on April 18th 2017
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Alec Bowie never wanted a wife. He never wanted a hearth and home. And he most assuredly never wanted to be chief of his clan. But much to his vexation, he finds himself in possession of all three.
His desire for peace and to protect his clan are stronger than his desire to remain free and untethered. He agrees to the marriage in the hopes his wife will bed him only long enough get with child then leave him the bloody hell alone.
Leona MacDowall, or Leona ‘Odd Eyes’, Leona the Witch, or Leona The Devil’s Spawn depending on to whom you speak, is all too happy to volunteer to marry the Bowie Chief. Though the clan Bowie's reputation as murderers and thieves precedes them, she believes life with Alec more palatable than living the rest of her life untouched, unmarried, and under the hateful rule of her spiteful father.
Will Alec be able to stick to his original plan of getting his wife with child then leaving her be?
Will Leona finally find the happy home she has always desired?
Will either of them live long enough to realize either of their dreams? Or will the person set on murdering Leona succeed?
Peace was tenuous at best.
Alec Bowie was loathe to admit it. Of course, he was loathe to admit many things of late.
Two months had passed since his brother had been killed. It had been a painful, horrible death. Had Ian Mackintosh’s piercing blade not been enough for Rutger, then the horse that trampled him into the earth had finished the job. Even though his brother had been mad with greed for gold and power, Alec still missed him. Besides their endless lines of cousins, Rutger was the last living kin he had.
Now he was dead. Laid to rest in the family plot without much ceremony, near the loch not far from the Bowie keep. In death, as it had been in life, Rutger was placed between his parents. While their parents loved their sons without question, they often used them as weapons against the other. Parents and son were probably all three burning in hell. Alec couldn’t be certain, of course.
He had begged his brother on numerous occasions to take the opportunity to bring peace to their clan. To change the tide and bring the outside world in. But Rutger refused. Too entrenched in the past, too afraid to take chances, too greedy and obstinate, he had left it up to Alec to give the clan what they needed most: a future. A far different future. A life without thieving, without terrorizing neighboring clans, a life without crime or prices on their heads. And now he was their chief.
He’d never held any designs on the chiefdom of any clan, let alone this rag-tag one filled with criminals, horse thieves, and ne’er-do-wells. How the bloody hell was he supposed to turn these people into farmers? Weavers? Whisky-makers?
Mayhap ’twas folly. Mayhap ’twould all be for naught. But he had to — at the very least — try.
And that was what he was doing this day. Trying.
Trying to find a wife while trying not to wring his cousin Dougall’s neck.
The man was mad. Daft. Delusional.
But he had a point. One more thing Alec was loathe to admit.
In order to bring ever-lasting peace to his clan, alliances must be made, friendships nurtured and cultivated, much like the seeds of barley he had planted a sennight after his brother’s death.
So here he sat in Ian Mackintosh’s tent, looking out at the McLaren and Mackintosh people. The tent, while quite large, was filled to bursting with curious people.
His fingers rested gingerly on a dirk he had hidden at his waist. The blood of generations of murderous men and thieves ran through his veins. ’Twas hard to let one’s guard down when one was used to an entirely different way of interacting with people.
To his left were his men, Dougall and Kyth Bowie. Tall, strong men, with the same dark hair and eyes as he. Ruthless they were, when the need arose.
To his right sat Ian Mackintosh, laird and chief of clan McLaren. Ian was one of those handsome men, with blonde hair and blue eyes and enough self-confidence for fifty men, that women swooned over. He admired Ian a great deal. Not only did he possess an inordinate sense of honor, of justice, of right versus wrong; he was one of the few people Alec could call friend. Hell, he was the only person outside his clan he could refer to as such.
Next to Ian sat his brothers, Brogan and Frederick Mackintosh. Ginger-haired men whose skills on the battlefield were legendary. And for good reason. Either of them could kill a man with their bare hands, or so their enemies claimed. At the far end of the table sat a man he’d met just this morning, but had heard much about. Roderick the Bold. Roderick was neither a McLaren nor a Mackintosh by blood, but he considered himself a member of their clan all the same. Alec was as yet uncertain what to make of the odd fellow, but decided ’twould be best to watch his back whenever the man was near.
The long table faced out toward the crowd. He had the odd sensation that left him feeling as though he were some mysterious creature on display. He supposed, mayhap, ’twas because people were not used to seeing a Bowie unless he was trying to steal their purse or cattle, raid their lands, or behave in some other immoral manner.
Ian leaned in and whispered, “Are ye certain ye wish to do this?” for what seemed the hundredth time.
Alec gave a curt nod, which belied what he was truly thinking. Bloody hell, no! I do no’ wish to do this, but I must.
With a sigh of resignation, Ian said, “Verra well, let us get started. But we must hurry, I do no’ wish to leave Rose fer long.”
Rose Mackintosh. Alec liked that woman verra much. Strong, blunt, and quite pretty. She was a week past when she should have delivered Ian’s babe into the world.
Babes and wives. They would be the downfall of human civilization. Eventually.
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