I’m so excited to be here and give you a taste of one of my favorite books – The Laird’s Time.
Hope you enjoy.
Fantasy men do exist – they might not be in your time period though.
Ainsleigh Darling is back at the top of her game. She’s got her next album in the can and is ready for a little rest and relaxation before the whirlwind promotional tour. Her intention to take this breather in a Scottish castle, also where she’d finally broken through her writer’s block, leads her to the most unexpected place. The Veil is going to take her on a trip to twelfth-century Scotland and thrust her into the arms of her dream man.
Adaem MacPherson has lived more than his fair share of life. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, he’s been forced to fight for every snippet of respect he could garner. On top of his unfortunate birth, he’s also living beneath the stigma wrought from wild words that there’s a prophecy hanging over his head. None of it is true, but the mysterious woman who appears in his keep might just shake out the real reason his step-mother began the vile rumor that he’s cursed.
Intrigue and danger are around every corner, but can Ainsleigh adapt to life in medieval Scotland or has this once high-flying celebrity finally hit the rock bottom of a grave?
Be happy while you are living, for you are a long time dead.
A conspiracy of timeless proportions.
Castle Kielkierney, the Highlands of Scotland, present day.
She was back.
Ainsleigh Darling strode into the massive Great Hall of Castle Kielkierney feeling as though she could walk on air. And, she wanted to scream her thanks to God for giving her the insight to know she needed to get some inspiration.
This medieval megalith was where her long path out of depression had started.
A little over a year ago she’d been trapped in a mire of writer’s block, where her head clanged and her stomach churned daily because her record company wanted to see some progress on the next album. Progress would have been nice. Her parents’ constant phone calls to get an update and give her useless advice had her even more tied in a knot.
It was the instinct of having to better the group’s first album that turned insurmountable. At times, she’d told people that working through the process was akin to jerking words out of her brain with a pair of dentist’s pliers. Of course, there had been no anesthetic involved.
Then, after talking to her road manager she’d considered just getting away from the rat race of Los Angeles and the demanding calls from Black Rose Records. She hadn’t given her destination any thought when she visited the travel agent except she didn’t want to visit a place even remotely high profile. It was when she was perusing the colorful brochures lined up like soldiers in their wall stands that she’d stumbled across Castle Kielkierney.
Located on a small island just off the coast of the Isle of Skye, the place could only be reached by a narrow causeway, which was washed out during high tide. Two impervious walls strategically circled the castle providing even more protection. The idea of complete isolation for a few hours a day appealed to her. The realization she could be trapped there with members of the paparazzi almost changed her mind.
The travel agent sympathized with her and gave her a bit of advice. She should book two trips. The first to her preferred destination and the second would be a decoy. Then, she could let it slip to the media how she was traveling to the decoy.
The plan had worked perfectly a year ago. She’d escaped and found a font of inspiration here.
She bit her lip to keep from lauging aloud while the memories of photographers flocking to the Caribbean rolled through her mind. Little did they know that she’d quietly boarded a flight for the Highlands. Two weeks of bliss followed that initial vacation.
The familiar scent of lemon oil and beeswax tickled her nose as she strode through the Great Doors. Here I am again. This time it was to show her appreciation to the people who worked in the castle and the whatever it was that helped her get away from her writer’s block.
“Welcome back, Ms. Darling.”
Ainsleigh greeted the clerk who had checked her in last year with a nod. Absently, she walked across the worn-smooth stone floor until she stood in front of the massive mahogany reception desk. “Hello, Rory, how are you?”
“I’m fairing well,” he responded.
She smiled when he returned his focus to the computer terminal hidden beneath the high counter of the desk. “Sorry about all the chaos.” The apology tripped from her lips, but her contrition was palpable.
Rory shook his balding head. “No issues. We’re thankful you chose Kielkierney as the location for your music videos.”
“A little capitalism never hurt anyone?” Ainsleigh teased. She already knew about how Kielkierney was on the chopping block because of the exorbitant cost of upkeep. In fact, she’d fallen so in love with the castle that if she’d had the resources she’d have bought the place during her initial trip.
“Ya have that right, Ms. Darling. We’ve never been this full before. There are people in the village who have taken to renting rooms to the media.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Ainsleigh said, sobering. “I’ll have the security detail informed once they arrive.” She’d also have to confess about how she’d made the place out to be a five-star spa even though she knew her band and road crew would figure out it wasn’t on their own the moment they entered Kielkierney.
She’d also have to tell the entourage about the supposed curse surrounding the island. Considering how jaded most of them were, they’d probably just shrug it off as Scotland’s version of urban fantasy. Hell, she could hear her lead guitarist calling the well-known rhetoric Highland Castle Fantasy.
