Saved by the Devilish Highlander Preview

A Historical Scottish Romance Novel

About the book

He burned everything to the ground to save her…

Delphine Lawson is excited to be getting married. She happily moves to her betrothed’s castle and her blissful married life is about to begin; but it’s actually her nightmare. Her betrothed is not the man he said he was, and now Delphine is searching for a savior. And he arrives in flames…

Laird Bellamy Murray is someone everyone fears. They whisper his name in secret, lest he appears and destroys everything…Yet his reputation is far worse than the truth. When Bellamy sees a hurt woman trying to escape, he cannot let her struggle.

Delphine cannot trust another man as easily anymore, and more so a man like Bellamy. However, Bellamy tears her walls down one by one, and Delphine can’t help but fall for him. But what happens when her dreadful past threatens their happily ever after? After Delphine gets hurt, Bellamy unleashes an inferno of rage, and nobody will remain alive in the end…


Chapter One


The Highlands, Scotland, 1630


“’Tis like a fairytale. The two of ye were made for one another,” Delphine Lawson’s mother Maria said, beaming at her daughter, who blushed.

“I think so, too, Maither,” she replied, glancing at her betrothed with a smile, the blush rising on her cheeks.

Delphine could not be happier. Her betrothal to Colt Fraser, the handsome five-and-twenty-year-old Laird of the MacLean Clan, had been announced that very evening in the great hall of her father’s castle, Castle Mackie, on Loch Rannoch. A feast was being held, and all her friends and the wider clan, had gathered to celebrate this most auspicious occasion.

She had barely known him a month – but what a month it had been – the two of them having met when Colt had ridden south for a meeting of the Highland Lairds. He had charmed her, the two of them betrothed within just a few weeks of meeting one another, he having delayed his return north so that he might remain with her until the happy news was announced. It was, as her mother had said, just like a fairytale, and Delphine was looking forward to her happily ever after.

“I couldnae have asked for a more beautiful bride, and I must thank ye, Lady Mackie, for allowin’ me to wed yer daughter. She has made me truly happy,” Colt replied, and Delphine’s mother smiled.

“’Tis the Laird ye must thank – he is the one who has given his permission,” she said, turning to her husband, who raised his glass in a toast.

“And a finer son-in-law I couldnae ask for,” Angus Lawson replied.

They were sitting at the high table of the great hall, having enjoyed a sumptuous feast in honor of the occasion. The marriage was soon to take place, but not before Delphine had traveled with her betrothed to his castle, Castle MacLean, which lay a hundred miles to the north, high up in the mountains. She was, in his own words, to become accustomed to a new way of life – before the final commitment was made – and Delphine was eager to be on her way.

“It will be a great comin’ together of the clans – the MacLeans and the Mackies – an alliance which will serve us both well,” Colt said, raising his glass in a toast to Delphine’s father.

But Delphine was little concerned with politics. She had always dreamed of marrying for love, and in Colt, she had found a man to love and whom it was clear loved her, too. Her heart skipped a beat whenever she laid eyes on him, and his gentle touch and soft caress raised such passion in her as no man ever had done before.

“Then we are fortunate, indeed, and into yer hands I place my daughter – take care of her as ye travel north and see her brought safely home on her weddin’ day,” Delphine’s father replied.

Delphine was under no doubt she would be safe in Colt’s company. He had told her such stories of the north country, and she was eager to see it for herself. The towering mountains, the wooded glens, the deep lochs – the thought of it alone was enough to set her heart beating, and to share it with Colt… that was a dream come true.

“Oh, I just want it to be tomorrow already. Cannae we go now?” she said, and the others laughed.

“Patience, dearest Delphine, ye shall have yer heart’s desire very soon,” Colt replied, their eyes meeting, as he smiled at her, and Delphine imagined all that was to come–

***

“Goodbye, my darlin’ – take good care of one another,” Delphine’s mother called out.

They were departing the castle on horseback with Colt’s retinue – a detachment of brightly dressed Highlanders in MacLean tartans, and Delphine was riding with Colt on a great black steed. The day was bright, the spring sunshine warm, and Delphine could not have been happier than she was in that moment.

