Length: Free Short Story
Word Count: 2,006
Genre: Time Travel/Historical Romance
Available formats: : online
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, July 2011
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
“Damn.” She was lost. How could this have happened? Megan McMurray pushed her hat back and stood up in her stirrups to glance behind her. Her native Oklahoma countryside looked different somehow. Instead of the tall green grasses, there were rolling hills that led up to craggy snow-capped mountains. Where in the world was she?
Turning Applejack, her horse, in a circle, Meg tried to get her bearings. It was so strange. Pulling her cowboy hat off her head, she fanned away the muggy August heat, and flipped her hair over her shoulders. Long, straight, and so blonde it was almost silver, it hung down past the middle of her back. This was so frustrating. She was sure she had headed out due east toward the Rusty Ranch and her neighbors the Ortega’s property, just as she did every morning to take a wide sweep of her father’s lands. But for some reason, this morning’s ride had landed her somewhere unfamiliar. And that worried her a bit.
Tucking her hair back under her hat, she turned Applejack in another circle, and she could see some men riding towards her at full gallop. Thank goodness, now maybe she could find out where she was. Meg stopped the useless circling, and waited for the party of half a dozen cowboys to meet up with her. As they drew closer, Meg noticed that they didn’t look like the typical Oklahoma cowboy. The first thing she noticed was they didn’t have their hats on, no cowboy worth his salt went anywhere without his hat. The second was their horses. The horses were huge--much bigger than her quarter horse. Her first thought was they looked like war-horses. The strange unfamiliar feeling she’d had increased as they approached. She nervously twisted the amethyst ring on her middle finger. Aunt Gilly’s ring. It felt hot against her skin.
Meg’s eyes widened as she took in the men. They were all wearing kilts. Kilts! Who wore kilts in Oklahoma? And the one in the middle had the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen. They were the color of emeralds, with dark thick lashes that any girl would envy. He seemed vaguely familiar, as if from a dream she was trying to remember. For a second, the ruggedly handsome man with the green eyes was the only thing she was aware of. Her vision blackened until the only thing she could see was this warrior, for that’s obviously what he was. It disconcerted her how blatantly masculine he was, and she realized that she was rudely staring as he seemed to be impatiently demanding something of her. Closing her gaping mouth, and forcing herself to pay attention, she fastened a slight smile on her full lips, and listened. But he was speaking a different language. Her eyebrows knit over her nose in confusion; it wasn’t English or Spanish, of that she was sure.
Finding her voice, Meg apologized uncertainly, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.” She offered a small smile, hoping he’d see she wasn’t trying to cause trouble. She was just lost.
The man with the green eyes looked surprised, but that surprise was quickly replaced with irritation. “You are English.” He sounded angry…and Scottish! Scottish cowboys? In Oklahoma? No way. Meg knew something was wrong.
“No, I’m American.” Scottish or not, they were her best bet on finding her way home. Meg flashed a brilliant smile, and asked “Perhaps you can help me, though. I seem to be lost. Can you boys point me in the direction of the road? I’m sure I can find my way back from there.”
The men glanced at each other with smirks on their faces. The leader drew a large sword from his back and pointed the tip at Meg. He slowly cantered forward until Meg had to look up at him. He was frighteningly tall.
“Your name lass.” It was a demand from a man who wasn’t used to being ignored.
Meg couldn’t help herself; she began to giggle.
He frowned. “You laugh with a blade at your throat?”
“I do. I’ve never actually seen a sword before.” Meg giggled again. “Sorry guys, but come on, bows and arrows? Swords? What is this, the Middle Ages?” A fresh bout of giggles erupted, and Meg covered her mouth with her hand. The ring on her finger warmed again. It wasn’t burning her, but it was hot just the same.
The man with the beautiful eyes pressed the tip of his sword into her soft skin, and Meg gasped. “Hey, quit that!” She slapped at his sword.
“Your name lass.”
Meg considered being difficult, but the sword at her throat changed her mind. She glared at him, “Megan McMurray, and yours?”
“Kade MacPherson. And the nature of your business here?”
She frowned. “My business?” she rolled it out of her mouth in distaste. “I went out for a ride this morning, and now I can’t seem to find my way home. What is your business here?”
“Take off your hat.”
“No. I want some answers. Why are you here, on the Ortega’s property? And why on earth are you pointing a sword at me?”
He flicked the tip of his sword to the brim of her hat, and her hair tumbled out as he once again placed his sword at her throat. Ignoring her outraged gasp, he asked her, “Why are ye dressed as a lad?”
“Excuse me? I am not!” She wanted to stomp her foot in indignation. Glancing down, Meg saw only her jeans and light blue tank top. What was wrong with that?
“What are ye hiding?”
“What is your problem?”
“Ye are on MacPherson lands dressed as a lad, and ye dare to insult the laird of clan MacPherson.” One of the other men answered for him, but Kade held his hand up.
