Read Highland Promise Online

Authors: Amanda Anderson

Highland Promise (4 page)

She tensed when he pressed one finger into her moist opening and he thought she would protest.

“Shh lass, I’ll be easy with you.  It will hurt a little this first time, but I’ll make sure you’re ready to take me.”

His words didn’t seem to ease her.  He found the little bud between her thighs and rubbed it in slow circles as he rose to look into her eyes in the dimness of the barn.

“I’ll take care of you Anne.  I will always take care of you.  I swear it.” 

When she started making pleasure noises he probed her again while continuing to rub her with his thumb.  Her hips moved restlessly as he worked her.  She tensed again when he added another finger and worked at stretching her.  He was a large man and she was tiny, fragile.  He shouldn’t even be touching her at all, but he was weak.  He was weak and a fool, but he would die without her.

“I need you to be ready for me lass.  I’m not a small man.”

He had to warn her.  He hated not being able to see her.  He longed to see the color of her nipples, moist from his mouth.  He wanted to see if her cheeks were flushed with pleasure or if they were pale with fear.  He cursed the lack of light.  He needed to be sure that she was enjoying his touch.

“Lass, I…”

“Shh.  It’s ok Malcom.  I want you too.  I need it to be done.  Please...”

Something wasn’t right.  She sounded different, but not drunk on passion the way he felt.  She lifted her hips and his fingers sank into her deeper and she gasped.  He held still and let her work herself on his fingers.  He was losing his mind, but she was growing wetter.  Her body began to squeeze his fingers and he lost control.

He tugged his fingers from her and gripped her thighs.  He spread her wide and positioned himself at her quivering opening.  He cursed the lack of light again as he slid into her slowly.  He felt her stiffen and rushed to reassure her, but she didn’t stop him.  He pressed until he filled her completely and then held perfectly still so she could adjust to him.

“Are ye alright lass?”


Was she alright?  Anne didn’t know.  She had just ruined herself with a man that hated the sight of her, but she felt alive for the first time in ages.  She knew she wasn’t worth anything to Malcom and she feared he would send her away, but maybe she could convince him she was good for something.

He had made promises, but she had heard men did those things to lie with a woman. 

“A man will promise you the world dear child, do not believe a word.”  Margret had told her once when a scandal had ruined a young woman she’d known.  That was all this was.  Malcom was making promises so she would allow him liberties with her body. 

They meant nothing.

The burning pain between her legs was nothing compared to the burning pain in her chest.  She had tried to be so strong.  She had lost everything, been uprooted and tossed into this place that didn’t accept her.  She had thought she was a fine lady and it had all been nothing but a lie.  Why then should she hold on to something else that stood in her way of being what she truly was?  She was no better than the servant girls who had once served her and she knew the men of the house used them as they pleased.  She was nothing more than that to Malcom, just a willing body. 

She owed him everything, how could she deny him her body, the body that was alive only because of his charity?

The realization stung more than she wanted to admit, but the pain that still burned her wouldn’t let her hide from the choice she’d just made.  There was no turning back.  She was ruined.

She had accepted her place in the world.

“Lass I need to know you’re alright now.”  His voice was gentle even as it was rough with his need. 

It broke her heart. Would this be the only time she experienced kindness in her life?  Would she have to pay so dearly for the comfort of touch?

“I’m fine.”  She whispered and that must have been enough because Malcom began to move inside of her.  Pleasure replaced pain as he rocked on top of her.  Tears flowed freely from her eyes as he found his pleasure in her body, but he didn’t leave her as she had expected, instead he pulled her close and tucked her against his chest.  It was more than she could bear. 

Her body shook as she cried out her heartache into his warm chest.  He didn’t push her away, instead her held her close and kissed her head.  His huge hand ran up and down her back, giving her more comfort than she’d thought he could manage. 

“It’s alright lass.  Let it out.  I know this is all a lot for you.   It’s alright to feel overwhelmed.”

He pressed a kiss against her hair.

“You are safe now.  No one will ever harm you.  I will keep you safe for the rest of my life.  I swear it.”

How did this man understand?  She couldn’t say a word.  All she could do was lay in his arms and let him comfort her.  When she was all cried out she felt hollow, but Malcom still held her. 

She wanted to believe him so much, but she knew she couldn’t.  She wouldn’t allow herself to be so foolish.

“Feel better now lass?”  He asked when her tears slowed.

“Yes.  Thank you Malcom.”  Nerves were starting to creep in and Anne was feeling the weight of what had just happened between them.  She felt shame wash over her like a splash from the slop bucket and she longed for a bath, but she knew no amount of soap would wash away the filth that consumed her.

She squirmed to put space between them, to hide her nakedness.

