Beneath a Highland Moon (The Highland Moon Series 1)

BOOK: Beneath a Highland Moon (The Highland Moon Series 1)
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Beneath a Highland Moon

Gwyn Brodie

 

 

After her clan's castle falls under siege, the fair-haired Lady Jillian MacRae finds a way to escape with her four-year-old brother, seeking help from the handsome Kade MacLachlan, laird and master of Ravenskull Castle. Four years past their love had been strong—until her father betrothed her to another man who was later killed. Now, it is Kade she turns to for help in regaining control of her own castle from the wicked man who has taken over and intends to marry her. Once she is again face-to-face with Kade, she realizes the love she thought she'd put aside is alive and thriving.

Kade is speechless when the beautiful Jillian offers herself to him in exchange for protecting her young brother and banishing the intruders from her castle—an offer he is more than willing to accept. He has no intention of allowing her to slip through his fingers again. And when her life hangs in the balance, he will
not let anything—or anyone—stop him from saving her, even as his own life dangles by a thread.

Beneath a Highland Moon

By Gwyn Brodie

Copyright 2013 Gwyn Brodie

 

 

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. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

Dedication

To my husband, Michael, who has stuck beside me through thick and thin.

To my friend, Vonda, who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.

Beneath a Highland Moon

By Gwyn Brodie

 

Prologue

 

Scottish Highlands
, April 1598

 

High winds roared along the glen, whipping heavy, snow laden branches of the great pines back and forth.
Their limbs crackled and popped under the weight, and eighteen-year-old Lady Jillian MacRae feared that sooner or later one of them would come crashing down upon them.
She shivered against the severe cold and drew the wool plaid tighter around her.
She glanced over at her mother, heavy with child, riding beside her. Her complexion appeared pale against the blowing snow.
Jillian worried about her having to travel in such harsh conditions.

For the past few weeks, Jillian, her parents,
along with four maids and seven guards had been visiting with her mother's clan near Perth. The skies had been clear and blue when they started on their journey home, then had quickly changed.
Winds grew stronger and the snow began to fall. The further they traveled into the Highlands, the worse the weather became. Snow steadily fell, and with the force of the wind, their visibility lessened to nearly naught. The drifts rose higher and higher, until they now almost reached the underbellies of the horses.

A few feet in
front of Jillian, her father raised his hand and their party stopped.
"I fear greatly for our safety," he shouted above the howling wind, "especially that of my wife.
As soon as we reach MacLachlan lands, I intend to request hospitality at Ravenskull Castle."

J
illian's stomach fluttered.
Kade
.
He'd kissed her once—three years ago. It'd been her first kiss and the memory of it remained as fresh in her mind as yesterday. His irresistible smile and devilish grin had turned many a Highland lass's head—including Jillian's.

Ravenskull loomed up before them
, its massive walls of dark stone a strong contrast against the surrounding snow covered mountains.

H
er father spoke with the guards at the gate, and after receiving permission from Laird MacLachlan, they were allowed entrance, and headed down to the stables.

Laird MacLachlan met them there
.
"Och, Angus, glad you stopped here.
'Tis no fit weather for man or beast."

"
Much thanks, Adair, for your hospitality.
I'm afraid we would never have been able to make it all the way to Lochstorm, especially with Margaret in such a delicate condition."

When they entered
Ravenskull, the warmth wrapped around Jillian like a thick, wool blanket.
She brushed away the snow from her cloak, her gaze darting about the room in search of Kade.
For the past three years, twenty-one-year-old Kade MacLachlan had been studying at the university in Edinburgh and traveling throughout France. Jillian couldn't be certain that he was even at Ravenskull at the moment.

She followed
her mother across the room, past the many servants and members of the MacLachlan clan gathered there, along with the MacRae party.
They took a seat on an oak settle positioned close to the fire.
She rubbed her hands together before the flames, hoping to relieve the numbness and tingling in her fingers brought on by the cold.

