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Authors: Saydee Bennett

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Highland Vengeance

BOOK: Highland Vengeance
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Highland Vengeance

By

Saydee Bennett

(C) Copyright Saydee Bennett, March
2012

ISBN 978-1-60394-683-4

Published by New Concepts
Publishing

Smashwords Edition

Lake Park, GA 31636

www.newconceptspublishing.com

This is a work of fiction. All
characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and
not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or
events is merely coincidence.

Chapter One

England 1498

Although she was only eleven years old,
Olivia was very wise for her young age and there was one thing she
was certain about, she hated Garrison, the Royal Duke of
Lansington. The girl sat in her room thinking of everything the
duke had just said to her and Olivia wondered how he could be so
cruel. Did he not realize that he was taking away everything she
had come to love in her short existence, especially her freedom? It
did not matter to Olivia that Garrison was her older brother and
her only remaining family member, she still hated him.

Staring out her window into the dark
night, Olivia furiously thought of all the spiteful things she
wanted to say to Garrison for the hasty and impulsive decision he
had made tonight. After hearing that her brother wanted to send her
off to live somewhere else, the young countess first thought to run
away but then Olivia knew Garrison all too well. The duke and his
army would quickly hunt her down and drag her back. She felt
hopeless and had resorted to tears thinking of how her entire life
was being taken away. Olivia finally fell asleep in her bed
exhausted from the sorrow of having to leave her home.

Olivia was practically a baby herself
when her mother, Gwyneth, had died giving birth to a younger sister
that did not live through the birthing process either. Her father
was a kind man but the countess did not remember much of him, for
his soul became vacant after the loss of his wife. He died shortly
after Olivia had turned seven and all the young girl had ever
really known for a family, was her older brother Garrison and his
soldiers.

After the passing of their father,
Garrison was given the title of his father and became the Duke of
Lansington, which forced the young man to mature quickly. He was
soon swallowed up in the duties of managing all of the properties
and the army that came with his royal inheritance. Olivia had a
noble birthright of her own as a countess but no one would have
ever known it from the way the young girl dressed and
behaved.

The time and devotion it took Garrison
to train all his soldiers and handle the duties of being a royal
duke seemed to engulf him, leaving Olivia to fend for herself. She
spent most of her time with the soldiers so that Garrison could
easily keep an eye on her. Day after day, Olivia watched the men
training in the fields and it created a burning desire inside her
to become a fierce warrior like them. The Lansington soldiers all
loved Olivia too, treating her as if she were their own little
sister, especially the baron Brenton. Of course, being around
soldiers all the time had caused Olivia to pick up manners that
were not proper for a lady, let alone a child. When Garrison
finally realized he should have hired a governess to look after his
little sister, it was far too late.

The brother and sister did share a
unique bond with one another although they were as different as day
and night. Olivia had a heated temper and Garrison was always calm.
He was reasonable and sensible while she was stubborn and
unyielding. Their differences were what caused the siblings to get
along so well, that and the fact that they only had each other left
in their family.

Olivia loved being outdoors and always
felt as if the walls of her home were suffocating her, making the
air inside difficult to breathe. When she was outside, Olivia would
take deep breaths of fresh air and she could feel her body tingle
when the breeze touched her skin. The forest that surrounded the
Lansington Castle was dense with trees and full of life for her to
explore. If she had been permitted, the countess would have gladly
slept outside under the starry night sky. Although everyone had
begged the girl to wear her leather shoes, Olivia could not stand
the thought of having her toes trapped in a second skin. She loved
to run barefoot through the forest and it gave her a great
advantage as she effortlessly climbed the trees.

Riding alone on her horse by the age of
six, did not surprise any of the soldiers. Not long after that,
Olivia managed to teach herself a few tricks while riding bareback.
She had trained her horse to trot the length of a small stone wall
while Olivia ran barefoot along top of it. At the end of the wall,
she would leap in the air to mount the large unsaddled beast who
anticipated Olivia’s movements. Riding like this she could easily
fall and break her neck but she did not care, Olivia was fearless
and loved the adventure. She performed these tricks in secret of
course, because if Garrison saw Olivia riding that way, he would
surely break her little neck for her.

The countess had naively believed that
she would continue to grow up at Lansington Castle with the men and
train to become a great warrior too. Somewhere in the back of her
mind, there were images of her wearing a beautiful dress and
playing the part of countess but in truth, she would rather be at
battle with a sword. Olivia had taken one of the soldier’s swords
and hid it in the forest so that she could practice alone. The
small girl built strength quickly as she learned to yield the
massive weapon. Each day she became better and more confident in
her abilities to battle.

Today had been quite different for the
girl and it started with one of the maids dragging Olivia into the
enormous castle and up to the girl’s bed chamber. The young
countess kicked and fought the maid every step of the way knowing
what was to come.


This task would be much
easier m’lady if you would just walk with me,” Ruth
insisted.


Why is he making me do
this? He has never cared before what I look like,” Olivia
muttered.


I am only following His
Graces’ orders, m’lady. Please be kind enough to let me finish this
job without your resistance,” the maid said
compassionately.


