Highland Tryst – Eliza Knight

They were defeated. All would perish, and every building would burn. Laird Finley MacClintock surveyed the destruction of his keep and village from his supine position on the still-frozen ground. Fire licked at the wood buildings, and a black cloud of smoke floated heavily over top, showing how doom was soon to engulf them all. His ears roared with the wails of women and children, the groans of men’s pain and death. Blood gushed from a wound in his belly, and another in his chest. But he felt no pain. He’d gone numb all over his body, except his lips, which tingled. He, too, would soon die. They’d been outnumbered by five to one. His men were trained to take on at least three warriors at a time, but five was too much. Pain seared through him. The scent of blood and death was all around. The familiar metallic taste flowed over his tongue, but he didn’t gag—his reflexes were too far gone. “Curse you, Douglas!” he sputtered, but most of it came out garbled.

The Douglas laird had finally gotten what he wanted, the annihilation of every last MacClintock. For surely, the bloody Douglas would take Finley’s life if Death himself didn’t intervene first. Even now, Douglas’s retainers wielding pikes pierced the hearts of the MacClintock wounded. Not even the women and children were spared. He’d failed them. He couldn’t save them. His heart felt as if it would rupture in his chest. A foot pressed on the deep gash in his belly, and Finley opened his eyes—not realizing he’d closed them before—to take in the countenance of his enemy. The Douglas stood tall, every bit the barbarian, his eyes glowing red in the firelight. “I told ye I’d get me land back, ye cow-pat.

Now, none of ye can have it.” The Douglas raised his claymore in the air, preparing to cut off Finley’s head. Fin closed his eyes, imagined himself on the beach, a place he’d always found to be a sanctuary, and waited for the death blow. There was a loud clang of metal, but his head remained intact. Not even a slice in his neck. Had he already died? He opened his eyes to see Gordana, the village healer—and to some, a witch. She had raised her thick walking stick to the Douglas, staving off the blow. The Douglas sneered and cursed her. But she only had eyes for Finley. She’d been like a grandmother to him, always whispering that fate held something different for him than this place, but he had never listened.

She said a lot of things that didn’t make sense. She gazed at him, one arm magically holding off Douglas, and the other sprinkling an iridescent powder all over Finley’s body. He watched, mesmerized, as a cloud enveloped him, his pain receded; her chanted words rang in his ears… “Travel to a place where love rings true…Where two souls join as one…Let not time nor bounds stop love from interpreting each soul…” Her words made no sense, only made him dizzier. Then all was black. Ocean Valley, USA 2019 WHAT WOULD HE SAY? “Sorry, not sure what happened…it just slipped in?” Kari Howard almost laughed aloud at the thought of that conversation. What a dick! She jumped out of her car and trudged up the stairs to her condo. She was thirtythree years old, an ER nurse, and now she could add victim-of-yet-another-cheatingbastard to the list. She’d known for a while she wasn’t in the best of relationships. Her boyfriend was a total tool, and from what she’d learned today, he’d been sleeping around for months. God, how she wished she’d taken up the new, hot male nurse’s offer for a night of revenge! Sleeping with him in one of the medical supply closets would have felt good—and it would have been justified.

She clenched her fists, wanted to scream! After an overnight shift at the hospital and hours of staving off death for various patients, she was ready to crash—not to have the conversation they needed to have. There was no other way to do it, though. She had to tell Steve to get the hell out, that she was through with his cheating. She opened the door and stepped into the darkness. Odd. She narrowed her eyes with growing suspicion. All the blinds were drawn over the windows. Could Steve really still be asleep? It was nearly nine in the morning, and he was a pre-dawn riser. She walked silently back to her bedroom. The door was closed.