Kade came
across the room toward them, and her heart raced.
Never would she have believed he could have changed so much in the three years since she'd last seen him.
He'd grown several inches taller and his long, dark hair hung loose about his shoulders.
The belted plaid he wore accentuated his slender waist and gave her a glimpse of his muscular calves. A white, linen shirt hugged his back and chest, emphasizing his broad shoulders.
She'd not thought it possible, but he was even more handsome, in a sophisticated sort of way. The very sight of him stirred a yearning in her she didn't understand.

After speaking to Jillian
's father, who sat drinking mead alongside Laird MacLachlan, Kade turned to where Jillian and her mother sat.
"Lady MacRae, Lady Jillian," he greeted them. "I welcome you both to Ravenskull." His voice was velvet-edged and strong—and much more refined than she remembered.

Her mother smiled.
"Much thanks, Kade. Pray pardon, if you please.
I see your mother coming this way and wish to thank her for allowing us this intrusion into her home," she said, meeting Lady MacLachlan half-way across the room.
Jillian and Kade were left alone.
Suddenly feeling very awkward, she wondered what she should say, or if she should say anything at all.

"
Lady Jillian, may I join you?" Kade asked.

"
Aye, of course." Jillian's heart hammered in her chest.

H
e sat down in the spot her mother had vacated, and turned to look at her. "Are you cold still? I'll be more than happy to fetch a blanket if you are."

"
Nay, that's very kind of you, but I'm now quite warm," she said, shoving the hood of her cloak from her head and leaving her hair to spill down over her shoulders.
She stole a glance at his face. He watched her intently.
Her gaze dropped to his mouth, bringing the vivid memory of his lips touching hers the last time they were together. She quickly looked away.

"
Come everyone, 'tis time to eat," Laird MacLachlan said, seating his wife in the chair beside him.
"We have the MacRaes as our welcomed guests," he announced to his clan and other guests
"They'll more than likely be at Ravenskull for at least a few more days, if the way the snow is steadily falling is to be an indication."

Kade
rose to his feet. "May I take you to our table, Lady Jillian?"

"
Aye, of course," she said shyly.

T
aking her hand he helped her up. The touch of his fingers against hers sent a warming shiver through her.
She accepted the arm he offered, and they headed toward the high table.
The muscles of his arm felt near hard as stone beneath her hand and her pulse beat wildly.

From her seat,
Lady MacLachlan appointed places to each of her guests. "Lady Jillian, sit here next to me, and Kade, beside her."

Once everyone had been seated, L
aird MacLachlan nodded to Father McTavish to proceed with the blessing.

With her head bowed, Jillian glanced sideways at Kade, who happened
to be at that moment looking at her. When their gazes met, he winked. She quickly closed her eyes tight, not daring to open them again until everyone said, "amen."

T
hey shared a trencher, and when they reached for the same hunk of bread, his fingers brushed against hers.
She quickly jerked her hand away.

His face
split into a wide grin. "You're a wee bit jumpy, Jilly," he whispered, "I promise I'll not bite you, lass—unless you ask me nicely."

Jillian wasn
't certain what he meant, but the tone of his voice, and the way he'd said it, caused a strange sensation to spread over her. "Kade MacLachlan, I'd never ask you to do such a thing," she managed to whisper back.

His dark e
yebrows arched mischievously. "Och, never say never."

***

Kade poured himself a second dram of whisky and drained the goblet. He couldn't get Jilly off his mind. She'd walked into Ravenskull two days ago and taken him over, both mind and body. Not only that—she'd taken over his dreams. She'd shoved the cloak from her head when she'd first arrived, and taken his breath away. Her beauty had hit him like a kick to the gut. She'd always been a pretty lass, but she had blossomed into a young woman of tremendous beauty. Her eyes were the same color as a still loch reflecting the blue sky above. How he ached to run his fingers through her long, blonde hair, and bury his face in it. It would smell as sweet as a Highland rose—Kade was certain of it. He'd noticed the intoxicating scent the moment he'd sat down on the settle beside her. And those full lips of hers. They were perfectly made for kissing, and he wanted to be the one to kiss them. Kade stood up from the chair. 'Twas late, but no matter. He had to see her.

