Read Everlastin' Book 1 Online

Authors: Mickee Madden

Tags: #romance, #ghosts, #paranormal, #scotland, #supernatural

Everlastin' Book 1

BOOK: Everlastin' Book 1
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EVERLASTIN'

Book 1

 

by

 

MICKEE MADDEN

* * *

Smashwords Edition

 

© 2011 by Mickee Madden

****************************************************

Smashwords Edition, License
Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

Cover design by Mickee
Madden

* * *

Dedicated to my husband,
Steve; my brother Matt and his wife Grace; their boys, Eric, Kahl
and Alby; Danny duCille; Cindy, Eugenia, and Denise.

Special thanks to James
Crawford, whose marvelous hospitality at Culgruff House in
Crossmichael, made Scotland a wee
mair
magical!

 

* * *

For information on up-coming
e-books by Mickee Madden

please contact her at:
[email protected]

* * *

About Baird House

In 1990, my brother, Matt,
and his wife, Grace, invited my husband and I to visit them in
England. Matt was close to the end of his military tour of duty
there and he knew I had always wanted to go to Scotland.

On the first day we left
England to travel across the Scottish Lowlands, we ran into a
severe rain storm. Matt asked Grace and I to find a B&B in the
travel guide. I flipped it open and there was Culgruff Manor House
staring up at us, and it was only a few miles away.

Although we spent only one
night in that incredible place, it left an everlasting impression
on me. I woke the next morning with a full-blown story in my head,
got home, and spent two months writing the book.

The actual bed and breakfast
was built in 1883. I aged it for the book, but the rooms, peafowl,
tower, surrounding lands, town and Loch Ken are all
real.

Glossary

anither/another —
aught/anything — bahookie/buttocks — canna/cannot

corbie/crow — dinna/don't —
efter/after — faither/father — fegs/damn

ither/other — mair/more —
maist/most — mither/mother — naught/nothing

shouldna/shouldn't —
thegither/together — verra/very — wasna/wasn't

weel/well — willna/will not
— winna/won't — wouldna/wouldn't

Chapter 1

1993

A pale hand trembled as it
drew back the last of the heavy, ruby red drapes on the tall
windows. Late afternoon sunlight burst into the parlor, lending
bright beams for the dust motes to dance within. The mistlike
ambiance now surrounding the young woman caused a shiver to pass
through her slender body.

Carlene Cambridge was
half-tempted to close the drapes, but she knew Lachlan would not
take kindly to her denying his favorite room its daily kiss of
light. Besides, enshrouding herself in darkness would not alter the
fact that the day of reckoning was upon her.

Tears filled her blue eyes
and spilled down her cheeks in abandon. Her life had been so much
simpler before she'd come to Scotland. More than ever she missed
David—needed him beside her. But he had gone on, refusing to be a
part of the laird's scheme.

Why hadn't she listened to
her husband?

Because Lachlan had
convinced her to aid him, that's why, damn his persuasive
hide!

Something touched her
awareness.

Although she could not see
across the room for the brightness of the sunlight flooding it, she
knew he was there, staring at the portrait with a look of
unyielding determination in his fathomless dark eyes. Shuddering,
she rubbed her upper arms for warmth. It was a futile gesture, for
she would never feel warm again.

There was no simple
resolution for the predicament she'd unwittingly stumbled into.
Damn Lachlan’s black heart, and his control on her proliferating
conscience!

If only he hadn't
manipulated her into plunging headlong into initiating the
deception!

Tears spilled faster down
her ashen face. Her shoulders sagging, she crossed the room, her
despondent gaze trained to where she knew she would find him. And
he was there, seeming a giant amidst the solar radiance enveloping
him. She stopped a few feet away when he slowly turned his head to
deliver her an assessing look. Unnerved by the suspicion creeping
into his face, she shifted her gaze to one side.

“Pull yerself
thegither.”

Carlene closed her eyes
momentarily as a shiver of self-disgust coursed through her. The
deep resonance of his Scottish burr still held the ability to spark
some primitive cord within her sexual awareness. And she resented
him for that as well. She loved David. But since her first meeting
with this devil of a laird before her, she'd betrayed her husband a
hundred times within the deepest, darkest recesses of her
mind.

Thank God she had never
brazened to test her curiosities, for she never would have stood a
chance against a man like him. One kiss from his seductive
mouth....

In a quiet tone, she said
finally, “If we told her the truth—”

“Tis no' our place. Besides,
tis too late to warn her.”

Carlene looked up at the
portrait hanging above the white marble fireplace. In some macabre
way, she was sure Lachlan had indeed fallen in love with the woman
in the portrait. She had never known him to be more attentive or
subdued than when she spoke of her high school and brief college
days with Beth.

“Carlene, lass.”

The deep, reproachful tone
of Lachlan's voice drew her gaze to his face.

Those damn, piercing eyes,
so dark, the irises couldn't be seen. Black expressive pools in a
rugged light-toned face.

“I allowed you yer time o’
whinin’ yesterday. Now be off wi' you.”

