Authors: Keira Montclair
LOVE LETTERS FROM LARGS
Other novels by Keira Montclair
The Clan Grant Series
#1- Rescued by a Highlander
#2- Healing a Highlander’s Heart
The Duke and the Dressmaker
Thank you to my family for your continued support. I love you all.
This novel is also dedicated to my readers:
This journey has surpassed my greatest expectations and I have all of you to thank!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Western Isles of Norway
–Too Late for Love
Not Good Enough
– A Fight for Honor
The Meaning of Life
The Winds of Change
– Promises, Promises
A Night to Remember
– A Day to Forget
– Lucky Loki
– The World Changes
– Windows to the Soul
The Norsemen are Coming
– A Dream Comes to Life
Finding True Treasure
– The Battle Begins
– A Journey Within
– Two Discoveries
October 1, 1263
October 2, 126
The Battle of Largs
– Together Again
– The End of Lucky Loki
July 1263, Ayrshire, Scotland
Celestina Lunde held a death grip on the irregular stone of the tower window. She bit her lower lip as she struggled to hoist herself onto the cold edge. She would do this. Throwing herself over would be a far better fate than being forced to marry her betrothed, reputed to be one of the cruelest men in town. Her father had arranged for her to meet her betrothed tonight, so she had to act soon. They were to wed within a sennight.
After all the mistreatments by her father, she could not fathom going from one cruel man to another. If she couldn’t have the knight of her dreams, she would have no one.
Curse her father; she hated him. Always staring down his pointed nose at her, he incessantly lectured her about her shortcomings, and he managed to think of at least one new one daily. How could she possibly be as bad as he claimed, especially since she was only allowed out of their home for worship?
Not a home, a prison,
she corrected her thinking. This was not the home her beloved mother had fashioned. This was a cold, unfriendly place, the perfect spot for her to practice the repentance her father required of her upon their return from worship with the Blackfriars. Her only real friend her age was her maid.
She thought of her
last conversation with her mother. Baroness Lunde had made her promise to always believe she was a strong, beautiful, and intelligent person of value, and she had much to share with the world. Celestina would never forget their talk, though the image of her beautiful mother had faded over the years.
Her mother had disappeared
over twelve years ago now, just after her seventh birthday. The only explanation her father had offered her was that her mother had passed away from a fever and a failing heart. He had then spent years blaming Celestina for her death, but she had never believed herself responsible. If she had thought there was an ounce of truth in her father’s cruel words, she would have thrown herself from this window long ago.
clung to the stone and attempted to balance herself on the edge, fighting her undergowns and her kirtle. Perhaps she should remove several of her layers of garments, but that would not be proper. Even in death, she would do as her father instructed, though from experience she knew there was no pleasing her father. Swallowing several times, she gained strength from the memories of her mother. She peered down the long hard surface to the grassy knoll in the front of her small castle, convinced a fall from this height would surely kill her.
Unfortunately, her tangled skirts
were too large to make it out the narrow opening. Blast it, why must she wear a shift, kirtle and surcoat at all times? Had she not been in such a hurry, she could have at least removed her surcoat. The tears she had fought so hard to control spilled down her cheeks as she struggled to straighten her gown so she could complete her wretched deed. She would not be stopped by something as unimportant as clothing.
A loud rumbling sounded down the
path, and she lifted her head in time to catch the group of about a dozen riders cantering down the lane. More Highlanders. Many had been riding into Ayr over the past fortnight as summoned by the king.
As she glanced at the group, she
easily picked out the chieftain by his attire and his badge, but her gaze settled on the man next to him. He looked similar except for one difference; he was staring directly at her.
shot down her spine as his gaze caught hers. He shouted something, but she couldn’t hear him. She dropped her skirts, deciding that jumping in front of a group of men was probably not the best timing. He never took his eyes from her as she clamored back inside her room, his gaze causing her entire body to respond with a heat she had never before experienced.
he? He galloped past her, then turned back heading straight for her. For a moment, she froze, awash in a mental image of the strong Highlander as her protector. Long dark hair and a massive muscular body filled her vision, along with a beautiful red plaid he wore over his shoulder. Instinct won out, however, and she fled the window. Without a doubt, her father would beat her if he saw her so much as look at anyone but her betrothed, and she wanted the last moments of her life to be as painless as possible..
