Sections: Free Home | Members' Entrance | Contact

Chapter One


 

Roxanne clasped the arm of her seat and tried to keep her lunch where it belonged, in her stomach. The airplane had been bouncing around for the past thirty minutes and no one had seemed to notice but her.

In the seat next to her Clarice was sleeping like a baby. And the flight attendants were walking around as if their feet were on clouds. The plane was only about a quarter full but none of the other passengers seemed upset. The pilot hadn’t even come on to announce that there was trouble.

Once again I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, Roxanne said under her breath. She let out a soft exclamation as the plane hit another air pocket. Roxanne searched the seat pocket and grabbed for the airsick bag, trying to smile at the flight attendant who appeared at her side.

“Could I get you something to calm your stomach, some soda perhaps?” The woman’s English accent was clipped and pleasant. She smiled and Roxanne nodded. Moments later she returned with a clear liquid drink and some crackers.

“It does seem a little bumpy today,” the attendant said. “Are you going to Scotland on holiday?”

Roxanne took a drink and shook her head. “More of a business trip, a research trip.” Then she cringed. She should have stuck with the holiday. She hated to talk about herself and her work.

“What type of business are you in?” The attendant sat down on her knees in the empty row of seats before Roxanne and smiled. I get it, Roxanne thought, keep the passenger’s mind off things and she won’t toss her cookies all over my nice shiny plane.

“I’m a writer,” Roxanne said. “A romance writer.”

The woman’s eyebrows rose. “Really, anyone I’d know? I read romances.”

“Her name’s Roxanne Fury,” Clarice said sleepily, lifting the mask off her eyes. “She’s written five bestsellers, all gothic romances. With my research help, of course.”

Roxanne smiled. Leave it to Clarice. She didn’t mind talking about herself, or Roxanne’s books.

The flight attendant gasped and then ran to the back of the plane. Moments later she was back with a copy of  ‘The Master and the Handmaid’ clutched in her hands.

“I can’t believe it,” she said loudly. “I’ve read all your books. I loved ‘The Tiger and the Teacher.’ It was so good. Will you autograph this for me? Is your next book going to be set in Scotland? Make it out to Martha please.”           

Roxanne took the book and began searching for a pen. She looked pointedly at Clarice who began talking about their research trip to Scotland.

When Clarice chatted about wanting to see the Highlands and explore castles it sounded so natural, so right. Roxanne would be afraid of what she would blurt out.

“You see, Martha, it all started when I bought this trunk at an auction. Then when I got it home I found a diary. A half-naked man appeared in my bedroom that night demanding that I ‘find Lenora.’ Well I don’t think he was a man. I think he was a ghost. And he wouldn’t leave me alone. He came back night after night after night. Imploring me, demanding my help, berating me when I refused. And so here we are, my research assistant and me, trying to find Lenora. And the only clues we have are the diary, the name Lenora, given to me by the half-naked ghost, who gave no name for himself, and the starting point of Loch Dune.”

Roxanne scribbled a message about planes and crackers signed her name and handed the book back to Martha. A second flight attendant handed her a copy of ‘Linda and the Lion’ which Roxanne inscribed to Michelle.

“You’re much younger than I thought you’d be,” Michelle said. “If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”

Clarice bit back a bark of laughter. Roxanne hated that question.

“I’m 29,” Roxanne said. “I started writing ‘Darcy’s Dreams’ when I was 17. It wasn’t published until I was 22, and by that time I’d finished ‘Angelica and the Devil.’”

“What are you working on now?” Michelle asked, glancing around to make sure no other passengers needed their assistance.

Roxanne shook her hand and Clarice laughed. “She’d thinking about calling it ‘Roxy and the Half-Naked Highlander.’ But she hasn’t decided yet.”

They all laughed and Clarice held up her hand.

“OK, I want a really important question answered. Is it true that those yummy Scotsman are naked under their kilts?”

When no one answered with more than a laugh Clarice grinned. “Ah, research, research. You gotta love it.”