***

Jillian had just crawled into bed, when someone softly knocked. Perhaps 'twas her mother come to tell her good-night. She opened the door.
Kade
.

He stood in the doorway
, the scent of whisky on his breath. "Might I come in?" he asked, his voice low.

She
hesitated. No man, other than her father, had ever stepped foot inside her bedchamber.

"
I ken 'tis late, Jilly, but I must see you. I promise it won't take long."

The look in his eyes begged her to allow him entrance. She couldn
't refuse. Jillian stepped aside.

He hurried into the room, locking the door behind him.

"If my father finds you in here, there's no telling what he might do."

"
Aye." He nodded, but I had to see you."

Jillian shivered.

He moved closer to her, his gaze settling on her lips. "Jilly, you make me daft. I'm as a thirsty man in need of a drink, and I'm afraid the only thing that will quench my thirst is a taste of you."

Her knees trembled
and her heart raced.

He
leaned down and gently brushed his lips over hers.

She cl
osed her eyes, savoring the amazing sensation. Then he covered her mouth with his, devouring her. He tasted of whisky and smelled of sandalwood.

Slipping his arms tightly around her, he pulled her clos
er, softly moaning.

Her whole body feverish, she
clung to Kade's shirt as she returned his kisses. His muscles felt hard beneath her fists and she yearned to touch him. Jillian let go of his shirt and ran her hands over his chest, his shoulders, his back. What was wrong with her? She could barely breathe.

He lifted his mouth away, leav
ing her wanting more kisses.

"
Och, lass," he whispered against her throat, "I must leave you now or I'll not be leaving you at all this night." He kissed her one last time before her bedchamber door closed between them.

Jillian sti
ll trembled as she slipped beneath the covers, certain she'd get little sleep. Her whole body felt strangely different—more alive, all because of those marvelous kisses of his. Jillian knew she'd have been considered wanton if they'd been found out, but she wished he'd not left so soon. She'd never realized how much she might enjoy kissing and being kissed.

***

Kade stepped out of Jillian's bedchamber and immediately spotted Shaw, a good friend, and a MacLachlan guard, standing in the corridor. He'd obviously seen Kade leave Jillian's bedchamber. Shaw grinned broadly and gave him the signal that all was clear. Kade nodded his thanks and hurried back to his room. Once inside, he breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed up the whisky bottle, pouring himself another dram.

He
'd believed that if he kissed her, he'd be satisfied—he was wrong. It had but whetted his appetite for her. And the way she'd passionately returned his kisses with a need that surprised Kade, had fueled his already heated body. When her hands moved over him, he knew he had to stop—before 'twas too late. As much as he hated leaving her, it couldn't be helped. Even now, he wanted her so badly that every part of him ached. She would be his. For Kade couldn't stand the thought of anyone else touching her.

***

The MacRaes had been at Ravenskull for over a week, when the snow storm finally blew itself out and the skies cleared. At supper that evening, Jillian's father announced they would be leaving for Lochstorm the following day—and her heart sank.

After the night
Kade had come to her bedchamber, he'd decided it better he not return—for her sake—he'd said. But that hadn't kept them from being with one another during the daylight hours. In fact, they'd shared kisses in every nook and cranny of Ravenskull. But the more they shared, the more they wanted—and no longer just kisses.

The pale light
of the full moon illuminated Jillian's bedchamber.
Unable to sleep, she decided to go down to the MacLachlan's library and choose a book to bring back to her room.
Lighting a candle from the still glowing embers of the fire, she pulled on her slippers, wrapped her cloak about her and quietly slipped out into the cold corridor.
Jillian had gone no more than a few feet when she heard the sound of footsteps behind her.
Her first thought was to hurry back to her bedchamber and lock the door, and then a familiar deep voice whispered her name.
Kade
. An instant wave of excitement washed over Jillian.
She stopped and waited for him to catch up to her.

"
I'm glad you're awake, lass," he whispered, smiling down at her. For the past hour, I've been trying to decide whether I should risk knocking on your bedchamber door and wake you, or wait until morning to talk with you. Either way, I didn't want you to return to Lochstorm without us having a private word."

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