Read The Highlander's Stolen heart (Macinnes Sisters Trilogy) Online

Authors: Donna Fletcher

Tags: #Historical Romance, #Highlander, #USA Today Bestselling Author

The Highlander's Stolen heart (Macinnes Sisters Trilogy)

BOOK: The Highlander's Stolen heart (Macinnes Sisters Trilogy)
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The Highlander’s Stolen Heart

by

Donna Fletcher

 

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

The Highlander’s Stolen Heart

All rights reserved.

Copyright June 2014 by Donna Fletcher

Cover art

Kim Killion Group

Ebook Design

A Thirsty Mind Book Design

Visit Donna’s Web site

http://www.donnafletcher.com

https://www.facebook.com/donna.fletcher.author

 

Chapter One

The Highlands, 1432 AD

“How can you wed when your heart is not in it?”

Heather shrugged. ”It is the way of things, Patience. Father is not well enough to lead the Clan Macinnes and with no sons, and I being the eldest daughter, it is my duty. And need I remind you that you did not have to accompany me on this journey to meet my intended,” —Heather smiled— “though I am most grateful you did.”

“And leave this lot,” —Patience nodded at the warriors who rode in single formation ahead of them— “to look after you and Emma? Absolutely not. Where is Emma anyway?” Patience rose up on her mare to glance around.

“Right here,” Emma said from behind her sisters.

“You were not there a moment ago,” Patience turned her head and scolded. “What did I tell you about remaining close?”

“An unfamiliar plant caught my eye and I had to take a look,” Emma explained.

“You could have been snatched up and abducted in seconds by a band of rebels. There has been much mischief afoot in these parts lately, and there is no telling what lurks in the surrounding forest. Do not wander off again.”

“Patience is right,” Heather agreed. “There has been talk of rebels pilfering the area.”

Emma drew her mare up alongside Heather. “I heard it was mercenaries out to claim land promised to them.” She lowered her voice. “They say the Dark Dragon has returned to claim his due.”

“Hush up,” Patience warned. “No one speaks that vile name. Besides, I have heard tell that King James has paid him well for his services and sent him on his way.”

“More likely that the Dragon provided much needed funding to King James and took his own leave home,” Emma said, “and home I heard was the Highlands.”

“Enough,” Heather scolded with a shiver. “Let us not speak about such evil. It is a joyous time. In a few short hours, I will meet my intended, Rogan of the Clan MacClennan and in a month’s time I shall wed.” She forced a smile. “Then in no time at all father will find you both suitable husbands and we will all be happily wed.”

Patience snickered. “I will wed who and when I want, and he will not be giving me orders.”

“I think we should stop for a rest soon,” Emma said. “I will go and alert the warriors.”

“How foolish my remark,” Heather said after Emma rode ahead.

“You are not the only fool. I should not have boasted about choosing my own mate.” Patience stared after her sister. “I worry so about Emma. She buries herself in the running of father’s land with no thought of a man.”

“Can you blame her? Father has tried several times with little success to arrange a marriage for her. Too plain of features and too smart of wit, that is what father has been told time and time again.”

“I do not understand it.” Patience shook her head. “My features are fair enough that men find me appealing. Your features are so stunning that father has to beat the men away with a stick, but Emma?” Patience shook her head again. “Her features are so plain that no man glances her way or they make snide remarks.”

“Not in your presence,” Heather said.

“Anyone who does will suffer for it, though it is Emma who has suffered the most. I wish she had not heard father tell you that when he had approached Angus, laird of the Clan MacClennan about an arranged marriage between Rogan and Emma that Angus laughed at him. The old warrior insisted that it be you his son Rogan wed or no one. And to hear tell, the son was adamant about the choice himself.”

“And since our lands border, it was an arrangement father could not refuse,” Heather finished. “I cannot believe Angus had the gall to request that Emma accompany me so that she could advise him on how to enhance his land’s production.”

“That is the only reason anyone is interested in Emma. She is brilliant in producing abundant crops, preserving food, multiplying stock, and keeping illness from claiming many, not to mention her studies with the various foliage and trees. Have you seen how she painstakingly continues to record everything in that monk’s parchment book?” Patience sighed. “Her name should be Patience, not mine.”

