A dark, intriguing cavern. A strange mystery. An almost impossible love. Emily and her kilt-wearing, horse-riding, Greek god look-alike Highlander are caught up in a tangled web. What does destiny have in store for them?
Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Domestic Violence, Extreme Violence/Gore, Rape, Sexual Assault/Abuse Violence Against Women)
A Highlander’s Faith by Faith Blake is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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He comes in the night when sleep plays upon the mind, this man only I can sense for he is only in my heart.
Yet he holds me closer than any who have actually held me. He knows my secret inner thoughts, my thoughts of him.
The thoughts that I have hidden from the world in the deepest creases of my mind. He is there, even before I ask, for he is my destiny.
Through dreams, he is both lover and friend and yet when I awaken, I know sadly that he will be gone.
Therefore, I long to keep my mind asleep so that he will tarry, for he is what my heart desires and who am I to deny my heart.
Only him; no one else will ever fulfill my need as he has.
My soul cries out for him when morning comes and when night falls, I anticipate the dance that our bodies will do together.
As I give in and yield to his touch, my soul yearns for him even more. He is forever with me; never so far away, that I cannot feel him, want him, need him.
He is the beat of my heart, the burning of my soul, and the passion of my body. He is destiny, thrown somewhere out there in the spaces of time.Therefore, I know I will never be free.
You may ask “But who is this man, this destiny you so desire?”
I would have to answer—I do not know his face for I have never seen it, nor his name for he never speaks it but I know him through my heart.
Therefore, I wait through the pages of time for my true destiny. My Highland Destiny.
August 1987. Somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland
“You are such a jerk, and I am such a fool!”Emily said aloud as she hit her flashlight, even though there was no one to hear her.
Her so-called lover, well not any longer.
Maybe the word ‘boyfriend’ fit the part better but Emily doubted that he even registered that high on her romantic scale at this moment, had left her hours ago.
He had gone to get more supplies and the batteries in her flashlight were not going to last much longer.
Emily knew Jeff was not coming back. In her mind, she had known that the minute he left but she would not admit it.
The supply stores only took thirty minutes to get to by car and Jeff had her car.
However, she kept telling herself that surely he was not so low that he would leave her in a cavern she barely knew anything about, with no food and no batteries.
Especially no batteries. He knew how much she hated the dark!
Besides, these caverns had such a bad reputation when it came to superstition. Not that she would ever believe in that rubbish.
What scared her even more than silly superstition was that she had this fear deep within that she would never find her way back out of this cavern.
For she had been to the opening that she and Jeff had come through but now it just was not there.
Now she was praying she could get the batteries to last long enough so that maybe she could try it one more time and this time would be the charm.
She had obviously gotten lost in the maze of caverns that enveloped her.
Since she had realized Jeff was not coming back—she had run, crawled, climbed, stumbled, screamed, beat the walls and yes, even cried with no luck of finding the exit or any other human being.
It was as if the door just was not there anymore and she left entrapped in the cavern.
The caverns in Scotland are best known for their secret passageways that are brilliant to behold.
However, what they’re mostly known for are the superstitions that surround the caverns about Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Legend says that during his run from the enemy, Bonnie Prince Charlie hid in the caverns until he could escape.
One night while hiding, two young children came upon him and offered him food. When he reached for the food, the children disappeared.
The superstition of the caverns draws more attention and crowds than most national landmarks.
With the help from the tour guides and very reliable signs, anyone could find their way back out of them.
Oh but not Emily, of course.
Being the investigative type she had decided not to take the usual visitors route into the caverns. Nope, not her. She had to be smart and take a back way that Jeff had stumbled across.
There were no tour guides and no information on the tour map she had about this tunnel.
All she could remember seeing when she and Jeff had entered this cavern were the warning signs telling visitors that these caverns had not yet been explored by professionals and to not enter them.
Damn her and her inquisitive mind, everyone had told her it would get her in trouble one day and this may just be that day.
Emily hit her flashlight again and took a deep breath, as the light grew a little brighter.
She loved hiking and exploring places, even caverns. It was in her blood after all. Her father was one of the most famous archaeologists of his time.
She so wanted to be like him and not like her stepfather who got frightened by even a tiny mouse running across the floor. At least, that is the way he was when in public.
