The Night Before The Weddingby Debra Mullins
To win the woman destined to be his bride . . .
Catherine Depford is the wealthiest heiress in London, and she is all but promised to a proper English lord . . . so why is she having dreams of a Scottish warrior claiming her for his own? She can't imagine that her heated fantasies would come true . . . until she locks eyes with the stranger of her dreams in a/p>
To win the woman destined to be his bride . . .
Catherine Depford is the wealthiest heiress in London, and she is all but promised to a proper English lord . . . so why is she having dreams of a Scottish warrior claiming her for his own? She can't imagine that her heated fantasies would come true . . . until she locks eyes with the stranger of her dreams in a crowded ballroom.
A Scotsman will do anything
Highland chief Gabriel MacBraedon has come to London in search of Catherine, the woman an ancient curse dictates to be his bride. But he can't very well sweep the English beauty into his arms and carry her off to Scotland in the dead of night. Or can he? Nothing is impossible when a Scotsman's passion is making the rules . . .
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The Night Before The Wedding
A broken vow when peace was sworn,
The price shall be a daughter born
Of Farlan blood to wed our chief—
Each generation, no relief.
Mist rolled along the ground and clung to the stones of the castle like wraiths in the light of the half moon. Fires burned in the central courtyard, drums pounded, and pipes wailed as two clans gathered in silent distrust. One clan chief knelt on the ground, his head bent beneath the threat of a gleaming sword.
A frail old woman raised her hands to the skies, one hand clutching a dagger. The wind whipped up with a vengeance, sending the woman's garments flapping about her slender limbs. Her silvery hair danced and tangled like a living thing, though she never moved, never blinked. In a voice vibrating with the power of the Ancient Ones, she chanted.
The dagger is her mark of grief,
The girl who's born to wed our chief.
By eighteen years, the girl shall wed
Else madness comes and sees her dead.
Someone cried out. A young woman fell to her knees on the damp ground, gripping her upper arm as her red hair snapped madly around her. Her kindred rushed to her, and when they pried her hand away, they beheld an angry red mark on her skin, in the shape of a dagger.
The old woman didn't notice. She kept keening her words up to the skies, to the moon and the heavens and the powers that lived all around them.
Should MacBraedon break this pact
His clan shall suffer for this act.
Only the dagger will bring him sons;
Shouldhe wed another, there will be none.
When lightning flashes and stones run red,
When MacBraedon wakes Farlan from the dead,
Only in this darkest hour
Shall my words then lose their power.
Lightning crackled, singeing the earth nearby. Without even flinching, the old one thrust the dagger point-first into the ground at her feet, burying it to the hilt. The earth shuddered and thunder boomed, and with a harsh gasp, she crumpled to the ground like a discarded toy to lie panting, completely spent, her eyes still wide and dark with power as she gazed at the heavens.
Her clansmen rushed to her and lifted her fragile form from the ground. The mists swirled and danced, laughing in their silent way, and the world shimmered with magic.
Then he was there, stepping through the foggy tendrils as the scene with the old witch faded away, his shoulders broad and his muscled body bare but for the plaid that wound around him. His sun-kissed brown hair reached nearly to his shoulders, ragged yet masculine, emphasizing the strong bones of a warrior's face. Blue eyes appeared to look right at her, searing through all pretense to her very soul.
"Catherine," he said, reaching for her. "You are mine."
Catherine Depford jerked awake to find herself standing beside her empty bed, her palm extended as if to accept the clasp of another. With a cry, she covered her face with her hands.
Again. It had happened again.
This was the third time since her eighteenth birthday only a week ago. She dreamed of Scotland, over and over again, even though she had never been there.
Her body burned with unfamiliar hungers, puzzling and shameful. It was the man in the dream; he brought forth these shocking feelings. Just his presence, just knowing he was reaching for her. That he wanted her.
Even though the dream had faded, even in the cool anticipation of dawn, her body still throbbed.
Chilled, she moved closer to the low fire smoldering in the grate, limbs trembling with fatigue. And fear. But she dared not seek her bed again. If she slept, she might dream.
She sank down to her knees before the soft red glow of the hearth, folding her arms around her for security as much as for warmth. She had hoped and prayed that the Farlan curse would spare her. That her mother's words that horrible day had been false. But the evidence spoke to the contrary.
Dreams of a place she had never been—always the same dream, always the same man. Voices whispering to her on the wind, words and chanting no one else could hear. All those times she had found herself standing outside her father's London town house, staring to the north, with no memory of how she'd gotten there.
