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Authors: Tarah Scott,KyAnn Waters

Cowboys and Highlanders

BOOK: Cowboys and Highlanders
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Cowboys and Highlanders

 

My Highland Love

Highland Lords Series Book OneTarah Scott

 

To Bed a Montana Man KyAnn Waters

Montana Men Book One

 

My Highland Lord

Highland Lords Series Book Two Tarah Scott

 

To Wed a Wanton Woman KyAnn Waters

Montana Men Book Two

 

©
Copyright 2015 Broken Arm Publishing

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

 

Cover Art: Rebecca Poole Dreams2Media

Graphics: Hot Damn Designs

My Highland Love

 

Highland Lords Series Book One

 

Tarah Scott

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either 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.

COPYRIGHT © 2012 by Tarah Scott

http://www.tarahscott.com/
             

Reviews

The chemistry between these two characters will leave you breathless! This is one book I will defiantly read over and over!
Starry Night Book Reviews

 

The story is not only well written, but flows at just the perfect pace.One of the most important things in this genre is chemistry between the characters. My Highland Love's Marcus and Elise will set fire to the pages, or your e-reader screen! It's romantic and sensual with a good dose of suspense and action added in. Set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands this tale of love and second chances truly shines among other Highland novels. If you're looking for the next greatest Highland tale, pick this one up!
Kristina Haeker's Reviews

 

My Highland Love by Tarah Scott is a great story. I like the fact that Elise is not some wayward, whiny virgin, she is a woman with a past, a woman with her tragedies that make her evolve into the lass that Marcus comes to love. I adore Marcus being an older man with an 18 year old son and loads of responsibilities.
Book Obsessed Chicks

 

The erotic chemistry between Marcus and Elise is sizzling hot and definitely will raise your heart level up a notch or two with their courting chase. The ending was brilliant; my emotions were running wild with sadness one moment and gasping but ending with a great big smile on my face for the happy ever after. Excellent Read.
Queentutt

 

Dedication

This book is dedicated to my two very good friends and critique partners, Kimberly Comeau and Evan Trevane. You guys read this book above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you.

 

Chapter One

 

America

Winter 1825

 

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."
Or so her eulogy would begin.

The heavy gold wedding band clinked loudly in the silence as he grasped the crystal tumbler sitting on the desk before him. He raised the glass in salutation and whispered into the darkness, "To the dead, may they rot in their watery graves." He finished the whiskey in one swallow.

And what of that which had been hers? He smiled. The law would see that her wealth remained where it should—with him. A finality settled about the room.

Soon, life would begin.

* * * *

 

Solway Firth, Scottish-English border

 

Elise jumped at the sound of approaching footsteps and sloshed tea from the cup at her lips. The ship's stateroom door opened and her grip tightened around the delicate cup handle. Her husband ducked to miss the top of the doorway as he entered. He stopped, his gaze fixing on the medical journal that lay open on the secretary beside her. A corner of his mouth curved upward with a derisive twist and his eyes met hers.

With deliberate disinterest, Elise slipped the paper she'd been making notes on between the pages of the journal and took the forestalled sip of afternoon tea. She grimaced. The tea had grown cold in the two hours it had sat untouched. She placed the cup on the saucer, then turned a page in the book. As Robert clicked the door shut behind him, the ship's stern lifted with another wave. She gripped the desk when the stern dropped into the swell's trough. Thunder, the first on the month-long voyage, rumbled. She released the desk. This storm had grown into more than a mere squall.

Robert stepped to her side. "What are you doing?"

"Nothi—" He snatched the paper from the book. "Robert!" She would have leapt to her feet, but her legs were shakier than her hands.

He scanned the paper, then looked at her. "You refuse to let the matter lie."

"You don't care that the doctors couldn't identify what killed your daughter?"

"She is dead. What difference can it possibly make?"

Her pulse jumped.
None for you. Because you murdered her.

He tossed the paper aside. "This has gone far enough."

Elise lifted her gaze to his face. She once thought those blue eyes so sensual. "I couldn't agree more."

"Indeed?"

The ship heaved.

"I will give you a divorce," she said.

"Divorce?" A hard gleam entered his eyes. "I mean to be a widower."

