Heather’s Highlander – Kirsten Osbourne

Dr. Lachele Simpson sat at her desk and wished there was a book club meeting the next day, but how could there be? She’d made all the women of the club’s wishes come true, sending them back in time, or making them fall in the path of a billionaire… whatever they wanted, she’d done, but now she didn’t have a book club to go to. Pulling up her internet browser, she quickly googled “Book Club New York.” She read through several different book club’s profiles, and when she found what she was looking for, she let out a squeal. “This is the one!” The new book club was located in Heartsgate, New York, and looked like it took place in a library. She wasn’t sure if she was even going to reveal her powers to the women of the new book club, because it made her lonely to have no one to talk books with. SamiSunflower was in Kansas, living a life full of twins, and she’d been Dr. Lachele’s favorite book buddy. No matter. She’d have new book buddies soon, and better yet, the book club was out of the city, so she’d get to drive! Her husband Sam didn’t approve of her driving in the city. She didn’t understand his problem. She’d only hit three mailboxes, four safety cones, and one light post in a week, and her husband said she wasn’t fit to drive in New York City. He really did have issues. It looked like Heartsgate was about an hour and a half north of the city, which sounded like a nice drive to her. And this one met every Saturday.

Of course, she traveled enough for her matchmaking business that she couldn’t always go, but she could go as often as she was in town. She rubbed her hands together. Another romance book club. Another world to conquer. She couldn’t wait! HEATHER CLUTCHED her book to her chest as she hurried toward the library, ready to take part in the one activity she lived for every week—book club. The club had been meeting for a while, and she loved that she got to spend time with fellow book lovers. Usually, she and her housemates rode together to the library, where they met, but this week, she’d decided to walk to get a little more vitamin D and sunshine in her life. It was a beautiful spring day in Heartsgate—a small town in upstate New York—where she’d settled after massage school. She’d met her friend and housemate Alyssa in school, and when they’d graduated, Alyssa had invited her to come live in her big house she’d inherited when her parents had died. It was a six bedroom, three bath house, and it was perfect for Alyssa, Heather, and Holli.

Each woman had a bedroom and a room to work in, though Holli wasn’t a massage therapist like the other two. She was a writer—a ghost writer in fact. Heather worried about Holli sometimes. Her friend was doing what she loved, sure, but she wasn’t doing it in the way she wanted, and Heather sometimes felt that the ghostwriting was eating her alive. Heather rushed into the library and headed straight for the stairs. She sometimes used the elevator, but she was trying to be healthier. She wasn’t great at getting out of the house and doing things, though, so taking the stairs was at least a step in the right direction. When she got there, she saw her roommates weren’t there yet, so she walked over and sat down next to an older woman with purple hair who’d been attending meetings for about a month. Heather knew a lot of the others thought the woman was batty, but she didn’t care. She liked Dr.

Lachele. “Good morning,” she said, setting her book on the table in front of her. The top half of the library was mainly used for book clubs and author events, and they met in a conference room in one corner. They were rarely bothered. “Good morning! Rose, isn’t it? I’m not good with names, but I never forget a face.” “Heather,” Heather corrected automatically. Dr. Lachele had gotten her name wrong every single week, but Heather wasn’t bothered. It was easy enough to correct her. “What book did you bring this week?” “Oh, this is a favorite of mine,” Dr.

Lachele said, turning a historical western romance over. “I’m addicted to crazy mail-order bride stories. Janelle Daniels is one of my very favorite writers.” Heather smiled. Dr. Lachele seemed to be addicted to a lot of different genres of romance. “I can’t wait to hear about it,” Heather said. Their book club was different than most in that everyone there brought their own favorite book and spent a few minutes talking about it. That way they all got to talk about books, and something might spark the interest of one of them for a different genre. “What did you bring?” Dr.

Lachele asked. “Same as always. A book about a Highland laird finding love.” Heather sighed. “I wish there was a way to live back then…when times were so much simpler.” She’d thought about it more than a normal person would have, she was sure. Who wanted to live in a time before indoor plumbing? Heather did. With all of her heart, that’s what she wanted. “You do?” Dr. Lachele had a twinkle in her beautiful green eyes.

