Read Highland Troth (Highland Talents Book 3) Online

Authors: Willa Blair

Tags: #romance, #fantasy, #scotland

Highland Troth (Highland Talents Book 3)

BOOK: Highland Troth (Highland Talents Book 3)
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Table of Contents

Excerpt

Praise for Willa Blair

Highland Troth

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Epilogue

A word about the author...

Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

“It’s been a long time
since we’ve seen each other, Caitrin,” Jamie said, trying to change the tenor of their conversation before they got too far down the wrong path. “Canna we begin again as the friends we once were?” He studied her eyes, searching for the lass he used to know, then smiled, hoping to encourage an answering smile from her. “Yer da’s description in his letter to the Lathan didna do ye justice.” Flattery might work. It usually did with a lass. Certainly, it couldn’t hurt.

“Think ye to sway me with sweet words, Jamie Lathan? I’m nay longer a lass of sixteen years to be swept away by a lad’s fawning attention. I’m the heir to Fletcher. Dinna patronize me.”

“I never would,” he replied. Too quickly, he realized, as her eyebrow arched. Ach, think. What was she up to? “I merely hoped to renew our acquaintance. Since we’ll be spending the next several days together, I thought we might enjoy—”

“We may be forced to travel together, but there’s nay reason for us to make anything more out of the journey. Ye are here to do a job.”

Jamie winced as she spoke the same words he’d said to himself not so very long ago. At least they were in agreement on one thing. “Aye, I am.”

“Then I trust that ye will do it well and deliver me to my da.”

Praise for Willa Blair

“The wonderful setting in the Scottish highlands, along with the mix of valiant characters and a creatively robust storyline succeed in making [
HIGHLAND HEALER
] enjoyable.”

~InD’Tale Magazine (3.5 Stars, heat level 4)

~*~

“Sixteenth-century intrigue, muscled men with claymores and a doomed romance—is it any wonder I was reluctant to leave the rich, riveting world of
HIGHLAND SEER
? Good thing I can make my way back easily enough—all I have to do is treat myself to Blair’s celebrated debut,
HIGHLAND HEALER
.”

~USAToday HEA

~*~

“Excellent storytelling with exciting characters and an intriguing storyline! Wickedly delicious!”

~My Book Addiction Reviews (4.5 Stars)

~*~

“Again Willa Blair delivers! Intrigue, betrayal, and forbidden love against a rich, wonderful Highland tapestry.”

~Tanya Anne Crosby, NY Times bestselling author

~*~

“Willa Blair delivers sizzling romance and adventure.”

~Rebecca York, bestselling author

~*~

“Ms. Blair’s writing style is natural and evocative...”

~Let Them Read Books

Highland Troth

by

Willa Blair

Highland Talents, Book 3

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.

Highland Troth

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Linda Williams

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Tina Lynn Stout

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Faery Rose Edition, 2014

Print ISBN 978-1-62830-654-5

Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-655-2

Highland Talents, Book 3

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

This one is for my fans

who’ve been clamoring for Jamie’s book.

He’s finally here!

Acknowledgements

It’s not easy to change editors in mid-series. I’m one of the lucky authors who did just that and prospered, thanks to my new editor, Frances Sevilla. She took me on in the midst of the third title of this series. This is the fourth. I look forward to a fifth, and more, whether in this series or another. Thanks, Fran!

Prologue

Scottish Highlands, 1502

Caitrin Fletcher wrapped her arms around her middle and stared out the open window. “I willna go. Ye canna make me.” There was no point in starting an argument, one she knew she would lose, but she didn’t know what else to do. Outside, the sky brightened and wind blew aside the morning fog long enough for her to see her father and some of the men saddling horses. It was nearly time. In moments, she would leave the only home she’d ever known, perhaps forever.

Her old nurse, Rona, sighed behind her while she packed the last of Caitrin’s things. Caitrin heard something clatter to the floor but didn’t turn around to see what fell. To do that would be to face what she could not bear to see—her small chamber, stripped of all her belongings.

Her father was bent on sending her to foster with a clan of strangers. She didn’t understand why. Had she done something wrong? Why wouldn’t he tell her? Surely now Mama was gone, he’d want to keep her close by. Not send her away to people she didn’t know.

Rona’s footsteps approached. “I dinna believe a lass of nine summers has much to say about it when her da has his mind made up.”

Caitrin cringed. The weight of Rona’s hands on her shoulders nearly made her shaky knees collapse. The back of her eyes burned. She would not cry. She would not!

“Yer da is doin’ what he believes is the best for ye, lass.”

“Nay, he isna.”

Rona turned Caitrin to face her.

Caitrin kept her head down, refusing to meet her nurse’s gaze. For the second time in a month, her world was falling in on her.

“Do ye think this is easy for him, lass? He misses yer ma, too.”

Caitrin’s eyes welled, and no matter how hard she tried to prevent it, a tear leaked and trickled down her cheek.

“Now, lass, ye needna cry. The Lathans are no’ strangers to yer da. He wouldna send ye there unless he kent they would care for ye as one of their own.”

She bit her lip against the uncomfortable sensation of bees buzzing on her skin that had begun with Rona’s last words. “Ye’re just saying that. Trying to make me feel better. But it isna working.”

“Nay, lass, ’tis true. All will be well.”

“I ken ye’re lying to me. I can feel it. There’s something wrong.”

Rona gave her a little shake. “Look at me, lass, and listen. Ye must stop. Ye canna frighten people when ye reach yer new home. Do ye wish to be left all alone?”