Behind everyone’s back and when he was with some of his not-so-trustworthy friends, Mike was quite a shady character.
The difference in her father and Mike astounded her and she still questioned why exactly her mother had married Mike.
Her mother Sonja had not lived for more than a couple of years after she married Mike and Emily moved out on the day of her funeral.
Enough about Mike—that was a part of her past she didn't wish to venture into. It scared her almost as bad as being stuck in this cavern with no lights.
The truth of the matter was simple enough. Emily hated the dark. It terrified her worse than anything in life could ever terrify her.
In addition, sadly she knew each time she hit her flashlight and the light got just a little brighter, that she was getting closer and closer to total darkness.
“Come on Emily, you have explored caverns larger than this before and never gotten lost! What is your problem? Quit sitting on your lily white ass like a spoiled little rich girl and find your way out of here!”
“Okay, now I am talking to myself. If, no, when I get out of here I swear I am going to make that creep so miserable he will never think about dating another woman.”
Emily knew she was getting exasperated and that was not helping anything but she could not stop herself.
She hated feeling helpless and right now, that was exactly how she felt. She also knew she was going different ways each time she tried to find the exit.
She was tired, hungry and she hated to admit it, but even frightened by this point.
She knew in the back of her mind that she had been to where the exit was at least twice, had even seen it.
But when she got closer to where the light was coming from it seemed to disappear into thin air and there would be nothing but a solid wall.
She wondered if she had just plain lost it. Better yet, if was she starting to hallucinate? Nevertheless, she refused to believe all this.
She had just been turned backwards, confused, twisted around. After all, caverns were solid stone, right. In order for her to get in the cavern, there had to have been a door, right? Right?
Emily started walking again in the direction she knew the exit had to have been in, to see if by some strange chance she had just missed it, when she found herself in total darkness.
“This is it,” she thought aloud as she hit the flashlight several times with her hand and finally decided to beat it wildly against the wall of the cavern.
She was facing something worse in her mind than death. She was not sure whether her body or her mind could take another blow.
She could feel herself start to panic and she knew that was not the smart thing to do. Then again, who gives a damn about what was smart right now!
All she knew right now was that she needed to find some light and find it fast. It was getting harder and harder to breathe and she was beginning to feel very light headed.
Emily started running, not paying attention to which direction she was going in. She did not know how long she had been running when she hit a wall and had to stop.
She suddenly felt very cold, as if she had stopped under a waterfall in the middle of winter.
There was no water in this cavern. She knew because she and Jeff had searched over the cavern trying to find water before he left.
Suddenly Emily felt a very strange presence as if someone or something were watching her. She closed her eyes and held her breath praying it was just her imagination.
She would not have minded so much if she knew for sure the presence was safe but for some reason it just did not feel natural.
Suddenly, she felt a shiver run down her back and she knew for sure something strange was going on.
“Help me, please someone help me!”
Emily screamed in a voice filled with fright and started running again.
SHE WAS GOING TO DIE! Dear God, she was going to die, all alone and in the dark.
All of a sudden, she felt as though she ran right into whatever it was that had caused the shiver to run down her spine. This time Emily did not attempt to run.
She did not scream. She did not even have a chance to cry out as she felt her knees give out on her and she started to fall.
The last thing she remembered before total darkness overtook her was the strong muscled arms that seemed to catch her before she hit the floor.
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McBrock Castle. Summer. Highlands of Scotland
Alek’in McBrock slammed his fist on the stonethat surrounded the fireplace and then gripped the mantle to keep from displaying any more anger.
He closed his blue eyes that blazed like sapphire, took a deep breath and tried to calm his temper. Finally, he turned to face the couple standing behind him.
He could see the anger and confusion in his father’s eyes and the pity coming from his mother’s eyes. Alek knew he could deal with the anger better than he could with the pity.
He tried so hard to make them understand how he felt. They have had this conversation so many times and each time it led to an argument between Alek and his father.
Lately, it seemed to be coming up more and more frequently and no matter what he said, they just did not get what Alek was trying to tell them.
“I understand, Da that I am the only child left and that leaves me to give this family an heir. But I cannot marry a lass who is terrified of me, of my family and of some old woman’s tale from the past!”