“Goodbye, Maither, goodbye, Faither – I will see ye soon, when we return for the weddin’ – a few months perhaps, or longer – think of the adventures I shall have,” Delphine called out.

She was so caught up in her love for Colt, so taken by his charming ways and flattering comments. He had made her feel wanted, desired, loved – it was a feeling she had never before experienced, a feeling she liked. She glanced back at him and he smiled at her, their eyes meeting in a gaze of understanding.

“Ye are the most beautiful of creatures, Delphine,” he said, leaning forward to kiss her, as they charged out of the castle gate and down a wide track which led into trees, and ran along the edge of the loch toward the Northern Road.

“I thought I would never find love, that I was too old,” she said, and he laughed.

“Ye are only a year younger than I – what sort of thing is that to say. And ye are surely as beautiful as ever,” he replied, causing her to blush.

“But ye hardly know me – we hardly know one another – there is still so much to learn. I only hope these next few months–” she began, but he shushed her.

“I know enough, and ye know enough – the adventure is the discovery. We shall take our time, and soon we shall know one another well enough,” he said, and he urged his horse onwards, charging off along the loch, his retinue in pursuit.

***

It was several days before they came in sight of MacLean Castle, a great fortress clinging to the edge of a towering mountain, which even in the late spring was still topped with snow. They looked down on it from a high mountain pass, where impenetrable forests lay below, and a river wound its way through the glen to a loch many miles further to the west.

“Yer new home,” Colt said, pointing to the castle, which rose in front of them like a stone gargoyle guarding its domain.

If anything, the sight of the castle brought with it mixed feelings for Delphine. Was she really to be its Lady? Colt had told her much about his clan, but the castle seemed… foreboding, somehow.

“We are so far north,” she said, thinking of her father’s own castle on the shores of Loch Rannoch.

There, the woods stretched out over the rolling hills, giving way to heather-clad moorlands above – the sun always seemed to shine, and life had been… happy. Delphine wondered if she had been naïve in her vision of what life in the north might be like. Here, everywhere seemed dark, and even Colt appeared to change.

“And why is that a problem? Ye are with me, are ye nae?” he said, and she forced herself to smile, nodding, even as in her mind, doubts came to the fore.

They rode down into the glen and followed the course of the river until, at last, they came to the castle gates. Black-clad soldiers stood guard, and the castle, with its high battlements and windowless keep, leered menacingly down. Delphine did not like it at all, but she reminded herself that a building was not merely its stones and mortar, but the people who inhabited it, and she was only glad to be with Colt and to share in his life, as he had shared in hers.

“It is a remarkable place,” she said, as they rode through the gates and into the cobbled courtyard.

A number of the clansmen peered at her with interest, and Colt led her inside, along a wide corridor lit by flaming torches, for already the afternoon was drawing in.

“We shall dine at eight o’clock. A maid will get ye ready, wear somethin’ to please me,” he said, smiling at her.

Delphine nodded. It seemed strange for him to leave her alone. He had been so attentive in the south – hardly ever leaving her side – but now, he strode off along a corridor to the left, calling for reports as to the happenings of the clan in his absence.

A maid came and led Delphine up a narrow, winding staircase and onto a galleried landing, where portraits of Colt’s ancestors were displayed. Their stern, unsmiling faces gazed down at her, and Delphine shivered, feeling thoroughly unsettled by the strange nature of her welcome. The maid led her to a chamber in a tower looking down over the courtyard, comfortably furnished, and with a fire burning in the hearth.

“Will that be all, Mistress?” the maid asked, and Delphine nodded.

“Aye… but ’tis a strange place,” she said, and the maid shook her head sadly.

“And a place which few ever leave, Mistress,” she replied, and without explaining herself further, she hurried from the chamber.

Delphine was left alone, and she warmed herself at the fire, wondering what the maid’s words could mean. There was a strange atmosphere in the castle, one which lay thick in the air. It was an atmosphere of fear, as though a terrible sadness lay over the place, and long-held memories lingered.

It will be all right, this is yer first time away from home. There are bound to be strange goings on, she told herself, trying her best to alleviate her doubts.

