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Authors: Patience Griffin

The Accidental Scot

BOOK: The Accidental Scot
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PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF PATIENCE GRIFFIN

Meet Me in Scotland

“A captivating story of four friends, two madcap romances, an idyllic Scottish town, and its endearingly stubborn but loyal inhabitants. Add scones, quilts, and kilts? Griffin sews this one up. Witty, warmhearted, and totally charming!”

—Shelley Noble,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Breakwater Bay

To Scotland with Love

“Griffin's lyrical and moving debut marks her as a most talented newcomer to the romance genre.”

—
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“A magnificent triple-hankie debut written straight from the heart, by turns tender, funny, heart-wrenching, and wise. Prepare to smile through your tears at this deft, brave, and deeply gratifying love story.”

—Grace Burrowes,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Lonely Lords and the Windham series

“Griffin has quilted together a wonderful, heartwarming story that will convince you of the power of love.”

—Janet Chapman,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Highlander Next Door

“Griffin's style is as warm and comfortable as a cherished heirloom quilt.”

—Lori Wilde,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Cupid, Texas Novels

“A life-affirming story of love, loss, and redemption.
Patience Griffin seamlessly pieces compelling characters, a spectacular setting, and a poignant romance into a story as warm and beautiful as an heirloom quilt. Both heartrending and heartwarming,
To Scotland with Love
is a must-read romance and so much more. The story will touch your soul with its depth, engage you with its cast of endearing characters, and delight you with touches of humor.”

—Diane Kelly, author of the Tara Holloway series

Also by Patience Griffin

Some Like It Scottish

Meet Me in Scotland

To Scotland with Love

SIGNET ECLIPSE

Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

Copyright © Patience Jackson, 2015

Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

Signet Eclipse and the Signet Eclipse colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information about Penguin Random House, visit
penguin.com
.

ISBN 978-0-698-40494-6

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

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

Version_1

Acknowledgments

Thank you to my wonderful and loving PhD, who answered the question when I asked what story should I write next. What other husband would've provided so many textbooks and detailed research . . . but that's my guy. This book, my dear man, is for you.

For my son, Mitch, who makes me laugh and is a constant source of joy. Thank you for being you.

Many thanks to Deborah Chabrian for her continuing amazing artistic talent on the Kilts and Quilts book covers. They make my heart smile.

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

Aileen
(AY-leen)

Ailsa
(AIL-sa)

Bethia
(BEE-thee-a)

Cait
(kate)

Deydie
(DI-dee)

Fairge
(fah-[d]RAYK-yuh)—sea, ocean

Lios
(lis)—garden

Lochie
(LAW-kee)

Macleod
(muh-KLOUD)

Moira
(MOY-ra)

Taog
(took)

DEFINITIONS

bampot
—a crazy person

céilidh
(KAY-lee)—a party/dance

CNC machine
—a machine used in manufacturing to increase the accuracy and efficiency of metal parts by utilizing a computer to control machining tools

English paper piecing
—A quilting technique used to piece small shapes with precision, in which fabric is basted over paper templates, then whip-stitched together

kirk
—church

mo chroí
(muh khree)—my heart

postie
—postman

reive
—to rob

skiver
—a person who avoids work or duty

Tha gaol agam ort
—I love you

Quilters of Gandiegow Rule #3

The most important piece stitched into a quilt is
love.

Chapter One

P
ippa McDonnell adjusted her winter coat, tightening the belt around her waist. She did her best to shut out Father Andrew's words during the graveside service. She tried to distract herself by thinking of different ways to solve the high-pressure test problem at the North Sea Valve Company—her da's company. Her tactic didn't work. Her emotions threatened to overtake her as the service concluded and the villagers processed down the narrow path from the cemetery. Pippa followed them, focusing on the scenery—the familiar rooftops of Gandiegow below, the choppy sea on the horizon, and the crunch of the snow beneath her boots. But all pretense of
not feeling
fell away once the women made their way into Deydie's cottage. Deydie was the head quilter, the town matriarch, the bossiest woman Pippa had ever known. That's when and where reality sank in.

