Authors: Kam McKellar
Tags: #contemporary romance novella set in Scotland
A SCOT LIKE YOU
A SCOT LIKE YOU
Copyright © 2013 by Kam McKellar
Excerpt of The Trouble With Kilts Copyright © 2013 by Kam McKellar
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, uploaded, shared, or transmitted in any form or means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Cover Design: Lewellen Designs
Don't freak out. Act normal.
Easy to say. But way harder to do. As soon as Kate looked out the window and saw the land 10,000 feet below her, the song from
wafted through her brain like a summer breeze over heather-covered hills, and she wanted to scream like a groupie at an all boy band concert.
A huge grin split her face, and she bounced a few times—discreetly, of course—in her seat.
Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined she'd be here. And she sure as hell never thought her cousin's trip to Scotland three months ago would result in an engagement with a half Scot, ex-marine, Innkeeper.
Kate sighed. So romantic.
Inevitably, her thoughts turned to the last few months and the utter wreck her own life had become. Funny how things worked out. Lucy's life had risen to joyous highs as Kate's had crumbled to dust.
Just . . . crumbled.
Needing a distraction, she turned to Mrs. Fitz-Grant-Williams. But the elderly woman kept her attention fixed solidly forward. Which might have been Kate's fault to begin with.
When she'd sat down next to Mrs. Fitz-Grant-Williams seven or so hours prior, Kate had struck up a mostly one way conversation. Mrs. F.G.W. had learned all about Lucy's whirlwind romance, Kate's itinerary for the next two weeks, followed by her reasons for the trip, and her break up with He Who shall Not Be Named (one Holden Morten who had earned himself the name Holdenmort for good reason). After that, she
have revealed the origins of her love affair with Scotland—the discovery of Grammy Lin's cache of lusty romances and her well-loved edition of
After that Ms. Fitz-Grant-Williams avoided her altogether.
Which was okay because Kate brought said book with her to pass the time.
Bringing that old paperback felt like a rite of passage. She wasn't really sure why she'd brought it really. She'd been angry when she grabbed it, angry at Holden. Angry at love. Angry at the book for making her believe in heroes and happily ever afters.
Her cousin, Riley, had swiped
(affectionately dubbed, Double H) from Gram's porch swing at the age of thirteen and read it out loud to Kate and Lucy under the covers of their make-shift fort. Ever since, Kate dreamed of her own sexy Highlander with a voice potent enough to conquer worlds, and a body to rock them all.
Screw Holdenmort. Evil jerk.
Not that he'd ever rocked her world or loved her in
But trust was trust. Friendship could be as deep and true as any other kind of love.
Kate forced away the negativity. This was going to be the best vacation of her life, damn it. It had to be because she wasn't going to settle for anything less.
Scotland and Kate, she mused, together at last.
The lovely brogue that came over the speaker to announce their landing nearly did her in. Kate sighed again and settled back.
Fasten your seat belts, lairds and laddies,
she thought with a smile
, Katherine Lee Walker is about to land.
After a long drive, and some scenery that was a gazillion times more stunning than anything she'd seen in pictures, Kate arrived at Balmorie Estate and the lovely old castle/Victorian manor where the hills were green, flowers bloomed, the long loch gleamed.
The newly opened guest house was everything Lucy had said it was and more, comprised of an L-plan castle with a later Victorian era addition. It was five stories high, with peaks and gables and tall arched windows. Imposing. Grand. Gothic. Its history went back hundreds of years. The MacLaren's history went back even farther.
For a history nut like Kate, the house was twenty-five thousand square feet of ambrosia, give or take a few thousand.
As the driver went slowly past the house and down the curving dirt road that shadowed the loch, Kate gathered her things. She'd insisted on staying in one of the estate's rental cottages rather than the castle—granted the place was huge, but she needed her own space, a place to cry out loud if she wanted, sleep all day, not shower if she felt like it... And the last thing she wanted was to go all weepy and embarrass herself in front of Lucy, Ian, and his guests.
About a mile away and out of sight of Balmorie, the stone cottage appeared as the van left a wooded grove. It sat in an open curve of green that hugged the shape of the loch. Kate could walk right out the back door, go a few steps, and sit on the rocks above the water. Perfect didn't even begin to cover it. When Lucy said she'd pick the right cottage, she hadn't been lying.
