UPDATE: The winners are bn100 & flchen!
Handfasted to the Highlander Warrior by Aurora Russell
A hardened warrior reluctantly prepares to release his vivacious bride from their handfasted union…until a sweet, sexy surprise changes everything.
As soon as I saw the theme for Delilah Devlin’s Silver Soldiers: A Bad Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, I was totally inspired. I loved the idea of experienced soldiers and warriors finding love, either still on active duty or having left their military service. I also had been wanting to write a story about a Scottish Highlander for a long time since I’ve always adored historical stories set in the Highlands of Scotland. (There is just something about a fierce Highlander in a tartan plaid! Also, I hereby admit to a long-standing love for the fictional Duncan MacLeod which began when I was a young teenager…)
Immediately, I imagined the possible motivation that an older warrior might have for marriage, and the idea of Hew MacQuarrie, the laird warrior hero of my story, handfasting Loella to protect her after rescuing her from murderous thieves sprang to mind. Of course, Hew feels honor-bound to release her from the marriage, even while he dreads doing so, but he doesn’t realize that his young wife might not wish to leave him. I loved researching more about the custom of handfasting, and I hope you enjoy reading this sweet, spicy story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks again to Delilah for putting together this amazing collection of stories and allowing me to be a part of it!
Snippet from “Handfasted to the Highland Warrior”…
Elspeth smiled knowingly. “Mayhap we could pack a basket of food, and the laird could be coaxed to share a meal with his bonny wife if ye happened to be there at the right time.” She waggled her eyebrows, and Loella giggled.
“I can’t think of anything that would be lovelier.” Loella sighed happily, and now it was Elspeth’s turn to laugh.
“Do you think he’d really stop to share a meal with me, though?” Loella asked.
“Oh, aye, I do,” Elspeth answered confidently, motioning for Loella to sit on the chair before her so she could tame Loella’s long curls into her usual neat braid. “Do ye know, we were all that worried when the laird brought you home after handfasting ye so suddenly. He’s such a…well, not meaning any disrespect, but he’s a rough, dark mon. And ye…ye’re so sweet and soft. A real lady. And then ye were so scared. But I dinnae think there is much our laird wouldna do for ye.”
Elspeth had known the laird for a long time, and her husband was one of Hew’s most valued guards, so the other woman’s opinion warmed Loella. It made her hopeful despite the reminder that everyone knew they had merely handfasted and had never been married by a priest.
Shuddering, she thought back to that awful day. She’d been lying on the muddy ground, surrounded by her father’s men, the last of whom had just struggled to take his choking final breath. The horror of what was coming when the small group of hardened brigands turned their attention to her had made her spirit retreat to some small, safe place inside of her mind. Just when she’d thought all hope was lost, she’d heard a savage war-whoop—oddly comforting—and Hew had leaped into the fray like an avenging angel. When the fighting had finished, she’d refused to let anyone else touch her, so he’d held her to his broad chest.
“Please don’t leave me…I beg you,” she’d pleaded. His fierce visage had never softened, but the expression in his dark eyes had. Another man—almost any other man—would have taken advantage, but not her Hew.
“Do ye wish a handfasting, then, lass? It will give ye the protection of my name, along with safeguarding yer reputation.” He’d leaned to whisper his next words directly into her ear. “I can assure ye the protection of my body, as well, but I would never force any demands on ye.”
Shaking off the memory, which still had the power to give her goosebumps, Loella forced her mind back to the present.
“What a lovely thing to say, Elspeth. And I do hope you’re right…but let’s be sure to pack his favorite foods, too, just to tip the scales a bit,” Loella answered. When they both laughed, she felt a curious lightness in her chest. It was a sense of belonging that she’d never thought she would feel again after the deaths of her parents. Not only had she come to care for her husband, but she had come to love his people as well. The thought of being sent away from Tur Ceothach made a dark pit open in the depths of her gut and redoubled her determination.
I will win him over. I must, she repeated to herself, hoping fervently that wishing might make something happen. She’d done the calculation, and she’d been at Tur Ceothach nearly a year now without consummating her marriage with her laird husband. She’d asked around and, while handfasting was still quite common in Scotland, particularly in the islands where they lived, handfast unions were expected to be consummated eventually. In spite of how tenderly he treated her, she couldn’t help but wonder if Hew planned to set her aside. At the thought, tears stung her eyes, but she lifted her chin in determination.
About the Author
Aurora Russell is originally from the frozen tundra of Minnesota but now loves living in New England with her real-life hero/husband, two wonderfully silly sons, and one of the most extraordinary cats she has ever had the pleasure to meet. She always likes the romantic scenes best in every story.
For a chance to win a $5 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, tell me who your biggest teenage crush was—fictional, real, or both!