**********

“I think we should have turned right at that last sheep,” Clarice laughed. “This road seems to be leading us nowhere.”

Roxanne cut the wheel again to take them back to the ‘right’ side of the road. Not that there was any other traffic on this desolate road. But she wanted to make sure she got it right.  “This was your idea, you know. ‘Let’s drive from Edinburgh, see the sights.’ We would have been much better to fly into Inverness. It’s much closer to Lake Lenora.”

“Loch Lenora,” Clarice corrected. “I thought maybe your naked ghost would pop out at us along the way and scream, ‘over here Roxy, over here. She’s over here.’”

Roxanne shook her head. Clarice was her best friend, and had been her best friend since the ninth grade. But sometimes Clarice’s cynicism got under Roxanne’s skin. The two were alike in many ways, looks wise that is. Both were blond and busty. But whereas Clarice was a size 12 Roxanne was a size 16. Clarice was outgoing, boisterous and happy. Roxanne was shy and reserved, saving her emotions for the word processor.

Roxanne reached for her soda. “He wasn’t naked. And you still don’t believe me, do you? About the ghost? You’ve seen the diary. How could you not believe me? You’re the one that found out Loch Dune had been renamed Loch Lenore after a girl who drowned in it. Lenore has to be the woman who wrote the diary. That has to be who he was talking about.”

Clarice snorted. “I’ve seen a 150-year-old diary written by some teenager with a bad case of puppy love for someone she called ‘Totty.’ I mean face it Roxy, this could all be from your very fertile imagination. An imagination that has made you quite a bit of money, and given me a job I love so I’m not complaining, but an imagination all the same. And just because they renamed the Loch after this woman doesn’t mean it was your diary writer.”

“She wasn’t a teenager. She was 20 years old when she started the diary,” Roxanne said. “She and Totty were to be married soon. They made regular outings to Loch Dune where they made love.”

She didn’t add what else she wanted to say. That despite what Clarice thought Roxanne knew what she’d seen. The highlander was real. A ghost, but real. The diary was real, wrapped in a piece of tartan, lying in the bottom of the trunk that had held other books, dresses, jewelry and other fun things.

Roxanne had read it in one night, laughing at the girl’s tales of her family’s sheep farm, of her brothers’ triumphs at the annual games and of her love for Totty, who lived on an adjacent farm.

The diary’s author was a happy girl, writing about Totty’s caresses and kisses, of love and laughter. But the writings had ended abruptly, leaving many empty pages after a particularly graphic description of the couple’s last lovemaking at the loch.

“Right there, right there,” Clarice screamed. “A sign for Castle MacDunn. I hope we’re not too late for dinner.”

**********

Roxanne stepped out of the bathroom and made the short dash to her room. Her feet were cold against the wood, despite the colorful rugs that lined the hallway. The whole castle was cold.

She opened the large wooden door to her room and pushed it shut, locking it behind her. She would feel better if Clarice was close by but they had rooms in separate wings. They had indeed missed dinner but Nanna, the owner of the inn, offered to “knock them up a sandwich,” an offer both women accepted.

Roxanne shook out her long blond hair and then began searching for the adapter for her blow dryer. Not finding it she looked around the room one more time.

A fireplace large enough for a man to stand up in took up one wall. A blaze was merrily crackling inside it. A large four-poster bed, complete with curtains, took up much of the space. In front of the fireplace sat a long wood and cushioned couch, with two wingback chairs across from it. A stunningly red rug with beautiful gold trim was on the floor next to the fireplace. 

The room was beautiful and Roxanne wondered if Clarice’s room looked the same. Roxanne took out the diary, a pen and notebook and went to sit down on the rug. She lay down on her stomach, hoping the heat would dry her hair. She began to read the diary again, going back to the first when Lenora and Tatty had fallen in love.

