Jeanne: This is a snippet from my novel Dark Birthright, set in 17th century Scotland. Just a wee bit of background: Two brothers, Dughall and Ian, meet a beautiful lass in the forest. Both desire her, but Keira favors the shy one, Dughall. Ian throws out his shoulder and Keira sets it. Now, they are gathered around a campfire, sharing a meal.
Keira kneeled and unwrapped the parsnips, allowing them to cool.
Dughall took two sticks from the fire and handed one to her. “Eat, lass.” They sat around the fire, eating roasted hare and parsnips until there was none left.
Ian wiped his hand on his breeks. “Where did ye learn that trick with your foot, while pullin’ on my arm?”
“A lad in our village throws his shoulder out every harvesting season. I’ve healed him more than once.” Keira offered him another cup of willow bark tea. “Drink this, it will ease the pain.” She leaned over and spoke softly. “Will ye be all right for a while? I need to talk to Dughall alone.”
Ian snorted. “Take care of the lass, Brother. Show her how grateful we are.”
They left Ian and walked through the woods to a nearby oak tree. Dughall’s heart raced as she moved closer. He reached down to pick a violet, and presented it to her.
Bonny as a flower.
Strong as the wind in winter.
Wise as an ancient healer.
Steady as my pounding heart.
That is what ye are.”
Keira took his hand and squeezed it. “Poetry... Ye don’t seem like brothers. Ye’re so different.”
Dughall reddened. “I’m sorry for what my brother said, lass. I’ll not take advantage of ye.”
Keira’s dress brushed his breeks. She touched his cheek and parted his lips with a finger. “It doesn’t matter what he thinks.”
Dughall’s skin flushed. His heart beat so hard that he could barely think. She put her arms on his shoulders, pursed her lips, and waited. The lad trembled as he kissed her lightly. Her lips were soft and moist, and suddenly they were open. He took a breath and shuddered. Her tongue found his and he responded, kissing her passionately. He was light-headed as her fingers caressed his back. Keira sat on the ground and pulled him down beside her. He was breathless as he leaned forward to touch her face. “Are ye sure, lass?”
She placed his hand on her bodice. “Aye.”
The curve of her breast was soft. He reached down and ran his fingers under her skirt, tracing her knee.
The lass shuddered. “It’s meant to be,” she whispered, as she unlaced his breeks. “Take me right here.”
Dark Birthright is book one in the Dark Birthright Triology. The books are available in paperback and eBook and are illustrated by fantasy artist Jane Starr Weils.
It’s 1619 in Scotland. A child born of mysterious parentage is given to fisher folk to raise as their son. Dughall grows up in a family bound by honor, becomes a healer, and displays psychic abilities. His life is torn apart when he’s claimed by his real father, a cruel and powerful lord who tries to mold him in his image. Dughall must define himself, in the midst of a struggle between a Duke, an Earl, and the family who wants him back. All the while, he's determined to marry the girl he left behind, a woodland lass with eyes as green as a peacock's feather.
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