quieted, and Robert heard an ax blade whack into soft bark. A second chop thumped, the sound muted by the tremendous mass of the surrounding plant life and the fallen snow.

Inexplicably drawn forward, he trudged through snow that brushed the tops of his worn leather boots. He stopped just before the edge of the small glade. The snowfall continued to thicken. A gust of wind kicked up, and he blinked as fat flakes coated his eyelashes. A twig snapped a few dozen paces ahead in the blinding whiteness.

With silent grace, he unsheathed his sword from the leather scabbard at his hip. His heartbeat slowed in his ears while he forced a measured breath into his lungs.

All of a sudden, hell broke through the trees, clumps of snow launching in every direction from sprung tree branches.

He thrust his sword up, but a split second later, he shot his elbow out—leading with the hilt—to spare an
unarmed
rider on horseback.

The horse reared, and Robert dodged to the side. The rider lost balance and released the reins, falling backward. With his free hand, Robert fisted the rider’s cloak at the throat, and in a fluid movement, spun him around, dropped him to the ground, and knelt upon his chest, holding the razor-sharp tip of the sword’s blade to his neck.

Wide blue eyes fringed with thick, dark lashes blinked up at him. The intruder swallowed hard and trembled.

Robert scowled, easing back his crushing weight. He moved the point of his sword outward, tugging at the material tied around the rider’s neck. The fur-lined cloak fell away, and out spilled long, shining brown hair.

A wee
lass
was the danger I sensed
?

“Explain yourself,” he growled.

Her eyes narrowed. “I’ll not explain a thing, Highlander. My concern is not with you. Release me.”

“You’ve breached Brodie lands. Any
concern
you had is now with me.”

He assessed her clothing while he pulled the rest of his weight off her. His men had already surrounded them, standing within striking distance of the lass. Their axes raised, they both looked ready to fell her slight frame with a well-placed blade, as if she’d become the tree. Her black cloak was made of the finest woven wool, its lining a rare sable fur. A silk dress, the deep color of sapphire, peeked from beneath the folds. Great wealth had clothed the lass.

Irritated on many levels, Robert grasped her forearm and yanked her up from the ground. Wet snow clung to her entire backside, but she made no move to brush it away. He sheathed his sword, keeping a wary gaze locked onto the lass. Her eyes roved over him in between intermittent glances around the clearing.

Duncan
quipped, “I’d hoped to bring home a buck for tomorrow’s feast, but I dinna think we’d catch wilder game.”

Seamus laughed.

Fast as a heartbeat, a dagger flashed from beneath her cloak. The cold blade pressed against the side of Robert’s neck before either of his men caught the movement. Despite her impressive speed, he’d anticipated her action the instant she shifted her body weight. But with the frightened look in her eyes, the hesitation in her execution, and the hard swallow in her throat, he withheld his reaction—he knew she didn’t want to hurt him, and he didn’t want to injure her unnecessarily.

He slowly raised his hands, giving his men a pointed look and slight head shake as an order to stand down. The returned looks from both men held equal parts amusement and irritation.

“You’ll let me be on my way,” she said.

“Nay. I will not.” He arched a brow and leaned forward, causing her to retract or slice his neck.

She gasped and jerked her hand away. As the steel blade lifted from his neck, Robert grabbed her wrist, spun her around, and clamped his biceps around her bent arms, pinning her dangerous hands to her ribcage.

He growled into her ear, “We could do this all night.”

She struggled in his arms, and he tightened his hold until her fight slowed. No matter how hard he squeezed her wrist though, she refused to drop the dagger. Rather than inflict damage for no purpose, he flicked a glance at Seamus then the dagger.

His man moved forward and plucked the weapon from her fingers.

She went wild in Robert’s arms again.

He sighed. He’d reluctantly agreed to risk an unforgiving storm to retrieve a damned tree—without explanation by Lady Isobel of what a
Christmas tree
actually was—knowing they couldn’t return to their hidden castle until the following day. Dealing with a hellion of a lass had not been in the bargain.

Women everywhere conspire to be the death of me.

He’d foresworn the intimate company of females not even a week ago when three scheming lasses had openly argued for
rights
to him. The young soldiers training in the courtyard had the wisdom to keep their mouths shut. After he snarled a conviction that no woman would ever have claim to him, the lasses paled and also went blissfully silent.

He should’ve known the peaceful respite would be too good to last.

Robert minutely tightened his grip on his struggling captive. When she calmed to a degree, he eased the pressure. “Seamus, fetch that ribbon in the tree.”

The lass renewed her efforts to break through his hold. “Nay! Let me go! You doona understand!”

