Read Highlander's Bride: Medieval Romance (The Fae Book 1) Online

Authors: Joanne Wadsworth

Tags: #Romance, #Historical, #Ancient World, #Medieval, #Scottish, #Historical Romance

Highlander's Bride: Medieval Romance (The Fae Book 1)

BOOK: Highlander's Bride: Medieval Romance (The Fae Book 1)
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One soul bound mate...one quest to find her.

 

Year 1210, Scottish Highlands.

 

Kidnapped as a wee lass by a fierce Highland chief, Kyla MacKenzie has been raised for the past twenty years as the chief’s foster daughter, the ruthless chief a man who threatened to kill her parents should she ever speak the truth about her abduction. The chief covets her fae blood and when she’s asked to tend to a captured enemy warrior and discovers they hold a soul bond, all her secrets could be exposed and her parents’ lives endangered.

Warrior Ronan Matheson discovers his chosen one is the foster daughter of his clan’s greatest enemy, a lass he’s been searching for his entire life, although when his fellow warriors come to his rescue and he escapes from within the enemy’s walls, he must then turn around and find a way to get back in, and all without his actual identity being discovered. It’s time to bind his chosen one to him, and for her to learn all about her true clan.

Theirs is a battle of lost love, of passion flaring hot and strong, and of a journey to bridge the gap between two warring clans.

 

Also by Joanne Wadsworth

 

The Matheson Brothers Series

Highlander’s Desire, (
Book 1
)

Highlander’s Passion, (
Book 2
)

Highlander’s Seduction, (
Book 3
)

 

Clan Matheson Series

Highlander’s Kiss, (
Book 1
)

Highlander’s Heart, (
Book 2
)

Highlander’s Sword, (
Book 3
)

 

The Fae Series

Highlander’s Bride, (
Book 1
)

Highlander’s Caress, (Book 2) Coming May 2016

Highlander’s Touch, (Book 3) Coming Jul 2016

 

The Matheson Warriors Series

Highlander’s Claim, (Book 1
) Coming late 2016

Highlander’s Courage, (Book 2) Coming late 2016

Highlander’s Craving, (Book 3) Coming late 2016

 

Highlander Heat Series

Highlander’s Castle, (
Book 1
)

Highlander’s Magic, (
Book 2
)

Highlander’s Charm, (
Book 3
)

Highlander’s Guardian, (
Book 4
)

Highlander’s Faerie, (
Book 5
)

Highlander’s Champion, (
Book 6
)

Highlander’s Captive, (
Short Story Book 7
)

 

Regency Books (Standalone)

The Duke’s Bride, Coming 2016

 

Magio-Earth Series

Protector, (
Book 1
)

Warrior, (
Book 2
)

Enchanter, (
Book 3
)

Hunter, (
Short Story Book 4
)

 

Bodyguards Series

Witness Pursuit, (
Book 1
)

Bodyguard Pursuit, (
Book 2
)

 

 

~∞~

HIGHLANDER’S BRIDE

 

by Joanne Wadsworth

 

The Fae, Book One

 

The Fae Village

 

In the ninth century, the faerie king’s youngest son visited a village along the shores of Loch Alsh and fell in love with the chief’s daughter. The two wed and together created a half-blooded line born with the skills of the fae, a loyal line known as clan Matheson, a line guarded by the immortal fae princess, Cherub.

 

The Abduction

 

The fae village, on the shores of Loch Alsh, Scotland, 1190.

 

In the dark of night, Christina Matheson tried to push the foul-smelling gag from her mouth with her tongue, struggled and writhed against the bindings knotted around her wrists and ankles, but only managed to tighten them further. She wanted to scream, to claw at the warrior who’d snatched her from her home while her parents had slept so close by.

“Be still, child.” A fearsome growl rumbled from the warrior as he carried her through the gate in the high stone wall surrounding her village. He searched both directions along the mist-shrouded loch then keeping to the shadows of the wall, slunk around to the rear. Into the copse of pines behind her home, he ducked and with a sly smile marched along the forest trail.