She tried to turn the handle—locked. “Dammit,” she muttered. She reached up a hand to knock when the familiar grunt of a shouted male orgasm broke the sound barrier—joined by the cries of another…male? “What the fuck? Steve, you dick! Get your shit out of my condo!” Hoping he’d heard her, Kari whirled around and stomped out of the place she’d thought of as her sanctuary. A walk on the beach would do her some good. Not bothering to change out of her hospital-issued scrubs, she grabbed her purse from where she’d dropped it on the floor and she left her apartment—and the whining sounds of Steve’s lamenting—behind. She would stay away for a few hours, and his stuff had better be gone when she returned. Kari supposed the relationship had been over a while ago. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that she’d succumbed and listened to the blonde resident tell her all about her latest screw—Kari’s boyfriend. Even so, she was fairly reeling from the shock of finding Steve at home, banging some dude. Kari sighed heavily, wanting sleep, but she was in even greater need of salty sea air.

As she parked her car at the pier and climbed out, something dropped to the ground from the door pocket. A book. She bent down and picked up the romance novel she’d been reading while at the beach over the weekend. The cover image of a tall, muscular Highlander—his arms wrapped around his lady love—screamed of romantic and sensual promises. But it was all a load of crap. She’d never been happy in a relationship and hadn’t found a guy yet who gave a shit about her in bed. Damn men to hell! She walked briskly to the nearest trashcan and tossed the book inside. Romance like that never happened. It was pure fantasy. She would only believe in that crap ever again if a hot, kilt-wearing, Scottish-brogue-bearing Highlander fell from the sky and landed at her feet—and that was impossible.

A loud crack of thunder made her jump. The strike of lightning that followed had her bending and covering her head. Where had that come from? What had been a perfectly glorious day was now black and ominous. Huge pellets of rain beat down on her. Kari straightened and whirled around to run back to her car—and immediately tripped over something large that hadn’t been in her path before. When she looked down, her eyes widened in disbelief. She must be going crazy. On the ground lay a handsome, dark-haired, enticingly well-built man—in a kilt! His chest was completely bare. He opened his startling gray eyes and smiled at her. When he spoke, his voice was sensual, gravelly and thick with a Scottish accent.

“Well, lass, this isn’t what I expected Heaven to be like at all.” W 2 hen the lass swooned, Fin realized something had to be wrong. He jumped to his feet and caught her just before she hit the ground, surprised momentarily by the lack of injury and blood on his body. Gordana had taken away his battle wounds? Fin should his head, his gaze riveted on the lass, his mind a muddle of a thousand thoughts. She was gorgeous. Red, shoulder-length hair, creamy skin and full, kissable lips. She was tall and lithe, her body melding to his in a way that had him sucking in his breath. He moved to lay her back on the ground but realized something wasn’t right. The earth was hard, black with white lines all over it in rectangular shapes. His eyes widened as he took in the massive metallic boxes painted in all different colors.

People shouted; music pumped a beat from somewhere. While he could smell the familiar salt of the sea, there were also many other smells. Food smells. But not any food he recognized. One of the metallic giants whizzed by him. He dropped the girl. Fin’s mouth fell open, and he gulped in air to quell his lightheadedness. He sat down in a heap on the hard land, raked his hands through his hair and tried to catch his bearings. He murmured an apology to the female for dropping her, even though she was still unconscious and so wouldn’t hear him. Where in the bloody hell was he? This was not Scotland.

This was not England. He’d never been to France. Could it be France? Had they been overtaken by some netherworld demons that’d brought their giants? Fin closed his eyes and swallowed hard. Afraid to look at the horrors that he now found surrounding him. Though he had no visible wounds, his body ached for the loss of his people. “Yo, dude! Everything okay?” Fin opened his eyes in time to see one of the demons. The creature wore baggy drawers that came to his ankles and a short-sleeved tunic with odd symbols on it that just reached his waist. Probably demonic symbols! He turned his gaze from the tunic and surveyed the rest of the devil’s clothing. The demon’s helmet was made of fabric, perhaps wool. How could it protect in battle? Perhaps the helmet held evil powers.