Meg backed her horse up to keep his blade from digging deeper into her throat, but the infuriating man just followed her, his blade never wavering. Pressing her knees into her horse’s flanks, she silently commanded her to prance in place, slightly edging back with each step.
“Your wee fool horse is mad.” Kade was still glaring at Meg, but Meg matched him, glower for glower.
“No she’s not, she just doing what I ask.”
“You ask your horse to prance about ready to throw you? You’re as daft as your horse!”
“I ask her to keep moving so I can do this,” Meg deftly spun her mount around and took off at breakneck speed. The advantage of her mare was that Applejack was far faster than the larger steeds her new friends rode. She brazenly tossed back over her shoulder with a smile, “Wanna race?”
The men followed in pursuit, but she pushed Applejack to her limits until she saw what she was looking for; a small gorge. Applejack cleared it with ease, and Meg turned around to see five of the men just staring at her as if she were insane. Meg knew her lands inside and out, and she was without a doubt, not in Oklahoma anymore. As she pondered the pressing, and frightening, question of where exactly she was, she turned Applejack around and cantered down the small hill. But her smug smile fell abruptly as she faced Kade. And his sword. Again.
Meg nervously licked her lips and ran her fingers through her hair. His gaze followed the movements, settling on her ring.
“Where did you get that?”
Glancing down, Meg saw his eyes trained on her finger. “The ring? It’s been in my family for generations. I recently inherited it.” Meg dropped her eyes at the thought of her Aunt Gilly. The note that had come with the ring was written by Gilly’s own hand. It had said that her “destiny awaited,” whatever that meant.
“Is it you?” His softly voiced question brought her gaze to his.
His eyes met hers and for a minute, time was suspended. There was nothing but the two of them. And the feeling of something strong and inescapable, pulling her towards him. Without seeming to realize it, Meg rode closer until their legs brushed, and her ring once again felt hot against her skin. He reached across to her and deftly lifted her from Applejack to his huge beast. The heat of the ring was now eclipsed by the heat from his body. What was she doing? She should be pushing him away, not letting him settle her across his lap.
But instead she turned into his body and looked up into his eyes. She knew the answer to his question, “It is.”
“I have waited for you for so long,” he breathed, as their hearts, their very souls seemed to speak to one another.
“I’ve come back, just as I promised.”
Kade’s fingers twisted the hot gold band of the ring around her finger as he lifted her fingertips to his lips. Her fingers tingled from where he held them. Then his lips brushed hers, so softly she wasn’t sure if it had been real or imagined.
“My love.” His breath fanned across her cheek as he pressed his lips to her temple.
“My Laird,” one of his men called, breaking the spell.
Meg looked over her shoulder at the men riding at them, and wondered how all of the visions of the two of them as lovers had entered into her mind. Once there, they took root and she couldn’t seem to think of anything else but his skin against hers, his lips on hers. Her modern twenty-first century mind couldn’t find an answer, yet she knew him. She knew him.
Kade had one of his men lead her horse and they rode for several hours in silence, but Meg couldn’t find fear anywhere in her. Conversely, she felt very safe, and she felt as if she were going home. But home was in Oklahoma, wasn’t it?
The feeling intensified as they drew near a large whitewashed castle perched on the edge of a lake. A jolt of recognition shot through Meg. This was familiar somehow.
“Where are we?”
“Home, love. Urquhart castle, situated on Loch Ness. Do you remember?”
“Scotland? This isn’t real. This can’t be real.” Her murmured statement rang false, though; she knew it was real. This was so much more real than her boring, safe, life in Oklahoma. And it was familiar. Why was that? Meg glanced back up to Kade to find him watching her intently.
“Do you ken? Canna you feel it?” He placed her hand on his heart, the heat branding her.
She didn’t have to ask what he meant, because she did feel it; the land called to her in a primitive way. It was as if she belonged here, as if she always had. Her mundane life faded into the background as thoughts of her future with this man flooded her mind. Memories of another life intertwined with thoughts of the future, and she remembered telling him that she would return to him, and charmed the amethyst ring he’d given her on their wedding day. Almost as quickly as she’d chanted the words, she’d passed from one life into the next, her soul once more searching for his. She’d never thought it would be almost 400 years before she would find him. Ironic that the ring that bound them to each other would be what brought her back to him. Mentally blessing Aunt Gilly, Meg turned her face up to Kade’s and pressed her lips against his, savoring the sensation. By the time they crossed under the iron yett, she had already forgotten her previous life. All that existed was this man, and the undying, love that they had once again found. When they kissed again, the heat from the amethyst ring almost seared her finger, reminding her of their intertwined fates, and she smiled up at Kade, the man who’d claimed her heart so many centuries ago. The man who would hold her heart for so many centuries to come.