Read Rose in scotland Online

Authors: Joan Overfield

Rose in scotland

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Rose In ScotlandJoan OverfieldAvon (1997)Rating:***Tags:Historical Romance, Scotland Highlands, Highlanders, Scotland, Love Story, Romance

A DELICATE FLOWER

Lady Caroline Burroughs is desperate. Her unscrupulous guardian is squandering away her inheritance, and now wants to gain complete control over her dwindling wealth by forcing her to wed his aged crony. But Caroline has found a solution to her woes. Though it means surrendering her long-cherished dream of marring for love, she agrees to a preemptive temporary union with a devilishly handsome stranger--a brave and noble Scotsman who believes that love is an illusion.

A THORNY ROMANCE

Major Hugh MacColme has every reason to hate the British--since the Crown stole his ancestral castle and sent his father and brother into exile. And he never imagined he would end up marrying one of the enemy. But a year spent in the intimate company of an exquisite English rose seems a small price to pay for recovering his birthright. For tender-hearted Caroline, however, the difficult part will be coping with her unexpected desire for this proud and distant man--no use for is the warm and healing love he truly needs.

A ROSEINSCOTLANDJOAN OVERFIELD

Dedication

To Chad Estep, a hero for all seasons whowalks the thin blue line for all of us.

This book is also dedicated with gratitude to the men and women of the Spokane Police Department’s Chaplaincy Program, and to police chaplains everywhere who offer hope and comfort when the unthinkable becomes a heartbreaking reality. Thank you for your kindness and your compassion.

Table of Contents

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Dear Reader

Other AVON ROMANCES

Copyright

About the Publisher

Prologue

Castle Loch HavenScotland, 1771

“Cladhaire! Fear bradhaidh!” Douglas MacColme, laird of Loch Haven, hurled the invectives at the young man standing before him. “It’s dead I’d rather see ye than wearing the colors of our enemy! Ye’re nae to speak of this again, do ye hear?”

Hugh MacColme bore his father’s rage in stoic silence, for he’d expected nothing less. At twenty, he’d grown to manhood listening to his father rail against the hated English, and had known how he would respond once he’d learned of his son’s plans. But Hugh had known also that he could not let it matter. Since the day he’d read the writ in Edinburgh, he’d accepted what his duty must be, and accepted as well what that duty would cost him. Still, his father’s words cut deep, and his silvery-green eyes flashed with pride as he faced Douglas across the expanse of the great keep.

“I’m nae a coward, Father,” he said quietly, only the clenching of his jaw betraying his innerturmoil. “Nor am I a traitor—nae to the clan, nor to yourself. It is because of you that I do this thing. Why can you nae be seeing that?”

“Because ’Tis a foul lie, that’s why!” Douglas surged to his feet, his face twisting with fury. “And if ’twas sense ye had in yer head instead of useless book-learning, ye’d be seeing the truth of that!”

“But a pardon, Douglas,” Geordie MacColme, Hugh’s uncle, intervened. “Let your mind rest on that for a wee bit, and think on what it could mean to the clan. Ye’ve seen what’s happening about us, how the English seize upon the smallest excuse to take what is ours. If Hugh swears this oath and enlists, it will mean clemency for us all.”

Douglas whirled to glare at his brother. “Clemency!” he roared, his voice echoing off the stone walls. “Where’s yer pride, mon? Yer honor? Is it aburraidhye are, to be believing in the lies of the English? Did Culloden nae teach you anything?”

A bitter quarrel erupted between the two brothers, with the chieftains soon joining in to offer opinions and criticisms. Hugh watched it all with increasing bitterness. Did his father and the others truly think he wanted to leave? he wondered angrily. Were they so daft as not to know that leaving Scotland and those he loved would tear the heart from him? And did they think there was any other choice? As he listened his iron control slipped, and his temper ran free.

“Honor!” he sneered, breaking into his father’s tirade. “Pride! Will honor fill the stomachs of the babes when they wail from the hunger? Willpride keep out the snow and the cold when the winter comes and we dinna have roofs over our people’s heads? You know the answer to that as well as I: It will not.”

A stunned silence filled the hall as the men assembled there exchanged uneasy looks. “ ’Tis nae that we dinna see the truth of yer words,” James Callamby, one of his father’s oldest friends, said at last, his expression kind as he studied Hugh. “And we mark that ye do this for us. But to accept a MacColme wearing the uniform of the enemy …” He shook his grizzled head. “ ’Tis a hard thing ye ask of us, lad.”

“ ’Tis a disgrace is what it is,” his father interjected before Hugh could respond. “A blow to all who have died under the heel of the usurper! Your own mother amongst them,” he added, shooting Hugh a glowering look.

The mention of his mother, dead now these last three years, was a stinging lash upon Hugh’s soul. He had adored his sweet-tempered mother and grieved for her still, but he knew she would have understood what he was doing. Would have understood and supported him against his father, just as she had when he had begged to be sent to university in Edinburgh. She had stood against his father and the entire clan to see he got the education he craved, and he took comfort in the thought that she would have stood with him now.

“Hugh,” Geordie said, regarding him solemnly, “is it set you are to do this thing? Do you truly mean to become one of the English?”