Colt was the reason she had come here, and first impressions should never be those taken as truth. With these thoughts in mind, Delphine cheered herself, going to the window and looking out over the courtyard and castle walls to the loch beyond.

“In the summer, it will be quite different,” she told herself, trying to find something – anything – to cheer the situation.

***

“Ah, there ye are, Delphine. I was about to send someone for ye,” Colt said, beckoning her to his side.

A maid had helped Delphine dress for dinner, and she had come down to the great hall, expecting to find the clan gathered for a feast to welcome her. Instead, the great hall was almost empty, with only Colt and some of his men sitting at the high table. A fire burned in the hearth and a smell of roasting meat hung in the air. A barrel had been tapped, the clansmen were drunk, their eyes gazing leeringly toward Delphine, who took her place at Colt’s side.

“I was just getting’ ready,” she said, smiling at him, but he shook his head and scowled.

“Dinner was to be at eight o’clock. ’Tis closer to the half hour now,” he said, and she looked at him in surprise.

She had never seen such an expression on his face – he had never expressed anger at her or belittled her in such a way.

“I… I am sorry,” she said, as he called for the meal to be served.

“Daenae let it happen again,” he replied, and he returned to the conversation he had been having with his men.

Delphine ate her meal in silence, ignored, save for the occasional lustful glance. She did not understand Colt’s behavior, or why he should treat her as he was doing. Had she done something wrong? It pained her to think she had upset him, but something had changed, something had come over him, and when she went to bed that night, it was with tears in her eyes and a heavy heart.

***

The following days and weeks passed in much the same way. Colt seemed only to tolerate her, to treat her little better than a servant. He would speak down to her and chastise her for putting a foot out of place. Everything she did, everything she said – right down to her opinions on food or clothing – was the subject of comment, often belittling. She felt constantly as though she had done something wrong and tried her best to make amends.

“I hate this place,” she told the maid, who only shook her head and gave her a sorrowful look.

Delphine had tried her best to fit in, to involve herself in the daily life of her new home. She had asked questions of her betrothed and attempted to involve herself in the affairs of the clan. But at every attempt, she had been rebuffed and made to feel, at best, like nothing more than an inconvenience. If Colt had been the perfect gentleman in the company of her parents, he had soon turned into the very opposite, a cruel man whose anger was easily kindled.

“What is it ye want?” he asked, when she requested they talk to one another on his return from a hunting party some weeks after her arrival.

He was in his parlor, off the great hall, warming his hands at the fire.

“I… I want to know why ye are so hostile toward me? Have I done somethin’ to displease ye? Tell me, and I shall try to make amends,” she said, even now trying to save what possibility there could be.

He pulled off his boots and tossed them toward the fireplace, glancing at her with a scowl on his face.

“What did ye think I wanted of ye?” he demanded, and Delphine faltered.

“I… I thought ye were in love with me,” she whispered, and Colt laughed.

“In love with ye? And I thought ye were different from the woman I am forced to endure. All ye have done is complain from the moment ye arrived here. Ye knew ye were comin’ north, that life here would be different, and yet ye show nothin’ but contempt for our way of life,” he snarled.

Delphine felt hurt and confused. She had done nothing but try to accommodate herself to her new surroundings. She had wanted desperately to please him, to be good and obedient in the hope of marriage. The things he had said to her, the promises he had made – it all seemed false now, and tears welled up in her eyes.

“Please, I daenae understand why ye are so angry with me. Ye treat me with nothin’ but contempt,” she said, and he laughed, calling his dogs to him, and eyeing her with a sneer on his face.

“Angry? ’Tis ye who have made me angry. Ye are nae the woman I thought. But nay matter, ye can be taught,” he said, and with a sudden movement he darted forward and seized her by the hair.

“Stop it, Colt, please, ye are hurtin’ me,” she cried, and he pulled her toward him, their faces only inches apart.

“Obedience costs nothin’ – remember that. Ye have disappointed me, and I am nay a man who likes to be disappointed,” he snarled, letting her go, so that she fell to the floor, sobbing.

“I… I cannae live like this. I want to go home. I want to end this betrothal,” she cried, staggering to her feet.

But as she spoke, he struck her hard across the face, sending her reeling back onto the flagstone floor as the dogs barked.

