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Keeper of My Heart


Her breath caught, pulse quickened, when Mackintosh’s companion entered the room. The man was…beautiful. Tall and muscular, he had black hair, high cheekbones. But it was his eyes. Even from this distance they enthralled her, enticed her. She saw many a braw Highlander every day in her busy keep—Alexander’s friends, their clansmen—but never before had anyone drawn her attention like this stranger. Even the red uniform of King George’s bloody personal regiment looked good on him. He was…

Nessa started when she heard Angus speaking to her.

“Well-come, Lady Nessa. I did not realize you were here.”

She tore her eyes away from the breathtaking man standing by the entry door. “I arrived but yester-day. Alexander had to meet someone, so he agreed to let me visit with Annie.” She didn’t want to spoil Anne’s surprise by mentioning the real reason for her presence.

An edge to his voice, Angus straightened. “Where did your brother go?”

His tone set a flutter of anxiety coursing through Nessa. Something was wrong. Her brother left without telling her his destination, something he never did. Now Angus questioned his whereabouts. Why?

“I was so excited about visiting with Annie I didn’t bother to ask.” She knew not why she lied, but the need to protect her brother overwhelmed her.

Angus seemed to accept her answer. He returned his attention to his wife and wrapped his arm around her waist and drew her close.

Compelled, Nessa’s eyes were drawn to Mackintosh’s companion across the Great Hall. She blushed when realizing he stared back, laugh lines around his eyes, the corners of his lips tilted in a smile. Their eyes met and didn’t waver. Nessa felt a breathless quickening. She wanted to walk over and…

Again Angus’ words interrupted her flushed reverie. She looked past Angus, hadn’t even noticed the other men. Her eyes were all for the handsome stranger.

Angus made his introductions. “My lady, may I present Captain Roarke Montgomery, Lieutenant Lawrence Pearson, and Sergeants Gregory Applewaite and Edward Collyns. The king has bid them work as adjunct with my regiment, and I have extended our hospitality for the next few days.”

Nessa could barely draw air. The black haired man’s name was Roarke Montgomery. Such a lovely name. Such a beautiful man.

Anne extended her hand, palm upward, toward Nessa. “May I introduce my guest? This is Lady Nessa MacGillivray, my dearest friend.”

Nessa received acknowledgement from each man. Three bowed in greeting. The fourth man—Roarke Montogomery—locked eyes with her—those haunting eyes—and stepped toward her. She studied the handsome man as he took her hand.

Nessa couldn’t draw a breath. Her black haired man. What made him approach her? The others merely bowed. Why didn’t he do the same?

Raising her hand toward his lips, he brushed the back of her hand with a light kiss. Nessa couldn’t take her gaze from him. Couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. His heated gaze raked over her as he raised his head. He had the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen. Blue, the color of Loch Lomond on a spring day. She thought she could lose herself in their depths.

“Pleased to meet you, Lady MacGillivray. Had I known Mackintosh had such a lovely houseguest, I’d not have groused about riding here from Inverness.” His eyes didn’t waver from hers, but he released her hand. “I did not mean to embarrass you, but you are even lovelier than a rose touched with dew when you blush.”

His deep voice, though tinged with his cultured English accent, caressed her like silk from a rare chemise slinking down her body. Her mouth opened, but no words emerged. He must think her a simpleton. Thank God Anne urged her toward the circular stairway. Otherwise her feet never would have moved.

Reaching the top, Nessa glanced down. A flush crept up her neck when she saw Captain Montgomery still watched her.

What was she thinking? The man was English!

Yet she’d never felt such an immediate attraction to anyone. Had never had anyone stir such emotions in her. Nessa felt the heat rushing to her cheeks just thinking about him. He probably believed her a silly twit, a simple Scots lass.

“I am familiar with the Dunmaglass area.” Captain Montgomery’s eyes held a mischievous gleam. “Had I suspected someone as lovely as you lived there, I might have stopped for a bit of your well known Highland hospitality.”

“Why must you do that, sir? Say things to embarrass me?”

He said nothing, merely regarded her with those intense blue eyes. His quirked brow revealed he knew he’d unsettled her. Bloody Englishman delighted in it.
He held her gaze an instant longer, before returning his attention to his food.

Goodness, did he realize she thought him handsome? How could she not? With those bright blue eyes, wavy black hair, and broad shoulders, the man was gorgeous. For the first time in her life she met someone who interested her, and he was…English.

How could life be so cruel?



The Power and The Passion







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