Highlander’s Sinister Bet – Fiona Faris

Daividh sighed and sank onto his bottom in his father’s chair. He could not tell for how long he had been in his father’s study, going through the deeds to the MacDougall lands. “Ye are a MacDougall, ye need to ken these things,” he said, mimicking his father’s strict tone. He was tired after only a few minutes but understood that it wasn’t a task that he could easily get out of. There would be no one to help him with Laird MacDougall’s temper, which was sure to come after. Not even the MacDougall women could pacify him. He was the heir and that came with some responsibilities he accepted but never truly enjoyed. A loud knock came at the door of the study and Daividh jerked to his feet, thinking it was his father. “Apologies, me Laird MacDougall, but yer betrothed is here, Milady Alison,” the guard announced behind the door. Daividh sighed. What is she doin’ here? I havenae time for this today. “Shall I let her come?” the guard asked again. “Tell her I am nae in the castle,” Daividh told the guard. There was a long pause before the guard replied, “She kens, me Laird MacDougall.” Shite! Daividh cursed under his breath.

He walked over to the window hoping he would be able to catch a glimpse of his betrothed-to-be-wed Alison, but he could not see her. The guards had allowed her into the castle. “Tell her I am busy then, that I cannae see her. It would be best if she returns in the evenin’,” Daividh told the guard. There was another pause yet again before the response. “Me Laird Mac-” Daividh got fed up and pulled open the door, ready to rain fire and brimstones onto the inefficient guard, when he came to see Alison standing behind the guard with flames in her eyes. “-she is here,” the guard completed his words. Though the guard straightened up, ready for Daividh’s judgment, the Laird gave him no attention. “I am sorry-” the guard started again, but Daividh cut him off with a wave of his hand. “Be gone,” Daividh said to him.

The guard ran. Groom-to-be and his angry bride-to-be stared at one another in the doorway before she pushed her way into the study. “Ye shouldnae be in here. Me father forbids it.” Daividh tried to stop her but she was a quick woman, quick to speak her mind and to get whatever it was that met her desire. “So this is what ye have been doin’. This is the thing that is more important to ye than yer own bride?” she asked him red faced. Her anger had been a thing that he had found attractive, even though it had always angered her even more that it had that effect on him. Alison was a petite woman with red hair, which made her stand out quite easily in a crowd if her boldness did not achieve that first. Like many women, she had been drawn to Daividh MacDougall and had let him see her.

However, she had not been prepared for his ego. He had come after her with an air of importance that she had first thought charm until their relationship had been far along. He barely had time to spend with her and when he had time on his hand, he expected her to be at his beck and call without complaint, as though she was to be grateful. Looking at Daividh again, standing mighty tall before her and overwhelming her with his presence as he always did, she felt her resolve weaken. However, his smile snapped her out of it; his egoistic smile which he gave whenever he felt her anger would never truly last around him. He had always been right about his power over her, but not that day. Daividh could see her anger, which always made her lips appear smaller for they were pouted, and her grey eyes darker, so he closed the distance between them. He put his hands around her small waist and drew her to himself. She would calm, he knew. She would smile soon.

But she did not. “I came here to tell ye somethin’,” she said to him as she pulled away from him. “I came to the castle to speak to ye and ye allow yer guards treat me as though I am a commoner.” “I am sorry,” he said, as he always did. “Ye arenae sorry. Ye always say ye are but ye are never sorry for anythin’ ye dae. I daenae feel as though I am special to ye. I could well be a commoner or a woman servant in yer big castle,” she said to him. Daividh smiled still even though he saw it infuriated her even more. He wasn’t one for arguments with women and knew not how to tackle them.

He wasn’t used to women standing up to him. She will calm, he told himself, as he waited for her to speak all her grievances as she always did. “So I have decided that I willnae be yer bride anymore.” Alison spoke the words that were most foreign to Daividh. “What dae ye mean?” he asked her. The confused look that came onto his face and the disappearance of his smirk made Alison smile for the first time that morning. “I have spoken with me father and he will speak to yer father…” Daividh could barely hear the words that she said afterwards. All he heard was her rejection. Up until that moment, no woman had ever rejected him and still, he stood there unable to comprehend what was being done to him. “Alright then,” Daividh said, cutting Alison off.

