Read Highlander the Dark Dragon Online

Authors: Donna Fletcher

Tags: #highlander, #Scotland, #romance

Highlander the Dark Dragon

Highlander The Dark Dragon

by

Donna Fletcher

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Highlander The Dark Dragon

All rights reserved.

Copyright June 2015 by Donna Fletcher

Cover art

Kim Killion Group

Ebook Design

A Thirsty Mind Book Design

Visit Donna’s Web site

www.donnafletcher.com

http://www.facebook.com/donna.fletcher.author

Chapter One

Heather woke with a start, her heart beating wildly and her body chilled. It took her a moment to realize that she was home in the safety of her bedchamber and tucked comfortably in her bed. It had been two days since her return home and she had yet to feel completely safe and protected. She had woken the last two mornings, thinking she was still hiding in the woods from the ghost warriors while trying to make her way home. Her biggest fear had been that she would come face-to-face with her abductor—the Dark Dragon.

She shivered at the mere thought of his name and pulled the soft wool blanket up to her neck. Why the infamous warrior had had her abducted was still a question that haunted Heather and perhaps continued to be the cause of her unease. He abducted her once, would he not try again?

Heather shook her head. Lying abed would not solve her problems or ease her worries. However, her chores would provide a good reprieve from both. She hurried out of bed and slipped on her pale yellow linen shift, followed by her drab green tunic, and snatched up her brown leather boots near the fireplace to pull on and strap quickly. She ran her fingers through her soft blond hair, letting the natural waves fall where they may until she collected her four bone combs off the chest by the bed and with deft hands secured her long strands atop her head, though a few stubborn ones broke free and fell along the back of her neck.

After snatching her cloak off the peg by the door, she sighed as she rested her hand on the latch. She was home and she was safe, nothing would change that. She had her family to protect her. She could return to her daily life and everything would be fine.

Heather opened the door and as she stepped out of the room a little voice whispered in her head, “
nothing is the same nor ever will be again
.”

Another shiver ran through her and she hurried down the stairs and into the Great Hall. It was so early that the servants were yet about. It did not matter to her, for she was not hungry. What she wanted most was to walk through the village while it stirred awake and feel its peacefulness like she had done endless times before. Maybe then she would finally feel that all was well.

She draped her cloak over her shoulders and stepped outside. The sky was just beginning to glow with the first light of dawn and Heather was thrilled that she had not missed the sunrise. She hurried along to reach her favorite spot on a small rise and watched as the sun rose like a fiery magic ball from the depths of the earth.

Heather’s smile grew as the sun inched its way up, spreading its glorious light across the land. She recalled all the mornings she had stood here watching the sunrise and how happy she had been then, and she wished she could feel that same happiness now.

Patience, Emma, and she had finally been reunited, and she was so very pleased that her sisters were both wed to two men they loved and who loved them. And even more exciting news was that she was to be an aunt. Emma was with child and when the time came Heather would be right there to deliver the babe and see her sister safe. She was also thrilled that her da was feeling much better and looked far better than he had in months. And though there was a chance of war with Patience’s husband’s family, the Clan McLaud, they would face the threat together as they had done before when a clan war loomed on the horizon.

With lightness in her heart, she had not felt since being abducted, Heather turned to walk down the small rise, eager to start the day and eager to begin life anew. She stopped when something caught at the corner of her eye and she turned to look out on the rise just beyond the village.

Her heart slammed in her chest and fear froze her in place.

There, spread across the rise, atop their horses were the Dark Dragon’s infamous ghost warriors, their faces painted white, and in the lead draped in black and astride a black horse was the notorious Dark Dragon.

Heather shuddered at the sight. With the ghost warriors faces painted white, it meant they were ready for battle. She had to warn her family. This was no time to hesitate. She turned and, yanking the hem of her shift up, ran down the rise like the devil himself chased after her. The sudden toll of the bell, warning the village of approaching danger, tore through the quiet morning. Her heart pounded harder and her feet ran faster and she wondered— how did one outrun the devil?

Heather reached the keep’s steps just as her sister Patience came barreling down them, sword in hand.

Her eyes turned wide as she reached out and grabbed Heather’s arm. “Get in the keep and stay there.”

Heather was well aware of her sister’s extraordinary skill as a warrior but even she was no match for the Dark Dragon, and it worried Heather that Patience would attempt to protect her against the notorious warrior. And what of her clan? They would fight to protect her as well and how many lives would be lost? The troubling thoughts sent her stomach roiling, but she would not let her sister know her worries. She kept her concerns mostly to herself ever since the day her mother died. She had been barely seven when she was thrust into the role of being a mother to her two younger sisters. She had stood by her mother’s grave, an arm around Patience, hugging her tightly as an endless stream of tears ran down her small rosy cheeks. In her other arm she held Emma, the young child crying, though not understanding why. And her ashen-faced father stood staring in disbelief as earth was shoveled onto to his beloved wife. She had made a silent promise to her mum then and there that she would stay strong and would take care of them all. And she had and always would.

“Come inside, Patience, we must speak to Father,” Heather said and slipped her hand in her sister’s.

“I will not let him take you,” Patience said with such conviction that Heather feared blood would flow this day.

Emma came rushing down the steps, her husband Rogan trailing behind her and Hunter, Patience’s husband, flew past them to his wife’s side.

Emma paled when she caught sight of the Dark Dragon and his men on the rise. “Oh my God, he has come for Heather.”

“Over my dead body will the Dark Dragon take her from us,” Patience said, gripping her sword tighter.

Hunter shook his head and slipped his arm around his wife’s waist, ready to stop her from doing anything foolish.