A jagged scar cut through the warrior’s eyebrow, and she stilled as memories surged. She’d never mistake this man, not when she’d met him only a few days earlier. While Papa had been away with their Matheson warriors and all within their village had slept, Mama had borrowed a fisherman’s skiff from a secluded corner of the bay and sailed them to this warrior’s stronghold farther along the loch.

Mama hadn’t had a choice in secreting them away that night, not when her fae skill of death-warning had reared to full and vibrant life. She’d received a vision, sensed death looming for another and immediately hastened to pass along the warning. As she’d rowed, Mama had whispered in her ear, “We leave because two young innocent lads are about to lose their lives and I know these boys well, love Coll and Duncan, just as I love you. I cannae allow their deaths to occur, even though they’re our enemy’s sons and reside within his keep.”

“How did you come to love them?” She’d shuffled closer to Mama on the center bench seat, the cool of the night wrapping around her. Mama adored children and they flocked to her. Mayhap these two boys had too.

“The last time I saw Coll and Duncan they’d just turned three, so it’s been five years since I was last with them. Even though the lads are MacKenzies, they hold fae blood, no’ that their father allows any to know of it. I am one of the few, and now I’ve told you, you too must keep what you’ve learnt a secret, even from your papa.” Mama raised the sail and sent them cruising faster along the waterway toward their enemy’s lair.

Driven to understand more, she touched Mama’s mind with hers. Her fae mind-walker skill always ensured her curiosity rang strong and even though she was young, being able to catch another’s thoughts had certainly gifted her with a wisdom far beyond her short number of years. Carefully, she searched deeper within Mama’s thoughts and gasped at the sadness overwhelming her beloved parent.

Mama squeezed her tight to her side, ran one hand over her mop of golden-red curls. “Never forget that those of fae blood can sense when you touch our minds, so during this trip you’re no’ to touch the mind of any MacKenzie. Over the centuries there has been the odd marriage between our clans since we have no’ always been at war with each other, and those MacKenzies with even a trace of fae blood in their line might be able to sense your presence, just as I can right now. If any of our enemy discovered you hold a coveted fae skill, danger would lurk. Do you understand?”

“Aye, no touching my mind to that of a MacKenzie, or allowing them to know I hold a fae skill.” She’d always been so thirsty for knowledge, and learning from others by reading their thoughts had aided her in quenching that thirst. But tonight she’d take all care, do exactly as Mama had said and not touch another’s mind. “Since Coll and Duncan hold fae blood, who is their mama?”

“Their mother was a close childhood friend of mine. At the age of eight and ten Beth Matheson left for Colin MacKenzie’s keep to visit a relative and no’ long afterward handfasted with one of the MacKenzie’s warriors, or so we were told. I soon learnt the truth. Several months after Beth wed, I received a missive from her and in it she pleaded for me to come to her. I sailed down this very waterway and once I arrived was taken upstairs to Beth’s chamber. That’s when Beth poured out her heart to me. I discovered that day exactly whom she’d handfasted with and it wasnae one of the chief’s warriors, but the chief himself. Colin MacKenzie.”

“Why the secret?”

“Colin is well known for his deviousness, but she believed herself in love with him, and Colin in love with her. Their match was one her parents would never have allowed, so she lied, although unfortunately she soon discovered his true nature too, and when she told him she intended to return to her kin, he instead locked her away in her chamber and allowed only one single maid entry. The MacKenzie never intended to wed her proper once their handfast of a year and a day was done, no’ when he was already betrothed to the chief’s daughter of the neighboring MacLennan clan. His agreement with the MacLennan was one that couldnae be broken, and once he’d gotten Beth with child, he had exactly what he’d always secretly desired, to have the revered Matheson fae blood running through his direct line, as well as a bride-to-be of MacLennan blood with whom he’d soon wed.”

