Knight in Highland Armor

By: Amy Jarecki

“My son needs a mother,” Colin snapped. “A bairn has no place in a knight’s arms.”

Effie steepled her fingers to her lips. “Have you a woman in mind? And what about your castle? The curtain wall has only begun to take shape now that you’ve returned. Someone must manage the project and complete the keep.”

Colin fisted his hips. “I do not need you to inform me of my responsibilities.”

She bowed her head obsequiously. “Yes, m’lord.” Then, casting aside her deference, she eyed him like she did when he was a lad. “Merely thinking of your comfort, Colin.”

He threw up his hands. “The master mason can oversee.”

“In my opinion, that man has not proved his skill in managing the labor.”

“Did I ask your opinion?”

Effie didn’t bother to bow this time. “M’lord.” She held up her palms. “These hands washed your noble arse. I do believe that fact has given me the right to look after you in adulthood, especially since there is no other living elder to do so.”

Colin ground his teeth and rolled his gaze to the ornate relief on the ceiling.

Effie moved in and placed a hand on his forearm. She’d made the gesture countless times before, but it soothed him directly. He blinked and thought of his mother. He longed for the touch of another human being after a sleepless night wallowing in the sorrow of his plight. He shook his self-pitying thoughts from his head. “I will not shirk my responsibilities before I go. I shall pen a missive to the grand master explaining I will be detained. Then I’ll ask the king for assistance in finding a mother for Duncan.” He cupped Effie’s weathered face in his palm. “Does that meet with your approval, matron?”

“Yes, if you must go at all. My stars, Colin, you’ve already served in two crusades. Surely the Hospitallers can find a replacement.”

“Aye, but I have experience. A man who’s faced battle before is worth ten who have not.”

After Effie took her leave, he resumed his seat at the table. Penning the missive to Jacques de Milly was easy. The missive to the king, however, took a great deal more thought. Colin would prefer to find his own match, but this time, the woman would not be for him. Colin wanted nothing more to do with the fairer sex. Aside from his duty to procreate, he could not allow his heart to care for a woman as it had for Jonet and Mariot before her. Loving a woman carried great risk. They were frail creatures, and losing one brought more pain than losing a whole contingent of men on the battlefield.

He dipped his quill into the black ink.

Most honorable and revered King James II,

I desire to open this correspondence by expressing my gratitude with your grant of lands following my meager role in quelling the Douglas uprising. The generosity of Your Royal Highness extends beyond anything I could have expected or hoped for.

It is with a heavy heart that I must request assistance from your apostolic majesty. Word of my beloved Jonet’s death may have already reached Your Highness. Most unfortunately, my infant son has been left without a mother. As you are aware, the Order of St. John is in dire need of my services in the war for Christendom, though I cannot in good conscience return to Rome without a mother for my heir.

Therefore, I must prevail upon you and your most noble Queen to assist me in finding a suitable stepmother for my son. Having been abroad a great deal, together with my duties in support of Scotland, I am left with no prospects for marriage.

I remain your most humble servant in Christ,

Colin Campbell, Lord of Glenorchy

Resting the quill in the silver stand, he sanded the parchment to dry the ink and then reread the missive. Colin hoped his mention of the Douglas uprising wasn’t too presumptuous, though it would remind the king of the value of his services. He folded the missive and held a red wax wafer to the candle’s flame. After dripping a substantial glob, he sealed it with his ring—the crest of Glenorchy.

Indeed, Colin’s role in the uprising had been anything but meager. That mattered not. He needed a wife, and he needed her posthaste. His letter clearly established the fact he wanted a mother for Duncan more than a woman with whom he would share a bed. Colin shuddered. He would have nothing to do with a wife. Not now. Not ever again.

Chapter Two

Dunalasdair Castle, Loch Rannoch, 16th September, 1455

Margaret was in her father’s solar recording figures in his book of accounts when the approach of hoof beats roused her from calculating a list of sums. Margaret rarely erred when it came to numbers, a point of fact long overlooked by her father, Lord Robertson, Chieftain and Baron of Struan—until the day she glanced over his shoulder, calculated the math in her head and recited the figures flawlessly.

▶ Also By Amy Jarecki

▶ Last Updated

▶ Hot Read

▶ Recommend

Top Books