“Nay, Uncle,” Hugh said, relieved he could reassure the others on this point. “I’ll never beEnglish. I’ll don the uniform; I’ll pull my cap and go where I’m told, and do as I am bid; but I’ll always be a Highlander. I’ll always be a MacColme. Never doubt that.”

There was more heated discussion amongst the chieftains and then James Callamby gave him a worried look. “And if ’Tis yer own people yer new masters tell ye to kill, what then, Hugh MacColme? Will ye still do as ye are bid?”

This was something Hugh had already considered, accepting that he would die at the end of a rope before ever raising a weapon against his own. He pulled out his dirk and held it high above his head. “If such a time comes,” he said, turning slowly around so that all could see his face as he spoke, “if ever I turn against a man of my clan, a man of my blood, I offer my life in forfeit. I charge those here to plunge this dirk in my back if ever I betray Scotland.” He turned and hurled the knife into the table where his father sat, the handle quivering as the blade buried itself in the thick wood.

“I love you,” he said in the old language, his gaze meeting that of his father. “But I will do what I must to protect the clan. All I ask in return is that you do nothing that will endanger the pardon I have won.”

His father’s face worked oddly for several seconds, and for a moment Hugh feared to see him weep. “Ye will do this, then?” he asked, his voice hoarse with emotion. “Ye will take the king’s shilling and leave all who love ye?”

Hugh blinked back his own tears. “I will.”

His father dropped his head. “Then so be it,” he said wearily, raising his chin and gazingabout the room. “My son is dead,” he intoned, ignoring the shocked gasps and cries of dismay. “From this day hence we’ll speak his name nae mair.”

Hugh stood in painful isolation, accepting his father’s judgment before turning away; his head held proudly as he walked away. People looked away as he moved past them, their eyes downcast as if he were a ghost they feared to see. He walked out into the antechamber, and he could tell by the expressions on the faces of the women that they already knew what had happened. More than one pretty lass dried her eyes with the edge of her apron, her private dreams dying as he walked past her. A young lad of some fifteen years stood apart from the others, his hands clenched into fists, and after a moment’s hesitation Hugh walked over to lay his hand on the lad’s bony shoulder.

“Go to him, Andrew,” he said gently, his eyes drinking in every detail of his brother’s face. “He’ll have need of you now. Mind you have a care for him, and Mairi, too. That one will want a great deal of watching,” he added, his heart twisting at the thought of his impish younger sister.

Andrew shrugged his hand off, his young eyes full of hurt and betrayal. “It’s true, then?” he asked, his voice caught between youth and manhood, cracking with emotion. “You’ve enlisted?”

“Andrew,” Hugh began painfully, “I beg you to understand. There is no other way …”

“Colin MacLorne says you are a coward,” Andrew interrupted, wiping his hand across his nose in an impatient gesture. “He says you fearstanding against the English, and so you join them instead to murder your own people.”

Hugh’s desire to soothe vanished at the insulting words. “You are young yet, Andrew,” he told his brother sharply, “and Colin MacLorne is a pimple-facedgarrachwho would best be advised to hold his tongue instead of wagging it. I do what I must, and I expect no less from you. I place the family and the safety of the clan in your hands. Guard them until I return.”

“You’ll never return,” Andrew snapped as Hugh turned to leave. “You’ll never return because you’re a traitor, and a traitor will never be welcomed in Loch Haven!”

Although it cost him everything, Hugh did not respond. He simply kept walking, taking his plaid from the gnarled hands of his old nurse who was standing by the door.

“God have a watch o’er ye,” the old woman whispered, tears shimmering in her faded blue eyes as she gazed at him. “I’ll nae be seeing ye in this life again.”

“Farewell, Annie Kirkcaldy,” he said, bending from his great height to press a kiss to her wrinkled cheek. “I’ll think of you and your oatcakes when I am far away.”

“Hugh! Hugh!” A red-haired whirlwind with a torn dress and a dirty face dashed past the women to launch herself against him. “Dinna go, Hugh! Dinna go!”

“Mairi.” Hugh caught his sister in his arms and held her close. “Mopiuthar, I love you.”

“I hate Colin MacLorne,” she charged passionately. “I’m going to bite him the next time I see him!”

Hugh laughed at her fierce tone, his hand shaking as he passed it over the unruly curls that were several shades brighter than the reddish-brown waves streaming past his wide shoulders. “You do that,kempie, and mind you bite him hard,” he said, giving her smudged cheek a smacking kiss. He treasured the sweet, warm feel of her for a precious second, and then set her on her feet.

“Now off with you, love,” he told her, infusing a teasing note in his voice. “I have a hard night’s ride ahead of me, and must be away. Mind you do as Father and Andrew bid you.”

But instead of going off as she was bade, Mairi resolutely stood her ground, her gaze never leaving his face. “I know you’re nae a feardie like the others say,” she said, eyes as green as the trees in springtime sparkling with tears. “I know you only joined the English because they made you.”

Hugh could not speak for the lump in his throat. Were they alone he would have let his tears flow as they would, and not care a groat for it. But with the others there watching with their sharp eyes and even sharper tongues, he schooled himself to hide his pain.

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