Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02

By: Ceci Giltenan

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.





Prologue


May 1317, the Isle of Lewis



The cold May rain had been unrelenting but finally through the misty gloom Catriona could see the small fishing village that was their destination. The journey from the northern tip of Scotland to the Isle of Lewis with her new husband had taken hours through the rainy, rough seas. She had prayed to all the saints, fearful she would never see land again. Now she whispered her prayer of thanks that they had arrived.

Catriona had defied her parents by marrying Tristan Murray. Her father would be utterly furious when he found out. She believed, without a doubt, that if he had the opportunity, her father would make her a widow in the blink of an eye. She and Tristan could not risk staying anywhere near her clan’s land. Tristan, who had trained to be a warrior, wouldn’t even risk joining the ranks of another clan for fear they would be discovered. Together, they fled to the northern coast where Tristan had found work on a fishing vessel.

The captain never questioned why they wanted to leave the mainland. Rather, he assured them they would be welcome on the isle. One look at Tristan’s well-muscled body told the captain all he needed to know—Tristan would be an asset. “Laird Morrison earns a great deal off of the clan fishermen. As long as ye are willing to work, ye’ll have a home with us,” the old captain had assured Tristan.

Home.

The fishing village was certainly not remotely like the home she was leaving. Still, she loved Tristan with all her heart and he loved her in return. Her home, where ever she found herself, was with this man who held her heart so firmly.

Tristan wrapped his big, strong arms around her from behind. “My beautiful bride, we’re almost there. Are ye excited?”

She turned in his arms to look at him. The wind whipped his dark hair. His storm gray eyes twinkled and his face was alight with unrestrained joy. His excitement chased away any lingering doubt she might have had. She smiled up at him. “Aye, I am. I can barely believe we are married and away. I’m a little scared though.”

“What scares ye, love?”

“What if Da finds us?”

He tightened his grip on her. “He won’t. He’ll search, but only amongst the ranks of soldiers. He would expect me to sell my sword-arm but never to do this, to become a fisherman.”

“This is such a huge change for both of us.”

“Aye it is, my sweet love. But it’s the only way we can be together. Ye know it’s true.”

“Aye, I know. I’m sorry. If my father cared a whit about me, I wouldn’t have had to force ye from the life ye planned for yerself.”

“Enough of that Catriona. This was as much my decision as yers. The life I had planned would have meant nothing without ye in it. Nothing.” He kissed the top of her head. “Once ye captured my heart, I couldn’t have lived without ye. Nay, we both set this course and we will follow it together. I’m sure it will be hard at first, but I know we can build a life here.”

Build a life. Aye, that is what they were doing. They had chosen not to accept what lay in store for each of them—a life directed by others, over which they had no control. They would never have been allowed to follow their hearts and marry. If they hadn’t taken steps to change their fate, she was certain their lives would have been filled with heartache and regret. Tristan was right. This was the only way. “Aye, we’ll build a life together. I like the sound of that.”

And build a life they did.





Chapter 1


Late April 1340, the Isle of Lewis



Grace Breive bounced her three year old daughter Kristen on her hip nervously as she waited with the rest of the villagers to pay the spring rents to Laird Morrison. The previous September her father and Callum, her husband, had made the accounting to the laird. That seemed like a different lifetime now, as if it had been a dream. A dream which had crumbled around as she lost her husband and both parents. At one and twenty, she was alone but for her wee daughter.

A table and chair had been placed near the village well at which the laird sat. His son, Fearchar, stood beside him. She noticed Fearchar staring intently at her several times. His open appraisal disturbed her.

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