“Ahhh, now for the regret then?  I don’t share that emotion, if you’re wonderin’ lass.  I don’ regret what just happened between us nor will I apologize for it.”

Malcom pulled one hand behind his head and held her close with the other.

“Aye I suppose not.  I suppose it was the only choice after Fiona saw you kiss me earlier.  I suppose that you did what you had to so you’d be sure to have a warm bed when you visit.”

She’d expected him to push her away, to be angry at her spiteful words, but all he did was let his hand slip to her arse where he pinched her cheek.  SHe did not gain the space she had hoped for, he only pulled her closer and pressed another kiss to her head.

“Stop that nonsense.  If I’d wanted my bed warmed I could have taken Fiona.  She would not have denied me.  I wanted you lass, for some reason I can’t figure out, I wanted you and I fear I’ll never want another.”

“Well thank you very much…”

He turned her until he was pressing her into the straw again. 

“You’re welcome lass.”  Then his lips were on hers again.  “You’ll be sore tomorrow lass.  Next time we can enjoy each other several times in the night.”  His mouth moved down to her breast and then further.

Anne pushed at his head when he pressed between her thighs, but he resisted her effortlessly.  His tongue took a long lick of her tender flesh and she froze.

“Good girl.”  He murmured as he continued to taste her.

“You bled a little lass, that’s normal.”  How could he talk when his tongue was doing such deliciously scandalous things to her? 

He held her legs open wide and refused to allow her to move away.  He was humiliating her, showing her how little he respected her.  He was making sure she had fallen completely from grace.  That she would never be able to hold her head high again.

She figured this was how men talked to the lightskirts that charged men for their company.

She was no better.  She had given this man her body to secure her safety.  Something inside her broke as she lay there allowing Malcom to enjoy her most private parts with his mouth.

He devoured her until she could barely breathe.  He was relentless until she flew apart.  Then he calmed her again and held her as she drifted to sleep, but there was no peace in her slumber and there never would be again.

She was ruined.






“What are you about?  You can’t do this and expect no one to say anything Malcom.  You can’t trifle with every woman you find and expect there to be no consequences.  She is not a plaything for you to toy with!  She came here seeking protection.”

Anne looked around the loft.  She lay naked on a bed of straw, wrapped in a tartan of red and blue. 

Moira sounded furious as she berated Malcom for his actions.  It was cowardly of her to hide, but she hadn’t the courage she needed to face Malcom’s mother.

“This is over.  She was sent to me for safekeeping and you bedded her.  Margret is a MacTaggart you daft child.  She will not be happy to find you bedding lasses all over Scotland before you’re married to her kin.  Do you think the child will not tell her of this?  Margret is all the child has in this world!”

Anne gasped.  Malcom was to be married. 

She scurried for her clothes and dressed as quickly as she could.  She heard Malcom curse and start to climb the ladder.  She was determined to be dressed before he made it to her.


“Don’t.  There were no promises made here that I’ll hold you to.  I’d rather forget all about it.  What’s done is done after all.”

“Nay, nay lass I’ll not forget anything and neither will you.  I will not let you run from me.” 

He reached for her, but she scurried to the ladder and down as fast as she could.

“Anne, come back now, we need to talk about this.”

She escaped the barn and headed for the paddock.  She was such a fool.  What had she expected?  She knew Malcom could never love a woman like her for no other reason than her blood was English, but married.  She hadn’t even given it a thought.  What of Fiona?  Did she know of this marriage and share his bed anyway?  What sort of woman did a thing like that?

A desperate one.

She stopped in her tracks by the gently gurgling creek. 

A woman like her.

She knew it was true.  She would lay with Malcom again if he came to her, if he kissed her.  She was the lowest of all things.  She would give him her body as long as he allowed her to stay.  Allowed her to be safe.

Her stomach churned and heaved, but since she’d missed dinner and likely breakfast there was nothing for her to expel.  She fell to her knees in the cool grass and heaved, but nothing came up.  She exhausted herself and finally pulled to her feet and continued on her way to the paddock.

Nothing would be gained from her weakness.

There she found Fiona standing over the little lamb Anne had taken charge of.  She held a blade in her hand and wore a grin that caused a shiver to run over Anne’s body. 

Blood dripped from the blade of the knife and Anne screamed when she saw the tiny lamb lying lifeless in a growing puddle of crimson.

“Fiona?”  Anne called and Fiona’s head snapped around.

“English whore!”  Fiona screamed as she came at Anne with the knife raised. 

Anne tried to back away, but her feet tangled in her dress and she fell hard on her back.  The air rushed out of her body causing another scream to remain trapped in her throat.

