Authors: Deborah MacGillivray
He smiled. Desmond Mershan smiled! And oh, what a smile. It was one of those feline smiles to turn a woman’s knees weak. Smug, he unbuckled his pants.
She gulped. “Can you not push the leg up?”
“It’d be awkward.”
“Not as awkward as you dropping your bloody breeks!”
She strangled when he did precisely that. The man was perfect—everywhere. Well, maybe not his toes—men rarely had pretty toes—but she barely paid them interest as the rest of him made up for standard-issue male feet. And wow, nothing typical in the underwear department. No sexless Jockey whites women abhor, but black silk. Black silk covering a blatant erection!
No, Sir, she won’t catalog the perfection there, the devil on her shoulder chortled.
Her vision jerked up, colliding with his feline eyes.
Then it hit her. He had green eyes. Green eyes. No wonder her lads had dropped him into her bed.
Och, she was doomed!
The Invasion of
NEW YORK CITY
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New York, NY 10016
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
Copyright © 2006 by Deborah MacGillivray All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
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The Invasion of
Falgannon Isle, Hebrides of Scotland, present day
“So much is riding on this venture.” B.A. Montgomerie spoke her concern to the empty room.
She blinked, her eyes strained from staring for hours at the Web site for
Isle of Love.co.uk
. Not satisfied with the results, she sat tinkering with the new homepage. She needed glasses. Another entry on her endless to-do list. Like most of those items, it’d have to wait until her next trip to the mainland. She shouldn’t keep pushing; she’d end up with a headache. Only, she so wanted the Web site perfect—the future of Falgannon rode on its success. Changing the html to narrow the width of the gold border, she stared at the results.
Ladies, tired of the stress of big city living? Fed up with men who only want one-night stands and leave you with “the fuzzy end of the lollipop and a tube of toothpaste all squished out?” Hate traffic jams, telemarketers calling at 8:00 a.m. and long queues at the grocery store? Sick of noise pollution?
Do you dream of romance—that special man wishing for matrimony?
Consider a vacation to Falgannon Isle—a wee bit of heaven in the Hebrides of Scotland where magic exists. Our pace is relaxed, the scenery majestic. The climate is mild since the isle is in the Gulf Stream. Summer twilight lasts forever—ideal for romantic walks. White beaches with tidal pools for swimming. Green hillocks to wander and explore. A medieval castle, a stone ring and ancient Pictish ruins dot the hillsides. I cannot imagine a more romantic place, one as breathtakingly beautiful, that stirs the soul and spellbinds the heart!
Ladies, listen up!
Falgannon Isle has 213 braw Scots lads eager to find a bride. You see, there’s a shortage of marriageable women on the isle. Yes, over two hundred males, ages eighteen to forty-seven, and all anxious to make your acquaintance!
Fill out this application. If chosen, you’ll receive airfare and expenses to our remote isle. You’ll have two weeks to explore the ruins, walk on the sands in the gloaming… maybe find that special man waiting for you to fill his heart.
If you decide this life isn’t for you—well, you’ve had a free vacation. However, I’m betting there’s a handsome Islander who can convince you to stay… forever.
Come for the vacation of a lifetime, remain for love…
Click on our bachelor registry and see dozens of braw Scots lads impatient to welcome you to Falgannon.
Address queries to [email protected] of Love. co.uk
B.A. smiled at the laptop screen, hope in her heart. Satisfied, she hit the FTP button to upload the page. The monitor suddenly switched to
Page Not Found
“Bloody hell! Not again!” Used to the Net being slow on Falgannon, she reached for the telephone to check. “Dead. Grrrr… I’d sell my soul for the rare beastie broadband.”
“Any word yet, Jass?” a voice called from the front of the store.
B.A. considered ignoring Callum since he’d already asked the same question five times in the past hour. In an irritating fashion, he began to beat a tattoo on the counter, saying he wasn’t going away until she answered. Shutting down the computer as she arose from the desk chair, she went out into the storefront.
Redheaded Callum Mackenzie’s gray eyes blazed with anticipation similar to that of a four-year-old peeking at presents on Christmas morn. Willing to stoop to a little mental torture just to break the ennui of the afternoon, B.A. pretended she had no idea what he wanted.
“What can I be helping you with, Callum the Bicycle?”
The odd appellation linked to Callum’s name stemmed from his running the bicycle shop. B.A. smiled at the island quirkiness: On Falgannon, it wasn’t the village oddball or black sheep whose name was coupled with a descriptive tag, but the whole bloody isle! Gravestones in the ancient churchyard illustrated this wasn’t passing eccentricity, but tradition born from necessity—or stubbornness. Currently residing on Falgannon—and driving her batty—were five Michaels, six Callums and eight Anguses, all with the last name of Mackenzie, Grant or Fraser. Adding in those generations going back before King Kenneth I, it was hard to keep them separated, so ages ago Falgannonians had began tagging each other with a label to set them apart.
