Read Highlander's Promise Online

Authors: Donna Fletcher

Tags: #Highlander, #Short Story, #USA Today Bestselling Author

Highlander's Promise

Highlander’s Promise

A Cree & Dawn Short Story

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’s Promise

All rights reserved.

Copyright August 2015 by Donna Fletcher

Cover art

Kim Killion Group

Ebook Design

A Thirsty Mind Book Design

Visit Donna’s Web site

www.donnafletcher.com

www.facebook.com/donna.fletcher.author

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Titles by Donna Fletcher

About the Author

Chapter One

Cree grabbed his wife around the waist, yanked her off the top of him, and rolled so that she lay beneath him. “Are you trying to kill me or yourself riding me that hard?”

Dawn turned her head, a tear falling from her eye.

“Damn,” Cree mumbled and slipped off her to take her in his arms and tuck her naked body as close against him as he possibly could. “I know you do not want me to go, but I have no choice. The King commands it.”

Dawn eased away from him to speak with her hands, having lacked a voice since birth, but her husband was accustomed to her way of speaking as long as she did not go too fast, a habit of hers when she grew angry or upset.

She pointed to him, then to her, and then brought two of her fingers together tightly and shook her head.

“I know we have not been separated for any length of time since we first met, but it cannot be helped. I must see to this matter for the King. I will only be gone two maybe three weeks. Believe me when I tell you I do not want to go. I do not want to leave you and the twins, but I will leave you well-protected. You have nothing to fear.”

She patted her chest frantically and then his.

“Do not worry about me. I will see this mission done and return to you, and then you better be ready to ride me as hard as you have tonight, for I will be going mad having been without you for so long.”

Dawn ran her hand along his jaw and mouth, outlining his lips with her thumb, and then pressed her cheek to his. She could not fathom being separated from him for that long and knew that a part of her would go with him, and she would not feel whole again until he returned to her.

“I love you, Dawn,” Cree whispered in her ear. “You are my heart, my soul, every breath I take. Without you there is no life. There is no me. We are one... always and forever.”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she wrapped her arms around his neck. She loved this man more than she ever thought it was possible to love. She wished she could speak aloud and tell him how she felt, but that would never be, so she spoke not only with her hands but also with her heart.

She took gentle hold of his hand, pressed it to her cheek, feeling its warmth, then placed it against her chest, holding it there for several moments, her eyes focused intently on his as she did so, then she slowly moved it off her chest to press against his.

Cree smiled. “You gave your heart to me shortly after we first met in that dark hut, frightened as you waited for me to emerge from the darkness. I could smell your fear and sense your courage. I have kept your heart tucked safely with me ever since, and I always will.”

She cuddled closer to him, holding on to this moment—this night—for as long as she could, for tomorrow he would take his leave and she so feared she would never see him again.

“I promise I will come back to you, Dawn. You have my word,” Cree said.

Dawn looked into his eyes, tapped his chest hard, then slapped her hand to her chest, and then to his.

“You most certainly will not come after me if a sorrowful fate should befall me, and I will have your word on that.”

Dawn tightened her lips and stubbornly tucked her hands against her chest.

“I mean it, Dawn. Give me your word you will do nothing foolish.”

Dawn pursed her lips tight and shook her head.

“I warn you now, wife. If you ever do anything so foolish, I will see you punished for it.”

Dawn shook her head again, letting him know she did not care what he said.

“Disobey me, wife, and I will lay you naked across my knees and give you a good thrashing.”

Her smile was so broad, he knew she laughed inside and knew why. “All right, so we both know you enjoy that, but I will think of some other befitting punishment for you.”

Her hands moved ever so slowly and a tear slipped from the corner of her eye.

Cree wiped it away. “You do not care as long as I am home safe with you.”

Dawn nodded and kissed him gently. It did not take long for the kiss to turn demanding and soon they were once again making love, knowing sunrise would come too soon, along with their goodbyes.

Chapter Two

Dawn shook her head as the scream rose up in her throat and echoed in her head. She grabbed her chest, the pain tearing at her, and glared at Sloan while fighting to keep her legs from collapsing out from under her. She did not struggle against the tears that ran from her eyes or wipe them away. They would never stop falling anyway.

Lila ran to her side and wrapped her arm around her, crying along with her best friend.

Dawn felt the hurt deep down in her heart.

“I am sorry, Dawn,” Sloan said. “This should have never happened. Cree went as an emissary to King Alexander. Parlan Minnoch had no right or cause to take Cree prisoner. And with Minnoch castle impenetrable, it will be difficult to free him. I have sent word to the King that he demand Cree’s immediate release.”

Dawn’s hands moved slowly, it being too much of an effort for her to lift them.

Lila interpreted. “And what happens to my husband while the message is being delivered to King? Does Cree languish in Minnoch’s dungeons? Does he suffer the tortures of hell? Or does he...”

Dawn’s hands stopped moving, not able to bring herself to admit that Cree could die.

“The only thing I can think to do right now is to return to Castle Minnoch with more men and attempt to negotiate Cree’s release, while seeing if there is a way to free him if negotiations should fail.” Sloan took hold of Dawn’s hands, his heart aching for her when he felt how they trembled. “I will bring Cree back to you.”

“Come, let me take you to your chambers away from this commotion,” Lila said and led her from the Great Hall as Sloan shouted orders and warriors began to gather, all ready and willing to help rescue Cree.

