The next morning I forced myself to leave the castle behind and made my way to the countryside to the Baran Farm. I desperately needed to see Calum once again before Dougal was to arrive this evening. I needed to see if that feeling would return or if it was just a moment. If Calum had my heart, I would not be marrying Dougal, especially with my father’s permission. I did not know if he would approve of me being with a farmhand; however, he did say he wanted me to be happy. I had a strong feeling that Calum would make me very happy.
I quickly made my way to the Baran Farm. I was pleased to see Calum out in the field tending to the horses. My heart did the flutter once again, and I knew this was not a simple interest of another being. My body was screaming for him, screaming at me that this man was meant to be mine. That I was meant to be his. As if he sensed me, he looked up and his eyes locked onto mine. The instant smile that spread across his face warmed my heart and brought my smile to my face. We both walked towards each other as if there was a string connecting the both of us together.
I made my way over to the fence, and once there, Calum held his hand out for me to take. I quickly took it, and once again, he lifted me over the fence. However, this time, he did not wait for us to reach the barn before he acted. He pulled me in for a heated kiss that told me exactly how much he cared for me, how much he had missed me. I melted into the kiss, allowing him to take me over. All too soon, he pulled back, and I could see the heat in his eyes. He wanted me, and I wanted him just as desperately. Without a single word spoken, he took my hand and guided me to the barn. We went into a freshly clean and empty stable, and he laid me down on the fresh soft hay. His body covered mine, and his lips were back upon mine.
My hands went to his shirt, and I began to move it up and off his body. I needed to run my hands over the smooth muscles that laid underneath the cloth. His body did not disappoint. Working in the field all day for years has given him a body made out of the solid muscle. I trailed my fingers down his chest to his stomach, each one moving over the ridges of his abdomen. His own rough and calloused hands made their way to the top of my dress, releasing the string that held the front of it closed. With the strong now open, he was able to slide it down ever so slightly so his hand could cup my bare breast. I let out a breath as I felt his rough skin against my smoothness. I loved the feel of him against me, touching me. The way his tongue slid along with mine—the way his fingers rubbed over my nipple. I wished we could go further, but I knew we must not. That act was only to be shared by a husband and wife. However, that did not mean our fun had to end just yet.
Calum’s mouth moved away from mine as he kissed down my neck and down to my breast. He took my nipple one at a time into his mouth, making a slight moan escape my lips. I could feel his hardness within his pants against my leg, and I knew he wanted me just as badly as I wanted him. His right hand wandered down my body, slowly making its way up my long skirt to my core. He slipped his finger through my folds and into my heat. I panted at the feel of him inside of me, and I could not help but wonder what he would feel like inside of me. Calum kissed his way back up my neck and looked down at me.
“I want to watch you unfold right before my eyes.” He said in a husky voice filled with arousal.
His mouth was back on mine, and I did my best to kiss him as his finger moved quicker inside of me. I could not stop panting as I could feel the pressure building within my belly. Calum continued to kiss me until he stepped back as if he could sense that I was nearing my ending. His eyes locked onto mine, and I could tell he wished it were him inside of me and not just a single finger. He moved faster, and the moans would not stop pouring out of me. My nails dug into the skin on his shoulder as I felt an explosion going off inside of me. A long moan escaped my lips, and I could feel myself pulse against his finger. Calum groaned, pleased at what he just witnessed before he kissed me once again. Once I finished pulsing, he slowly removed his finger and pulled back from the kiss.
“One day, you will be mine.” It was a promise that he spoke, and part of my heart believed him.
“I am set to be wed to another,” I whispered.
“Men die, especially men, in battle. I have a great deal of patience; I can wait.”
I knew the words that he spoke were valid. He felt exactly what I was, that our hearts and souls could very well belong to each other. He would wait, and I hoped it would not have to be that long of a wait, for I wanted him just as badly.
As the evening began, the castle’s gathering room was filled with people. The Greum Clan was a large one, and it would appear most made the journey down on behalf of their Lord and Heir. The wedding was set in three days, and my stomach clenched at the thought. After seeing Calum once again and feeling his body against mine, I knew without a doubt that he had stolen my heart. I knew I could not marry Dougal, not without sacrificing my heart and happiness. My fear was how my father would react to his daughter falling for a farmhand. Calum was strong, but he was still a farmhand and not a fighter. He took care of horses; he did not bear arms to defend the land. I fear my love for him would not be enough for my father’s approval.
I was still obligated to give Dougal a try, and as such, I made my way through the gathering room. I was not surprised to see so many people, but I was surprised to see my uncles standing with my father. An instant smile touched my face as I made my way over to the most important men within my life. My uncles had been a major part of my childhood, and I knew they were disappointed that they were not here for my nineteenth birthday. As Lords to their land in Scotland, they had duties and obligations they needed to tend to. I was most pleased to see them here tonight.
The three of them gave me warm and big smiles as I approached them. It did not take but two seconds before my Uncle Calhoun was bringing me into his arms. He was a huge man of muscle, but I knew on the inside he was soft as mud.
“Uncle, it is so good to see you,” I said as I moved back.
“It is most good to see you, my dear.”
“Yes, yes, now move. It is my turn.” My Uncle Dillion said, pushing past my Uncle Calhoun.
I easily welcomed the hug, and I realised just how much I had missed them. Both had sons, but they did not have a daughter. I was the only daughter born amongst my father and uncles; as a result, I was very well protected. My uncles had always treated me as if I was their daughter. It gave me the strength to see them here tonight.
“How are you?” Uncle Dillion asked as we parted.