Fin forced himself not to make the sign of the cross. And what had the fiend called him? Dude? He must have heard wrong. “Nay, laddie, I am not the duke.” “Huh? Dude, seriously, you need help? You’re acting weird.” The lad refused to listen, and Fin grew frustrated. He just wanted this young demon to leave him be. “Away with ye. We do not need your assistance.” The boy’s eyes narrowed, raindrops dripping from his nose, and he tossed down a piece of wood with wheels on it, which he then stepped on and floated away, muttering about Fin being rude. Fin sighed with relief.

He’d got the demon to mount his magical wagon and fly away, but there would be more coming soon. He was sure of it. He had to protect the maiden; she couldn’t protect herself—at least not in her current state. He reached for her again and then noticed her odd dress. She was dressed as a man, in loose hose and a short tunic in a sickly green color—not unlike his cook’s pea soup. He furrowed his brow and lifted the girl into the air. He would take her down to the beach. Perhaps there he could find a boat, and they could find their way back to Scotland. Scotland. His home…They would believe him dead.

And should he return, death would surely greet him. His people…Fin dropped his head in shame. If he were here, then they would have all perished, for certain. Scotland held no future for him now, not ever. Utterly consumed by his failure, he glanced down at the lass peacefully snuggled in his arms. Damn MacClintock. Perhaps he could save this woman. Then possibly he would find redemption. His boots sunk into the sand, and he could see the ocean ahead, something familiar at last. When he was near to the edge, he laid the woman down, and then sat beside her, his fingers threading into the cool sand.

He remembered with sudden clarity Gordana muttering her spell and sprinkling shimmery dust over him. Had she sent him here? Was this her way of saving him? He turned sad eyes toward the woman. Two plush breasts rose and fell with her chest. It could have been worse, he supposed. Gordana could have sent him to mate with the demons. At least she had found him an angel. Fin reached out and stroked the angel’s cheek with his finger. He would be a good warrior mate for her—and was it not his right as a laird to claim any woman who fell into his arms? But he had to know what his purpose was. The girl turned her face into his hand and smiled. “That’s nice,” she murmured.

It was nice, and he wanted so much more. Overcome with confusing emotion, with the need to forget all that had just happened, Fin leaned down and nuzzled her neck, taking in her scent. She smelled different than any woman he’d ever known. Not just the fresh, clean scent of flesh, but a spicy floral smell too, and the undeniable essence of attraction. He flicked his tongue over her earlobe and was rewarded with a soft sigh from her lips. She tasted clean too…He licked again, liking her natural flavor. Fin leaned down on his elbow to nuzzle her some more, and stroked a hand over her taut, tiny waist, down over a curvy hip and long, slender thighs. Delicate fingers glided up his arm and threaded through his hair, tugging him until his mouth met hers. Lips that were full, inviting. A tongue that was velvety soft.

“Mmm…” she moaned against his mouth, her back arching. It was all the invitation Fin needed. Surroundings forgotten, he let himself drift into that ethereal world where only the person whose lips are attached to your own mattered. He slid his tongue along the crevice of her mouth, and when she opened for him, he sunk in deep, taking possession, claiming her. The rapid pace of his heart beat against his ribs, and blood long left dormant raced through his limbs and flooded into his groin. His cock grew long and hard, and he rolled over on top of the woman to slide his length against the sweet spot he craved. Oh, how he craved… His hands slid up and down her trim legs, over her waist and to the outside curves of her breasts. Feather-soft touches, meant to tease, to entice. The lass shivered beneath him, her pelvis lifting up against his, and he pressed down, letting his thick cock probe against the juncture of her thighs. Thoughts of slipping inside her hot, wet channel seized him, and he growled low in his throat.

He’d had it wrong. She was no angel, but a siren. And at that moment, he did not care, only wanted to sink inside her. Her thighs widened, giving him even more access to the delicious heat between them. Warmth spread from her loins to his. Good God! She was a vixen! Forget demons. Forget metal monsters. Feminine heat was all he knew. Both of her arms wrapped around him, and she issued sexy little pants and moans. Fin answered each moan with one of his own as their bodies gyrated, and their mouths devoured each other.

“Thank ye, Gordana,” he murmured against her lips.

.

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