Alek stated in his thick Scottish brogue, a lot calmer than he felt.
His dialogue tended to change when he was angry, using words of long ago mixed with today’s lingo. He continued watching his father’s face.
“Besides, you cannot be too worried about me marrying, or you would stop all this foolish nonsense that started with my great granddad instead of letting everyone believe the rumors.”
“Alek, my lad, listen to me. As I have told you so many times, these are not rumors.
“Even your granddad, whom ya sat with a many a night in front of the old fireplace and talked with told ya the story of how his da and mum met.”
Sham’ren continued talking even though these words had been said many times before, hoping that he could make his son understand and believe the truth behind them.
“Everyone in the village at the time saw and knew your great grand mum, spoke and laughed with her. He soon fell in love with her different ways.
“Through time, the story passed down. We canna help that our past holds mysteries and wonders that may leave others baffled.But I am not ashamed of my heritage, nor should you be.”
“Da, I am not ashamed of my family or of the past, if it be the truth,” Alek argued. “But I canna believe such tales. I have no proof of such and neither do you.”
Sham’ren’s face turned as red as his hair and he gasped at this comment from his son.
He raised his voice as he answered back, his wife standing behind him watching the two men have the same battle they had almost every night.
“Alek’in Wallace Kendrick McBrock! I knew your great grand mum! You have the stories that your granddad and I told ya!
“You have the paintings, which show the clothing she wore. At one time, you believed! Why not now? What more do you want? You say you need proof—just what ‘proof’ do you need?”
Sham’ren was getting as exasperated with Alek as Alek was with him.
Why was it that the only son he had left after siring eleven did not have any faith? Why was it so hard for him to believe in miracles, or even in love?
Sham’ren looked at his son with love and hurt showing on his face and Alek had to turn away to not see it for it tugged at his heart so badly.
He hated hurting his father but his father could never understand. Why would his father not just leave him be and let it go? He did not want to marry!
“I am sorry, da but I refuse to believe that my great gran mum came from another place in time and my great granddad found her—his life mate—when he passed through a stone wall in some cavern.
“I will only believe this when God Himself can prove it to me. And believe me to satisfy you, I really wish He would!”
Alek stated as he stormed out of the great hall and down the foyer to go outside.
However, before the door had a chance to slam shut behind him, he heard his mother’s calm voice and did not like the statement that she made.
“Be careful what you wish for, Alek’in. The Almighty has a wry sense of humor. He just might grant your wish.”
Alek walked down the stairs but just as he reached the bottom step, he could have sworn he felt cold water run down his spine.
He shrugged it off and carried on, still upset with himself for letting his anger once again get the best of him. He was just so tired of using the same excuse.
He knew he had lied to his father. He knew it was not the past that kept him from finding someone to love. That was just the excuse he used to keep from becoming handfasted and later married.
He saw the love his parents shared and deep down he knew he would love to experience it with his own soulmate.
However, he also knew of the pain they had gone through and he was not so sure he wanted to go through that with his own wife or children.
No, he would not! There was no one he knew that he was willing to experience Heaven with just to see them go through Hell. Even God could not ask that of him.
Alek rubbed his hands against the leather of his pants. Sweat covered his body and ran down his face and into his eyes, his muscles quivering from the effect the workout had on them.
He knew that tomorrow he would regret how hard he had worked today.
He was hot, tired, and thirsty but he would not quit yet, for there was still a little daylight left and it was not going to be wasted. He and his men would practice while there was still light.
Alek knew he was pushing the men a lot harder than usual, but Alek had faced death on the battlefield and he feared it. He had seen it take men regardless of age or skill.
He had been raised with a sword in his hands as had many Highlanders but skill was something that was taught and learned over time.
He was determined he would train his men as hard and as long as possible to keep death from taking another one away from him.
Jacobite uprisings were still taking place all over the Highlands due to the Dundee trying to give the throne back to James.
He knew how easy it was for any Highlander to be blamed whether they were involved in the uprisings or not.
He had promised his mother that he would not leave his village again to go to war but he could not promise her that if war came to his village he would not fight.
He would not just stand by and watch death and destruction come to Crescent Peaks without fighting for his people, his home and his land.
He had buried too many loved ones for war to ravage his home again. This time he would be ready and waiting.
