Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid

By: Suzanne Enoch

“Is she still writing ye poetry, then?” Arran asked as he joined them, his new bride, Mary, at his side.

“Nae. She was too busy with shopping in London, I wager. Ye know she stopped a few weeks ago.” It had actually felt a little odd, at first, to not have a letter waiting for him each day, close-written lines telling him everything about her first days in London. He’d almost felt like he was there with her. He hadn’t written back, of course, because her brothers watched like hawks, and he was not going to be trapped into something simply for being kind. And so he’d been relieved when she’d stopped. Just as he was relieved that she hadn’t tried to throw herself into his arms when she left the carriage a few minutes ago.

“Then I suppose ye are a bachelor,” Arran continued, clapping him on the shoulder. “Just keep in mind that Ranulf’s marrying the first Sassenach lass he set eyes on in London. Ye dunnae want that happening to ye, I reckon.”

“Hm,” Mary put in, leaning into his shoulder. “If I recall, didn’t you swoon after the first Highlands lass you met in London? And wasn’t she a Campbell, of all things?”

The middle MacLawry brother grinned. “I didnae swoon, lass.” He leaned down and kissed her cheek. “But ye do stop my heart.”

She put her palm over the front of his left shoulder. “I saw you get shot, Arran,” she whispered. “No jesting about your heart stopping.”

“Aww, the two of ye are making me weep,” Bear commented. “Come along, Lach. Let’s be bachelors and introduce ourselves to the lovely, delicate lasses.”

“Just dunnae roar and frighten them all away, Bear.”

That sounded like something he would say, anyway. Truthfully, the last thing Lachlan wanted was to find himself tangled up with some foreign lass who’d likely blow over in a stiff breeze, and who might turn out to be related to the MacDonalds on her father’s side or something. Sweet Saint Andrew. That said, the younger sister of Glengask’s betrothed was pretty enough, and obviously Ranulf had already approved her family bloodline. She might suit for a kiss and a giggle, as the Sassenach said, anyway.

“Dunnae say I didnae warn ye, lads,” Arran called after them.

By the time everyone, guests and servants, had found bedchambers and been reunited with their luggage, Lachlan had managed a rough head count—though the servants dressed so finely he wasn’t entirely certain he’d put everyone into the correct category. Seven gentlemen, five lasses, four Hanovers including Lord and Lady Hest and both their daughters, and seventeen servants including an English valet named Ginger who’d been acquired by the Marquis of Glengask. For the first time … ever, Sassenach outnumbered the Scots at the MacLawry seat of power.

Lachlan wasn’t surprised when Glengask hunted him down in the library, where he’d retreated with a glass of whisky. Bear might enjoy the turmoil, but Lachlan preferred conversations where he could actually make out what the other party might be saying. “Do ye hear that?” he asked, from the chair by the low fire. “The walls are humming with noise. More noise than usual, I mean.”

“Aye.” Ranulf poured himself a glass and took the opposite chair. “And half the MacLawrys buried oot by the loch are spinning beneath the stones. All of Glengask could be swallowed up by a bog at any moment.”

Chuckling, Lachlan glanced toward the closed door. “Was this invasion yer idea or Winnie’s, if ye dunnae mind me asking?”

“The wedding in the Highlands was my idea,” the marquis returned. “I left the guest list to Rowena, since I had to ride ahead.” He didn’t elaborate, but Lachlan knew that he’d galloped north with one groom and a wolfhound for company and protection, and that he’d reached Gretna Green just in time to save Arran and Mary and prevent an all-out war between the MacLawrys and the Campbells.

“They seem very … English,” Lachlan offered.

“That, they are. And they expect us to be an English household. Which we arenae.” Ranulf sat forward. “I mean to see to it that they have a taste of Highlands hospitality, but at the same time I dunnae want us to be embarrassed here. I need to borrow some of yer staff.”

Lachlan wasn’t surprised at the request, but coming from the marquis directly, it did seem unusual. However things proceeded in the south, up north of Fort William, Glengask’s word was law. His clan had the largest population—and the largest standing army—in the Highlands. Requesting servants seemed a bit trivial for him. “Whoever ye need,” he returned.

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