Even as the pang of guilt struck her, she remained remorseless. The lies were easy to come up with. Her opinion was simple, if her band mates and the production crew didn’t shut up and cope, that was their problem.
The video producers wanted earthy, wild, untamed. She’d convinced them with pictures from her holiday there was no place more untamed than Kielkierney. She also had a simple ulterior motive. She wanted to come back to where she’d regained her stride, and thank the people of the town for their hospitality.
Yeah, my motives are pure, but the media circus sucks. The paparazzi bothered her most. “Have any of them come from the mainland to inquire about the accommodations?” In other words, ‘were they snooping around for gossip like the scum-sucking fish they were’?
“A few, but I didn’t pay them any mind. We don’t have time for nuisances such as them. We got a business to run, and our own lives to see after.”
Listening to the printer kick on, Ainsleigh drummed her fingers in agitation. It wouldn’t be so easy to dodge her shadows this time. “I’m sorry if they were rude. I’ll try to get my publicist to put out a statement or something.” She was willing to do anything to avoid a media blitz in the middle of the video productions.
“That would be in your best interest. The causeway will be closed earlier now, with it being winter and all.”
“Do you think the lack of accessibility will stop them?”
“Nay, Ms. Darling, I don’t, but it will give you some time to yourself.” He laid the receipt on the counter top, slid a pen to her, before he handed her a pamphlet on the history of the place. The glossy tri-fold flier, meant to pique tourists’ interest into going on the castle tour, made her smile.
Scrawling her name across the bottom of the receipt, she heaved a sigh. “I don’t need another. I still have the one from last year.” On top of cherishing the hour-long tour, she needed to hold the memories close. Hundreds of pictures just weren’t good enough, so to satisfy her hunger for the emotions the castle evoked, she’d gone ahead and bought a few books on medieval castles off the Internet, even buying a set of ‘teach yourself Gaelic’ audio CDs.
So far, she’d done well with the lessons. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a lot of time to put her nose to the grindstone. Arch Angel, her group, would always take precedence in her life.
Even so, there was something alluring in the heaviness of the language; the way it rolled off the narrator’s tongue got her going in the sexual sense which had translated into some of the songs she’d written since completing album number two. Freakier than that, she often felt disjointed from her body when she listened to them, longing for a man’s arms around her.
She lusted for a man who was out of her reach, yet so close she could almost smell him.
Her dream man who would give her deep kisses and thorough loving, he’d pay homage to every inch of her body until she quaked for an orgasm – an earth-shattering explosion she’d share with him and only him.
Cool it. The last thing you need is a lover.
Hell no and no fucking way.
A friend with benefits was what she had. It was what she’d enjoy until she was out of her contract. Then, if she weren’t on some suicide mission of her own creation, she’d think about settling down. If she was feeling extremely adventurous, she might even throw a baby into the mix.
Oh yeah, right, like I’d do that to a kid.
Some of her friends warned her she was too jaded for her own good. Maybe she was, but coming from the industry notorious for dashing dreams with the same crashing alacrity as plates breaking at a Greek wedding, she knew she wouldn’t put her child through the same loneliness she’d suffered as the only daughter of Manny and Sherilynn Darling, rockers par excellence.
Pulled back to the present when Rory cleared his throat, Ainsleigh tilted her gaze to his wrinkled countenance. Worry shimmered at her from his hazel eyes. There wasn’t a damn thing she could do about her quick shifting emotions. The stress of recording the second album combined with the impending tour, add to those two major factors the anxiety of the videos was about to send her into a tailspin, which was why she’d come to the castle a few days early. She was going to rejuvenate her batteries, so to speak. “Thanks,” she said, taking the key from his hand.
“Do you remember the curse?”
A bit stunned by the question, Ainsleigh took a single step away from the counter before returning her attention to him. “I think so.”
Rory stared at her for a pregnant pause. “Tell me.”
Ainsleigh searched her memory, her heart pounding in her chest like the reverberating thump of a timpani drum.
‘From the sins of the father is born,
A curse as old as the land.
Unto the son the burden is worn,
Until a lass heals the broken stand.’
“Very good,” Rory commented. His gaze remained critical.
Feeling literally lifted off a proverbial tenterhook; Ainsleigh sent him a relieved smile. “Yeah, it’s a cool little rhyme, not that I understand it that well. I guess I don’t have enough information to put it into context, you know? The whole ‘lass heals the broken stand’, throws me off.” She shrugged as she walked toward her luggage piled on a brass-plated cart. Not that it mattered if she got the gist of the curse or not. Even so, something about the mystery behind what she figured was a marketing ploy did weird things to her blood pressure.
//You will understand soon enough.//
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