 “And if ye try to escape, I shall kill ye, and yer miserable parents,” he cried, and turning on his heels, he marched out of the chamber, leaving Delphine sobbing on the floor, her dreams of what might have been all but destroyed.

 


Chapter Two


“We shall take them by surprise. Colt Fraser will nae know what is happenin’ until ’tis too late,” Bellamy Murray said, smiling with a wicked glint in his eyes.

He and his men had been watching the castle of the MacLean Clan for much of the day. They had made their way stealthily through the glen, intent on coming on their enemy by surprise. But they had encountered no resistance – only a few terrified peasants who had fled at the drawing of their swords.

“We should burn the gates, Laird. Set a fire here, the wind will carry the smoke down the loch, and in the gloom of the afternoon it will nae be seen,” one of his men said, and Bellamy nodded.

The MacPhearsons and the MacLeans were old enemies, and Bellamy and Colt had met in battle many times before. Theirs was a lifelong rivalry, one in which each believed he had the upper hand. But today, Bellamy intended to take the advantage, and wreak such havoc on the MacLeans as to see them suffer for a generation.

“Build the fire. We shall strike when dusk settles. Scale the walls and set fire to the gates. It will nae take us long to gain the victory by surprise,” he said, smiling to himself at the thought of what was to come.

***

Delphine was miserable. Life at MacLean Castle had not improved. If anything, it got worse. Colt was the exact opposite of everything she had believed him to be – a cruel man with a taste for anger. He never had a kind word for her or made her feel welcome. Everything he had told her in the south had been a lie, and now she knew the truth, Delphine was at a loss as to what to do. She had imagined a fairytale and woke in a nightmare.

Sitting in her chamber, she gazed sorrowfully in the looking glass. A large bruise was developing on her cheek, and her wrists were sore, for Colt made a habit of grabbing her by them and dragging her at his bidding. When he was angry – and he was angry a great deal of the time – it was she who would feel the brunt of his displeasure. She wanted to run away, to flee into the forest, even though she knew fresh dangers would await her there.

Better to be eaten by wolves than endure a moment longer of this, she told herself, just as a knock came at the door.

“The Laird is demandin’ to see ye, Mistress,” the maid said, a fearful look on her face.

There could be no hiding the fact of Delphine’s sorry state – it was an open secret among the servants. The Laird beat his betrothed. He belittled her, he took his anger out on her, and there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it.

“Then I must go to him, I suppose,” she said, shaking her head and rising to her feet.

Despite it being spring, the castle seemed ever gloomy, the mountains towering above, casting brooding shadows over the battlements. It was raining, and Delphine shivered as she made her way toward the great hall, imagining all manner of mischief against her. She had written to her mother, but Colt had burned the letters, and any that had arrived for her had gone undelivered. She was a prisoner here, and the Laird could do with her as he pleased.

“Where have ye been?” Colt demanded, as Delphine approached the high table on the dais in the great hall.

Colt was playing dice with several of the clansmen, in between taking bites from a leg of mutton, the juices dripping down his beard.

“I did nae know ye wanted me,” Delphine replied.

She had once been such a spirited creature, full of life and happiness. But Colt had worn her down and taken away any hope she had once had. Delphine was but a shell of her former self, filled with despair at the sadness of her situation.

“And did it nae occur to ye that I might want ye at my side?” he asked, and she began to apologize.

“I… I was just getting’ ready, I would have come–” she began, but he looked up at her and sneered.

“Did ye hear that, men? The disobedient woman,” he said, and the others laughed.

Delphine stood meekly at his side. Whatever she said was wrong, however she behaved was wrong. She could do nothing right, and instead, silence seemed the better part. She watched the men at their dice game, thinking back to happier days in the south when life had seemed to stretch out in an endless possibility. What had gone wrong? Why had Colt turned on her in such a way? The thought brought tears to her eyes, and her lip trembled. She was fighting back her emotions when suddenly–

“The bell? Who is ringin’ the bell?” Colt exclaimed.

The castle bell was tolling, and from the courtyard there came shouts, as the doors of the great hall burst open, and a soldier ran breathlessly up to the high table.

