Say Yes to the Scot:A Highland Wedding Box Set

By: May McGoldrick
May McGoldrick & Sabrina York & Lecia Cornwall & Anna Harrington



HOW A LASS WED A HIGHLANDER


Lecia Cornwall

Chapter One

Culmore Castle

Alexander Munro winced as the door to his chamber creaked open. And there, he thought, was yet one more thing that needed to be repaired. The hinges needed adjusting, oiling, and the door had to be planed.

“Alex?” he knew without looking up that it was his aunt Flora, and that this time she’d brought reinforcements—Auld Bryn, the seanchaidh, he guessed, and Airril, Bryn’s grandson. He kept his eyes on the list on the table before him, scanned the details of all the cattle, crops, and property lost in the latest raid. Seven homeless families were now crowded into the castle’s hall for shelter, their cotts burned by the marauders. Alex had no idea how he was going to feed them when winter came. He had six months before winter returned, and then …

“Ye have five weeks,” his aunt said.

Alex didn’t bother turning. His fist clenched on the pencil, and he kept his eyes on the parchment, pretended to concentrate. He felt the eyes of the little delegation on his back.

“We’ve come for the ring. It must be taken to the spring in the wood and blessed by the fairies,” Flora said.

The fairies. For three hundred years the Munros of Culmore had given credit to the fairies for all that was good in their lives. Alex’s jaw tightened. The fairies had done nothing to stop the Sutherland raiders who’d ridden down upon innocent people in the dark of night, burnt their cotts, stolen their cattle and trampled their crops. If something good happened at Culmore, the Munros credited fairy magic, but if something went wrong, it was the laird’s fault—his fault.

And according to fairy magic, and Auld Bryn, all he had to do to fix it was to follow the seanchas, the traditional lore that guided the Munros, and find himself a bride by Midsummer’s Eve. Once he’d placed the ancient, fairy-gifted Munro wedding ring on her finger, all would be well, and the clan’s luck restored.

“I don’t wish to talk about it,” he said, half turning to glare at them. “Ye can close the door behind ye on your way out.”

Auld Bryn took a shuffling step forward, leaning on his grandson’s arm. The old man was nearly blind now, but he knew the seanchas better than anyone. He’d been the clan’s seanchaidh for sixty years, through the lairdships of Alex’s father and grandfather. He’d told and retold the seanchas at every ceilidh, wedding, and funeral. Now Bryn shook his bony finger at a cloak hanging from a peg in the corner. “Ye know the rules, Laird. Ye only have until midsummer to find a bride.” Airril gently shifted his grandfather’s finger so it was pointing at Alex.

Alex turned fully and leaned on the table, his arms folded over his chest. “Aye, I know the tale. It’s naught more than that. I have no time for fancies and legends—or a bride.”

Aunt Flora sighed and nodded to Airril. The lad came forward with all the grace of an overgrown, bumbling deerhound, carrying a rolled tapestry. He unfurled it on the table, knocking Alex’s lists and tallies aside to do it. Alex caught the uncapped pot of ink before it spilled.

Auld Bryn and Flora came forward as the ancient seanchas was revealed. The embroidered figures of Alex’s ancestors, every laird back to Duncan Munro was carefully picked out in fine detail. With each generation a skilled needlewoman added the next part of the story. He saw that Flora had begun to sketch in his own likeness, and beside him there was space for his bride’s portrait.

Auld Bryn gently stroked the seanchas with his harper’s hands, his fingers calloused, his nails long, hard, and yellow. “It is set down right here, the history of Duncan Munro himself, our first laird. When Duncan wed the daughter of the fairy queen, the queen gave the Munros of Culmore a blessing, a wedding ring set with an ancient jewel of such power—”

“I know the story,” Alex said.

Auld Bryn ignored him. “When a man becomes Laird of the Munros of Culmore, he has until midsummer to find a bride, place that ring upon her finger and plight his troth. Your father’s been dead for four months. He accepted the seanchas, lived by it, as did his father, and his father before him, and—”

Flora set her hand on the old man’s arm. “The thing is, Alex, midsummer is just five short weeks away. Ye have just that long to find a lass—the right lass—and fall in love.”

Alex’s mouth twisted. Love … His father had married his mother for love. He loved her so much that when she died, the light had gone out of Hugh Munro’s life, and he had ceased to lead his clan. Where was his love for his people, for his son? When Hugh had finally followed his beloved wife to the grave, he left behind an impoverished, endangered clan. The last word on his lips had been his wife’s name.

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