Read My Fierce Highlander Online

Authors: Vonda Sinclair

Tags: #Romance, #novel, #Scotland, #Historical Romance, #romance adventure, #romance historical, #romance novel, #Highlanders, #romance action adventure, #Love Story, #highland romance, #highlander, #scottish romance, #scottish historical romance, #romance adult fiction, #highland historical romance, #vonda sinclair, #full length novel, #historical adventure

My Fierce Highlander

BOOK: My Fierce Highlander
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My Fierce Highlander

By Vonda Sinclair

Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by
her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than
to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting
clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the
MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath
warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan.
She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace
as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek
vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

 

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end
two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in
and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks
from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them
escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion
neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from
her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the
man she loves.

 

***

 

"Wow! I LOVE Highlanders and when I read My
Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair, I fell in love with Laird
Alasdair MacGrath at once, and wanted to be the one rescuing him
instead. Adventure, fighting, romance, the Highlands--what more can
anyone ask for! Loved it!" Terry Spear, author of
Heart of the
Highland Wolf

 

"I loved the description of the Highlands.
This compelling story of two wounded people who each heal the other
is spellbinding and simply lovely. I WANT MORE!" Cate Parke

***


 

 

 

My Fierce Highlander

By Vonda Sinclair

Copyright 2011 Vonda Sinclair

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.

 

www.vondasinclair.com

***

 

Dedication

To Celtic Hearts Romance Writers

To Rebel Romance Writers

 

***

 

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Sharron Gunn, Jody Allen,
and Cindy Vallar for helping me translate Gaelic, answering
difficult questions, and assisting me with research.

 

***

 


My Fierce Highlander

By Vonda Sinclair

 

Chapter One

 

Scottish Highlands, 1618

 

A stiff breeze carried the scent of bruised
grass and blood on its icy breath.

Death.

Gwyneth Carswell dropped into a crouch and
peered through brambles at the tartan-clad bodies, a dozen or more,
lying in the dusky gloaming. While gathering herbs earlier, she’d
heard the sounds of battle—men shouting, steel clanging, horses
screaming.

A chill shook her. The men of the MacIrwin
clan, her distant kin, lived and died only for a skirmish. Her
sheltered upbringing in England had molded her into the person she
was, a lover of peace, but she’d been in the Highlands long enough
to expect brutality at every turn. Thank God her son had stayed in
the cottage with Mora.

“More senseless death,” she whispered,
yearning to run and hide in the cottage, curl up beneath the
blankets, and forget she was a healer. Forget all the drained blood
and horrifying wounds that would never heal.

But she must not. She must again face death
all around her. Dread and nausea rising within her, she covered her
nose with a handkerchief. After peering about to make sure she was
alone, she crept onto the soggy moor and forced herself to look at
the butchered bodies of her cousins…and their enemies. Who had they
been fighting?

Pressing her eyes closed to block out the
slit throats and other mutilation, she murmured a prayer, both for
their departed souls and for strength that she might keep
going.

Please, allow me to save the life of at least
one.

A haunting groan floated on the breeze. A
sign? Her prayer answered? Gwyneth froze, listening. The groan
sounded again, straight ahead.

She rushed to the far edge of the
clearing.

Daylight dwindled, but she knew she’d never
before seen the injured man, a large warrior with long dark hair,
obviously from the enemy clan. She could not tear her gaze from his
clean-shaven face, smeared and spattered with blood. Never had she
seen such a striking man. But something more captivated her,
something she could only sense with her woman’s intuition. She
yearned for him to open his eyes, but he didn’t.

Blood soaked through his white shirt and
fine, pale-blue doublet.

Kneeling on the damp ground, she attempted to
press her hand against his chest to feel his heartbeat, but a
rolled-up parchment lay in her way within his doublet. She removed
it and checked his heart. The thump was slow but strong and
steady.

Her eyes locked to his face again. Enticing,
yes, but still an enemy.

Wary of him and what message he carried, she
stripped the ribbon from the missive and flattened the thick paper.
In the dim light, she could barely decipher a few of the Gaelic
words inscribed in bold letters across the top.

A peace agreement?
Had the MacIrwins
ambushed them? She stared down at the man again, lifted his hand
and found a seal ring on his finger. A chief?

For a second, it seemed the very ground had a
pulse. The vibrating sensation disoriented her.

Horses!

Distant hoof-beats grew louder and thundered
in her direction—the MacIrwin reinforcements coming to finish off
their enemies. Her pulse roared in her ears.

If they discovered this man hanging onto
life, they’d cut his throat. Especially if he was a chief who
wanted peace. Gwyneth crammed the parchment back inside his doublet
and stood.

She grasped the thick leather belt that held
the man’s
plaide
in place at his waist and struggled to drag
him a few feet into the yellow blooming gorse and weeds. Good lord,
he was heavy, comprised of honed warrior muscle. Another tug, then
she rolled him down a short incline and behind the bushes, praying
all this shifting wouldn’t worsen his injuries. She spread her
dull-colored skirts and plaid
arisaid
over him to conceal
the visibility of his light-colored doublet in the dusk.

Her body trembling, she gently bit her
knuckle to quiet her chattering teeth.
Please, do not let them
find us.
She hardly dared to breathe.

The horses’ hooves thumped over the grass,
and the riders yelled in Gaelic—mostly vows of revenge against the
cursed MacGraths.