“I could make that happen.” Heather laughed. “I wish.” “Look,” Dr. Lachele said softly, “I have the power to grant wishes. I’d be happy to send you back in time to the man of your dreams, but you’re going to want to be prepared. The first woman I sent back to medieval Scotland was in the wrong clothes and it was harder for her than it had to be. You need to get a nice dress made first. Come to me next week and wish again, and I’ll make it happen.” Heather laughed.

“You’re going to make me go back in time and marry a Highland laird?” Dr. Lachele shook her head. “I’ll make you go back in time, but marrying the laird is up to you. I’ll put you in the right place and right time to meet the man, but I can’t make him fall in love with you.” She put her finger to her cheek. “At least I don’t think I can. But I wouldn’t if I could. He needs to be able to control his own life, not have me do it for him.” Heather was feeling a bit confused, but she suddenly understood why the others thought Dr. Lachele was batty.

“But you can make me fall in love with him?” “Not that either. But I can send you to the man who is right for you, and you can make things happen on your own.” Heather thought the woman had lost her mind. No wonder everyone else said she was batty. “So, if I come to book club next week, wearing a period appropriate dress, you’ll send me to a Highland laird I could fall in love with.” “That’s right. I’d suggest a solar powered charger if you like your phone, because there are no plugs of course. The last woman I sent back was addicted to Candy Crush, and she had a hard time.” Dr. Lachele shook her head.

“I see,” Heather said, though she didn’t. “I guess antibiotics would be necessary.” Why not humor the woman? She had a Highland dress in her closet from a costume party she’d attended in high school. It should still fit. “Yes, you’re thinking about this the right way. You want to take things that won’t make you stand out, or you could hide easily, but would make your life more comfortable. It might be nice if I could send you to marry the son of the last man, I sent a woman to marry, but I’ll have to think on that. He might not be right for you.” “I see…” Heather shook her head, shrugging. “I’ll be ready next week.

” She didn’t believe the woman could really do it of course, but it would be fun to prepare for a journey through time, even if she didn’t really plan to take it. Everyone else started trickling into the room then, and they got serious about their meeting. Heather’s heart wasn’t in it though. She couldn’t stop thinking about what Dr. Lachele had offered her. Even if it wasn’t possible, what did it hurt to live like it was possible for a week? After the meeting, Heather went to lunch with Alyssa and Holli as usual. Saturdays were roommate days, something they’d decided long before when they all moved in together. They went to the Twisted Kilt, the Irish Pub next door to the library, and once they were seated in their usual booth in the corner, Heather told the others what Dr. Lachele had offered. Alyssa laughed and shook her head.

“You don’t believe her, do you?” Heather shrugged. “Not particularly, but it might be fun to live as if I’m going back in time in just a week. Why not?” Holli leaned forward. “I’m not sure if she’s making stuff up. I heard a rumor about a book club that all disappeared in Manhattan a year ago…” Holli, with her writer’s imagination, was definitely more willing to believe the idea of strange things than the other two. “Are you sure there wasn’t just a mass murderer killing them off?” Alyssa asked. Heather shivered. “I’m not going anywhere alone with her. I’ll have her send me back during the meeting so everyone can watch if that’s what she’s going to do. I can’t believe she’s evil, though.

Her eyes are so pretty and full of truth. She’s just not the type of person to go around killing off readers.” Alyssa shook her head. “You’re too trusting!” “You’re not trusting enough,” Holli countered. Heather sat back and let the other two argue for a moment while she thought about what she’d need for a journey back to medieval Scotland. Her phone for sure. She was addicted to some of the games on it. And maybe…well, her iPad. She needed to be able to read. Antibiotics were a must.

Maybe some bug spray. When she’d made her skirt for the dance in high school, she’d sewn pockets all over it inside the skirt. It was the last project she and her mother had worked on together, and she could still hear her mother saying, “You never know when you’ll need to hide something in a secret pocket. Now you’ll be prepared.” Her mother had always said silly things like that, helping to encourage Heather’s love for life. When she’d died just months later from a fast-acting cancer, Heather had tried to keep the idea of always having fun in her life, but it had been so hard. Her dad had remarried as soon as she’d graduated from high school, and he’d moved away. She hadn’t seen his new home, but on their yearly talks on her birthday—the only time they ever talked—he’d mentioned that she had two little brothers now. He had a new family, and apparently, he’d moved on and had no desire to have her around. “Earth to Heather!” Alyssa said, waving her hand in front of Heather’s face.