“I am well, yourselves?”
“We are just fine.” Uncle Dillion said warmly.
“We are looking forward to meeting this man who thinks he can marry you.” Uncle Calhoun said.
I knew they were all anxious to meet Dougal Greum. I almost felt pity for the man, to meet three intimidating men such as my father and uncles. It was my father’s idea for me to wed, but I could see that my uncles were not fully behind it. It did make perfect sense for the Clan, but as the men who raised me to be strong on my own, it was difficult for them to see another man stand in their place.
“He comes from a good Clan. You know this will secure the future of our Clan ruling over the Highlands.” My father said.
“Yes, we know.” Uncle Dillion said, but he was not happy with it.
“Mister Dougal Greum may be a fine man. Father has assured me that should we not get along; I do not have to wed.” I said, hoping to stop an argument before it began.
“I will not sentence my daughter to a life of misery. I have been assured that Dougal Greum is a good and strong man.” My father added.
“We will be the ones to decide that.” Uncle Calhoun said, looking directly at my father.
I prayed that the night would go well, and it would not result in a war between my uncles and father. Our conversation was cut short when Mister Mick Greum approached with whom I suspected to be Dougal. They both looked very similar; it was clear Dougal was Mick’s son. As my eyes were on Dougal, they were clearly on my father. He did not spare me a glance, as if he did not see me standing right here. My father held his hand out to Mick as he spoke.
“Mick, it is good to see you here. I hope the journey went well.”
“It was fine. It is always a pleasure to be here in the castle. This is my son, Dougal.”
“An honor to meet you, Lord MacInnes,” Dougal said, as he took my father’s hand in his with a slight bow of his head.
“These are my brothers, Calhoun and Dillion. And this is my beautiful daughter, Elise.” My father said warmly as he smiled at me.
Dougal gave me a slight bow as he spoke. “A pleasure to meet you, Mistress MacInnes.”
His voice was rich, but it did nothing to my body. His voice did not send a chill down my spine, not as Calum’s did.
“And you as well, Mister Greum,” I said politely.
“We have much to discuss, shall we go to your chambers Aiden?” Mister Greum asked.
“Yes, let’s.” My father agreed.
“Mistress MacInnes, fetch my father and I a drink while we talk business,” Dougal said with an order to his voice.
He looked at me as if I was the help. Like I would go off and fetch him and his father a drink, like a dog performing a trick. I plastered the fakest smile to my face as I spoke.
“I would love to if I were a dog.”
“Pardon Mistress?” Dougal asked, clearly not expecting me to speak again.
“A dog fetches. Do I appear as a dog to you?”
“I did not mean to mention that you were. I was merely telling you to bring us a drink. We have come here to do business; the least you could do was bring us a drink.” Dougal said, not impressed by my tone.
I wasn’t impressed by the way he thought he could speak to me. That may work with other women, but I was not most women, and I would not tolerate it. He was already at a high risk of not having a wife before he even arrived.
“And I am merely telling you to get your drinks. I do not fetch, not now, not ever. You have two good legs; I suggest you use them to fetch your damn drinks.” I said with an edge to my voice.
“It would appear your daughter has a flame that needs work on.” Mister Greum said to my father, before turning and placing a hand on his son’s shoulders. “Come now; we have a business to attend to. Then you and your soon to be wife can talk about the rules of the house for her to follow.”
“The rules are what I make them. If you can not accept that, then there is no business to speak of.” I said with an edge before I turned and left.
I was not going to put up with this. I was raised to be strong, and I would not grow into a delicate flower all because of some man. I didn’t know what my father and uncles were going to do, but I needed a moment to cool off. I walked through the halls of the castle, trying to calm my body down. I was not looking forward to speaking with Dougal, to begin with, and now my fears were confirmed. He seemed to be a typical man looking to control his wife and saw her as less than him. I knew women have always been treated as such, but I refused to accept that. Why should their lives matter more? Without a woman, they wouldn’t even be born nor their children. That alone deserved respect.
I found myself outside of my father’s chambers, and I could not help but stop and listen to the raised voices coming from inside.
“I will not tolerate my niece being spoken to like that.” Uncle Calhoun roared.
“Your niece seems to need a reminder of what a woman’s place is,” Dougal said back.
“You did not inform me that your daughter was wild. You had said she was a proper woman for my son Aiden.” Mister Greum said, angry as well.
“She is a proper woman. She is how we raised her to be. A woman who demands respect and can stand on her own. She is my only child, our only woman born, and we have raised her to defend herself should we not be there for her. With no older brothers to protect her, she must do it herself. I will not tolerate any man treating her less than she deserves.” My father said with a powerful strength to his voice.
“A woman’s place is behind her husband. To fulfill his every need and wish. Any disobedience will be beaten out of them. That is where a woman belongs. I will not tolerate her as anything but a proper woman.” Dougal snapped.
“Then I suggest you go back to your land and find one there. Because my niece will never be some mindless slave for you to use.” Uncle Dillion said with a deadly calm voice.
I knew they were all getting to the point of their anger exploding. I knew I was an untraditional woman. That my father and uncles had raised me in an untraditional fashion, had I had any brothers, chances are I would have been raised in the kitchen like all the other women in the village. However, being an only child had forced my father to raise me differently, something I was forever thankful for. I did not need to hear any more; I knew my father and uncles would handle it. The wedding would be called off, and I prayed that they would be able to keep the relationship between the Clans strong. That was not something I would worry about, for now; tonight, I had somewhere else I needed to be. A man was waiting for me, and I was not going to let any more time slip past my fingers.