He was the protector and guardian of Crescent Peaks, both village and castle and he’d be damned if his clan died because of something they had no part in.
No one was going to bring destruction upon his people. He and Bryce Connelly would make sure his men would be ready to stop the fight before it ever entered his territory.
Alek’in sheathed his sword as Bryce stopped the practice.
The sun was sinking behind the mountain and he knew that even though his da had given him lairdship over the keep, his mother believed she wore the trews in the homestead.
She treated each person on the grounds as if they were her own family, even if they were the help.
She would tear into him with words hotter than scalding water if he kept the men past their dinnertime with their wives and wee bairns.
He just wanted to make sure they were always there to spend time with their families.
He watched with hunger in his soul as his captain of the guards and best friend picked up his young son and swung him playfully in the air.
He heard the cries of joy coming from the small child’s throat and could not help but laugh.
He and Bryce went back a long way. They grew up together on the same land they now stood side by side to protect.
Bryce had been there with him on each battlefield, had shed tears with him as each death claimed another loved one.
He and Kirsten knew about death also because they had buried a child and both of her parents when the fever had ravaged the village.
When Bryce threw Robbie in the air just as Kirsten came out of their lodge, Alek thought he would not remain standing from the laughter the two caused from him.
The woman had picked up a piece of firewood nearly as tall as she and was chasing Bryce, threatening him that she “would beat the giant ox senseless if he ever threw one of her wee ones again”.
And Alek believed she would.
OH! The protectiveness of a mother could be both a blessing and a curse. He knew this too well from his own mum.
Alexandria was almost a foot shorter than his da and even more so than him, but he knew when she said something and stuck out that stubborn chin of hers, there would be hell to pay if it was not followed.
She protected everyone, whether family or strangers. She would fight like a wild boar if she saw anyone in harm’s way.
She loved unconditionally and it showed in everything she said and did.
You could look at the young girls that helped with the chores in the home and knew for a fact that many of the orphans that his mum had taken in had become as close as family.
Not to just her but also to him and his da.
Oh but, do not let this kind and caring nature fool you. She could turn into a rattlesnake in a second if the situation warranted such.
She would discipline her own children but beat someone else to death if they even laid a hand on one of her own or one she claimed.
Alexandria had the stubborn blood of the Scottish and the temper of the Irish flowing in her veins. Yet she never failed to surprise him when it came to his father.
She seldom allowed her temper to show between the two and if she did, it was often where Alek did not see it.
She had a way of making Sham’ren feel as if he were the wisest man in the world and yet it was often her advice that was followed.
The woman would listen to his da, give her suggestion and make him think he had that idea all the while.
Alek knew he was a fortunate man. To be blessed with such good parents and to still have them. So many children in their valley were orphans due to sickness, poverty and war.
Try as he might to keep the hunger away, it still ran so easily if the winter was harder and longer than the harvest.
Alek’in looked away from Bryce and Kirsten when Bryce stopped suddenly and grabbed Kirsten around the waist. He had to lift her for her to be even with his face.
Alek saw the hunger and smoky desire well up in Kirsten’s eyes as Bryce bent to place a passionate kiss on her lips.
He suddenly felt cold as he felt the loneliness well up inside him. He tried to keep it hidden under hard feelings but he knew he longed for a wife of his own, for children to call him Da.
But he knew it could never be. He would not fall in love. He would never handfast and he would never sire a child. The pain and fear of someday losing them was too much to bear.
Worse than that was the thought of leaving the person he loved alone, when he himself had journeyed to the next world was something he would not make anyone he loved have to bear.
To him the thought of being in love or someone loving him, scared him worse than the thought of death.
At least with death you knew it was over, with love the hurt continued until death claimed every living soul involved.
Alexandria blew the loose wisps of hair from in front of her face as she turned her head from one end of the table to the other. She looked at the two men sitting opposite each other.
She loved these two men more than anything else in the world. She could see so much of Sham’ren in her son and longed for the peace between them that they used to share.
She had handfasted and became the bride over forty years ago and given birth two years after that. Through the years, Sham’ren had given her twelve children but only one remained alive, Alek’in.
She had lost Allenton, Kevin, Robert, Eli and Cameron in battles to defend their homes, lands, and their country.