Heather released her sister’s hand and left her to her husband. Since her return home, she had seen how good Hunter was for Patience. They made a perfect pair. He was a handsome one and her sister beautiful. He also possessed a charming tongue and a good heart, and Heather was amazed to see how much he loved Patience and more importantly that he had the patience to deal with her sister’s impatience.

“They sit waiting rather than attacking,” Rogan said, placing a protective arm around his wife.

“Waiting for what?” Emma asked anxiously.

“That is what we need to find out,” Rogan said. “We need to speak with your father.”

“First, I will see that our warriors are at their posts and that the village is prepared for battle,” Patience said.

“Or to greet a guest,” Hunter chimed in.

“The Dark Dragon is no guest of ours,” Patience said and looked to her sisters. “Tell Da to wait until I return to discuss this matter. I will not be long.” With that she hurried off.

Rogan looked to Hunter. “See that she does not do anything foolish.”

Hunter grinned. “I do not perform miracles.”

Heather smiled as he hurried after his wife. His humor, patience, and thoughtfulness continued to confirm what a good husband he was for Patience.

Emma walked over to Heather and gave her a hug, though Heather sensed it was Emma who needed the hug just as she had when she was a child. Emma did not remember their mother, having been barely two years when she died. To Emma, Heather was not only her sister but mother as well.

“I will do whatever is necessary to keep you from the Dark Dragon,” Emma said with the same conviction that Patience had.

Heather caught the fear that rose in Rogan’s eyes at his wife’s declaration. While Rogan could intimidate with his large size, striking features, and authoritative manner, he treated her sister like a man who truly loved his wife. And she was pleased that Emma was his wife instead of her, which had been her father’s intention. Emma and Rogan were well-suited and Heather had been surprised upon her return to see how her plain-featured sister had blossomed into an attractive woman.

Rogan reached out for his wife’s hand. “I think it would be wise to let your father know how upset Patience is.”

Emma smiled. “Trust me, he already knows.”

Rogan and Emma headed up the stairs, Heather following, having politely declined Rogan’s hand. She had spent too many years alone, being strong, to rely on anyone now. A twinge to her heart had her steps faulting for a moment.

Quinn.

He was forever in her mind and heart. He was gone almost ten years now, but her love for him had never died nor would it.

She hurried after Emma and Rogan and into the Great Hall, chaotic with activity. Everyone was rushing around and Heather could see the fear on most of their faces. It was simple to understand why—no one was ever victorious against the Dark Dragon.

Emma rushed away from her husband and over to her father. He looked more like a mighty warrior than he had in months when an illness had struck and incapacitated him. He was quite the powerful chieftain in his plaid, his long white hair braided on one side and his stance one of strength.

“It is the Dark Dragon and we cannot let him take Heather,” Emma said, gripping her father’s arm.

Donald Macinnes patted his daughter’s hand. “We will see this matter settled well.”

His soothing voice and strong reassurance had Emma’s shoulders sagging with relief. However, Heather was not as relieved. The only way this matter could be settled well was to give the Dark Dragon what he wanted. The question remained—why did he want her?

“Sit and do not worry yourself,” Donald ordered Emma. “You have the babe to think about.”

Rogan approached his wife. “Your father is right.”

Emma shook her head. “I am fine and so is the babe. It is Heather who concerns me now.” She went to her sister’s side and slipped her arm around her. “Da will see to this. All will be well.”

“With the Dark Dragon nearly at our door, how will all go well?” Patience demanded, entering the Great Hall with her husband and hearing her sister’s reassuring words.

 Donald Macinnes spoke up before anyone else could. “Please all of you take a seat.” He pointed to the trestle table in front of the massive hearth where many a night he would find his daughters deep in conversation, laughter, and sometimes tears.

“There is no time to sit,” Patience insisted. “The Dark Dragon has not stopped by to pay us a visit. He has come with his ghost warriors ready to fight for what he wants. And this time he is going to be vastly disappointed when he learns he will leave empty-handed.”

“The Dark Dragon is here at my invitation,” Donald Macinnes said with a ring of authority that could not be denied.

Everyone was too shocked to say a word.

Donald Macinnes continued. “War brews around us and clans that once were loyal allies are now questioning if they should remain so, especially if the McLauds ally with the infamous Dark Dragon. They fear the mighty warrior’s revenge if they should dare take up arms against him.”

 Patience’s brow narrowed. “What are you saying, Father?”

“Sometimes unfavorable agreements must be made in order to avoid senseless deaths and endless bloodshed.”

“Do not tell me that you bargained with the devil himself,” Patience said her bold green eyes ablaze with anger.

“As chieftain of the Clan Macinnes, I do what is necessary to save countless lives and to secure our land,” Donald said with a firm lift of his chin.

“What did you do, Father?” Patience demanded accusingly.

Donald turned to Heather. “I have wanted your happiness above all else, and there is nothing I would not do to see that come true. But I also know there is nothing you would not do to see your sisters and your clan safe."

“Father, no!” Emma cried out and Rogan was quick to slip his arm around his wife.

Donald stepped closer to Heather and reached out to take firm hold of her hands.

Heather was grateful for his strong grip, for it meant he had healed well and she was pleased to feel how warm they were when his illness had turned them so cold. But she was also reminded of how he had taken her hands in this familiar way on another day.

He had woken her and taken her to his solar. It was there he had taken her small hands in his just as he did now and had told her that her mum had died and that it was necessary, and her duty, to be brave and strong for her sisters and the clan. With just a few words she had gone from a carefree, young lass to a lass with responsibilities far beyond her barely seven years.

The weight of her father’s words had placed a heavy burden on her that day and she feared that his words this day would be more terrifying than burdensome.

“You are a most precious daughter to me, Heather, and know that I love you dearly and that I did what had to be done.” Donald took a strong breath, squeezed his daughter’s trembling hands and with tears threatening his aging eyes said, “I wed you to the Dark Dragon.”

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