To Conquer a Scot - Tamara Gill
1601 Highlands, Scotland
He should have locked her up when he had the chance. His sisters were the bane of his life. Aedan MacLeod, Laird of Druiminn Castle, stormed toward the small cottage his youngest sister Gwen used while treating the sick and infirm.
Not even the calming view of the ocean could tamper his temper. The fact he’d heard whispers from the servants that Gwen was “up to something” as they’d put it, had given him enough cause to chase her down today and demand an explanation and a promise that she was not.
“Gwen!” he called out as he neared, hearing the muffled reply from inside. He burst through the door, startling the elderly woman who was hobbling out. Aedan waited for her to go before shutting the door and catching his sister’s gaze. “I’ve heard whispers.”
“Whispers?” She smiled and his annoyance increased. “What sort of whispers?”
“You’re forbidden to use magic, Gwendolyn. We’ve had this conversation before and it’s certainly not one I want to repeat.”
“Och, I am in trouble when ye use my full name. Tell me what you’ve heard this time. I’m sure it’s nothing to concern yer wee mind.”
“The servants are talking about ye. Stating how ye’re all secretive again, sneaking away to this cottage at all times of day and night. Picking lots of herbs and such.”
“Herbs ye say.” Gwen laughed, walking over to a nearby cupboard and getting down a bowl. “And this equates to magic?”
“I know what ye are capable of, lass. Dinna think for one moment I’m not aware of what could happen to you, or this family, should it be known. You know as well as I, ye’d be dead and there’d be nothing I could do for ye.”
She waved away his concerns and started to pummel lavender flowers with a mortar and pestle. She continued with her tasks, ignoring him. “Well,” he prompted.
“Brother, I’ve been using magic since I was a babe and no harm has been done. It’s the same now. Ye worry too much.”
“I know you’re up to something, and I demand to know what it is. Braxton mentioned it to me yesterday after he came back from visiting ye here.”
“Braxton told ye, did he? That’ll teach me to trust him.”
He watched as she took her frustration out on the plants that hung from a wooden rack above her work table. He dismissed the flicker of guilt that he’d possibly caused trouble for his fellow clansman and glowered at Gwen instead. She pulled the leaves off with enough force that the rack rocked above their heads.
“He was concerned. Ye know the lad loves ye, and like me, he doesn’t like you putting yourself at risk. So tell me what I want to know. Why are ye being so secretive all of a sudden? What are ye planning?”
She shook her head, her red curls bouncing over her shoulders. “Nothing at all. I assure ye. I’m behaving myself, as the laird’s sister should. Do not worry, Aedan. Everything will turn out for the best.”
“Yes, but what is this ‘best’ ye speak of? That concerns me.”
She didn’t reply, merely shrugged. Aedan fisted his hands. Obstinate, pigheaded wench. “Ye better not be trying to meddle in who I choose for a wife. ’Tis none of yer business, and I willna take nicely to ye using magic to sway women to warm me bed.”
She slammed down the pestle and glared back at him. “I assure ye, I would never interfere in your grand plans for a wife. I know you’ll marry someone who has an opinion, a mind, and the willingness to share their thoughts when required.”
“Your sarcasm isn’t appreciated.” He walked toward the door of her cottage and placed his hands on his hips. Better there than her neck. “Ye know what I want in a wife and I’ll find her myself. So if ye don’t mind, and if ye don’t want me to lock ye in the castle dungeons, you’ll behave and keep out of my business. I may not know what ye be planning, but I know you’re up to something and no doubt it’ll involve me. I’ve put up with a lot of ye tricks over the years, but with the clans coming for the games, it’s time ye grew up. I’ll no longer stand for it.”
His sister curtsied and he ground his teeth. He might as well be talking to a stone wall. “Dinna push me on this, Gwen.”
“Of course not, brother. When have I ever not listened to ye?”