Caitrin shook her head, gaze still on the floor and Rona’s boots though the torment on her skin had faded.

“Ye willna have any friends.” Rona continued, “Nay other lasses to play with. That isna what ye want, now is it?”

“Nay!” Caitrin couldn’t help it. The word came out as a wail, and tears washed down her cheeks much as they had when her da told her Mama had gone to the angels, and a wee bairn along with her.

Rona wrapped thin arms around her and hugged. “If ye keep what ye can do to yerself, ye’ll be fine, lass. No’ a soul needs to ken.” For a moment, Caitrin let herself be comforted, wrapped in the warmth of her old nurse’s embrace as she had been so many times before. But even that comfort could not console her. This might be the last time for that, too.

“I’ll ken.” Her words came out as a hiccup and Caitrin’s tears fell faster. “I’ll ken when they lie. It hurts me. How can I pretend I dinna ken when I do?”

“Ye must find a way, lass. Ach, my wee lassie, ye will find a way. Listen to their words, no’ what ye sense. Ye must learn to hold yer tongue.”

“Why can ye no’ come with me?”

“We’ve talked about this, lass. I’m too old to make the trip. I must stay here and take care of yer da.”

The bees came back. Caitrin wrenched away from Rona, shaking her head. “Da doesna need ye to care for him. He has all those men.” She pointed to the window where she’d seen the men saddling horses. “And servants. And...and...”

“Hush, now. What’s done is done.” Rona turned back to the bag on the bed, put in the last few items and closed it. “There, all set.”

Her voice sounded strangely hoarse. What was she hiding?

“Put on yer cloak, lass, and let’s get ye down to yer da for a proper leave-taking.”

Caitrin stood helpless under the onslaught of emotions as Rona draped the travel cloak over her shoulders and did up the clasp at the throat. Somehow, she found the will to protest. “Must I, really? This isna all just a bad dream?”

“’Tis real enough. But ’twill be a grand adventure.” Rona’s lips compressed into a shadow of a smile. “Ye’ll see.”

Caitrin’s chest hurt. Through the wash of tears, she barely saw the room she was leaving. As she made her way downstairs, her heart suddenly weighed more than the bag she carried.

Chapter One

Scottish Highlands, Spring 1518

“A rider approaches!” The tower guard’s voice rang out over the bailey. At the sound, Jamie Lathan hesitated long enough to earn a solid blow across his back from the flat of the claymore wielded by his cousin—and best friend. The breath left his chest in a whoosh. “Damn it, Toran!” he choked out and dropped to his knees.

Toran Lathan stood grinning, one eyebrow raised, waiting.

Jamie knew what he wanted—a concession in the long-running jest between them. “Very well, Laird, I let myself be distracted and ye bested me. Are ye satisfied?”

Toran laughed and planted the point of his blade in the packed dirt, ending their sparring session. In the failing afternoon sunlight, the blade cast a long, thin shadow between their larger silhouettes. “’Twas Donal’s favorite tactic to use on me. It’s taken me the six months since he left us and married Ellie MacKyrie, but I finally figured out how he does it.”

“Am I supposed to be proud of ye?” Jamie took a moment just to breathe. “Tell it to Donal the next time we visit the MacKyrie keep.”

“Nay. I’d rather show him.” Toran waggled his eyebrows, promising retribution with a grin and reaching out a hand to pull Jamie to his feet. “For now, ’tis a good time to stop this—it’ll soon be too dark to see ye land on yer arse when I knock ye down again. Let’s find out who’s coming up the ridge. I wasna aware we were expecting visitors.”

Jamie nodded and sheathed his weapon. “I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to miss our former arms master,” he muttered, rubbing his sword arm as they climbed the tower stairs. “I havena needed this much sparring since we were lads.”

“I never expected Donal to fall for a pretty face, but I canna be completely sorry he’s gone. He married well with Ellie.”

“Better than that skeptical bastard deserved, aye.”

“And his absence gives me the chance to knock ye on yer arse now and again.”

Jamie laughed. “Beware, my laird. I’ll be knocking ye on yers before too long. If ye’d stop sending me out as yer envoy, I’d have more time to train.”

Toran chuckled, failing to take his warning seriously.

As Jamie intended. Humor made a fine weapon, too, which Toran should have learned by now. And Jamie had mastered the taunting that cemented their friendship as young lads well beyond the bonds of blood they shared as cousins.

They arrived on the battlement as the rider reached the gate. “Who are ye?” Toran called down in answer to the rider’s hail.

“I bear a message from the Fletcher for the Lathan.”

Toran raised an eyebrow at Jamie then nodded to the gate guard. “Let him in.”

“A message from the Fletcher?” As they made their way back down the tower stairs to the bailey, Jamie’s chest tightened. “That’s a name we havena heard in years.”

Toran shrugged. “At least five, or is it six, since Caitrin Fletcher was called home?”

“Closer to six years.” Jamie’s heart skipped a beat, but he kept his pace even and his voice level. “So does the Fletcher have another daughter to foster with us?”

“We’re about to find out.”

The Fletcher ghillie dismounted as Toran and Jamie reached him.

“I’m Lathan,” Toran announced. “This is Jamie. Welcome to the Aerie.” As they greeted him, lads led his horse away to be cared for in the stable.

“I’m Uilleam Fletcher. Call me Will,” he said, offering his hand. “I have a letter for ye from my laird.”

BOOK: Highland Troth (Highland Talents Book 3)
10.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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