“Enemy… Laird, the MacPhearsons, a whole band of them, appeared out of the trees. They took us by surprise. They are scalin’ the walls, the gates are on fire,” the soldier gasped.

Colt leaped to his feet, sending his chair flying backward, and he drew his sword, calling for the others to do the same.

“Well, daenae just stand there. Hurry to defend the castle,” he cried, pushing Delphine out of the way as chaos ensued.

Delphine was left alone, terrified as to what was happening. The north country was wild and lawless – attacks like this were common, and Delphine knew the name of the MacPhearsons was to be feared.

***

Servants were running back and forth, and clansmen pushed past her. The castle bell was tolling, and from the courtyard, Delphine could hear the sounds of battle – swords clashing with swords, and the angry cries of men. She was terrified, and hurried back to her chamber, thinking desperately about what to do.

“Mistress, I have been searchin’ for ye,” her maid said, as Delphine came to the top of the stairs, which led to the portrait gallery.

“What are we to dae? Can we flee?” Delphine asked, for amid her terror, an opportunity had occurred to her.

With the castle in uproar, perhaps she could slip away. Her plan was fraught with danger, but to remain would mean certain misery, perhaps even worse.

“Ye can leave by the servant’s staircase, Mistress. Let me help ye pack a few things,” the maid said, and together they rushed to Delphine’s chamber, where Delphine put on her traveling clothes and made ready to flee.

Glancing out of the window, she could see Colt and the clansmen battling in the courtyard below. The gates were aflame, and the walls had been breached – the mighty castle no match for the seeming determination of its enemy.

As she watched, her eye was drawn to a man on the battlements, rallying his men. He was tall and muscular, with a shock of black hair and a beard. He carried a sword in one hand, which he raised over his head for the charge. The sight of him brought both fear and fascination, and she stared in amazement, just as the maid pulled at her arm.

“We must go, Mistress,” she said, and Delphine nodded.

“Ye are puttin’ yerself in great danger for me,” she said, and the maid smiled.

“Well, if one poor woman can escape this wicked place, I am glad it will be ye,” she said, “but come now, we must get ye away.”

They made their way along the corridor and down to the portrait gallery. A door to the servant’s staircase led off it, and the maid thrust a bundle of food into Delphine’s hands.

“I will nae forget ye,” Delphine said, and the maid smiled.

“Go well, Mistress,” she said, opening the door and pointing down the stairs.

Delphine clattered down the stairs, the shouts and cries of the battle coming closer. It seemed the enemy had breached the keep’s defenses and were even now running freely through the castle. Delphine came to the servant’s hall, which was deserted, and made her way into the kitchens, where she knew a door led out into the courtyard. From there, she could slip along the wall and let herself out by the east gate, which, in the chaos, would surely be unguarded.

She was thinking on her feet, seizing the opportunity to escape. Delphine had felt a fool for her naivety, so caught up had she been in the fairytale that she had allowed her judgment to become clouded. But this would be the last time Delphine would trust a man so readily.

She would flee south, and she would tell her father the truth about Colt Fraser – he would be horrified by what she told him, and she was certain he would take swift revenge. The thought of his anger when he discovered her gone was enough to spur her on, and she smiled to herself as she opened the kitchen door and slipped out into the courtyard, hiding herself behind a pile of empty barrels.

The battle was raging, and through the gloom – for dusk had settled – she could see Colt and the clansmen sparring with the enemy. Many of them lay dead, the bodies lit by the light of the gates, the flames licking up into the darkening sky. Using the shadows, Delphine followed the course of the wall to where the east gate stood unguarded. This was her chance, and she pulled at it, trying desperately to open it. But the gate was firmly locked, and as much as she pulled, she only exhausted herself.

Curse it, she said to herself, looking around her for another means of escape.

But as she did so, a shout came from across the courtyard, and her attempt at escape was discovered.

“Stop her!” Colt cried, and Delphine fled, running blindly toward the flaming gates, thinking only of freedom.

But as she did so, someone grabbed her, hoisting her onto his shoulders, and she screamed, dropping the bundle of food to the ground. She struggled, kicking out, beating with her fists, but to no avail. The man had her in his grasp, strong arms engulfing her, so that she could do nothing but be carried. It was the same man she had seen from the window, the leader of attackers. He was running with her, charging toward the gates.

