Wednesday, April 22, 2015


The Laird
Tricia McGill

It became apparent that most of those left behind were going to sleep in this hall. Most of the children already slept, huddled together in one corner like a litter of puppies. It seemed they were just left to run wild until they collapsed with tiredness. One of the women handed Liz a grubby sheepskin. She stared down at it, and didn't know whether to toss it on the floor, or the fire.
It took about half an hour for them all to finish seeing to their needs. Then, with a lot of shuffling, snorting and friendly pushing and shoving they settled down. Some couples began to make wild noises which could not be construed as anything other than lovemaking. Liz fidgeted. They sure didn't have any inhibitions.
"I guess we may as well make ourselves comfortable near the fire," she suggested, feeling as awkward as a gauche girl. She'd spread the rug to one side of the fireplace where no one else had settled and there was a moment's silence as she and Andrew looked at their makeshift bed. He must have also been doing his best to ignore the muffled giggles, panting and unrestrained sounds of pleasure coming from various spots around the hall.
"Shall we go into the tower and see if anything happens?" Andrew knew his voice came out thick and awkward. Her face was scarlet. With embarrassment, he guessed, not because of the heat thrown by the fire. His head felt as if it was stuffed with cotton wool. "I think you were right, Parker, I shouldn't have had that second cup of booze. It was potent. Well, what do you think? Shall we give it a try?" He gestured to the stairs, endeavouring to act as if they both didn't know that quite a few of the couples spread about the hall were engaged in hot sex. Good God! What a way to live.
"If you like." She coughed again. Poor Liz. She didn't know where to look. "But I have a feeling that nothing will happen without the badge and cloak."
"I'm going to give it a try. You can wait here if you like. But I'm not going to sit about without giving it a go."
Liz didn't fancy going into the darkness of the tower. But the thought of sharing that rug with Andrew was just as daunting. "No way. I'm sticking to you like the proverbial glue. Supposing you did get whisked back, and I'm left here alone?"
"Oh well, you'd have the admirable Travis. He seems quite taken with you. He couldn't seem to drag his eyes off you. And his hands kept wandering to your hair." There was a touch of acid in his tone. Liz glanced sideways at him, but his expression gave nothing away.
"So they did. But if you're going anywhere, I'm going with you."
No one made any attempt to stop them ascending the steps. Liz couldn't stop shaking as they peered into the dark tower room. It wasn't quite as pitch black now the door was open. The flares in sconces high on the walls of the hall had all been extinguished, but the fire still sent out a bright glow. "Wedge something in the gap please, Andrew," she said, knowing she sounded weak and feeble. "We don't want the door to slam on us."
Silently he went down and came back with one of the heavy stools which he propped in the doorway, ignoring the heads lifting from the sparse beds scattered about the hall, and the curious eyes following his every movement. 
Andrew ensured the heavy door was securely fixed ajar, then said, "Right. Hang onto the waistband of the kilt. I'll need both hands free to feel my way around the walls."
Liz didn't need any prompting. She clung, feeling more confident as the warmth from his body surrounded her. She tried to stifle a laugh, but couldn't. This situation was ridiculous.
"Pleased you find it amusing. You have a strange sense of humor, Parker." Privately he was glad she could find something to laugh about. He certainly couldn't see anything amusing about this whole escapade.
"I just think it's odd, don't you? The pair of us shuffling about in this dank dark place like a pair of wombats. Perhaps I'm getting hysterical, and need a good laugh to ease the tension. Do you think we'll ever return?" Her laughter died, and Andrew heard the note of real fear in her voice. For a moment he was tempted to take her in his arms and convince her everything would be all right, that she had nothing to be afraid of. But how could he? The situation seemed hopeless. He was feeling very scared. Not that he would admit it to her.
Blurb for The Laird:

Andrew, a wealthy Australian architect, takes life too seriously, whereas his PA Elizabeth is outgoing and fun-loving; a perfect foil for her somber boss. She is passionate about Celtic lore and language. With great reluctance Andrew answers a plea from his two elderly aunts to travel to Scotland before his uncle dies. He has no desire to visit the land his father left under a cloud many years ago, but Liz persuades him to take her along.
In the draughty and dilapidated castle, while exploring a disused attic, the pair set off a course of events that propel them back in time to 1050 where they meet Travis, coincidentally Andrew's double. 

Previously published as White Clover

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