Callum’s face pruned with dismay. “B.A., one might infer you hate men the way you torment the male folk of the isle.”
Michael the Fiddle ambled up behind his cousin. Of course, on Falgannon—population 297—family lines were so tangled, islanders joked it was possible to end up being a fifth-cousin to yourself! Michael was of the sandy-haired Mackenzies. Beautiful males, each reminded B.A. of a Byronic poet; their soulful gray eyes could lure a lass to stare at them for hours.
Only, that was the problem, as B.A. knew too well. Two hundred and thirteen unmarried males lived on her isle. The quandary arose because the only unwed ladies were Oonanne and Morag—but they didn’t count since they were lesbians—and the Marys—Mary Annis and Mary Agnes, sixty-seven-year-old twins. And herself: BarbaraAnne Montgomerie-Deshaunt—thirty-seven, widowed seven years, owner of Falgannon Isle.
The one woman none of the males could court.
B.A. knew if an outlander asked any of the men why with such a dearth of women the lone eligible one wasn’t wooed, he’d get that prune face and a sharp retort, “Are you daft in the head, man?”
She sighed. She was the Lady of the Isle, a title passed to her at seventeen upon the death of her grandmother, Maeve. The eldest female of her line had always ruled this tiny speck of an island, going back to Pictish times, and
trifled with their Lady. All manner of catastrophes befell the feckless lad who tried. Hadn’t Michael the Story warned of The Curse and its ghastly repercussions, a fate dire enough to ensure no male dared more than cast an admiring eye in her direction?
“What did B.A. say, Callum?” Michael shifted in his Reeboks as if ants infested his knickers.
B.A. slid her soft shawl about her shoulders. Autumn’s chill embraced the isle, the sun setting earlier each day. “Afternoon, Michael the Fiddle. Enjoy walking in
“Aye. I spotted you near Maulkin Tower in the gloaming.” Michael smiled at her with lovesick, puppy eyes.
Not vain; she knew men looked. But then The Curse never struck down a lad for admiring.
Callum gave him the point of his elbow. “Eegit,
is yanking our chains, are you not, B.A.? ‘Tis them Yank ways you acquired going to school in the colonies corrupting you. Ashamed you should be.”
“Here now, our B.A. would do no such thing,” Janet Grant chided, breezing through the side door to B.A.‘s left.
Toting a basket of gourds, the gorgeous redhead paused to flash a smile at both men. The cousins rushed to lift the counter’s trap to let Janet pass, bonking noggins with a crack.
B.A. shook her head, thinking the three visitors due shortly—the ones Callum inquired about every ten minutes—couldn’t arrive soon enough. Springtime these past six years was rough when a young man’s fancy turned to romance and there were no lasses to serenade by the light of the moon. And, come autumn when nights grew longer, Falgannon males got quite cranky as they envisioned spending those winter months alone.
Janet Grant—called Janet the Red, though island males sniggered bawdier nicknames behind her back—sashayed between the hormone-riddled Mackenzies. B.A. knew Janet was a born flirt. What woman wouldn’t relish being the center of attention on an island of love-starved men?
Well, other than me,
“Our B.A. is too serious to pull a kitty’s tail,” Janet teased, arranging the gourds inside the glass case. A blast from the ferry horn caused her to jerk up and hit her head. “Och, Angus, you sad excuse for a husband, I may take a knife to you in your sleep.” Rubbing her scalp, she rushed to the window, observing the ferryboat pulling into the harbor.
“Best up his insurance first,” Michael howled.
On Falgannon, ferry-docking passed as high entertainment, right up with watching Friday nights as Wee Dougie chased the old men lovingly called the “Morn, B.A.” Club around with his scooter after the
Janet gasped. “Look at that.”
On tiptoes, Janet leaned into the casement, her heart-shaped derriere wiggling in Marilyn Monroe fashion. B.A. knew that undulating pulchritude generally held the Mackenzies transfixed as vipers before a snake charmer, so to speak. However, with the promise of the arrival of “wild females” muddling their brains, they nearly toppled Janet from her perch.
“Have the lasses come, Janet?” both males asked.
“Not unless you fancy them near giants and on the masculine side.” Janet practically purred, “Verra masculine.”
“What we dinna need on this bloody rock is more men,” Michael grumbled.
Janet’s hip swishing—similar to a cat in heat—tweaked B.A.‘s curiosity. Obviously, they were getting visitors, just not the ones expected. Once in a blue moon, tourists found their way to her hidden isle.