“I shall get ye away from this wickedness,” he growled, his voice gruff, and Delphine screamed – out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“Let me go, help me, Colt, help me,” she cried, for in her desperation, even the familiar seemed preferable.

“He cannae help ye, and why would ye want him to?” the gruff voice replied.

Delphine could struggle no longer, exhaustion now setting in, and the cries of battle growing faint. Feebly, she tried to free herself, but there was little point in fighting, and she felt herself growing faint.

“Please, I only want to escape from him,” she gasped, and the man laughed.

“Then ye should be glad I have ye – for escape from him ye shall,” he replied, his footsteps echoing through the trees.

Around her, Delphine now realized that other men were running alongside them, beating their retreat from the castle, which glowed red with flames behind. Feebly, she struggled, but it was no use – she was now another man’s captive, another man’s to do with as he pleased, and what lay ahead was surely only the terrifying and fearful prospect of the unknown...


Chapter Three


Delphine awoke with a start. She was in a well-furnished chamber, a small window casting light across the flagstone floor. She was lying on a bed, covered by a blanket, and she sat up, rubbing her eyes, her head throbbing with pain. A fire was burning in the hearth, and the chamber was warm and snug, with a large table and two chairs by the fire. Tapestries hung from the wall, and there was a washstand with jug and basin.

“Where am I?” she said out loud, rising to her feet and going to the window.

For a moment, she thought she was back in the castle of the MacLeans, even though she could not recall ever having been in a chamber like this before. She could see down into a courtyard below, the castle gates standing wide open, but landscape was different beyond the walls – a heather-clad moorland stretching far out into the distance, across a plain where lofty mountains rose shrouded in mist. The sun was just rising, and Delphine recalled the events which had brought her to this moment.

She had been captured – carried off on the shoulders of a man. Was it the same man she had seen leading the charge against Colt and his men? She remembered trying desperately to flee, and finding the east gate barred – her memory was hazy, and she wondered if she had banged her head, unable, it seemed, to recall precisely what had happened. But bit by bit, her memories pieced together, and she recalled the final moments before she had lost consciousness, carried on the shoulders of the man into the forest.

“What a curious thing,” she said, examining the chamber more carefully.

If this was to be a prison, then it was surely the comfiest prison cell she had ever seen. Colt had threatened her on several occasions with the dungeons at MacLean Castle, but this chamber was comfortable, a chamber surely meant for a lady, and despite her fears, Delphine could not help but be curious as to what sort of man would lock a prisoner into such a gilded cage.

A simple meal was laid out on the table – a freshly baked loaf of bread, some cheese, and apples, along with a jug of fresh water. Delphine was hungry, and she sat down to eat, wondering as to the scene at MacLean Castle. Colt would be furious, and surely, he would even now be plotting as to how to get her back. But it had been Delphine’s desire to escape, and while this was not exactly what she had had in mind, it was still an escape of sorts. As she finished eating, she was startled by the sound of a key turning in the lock, and she looked up fearfully as a man entered the chamber. It was the same man she had seen on the battlements the day before.

“What dae ye want from me?” she asked, fixing him with what she hoped was a defiant stare.

Delphine was tired of men believing they could do with her as they pleased. She was angry at having been brought here against her will, angry at herself for her naivety in the past. She was not about to make the same mistake twice.

“Ye are a puzzle, Lass,” he said, his eyes narrowing, and she folded her arms and scowled at him.

“And ye have abducted me,” she replied.

He smiled, his head tilted to one side. It was clear she interested him, and despite herself, Delphine could not help but find him attractive. Up close, she could see the scars on his arms, and another running along his cheek, above the line of his beard. His eyes were a deep green, piercing and intense. He was tall, muscular, his arms strong and defined beneath his shirt, which was open at the neck so that the hair on his chest was visible in a tuft below his neckline. Delphine blushed at the intensity of his gaze, but she was determined to hold her own against him. She would not make the same mistake with this man as she had done with Colt.

“Ye were tryin’ to escape. I saw ye. I saw the look on Colt’s face. He wasnae goin’ to let ye go without a fight. I can only imagine how angry he is now,” he replied.