She caught sight of the bulge in his waistband. Her pulse quickened. Why hadn't she noticed the pistol when he entered?

Elise shook her head. "You can't possibly hope to succeed. Steven will—"

"Your illustrious brother is in the bowels of the ship, overseeing the handling of the two crewmen accused of theft."

Her blood chilled. When her father was alive, he made sure the men employed by Landen Shipping were of good reputation. Much had changed since his death.

"One of the men is wanted for murder," Robert said.

"Murder?" she blurted. "Why would a stranger murder me?"

Robert lifted a lock of her dark hair. "Not a stranger. A spurned lover." He dropped the hair, then gripped the arms of her chair and leaned forward. "Once the board members of Landen Shipping identify your body as Elisabeth Kingston, the stipulation in your father's will shall be satisfied and your stock is mine."

The roar of blood pounded through her ears. If he killed her now, he would never pay for murdering their daughter. And she intended that he pay.

Elise lunged for the letter opener lying in one of the secretary compartments. The ship pitched as her fingers clamped onto the makeshift weapon. As Robert yanked her to her feet, she swung the letter opener. Bone-deep pain raced up her arm when the hard mass of his forearm blocked her blow. The letter opener clattered to the wooden floor.

She glimpsed his rage-contorted features before he whipped her around and crushed her to his chest, pinning her arms to her sides with one powerful arm. He dragged her two paces and snatched up the woolen scarf lying on the bed. In one swift movement, he wound it around her neck.

Robert released her waist, grabbed the scarf's dangling end, and yanked it tight around her neck. Elise clawed at the scarf. Her nails dug into the soft skin of her neck. Her legs buckled and he jerked her against him. His knees jabbed into her back and jolts of pain shot up both sides of her spine. She gulped for air.

His breath was thick in her ear as he whispered, "Did you really think we would let you control fifty-one percent of Landen Shipping?" He gave a vicious yank on the scarf.

No!
her mind screamed in tandem with another thunder roll. Too late, she understood the lengths to which he would go to gain control of her inheritance.

The scarf tightened. Her sight dimmed. Cold. She was so cold.

Amelia, my daughter, I come to you
—the scarf went slack. Elise dropped to her knees, wheezing in convulsive gasps of air. Despite the racking coughs which shook her, she forced her head up. A blurry form stood in the doorway.
Steven.

The scarf dropped to her shoulders and she yanked it from her neck. Robert stepped in front of her and reached into his coat.
The pistol.
He had murdered her daughter—he would not take Steven from her. Elise lunged forward and bit into his calf with the ferocity of a lioness.

Robert roared. The ship bucked. Locked like beast and prey, they tumbled forward and slammed against the desk chair. The chair broke with the force of their weight. The secretary lamp crashed to the floor. Whale oil spilled across the wooden floor; a river of fire raced atop the thin layer toward the bed.

Steven yanked her up and shoved her toward the door. Robert scrambled to his feet as Steven whirled and rammed his fist into Robert's jaw. Her husband fell against the doorjamb, nearly colliding with her. Elise jumped back with a cry. Robert charged Steven and caught him around the shoulders, driving him back onto the bed.

The ship bucked. Elise staggered across the cabin, hit her hip against the secretary, and fell. The medical journal thudded to the floor between her and the thick ribbon of fire. Her heart skipped a beat when Robert slammed his fist into Steven's jaw.

She reached for the open book and glimpsed the picture of the belladonna, the deadly nightshade plant. Fury swept through her anew. She snatched up the book, searing the edge of her palm on the fire as she pushed to her feet. Elise leapt forward, book held high, and swung at Robert with all her strength.
May
this
belladonna kill you as your powdered belladonna killed our daughter
. The crack of book against skull penetrated the ringing in her ears. Robert fell limp atop Steven.

The discarded scarf suddenly blazed. Elise whirled. Smoke choked her as fire burned the bed coverings only inches from Robert's hand. Steven grabbed her wrist and dragged her toward the door. He scooped up the pistol as they crossed the threshold and they stumbled down the corridor to the ladder leading up to the deck.

"Go!" he yelled, and lifted her onto the first tread.