You are right Ruth, it’s
not you I should give trouble to but my brother is going to get an
ear full when I see him,” Olivia vowed.

Now that Garrison was officially titled
the Royal Duke of Lansington, there were certain members of the
royal family coming to visit them. Olivia was now the Royal
Countess of Lansington and Garrison wanted to make sure that his
sister at least looked the part when he presented her at dinner.
The duke asked Ruth to make sure Olivia was clean and dressed
properly before they dined in the great hall with their
company.

Ruth scrubbed Olivia thoroughly and
dressed her in a beautiful green velvet gown, which happened to be
the only nice dress the girl had. The young countess had long dark
brown hair that had threads of auburn running through it and she
had the same brilliant green eyes that Garrison had. The maid dried
Olivia’s hair into beautiful curls and then tied them back with
ribbons that matched her dress. When Ruth finished, she looked at
the countess and was shocked to see the difference in the girl she
was tending to. Under all that grime there was a young lady hiding,
Olivia had truly been a diamond in the rough.


Ruth are you finished now?
I would like to find my brother and give him hell,” Olivia said
impatiently.


Yes m’lady,” the maid
giggled. Ruth watched the beautiful girl stomp out of the chamber
and then she laughed out loud. She thought of the stunning young
countess being presented to everyone tonight and then hearing her
swear like a soldier.


Weathersby?” Olivia called
out to the duke’s trusted butler. “Where are you?”


I am here m’lady, oh my
goodness you are so beautiful!” The duke’s butler said in shock.
“Forgive me but I don’t usually see you so…so…clean.”


Do you know where my
brother is? I would like to scream at him for making me have to
wash my hair and face. Also, he is going to owe me plenty for
making me wear this itchy dress,” she whined.


He is in his study m’lady
but I don’t think you should bother him at the moment, he is very
busy.”


Thank you Weathersby, you
are right of course.” Olivia smiled politely.

Weathersby was relieved to hear the
girl would not interrupt the duke but then he watched her head
straight up the staircase towards the study to find her brother.
The girl certainly had a mind of her own and no one could tell her
what to do. Olivia did not bother to knock before she entered
Garrison’s private study.


You better have a damn good
reason my dear brother for putting me through the torture of
wearing this horrid dress and making my hair all tied up fancy like
this. I want you to know I have been through hell today!” Olivia
said, as she demanded an explanation.

Garrison stared at his baby sister and
even the improper words from her mouth could not distract him from
the revelation of her beauty. He had no idea under all that filth
and dirt there was a rare splendor. The duke was immediately full
of guilt and sorrow for not having Olivia taught how to behave and
dress properly like a young lady. She should not swear like a
soldier and look like peasant. Olivia was a countess and Garrison
now realized that her beauty was going to cause him tremendous
grief in the near future.


Aren’t you gonna say
something?” She prodded.


Livy, I think that you knew
someday there would come a time when you would have to start acting
and dressing appropriately,” he said calmly.


But why now? I am still a
child right? That’s what you call me and Brent still calls me “baby
girl” so you can’t make me start actin’ like a lady now,” she
protested.


Our father’s cousin, George
the Earl of Richmond and his wife Anne are coming to visit for a
few days and you need to be presentable.”


A few days! I have to be
like this for a few days? Damn!”


Olivia that is enough. You
need to start acting like the countess that you are and stop
swearing like my soldiers,” he ordered.

She knew her brother was upset now
because he had called her Olivia. Garrison always called her Livy
unless he was angry with her, which did not happen very often.
Olivia realized this must be important to Garrison and she decided
to behave herself for the next few days.


Alright you win this time
Garrison but as soon as your company leaves I shall burn this
dress!” She said making a pouting face and then turned to leave the
room.


Livy, wait. Did I mention
how beautiful you are?”

She twisted around to look at her
brother. “You truly are cruel aren’t you Garrison.”

Garrison could not contain himself very
long and then he burst into laughter from the look on her
face.

She too, could not help but smile.
“Please don’t ever say such mean words again,” she said winking as
she left.

While he sat at his desk and stared at
the closed door, Garrison suddenly had the full impact of what the
future would be like. Her smile, my God is amazing, he thought to
himself. That young girl was going to blossom soon and she could
not continue to hang around all of his soldiers. Tonight was the
first time Garrison realized how much Olivia looked like their
mother but he always knew she had the fiery Russian blood of their
ancestors running through her.

It was his fault and not hers that
Olivia was not prepared to be around the nobles. The duke worried
about how was he going to protect her from the spiteful
aristocrats? More importantly, how would he protect the young
beauty from the droves of men that would seek to court her?
Garrison tried to continue his work in the study but the worry for
Olivia’s future was plaguing his mind. There had to be a way to
handle this dilemma other than locking her away in his tallest
tower forever.

The Earl George and his wife Anne
arrived just before the evening meal and Weathersby politely
escorted them in. The butler let Garrison know that his royal
company had arrived and then returned to the guests. Brenton the
Baron of Alderon was the duke’s best friend and there at Lansington
Castle to train with Garrison’s soldiers. The young baron greeted
the royal couple by bowing graciously and then they all stood as
Garrison joined them at the table.

BOOK: Highland Vengeance
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