A bolt of lightning shot out of the sky and struck him square in the chest
, yet the sky was the clearest blue it had ever been with no rain in sight. Brodie Grant was following his brother, Laird Alexander Grant, along with several Grant warriors to the royal burgh after being summoned by King Alexander III. Dusty roads, heat, and the bites of multiple mosquitoes made him wish for nothing but a jump in the nearest loch, yet when he spotted the golden-haired lass in his peripheral vision all other thoughts fled, causing said thunderbolt to sear his insides.
it was the only way Brodie Grant could explain his reaction. One glance at the lass crouching in the window of the tower of a prestigious castle home, and his senses were completely incinerated.
“Brodie, saints above, what in
hell are you looking at?” Laird Alex Grant yelled. “Make haste! Forget the bonny lass and move on.”
The parade of Highlanders on their warhorses continued down the road, clouds of dust and the rumbling of horse
’s hooves filling the air, but Brodie followed his instincts against his brother’s advice. Willing to pay the price for ignoring the command of his laird, he reined in his horse and circled back toward the tower home. “Nay, she’s about to jump!” Brodie yelled over his shoulder to his departing brother. “Did you no’ see the look in her eye?”
could have sworn there were tears flowing down her cheeks, but it was too far to be sure. Either way, he couldn’t leave her; he had to go back. True, her beauty had hit him with a heat that had saturated his entire body in an instant, her long blonde curls and her ripe curves forever ensconced in his brain. But it was the expression on her face, ripe with desperation, frustration, and defeat, that would haunt him if he didn’t take action. The lass needed help.
Alex bellowed. “We are no’ waiting for you. If you have to be clay-brained, then follow later.”
ignored his brother and headed back to the tower only to find that the lass had disappeared. He hopped off his horse and threw the reins over a nearby bush. He glanced around and noticed a few peasants, but no one else had seen the lass but him. How could no one have noticed? Charging through a roughly hewn gate, he barreled up the long walkway leading to the stone building and glanced around the grounds to see if she was about. His gaze searched the area for any sign of the lass, but he didn’t notice anything unusual beyond the peasants heading to market.
It was clearly t
he home of a wealthy merchant or a nobleman, but Brodie didn’t consider altering his purpose for a moment, not with the lass’s stricken face burned into his brain. He marched up the steps and grabbed the brass knocker a bit too hard before bringing it down on the thick wooden door. The door cracked open just far enough for a servant to stick his nose out into the cool air.
The man glared down his nose at Brodie. “
Go away now.”
Brodie didn’t have
any patience for the fool. “Nay, I can no’. ‘Twas a young girl at the tower window no’ two minutes ago. She looked as if she was about to jump.” He paused, gathering his breath and his thoughts, awaiting a response from the man. After receiving none, his impatience won over his sense of manners. “Is she all right?”
flew open and a tall thin man stepped into the doorway from behind the servant, his hand in a death grip on the doorknob. Old enough to be the girl’s father, he was mostly bald with long spikes of dark hair sprouted from the perimeter of his head. He had dark beady eyes and a pointed nose “That is quite impossible,” he said. “No young girl resides in this household. You are mistaken. Take your leave from my doorstep now.”
Brodie stared into
the man’s cruel eyes. “Sir, I am no’ blind. ‘Twas a lass in your tower in tears. Her expression was one of despair.”
Clearly skilled at the art of intimidation, the man’s thin lips pursed as he stared at Brodie. “I will repeat myself out of benevolence for your ignorance. I said there is no young lady in this house, and what’s more, it is not your concern.” He pivoted to the servant before stalking away. “Alfred, close the door and ignore the ruffian.”
was promptly slammed in Brodie’s face. His nails dug into his palms as he fought the urge to plunge his fist through the thick wood surface a short distance from his nose. They were lying. Quite simply, there could be no other explanation. He stepped back and stared with frustration at the fur coverings of the tower’s upper window.