She made a few notes of things that had happened, things they could use as clues in their search for Lenora. She put a few logs on the fire, as Nanna had suggested they keep their fires stoked and laid back down on the rug. Perhaps Nanna could answer some questions. She began to read again and smiled to herself as soft laughter filled her head. This was Lenora’s home, she was sure of it. She laid her head in the crook of her arm and closed her eyes. It had been a very long day.

“Tatty, we cannot.” A girlish giggle filled the room.

“And why not my sweet Lenora? We are betrothed, after all. And it’s not as if we haven’t done it before. Why are you frightened?”

Lenora laughed again. “Because my father and brothers are in the next room. If they find us, they will kill you. This room is hardly private.”

Tatty smiled and lifted Lenora up to sit on the desk. “I just want a look, a little peek. It’s been almost three days. A lifetime!”

He laughed and then closed his lips over hers, gently pushing his tongue into her mouth as she moaned. His hands began gathering her skirts up, pushing them toward her thighs.

“Does your treasure need my attention?  Will you scream for me again? Scream with pleasure?” He moved his lips across her neck as he spoke, causing shivers of delight to run through her.

Lenora moved down so that she was sitting on the edge of desk. She pushed her skirts up all the way, opening her thighs to present herself to Tatty’s view.

“You mean this treasure?” She gently ran her hand over the soft curls hidden beneath her undergarments. She moaned again and lifted herself up as Tatty’s fingers took hold of the material and pulled it down, exposing her most intimate place to him.

When her undergarments were on the floor, Lenora took Tatty’s hand and placed it on her mound. “Feel me Tatty, feel how much I want you. How much I need you.”

Tatty groaned as his fingers dipped into her wetness. He pushed her soft folds apart and began to rub gently. Lenora threw back her head and sighed happily. “My Tatty how I love you.”

“And I you my Lenora,” Tatty whispered before capturing her for another kiss. His fingers continued to probe and Lenora began to move her hips back and forth. She could feel the pressure burning in her womb, the need to take Tatty inside her. When would he allow it? When would he take her? So far he’d only played, but what glorious playing it had been!

“Spend for me sweet Lenora,” he whispered in her ear as his fingers found that special button he had shown her before. She bucked against him as he rubbed, burying her face in his shoulder as she hit the peak that took her to places she’d never been before. Until she’d met Tatty.

“I want you inside me Tatty,” she whispered in ragged breaths.

“Soon my love, soon.”

Collum MacDunn pushed aside the doorway and stepped into the fire-lit room. The moans and soft screams were coming from in front of the fireplace. He made his way toward the flames, wondering what he would find. Collum knew the woman in this room was alone. She couldn’t be in the middle of a love tussle. Was she hurt? In pain?

“Miss? Are ya alright?” He stepped closer and his eyes widened at what he saw. A beautiful blond was lying on the rug, rolling from side to side.

She was obviously in some sort of dream, her arms flailed out above her head, her feet moving as if she were running some sort of race.

The more he watched her the more he realized she wasn’t running. It was as if someone was making love to her. Her moans and groans were filling the air. Collum now knew the sounds were caused by pleasure. Her eyes were closed and she didn’t know he was there. He should leave but he couldn’t. He was rooted to the spot, mesmerized as he watched her.

My God she was glorious. Curvy where a woman should be. Large breasts. Beautiful lips. He wondered what color her eyes were.

“Tatty,” she whispered. “I need you. Please.” Collum took a step back and looked around him. There was no one else in the room. She must be dreaming. What was happening? He’d never seen anything like this in his life. Should he wake her, or just leave and let her be?

He couldn’t help but wonder if she was really dreaming, or having some sort of nightmare. Although she seemed to be experiencing pleasure, there also was a twinge of fear in her voice, as if she were frightened something could happen.

“Wake up.” He leaned over and gently touched her shoulder. “Wake up.”

She moaned again, then opened her eyes, staring straight ahead. “Tatty?”

“No, Collum.”

“You should go. If my father catches you…”

Dreaming, definitely dreaming. He stood and backed toward the doorway. When she cried out for him to stay he turned, thought about touching her again, deciding against it. If his mother found out about this she would wallop his ass, no matter how old he was. To come into a guest’s room, uninvited, and to watch that woman dream, especially when she was dreaming about someone named Tatty and sex?