Two of her son’s—Jacob and Conner’s—wives and her only grandchildren were lost in the famine that had swept the countryside.
Justin and Julianne, her third set of twins lived only a short while after she had given birth, ravaged by the same fever that had kept her at death’s door for so long. Julianne was their only daughter.
The fever had claimed lives no matter age or wealth.
She remembered it as if it were yesterday. The graves they dug across the countryside because of the bodies the fever had claimed.
It had come upon the heels of the famine and families were weak and not able to fight as strongly as they normally would have against Mother Nature’s attack.
Unfortunately, digging the graves became too hard in the god forsaken cold of winter. Soon, they were having to burn bodies to keep the disease from spreading.
When Alek’in helped Sham’ren dig the graves for his brother and sister, he knew he was burying the only sister he would ever have.
Her second set of twins, Daniel and Duncan, had been lost in the fire that had consumed the old homestead.
She could still see the slight discolored scars that crossed Alek’s arms and chest where stones and timbers had fallen on him as he had fought to save his little brothers.
He had gotten to them before the fire but not before smoke had filled their lungs.
She could still see him carrying their lifeless bodies outside, asking God why had He allowed this to happen.
He had stood at their graves and blamed himself just as he had when he stood at the graves of his brothers that he had lost in battle. He had been there with each of them.
He had fought beside each of them. Then he had brought each of them home so that he could bury them.
He had shed as many tears over the tiny graves of his brother and sister as she and Sham’ren had.
He had seen two of his brothers fall in love, marry and one of them sire children just to see all of them perish.
That is when Alexandria began to notice something was happening to Alek’s spirit. By the time he brought his own twin, Allenton home to bury, Alek did not shed any tears.
He only showed anger and she knew then that he had given up on happiness, had given up on love.
She even believed that if he had once at all believed in the Almighty—he no longer had any faith in him.
She looked at his hard face, the one that used to light up so easily, eyes filled with laughter, not the pain and emptiness she saw in them now.
Where was the passion and love that used to make, what was now his dull blue eyes, light up like sapphires loaded with starbursts?
She so longed for the free spirit he once had when joking with his brothers and Sham’ren. What would it take for him to have happiness again?
Alexandria thought back to the young girl in the village. Jocelyn was not what would bring him happiness. He wanted nothing to do with her nor her with him.
She had thought at one time that maybe he had the same feeling for Davina that she had for him but Alexandria now knew that Alek was not in love with anyone.
He and Davina shared friendship and even a close familial love but there would never be a marriage with the two of them, although she wondered if Davina knew that.
Her mind drifted to the young handmaiden that had come into their family so long ago. Davina was an orphan from one of the families during a very rough winter.
Alexandria had found her half frozen on the steps of the homestead.
Davina and Alek had grown up together—shared laughter, hurts and jokes but he had always thought of her as a little sister until she became a woman.
Then Davina started seeing Alek in a different light, a man that intrigued her and she wanted something much more with him but Alek still looked at her as a little sister—a friend to tease and laugh with.
Alexandria knew it hurt Davina when she heard Alek talk of other women and she had tried to talk to her but it seemed nothing could get through to her.
Alexandria looked back at Alek. She knew his secret and she knew their past had nothing to do with him getting married.
Alek was scared—scared of losing the one person he would open up to and show how he really felt.
He was scared that he might have to bury her or she might have to bury him too soon after finding each other and he was not going to do that, if possible.
She had talked to Sham’ren last night when he had come to their bedchamber.
She understood that he was worried about his son being alone, and it had nothing to do whether he left a sire or not. She explained to him that he had to stop fighting with Alek to find a life mate.
They would have to trust God with their son’s future. He agreed but as he held her tight, she remembered his whispered words to her
“Allie my love, I just want our son to be as happy as we are, can you blame me for that?”
No, she could not blame him for that is what she also wanted.
Ah Sham’ren. Even after all these years he still made her palms sweaty and her blood boil as if it were only yesterday that they had met and not forty years ago.
Looking at him sitting there made her heart pound and she blushed as she remembered the nights they still shared together in love’s embrace.
When he had taken her for his life mate, she thought she had died and gone to the Golden Isles of Heaven.
