Wishing For A HighlanderBy: Jessi Gage
“Ye never answered my first question,” he said. “Who are you? And where are ye from if ye’re no’ English?”
“Ugh. I don’t know. Is there an answer that won’t get me burned at the stake or locked up in a ward for the hopelessly insane?”
Like most things out of her mouth, that had been a peculiar answer. “Ye could try the truth,” he offered, slowing his pace since he heard Archie’s voice not far off.
“No,” she said flatly. “I couldn’t. At least not the whole truth. How about we just go with my name, Melanie, and with the honest fact that I’m a long way from home and I have no idea how to get back.” Her green eyes pierced his. “I’m afraid you might be stuck with me, Darcy Keith.”
Wishing for a Highlander
By Jessi Gage
To Shane, who reads everything I write and doesn’t squirm too much. Thanks for being my best friend and supporting my dream.
Thank you to my dear friend, Laura Lee Nutt, who cheered for this book from day one. I wouldn’t be here without her honest critique, support, and friendship. Thanks also to the ladies of the Cupcake Crew, Amy Raby and Julie Brannagh. I would have lost my sanity long ago without my weekly infusions of espresso, frosting, and snark. Thanks to my mom for hours upon hours of babysitting so I could seek said infusions–and for occasionally letting me borrow her car. Thanks to my husband, Shane, for humoring me and loving me. Lastly, thanks to Piper Denna, who gave this book a shot and taught me so much with her editing prowess.
The first bite of her sandwich transported Melanie to another dimension–she could swear food tasted better in pregnancy, at least now that the first-trimester nausea had passed. Her lunch break at the cramped but tidy Old Charleston Tea House got even better as she reached the first spicy part in her paperback. The combined pleasures of Golden Monkey tea, perfectly-seasoned egg salad, and a succulent make-out scene between a librarian and a rugged Scot had her moaning in rapture before she could stop herself.
“No wonder she’s pregnant without a ring on her finger,” one of the elderly women at a nearby table said behind her hand. “Look at the trash she reads.”
The woman’s blue-haired companion snuck a glance at her from behind oversized glasses. “Little slut. Probably counts on her big chest to rope ’em in and then doesn’t have the brains to keep ’em.”
Melanie plunked her tea down so hard it sloshed and stained the lacy tablecloth. Every Friday, she tuned out the constant complaining generated by these two women, but she’d never been the subject of their biting criticisms before. She glared at the pair over the top of her book. Both of them suddenly found the view of Meeting Street out the large plate glass window exceedingly fascinating.
“I’m sorry,” she said with mock sweetness, “did you have something to say to me?”
Two pairs of watery eyes blinked innocently at her. “What was that, dear?” One of the biddies cupped a wrinkled hand around her ear. The other adjusted her hearing aid.
Gretchen, her favorite server, wedged herself between the tables, interrupting her view of the biddies. “She said, ‘How did you like the tea?’ Will that be all for you ladies?” Gretchen scooped up the leather check holder with a placating look over her shoulder.
Melanie huffed and folded her arms, but she couldn’t bring herself to hold a grudge, since Gretchen was the one whose tips would suffer if she chased away some of her best customers.
The jingling bell over the door heralded the bitch brigade’s exit, but she still couldn’t get back into her novel. Giving it up as a lost cause, she stuffed the paperback into her messenger bag and scarfed down her lunch without tasting it. Leaving her twelve dollars on the table, she waved goodbye to Gretchen and slipped out into the January chill.
Normally she tried to be a words-can-never-hurt-me kind of girl, but those words had cut right through her tissue-thin, pregnancy-enhanced emotions. It wasn’t the remark about her chest that hurt–she was used to being judged by her blond-haired, D-cup cover. It was the assumption that she couldn’t hang on to a man. That had hit a little too close to home.
Kyle’s last words to her circled in her mind as she reached the bike rack and strapped on her helmet. “What do you want from me, Mel? I’m not going to change my life because you forgot your pill one day. Don’t all you independent career women want to be single moms, anyway?”
“Bastard,” she seethed as she hiked up her knee-length skirt to hop on her trusty antique Schwinn. It wasn’t like she’d expected Kyle to propose or anything. Just a little responsibility. A little support. That’s all she’d asked for, and she thought she’d earned it, since they’d been together for almost a year.
But no, all Kyle had for her was blame and a view of his cowardly behind as he ran away from what they had created together. A new life, vulnerable and precious, even more so because she hadn’t missed a pill like Kyle insisted. The life inside her was a beautiful miracle who existed despite the minor obstacle of a little manufactured hormone.