The Scottish Rose

Overview

It began with a letter...that leads to a passion and adventure beyond her dreams...

"I have taken measures to hide Mary's rose chalice...I fear that all in the castle may die for hiding it, but it is our duty to protect this sacred emblem of Scotland."

—Letter written in 1651

Taylor Kincaid hosts a top-rated television series that debunks everything supernatural. So when she finds herself on the Scottish coast— to claim an out-of-the-blue inheritance and ancient letters telling ...

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Overview

It began with a letter...that leads to a passion and adventure beyond her dreams...

"I have taken measures to hide Mary's rose chalice...I fear that all in the castle may die for hiding it, but it is our duty to protect this sacred emblem of Scotland."

—Letter written in 1651

Taylor Kincaid hosts a top-rated television series that debunks everything supernatural. So when she finds herself on the Scottish coast— to claim an out-of-the-blue inheritance and ancient letters telling of royal gold— she's prepared to explode the local legend: an archway made of stone through which young women disappear. Until a stormy sea sweeps her through the Ladysgate— and with her, handsome, rugged sea captain Duncan Fraser.

Beyond it lies the Scotland of 1651. It is the land of Taylor's heirloom letters and Mary Queen of Scots' fabled jeweled chalice, The Scottish Rose, emblem of peace. Together Taylor and Duncan must search for it amid the passions and perils of history...or, in a desperate bid to recross the centuries, risk losing each other and the love they've found beyond the gates of time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jill Jones is one of the top new writing talents of the day."—Affaire de Coeur

"Seamlessly blends the elements of time travel, romance, adventure and danger with truly spectacular results."—Romantic Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312960995
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Scottish Rose

ONE

 

 

Aberdeen, Scotland May 1996

Robert Gordon, Esquire, ran beefy hands through his graying hair and considered the dilemma he faced. Before him on the desk lay two letters and a small ancient book. One of the letters was written by his client, or rather former client, now that Lady Agatha Keith was deceased, directing him what to do with the other articles.

He fingered the other letter, taking care not to tear the paper that was fragile with age. The book he scarcely dared to touch at all lest it fall apart in his hands.

Robert Gordon had seen much in his days as a solicitor. He was old, and tired, and had no patience for this sort of hoax. If it was a hoax.

And what else could it be?

A final joke by an old lady he'd often considered to be mentally unbalanced?

He had visited Lady Agatha the day before she died. Well over a hundred years old, the dowager had sat hunched on a daybed by the fireplace in the family's ancestral mansion, her skin sagging, seemingly unattached to the brittle bones of her arms. But her eyes were bright and her conversation intelligent. There had been no sign of the senility that she had exhibited on his prior visits. She spoke as firmly as her ancient vocal chords would allow.

"I have made up my mind about something very important, Robbie," she'd quavered, handing him a large brown envelopewith trembling fingers. "I want you to find this woman and give her what is in this envelope. I think she lives in America. She is my sister's great-granddaughter, and my only living kin, as far as I can tell."

Gordon had glanced at the envelope. It was addressed to "Taylor Kincaid. America."

He laughed softly. "Lady Agatha, surely you have a better address than this? I mean, America is a big country."

"Find her," the crone croaked. "It shouldna be that difficult. Her grandmother, my niece and namesake, ran away to New York in the late twenties. Near t' broke my sister's heart. But the girl wrote, giving an address, and she stayed in touch with her family in Scotland after she married."

Now she handed him a second envelope. "I have written it all down for you, all that I know. I have spent no small amount of money trying to locate her children, as my niece died just after the war. She had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, I have learned, was killed in Korea. The daughter married, and she had a daughter, this person named Taylor Kincaid." She paused for a moment. "Taylor," she repeated. "Odd name for a girl. She was born in Queens, according to the birth certificate, but that's as far as I got, and now I've run out of time. It's up to you, Robbie." She peered at him, her eyes as old as time. "I shouldna have waited so long."

