Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid

By: Suzanne Enoch

“We all have to find a new way of thinking, don’t we?” Jane commented, shifting to sit beside Rowena. “You and I are about to be sisters-in-law. And we’re in Scotland, of all places! Do all Highlanders wear kilts? I never thought to ask.”

As much as she could appreciate a finely shaped man in the black and red and white colors of clan MacLawry, Rowena continued to be surprised at most of her English friends’ infatuation with the garb. “Today everyone will be in kilts and clan colors. Ranulf will want his betrothed to see Glengask at its best.”

Color touched Charlotte’s cheeks, and that was rather heartening. Rowena didn’t think Lord Hest’s older daughter could be as calm as she’d been pretending over the past few days. Not when she was about to set her eyes on what would be her new home. Her new life.

She stifled an abrupt grimace. Charlotte was traveling north to a whole new life with a man who adored her. All she was doing, though, was returning to her old life after three glorious months in London. Nothing had changed for her, except for her, of course. How long would that last, though, back in the Highlands with her brothers? She didn’t belong here any longer. She belonged in wonderful sophisticated London.

“However you feel about Lachlan MacTier and however he feels about you, I would imagine he is going to be very surprised at seeing you again, Winnie.” Charlotte grinned. “And what…” She trailed off as a musical, high-pitched wail drifted over them. “What is that?”

Finally Rowena chuckled. Whatever else might trouble her, the four MacLawry siblings were about to be reunited. Together, at Glengask, they were unstoppable. And Glengask, however much she wished it was several hundred miles to the south, was where she’d been born. “That is ‘A Red, Red Rose,’” she said, “played on at least half a dozen bagpipes, from the sound of it. It’s a love song, for you, I’d imagine. We’re here.”

Her own heart sped, so she could imagine Charlotte’s must be pounding. She could say she felt eager to see Bear again after three months, and that she wanted to throw her arms around clever Arran and his new wife after they’d spent a fortnight on the run from Campbells and MacLawrys. She could tell herself that when Ranulf had left London a little over a week ago and ordered them all to follow, she hadn’t been ready yet to leave. What she never wanted to admit was that part of her hesitation at returning to Scotland had been that niggling daydream—the one where Lachlan MacTier swept her up in his arms and kissed her. It was annoying that she couldn’t stop being such a fool, even over a man who clearly didn’t deserve her. Infatuation was a stupid, embarrassing thing, and it should be done away with entirely.

The timbre of the wheels changed as the coach left the rutted dirt road for the hard-packed gravel and crushed oyster shells of Glengask’s shallow, curving front drive. Charlotte and Jane both pressed up against the windows and chatted excitedly, but Rowena wasn’t ready to look. Not yet. However much she adored her brothers, southern England called to her. Or perhaps deeper down she dreaded her own reaction to seeing Lachlan again, and she was simply a coward.

“Oh, look, Charlotte! It’s Lord Glengask!” Jane exclaimed, practically bouncing in her seat. “And there’s Arran and Mary Campbell!”

“Lady Mary MacLawry, now,” Charlotte corrected, sending another glance at Rowena.

Was she supposed to be ill at ease or jealous? Rowena wondered. Yes, she’d been the sole female at Glengask for the past eleven years, and yes, she wished she’d had an opportunity to make Mary Campbell’s acquaintance before Arran fled London with her, but honestly the idea of having a sister—two of them, once Charlotte and Ranulf wed—filled her with glee. That house had been too full of hot-blooded Highlands men for far too long.

“That very large man with them—is that Bear? Or is he the other one? My goodness, he’s very … muscular.”

“Stop pestering, Jane. We’ll find out in a moment.”

Immediately Jane left the window and seized Rowena’s hand. “I’m so sorry, Winnie,” she said. “I forgot you left here angry.”

Rowena squeezed back. “You mean I slipped out the back door and ran away to London angry,” she said with a brief smile. “I know they’ve forgiven me, and if they hadn’t I would only point out that Ranulf wouldn’t have met Charlotte, and Arran would never have met Mary, if they hadn’t followed me. As for the rest, my eyes have been opened.”

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