He had seen the lass.
And he knew, without a doubt, he would never forget her.
Celestina plopped on to her bed in her chamber, her skirts in a tussle and her hair mussed. She attempted to calm her breathing by forcing deep steady breaths. Why had that Highlander interfered with her life, or her death, as it happened? If he hadn’t come along at just the wrong time, all her troubles would be over now. If she had tried jumping in front of him, he would have attempted to catch her before she hit the ground. After all, everyone always spoke of the honor of the Highlanders. “Hmmph!”
Staring at the drab color of her ceiling,
she smoothed her kirtle and surcoat back to rights, wishing again she could wear simple clothes like her maid. The two pieces of clothing were faded and dreary because her father would not allow her any luxuries. Her maid, Inga, had told her people believed them to be wealthy, but her father certainly didn’t act as thought it was true. Perhaps all the money had been lost.
Why had the Highlanders chosen to travel along this road at exactly the wrong time? There was another way into town. In fact, if they were headed for the king’s castle, it was the shorter route. It would not have brought them past her father’s tower home at all, and she would have been with her mother at this very moment. Huffing in indignation, she crossed her arms in front of her, imagining what she would say to the big brute if he stood in front of her. Oh, how she wished she could chastise him.
rested for a few more minutes, ignoring the urge to scream out the window at the lout who was guilty of interrupting her plans. Why had he bothered with her? No one besides Inga cared about her at all. And Inga had her own family, her own life. Nay, the only people interested in her existence were her father and her betrothed.
Being the daughter of a nobleman,
it was inevitable her marriage had been arranged for reasons other than love. Love only happened in fairy tales. Celestina’s father had sold her off so he could pay the king all the taxes he owed, and Fredrik Ivarsson happened to be the one who had enough money. She didn’t understand why Ivarsson wanted to marry her, but that didn’t matter. The king wanted her to marry him and so did her father, and he couldn’t wait to get his payment from her betrothed. Somehow, she believed there was more to the arranged match, but she didn’t quite understand why. She was quite certain that none of the men truly cared for her, and she existed only as a pawn in their game.
Why hadn’t she been born a peasant so she could marry someone in the village? And as a peasant, she’d be allowed to come and go as she pleased. Her father was keeping her imprisoned until her marriage, not allowing her to visit anyone else in the town of Ayr.
dropped as cherished memories of her mother returned to her. How wonderful it had been to be loved. Her present life was so cold and empty in comparison. Rubbing her eyes with her knuckles to prevent the tears, she stood and paced, thinking of all the bloody sentiments she would hurl at the Scot if he stood before her.
, there he was—directly in front of her in her chamber. How had he gotten into the tower?
in outrage and shoved against his chest, but not before the heat emanating from him trailed a path up her arm and shot straight to her heart. The man’s size overwhelmed her senses, and the way he exuded power and strength eliminated her ability to speak. Never had she come across a man like this one. She gazed into his deep brown eyes, blushing from head to toe as he scrutinized her. She hoped he had an honorable reason for being there, because she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, her whole body had been overtaken by a surge of sensations of which she had absolutely no experience.
His hands went straight to his hips. “I knew it. They lied to me. Why would your own family lie about you
r existence? You
trying to jump, were you no’?”
He reached for her shoulder, but she swatted his hand away. “Do not touch me, sir.
” She backed up as she spoke. “Who are you? Where did you come from? Be on your way.” Her words betrayed her true feelings. She wrapped her arms around her middle, hoping to calm the storm his nearness had wreaked on her insides.
“Who am I
, lass?” he bellowed, taking a step closer to her. “I am the warrior who prevented you from jumping out your window to your death, performing a sin of grave proportions on your soul. Why would you attempt such a travesty? Why would someone as beautiful as you want to destroy your life?”