Whatever was happening he couldn’t just leave her there. He picked her up, holding her close to his body and carried her to the bed, covering her up. She continued to moan, reaching for him as he backed away.

“Sorry, luv.” He walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Even through the wood he could hear her soft moans. It was going to be a long night.

*****

Roxanne stared at her plate. Eggs, bacon and toast with orange marmalade. And something that she didn’t recognize.

 “What is this again?” She tried not to wrinkle up her nose but knew that she’d failed when Nanna laughed at her.

 “It’s blood sausage dear. Try it, it’s wonderful.”

Roxanne smiled at the older woman as she left the room. She then pushed the sausage to the far side of her plate, fighting the urge to say “yuck.”

Clarice had not yet made an appearance and Roxanne was glad. She needed time to think. Think about last night. She’d lay down in front of the fireplace and woken up in bed. And she didn’t remember going there on her own.

Roxanne remembered the dream she’d had about Tatty and Lenora, about them making love in a room in the castle. And then she remembered a man, a gloriously handsome man with dark hair and beautiful emerald eyes. He had strong shoulders and hands and had been wearing a plaid, and only a plaid.

Had he been part of the dream? Obviously he had been. But how had she gone to bed by the fireplace and woken up somewhere else?

 “Collum,” she said. “He said his name was Collum.”

 “Collum who?” Clarice said, sitting down at the table next to her and smiling. “Find another half-naked highlander in your dreams last night? Someone else we need to track down?”

Clarice looked at her pointedly and then poured herself a cup of tea. Nanna reappeared as if by magic, setting a plate full of food in front of her.

 “A half-naked highlander?” Nanna’s voice was full of mischief. “Well they say the castle is haunted, you know. But I’ve never had a guest complain about finding a half-naked highlander in their room.”

Roxanne perked up. “Haunted? By whom?”

 “By a man called Charles MacBain.” Nanna pulled out a chair and then looked at the two women, who both nodded that she should join them.

Nanna poured herself a cup of tea, doctored it with sugar and milk and then settled back in her chair.

 “Charles MacBain was betrothed to young Lenora MacNunn. They were to be married after the highland games in August of 1866. It’s a well-known legend. They were much in love. But several weeks before the wedding MacBain grew impatient, or so the tale goes. He took young Lenora up to Loch Dune to take her maidenhead. She refused, saying she wanted to wait until their wedding night, and in his anger he killed her, drowning her. Her body was never recovered.”

Roxanne shot Clarice a triumphant look that said, I knew we had the right place. Then she shook her head furiously. “No, no, that’s not right. In the diary Lenora describes her lovemaking with Tatty. She would have welcomed his advances, accepted them. And they were in love. He wouldn’t have killed her.”

Clarice sat down her cup. “Roxy, lots of people kill people that they love. And we don’t even know if this is the right place. The woman who wrote the diary never gave herself a name. The only name there is Tatty. There could be lots of legends like this floating around.”

 “Diary, what diary?” Nanna’s voice was strong as she stared at the two women.

Roxanne sighed. She’d meant to keep the diary to herself, at least until she found out what happened to Lenora.

 “Several weeks ago I bought a trunk at an estate sale auction in New York,” Roxanne said. “It had some old clothes and jewelry and such inside. At the bottom, wrapped in a piece of tartan, was a diary, written by an unknown woman who talked about her love for ‘Tatty,’ and their trips to Loch Dune, where they were, um, intimate with each other.”

Roxanne felt herself blush. She didn’t know why she was blushing. Lenora was not shy about describing her lovemaking. And then there was the dream, the dream of Lenora and Tatty and their petting session in the castle. And of Collum, whoever he was.

She opened her mouth to ask if Nanna knew anyone named Collum but the older woman interrupted her.