“Why was she permitted to send for you, Mama?”

“I was granted permission to visit because Beth and I both held the same skill of death-warning, and unfortunately she’d seen her own death in a vision and hoped I might be able to halt it. Although there wasnae a chance I could, her bleeding naught that I could stem after she went into labor and delivered her sons.” Mama hugged her tighter to her side. “Afore Beth breathed her last, she asked if I should ever see death hovering over either Coll or Duncan, then to do all I could to ensure their survival. I gave her my word I would and gladly did so.” Mama sniffed, the sadness in her eyes making her heart tug. “I grieved for Beth terribly after she passed away. Her sons had lost a mother they’d never know, but worse, after Beth’s passing I also saw her sons’ death in a vision should I no’ remain with them. They were so sickly as first, born almost two months too soon.” Mama lifted her gaze to the twinkling stars in the night sky. “Following the boys’ birth, I remained as their nurse and cared for them, just as Beth would have wished for me to do.”

An owl hooted within the dark depths of the forest rising high either side of the channel and she rubbed her cheek against Mama’s warm arm. She would hate to lose her mama as these boys had lost theirs. “What happened next?”

“Within days of Beth’s death, Colin sent for the MacLennan lass and the two spoke vows, her dowry and lands quickly added to his so he might strengthen his own holdings. He didnae mourn Beth and I hated him for it, decided I would ensure her sons knew of their mother, only he halted my ability to do even that. Should I have spoken out, he threatened to send his warriors to our village and slay as many as he could. He had no desire to lose the lands he’d gained by incurring the MacLennan’s wrath, and his intentions rang true, a vision assailing me right then and there should I speak the truth to my own kinsmen. So many innocent lives would have been lost. I couldnae utter a word, have never been able to do so in all these years, no’ with either Beth’s parents or your papa. None are aware of the truth, other than me, and such guilt consumes me because of the secrets, but that is how things must be.”

“You’ve now told me.” The moon slid behind a darkened cloud then reemerged.

“Aye, because I saw you in my vision along with the boys this eve. You’re supposed to come with me, although I have no understanding of why.” Mama shrugged. “Sometimes that is the way of my skill.”

“I give you my word, Mama, that I’ll never tell another of their fae blood. Your secret is safe with me.”

“Aye, as I knew it would be.” Love shone in Mama’s eyes. “I often wish I could have returned to the boys afore now, but that’s been impossible due to the continued feuding.”

“Tell me more about them.” ’Twas so sad the boys had no knowledge of their fae blood, had never had the chance to visit their mother’s kin at the village.

“Colin’s wife, Cait, sat with the boys and I often. She adored them, and afore too long the MacKenzie claimed Cait was their mother and none refuted the fact, no’ even her. His word was accepted as the truth and Beth became all but forgotten by those few who’d known her at his keep.” Waves sloshed against the hull and Mama softly sighed. “Soon, Cait too conceived and once she had, Colin sent her away to Rhue Castle to give birth, one of his northernmost strongholds. Tensions were tight between the clans at the time and he wanted her as far away from the hostilities as possible. There within the safety of Rhue’s walls, she delivered his son and named him Jeremiah, although she remained at Rhue for quite some time afterward, what with the escalation of the feuding at the time.”

The wind rose, slapped into the sail and sent them skimming the waves faster. “When did you leave and return to the village?”

“I was forced to leave the year the boys turned three or else become a pawn in the war between our clans.”

“Is that when you met Papa?”

“Aye.” Mama smiled and through Christina’s connection to Mama’s mind, she caught the image of Papa standing within the inner courtyard of Matheson House. Papa’s pale hair lay damp against his head from his training session, and Mama appeared so very tiny standing next to him. The images continued to flow. Papa curled one arm around Mama’s back, dipped his head and kissed her, right there next to the center well draped in ivy. Mama’s thoughts swarmed with love.

