Garrick of Clan MacLaren burst through the turret door whilst rushing after the distraught woman as she ran towards the battlement wall. Lady Coira Easton almost collided with a kitchen serf who quickly moved out of her way. His eyes briefly met Fira’s as they passed one another on the narrow stairs but he had no time to worry over the troublesome look she gave him. He had bigger problems on his mind than to wonder what she was doing so far from Berwyck’s kitchens.

He hurried to Coira’s side. “Dinnae worry yerself, lass. We shall think of something,” he whispered suddenly finding his arms full when his lady reached out to him for support. He could do nothing less but clutch her trembling body to his own. “Please, Coira… I canna stand yer tears.”

“’Tis hopeless, Garrick,” she sobbed. “If my cousin will not give his consent for us to wed, he will marry me to another. How will I bear it?”

How indeed, he thought remembering his meeting with Dristan of Berwyck. His laird had warned Garrick that his life would be all but over if he so much as touched the hem of Coira’s gown. And now here he was with his arms wrapped around his lady offering her what comfort he could.

“Hush now, my sweet. Dry yer eyes. I willna have this upsetting ye.” Coira lifted her head and he witnessed for himself her tear filled eyes. He swore his heart broke all over again and he could not imagine a life without this woman at his side. He pushed back a lock of her hair when it fell across her face and laid a kiss upon her forehead.

“I cannot marry another, Garrick,” she said, echoing his own thoughts, “not when my hearts desire is to belong only to you.”

“’Twill not come to that, I promise ye.”

“You cannot make such a vow, my love, and I will not hold you to it. You know my cousin better than most. When his mind is made up, he will not change his decision for me to marry no less than a knight.”

“I will make him see reason, Coira, and prove my worth upon the lists,” Garrick proclaimed. “Trust me…”

She gave a heavy sigh. “You know I do with my very life, Garrick. Now kiss me as a token of your affection for I must needs return to Amiria’s solar afore I am missed,” she insisted as she closed her eyes and leaned back her head.

He wasted no time claiming the lady who more than proved her own desires when he deepened their kiss. He was unsure how long they stood there wrapped up in their own little world but the sound of Coira’s name being called from the turret stairs broke the spell woven around them. Not wishing to be caught opening disobeying his liege lord, he reluctantly pulled Coira from his arms.

“I must go,” she declared even though her eyes told him she would rather stay. “I will see you at the evening meal.”

He could only nod in response, not trusting himself to have further speech with the lady. Instead he watched her leave to disappear down the stairway. Garrick leaned his arms against the battlement wall, lost in thought, ’til he felt a hand upon his arm. He did not expect to see Fira at his side. Her eyes were swimming like pools of jealousy for she clearly could not mask the emotions etched upon her mutinous face.

“What is it, Fira?” he asked, almost hating to hear her answer. She had been bothersome of late with hopes that there was something between them. He was unsure where she had gotten such a notion for he had been nothing but polite to her in the past.

“What does that outsider have that I do not,” Fira hissed.

“I willna discuss the Lady Coira with ye,” he answered, hoping she would let the matter rest. Such was not going to be the case.

“Ye shall regret not taking me up on me offer, Garrick. ’Tis best tae stay with yer own kind instead of thinking ye can wed someone above yer station.”

Garrick scowled, her words thrusting into his heart like a dagger. He did not need Fira to remind him that he was only the clan’s piper and not a knight. “Dinnae be daft, Fira. I have already told ye I am not interested in what ye offer tae any of the men who pass through Berwyck’s gates. Be off with ye and mind yer own business,” he snapped harshly as he lost what little patience he had left.

 

Fira gave a laugh. “Ye best remember me words, Garrick,” she answered leaning her shoulder upon the wall and crossing her arms.

“If ye willna leave me in peace, then stay and enjoy yer view,” Garrick huffed. He gave her no further thoughts and made his way back to the Great Hall. He would have been troubled to learn just what the woman had in store for him and his future.

This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing. Garrick and Coira can be found in The Piper’s Lady in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Never Too Late.

The Piper’s Lady

True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?

Lady Coira Easton spent her youth traveling with her grandfather. Now well past the age men prefer when they choose a wife, she has resigned herself to remain a maiden. But everything changes once she arrives at Berwyck Castle. She cannot resist a dashing knight who runs to her rescue, but would he give her a second look?

Garrick of Clan MacLaren can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but as the clan’s piper they would rather he play his instruments to entertain them—or lead them into battle—than to fight with a sword upon the lists. Only when he sees a lady across the training field and his heart sings for the first time does he begin to wish to be something he is not.

Will a simple misunderstanding between them threaten what they have found in one another or will they at last let love into their hearts?

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