 “Well I’m sorry dear, but it can’t have been written by Lenora. None of our family has ever lived in the United States. The only possessions of Lenora’s that are left are in a trunk, in the attic. So there’s no way it could be from us.”

Clarice brightened. “There’s a trunk? Can we look through it? Please?”

Nanna laughed. “Of course you can dear. But I want to ask something of you, too. I want to see the diary. And the tartan.”

Roxanne reached down into the satchel that she carried with her wherever she went. She took out the book, still wrapped in the blue, red and yellow tartan and handed it to Nanna.

 “This isn’t our plaid,” Nanna said. “Ours is darker, blue and green and red, with black. No yellow. You must have seen it on our website.”

Roxanne took as sip of tea. Oh I’ve seen that tartan, she thought, held in place by a hard cock.

The older woman laughed. “My son Neill designs the site and insists that the tartan appear on every page, to brand it, he says, with the MacNunn name.”

Clarice laughed and Roxanne whispered softly, “How many sons do you have?”

 “Five,” Nanna answered, “Neill, Fergus, Stuart, and the twins, Craig and Collum. None of them has bothered to marry and make me a grandma, though.”

Roxanne felt the inside of her mouth go dry. Collum. Could it be possible the man from her dreams was real? Could he be here, now? The thought made her throat go dry. If he had come into her room last night exactly what had happened? “Do they all live here?”

Nanna was preoccupied, running her hands along the diary’s cover, gently leafing through its pages.

 “All but Fergus and Stuart. Fergus is a lawyer in Inverness. Stuart is in the middle of law school in Edinburgh. Neill runs the hotel. The twins run the grounds and stable, and take care of the landowners.” Nanna laughed. “Neill has a small cottage near the stables. Craig and Collum have rooms here, in the Castle, to protect their Mother, they say. As a matter of fact Collum’s room is right next to yours, Roxanne. They’re connected by a bathroom. I’ll have to tell him to give you use of it so you don’t have to go across the hall.”

 “You have your own private bath?” Clarice’s voice was high as she laughed. “Man, am I jealous.”

Roxanne smiled and nodded. She did indeed have her own private bath. And the door was already opened for her. Opened by a man who came into her room last night, she was sure of it now.

The fact hit Roxanne like a brick wall. Collum had not been a dream: he’d been real. She blushed as last night came into focus. She’d dreamed about Lenore and Tatty playing with each other’s bodies. The dream had aroused her. Highly aroused her. The little bum. There’s no telling what he’d done while she’d been asleep. He’d better have hoped he’d damn well kept his bloody hands to himself.

Roxanne shook her head and said, “Asshole!” When she realized she’d said it so loudly she put her hand over her mouth, staring at the two women who shared the table with her.

Nanna sat the book down and stood up suddenly. “OK, I won’t take it. I’m sorry if I offended you.”

 “What, I’m sorry, what?” Roxanne’s voice was wobbly.

Clarice was staring at her as if she’d grown a second head.

Nanna’s voice was frosty. “The diary dear, I asked if I could borrow it, just for the morning to read it. But if you feel that strongly about it I won’t.”

 “Oh no, no,” Roxanne stood and placed the diary in Nanna’s hands. “My mind was a million miles away.”

She shook her head again. “I’m so sorry. Please take it with you. Read it. But I warn you, it’s a little racy in parts.”

Nanna laughed, her anger quickly disappearing. “Good, I like racy books. I’ve read a few of yours, you know.” She winked at Roxanne and taking the book, headed toward the kitchen.

 “What is wrong with you?” Clarice demanded. “How could you scream at that sweet woman?”

Roxanne sat down, her hands shaking, the voice still ringing in her ears. “I have to tell you about something. Something that happened last night. And then we need to find my half-naked highlander. Only this time he’s flesh and blood. Or he is until I get through with him.”

This story is currently one of our Serialized offerings. Most serialized offerings run 5-10 chapters and are updated every 4-8 weeks until completed. Would you like to know what happens next? JOIN now and you'll be reading more within minutes!