B.A. leaned on the counter to glimpse the unloading ferry. She observed three men disembark and start up the steep hill. One was of medium height with blue-black hair; the others were near giants and bright blond.
“Are the Vikings invading, Janet?” Michael bumped his hip against hers.
“Sure and all, you’d expect to see those two in hats with horns.” She giggled.
B.A. smirked, knowing Janet probably pictured herself ravished by the barbarian horde, horns on hats not the ones on her mind! Untying her apron, B.A. stepped to the other side of the counter, almost hearing the redhead’s thoughts—
wonder if he’s that big all over?
Near her own age, B.A. adored Janet, the bride Angus had fetched from Ireland six years ago, but she pondered if their marriage would last. She doubted it, not with The Curse having the isle in its grip. Down at the pub, the duffers comprising the “Morn, B.A.” Club ran a pool on how long she’d stick it out on their bucolic island. Janet had surprised everyone by staying this long. But B.A. feared her fun loving friend would one day grow bored and run off with some lad tired of island life.
“St. Columba,” Callum exclaimed. “They’re reversing a Range Rover off the ferry.”
“Where do the Vikings think to drive that juggernaut?” Michael pushed his cousin aside to look. “They’d make a circle of the isle in three shakes of a stick, then what? ‘Tis daft.”
Janet winked at B.A. “Typical males—if they cannot have a lass to ogle, a car will do.”
“I thank you not to insult me, Janet the Red.” Michael sniffed, though his eyes remained glued on the car.
B.A. spied Wee Gordie Grant—so-called because he was eleven and had no trade with which to link his name—dash up the hill toward the general store, carrying the alarm of the Viking invasion. Brass bells over the door chimed, heralding the lad’s arrival. He knocked into Callum, panted, “Pardon me, Janet the Red,” then continued on to crash into the counter.
He blurted, “You see, B.A.? Angus the Ferry unloaded a machine! Did you order one, B.A.? Can I go driving in it with you?” and thirty other questions.
Callum rapped the top of the child’s head. “That’s for calling me Janet, eegit.”
B.A. watched the racket outside escalate. The “Morn, B.A.” Club piled out of the Hanged Man to witness Falgannon under siege from Viking raiders for the first time in 743 years. The Escape Artists—five foxhounds, fugitive from the kennels—got into the act, yapping and jumping in the air for attention. This drew the Marys and their tubby tabby, The Cat Dudley.
Willie the Writer, Robbie the Butcher and Innis the Thatcher brought up the rear of the impromptu parade. Wee Dougie Mackenzie puttered up on his scooter, riding ovals about the procession, the two-cycle engine’s irritating noise the perfect touch to the three-ring circus. The hullabaloo caused the cat to slap the hounds as if the whole affair was their fault.
B.A. chuckled at the antics of her islanders and their delightful ability to turn the mundane into high camp. A Viking invasion was doomed facing that formidable welcome!
Walking behind the counter, B.A. reached for the aspirin bottle by the register, shook out two, hesitated, and added a third. Sometimes being the owner of an isle where the inhabitants reveled in their madcap Brigadoon ways really called for that third aspirin. She twisted the top on a Pepsi and washed down the tablets. Keeping an eye on the hubbub cresting the steep hill, she strangled when she spotted the black-haired man at the center of the group.
For a suspended heartbeat, she thought she saw Evian.
Hope rose as a vision played through her mind that Evian had somehow survived the plane crash: picked up at sea by Norwegian fishermen, he’d been unable to recall who he was and it’d taken all this time to regain his memory. As her heart swelled with longing, the crowd drew closer and parted. She saw the man full in the face—the face of a stranger.
In that breath she lost her husband a second time.
Too much to absorb, she slammed down the Pepsi and fled to the back room. Leaning against the wall, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes against waves of emotion so strong it was crippling. The pain hadn’t been this bad for a long time. In the early days after the crash, she’d been gutted. Over time, she survived by wrapping her heart in cotton and getting through one day at a time. Only sometimes she was
Minutes passed before the droning in her head receded enough to hear the crowd making the welkin ring on the store’s porch. Naturally, the Outlanders would stop here. A private isle, no one landed on Falgannon without registering with the harbormaster. Foolishly defying The Curse, Davey the Harbor had abandoned his job to go wife hunting in Edinburgh, and so the task had temporarily fallen to B.A.
Swallowing raw emotions, B.A. gathered the tattered ribbons of her composure and strode to the storefront as the bells chimed, ballyhooing the Vikings’ arrival.
With The Cat Dudley in the lead, three men came through the door, dodging The Escape Artists as the yapping foxhounds circled through their legs and tugged at their pant cuffs. B.A. sniggered, surprised no one tripped due to the animal brigade’s antics.