“Are you really going to prepare for this nonsense?” Heather felt a slow smile cross her face. “My mom taught me to take chances and make the most of life. Yes, I’m going to do it!” She was sure nothing would come from it, but she could still seize the day. It would be fun! Holli nodded. “Good girl. We’ll help in any way we can.” “That’s because you two are the best friends a girl could ask for. The very best!” Heather gripped both of her friends’ hands tightly. “Thank you.” The week was spent in a flurry of activity.

Holli had a friend who lived in Loredo, Texas who slipped across the border to Mexico and bought up a huge supply of antibiotics and shipped them. Alyssa helped her find a solar charger. They found a bag that could have been used in medieval times and stuffed it with everything they thought she might need, including books, medicine, and of course, the iPad and solar chargers. Her iPhone fit nicely in one of the hidden pockets in her skirt. On Friday evening, after they’d all finished working for the day, Heather tried on the dress. “With all the extra stuff in these pockets, it’s really heavy!” Alyssa shrugged. “It’s the price you pay for staying alive.” Holli nodded. “You really need antibiotics because you don’t know when you’ll end up in the highlands. What if it’s during a pandemic?” Heather laughed.

“Alyssa insisted I have a mask to match my dress, so I’d be prepared.” “I’m practical,” Alyssa argued. “Anal,” Holli said. “Be nice,” Heather said, shaking her head. “How are you two going to survive here without me as a buffer?” “Don’t you worry about us,” Alyssa said. “Just think about what you’re giving up!” They’d long since quit talking as if going back wasn’t possible. No, they were acting like this was the real thing, and it made it just that much more exciting for Heather. “If this is our last night together, we’re having Irish nachos,” Holli said. “I’ll get out the air fryer and make the chips.” Two potatoes were sewn into the pockets of Heather’s skirt.

She wasn’t going to give up on her favorite foods for anything. That evening was spent watching rom coms and laughing, eating and laughing, and a little more laughing. When it was time for bed, Heather couldn’t sleep. Instead, she stayed up all night reading, knowing she’d regret it the next day, but her mind wouldn’t shut off. She was going back in time to marry a laird. What more could a highland romance loving woman ask for? The following morning, she showered and dressed in her dress that was more conspicuous than she would have liked. It was fine for a costume ball, but if anyone asked why she was wearing the dress, answering, “Because I’m going to a book club meeting,” would just be bizarre. The three friends drove together to the meeting, and Heather chose the elevator over the stairs. Her dress weighed more than fifty pounds with everything she had in those little secret pockets, and she was sure climbing the stairs would be good exercise, but… she still didn’t want to do it. When she got to the conference room, she saw that Dr.

Lachele was there, and she moved to sit beside her. “I’m ready to go, but I’d rather go when the room is full and the whole book club is here.” “Good idea,” Dr. Lachele said. “That way everyone will believe from the beginning. Would you believe in the last book club, someone thought I was making people disappear in much more nefarious ways? Not this time. No, sirree!” Heather smiled. “Then it’s a plan.” “You look good in that dress. Do you have everything you need?” “I do.

I have little pockets sewn all through the dress, and there are so many different medications and seeds, and different things like that. I really do think I’m ready.” “Sounds good to me.” Once everyone was there, Heather got many strange looks, but she waited until it was her turn to talk about her book. “This week, instead of reading a book, I prepared to go back to the highlands in medieval times. Dr. Lachele has promised me she has the ability to make me arrive near a laird who would be right for me, so I’m going to wish for that to happen.” There were laughs as soon as she said it, but Holli and Alyssa remained straight faced. Even if they didn’t fully believe, Heather was glad to have the support of her friends. Dr.

Lachele smiled. “All right. I need you to say the words out loud and start with I wish.” Heather nodded and took a deep breath. “I wish I could go back in time to when times were simpler. A time when Highland lairds ruled their little portions of Scotland to a man who was made just for me.” Dr. Lachele nodded and closed her eyes. Heather stood for a moment, feeling stupid. It hadn’t worked.

She had no idea why she’d believed it would. She wasn’t a woman given to fanciful imaginings. Everyone was watching her. She felt the eyes on her and she wanted to run from the room, crying. Why hadn’t it worked? Not that she’d ever really believed it could. Time travel was for sci-fi movies, not for women who were firmly planted in the twenty-first century. All at once, she felt the world spinning around her and then…nothing.

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