Elise frantically pulled herself up the steep ladder to the door and shoved it upward. Rain pelted her like tiny needles. She ducked her head down as she scrambled onto the deck. An instant later, Steven joined her. He whirled toward the poop deck where Captain Morrison and his first mate yelled at the crewmen who clung to the masts while furiously pulling up the remaining sails and lashing them to the spars.

Steven pulled her toward the poop deck's ladder. "Stay here!" he yelled above the howling wind, and forced her fingers around the side of the ladder.

The ship heaved to starboard as he hurried up the ladder and Elise hugged the riser. A wave broke over the railing and slammed her against the wood. She sputtered, tasting the tang of salt as she gasped for air.

A garbled shout from the captain brought her attention upward. He stared at two men scuttling down the mizzen mast. They landed, leapt over the railing onto the main deck and disappeared through the door leading to the deck below. They had gone to extinguish the fire. If they didn't succeed, the ship would go down.

Elise squinted through the rain at Steven. He leaned in close to the captain. The lamp, burning in the binnacle, illuminated the guarded glance the captain sent her way. A shock jolted her. Robert had lied to the captain about her—perhaps had even implicated Steven in her so-called insanity. The captain's expression darkened. He faced his first mate.

The ship's bow plunged headlong into a wave with a force that threw Elise to the deck and sent her sliding across the slippery surface. Steven shouted her name as she slammed into the ship's gunwale. Pain shot through her shoulder. He rushed down the ladder, the captain on his heels. Another wave hammered the ship. Steven staggered to her side and pulled her to her feet. The ship lurched. Elise clutched at her brother as they fell to the deck. Pain radiated through her arm and up her shoulder. The door to below deck swung open. Elise froze.

Robert.

He pointed a pistol at her. Her heart leapt into her throat. Steven sprang to his feet in front of her.

"No!" she screamed.

She spotted the pistol lying inches away and realized it had fallen from Steven's waistband.
She snatched up the weapon, rolled to face Robert, and fired. The report of the pistol sounded in unison with another shot.

A wave cleared the railing. Steven disappeared in the wash of seawater. Elise grasped the cold wood railing and pulled herself to her feet. She blinked stinging saltwater from her eyes and took a startled step backwards at seeing her husband laying across the threshold. Steven lay several feet to her right. She drew a sharp breath. A dark patch stained his vest below his heart.
Dear God, where had the bullet lodged?

She started toward Steven. The ship listed hard to port. She fought the backward momentum and managed two steps before another wave crested. The deck lurched and she was airborne. She braced for impact against the deck. Howling wind matched her scream as she flew past the railing and plummeted into darkness—then collided with rock-hard water.

Cold clamped onto her. Rain beat into the sea with quick, heavy blows of a thousand tiny hammers. She kicked. Thick, icy ribbons of water propelled her upward. She blinked. Murky shapes glided past. This was Amelia's grave. Elise surfaced, her first gasp taking in rainwater. She coughed and flailed. A heavy sheet of water towered, then slapped her against the ocean's surface. The wave leveled and she shook hair from her eyes. Thirty feet away, the
Amelia
bounced on the waves like a toy. Her brother had named the ship. But Amelia was gone. Steven, only twenty-two, was also gone.

A figure appeared at the ship's railing. The lamp high atop the poop deck burned despite the pouring rain. Elise gasped. Could he be—"Steven!" she yelled, kicking hard in an effort to leap above another towering wave. Her skirts tangled her legs, but she kicked harder, waving both arms. The man only hacked at the bow rope of the longboat with a sword. "Steven!" she shouted.

The bow of the longboat dropped, swinging wildly as the man staggered the few steps to the rope holding the stern. A wave crashed over Elise and she surfaced to see the longboat adrift and the figure looking out over the railing. Her heart sank. The light silhouetted the man—and the captain's hat he wore. Tears choked her. It had been the captain and not Steven.

Elise pulled her skirts around her waist and knotted them, then began swimming toward the boat. Another wave grabbed the
Amelia
, tossing her farther away. The captain's hat lifted with the wind and sailed into the sea. She took a quick breath and dove headlong into the wave that threatened to throw her back the way she'd come. She came up, twisting frantically in the water until she located the ship. She swam toward the longboat, her gaze steady on the
Amelia
. Then the lamp dimmed… and winked out.

BOOK: Cowboys and Highlanders
13.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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