Pippa's father, the McDonnell, could end up like Kenneth Campbell . . . dead.

She had come home the second week in July, when her father had his accident, and taken his place running the North Sea Valve Company. It was now almost
December, and NSV still wasn't standing on its own legs. Neither was her da.

Each woman pulled out a chair and sat around Deydie's worn dining table, devoid of the sewing machines that had always been there when Pippa was a girl. Now all the machines resided at Quilting Central, where the women gathered regularly. The usual crew was here, the quilters.

Pippa wasn't one of them, though the older women had tried their damnedest to mold her into a quilter when she was knee-high to a midge. But she was a part of them, shared a commonality with the village women, closer than a lot of blood relations. She just couldn't remember it ever being this quiet in Deydie's cottage.

Pippa glanced over at Moira, the reason they were all here. Moira was painfully shy, but the pain on her face today had nothing to do with being bashful. Kenneth Campbell, her father, had been laid to rest only an hour ago. Normally, the town would've gathered to support her at the kirk or at Quilting Central or at her house, but Moira needed only the quilting ladies . . . and of course, Pippa.

Laid to rest
seemed fitting. Pippa sure hoped God would let Kenneth Campbell rest after all this time. The big Scot had spent many years trying to recover from a fishing accident. In pain, miserable, and lingering, but he'd never complained. Moira had taken diligent care of him for years, but Kenneth never got better, never overcame.

The words that Da's doctor had spoken to Pippa only yesterday—in hushed tones—fell over her again like the quiet enormity that rested around the table now.
Your
father's not healing as expected. He's not recovering like we'd hoped.
Pippa's da was everything to her. He had been her whole life. What if his fate was Kenneth's fate? What if his broken bones never mended? What if he was
laid to rest
in the cemetery as well?

But Pippa wouldn't sit by and wait to see what would happen next. She stood and paced the floor. Deydie was the only one who seemed to notice her movement. Pippa had always been a woman of action. She would find a way to pay for the private care the doctor suggested. She couldn't stand by and wait until a slot came open for a specialist. Her father needed help now.

Deydie pushed the teapot closer. “Pippa, pour Moira a cup of tea.”

Freda jumped to her feet, too, pulling down mugs from the cabinet. Pippa filled while Freda placed. When tea was poured—and ignored—Pippa resumed her pacing.

Bethia, Deydie's oldest friend, grabbed Pippa's hand. “Sit, dear. Please?”

Begrudgingly, Pippa took her chair. Her heart went out to Moira, who'd been through the wringer this past month. Her father's decline, her young cousin Glenna coming to live with her as her own parents had perished, and then three days ago, the inevitable . . . Moira's da died.

Pippa shouldn't draw parallels, but was Moira's future to be her future, too? Moira had completely withdrawn, shutting out a good number of them, but none so much as Andrew, her beau and Gandiegow's Episcopal priest.

Cait, Deydie's granddaughter, touched Moira's arm.
“Come stay with us tonight at the big house. Mattie can keep Glenna company.”

Moira shook her head
no
without looking up.

Cait was dealing with her own loss, two miscarriages. And leaving soon. With a book about her famous husband Graham coming out shortly, they'd decided to escape Scotland to avoid the media frenzy. Everyone in the world would learn that this was Graham's hometown.

Pippa was the opposite of Graham. He'd never wanted to leave Gandiegow, while she hadn't been done with school two minutes before taking off and planting herself in Edinburgh. Her plans and dreams had been too big for this village to hold. They still were. But nothing could change how she felt about Gandiegow's people. They were pure gold.

Cait gazed up at her kindly. “Why don't you go on home and check on yere da.” She'd misread Pippa's restlessness.

Pippa didn't correct her, but took the out. “Aye. Da should be ready for his pills.”