She headed toward one of the
doors. Yes, the night before he had permitted her to complain and
fret to her heart's desire, but none of it had made the slightest
impression on him. At the threshold to the main hall, she stopped
and turned, then pensively weighed the laird's indomitable
stubbornness.

“How do you think she's
going to react when she learns that I betrayed her—that
you
planned this whole
sham of a vacation to get her here?”

“I'll worry abou' it when
the time comes.”

“You're one arrogant
bastard, Lachlan!”

Unruffled by her remark, he
looked up at the portrait and sighed with deep longing. “We agreed
this was best for her.” His gaze shifted to her. “Aye?”

“It's different
now!”

“How?”

Carlene moved her shoulders
in a gesture of helplessness. “After you told me, I went into
shock. I wasn't thinking clearly when you came up with this
idea.”

A tense stretch of silence
passed between them before Lachlan lowered his head and gave it a
shake.

“I-I could make up some
story and send her right back to the states.”

“No.”

“How can you hold me to a
promise that is tearing me up inside?”

The laird's head slowly
lifted. His stormy gaze searched Carlene's tear-streaked face. “I'm
no' heartless.”

“The hell you aren't!” she
wailed. “You have no right to play God! Dammit, Lachlan, what we're
doing is
wrong!”

His nostrils flared. “Next
you'll be tellin’ me the link is a gift o’ the devil,
aye?”

“I don't know anymore.
Please—”

“Dinna you understand? I
can
feel
her
stirrin’ in ma blood. Every second tha' passes, every mile tha'
closes atween us, I can feel her ever stronger!

“Carlene,” he went on, with
such intensity behind his words they vibrated in the air, “I can
offer her everlastin’ sunsets and dawns. I can fulfill her every
dream, her every fantasy! For wha’ever reason, God gave me this
gift! And he's given me a second chance at happiness!”

“At Beth's expense?”
Carlene flung bitterly. “How
bloody
convenient!”

A moment of silence passed
before Lachlan spoke in a low, guttural tone, “Mind yer words,
lass.”

“Is that a
threat?”

“Take it as you
please.”

Carlene held out her hands
in a gesture of supplication. “I know Beth. She's going to feel
betrayed and trapped. She's going to hate you for—”

“No!” he shouted, slicing
the air with a hand. “You gave me yer word, and yer word I'll hold
you to.” He straightened back his shoulders with an air of
determination, his chest rising on a slow, controlled breath. “I
understand yer doubts, but tis
ma
instincts I trust in this matter. Do you fancy a
notion yer conscience would be less troublesome—knowin’ wha' you
do—if you left her alone like she is?”

“I don't know!”

“Go wash yer face. I dinna
want her seein’ you in such a state.”

“All right, Lachlan, you
win. I'll carry out my part,” she promised, her tone as chilling as
a Scotland winter's night. “Then I'll gladly wash my hands of
you!”

When the parlor door to the
main hall slammed after her, Lachlan threw back his head and
laughed. Its sound echoed within the mansion's walls, clear up into
the tower that stretched skyward past the third story. As his
laughter wound down, his gaze settled on the arresting features of
the woman in the portrait. Peacefulness washed over him, softening
the sharp angles of his face.

His chin, bisected by a
cleft, lifted fractionally. The grooves in his cheeks deepened with
his solemn smile.

“Wash yer hands o’ me,
Carlene. I've waited too long for a new bride to care abou' wha'
you think o’ me.”

With the gentleness of a
lover, he touched his fingertips to the portrait's breasts. “And ma
bride you shall be, Beth Staples.”

For some time, he stood with
his hands clasped at the small of his back, his softened gaze
studying every stroke of the painting. He could have easily stood
there until Beth's arrival, lost in the impressions of her filling
him, lost in his dreams of the days to come. But an image invaded
his reverie with the sleekness of a well-aimed knife.

His face a contorted mask of
rage, he ran from the room, up the stairs to the third floor, and
burst into one of the bedrooms. Carlene guiltily bolted up from her
bent position over an antique desk. Her eyes wide with fear, she
peered at him as though expecting some horrible consequence for her
attempted betrayal of his trust. She stood frozen as he stormed
across the room and snatched up the pink parchment paper she'd been
writing on. Her gaze never left his livid countenance as his eyes
scanned the hastily written message. Only when he looked at her
with raw accusation, did she avert her eyes.

Crumpling the note in a
white-knuckled fist, he drew in a fortifying breath. “Do I deserve
this...this disloyalty?” he grated out, shaking the fist in front
of her face.

Anger doused Carlene's fear,
and she glared at him defiantly. “This isn't about you. But if you
must know, my first loyalty lies with Beth!”

Lowering his fist to the
desk, he leaned to, placing his face inches from hers. The sheers
covering the open windows began to flap with the advent of a strong
breeze.

Thunder rumbled above Baird
House.

The sky darkened.

Lightning lowered from the
heavens, seeming like massive white fingers about to pluck the
mansion into its grasp.

“You'll no' rest a day if
you betray me, lass. Do yer part...then be off. Do you understand
me?”

“Perfectly.”

BOOK: Everlastin' Book 1
7.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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