No, she had not been spared.
She closed her eyes, clenching her fingers around her upper arms, rocking gently to soothe her shattered nerves. Even now she could remember her mother, standing poised by the open window, the remnants of her bonds dangling from her wrists. Red hair—as blazing as Catherine's own—tangled and curled around her shoulders in unkempt disarray. Her blue eyes were wild, her smile broad and beautiful and terrifyingly wrong.
Her mother. Mad Glynis.
"You will see," Glynis had warned, shaking a finger at her six-year-old daughter as the servants burst into the room, frantic to recapture their escaped mistress. "You will see, daughter mine, on your eighteenth birthing day, when the curse of the Farlans falls upon you! You will see the hell I was forced to bear!"
"Mrs. Depford," called one of the servants, racing for her. "Please wait!"
"Eighteen," she hissed, eyes glittering. "The curse will come!"
Then she turned and leaped from the window onto the cobblestone street below.
Catherine remembered screaming, over and over again. And the softness of Mellie's bosom as the maid scooped the shocked child she had been into soothing arms, hiding her face so she could not see the window anymore. The smell of lemon that clung to Mellie, comforting and pure.
She opened her eyes now, looking around her room, seeking to dispel the memory. Her heart pounded, her fingers clenched so tightly around her arms that she could barely feel them anymore. Whispers lingered just beyond human hearing, drifting through her mind like phantoms.The Night Before The Wedding. Copyright © by Debra Mullins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Debra Mullins is the author of several historical romances for Avon Books. Her work has been nominated for the Golden Heart and RITA® Awards from Romance Writers of America and the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers. In 2003, she won the Golden Leaf Award from NJ Romance Writers for her book A Necessary Bride. A native of the east coast, she now lives in California.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Just a quickie review for this amazing, magical and curse driven Scottish tale of love. Poor Catherine Deplore is cursed by an old Scottish Fagan Curse that she doesn't understand because her mom, who was slowly going insane, jumped out of her bedroom window. Catherine has had dreams of a mysterious Highlander and has craved him all her life. Now she is 18 and going slowly insane with dreams, hearing voices, speaking Gaelic and being chased by her dream Highlander. Highland chief Gabriel MacBraedon must collect, kidnap and marry the Fagan Cursed Catherine before his clan is destroyed. He chases, craves, kisses and caresses Catherine all across London, but he must get her to Scotland and marry her ASAP! Will Catherine go insane before she marries Gabriel? Will they marriage save the clan? Can their passions turn to love? I loved this book so much I had to check it out again from my fantastic library. This curse just made their cravings, desires and passions increase ten fold. The steaminess and sexiness of this Scottish tale was "pull the fire alarm" hot. Ms. Mullins can spin and weave an amazing, original and captivating Scottish tale. I love a couple that must fight tooth and mail for their love and Ms. Mullins delivers that and more! She deserves my top score of 5 fingers up and 10 toes.
I loved the plot and characters.
In spite of her money, wealthy heiress Catherine Depford knows her husband choices are somewhat limited in her first season in London due to her parentage. Her father is a merchant and her mother is crazy a victim of the ancient cost of a broken vow that demands each generation a MacBraeden chief marry a Farlan or else her mom chose the doom of love. Still she figures with all that money behind her Catherine should have some choices amidst the poorer segment of the aristocracy.------------- With famine threatening his people and that of his neighbor, Scottish Laird Gabriel MacBraeden, not wanting to risk further blight nor the wrath of those who believe in the broken vow, comes to England to marry Catherine. However her father, who blames his wife¿s insanity on the MacBraeden clan, refuses to allow Gabriel to court his daughter. Gabriel ignores her father and abducts the woman he intends to make his bride. Neither he nor Catherine expected a love match would forge between them yet both also expect the marriage to fail.------------------ This is an entertaining historical romance with a hint of the paranormal that serves as a catalyst for the two lead characters to meet. Gabriel is a strong leader who knows the end does not justify the means but his people¿s welfare comes first so kidnaps the one woman who can silence the whispers. Catherine is his equal as she refuses to go meekly into the night until she comprehends his people need her. However, it is Catherine¿s father who steals the show as he fears his daughter will go the way of her mother and lose her mind he does everything he can to keep her safe and his guilt when he fails is palpable Debra Mullins is at her best with the powerful THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Hello? anyone here?
Yes. When i can see through everyone
"Oh. Was l really that obvious?"