The lawyer sat very still for a moment, astounded at the old woman's lucid recitation of the family's story. No one could convince him at the moment that Agatha Keith was not in full command of her wits. "What do you mean, you've run out of time, Lady Agatha?" he asked gently at last, although he supposed that for a woman of her age, every day was a miracle.

"I'll be dying shortly," she'd replied matter-of-factly. "It's long overdue, you know. I wish I had remembered this chore sooner. Could have done it years ago," she clucked. "Must've lost my mind there for a while. There's money in that envelope as well, Robbie," she added, pointing a bony finger at it. "Should be enough to cover your expenses and fees, even as high as they are."

Gordon started to protest, then thought it not worth the effort."I'll do the best I can, madam," he replied patiently to the old woman whom he had served as lawyer for over forty years. Then another thought occurred to him. "Your will makes no mention of this Taylor Kincaid," he said. "Do your wishes remain the same as in the will we executed, what was it, five or so years ago?"

"Not another penny!" screeched the dame abruptly. "I'll not spend another penny on legal fees. Here!" She thrust a third envelope into his hands. "I have written a new will. Not much to it, you'll see. If you find my kinswoman, this Taylor Kincaid, what's left of my family's poor estate goes to her now. If you do not find her, or she doesna want it, then dispose of it as we decided before." She heaved a sigh. "Go now, Robbie. I'm tired."

The next day, Lady Agatha Keith was dead.

And although he was disinclined to do so, for to do nothing would be far easier and more lucrative, Robert Gordon, Esquire, had endeavored to honor the last wishes of his longtime client. He owed her that much, he supposed, although he faced lean times himself in his waning years, and she had made provisions for him in her previous will.

Still, she had enclosed a substantial sum to pay him to make a final attempt at finding her mystery relative, and he was a man with too much professional integrity not to make at least a minimal effort at doing so.

Using the details she had scribbled down for him, he had managed to locate the private investigator she had hired to find her descendant in the United States. The PI was able to supply the attorney with a history of his investigation, which ended when he located one Taylor Marie Kincaid, born in Queens, New York, in 1963. After that, he'd stopped looking, because Lady Agatha had told him she would not spend another penny on it, that she'd paid him too much already.

With a sympathetic smile from the far side of the ocean, Gordon had offered the man another thousand dollars to finish the job, with a bonus of five hundred more if he did it within the week.

The man had phoned today. Taylor Kincaid, he related, lived in Manhattan, and she was, he disclosed with unconcealed enthusiasm, something of a television star.

And in the five o'clock pickup, Robert Gordon had sent off two overnight packages to the United States: one to the investigator, carrying fifteen hundred dollars, the other to Taylor Kincaid, conveying a letter informing her of her inheritance.

After that, all he could do was wait.

And wonder.

What if the Taylor Kincaid located by the investigator was not Lady Agatha's great-great-niece? What would he do then with the two other incredible artifacts with which Lady Agatha had entrusted him?

For if they were authentic, they were also very valuable. Priceless even. And if there were no heirs, to whom would they belong?

The items had come as a complete surprise to Gordon. He'd never seen nor heard of them before. They were not mentioned in any of her earlier wills. That's why he believed they were a hoax, or, at the least, a fantasy created during one of the old lady's spells of delusion.

But if they were not a hoax ... .

And if they belonged to no one ... .

And if they were authentic ... .

Robert Gordon leaned back in his chair and rested his hands on his vest. It could be that upon her death, Lady Agatha Keith had contributed substantially to his retirement fund.

Manhattan

Sweat trickled down the valley of her spine and pasted locks of straight blonde hair against her face. The odometer said she had skied three-point-two miles over the nonsnow, across the country of her living room. One-point-eight to go, she calculated, swinging her arms against the resistance of the machine and heaving for breath.

