Sunday, March 18, 2012
For all you Scottish romance book lovers
Excerpt is copyright 2012 by Kara Griffin
*The published version may differ/please do not copy or post this excerpt
Lead in: Grey's betrothal day. He was supposed to be watching the lass, his intended future bride. But all Grey wanted to do was watch the warrior's fighting...
The lads continued to watch the soldiers, their earlier mischief forgotten. After the late-afternoon sparring ended, Grey was found by his da and his closest ally, Donal Ross. Laird Ross and his father had been friends for many years, and great allies of King William.
“Lad, I’ve been looking for ye. Have you learned anything this day?” His da tilted his head in the direction of the soldiers.
“Aye, Da, I’ve learned never to take your eyes off your opponent,” he said, eyeing Duff.
Laird Ross chuckled low. “Good lesson, lad. Never underestimate him neither. Always be ready for anything and ye shall never be defeated.”
His da said, “That goes for all of ye. Be off, Grey has duties to attend.”
His friends left and Grey stepped between his father and Laird Ross.
“I best get back to watching Albrey. She’s probably awakened by now.”
Laird Gunn patted his son’s shoulder. “Aye, ye do your duty well watching the lass. It was honorable of ye to do so all day, lad. We best get to the betrothal ceremony, all are likely in their cups by now and won’t get to enjoy the announcement.”
Laird Ross stopped him with a hand to his shoulder. “Before we do, I want to give ye this.” He pulled out a steel dagger from a leather sheath. The dagger was well made, encrusted with a row of red jewels on the handle. “I give ye this gift, Grey, on this your betrothal day. As your champion, I bid you to always protect what is yours.”
“I will, Laird Ross.” Grey was pleased by the gift. He slid it back in the sheath and tucked it inside his tunic. “Thank ye for giving it to me.”
“Come, we shall find the lass and shout the news afar. She’ll be a bonny lass, Grey, when she’s older. Albrey will give you fine sons with strength enough to lead our soldiers. You will be an honorable man and she deserving such.” Laird Ross clapped his shoulder.
Grey walked beside his da, stepping lively. He wanted to hear the grand gesture of what the betrothal meant, once again. When his da and Albrey’s father was given the order by King William to betroth Albrey to him, Grey had been awakened in the middle of the night and related the dictate.
The only promise Albrey’s father asked of him was that their families be at peace and that Albrey be safe from harm be it from he or his enemies. When asked if he could handle the task, Grey nodded and assured them he was capable, for which he received a few punches to his arms and grunts of approval.
Grey would always protect her and keep her in comforts, safe from his enemies, and he’d do his best to adore her. It’s what his da had done for his ma. His father had placed his mother in high regard, always telling anyone who would listen that if it were not for her, he would be a lesser man. Laird Gunn taught his men to follow his lead and revere the women in their clan with the greatest respect. Grey had received such lessons since he’d been able to walk. Without women, men would suffer so—they would not have such tasty meals, clean tartans, tidy homes, or children to strengthen the clan.
As Grey reached the table where his ma had sat, he frowned. Neither Lady Mackay nor his ma was there. The spot where Albrey had lain was unattended, the grass undisturbed. She hadn’t lain very long. He should have known she would flee as soon as everyone’s backs were turned. Then a twinge of guilt came upon him and he scolded himself for not checking on her sooner.
Both the Mackay and Gunn clans, as well of those attending the celebration, searched for hours. All looked for the missing lass, well into the morning light. Grey wouldn’t return to his family’s holding no matter how much his ma pleaded. He kept the search going, lighting a torch and checking most of her hiding spots.
The lass had disappeared altogether. Grey dejected, could only blame himself. Their earlier conversation came back to him and he told his da. He envisioned her face when she’d told him of her fear. But his da didn’t put much weight in Albrey’s concern about Kenneth MacHeth.
After nearly three days of looking for her, Grey finally conceded defeat. As he stood before his family’s home crestfallen, his da came outside.
“Come inside, Grey. Your ma is worried sick.”
Grey pulled the dagger from his inside tunic, given to him by Donal Ross. Fitting it symbolized his betrothal, a union that would never be. Taking hold of his plaid, he tore it off, and then ripped his tunic until he felt the breeze on his uncovered chest. The air was crisp enough to bring a speckle of goose bumps to his flesh. Grey paid no attention to the effect of the night wind and looked up at his father.
“I didn’t keep my promise to Albrey. I swore to protect her. She’s lost to me forever, Da. This will always remind me of my failure.” Grey drew the pointed end of the sharp dagger over his heart, making a decent sized slash, one that would certainly need stitching.
Blood began pouring out of him and all he felt was the warmth of the liquid flowing over his skin and the sting of his failure.
“Grey! God Almighty! Grey!” His da roared an anguished cry and he caught Grey’s body before it fell to the ground.
I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak. ONE AND ONLY will be out for your enjoyment this summer.