Freda jumped up, too, always willing to help. Something Pippa both resented and appreciated. She held up her hand to stop the woman who had been a fixture in Pippa's life forever. “No. I've got it.”

Pippa laid a hand on Moira's shoulder as she passed by. Too much more and Moira would've been escaping for home. But no one would be there. Pippa grabbed her coat off Deydie's quilt-laden bed. As she slipped it on, she glanced at the wall, seeing something new.

“What's this?” Pippa stepped closer, pulling it from a nail.

“What do ye mean?” Deydie acted as if she wanted to
call her a
ninny
but seemed to hold her tongue out of respect for Moira and Kenneth. “Haven't you ever seen a calendar before?”

Pippa flipped the top page over. It was indeed a calendar, but it featured handsome men dressed in kilts:
Men of the Clan.
When she realized all the quilters were staring at her, she hung it back in its place. “I better get home to take care of my da.” But then she wanted to kick herself. Hadn't she heard Moira say that same phrase a hundred times?

Pippa quickly slipped out the door. The temperature had dropped as the days grew shorter. Her brain, though, barely registered the cold weather.

A pang of guilt hit her. She had left Gandiegow to escape everyone trying to marry her off. Sure, she'd been back to visit, but stayed only as long as the weekend or a bank holiday. But she hadn't been here when the McDonnell had needed her most, when he'd almost killed himself doing something incredibly stupid and dangerous. Who in his right mind puts a pallet on a forklift, then a ladder on the pallet, then climbs to the top of the ladder to change a lightbulb? A pigheaded old Scot, who wouldn't dream of asking for help, that's who.

But guilt and lecturing the McDonnell wasn't going to fix the problem at hand. She needed to find a way to afford private health care. Possibly get Da to the U.S. to see a specialist there. But NSV wasn't making it either. Everything was falling apart. She'd have to work on all three problems at once . . . Repair NSV's finances, find cash for Da's medical care, and keep everyone from pressuring her into marrying Ross now that she was home.

Only last year MTech had made an offer for NSV when they'd gotten wind of Da's new subsea shutoff valve design. Da told them flat-out
no, North Sea Valve is not for sale
. But whether her da liked it or not, she'd let MTech or any other outside investor come in and she'd listen to what they had to say. Scots weren't known for taking charity, but she'd entertain the foreigners as long as they brought an infusion of cash to the table—and scads of it.

Her other problem would take some thought. She hoofed it toward home to get Da his painkillers. Later, she'd head back to the factory to do paperwork.

Deydie's calendar flitted through her mind. Maybe she could do something similar. Not a calendar with half-naked men but something to raise money. Women were suckers when it came to a few muscles and a bit of swagger.

Pippa arrived home to find her father asleep in his wheelchair. She didn't have the heart to wake him, so she laid two painkillers beside his glass of water for when he woke up. As she walked out of the cottage, her eye caught the photo of her mother and father on their first date. Da had bid on her mother at a charity auction at university. Their beaming faces belied the fact that her mother would be gone four years later when Pippa was only a week old.

She glanced once more down the hallway. “I'll be back in one hour.” There was no one awake to hear her words, but she said it anyway—their old habit. Just to reassure herself.

She walked to the parking lot, thinking of her parents' picture and how the auction had brought them together.
She drove up and over the bluff to the factory a mile away. Once in her office, she pulled out a pad of engineering paper and began jotting down ideas, as if she were designing a piece of equipment. As she wrote, a grand idea started to take shape.

Outside her door, the factory floor came alive. She'd given everyone the day off for the funeral, but apparently they were as restless as she was—needing something to take their minds off losing one of the long-standing members of the community and the nicest man they'd ever known.

Ross and his brother Ramsay stood outside her door. Ross leaned into her office. “Can we talk to you a minute?”

