Can a ghost of the past be a second chance at love for Ethan MacKeefe?
Excerpt of Highland Spirit
Holding on tightly to the vines, Ethan shimmied up the wall. It was a high, but he was an experienced climber and had no trouble. When he got to the top, he hesitantly poked his head over the wall, surprised by what he saw. A little girl with dark curly hair and big brown eyes stared at him, her face bathed in moonlight.
“Hello,” he said, wondering what a young girl this age was doing unsupervised atop the battlements at night. He swore she had to be no more than about four years of age. She held a doll clutched to her chest that looked to be made of old rags in colors of red and blue. “Have ye seen a big white dog?” he asked, hoisting one leg up to the top of the battlements. “My hound, Trapper, is lost and I’m tryin’ to find him.”
The little girl nodded and pointed down into the courtyard. “The doggy is down there.” When Ethan got one leg over the wall he heard barking and caught a glimpse of Trapper in the courtyard with several guards chasing him. That was probably why there were no guards on the battlements to stop him.
“Ah, there he is. Now I’ll just have to find a way to sneak him out. Is there by any chance a hidden postern door nearby?”
The little girl once again nodded and pointed, this time to a wall covered in ivy, right behind the gong pit. “There’s one down there.”
“It figures,” he grumbled, not wanting to have to walk knee-deep through human waste to escape with his dog. “Oh well, if that’s what it takes,” he said, starting to hoist himself over the wall. He stopped abruptly when he heard the bloodcurdling scream of a woman coming from the tower directly above him. His head jerked upward and he saw what looked like the body of a falling woman. A whoosh of air went right past him, as well as a fluttering white gown and trailing, long black hair.
“Losh me! What was that?” He was so startled at hearing and seeing the ghost so close up that he lost his grip on the wall. As he fell backward, his eyes fastened to the little girl still watching him curiously. She didn’t even seem shaken by what they’d just witnessed.
“Naaaaaay!” he cried out as he fell, trying to grab at the vines along the way so he wouldn’t break his damned neck when he hit the ground. He landed with a thud on his back, thankfully falling atop something soft. When he smelled the stench, he realized that he’d fallen into a large mound of horse manure that was hidden under dead leaves and a dusting of snow. Then again, mayhap he was closer to the garderobe than he thought. He could only hope it was a mare’s nest that was now smeared over his cloak and plaid and not something else. “God’s teeth this isna turnin’ out to be a guid night at all.”
From his position on the ground he could see the tower above him in the moonlight. To his surprise, a very beautiful woman peered out the tower window and glanced down to the ground. Her hair was long and blond and she wore a dark cloak over her plaid. The wind blew her hood from her head. Her eyes met his, and when they did, his mouth fell open. He couldn’t move nor could he believe what he saw.
Flat on his back and looking up at the sky, the woman looked very familiar to Ethan. Mayhap he’d died and gone to heaven or perhaps he was transported into the past somehow because he knew that girl! Aye, he recognized her face and it was one he despised as well as never wanted to forget for as long as he lived.
“Alana?” he said in confusion, blinking a few more times, not sure if he were only hallucinating because of the fall he’d just taken. Perhaps he hit his head.
The woman raised her hood, covering her head and hiding her face. Then she slowly stepped back into the shadows of the tower.