Wishing For A HighlanderBy: Jessi Gage
“There’s somat ye can do, all right,” he ground out through clenched teeth. “Come ’ere, so I can show ye how a stabbing’s done.” He launched in her direction.
She screamed and ran. Straight into a hard chest swathed in muted brown wool.
Melanie jerked her head up, way up, to find deep brown eyes glaring past her out of a chiseled face surrounded by wild, dark-blond hair. One of the man’s hands gripped her shoulder. The other held an enormous Highland broadsword. The look on his face spelled death for her would-be rapist.
Relief washed through her. She was hallucinating after all.
Men this tall, rugged, and handsome didn’t actually exist, not on any continent in any time. Air-brushed masculinity like this only lived on the covers of romance novels.
He was definitely something she would have imagined. There. Dilemma solved. She’d hit her head and was having an Emmy-winner of a hallucination.
Drunk with elation that she hadn’t really almost been raped and hadn’t really stabbed a man, she slapped the muscled arm of her very own imaginary Highlander and quipped, “What took you so long? That was cutting it kind of close, don’t you think?”
The man flicked her a distracted glance, then shoved her away so hard she stumbled into a prickly bush. Thorny barbs bit her hands and face and snagged her clothes.
Okay, that wasn’t very heroic. Even if it appeared he’d done it to save her from her charging attacker. In the romance novels, the hero always managed a graceful, chivalrous rescue.
While she detangled herself from the bush, the new man dodged the bloody dirk and struck the bearded man with his sword. The warrior had to be at least six and a half feet tall. Between the bearded man’s shorter reach and smaller weapon, he stood no chance. He fell under two ruthless skewerings.
Her gut clenched with horror and sympathy before she managed to remember that none of this was really happening.
But if none of this was real, then she’d bonked her head on her office floor hard enough to endanger herself and her baby. She clutched her belly. Please be okay, little one. Hang in there. We’ll figure a way out of this.
Looking at her belly, she saw blood still on her hands and soaked into the fabrics of her skirt and sweater. She willed it to go away. She willed the tear in her skirt to close. She willed herself back to her office, back to consciousness.
If this was all happening in her head, shouldn’t she be able to control it or at least nudge it in a certain direction, like in a dream? Unfortunately, she had no time to ponder why her delusion ignored her whims, because the honey-blond warrior came at her, pushing her against the boulder with the mere force of his presence. His eyes blazed. She gulped, fearing she might be worse off with this man than she’d been with the one on the ground.
“And just who might you be?” he asked in a deadly, deep burr. Every inch of his tall, muscled frame was tensed for battle. His sword, so long she’d be hard pressed to lift it one-handed, remained poised for attack and perfectly stationary at his side. The tight muscles in his forearm didn’t even twitch with its weight.
She shook her head, too terrified to answer. Would he accuse her of being an English spy, too? Would he try to rape her?
Was he real? Her stampeding heart thought so.
The new man’s eyes scanned down her body, fixing on her belly.
She gripped her slight swell protectively.
“You’re wounded,” he stated with a modicum of concern, seemingly too distracted by the blood all over her to notice her knocked-up state. He sheathed his sword. Rough hands yanked at the blood-soaked hem of her sweater, undeterred by her swatting.
“I’m not,” she blurted, tangling her hands with his. “It’s not my blood. Please stop touching me.”
Proving he had at least an ounce of chivalry, he stopped before exposing her gently rounded belly. Was that a flicker of hurt she caught in his eyes? For a second he’d almost looked vulnerable. The expression took years off his face. He looked no older than her twenty-six years, maybe even younger.
He took a step back from her and narrowed his eyes, becoming the hardened warrior once again. “Are ye English? A spy?”
Oh cripes. Here we go.
“I’m not English. I promise you. Not a single drop of English blood in these veins.” That was the truth. She was Scottish, Irish, Swedish, and German by heritage and had never been more grateful.
The man harrumphed. “Mayhap. Ye dinna sound English. But ye dinna sound Scots, either. I havena heard speech like yours before.” His brow pinched with curiosity, and his lips puckered ever so slightly in concentration.
She sagged with relief. His was not the face of a man who would harm her intentionally. It was the face of a man who might keep her safe in this hallucination or whatever it was.
Without warning, the warrior grabbed her and threw himself down into the mud, bringing her with him. His body molded along her back, pinning her face down in the puddle she’d nearly landed in when she’d fallen off her stool. A mild pressure in her abdomen made her whimper as their combined weight tried to compress her incompressible womb.