He seemed to be enjoying this – was it all a game to him? She looked at him angrily.

“I daenae even know who ye are, or where I am, or what ye intend to dae with me,” she said, and he laughed, closing the door behind him and advancing into the chamber.

Delphine shrank back. This was just what Colt would do – he liked to toy with her, threaten her, and then advance on her. She expected the man to raise his hand to her, to strike her and she cowered, raising her hands to shield herself.

“Ye will know soon enough,” he said, and to her surprise, he pulled up one of the chairs and sat down, stretching his legs out and resting his elbows on the arms, his fingers meeting in a point.

“I have done nothin’ wrong,” she said, feeling the tears welling up in her eyes.

All she wanted was to go home, to return south to all that was familiar. She wished she had never come to this accursed land, the grim north of the Highlands, where warfare and violence were the only things understood, and the valor of men was unknown.

“Save find yerself in the company of that wicked man,” he replied.

“Ye claim he is wicked? When ’tis ye who have carried me off against my will, and made me yer prisoner,” she exclaimed.

“Hold yer tongue, Lass,” he said, shaking his head and laughing.

“I will nae hold my tongue. Now tell me who ye are and let me go!” she said, shouting at him and rising angrily to her feet.

She was ready to flee, caring nothing for the consequences, she would lash out at him, and then… oh, it was futile. There was nowhere to run. She was a prisoner and be it this man or Colt, or whoever else, Delphine was powerless against the whims and wills of wicked men.

“Did he hit ye?” the man said, pointing to the bruises on her cheeks.

Delphine blushed. It shamed her to admit what Colt had done. He had told her it was her own fault, that she had provoked him, and that if she had only been obedient to his will, she would not have suffered at his hands. She nodded, raising her fingers to her cheeks, the bruise smarting as she touched it.

“He did, aye. I… I shouldnae have let him,” she said, fighting back the tears in her eyes.

“Ye had nay choice, Lass. He is a cruel man, a wicked devil,” the man replied, and Delphine looked up at him and nodded.

“And what of ye? Are ye cut from the same wood?” she asked, still fearful as to his motives.

“Ye are quite a prize. I will say that much,” he replied, and Delphine turned away, cursing his words.

He was no different to Colt, then – he saw her as a prize. He had stolen her for the very fact of spiting his enemy. She had left one nightmare only to enter another, and she turned back to him, pointing her finger at him angrily.

“I am nay one’s prize,” she replied, and he laughed.

“A trophy of war – Colt’s betrothed, are ye?” he said, and Delphine nodded.

“Ye must surely have known that. But ye, who are ye? I know nothin’ of ye, or of this place, or what I am doin’ here,” she exclaimed, the tears running down her cheeks.

All she knew was that it was a clan named the MacPhearsons who had attacked the castle. Sworn and bitter enemies for generations, she had heard much of their wickedness from Colt, and of their Laird, the fearsome Bellamy Murray, though given his own devilish ways, she had been uncertain as to the truth of what he had told her.

“Surely ye can guess? I am the Laird of the MacPhearsons. Bellamy Murray,” he said, and at these words a shiver ran down Delphine’s spine.

She had heard the name of Bellamy Murray, not only from Colt, but from her father, too. He was a devil in his own right, feared across the Highlands for his cruelty in battle. He had fought many campaigns, won many victories, and subjected many beneath his rule. His very name was enough to send children fleeing to their mother’s skirts, and men to bar and bolt their doors for fear of the night.

“I… I have heard of ye,” Delphine whispered, and Bellamy laughed.

“Few have nae done, Lass. But few have known the truth. I suppose Colt has told ye about me?” he said, pointing to the chair and gesturing for Delphine to sit.

“And my faither, too… ye are a wicked man. Ye have–” she began, but he interrupted her.

“And ye have listened to fairytales, Lass. I suppose yer faither has told ye I am a murderer, a brigand, a man who burns crofts and ravages farms, a man who brings wickedness with him wherever he goes,” he said, and Delphine nodded.

That was precisely what her father – and Colt – had told her. The name of Bellamy Murray was a byword for devilry, and to find herself in his company sent a chill running through her.