Even after all the years together, he still made her reach the highest stars in the sky when they spent nights together in uncontrolled passion.
She knew the sorrow and pain they had experienced could never overshadow the love and joy they had together.
After all, Sham’ren was more than her husband, he was her friend, her champion and the other half of her soul.
That was what made the bad times a little softer.
If only her son could have that, for she so wanted this kind of love for her son. A love that could build a bridge over the deepest canyon of despair and heartache.
Alexandria shook her head and brought her attention back to the men at the table.
She had decided that she would let the Almighty handle the situation with her son and she was determined to do just that.
She had learned from Granny McBrock that the true God was able to do things that others thought impossible and right now seeing her son happy again seemed to be impossible.
She was willing to wait and trust and if none of the young lasses in their village could make her son’s blood boil the way Sham’ren could hers then she did not want him with any of them.
God would find the right woman for him. After all, God had found the right one for Sham’ren’s grandfather by some strange occurrence.
if her son had to go somewhere else or even in another time to find his life mate, who was she to argue with God.
Later that night, restless and unable to sleep, Alek decided to go on a hard ride with Terror around Crescent Peaks.
Protection and security had always been his main concern when it came to his family and friends and it would bother him deeply if someone caused a ripple in that.
With his thoughts wandering, Alek allowed Terror to roam where he wanted, for the horse knew the territory as well as he did if not better.
He and Terror had been through many scraps and battles together and he knew the horse could feel the tension in his body.
His mum teased him that he would never find a wife because of his horse. She swore the animal was more possessive of Alek’s attention than any woman could ever be.
They had ridden into the early morning when Alek saw the mist rising from the loch. His mind was troubled still over something that he might not be able to control.
He hated the thought of there being another battle over this land of his. There was so much of it. Why did men have to fight over something they could all live on together?
However, it was not about the land as much as it was about men wanting to control other men. Scotland had been allowed to rule itself for so long and now that was about to change.
It would change, for Alek knew that no matter how many battles they fought, change was coming.
Nevertheless, he would still fight when a man’s freedom was at stake. He did not think about the danger. He fought with every fiber in his being and he knew his men would too.
He knew he had to let it go and just handle what may come as it comes.
But he also knew he had to keep a tight rein on not only his emotions but his men’s also or trouble would come of it, there was no doubt about that.
He reached down, patted Terror’s neck, and realized that the horse had ridden faster than he thought. It was dripping in sweat and needed a good rub down.
He decided to stop by the stream that he knew was just up ahead and let him and Terror both cool off before heading back to the homestead.
As he slid off Terror, he noticed a cave at the far side of the stream that he did not remember seeing before.
Surely, he had and most likely he and his brothers had plundered in it but the cave seemed distant, almost as if it did not belong here. He led Terror to the stream and then walked towards the cave.
Intrigue had him by the time he reached the entrance and he stepped inside to see if he could recognize it from his boyhood exploits.
It did look vaguely familiar, like a place he had been in before but he could not recall the full memory.
He decided to leave it for later and maybe explore it more with Bryce but home was where he wanted to be now and he knew that was what Terror also wanted.
He had just gotten a few feet from the opening when he heard what sounded like a woman scream. Surely not—surely a woman would not be in that cave this early in the morning.
If she was, then she had most likely been there all night. Alek stepped further into the cave and listened again and he heard it again—the same scream.
Alek tore off running down the dark passage, not seeing where he was going, letting instinct and sound take him to whoever was in the cave.
He turned round a corner just as something soft collided into him. He felt hands roaming over his chest and arms.
He was not quite sure who she was, whether she was from his village or not. The hands felt calloused and cold against his skin.
For her hands to be this cold, she had to have been in the cave for a good while.
What was a woman doing in a cave all alone in the middle of nowhere? He did not know but he did know she was terrified.
He had to get her out of here. He reached his own hands out just as he heard a soft moan escape from her lips.
He realized that whoever the young lass was, she was going down and it was up to him to catch her.
Ten minutes later, Alek was regretting that he and Terror had stayed out all night. He was regretting that he had found the cave.
For the beauty that laid on the ground before him had caused stirrings in his cold heart and he silently wished he had never heard her scream.
For the first time in his life, he was scared of the love that his future may hold.
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