Wishing For A Highlander

By: Jessi Gage

Worry for her baby made her buck against the man. “Get off me!”

He clamped a hand over her mouth.

Pounding footsteps came close. Tension in the man’s body made her freeze with fear. Men’s voices came from the other side of the boulder.

“Gunn,” the man cursed quietly–hot breath scalding her ear. “The fools willna give up even though they’re more than matched by Keith steel. Stay here. Stay down and dinna move.”

His weight lifted from her. His footsteps squished away stealthily. A surprised groan met her ears. She looked up to see the honey-blond warrior standing to one side of the boulder with his fist pulled back, apparently ready and willing to deal a second blow to a doubled over gray-haired man wearing the same dark wool as her attacker.

“Go home with ye, Harry,” the warrior growled. “Ye canna win this, and too much blood has already been spilt.”

A younger, squat man in dark-gray wool tiptoed around the other side of the boulder. She opened her mouth to warn the warrior, but he cocked his head toward the sound and quickly positioned himself so he could keep both opponents in view.

“Back with ye, Robbie,” he said, holding his sword ready. “I didna rise this morning with a particular desire to slay Gunn. But I will if ye dinna go. Now.”

Robbie’s lip curled as he spotted the dead man on the ground and then took in her prone, mud-covered form. “Ye killed Mack,” he accused. “And over a filthy trollop, no less. You’ll die for that, Big Darcy.” He lunged at the honey-blond warrior–Darcy–and they clashed swords. The older man pulled his dirk and advanced toward Darcy’s back.

“Look out!” she yelled.

Darcy easily dodged Robbie’s attack and stabbed him through the belly with his sword. At the same time, he pulled a dirk from the sheath on his left hip and jabbed it backward, only sparing a wide-eyed glance over his shoulder for aim. The dirk sliced the gray-haired man in the arm. The man danced back with a grimace.

“Damn you, Robbie,” Darcy said to the younger man, who crumpled to the ground clutching his wound. “Why did ye attack me?” When the wounded man tried to stand, Darcy said, “Dinna make me finish this. I dinna want your blood on my hands.”

“’Tis already finished,” the gray-haired man said, advancing again. “Ye’ve killed my only son, ye bloody Keith. Ye’ve killed him!”

“I didna ask the Gunn to trespass this day!” Darcy said. “Take Robbie home now and mayhap he’ll live. Stay here and fight me and you’ll both die. ’Tis not worth it, Harry.”

Harry didn’t listen. He lunged at Darcy, a suicide move, judging by the watery sheen in the older man’s eyes. Her stomach lurched at the needless violence, the wasted lives. She tried telling herself the barbaric fantasy wasn’t real, but the desperate wish was wearing thin.

Both gray-kilted men lay dead within seconds. Darcy turned back to her with wild eyes and a hard frown. “’Tis no place for a lass. Come with me. I’ll see ye to safety.” He took off around the hill with a long stride.

Was he serious? He expected her to follow him? After what she’d just witnessed? Knowing what he was capable of?

Decisive violence. Swift decimation.

Mercy. Honor. Compassion.

She was done with this hallucination. It was too real. Too upsetting.

She tried clicking her heels together three times as she lay face down in the mud. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Cold wetness still seeped past the fabric of her bra. Sharp pebbles at the bottom of the puddle dented her knees. Damn her observant senses and their insistence that she wasn’t hallucinating.

The shouts of more men drew closer as Darcy jogged away from her. Hallucination or not, if it was between men in gray kilts who thought “the English” were “only good for one thing” and a man in muted brown who seemed to value her safety and to be morally opposed to killing even if he happened to be very efficient at it, she’d take her chances with the brown.

She scrambled out of the mud. Her loafers squished through the marshy grass as she trudged after her warrior.

* * * *

Darcy let out a relieved sigh when he heard the wee bonny lass following him. He’d have carried the bedraggled, half-dressed thing, but she’d asked that he not touch her, not even to inspect the wounds he’d thought the Gunn had cut into her creamy flesh. Her fearful request reminded him why he’d stopped bothering with dalliances long ago. So long as he didn’t try, he need not fear the stomach-curdling flush of rejection.

His memory dredged up the echo of Anya’s laughter. ’Twas the first and last time he’d attempted to cozy up with a member of the fairer sex. He’d been eighteen. Against his better judgment, he’d finally given in to Anya’s persistent advances. He’d permitted her to lead him to the stables one evening, his cock thrilling at the forbidden mysteries that awaited him while his mind insisted ’twas folly to lie with someone he didn’t intend to wed. But Anya’s searching lips and roving hands had silenced the thinking part of him.

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