Read My Heart's in the Highlands Online

Authors: Angeline Fortin

My Heart's in the Highlands

 
 
 

 

My love is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June:
My love is like the melody
That's sweetly played in tune.
How fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till all the seas gang dry.
Till all the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands of life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only love.
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my love,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
 
Robert Burns
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Mae W
est

Chapter One

 

 

Glasgow, Scotland

September
2012

 

His lips brushed across hers, a thrilling combination of tenderness and aching passion.    From beneath her lashes she watched his face.  Passion and awe were written there, and she was sure that if he opened his eyes, he would see that very same expression on her face.  Never had she felt anything like this. Not just passion, but heart-rending need mixed with something she had never felt before, but it made her chest tighten, her throat close, and her eyes burn with tears.  She felt like sobbing, yet at the same time she wanted to sing with joy.

She ran her hands up his back and over his shoulders, feeling the muscles playing beneath his smooth skin while his lips
moved against hers, searching and exploring.  She wanted to beg him to never stop, to let her remain forever in the circle of his arms. 

Pulling back, she stared up at him, her eyes begging him with the words she couldn’t say.
  He brushed the hair back from her temple, curling a lock of hair around his finger.  His dark gaze, warm as caramel, melted into hers.  “I love you,” he whispered, his voice carrying a wealth of emotion.  Her heart ached at his words as he bent his head to kiss her again.  “God, how I love you.”

A single tear slipped down her cheek as her heart bur
st with joy.  “And I lo…”

 

Mikah Bauer woke with a start to the incessant beeping of the alarm she had set on her cell phone.  Reaching out, she hit the
dismiss
button on the screen and lay back against the pillows with a sigh, trying to entangle herself once more in the sensual tendrils that had ensnared her moments before.  But the dream was gone.

“Come back,” she whispered aloud, her voice quivering with longing, her body still aching with desire for
him

The dreams were getting worse
… or better, depending on how one looked at it.  Mikah had dreamed of this man on and off for almost her entire life, but the innocent dreams of her childhood had taken a sensual turn during the past week.  Now they delivered passion more intense than Mikah had thought herself capable of imagining, much less experiencing.  But imagination it must be, for emotions so powerful were not part of reality.  Real people weren’t capable of the depth of love that she had felt in her dreams … that she had felt from him.

No
man had ever told her he loved her that way, as if the words had been wrenched from his very soul.   Was it any wonder that she wanted nothing more than to sleep forever and lose herself in her dream man?

But he was gone
and Mikah didn’t know when he would come again.

Rolling over, Mi
kah squinted against the sunlight beaming brightly through a narrow gap in the drawn curtains of her hotel room.  The poignant ache in her chest was fading away and she felt sadness creep over her as it did.  “Damn,” she whispered into the silent room.

 

An hour later, Mikah stepped out onto the street outside the Carlton George Hotel in Glasgow.  The day was hot and humid, the normally clouded skies clear, allowing the sun to beat down on the pavement … and her  … with unseasonal fervor. 

Forget walking
, she thought as she waved a cab down. Chalk it up to global warming or whatever, but she had always heard that Scotland wasn’t supposed to be hot, even in the summer.  Yet summer was long gone and it was
hot
.

Pulling open the door of the taxi that stopped in front of her,
Mikah held out hope that there might be an air conditioner running in the car but was sadly disappointed to find the cabbie sitting inside with only the windows down for ventilation.  “Where to, lassie?” he asked.


Queen and Ingram,” she answered, patting at her damp forehead with the back of her hand.  She had spent only a few moments on the curb, yet already her silk blouse was clinging to her back.  “GoMA.”


It’s only a few blocks walk away,” the driver pointed out, meeting her eyes in the rearview mirror.  “Are ye sure ye don’t just want to walk it?”


Very sure,” she answered, mentally willing him on with wild hopes that he would build up enough speed during the short trip to create a breeze.

The cabbie just scoff
ed and accelerated into the busy traffic in a way that seemed the norm in the UK but tended to terrify her.  Gripping the armrest tightly, Mikah held on as he broke speedily into the noontime traffic.  As she had hoped, some small amount of air began to move about the vehicle, creating enough of a breeze to momentarily provide some relief from the heat.

Everyone she had talked to
had insisted that it just wasn’t normal, the current weather.  The heat wave was causing fits and starts all across Scotland, where the average September temp was typically in the high fifties Fahrenheit with cloudy skies.  Mikah had packed her bags for this trip accordingly with a selection of cardigans and wool jackets, but it was in the nineties now and the sun was roasting the town and her as well in her black silk blouse and charcoal pencil skirt.  She didn’t even have the tiniest pleasure that might be taken from an open-toed shoe.

Even back home in Milwaukee
, with the continual breeze off Lake Michigan, it didn’t normally get this hot.  Especially in September.