“Remember how often Mother had reminded you that she named you such because she instinctively knew patience was something you needed to learn.”

Patience smiled. “I am trying.” Her smile faded. “I wish there was something we could do to help Emma.”

“We do help her,” Heather said. “We are always there for her and we always will be.”

“It is not enough. You cannot tell me that she never thinks about falling in love and having children. She may speak mostly about her interests, but you cannot tell me that the thought of being kissed, held, and made loved to, has never entered her head.”

“I think the incident with Daniel, the miller’s son, turned her against ever trusting another lad.”

“And Daniel got what he deserved from me—two black eyes and a split lip.”

“You cannot fight her battles all her life,” Heather warned.

“I can and I will.”

“Mother should have named you Obstinate.”

“And she should have named you Sweet,” Patience said wrinkling her nose. “What should she have named Emma?”

“Lonely,” Heather said sadly.

~~~

Emma rode in the front near the lead warrior James. He would talk with her on occasion, though his focus remained mostly on his surroundings. Older than the other warriors with a paunch to his stomach and graying hair, he nonetheless was a fierce fighter and one of her father’s most trusted warriors and also his closest friend. He also was a bit of a champion to her, since he would admonish any of his warriors if they cast a disparaging remark about her.

She had thought she had convinced herself that it did not matter that she was plain and that no man found her appealing. She had her interests and that was enough. But when Heather had mentioned that they would all be married one day, it was as if someone had reminded her of what she would never have.

The only way she thought she would ever wed was if her father offered a hefty dowry, but that had failed to prove true. He had offered to make Rogan laird of the Macinnes clan if he would wed her and he had refused the generous offer.

It pleased her that she had had enough intelligence when she was young to have realized that marriage would never be in her future. It was the reason she had turned her attention to exploring various areas of interest and had become proficient in most. She kept herself busy with studies, research, and documenting all she had learned and continued to learn. She had a good life and a loving family.

Her father was a wonderful Da and she didn’t know what she would do without her sisters. She loved them dearly. They had helped raise her after their mum had died seven and ten years ago when Emma was barely two years. Actually, it had been Heather, three years older than Emma, who had taken their mother’s place. And she did not want to think of life without either one of them.

She was happy. She did not need a man, but then no man ever glanced her way. They were too busy staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at Heather. Her sister was a beauty, a few inches over five feet, a perfectly curved body, long wavy blond hair, blue eyes and a face that stole a man’s breath. While Patience could not compete with Heather’s gorgeous features, she at least was attractive. A few inches taller than Heather, she had a body defined by her love of strenuous activities, tree climbing being a favorite of hers, and long black hair that she forever drew back with a leather strip. She had lovely green eyes that would brighten when she cried, which she rarely did. It was usually other people she made cry.

Whereas she... she sighed inwardly. Emma did not know how to define herself. Plain features, brown hair, though on occasion some blond streaks shined through, and the shortest of the sisters at about four inches over five feet. She gave another inward sigh at the thought of her body. Even though Heather had tried to convince her many times that she had a lovely body, she wore loose tunics to hide her shapelessness. Her gracious words were always lost on Emma, for she did not believe her sister.

Enough
, she silently scolded herself. Her life was full and she was happy. At least, she would be once she was home again. She had no desire to meet Rogan of the Clan MacClennan. She did not believe that it was only the laird who had refused the proposal for his son to wed her as her father had told her. She was certain that Rogan himself had voiced his opinion on the matter and had gotten his way. He would marry the beautiful Macinnes sister, not the plain one.

Emma almost refused to accompany Heather on this journey, knowing what she would face upon arrival at the MacClennan keep. People would stare and whisper hurtful remarks, thinking she could not hear them, but she would hear them. Unfortunately, refusal was not an option for her. Her father had beamed with pride that the stubborn Angus had requested her help.

Her father was the only man who had ever told her that she was pretty. And he had promised her that he would find her a handsome husband who would treat her good. She did not have the heart to tell him that it was a dream that would never come true.