“My bond with your papa took very quickly and we soon spoke vows. You arrived within the year, finally giving me a child of my own to care for, and no’ a child I would ever have to leave behind as I left Coll and Duncan.”

She nestled deeper into Mama’s side, the wind nipping at her nose and fingertips, turning them numb with the cold. “Yours is a very important skill, Mama, one that saves lives.”

“My skill is both a burden and a privilege. Here, let me warm you up.” From her traveling sack, Mama pulled a plaid out and bundled her in the added layer of soft wool before rubbing her arms and kissing her cheeks. “Is that better?”

“Aye, and thank you for explaining everything to me.” She pulled her mind back and left Mama’s thoughts behind.

Up ahead, the MacKenzie’s castle rose like a fortress within the dark. A touch of moonlight shimmered over the stronghold built on an island a stone’s throw from the mainland. The massive gray tower windows were lit with candles, and torches along the ramparts cast their glow high over the fortified walls. Guardsmen patrolled the barbican in heavy battle attire. So well-guarded.

Mama gazed toward the imposing sight, lowered the sail and picked up the oars then rowed them toward the sea-gate. Leaning closer, Mama whispered, “Do you see that guard standing on duty near the stairs, the one with the bushy red beard?”

“Aye.” Such a big bear of a man he was.

“That is Gregor, the MacKenzie’s most trusted captain, the only man at the keep who knows the truth about Coll and Duncan’s birth. He is extremely loyal to his chief, yet was also rather kind to me during my stay. A touch of fae blood runs somewhere within his line, but ’tis several generations removed and he sensed a kinship with me. I shall ask him to take us to the MacKenzie, although while we’re here, you’re to remain right by my side. No wandering about, and remember my earlier warning.”

“Aye, no touching the mind of another while we’re here.” She wriggled within the layers of wool.

“I love you, my sweet, always and forever.”

“I love you too, Mama, always and forever.” With more love than her little heart could hold at times.

“Gregor!” Mama called out and lifted a hand. “I come in peace.”

“Is that you, Grace?” Hand raised to his forehead, the warrior wearing thick fur boots and a two-handed claymore strapped to his back, squinted through the dark. “What on earth are you doing here, and out on the water so late at night?”

“I’ve had a vision and must speak to Colin. Your chief and his sons must hear what I have to say this night.” Mama scooped her onto her lap.

“One moment. I’ll take you to the chief myself.” Gregor whistled to two of his fellow warriors who waded into the water, gripped the sides of their skiff and guided their boat the last few feet until it nestled next to the stone stairs.

Settled in Mama’s arms, she snuggled as Mama stepped onto the landing.

Up the sea-gate stairs, Mama walked and at the top, Gregor gestured for them to proceed him through the postern gate. They did and Mama crossed the gravelly inner courtyard and halted under the high arch of the front door, set Christina down on her feet and as she stepped inside, glanced over her shoulder. “Stay close.”

With a quick nod, she followed Mama into the great hall.

The blazing fireplace spread its warmth and sent its flicking orange and red glow all about. Trestle tables had been pushed to one side to allow more room for the warriors who’d bedded down on pallets to rest for the night. The drone of their snores echoed all about, while on the far side of the hall, narrow windows rose almost to the ceiling and tapestries covered the stone walls in between the panes of pretty colored stained glass. She tramped across a wealth of rushes scattered across the floor and smiled at a brown dog with floppy ears as he rubbed against a table leg to ease an itchy side.

A barefoot lad in brown breeches and a dirt-smeared tunic, his eyes barely visible under his mop of black hair, crouched in the corner near one of the sleeping warriors. With a wedge of bread in his hands, he stuffed it into his mouth and chewed. She stepped closer, just as a lass dashed out from a shadowed side stairwell and in her blue kirtle and slippers, knelt next to the lad and handed him a sweet pastry.

BOOK: Highlander's Bride: Medieval Romance (The Fae Book 1)
6.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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