Sitting in the shadow of some ruined old castle, which was supposedly nearby, or walking along the loch… Those things, those simple things she hoped would lead to some inner healing.
That was the plan anyway.
"Would ye like help with yer bags, miss?"
Kate smiled and joined the driver at the back of the van where he removed her luggage. He could "ye" at her all day long and she'd never get tired of it.
"That's okay. I can take it from here. Thanks, though." She pulled fare and tip from her pocket, handed the bills over, and then grabbed a handle in each hand, taking the small stone path leading to the cottage.
There was a number three written on the light blue door. The shutters were the same color and the windows boxes were full of flowers. It was tiny, one level with a front door, flanked by two windows. She knew from the pictures online that it had a small kitchen, a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, and one bedroom with bath.
Sure enough the door was unlocked and the key was on the kitchen table just as Lucy had said in her text earlier.
It was just as cute on the inside. A small bottle of whisky, a basket with fresh bread, cheese, smoked salmon, and a bottle of white wine had been left on the table along with several guides and brochures and the breakfast menu for the next morning.
Tired, she set the wine in the fridge, pulled her luggage into the bedroom, sat on the bed, and burst into tears.
She could have blamed the jet lag, but it'd be a lie.
And she was sick of lies.
Angry with herself, she dried her tears and went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face. It was freezing, but invigorating. She wished her whole body could feel that way. Get a jolt. Wake the hell up.
Looking through the small window over the sink, she eyed the loch. It was so still and quiet, and she bet it'd feel amazing. The road was deserted. The woods shielded the cottage. To the left, the curving road led back to the castle. To the right, the road continued, disappearing around the bend. There were sheep grazing on the hills and according to Lucy the cottage was on part of the working farm of the estate.
There wasn't a soul around...
Kate chewed on her bottom lip. Should she do it?
There was a time when she'd been the wild one. Riley was the hard-ass, sometimes troublemaker. Lucy, the dreamer. And Kate had worn her heart on her sleeve—much good that had done her. She was no longer wild, and no longer trusting or forgiving.
It'd been so long since she'd done anything spontaneous. She wasn't sure who she was anymore or when she'd become so . . .safe and predictable.
Her teeth gritted together. Maybe that was her problem. Maybe she'd lost touch with herself a long time ago. Screw predictable.
She was out the front door before she could stop herself.
Quickly, she crossed the grass and stepped onto the rocks above the water where she removed her shoes and socks. Already her adrenaline was rising, filling her with energy and more excitement than she'd felt in a long time. The sun was going down and there was a definite chill coming. But chill was good. Chill would get her blood flowing.
From her position, she'd have to jump. The water was clear and certainly deep enough.
With one last look around, making certain she was alone, she pulled off her yoga pants and T-shirt, then shimmied out of her underwear and bra. For a second she just stood there, straightening her posture, closing her eyes and feeling the air on her skin. Feeling empowered.
Then, she drew in a deep breath and leapt off the rock.
The arctic water stole her breath and she came up shocked and gasping. Through the din, she heard a dog barking nearby. Treading water, she turned toward the sound to see a black Scottish Terrier standing on shore. Its coat was matted, no collar, and it looked a little on the thin side. Lost or a stray maybe.
"Quiet!" she commanded in her best alpha voice.
Immediately it stopped barking and sat down. Impressive. Apparently, it was trained, too, picking up on Kate's tone without pause. With a shrug, she spun around in the water and then started to swim. Cold, yes, but it did feel amazing.
She hadn't done anything this crazy in a long, long time.
Happy, she dove under, gliding through the clear water, then coming up to swim on her back and watch the sky change colors as the sun set.
Eventually, the cold water won out and chill seeped into her bones. But finding a place to exit proved challenging. There was no point in swimming back to the rocks she'd leapt off—they were too high to climb.
She probably should have thought about that before she'd leapt.
Finally she found a flat area and made her way over the slippery rocks to the shore. Not exactly how she pictured the whole skinny-dipping endeavor going. Now she had to hurry down the road buck-ass naked and shivering. Not that anyone would be—
Heart in her throat, she looked around for cover. There were no trees handy. Just an old barn across the road and the loch. Too cold to contemplate going back into the arctic water, she raced across the road, up a short drive, and yanked open the barn door, shutting it behind her and peeking through the crack to await the passerby.