Her father had been more devastated than she had been when Angus had turned down his offer for her and Rogan to unite along with making him laird of the Macinnes clan. Her father had been willing to give up all he owned to see her wed to a handsome and good man.

She recalled seeing Rogan on the few occasions that he and his father would visit with her father. She had not paid him much heed nor had he acknowledged her. She had not seen him in years, though he had been a handsome one when he was young. She could only imagine what fine features he must possess now. Patience had teased Heather unmercifully when the arrangements had been made. She had gone on about what beautiful children the two would have, and she was right. They would make beautiful children.

“There is a spot ahead where we can stop,” James said, catching her attention, “but not for long. We are not far from MacClennan land and I wish to reach the keep before nightfall.”

“As you say,” Emma said pleased. She would take the brief time and opportunity to forage in the forest and see what it had to offer. It was early spring, planting time weeks away but the forest did produce early seedlings, and she hoped to gather a few interesting ones.

A small clearing could be seen after the bend in the road and most likely that was where James intended to stop. She grew eager to reach it, eager to dismount, and beyond eager to explore.

She urged her mare forward, hoping to get there and be off foraging before Patience had the chance to object, and no doubt James would agree. With a smile on her face and no longer caring about her arrival at the MacClennan clan, Emma pressed forward.

The attack came so fast that Macinnes warriors barely had time to react. Men dropped down from trees, rushed out of the forest, and sprung from behind bushes. Emma quickly pulled a dirk from her boot and turned her horse in an attempt to reach her sisters.

Not one of the attackers tried to stop her and as she maneuvered her way through the melee she realized why. While the warriors were kept occupied fighting off the surprise attack, Patience was bravely fighting off three men who were trying to get to Heather.

It struck Emma then, the men had come for her sister, but why?

Emma did not wait. She hurried her mare, giving anyone in her path a hefty kick. No one was going to take her sister if she could help it. She reached Heather’s side as a man reached out to grab her. Emma swung her dirk at his arm, splitting it open and with a forceful kick sent him tumbling to the ground.

Emma and Patience fought wildly, trying to keep the men from capturing their sister. And it appeared as if they were winning. Several of their attackers scurried back into the woods, presumably to lick their wounds, but not so. As the wounded foe disappeared into the dense forest, a deluge of men emerged from it, swords drawn.

In seconds, they were surrounded. The Macinnes warriors fought tirelessly, but to no avail. Heather was scooped off her horse and carted away while Emma and Patience fought to get to her.

Once the forest swallowed Heather and her abductor, the other men swiftly followed and in minutes all was quiet around them... all except Patience.

“Get on your horses now, we are going after her,” Patience shouted and turned furious eyes on James. “Do not attempt to fight me on this. The men who are able go with me or I go alone. Leave a man to watch over the injured and you go and alert father to what has happened and return with Macinnes warriors.”

“I will send a man, but I stay here,” James protested.

“You will do as I say,” Patience snapped. “You ride faster than the others and you know the best warriors to return with, so do as I say. We waste enough time arguing.”

James reluctantly agreed and began gathering available warriors.

Patience turned to Emma. “You take the wounded to the MacClennan keep and tell Rogan what happened. Make certain he gathers his men and returns here to follow my trail. You know how to track. I taught you when you were young.”

Emma nodded.

Patience reached out to Emma and they locked hands. “I will not return until I rescue Heather.”

“And I will not rest until the three of us are united again.”

They hugged and Patience whispered something to Emma before she stepped away, mounted her horse, and rode off into the woods, leading the warriors.

James had men gathered in no time and with a word of warning to Emma to stay with the wounded while Dunnan went to get help from the MacClennans, he took off.

This was one time men wanted Emma—when they were injured. The wounded warriors knew that her healing knowledge could save them. So, they reached out to her. It did not take her long to assess the injuries and determine that all, save for Dunnan, would prohibit travel. That was until she noticed how Dunnan held his arm close to his side and winced now and again as he prepared to leave.

She hurried over to him. “You have been wounded.” She did not wait for him to reply, she grabbed his arm.

He let out a holler. “It is nothing.”

BOOK: The Highlander's Stolen heart (Macinnes Sisters Trilogy)
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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