This is PART TWO of a SIX PART SERIAL NOVEL. They must be read in sequence in order to understand the story.
PART TWO: Daniel meets his future wife.
Set in the turn of the thirteenth century Scottish Highlands, this is the story of Daniel MacLaurin, a handsome, rugged warrior-laird haunted by his past, and Maryn Donald, the beautiful, high-spirited lass destined to help him find his heart's ease.
HIGHLAND VENGEANCE is a steamy adventure romance, but it is also a family saga. It's the story of how a man overcomes the horror of his past to find love, connection, and contentment once more.
The Highlands, Scotland 1192
"Laird, a man on horseback approaches," Laird Lachlan Donald's lieutenant said as he stepped further into the great hall. "He's near to a furlong out and has no escort. 'Tis likely the MacLaurin chieftain you've been expecting these past days."
"Good. Good. Tell me when he reaches the gate," Laird Donald replied and watched his lieutenant depart the hall before settling on a bench at the table and taking a long pull on his ale. The MacLaurins were not well known to him. He only knew that they were a clan whose property was much further to the north than his own and whose laird was a young man of about sixteen summers.
A messenger had come a sennight past with a missive from the young laird requesting an audience with him, and Laird Donald had sent word back that he would be welcomed.
'Twas rumored that the MacLaurin had inherited the title at a very young age, after a bloody massacre had killed the old laird, his grandfather, as well as the lad's mother and a small number of MacLaurin warriors. He'd also heard the lad's father was behind the murders and that the lad had later killed his father and avenged their deaths.
An all-too familiar scuffling sound came from the doorway leading to the kitchens. With a sigh of resignation, Laird Donald turned toward the sound, forcing a smile of good will upon his countenance. "Ah, Cook. Is there aught amiss?"
"Aye, Laird, and well you know its cause I'll wager. 'Tis the bairn. She wills not to know her place, laird. She's all the time lurkin' about my kitchens and gettin' underfoot as I work. 'Tis not fittin' for the lass to be runnin' 'round with the kitchen maids."
Giving his prized cook his best look of contrition, Laird Lachlan Donald let out a loud sigh. "'My sister swore that my daughter would quit her wild ways and settle into more ladylike behavior by her sixth summer, but clearly, 'tis not come to pass. I shall speak to the lass forthwith. She shall be banished from the kitchens."
Maryn lay on her stomach with her cinnamon curls dancing as she wiggled and squirmed in an effort to keep her grip on her barnyard prize. The pet was her new best friend. Being the only bairn at the holding, Maryn's friends tended to be of the four-legged sort. As she held the thing more securely against her chest, her fidgety pet tickled her neck with its long, scratchy fingers. Maryn snickered, then clamped her hand over her mouth.
The musical sound of his daughter's glee echoed faintly around Laird Donald. Smiling indulgently at the delightful tremolo, he looked around the hall for his wayward bairn. He'd have to chasten her for her sneakiness again, but he could not bring himself to be truly upset with her antics. For she was such a curious lass, and that was the cause of her mischief-making, he was sure. Tho' 'twas clear now that he'd need to rein her in a bit more, else his cook would surely revolt.
Maryn's pet tried to leap out of her hands again. "Nay," she chided in a loud whisper, "you must not let Papa know we are here."
"Ah!" Laird Donald said as he craned his neck to look under his table. "'Tis my wayward daughter that twitters so prettily! I was sure wee brownies had invaded my fortress."
Maryn giggled. "Papa, you are so silly. The brownies only come out at night!"
The cook turned on her heel and stormed toward the entrance to the hall, muttering just loud enough for her laird to hear. "The lass is bein' spoiled an' needs to be taken in hand, she does."
Laird Donald cleared his throat, taking the not-so-subtle hint. "Maryn, attend me now. 'Twas not good of you to eavesdrop. And stay out of Cook's kitchen."
"Nay, heed me, daughter," her papa admonished. "I know the lure of the kitchen is a great one, but Cook has little patience for wee lasses who get underfoot."
"But, Papa...!" she tried again.
"Nay, lass, hear me well. She'll quit me for sure and return to her clan--your dear mother's clan--if you do not mind your papa and stay out of her way. And she is the best cook in the whole of the Highlands--'twould not please me to lose her."
Maryn's shoulders drooped as she bowed her head head in defeat. "Aye, Papa."