She was shocked by his words but she had nothing to say to him. So, without another word, Alison walked out of the castle. T CHAPTERONE he castle was filled with the quiet snores of both the men and the women who lived therein. It was still the twilight of the morning with barely any light from the skies or reason for anyone to be awake, but one was awake. Standing alone in the courtyard of the castle, a hooded figure raised a catapult high up and aimed at the castle. In its hold was a rock. Pulling as far back as the little weapon could handle, the figure let it loose to do their bidding. The rock traveled the air, rising high and fast, with intent to do only harm, to kill. Daividh’s eyes flung open the instant the rock hit his lintel and was redirected for his head. His still drowsy body sprang into action and he rolled off his bed onto the floor before the rock hit where his head had lay.

He made a quick grab for his trusty sword which was always by his bed, before his eyes quickly read the situation about him. Someone had thrown a rock or shot a rock through his window with the intent only to do him harm. Daividh could not tell whether his assailant had simply been lucky or an expert marksman but he wasn’t too particular about that detail. Someone had tried to kill him in his sleep and his only instinct was to kill before his assailant had another chance to do the same to him. His hands moved quickly to his bow and quiver of arrows. Putting two arrows between his lips, he loaded an arrow into his bow and moved towards his window. Where are ye? Daividh muttered under his breath as he moved closer to the window. He peeked quickly but found the courtyard empty. His second thought had been the other castle window opposite his but the trajectory was wrong. Whoever had attacked him had done it from below.

Readying himself to shoot, Daividh revealed himself by his window with his bow at the ready. But there was no one. Standing by his window with his heart pounding in his chest, Daividh, the heir of Clan MacDougall, waited for the wind to make a sound that he might release his arrow but there was no one. It was no ghost, he knew this. There were no ghosts in the castle walls. Where are ye? Daividh wanted to yell. His body shook with seething anger at the one he could not see. Come out and face me if ye dare. But there was no one. His assailant had scrammed.

After waiting a long while, he gave up and came away from his window. He dropped his bow and arrows hard on the floor in frustration. No one could dare lay a finger on him and yet, someone had dared him and had escaped unpunished. For this reason, the heir found no sleep until the first cock crow. Naomhan MacDougall and his wife Elsa sat at their table waiting on their son. It was unusual of Daividh to be late for breakfast. “A loss of the heart does that to a man,” Elsa joked. However, only she and her stepdaughter Kyla laughed. Naomhan was a strict man who found little love for humor. He had high expectations of his son of which he expected all to be met.

“Why does he act this way? He is to be the Laird MacDougall after me,” Naomhan said as he always did whenever Daividh did wrong. “There must be a reason he is late, Father.” Kyla tried to pacify her father. Without her efforts, she expected an all out spat between her father and brother. They were both hotheaded men and that pitted them against one another more times than it brought them together. “It isnae yer place to make excuses for him. He is a man,” Naomhan argued. Elsa looked to her stepdaughter, telling her with her eyes to quit her attempt at pacifying her father. She had learnt a long while back to be quiet with the MacDougall men when they were close to anger. “He will be down in a moment.

I have sent someone up to his chambers,” Elsa said. Though she wasn’t the biological mother to Naomhan’s children, both Daividh and Kyla treated her as though she was their mother and they addressed her accordingly amongst subjects and their father, Naomhan. Nothing more was said at the table. But it was not over still. Naomhan did not touch his meal and that meant both women could not, not yet. He waited still for his son. So, the women waited also. Daividh came down the stairs weary still from his lack of sleep. His eyes were bloodshot and he could barely feel his limbs quite right. His body screamed from lack of rest but he understood that his father was waiting for him and predicted rightfully his anger.

“Mornin’, Father. Mornin’, Mother. Mornin’, Sister,” Daividh said nonchalantly, as he came to the dining room. He sat in his seat opposite his father without a word and without looking at his father’s face. “Ye have nothin’ more to say?” Naomhan asked his son. Daividh looked up at his father looking clueless at the meaning of his question. Kyla buried her head in her hands knowing as Daividh did that his nonchalance would anger their father. “A man must always answer for his actions. How dae ye want to become a laird if ye shrug at all yer actions?” Daividh mumbled something inaudible and Kyla buried her face deeper in her hands. “What did ye say?” Naomhan’s voice grew louder.

“It is nothin’, Father. I apologize for comin’ to breakfast late,” Daividh decided to say. Everybody at the table knew that wasn’t an answer that the Laird McDougal would accept. “I asked why ye slept late like a man with nay work to dae.”

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