Why couldn't she have been born thin? she grouched silently.She always had to work so hard to keep in shape. Taylor Kincaid hated artifical exercise, although she didn't mind the real thing, like racing on long skis across a snow-covered countryside. with a cold, bracing wind stinging her cheeks, or scuba diving in the temperate waters of some Caribbean bay.

But her busy schedule did not allow for the luxury of such vacations, and unfortunately, her diet consisted mostly of fast food eaten on the run. So at thirty-three, with a career that demanded both peak performance and a celebrity's good looks, Taylor had no choice except to do all she could to keep the pounds off, and twenty minutes a day en route to nowhere aboard the NordicTrak had proven to be the least offensive option. At least this way, she consoled herself, she was able to work out in privacy at home, where her leotard-clad body was unavailable to the lecherous stares of the musclebound mashers at the gym.

And while she exercised, she could catch up on the news of the day. A very efficient use of her time. She watched Lynne Russell's major red lips recount from CNN's newsroom the latest events of today's world ... a train wreck in South America, a bombing in Asia, yet another snag in the Middle East peace process ... .

How did that woman do it? Taylor wondered. How could she announce all those horrible things and still maintain a hint of a smile in her presentation? Taylor wiped a drip of perspiration from her eyebrow, glad that her own reporting style did not require such demanding theatrics.

Glad, too, that her stories were not on-the-scene reports of wars, murders, sensational trials, and such.

She'd stick to what she was good at ... debunking the ridiculous myths and legends of the world, tales that perpetrated fear and ignorance, and proving that the so-called paranormal was just the normal dressed in superstition.

Combining a travelogue format with a touch of sensationalism and a dash of dry humor, she had developed an outrageous television series, Legends, Lore, and Lunatics. Her audience was eating it up, her ratings sky-high. The show wasso popular, in fact, that the network was on her back to produce thirteen more episodes.

She grimaced. If only she had thirteen more good ideas.

The odometer clicked to four-point-zero, and Taylor checked her watch. Just a few more slides of the faux skis and she could head for the shower, after which, she would spend the evening in her dining room, which she had converted into a library-study-office, perusing the mountain of books she had brought from the library.

She had to come up with some story ideas. And soon. For while she reveled in her success, she was also beginning to feel tense and pressured. She'd been warned early on in her career, by veterans in the business, that it was difficult to sustain the interest of fickle viewers, who weekly had ever more program options in the TV Guide listings. She was learning that they were right when they'd told her, "You're only as good as your last show."

Despite this recent disillusionment at these overwhelming demands, she was determined she would adjust and keep on going, because she'd made a lifelong commitment to her career years ago when she'd learned that for her there was no option of ever having a family.

It was freak of nature, an odd birth defect, the gynecologist had told her. She couldn't bear children because she'd been born without a womb. He'd said she was perfectly normal in every other respect, and that this one deficiency should not prevent her from having a healthy sexuality as an adult.

But even as a maturing teenager, young to consider the ramifications of such problems, Taylor had been filled with grief and rage, for she was close to her family and had always wanted children of her own. So with her typical headstrong intensity, she'd vowed to follow another life path instead, one that meticulously avoided marriage, one that replaced the wife-and-mother role she had once longed for with that of superachiever career woman. Nature may have taken control of this aspect of her body, but she'd sworn she would retain control of her life.

Maybe the glory of motherhood was just another highlyoverrated myth, she told herself from time to time when the stress of her career left her wishing wistfully for a "normal" life, with a husband and family. Maybe it was just a myth, a legend, like the rest of the foolish notions she dealt with in her series. Maybe that's why she disdained them so intensely.

Her workout almost concluded, Taylor's breath came in sharp, painful gasps, and tiny pinpricks of light sparkled behind her eyes. She heard a buzzing in her ears and thought for a moment it was from the exercise, until she recognized the sound of the doorbell.