Only on
ce in her life could Mikah remember being so hot.  She’d been about six years old and sick with the flu, feverish.  She’d been burning up with a fever and been kept home from school.  While she was napping on the couch with her head in her father’s lap, she had woken, dazed and delirious, and become aware of the movie that her dad was watching on the TV through the haze that surrounded her.  Nothing of the city-set scenes had interested her and she’d been just about to drift off to sleep once more when the scene changed to a rocky landscape that caught Mikah’s attention.  She didn’t listen to what the characters were saying, but focused on the backdrop.  Even when the men broke into battle, their swords ringing against one another, their shouts loud and awful, her gaze remained on the lone mountain in the background.

“I know that place, Daddy,” she whispered drowsily.


Mikes, I thought you were sleeping!” her father scolded, using the remote to pause the movie.


I know that mountain,” Mikah slurred, still staring at the television.  “I’ve been there.”

Mikah’s
father looked back at the still frame of a dramatic pyramid-shaped mountain that backdropped the initial battle scene between Connor MacLeod and Victor Kruger in the movie Highlander.  He couldn’t recall seeing another like it, and this was the first time they had rented the movie since its release on VHS.


I’m sure it’s just your imagination,” he said, standing and scooping his daughter into his arms.  “Come on, Princess, let’s put you to bed.”

Mikah wrapped her arms around her
father’s broad shoulders and laid her head against his chest.  “Buachaille Etive Beag.” 

Sean Bauer
frowned as the strange words emerged from his daughter’s mouth.  “What’s that?”


That’s the name of the mountain.” Mikah had never wondered how she knew that, whether she was feverish or delusional.


You, sweet princess, have a wonderful imagination.”


I want to go there someday.”


Then someday you will, but right now you need to go to bed.”


Okay, Daddy.  Maybe I’ll dream of it some more.”


Maybe you will,” he said, thinking nothing more of it.

 

She’d been miserably hot and in love at the same time.  Just as she was now.  She’d fallen in love with Scotland that day, and over the years that fascination had never faded.   She’d had posters as a teen and read travel guides through college.  She avidly collected movies set in Scotland and sometimes she caught sight of familiar places in films that weren’t even set there. 

For years, Mikah had
been saving up for a trip to Scotland.  It was the culmination of years of longing to visit this place now and she’d hadn’t even had to dip into her savings to do it because her job had sent her here!  In her position as a collections curator with the Milwaukee Art Museum, Mikah had in recent years taken trips to other museums across America, gathering works from those museums for special exhibits, but this was her first major trip abroad.  When her boss had recently announced that they would be putting together an anthology of the early Pop Art movement, Mikah had lobbied fiercely to be the one to take lead on the project.

While
Americans like Warhol and Lichtenstein didn’t get started until the 1960s, the Pop Art movement had its birth in Britain in the 1950s with artists like Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Richard Hamilton.  She’d been all across Britain in the past week, collecting works from some of Britain’s best modern art museums. 

Though
it was technically a business trip and despite the unusual temperatures, Mikah had felt an odd sense of contentment upon landing first in England and now in Scotland.  The views, the sights, the people;  everything seemed so familiar.  Comfortable.  Like a long-lost friend. 

The first lift of her hair by the summer breeze had caressed her skin familiarly.
  The smell of the Highland air had roused vague images of people and places she’d never known.  Though Mikah was single and considered herself happily so, the rugged romance of the Scottish highlands surrounding her made her think that it would be nice to have someone to share it with.  She found herself longing to walk hand in hand with a man she loved with the scent of heather surrounding them.

O
ddly enough, she felt as if she had come home.

This was a
home where she had never lived, much less visited.  But the feeling was heartwarming, nonetheless.

 

Though not so warming as the weather, Mikah was reminded as the cab too quickly arrived at their destination, stilling even the feeble draft its movement had generated.  Mikah paid the man for his services, levering herself back out onto the radiant concrete of the street.  Shading her eyes against the bright sunlight, she stared up at her destination.  GoMA, or for those not in the know, the Gallery of Modern Art. 

It, like everything else she’d seen in the past three days, was
easily recognizable to Mikah.  She knew the neoclassic building with its marble columns and tall cupola on the roof as if she’d walked through its doors a dozen times before.  Shaking her head at what she considered a burgeoning bit of insanity—most likely brought on by the stifling heat wave—Mikah shook her head with a self-derisive chuckle.  Of course, she had seen the building before, just like everything else she’d seen so far.  After all, she’d been scouring the web for weeks in planning this trip.

And if that wasn’t a reasonable excuse for the déjà vu moments
that had been flying every which way since her arrival, her lifelong fascination with Scotland and, indeed, all of Britain could easily explain it.  She’d read books, posted calendars, and searched websites on the topic for enough years to make it all achingly familiar.

Certainly that
was all it was.

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