She'd grown up with these two hulking Scots and considered them like family. Ramsay, the youngest of the Armstrong brothers, wore the same easy smile he'd had on his face since marrying the matchmaker Kit Woodhouse, now Armstrong. Ross, on the other hand, didn't look so happy to see Pippa. He shoved his hands in his pockets, looking uncomfortable, things weird between them. She had long been expected to marry Ross, and now that she was home, the pressure was on. He must be feeling it, too. But she refused to think about all that now.

She joined them outside her office. “Can ye both take a look at conveyor three? There's something hanging it up.”

They gazed down at her, expectantly, but it was Ross who spoke up first. “We want to know what the doctor had to say yesterday when ye were in Aberdeen. We're worried about the McDonnell.”

Hell.
Couldn't she have a little more time to process the news herself? “I really don't want to talk about it.”

More of the workers made their way over and gathered around.

Ross motioned to the group. “We have a right to know.”

Many of the men had invested not only their time into her father's vision, but what little money that they had. Ross included.

“He's not healing.” Taog, the factory's ancient machinist, seemed to have read her mind. “What a rotten herring. 'Tis bad enough the McDonnell took a spill.”

“'Twas more than a spill,” Murdoch interrupted, running his fingers through his beard. He was the other machinist. He and Taog were always together, and more times than not, were at each other's throat. “I saw the bone sticking out of his leg meself. Jagged, it was. Och, blood was everywhere.”

“Quiet,” Ross commanded.

“Don't worry, lass.” Taog dug in his pocket and produced his wallet. “Somehow, we'll get him the medical treatment he needs. We'll pass around a bucket to collect for private care.”

“It won't be enough. We could ask Graham.” Ramsay looked embarrassed to have said it.

“Nay. The McDonnell wouldn't want it.” Pippa had to do this on her own. “No one better bother Graham and Cait. They have enough worries.” She pointed at Taog. “Grab the notepad off my desk.”

Taog lumbered past her to get it.

“But we want to help.” Murdoch nodded his head, his beard bouncing.

“I know you do. And most of ye will.” Pippa took the pad from Taog. “Here's how we're going to raise money.” She thanked the Almighty for the clues and ideas that he'd dropped in her lap today—Deydie's calendar, her father buying her mother at auction, and her engineer's calculating brain. “There's no need to call anyone. We have all we need right here.” She looked around at the ruggedly handsome men of the village,
the single handsome men
. She sent up another thank-you for that, too. “We'll have an auction. We're going to sell off our bachelors.”

Ramsay's face uncharacteristically clouded over, a storm coming. “And who's going to tell my wife that ye're horning in on her business with this plan of yeres? It won't be me.”

Pippa laughed and it felt good after so much sadness. “No worries. It shouldn't interfere with Kit's serious matchmaking. It's just a bit of fun for one evening.”

Ramsay grinned. “Then I'm sure you can count on us to assist you with it.”

Pippa looked into the eyes of each single, bonny Scotsman standing there. “Ye'll all help with the auction?”

“Aye, Pippa,” they all agreed one by one.

The whole lot of them were like brothers to her and she could get away with talking to them like a bossy sister. “Each of you will be shaved, showered, and kilted. And there better not be the stink of bluidy fish on any one of you. Do ye hear?”

“What'd'ya have in mind?” Taog, being an old married man, had nothing to worry about.

“Here's the plan,” Pippa said. “We'll round up every
rich lonely female in Scotland. We'll even reach out to London if we have to. We'll entice them to come to Gandiegow with their purses stuffed with money. And after we've filled them with our best single malt whisky, we'll sell off you lads for an evening of debauchery to the highest bidders.”

*   *   *

Miranda Weymouth read the e-mail from Roger Gibbons, MTech's president, concerning NSV's patents for the subsea shutoff valve.
Send Max McKinley. Have him convince Lachlan McDonnell to sign. Tell McKinley to put his honest face to good use. Don't share the details with him.

BOOK: The Accidental Scot
3.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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