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In Bed With A Stranger(9)

By: Mary Wine



“You will have a husband, Anne, I dreamed it last night.”

Anne pulled the shutter closed, ensuring the lock was secure. Casting a glance down the hallway and back the other way, she shook her head at her sister.

“Bonnie, you know what Mother has told you about your dreams.”

Bonnie refused to be contrite. She raised her chin high in stubborn display.

“Well, I did dream it and I’m only telling you because you’re the one he’s coming for. By next spring you will have a baby growing in your belly. It will be a boy born before harvest moon. I saw it. Do not fear, you will not die.”

A shiver went down her spine as Anne stared at her sister. Bonnie had the sight. The whole family knew it and tried to cover it up. There were men who burned people at the stake for less. With the queen so old, the local magistrates wielded their power with iron fists.

“You told no one else?”

Bonnie shook her head. “You know I promised Mother I wouldn’t talk about my dreams. Only it was about you, and Mother did say no one outside the family, so I haven’t broken my word.”

“Very good, sweet, make sure you hold your tongue. Knights don’t like women who act like ravens, chattering all day long.”

“But he is coming for you, Anne. I saw him on a black steed. He has a huge sword that he wears on his back like the Scots we saw at the faire last spring.”

Anne shook her head. “Lady Mary is married by proxy to a Scot, not I. That is what you saw.”

“No, I saw you. I saw him riding into the lower courtyard looking for you. He has midnight eyes.”

There was a part of her that was tempted to listen to her sister, but Anne silenced it. Life was hard. Taking solace in girlish dreams wouldn’t help her. All that would do was make it harder to shoulder whatever burden Philipa placed upon her shoulders next. Joyce and the rest of the household staff could dream of love but not her. Bonnie would learn that soon enough. Their father’s blood was as much curse as blessing and there was no way that she might ever have a true love.

None.

McJames land

“You’re in a foul temper and that’s for sure. I thought this was what ye wanted.”

Brodick McJames snorted at his brother. Cullen snickered softly in return.

“I cannae marry for my own desires, Cullen. Her land borders ours. The dowry will increase McJames’ land. And it’s nae just land; it’s fertile, rich farms with water. If her father has no more legitimate children, the entire estate will someday pass into our hands.”

“Well, I still say ye sound mighty angry about it considering how good it is for everyone.” Cullen reached for an oat cake but he didn’t bite into it. “Maybe it’s the bedding that has you so worried. You know, Brother, not every man is as blessed as I am. You shouldnae be envious of my skill with the lasses. That’s a sin.”

“So is bragging.”

Cullen flashed his teeth at him. “Not so, I’m telling the truth. My cock is…”

“Save it for the lasses, Brother.”

Cullen laughed as did a few of the men sitting nearby. Brodick stood up, pacing away from their campsite. Cullen had the right of it; he was in a sullen mood for sure. Fetching his bride should have been a duty that he took to in a lighter frame of mind.

It was a fine match, to be sure.

Good for his people, good for his children, but that didn’t change the fact that he was dreading taking an English court lady back to his home. He’d been to the English court and would cheerfully go to his grave without ever setting foot in the place again. The women were conniving, deceitful creatures with more paint on their faces than the highlanders wore into battle. The dresses they wore were great hulking creations that hid the natural shape of a female, taking away any interest he might have had for them. Except for their breasts. His temper flared as he considered the way those court ladies had taken to painting their nipples because their dresses were cut so low that you could glimpse them. He wasn’t a jealous man by nature but neither would he wear the horns of cuckold. His English wife would display her nipples only to his eyes.

And that only fouled his temper further. Looking down onto the border, he cursed under his breath. In spite of their land joining, he and his intended bride were as different as night and day to one another. He wouldn’t allow her to behave shamefully and that would make her hate him. Their union     held little hope of being peaceful much less pleasurable. Being the eldest, it was his duty and it weighed his shoulders down.

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