Reed, the last of King Edward’s bastard triplets is faced with the decision that his brothers have already gone through. Should he stop raiding King Edward, his father, and if so – should he pay allegiance to him as well?
But when on a raid he comes across his childhood sweetheart, Maggie Gordon. As children they’d vowed to someday wed, but now she’s betrothed to an English baron. Now he finds himself with even more decisions to make!
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Excerpt from Reckless Highlander:
It was late in the day, and Maggie should have been inside the keep celebrating her betrothal with everyone else. Instead, she sneaked away to walk the battlements with Summer at her side. They were both courageous women and didn’t like to be told what to do or where to stay. Maggie had yet to see the view from the battlements and it proved to be breathtaking. She peered over the parapet, stone wall lining the battlement walkway, drinking in the beautiful glow of orange over the ocean as the sun set on the horizon. A cold breeze sent a shiver through her and she clutched her cloak tighter around her and pulled her hood over her head.
“Did you see enough?” asked Summer, her teeth starting to chatter. Atop the battlements, they were exposed to the harsh elements. It was warmer in the courtyard with the castle walls blocking some of the chill. “I’m c-cold. Let’s get back to the keep. Rowen is going to wonder where we are.”
“The men were well in their cups,” said Maggie. “It’ll be a while before our absence is noticed.” The great hall had been bustling with activity. The sound of music could be heard all the way up to the battlements. Jongleurs and the jester kept everyone occupied. The meal had been grand and the wine flowed freely. Everyone was happy. Everyone but her.
“It’s not s-safe up here,” said Summer, her teeth still chattering. “The guards are all at the guardhouse playing dice and drinking as well. We really shouldn’t be up here unescorted.”
“What can happen?” Maggie asked with a chuckle. “Unless we freeze to death or I fall over the edge, we’re more than safe.”
“Still, I think we should go,” Summer begged her.
“All right, we’ll leave.” Maggie took a few steps and her cloak blew open, exposing her to the cold. She realized the pin that secured her cloak must have fallen off. “I lost my brooch. Go on back to the keep. I’m just going to check further down the battlements for it. I’ll be right behind you.”
“All right, but hurry. It’s getting dark and you might stumble.”
“I lived in the rugged lands of Scotland; I assure you I won’t stumble on a smooth walkway.”
Summer headed down the stairs to the courtyard while Maggie searched the stone walkway of the battlements for her pin. The sound of a clink – like metal against stone – took her attention from the far end of the battlements. She looked up and squinted, but couldn’t see that far since dusk had set in. Curious, she headed down the walkway, trying to see what could have caused that sound. After a few minutes of not being able to figure it out, she decided to go down to the keep. But then her eye caught a glimmer of something up ahead and she realized she’d found her brooch after all.
“There you are,” she said, walking forward and bending over to pick it up. She’d just pinned it to her cloak when something over the wall caught her attention. She was sure she saw something out on the water. She walked closer to the wall, stretching her neck to see what it was. Then she realized it was a black sail fluttering in the breeze atop a tall pole. She rushed down the walkway to get a better look, seeing in the distance a ship half-hidden behind the cliffs in a cove. “Pirates,” she whispered. Her hand went to her chest and she could feel the rapid beating of her heart. She had to get back to the keep and tell the men.
A big gust of wind almost blew her over. She reached down to the grab on to the wall for support. Her fingers closed over something hard and cold. Looking down, she gasped when she saw a grappling hook attached to the wall of the battlements.
“Oh!” she cried, jumping backward just as the head of a man emerged from over the side of the castle wall facing the sea. She froze, too frightened to move. Bright red hair and two strong arms came up from the side of the castle next. The man wore a green plaid. He was a Scot!
He looked up at her, the hilt of his dagger clenched between his teeth. Then her eyes met his bright blue eyes and there was no mistaking his face.
“Reed?” she said softly, watching as the man flipped his body over the edge and onto the battlements. He ripped the dagger from his mouth and held it out in front of him.
“Dinna call for help or I’ll cut out yer tongue,” he warned her.
“Reed, what’s the matter with you?” she asked. “It’s me – Maggie.”
He eyed her curiously and stepped forward. “Maggie? Is that ye, lass?”
“It is me,” she said with a slight nod. She was still too frightened to move.
“It doesna sound like the Maggie Gordon I kent while growin’ up. She was Scottish. Ye are a Sassenach.”
“It’s me. Please believe me. Don’t hurt me, Reed.”
He reached out and pulled the hood from her head. When he saw her face, he lowered his blade. “It is ye. Why in the clootie’s name are ye dressed like that? And why are ye talkin’ like a Sassenach? Quit pretendin’ to be someone ye’re no’.”
“Me?” That bothered her and gave her the courage to stand up to him. “I wouldn’t talk if I were you. You dress and talk like a Highlander, and you’re naught but the bastard of the English king.”
His bushy brows raised in surprise. “So ye’ve heard.”
“Who hasn’t? Now tell me, why are you here? And why are you climbing the wall?”