“What is it ye want with me? Why am I here?” she demanded, and Bellamy smiled.

“I told ye, ye are a prize, Lass, and an interestin’ one at that. Oh, Colt will be angry, aye, he will be ragin’ at this. Nae only was his castle breached, his gates burned, a dozen of his men killed, but his pride was taken away. Aye, ’tis that which gives the most satisfaction, Lass. I have somethin’ he wants, and he will stop at nothin’ to retrieve it,” Bellamy said, laughing, as he rose to his feet and strode over to the window.

“So, I am worth nothin’ to ye save as a prize to fight over, am I?” she demanded, and Bellamy turned to her and smiled.

“’Tis useful to have ye here, but… perhaps pleasurable, too,” he said, and he looked down at her with a searching expression on his face.

“If ye think I will–” she said, but he shook his head and turned away.

“Ye think I will ill-treat ye, dae ye? That I am like Colt,” he said.

Delphine was under no illusion – she thought he was just like Colt. She would never trust another man again, and what did it matter – Colt, Bellamy, another devilish Laird – they were all the same. Men wanted one thing, and that was power. These men were hungry for power, and Delphine was at the very heart of their struggle. The thought made her feel sick, and she leaned forward and put her head in her hands, sobbing, as he kneeled before her.

“I just want to go home, back to my parents in the south,” she wailed, and he put his hand firmly on her arm.

“Stop this foolishness. Have I nae rescued ye from that wicked man? Have I raised my hand to ye in anger?” he asked, and Delphine shook her head, looking up at him with tear-filled eyes.

“But it was only later he hit me. At first, he gained my trust. He made me think he loved me. How dae I know ye are nae the same?” she asked, and Bellamy shrugged.

“I suppose ye will just have to trust me. I am nae monster,” he replied, a slight smile coming over his face.

Delphine laughed. She had fallen for that ploy once, and still she could not believe her own naivety in being caught up in the fantasy of what Colt had offered her. She had believed everything he had told her, when, in fact, he had wanted her only for his own wicked ends. This man was no different – his reputation was enough for her to know that. It was the same pattern as before. He would gain her trust and then use that trust to further his own ends. But Delphine had no intention of giving in to him.

“And if I daenae trust ye, what then?” she asked.

He looked at her, his eyes narrowing, but she held his gaze, determined, despite her fears, to resist him.

“We shall see. Now, I have nay further time for games. Ye will have everythin’ ye need here,” he said, rising to his feet.

“So, I am to be a prisoner in a gilded cage. At least Colt gave me free rein of the castle, and a maid to see to my needs,” she said, and Bellamy laughed.

“Ye may have such privileges when I deem fit, and as for a maid, aye, I shall see to it a maid is sent to ye. But for now, I bid ye a good day,” he said, and he gave a curt bow, before turning on his heels and marching out of the chamber.

Delphine listened as the key turned in the lock, before rushing forward and hammering on the door.

“Let me out! Let me go!” she cried, but as his footsteps retreated along the corridor, she was left in silence, her thoughts clouded with every dark possibility.

This was now her prison – one exchanged for another – and while Bellamy had done nothing to hurt her, he had done nothing to help her, either. It seemed she was to be a pawn in his game, a bargaining tool in the game he was playing with Colt. She was a valuable prisoner, that, she knew, but to be used in this way, to be an object in a power struggle, brought with it only sad desperation. With a sigh, she lay down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling.

“I wish I had never set eyes on that wicked man,” she said, longing to be back home, and vowing that no man would ever steal her heart again...

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  • Awesome preview. I can’t wait until it’s published. Bellamy looks so hot on the cover! Great job with the writing, the cover and the title!

  • Omg!!! I can’t wait to read how this ends!!! It held my attention all the while that I was reading it.

  • Anxious to finish the story.
    Seems fairly simple so far but knowing how you write I’m pretty sure things are going to heat up and getting real exciting soon.

  • Saved by the Devilish Highlander draws you in to the mixed signals that her betrothed gives. Making you wonder how she will escape the mess that she is in. Just as you’re giving up, a hero in disguise appears. Now, Delphine has to decide who her savior is. Can hardly wait for the rest of the book

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