“He is mine!  That MacTaggart bitch will never claim him as her husband.  I will cut her throat out before I’ll allow it.  If not me then one of her own will kill her as soon as she shows her ugly face.”

Fiona fell on Anne with fury Anne could not fight.  The girl was far stronger than Anne and she could almost see her life slipping away even before the knife made a downward arch toward her face.  Somehow Anne managed to deflect the slice with her arm, causing the knife to sink deep into her tender flesh.  The pain tore a scream from her throat that she was shocked came from her.  She sounded like a specter screaming for the souls of the damned.

Fiona wasn’t appeased with Anne’s blood, the sight of it actually seemed to drive her deeper into madness as she again raised the blade to deliver a fatal blow.

Before the knife met its mark however, Fiona was lifted from her perch atop Anne and disarmed by a red-faced Malcom.

Moira and Skye rushed to Anne to assess her wound, helping her to her feet and ushering her into the cramped cottage and away from the screaming Fiona.  John and Allen rushed out of the barn and Anne heard raised voices but she couldn’t understand them.  Nothing penetrated the pain in her arm.

Anne couldn’t think past the pain as Moira set to work boiling water as she mumbled under her breath.

Sooner than Anne could fathom, she was bandaged and resting, but Malcom had gone and he had taken Fiona with him.  The weight of her disappointment threatened to crush Anne.  He hadn’t even checked on her before he’d left with his lover.  He hadn’t seemed to care for her at all.  She had given him her body and he had turned from her after the heat of desire had cooled from his blood.  She had been right not to trust his word.

Sleep dragged her under and she almost hoped she would never resurface again.






Malcom rode through the early morning mist.  It had taken him longer than he’d thought it would to find Fiona a suitable match, but it had finally been done.  He almost felt sorry for the man who had taken charge of her. 

Malcom hadn’t disclosed the fact that the woman was unstable.  He had sworn to Allen that he would not, but it did not sit well with him.

Fiona had raged for days, wept and cried and stripped off her clothes to try to entice him back into her arms.  When he’d refused her she had vowed to kill Anne and any other woman who earned his love.

That had been the end of his charity. 

He had ridden hard to the home of Angus Craig.  He had known the man all his life and knew he would likely welcome a young wife since his had died some years ago.  It was not the match he had hoped for Fiona, but she’d turned out to be less worthy of such a match.

Old Angus would be able to handle whatever Fiona handed him and if she wasn’t careful she might find herself over Angus’s knee more often than she liked. 

Malcom let out a breath as he rode away from Angus and the woman he had slaked his lust with so many times.

Fiona would fare well with Angus, even if he was old enough to be her father or older.  He would care for her and her alone for the rest of his days.  A woman like Fiona craved that sort of devotion.

He wondered about Anne.  He cursed himself for not going to her before he left, but Fiona had been a mad woman.  She had fought and clawed at everyone who’d come near her.  His only hope of keeping Anne safe was to remove Fiona. 

His arms ached for Anne almost as much as his heart.  He needed her to feel whole again.  Needed her to wipe away the guilt he felt over how he had treated Fiona.  He needed her to love him.

He wanted to be back in his beloved highlands with Anne.  To escape the expectations of his clan.  He wanted nothing more than to wake with her and spend his days in her company as they raised lambs and hopefully children of their own.

He knew that she had recovered from the letter he’d received from his mother, but she gave no other detail.

He was starving for details of her.  The messenger he had sent had given him nothing.  He hadn’t even seen Anne nor had she sent any word to him.

The woman had bewitched him somehow, but he didn’t mind it.  He wanted her to do more, anything as long as she accepted him.  He would work the rest of his life to deserve her love if she would only give it.

“I have news of the MacTaggarts, Laird Malcom.  ‘Tis said a group of thirty were seen heading for the highlands last evening.”  One of his men spoke up.

Malcom’s heart sank.  The MacTaggarts couldn’t get to Anne before he did.  She would be gone before he could get to her and he would never see her again.  It had been over three months already and he felt like he was dying with every breath.  He knew he could not go the rest of his life without her.

“I’m going to meet them.  Who will ride with me?”  He announced.

Six of his men volunteered to ride with him and he set a fast pace toward home, toward Anne and he prayed he would reach her in time.


Gone.  She was gone.

Everyone was gone and the ashes of the cottage still smoldered. 

Malcom turned to his men.

“Who?  Who did this?”

“We don’t know sir.” 

His men looked as shocked and angry as he felt.  Someone had attacked his family.


Malcom turned and drew his broadsword as he came hip to face with the soot covered face of a young boy.  The boy stood his ground and faced the fierce group of men.

“It was the MacTaggarts.”

The boy pulled a piece of tartan from his shirt and Malcom’s heart sank.


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