"Thank God," she uttered, happy to have an excuse to end the torturous ride a little early. Sliding to a stop, she stepped onto the polished hardwood floors, her knees only slightly more solid than Jell-O from the exercise. She clicked off the TV with the remote control and grabbed a towel.

"Just a minute," she called toward the front door. The buzzer sounded again, the noise grating irritably on her nerves. "Jeez." She wiped her arms and face and padded toward the intercom. "Who is it?"

"FedEx."

"Hold on." She peered through the tiny peephole in the door to ascertain that it was a legitimate delivery person. She wasn't expecting anything. But fan mail and hate mail had begun to arrive in equal measure daily at the network to compliment or complain about her controversial show. Had the lunatics found out her home address?

She unlocked the door to the restored brownstone and signed for the overnight letter. The young man making the delivery stared at her, smiling awkwardly, but his light blue eyes admired her unabashedly. "Are you ... uh, the Taylor Kincaid?" he asked, his cheeks edged with crimson.

Taylor returned his smile. "Depends on who the Taylor Kincaid is that you mean," she replied lightly. She was still unused to her status as a television personality. Until Legends, Lore, and Lunatics, she had remained behind the scenes on her film projects.

"I've watched all your shows," he continued eagerly."You keep me on the edge of my seat. What are you going to do next?"

Taylor returned his pen and took the package. "The series still has a few weeks to run," she said, forcing a smile. "I'd spoil it for you if I gave away what I have coming up."

The young man grinned knowingly. "Right. Thanks, Ms. Kincaid. You can count me as one of your fans. Keep it up. There aren't many good shows left on television."

Taylor rewarded him with a sincere smile, then closed the door and leaned against it.

What, indeed, was she going to do next?

Stonehaven, Scotland

Cold weather seemed disinclined to go away this year. It was early May, but gales still blustered, peppering the air with frigid rain, turning the North Atlantic into a frenzy of angry gray swells whipped by vicious whitecaps.

Duncan Fraser shivered in the upstairs room of the small house that overlooked the twin harbors of Stonehaven and hastily threw on several layers of clothing. He was a big man, brawny and muscular, a marine petroleum engineer and sea captain who respected the fact that seasons did not always come and go according to dates on a calendar.

That they were, in fact, as unstable and unpredictable as life itself.

He reached for his wallet and keys on the bureau, then turned to go, hesitating just long enough to catch a glimpse in his mind's eye of this room in other, happier seasons, when he was first married and had awakened on that bed not as eager as now to head off to his harborside office and the dangers of his work.

Duncan shook his head and left the room, closing the door sharply behind him. Maybe he ought to move. This house was too empty. It harbored too many memories. He couldn't bring himself to even glance at the door that closed off the roomacross the hall. The one that had belonged to Peter and Jonathan. That door had been shut for four years.

With a glance at his watch, he hurried down the stairs, grabbed the yellow foul-weather jacket from the hall tree, and left the house, glad to be gone from it.

To all outward appearances, Duncan was a normally functioning human being. He went to work every day, came home every night, didn't bother his neighbors or make demands on his friends. Occasionally, he shot some billiards at the pub or played golf. But in reality his life functioned almost by rote. He performed with integrity if not enthusiasm his work as a consultant to the oil companies who operated the offshore rigs in the North Sea. He was the best troubleshooter in Scotland and was willing to be on call twenty-four hours. His office overlooked the harbor, where he also served as part-time Harbormaster. But the duty that gave his life meaning, if he could find any, was as head of the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Britain's team of volunteer rescuers on the sea. Although he shunned the accolades that often came his way from this work, he had been responsible for saving many local seamen from death in the icy ocean.

But when he laughed, the joy never quite reached his eyes. And he never cried, for he had no tears left. He'd spent them all.

For although Duncan Fraser was good at saving the lives of others, he'd failed miserably at saving those he'd loved the most.

Copyright © 1997 by Jill Jones. Excerpt from Deep as the Rivers copyright © 1997 by Shirl Henke.

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