Robert forced her wrists together, and Seamus wound the wide red fabric around them. The lass started to buck and kick within his unyielding arms before Seamus pulled the last knot tight.

Without warning, Robert stepped back. Her own aggressive force threw her backward and dumped her ass-first atop the snow. He chuckled at the intensity of her glare. Although she’d proven amusing when indignant, he thoroughly enjoyed the lass incensed.

She let out an escalating growl as an explosion of movement happened beneath the material of her cloak and gown. They watched a spectacle unfold as she struggled to get up from the snow. With each movement, she buried herself deeper until the only thing showing above the fluffy powder was the dangling end of a bright red ribbon marking its present below, her hands held stiff above the surface as if defiantly refusing to sink in defeat.

He snorted. “Go. Chop down the tree. I’ll see to the hellcat.”

Seamus chuckled. “Duncan, we must be blessed to earn the better of the two tasks.”

“Indeed.”
Duncan clapped Robert’s shoulder. “May you fare well, Commander.”

“Do
es she sound a bit like Lady Isobel?” Seamus asked as they walked away, returning to their task.

“I doona think so,”
Duncan replied. “But if she possesses half of Lady Isobel’s will, he’ll have his hands full.”

Deep chuckles from his men rose louder then faded off behind him as he considered the strangeness of the day. Fetching a pine tree for another of Lady Isobel’s “holiday events” seemed an odd request, but he never questioned his laird’s wife. Although she’d been brought here from the future by magick for Iain, their unconventional lady had saved Iain’s life. Therefore anything she wanted was already hers. That today’s peculiar errand also brought an unexpected woman, added another dimension to an already bewildering mission.

All the while, the infuriated lass fired off a string of incoherent curses from beneath the mound of white. He remained motionless—with the calm patience born of a true military strategist—until her movements ceased and her last sound was uttered.

At the exact moment he knew she’d settled into her circumstance, he took a step closer, allowing the crunch of snow under his boot to alert her. He stared down at the red ribbon. “Do you yield?”

Silence met his question. He knew she hadn’t gone unconscious because she still held her hands rigid above the snow. The ribbon began to tremble as she held fast in her obstinance.

“To your left,” Seamus called.

A heavy crunch of snow followed. Robert didn’t turn, but imagined the pine tree had finally succumbed to its fate. Duncan walked into his peripheral vision, gathering dead limbs from the dry, denser portions of the forest.

Robert waited. He watched his charge
...as she waited. Neither was happy about the circumstances. Her misfortune in crossing their paths, however, had created a duty of protection for him—both to her and to his clan—which overrode either of their choices in the matter.

A low sound came from the mound of snow, but the message was muffled by the wind whipping around his ears.

“Louder. I dinna hear you.”

“Aye. I yield,” she growled out.

He smirked, closed a hand around her bound wrists, and dislodged her from the pile of snow. She looked a mess, wet snow clinging to every surface. Her hood had fallen off and snow filled the pouched material. The exposed skin of her chest and face flamed bright red from the cold, and likely, a bit from her anger. Big blue eyes stared up at him until they squinted, long, dark lashes hiding their beauty.

The poor lass had soaked herself through during her headstrong tirade, but he figured it had served a purpose: she’d think twice about threatening him or his men.

“Weel, come on with you.” On a final tug, he fully pulled her from the hole in the snow where she stood. Without a sound or ounce of resistance, she let him lead her to a fallen log under denser tree cover, a dozen paces from where their horses, and now her skittish mare, were tied to the lowest branches of an oak.

The spirited lass held her body rigid, her lips in a tight line, as he removed her soaked, heavy cloak and hung it by the hood on a protruding branch near the spot
Duncan had prepared for a fire. She shivered in the freezing night air, the damp silk of her dress clinging to the generous curves on her too-slender form. While watching her for signs of regained fight, he untied his rolled plaid from the back of his saddle. He returned and unfurled the dry material into the air, caught the loose end, and wrapped the wool around her quivering body.

Without a second thought, he pulled her into his arms, tucking her beneath his own cloak to share what warmth he could. Her shoulders went rigid, but after a moment, her tense muscles loosened, and she leaned further into him.

He too stiffened his arms and spine in shock, realizing he’d inadvertently given comfort to a lass after his self-preserving vow, but he slowly relaxed at the impossible notion that she’d be like any of the relentless women who’d pursued him. Schemes and motives to escalate social standing were far different than appreciating basic needs for survival.

The lass’s shivering stopped, and he pulled back to look down into beautiful eyes that had softened from those of a cornered wolf to those of a lost pup.

BOOK: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe (Highland Legends, Book 1.5)
5.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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