Through the bushes and gorse, she watched as
they loaded the dead bodies onto horses.

Warmongers!

Several minutes later, the MacIrwin men rode
away. After a while, silence descended and naught could be heard
but the nearby stream and a faraway owl. Gwyneth calmed by slow
degrees.

Taking a deep breath, she rose on shaking
legs. The man lying at her feet was so large she couldn’t move him
again, not alone, uphill, for the strength that had come with fear
had ebbed.

She ran up to the stone cottage, her feet
tangling in the rocks and low-growing plants.

Breathing hard, Gwyneth burst through the
door, the bitter scent of peat smoke and tangy drying herbs
replacing that of fresh air. “Mora, did you hear the battle?”

“Aye, I reckon they were fighting the
MacGrath. ’Tis always a blood feud betwixt them.” Her friend and
fellow healer bent over her knitting, her gray head wrapped in a
white
kerch
. The fire smoldering in the center of the room
provided little light.

“One man still lives. He’s been knocked out,
but his breathing is strong. We must bring him here and see to his
injuries.”

“Who is he?” Suspicion laced through Mora’s
thick brogue.

“I know not.”

“One of the enemy?”

“Likely.”

“Mmph. I won’t be helping the MacGraths.”

“A dozen men are dead. For what purpose? All
this fighting is madness!”

“Easy for you to say, English. Lived here
nigh on six years, you have, and still you ken naught of our
Highland ways.”

She knew enough about their violent way of
life and hated it. Gwyneth glanced at her five-year-old son
sleeping in the box bed on the other side of the room and lowered
her voice. “I would die before I’d let Rory become one of them,
giving up his precious life over a senseless dispute.” She had to
find a way to take him out of the Highlands before Laird Donald
MacIrwin forced him into the ranks of his fighting men. “And you’re
right, I cannot understand so much bloodshed over nothing.”

“’Tis not for naught. The MacGraths killed
Donald’s brother ten years past. Then there was the time the
MacGraths claimed a goodly portion of MacIrwin land. We don’t take
the stealing of land lightly.”

How could her friend be so cold? “This man
who yet lives is carrying a peace treaty. He wears a seal ring and
appears to be the chief. Aside from that, he’s human and we’re
healers. If I can save a life, I will, whether he is friend, foe or
beast.”

“Aye, you with your gentle lady’s heart.
You’ll get us killed. What if Donald finds out?”

A chill raced through her at that thought.
“He rarely comes here.” Though the clan chief was her second cousin
on her father’s side, no fondness existed between them.

“’Tis a bad feeling I have about this. You’ll
regret it.”

“Do you not think the MacGraths will exact a
severe revenge against us all if the MacIrwins kill their chief? He
wants peace, as we do.”

“Well, this is not the way to go about it.
I’ve been around a few years longer than you have, Sassenach.”

“I will drag the big brute up here myself,
then.” She yanked a blanket off the bed, left the cottage and
strode down the hill once again toward the glen. The stones slid
and rolled beneath her slippers and bit into her feet. If Mora
wouldn’t help her, she’d do what she could for the man.

Something all-consuming rose up from her soul
and railed, refusing to allow him to lie there and die. Though his
body looked powerful, he was helpless now. As helpless as a child,
helpless as little Rory. All this man’s fearsomeness at her mercy,
she was awed by the power she held over him, to help him reclaim
his strength and his life…or let it drain away. That would be a sin
far worse than any she’d ever committed, of which she had many. The
peace treaty and something deep within her proclaimed his life was
worth saving a hundred times over.

Gwyneth crouched behind a patch of thistles
at the edge of the glen and listened for MacIrwins. The only sound
was the wind hissing through the pine needles and the splash of the
stream.

A rock clattered down the slope behind her.
Startled, she turned to find Mora approaching with a wood and linen
litter. “Verra weil, English. I reckon I cannot let you do all the
healing by yourself. And we’ll be needing this to haul his big arse
up the hill.”

Gwyneth arose, suppressing a smile. “I thank
you for your kind heart, Mora.”

“Mmph. Where is the heathen?”

“I hid him in the weeds and bushes so they
wouldn’t finish him off.” She led Mora across the small glen to the
MacGrath.

Mora knelt over him. “Aye, his breathing is
strong. He may yet survive.”

They rolled him onto the litter. Laboring
under his considerable weight, they dragged him toward the cottage.
Full night had fallen, making their arduous trek up the hillside
even more difficult.

“Good heavens, he must weigh twenty stone.”
Mora huffed and gasped.

“I’m in agreement.” Gwyneth’s arms and legs
ached from her efforts.

“This one didn’t starve the winter.”

“No, indeed.”

Mora started toward the cottage.

“Let’s hide him in the cattle byre. ’Twill be
safer should Donald come by,” Gwyneth said.

Mora narrowed her eyes. “You’re being mighty
canny of a sudden.”

“Well, I know if he finds us hiding his
enemy, he’ll likely fly into a violent rage.”

“Aye, and kill us all,” Mora grumbled.

Gwyneth shoved the dread away and ignored her
friend’s pessimistic view. “We shall hide him well.”

They dragged the MacGrath into the stone
byre, which stood several yards from the cottage, and rolled him
onto a wool blanket on the hard-packed dirt floor.

After a trip to the cottage, Mora lit several
fir roots in order to find his wounds.

BOOK: My Fierce Highlander
10.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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