Highland Talents, #3
by Willa Blair
Publication Date: December 3, 2014
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Years ago, after tragedy struck Jamie Lathan’s family, fosterling Caitrin Fletcher was sent home, out of danger. Heartbroken, young Jamie never expected to see her again. He certainly never imagined he’d be called upon to escort her to be betrothed to another man.
But now, as their attraction reignites during the trip, Jamie’s longing for Caitrin deepens, and he despairs to lose her again. The secret he hides, however, may prevent any chance for a future with her. Can Jamie find a way to claim her himself without starting a war involving three clans?
Caitrin is torn between her duty to make the marriage her father wants and her feelings for Jamie, the lad she’s loved for years. When she meets the man her father has chosen, her secret Highland talent tells her he cannot be trusted. Can she refuse the powerful lord without revealing how she knows he’s lying…about nearly everything?
Caitrin sat still for a moment, staring into the embers as if deciding whether to risk the question she really wanted an answer to. “I never heard what happened. After I left Lathan.”
Jamie’s belly clenched. “What do ye mean?”
She stayed silent a moment longer then shook her head. “Remember the day Toran and ye found the carvings?”
His breath froze in his chest at the word. Then he realized she’d changed her mind—and the subject. Jamie let out a slow sigh of relief. The last thing he wanted to relive was the time when Caitrin left. The less she knew, the better. Instead, he chuckled. “Searching for the troll under the stone bridge, aye?”
“Ye told me they were ancient druidic markings. Secret signs marking a place of ceremony and sacrifice. That wasna true, was it?”
Jamie thought back to that day. Caitrin had tagged along with him and Toran, as usual. Toran had done his best to ignore her, but Jamie had started telling stories and by the time they reached the old bridge, he had primed Caitrin for the biggest story of all. “Toran and I had spent weeks chipping away at the stone along the banks of the burn, scratching in signs and symbols.” Rumor had it Caitrin was good, perhaps too good, at telling when someone lied to her. So Toran had concocted a test—elaborate, to be sure, but preparing it had entertained them for weeks. Finally, they were ready. Jamie spun his tale, full of history and superstition, druidic sacrifice and magic.
“Ye thought I believed it all, to the point of refusing to cross that bridge ever again.”
“Aye, from that point on, Toran greatly enjoyed leading ye in that direction, only to watch ye splash through the burn rather than cross the bridge to reach the meadow beyond.” As Toran and he laughed. It was not Jamie’s proudest memory of their time together. In fact, he was still irritated with Toran for putting him up to it. Especially after the way the summer ended.
“I kent ye lied.”
“Ye didna.” Jamie snorted. “Why drench yerself in the burn if ye thought the bridge was nothing special?”
She remained silent for a long time, to the point Jamie thought she’d refuse to answer. Then she opened her mouth to speak, and Jamie noticed her eyes were sheened with tears. “‘Twas the only way Toran would let me come with ye.”
“So ye were sweet on him.”
“What? Nay, never. He only let me come along when he could get a good laugh out of me, whether that meant slogging through the burn or something else. I didna want to be left out. Left behind.”
Jamie’s heart plummeted at the same time shame raised heat in his face. “Nay.”
“‘Tis true. I kent Toran had put ye up to it. Ye tried to set me straight a time or two—do ye remember that?”
Jamie shook his head. Honestly, he didn’t. But if she hadn’t been interested in Toran’s attention, did that mean she’d tagged along because she cared for him?
“But if I admitted it, that would have been the end of my time with the two of ye. So I played the fool instead.”
“I am sorry.”
“Ye should be, aye. But yer laird has more to answer for.”
A tear slipped down her cheek. Jamie clenched his fist against the urge to reach out and wipe it away with his thumb. He must not touch her. Not tenderly. Never with the hunger that filled him and stole his breath. He could barely speak around the lump that had formed in his throat. “I kent it must be hard for a lass, but ye never seemed distraught. Ye were always game to get involved in anything. Ye nearly drove Toran daft.”
“But no’ ye.”
“Nay.” Jamie hesitated. Should he say it? Aye, the wee lass within her needed to hear it. “I always liked ye. Ye werena like the other lasses.”
She choked back a laugh. “I wasna that, for sure.” Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks, but she wiped them away. “If this is what reminiscing does to ye, I dinna recommend it.”
Caitrin left him and settled herself on her pallet. Jamie sat by the fire until her eyes closed and her breathing evened out in sleep. It was going to be a long night.
Willa Blair is the award-wining author of Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestselling Scottish historical paranormal romance and a contributor to USAToday’s Happy Ever After romance blog.
Her popular Highland Talents series, set in a pivotal point in Scottish history, is filled with men in kilts, psi talents, and plenty of spice. Available in ebook, print, and audiobook formats, the first three titles will soon be joined by more novels of adventure and romance.