Flanna, overseer of the keep and friend to Dawn, entered the bedchamber shortly after Lila and Dawn, tears brimming in her eyes. “I will see that a soothing brew is made for you.”

Dawn shook her head while Lila nodded.

“He will escape,” Flanna assured her, squeezing Dawn’s chilled hand. “Did he not escape when taken prisoner here? There is no dungeon that can hold Cree.”

Dawn wanted to believe Flanna, but she recalled overhearing Cree talking with Sloan before leaving on the mission.

“Parlan Minnoch is not a man to be trusted. He will pledge allegiance to King Alexander, and then stab him in the back when a better opportunity comes his way. He has no honor and no morals. His castle is a stronghold that few can breech and once inside escape would prove difficult. This mission will not go easy.”

Escaping here, Dowell, from a hut that barely remained standing was far different from escaping a cell in the dungeons of Castle Minnoch. Besides, Cree had planned all along for Colum, the liege lord of Dowell at that time to capture him. His capture this time had not been planned.

“You should rest,” Lila advised.

Dawn shook her head and gestured with her hands.

“Aye, go be with the twins. I will wait here for Flanna and bring the brew to you.”

Dawn nodded and before going to the door, she gave Lila a firm hug.

“Cree is like no other man,” Lila said, hugging her friend just as firmly. “He will come back to you.”

Dawn nodded and left the room, her fear trailing after her.

The twins Valan and Lizbeth were napping, both having fed a short while before Sloan had arrived, Valan being hungrier than his sister as usual, and of course he fussed until Lizbeth was placed beside him. Five months now and his sleep was still restless if his sister was not next to him.

Three weeks and Dawn had barely slept without Cree beside her. The bed was not only empty, but so was her heart. She could not imagine endless nights ahead without him or the twins not seeing their da ever again. Their faces would light up with joy when he took them in his powerful arms. Valan would make sounds as if trying to speak to him, but Lizbeth would simply lie content staring at him and each time the two stole his heart a bit more.

A tear slipped from her one eye, and there and then she knew what she had to do... she had to go rescue Cree.

~~~

It was late when she made her way to Old Mary’s cottage. Lila had long since returned home to her husband Paul and baby Thomas. Sloan was much too occupied with his plans to pay her any attention and Flanna too busy seeing that the servants kept the horde of warriors supplied with food and drink.

Dawn walked in without knocking, knowing the old woman would be expecting her. As long as Dawn knew Old Mary, she had had a knowing about her and it was that knowing she would seek tonight.

It did not bode well seeing tears in Old Mary’s eyes, for the last time she had it was when Dawn’s mum died. Dawn shook her head, letting her own tears fall as she went to Old Mary to be wrapped in her frail, but loving arms.

After a few minutes of endless tears, Dawn eased away from her so that she could speak with her hands. The old woman and her mum had taught her to use her hands to make herself known, so Old Mary understood her gestures better than anyone.

Dawn hands moved with determination, letting Old Mary know that she intended to go rescue Cree.

Old Mary nodded. “Fate is a strange creature. Sometimes she is generous in showing me things and other times...” She shrugged. “She shows me nothing, but then she had shown me that you and Cree would have many children and so far that has not changed. So I would say things bode well for Cree’s return.” She chuckled at Dawn’s quick response. “Aye, I agree. Cree must survive so that you can make him suffer for putting you through this pain.” Her aging eyes turned serious. “This will not be an easy task for us.”

Dawn tilted her head in question, pointing to Old Mary.

“You cannot go alone. You need someone to speak for you, and you most certainly cannot allow anyone to think that your loss of voice is permanent. It is becoming widely known that Cree has a voiceless wife, so we must take precautions. I will go with you.”

Dawn shook her head vehemently.

“Do not waste time arguing with me or telling me I am too old and feeble for the arduous journey. Besides, who pays attention to an old woman? And who will save you from Cree when he sees you have come to rescue him?”

Old Mary was right about Cree being furious with her for endangering her life to rescue him, but that did not matter to her as long as she could free her husband and see him returned home safely.

“You need to find out Sloan’s plans so that we do not cross his path and jeopardize our mission. No doubt he will attempt to negotiate with Minnoch for Cree’s release. The thing is... what does Minnoch want or gain from taking Cree prisoner?”

Dawn shook her head, having thought the same but having found no answer.

“One thing I have sensed about this situation is that we have no time to waste. For some reason, we must hurry and see this done as soon as possible. Go and find out what Sloan plans and when he will take his leave. He cannot know what you intend to do, so we cannot depart until he does. Now go and do what must be done.”

Dawn hurried out of the cottage, feeling anxious over Old Mary’s warning that they could not waste a moment. If she felt they must rush, then something was very wrong and that frightened Dawn. With hasty steps and a fearful heart, she returned to the keep, eager to be on her way to rescue her husband.

~~~

Dawn rode beside Old Mary in the cart. Their garments were worn and patched and had an odor about them that kept anyone from getting too close. The cart carried a bundle of rags smelling almost as badly as their garments. To anyone they would appear two peasant women, trying to sell what little they had to survive.

She had watched the surrounding countryside for the last five days with little interest, thinking of her departure from home. She had told Lila and Flanna the truth. Lila had tried to talk her out of going, but Flanna had not. Dawn had finally convinced Lila when she asked her if she would do the same for Paul if he were in such a situation.

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