Chapter One

Standing up, I began to pace in the small area. The muscles in my back were screaming at me, my legs were hardly able to move at all. I looked a bit like a penguin, shuffling around the crowded area like a caged animal. The airport had delayed the flight to Scotland twice, and now there were rumors that they were going to cancel the flight due to intense weather here.

Hobbling over to the windows that separated the general population of JFK airport from the blistering cold. It looked like a sea of white. The snow was thick and somewhat frightening as I watched it come down in clumps. It had been coming down harder, but since I had fallen asleep in that small horrid little chair, it had eased up a bit. There was still a curtain of white, so one wasn't able to tell the sky from the ground, but it was easing up a bit.

Rolling my neck and rubbing it with my hands I watched the snow fall. This hadn't been what I expected at all. I had flown in from PDX in Portland Oregon on my dream vacation. I really hadn't thought it would turn out like this. Of course, no one wants to be stuck at an airport for two days. I glanced at my watch and sighed. Exactly sixty nine hours and fifty-three minutes.

Annoyed, I slapped my hand against my thigh and watched out the window. It wasn't the thought of having to cut my vacation short due to work. I had taken a league of absence and wasn't due back until after the next school year. Who's to say teachers don't get burned out? We do, we just usually don't complain about it. Well I had, until I finally decided I had enough money to take my dream vacation to Scotland. I sighed. Some vacation.

And it wasn't that I didn't think I would have my hotel once I got there. I called on the first day of delays and explained to the proprietor my situation. He had been incredibly nice and said he would of course hold my room for me until I got there. That it would be his pleasure. I smiled recalling his sweet accent. The brogue had been soft, intelligent. I couldn't wait to get there. And that was my problem. Impatience.

While other passengers had opted to either cancel their tickets and go home, go to another airport and hopefully have better luck, or even gone to a local hotel, I had not. I opted to stay here, in case there was a flight that needed to be boarded quickly.

Damned impatience was giving me a cramp in my neck, back and legs.

Sighing, I turned and began to hobble back to my seat near the ticket counter. As I hobbled past, the head clerk, or whatever you call them, Madge, from Scotland herself, smiled at me, that smile people use when they feel genuinely sorry for your plight. We'd spent several hours over the past few days talking about Scotland. She seemed to be a very nice woman. I was glad I could talk to her.

Easing back into my chair, I sat forward and pulled a book out of my carry on. For the next several hours, I sat engrossed in my historical romance, based, of course, in Scotland. I sighed as I munched on my banana chips. Miss Julie Garwood could really write a story.

At seventy four hours and thirty eight minutes I took another walk around. I was beginning to get hungry, but as my flight had initially been in the wee hours of the morning, there wasn't a thing open near the terminal. I glanced around I saw a Starbucks, and the people working there just seemed too happy this early. It was only six A.M.

Rolling my back, I groaned. These airport chairs were going to be the death of me. Although it would have been a hell of a lot worse if I hadn't brought my own travel pillow. I thought of how my neck would be cramped from sleeping upright with out it, and cringed. I was not the best traveler, but I did what I could, and I could bring my travel pillow.

Walking to the windows I smiled. The snow had let up a lot in the past few hours. For that I was glad. There was a least two feet on the ground, but I was going to hope that in the next few hours that could be cleared and I could be on my way to Scotland. I almost giggled in anticipation.

Heading back to my chair, I grabbed my purse and carry on with everything packed neatly inside and picked them up. I wasn't going to leave them unattended. They went with me to the bathroom too. Making sure I hadn't left anything behind, I walked slowly to the Starbucks stand. Coffee would help me stay awake. Not that I really wanted to stay awake, but if I fell asleep, I was afraid that they wouldn't wake me for the flight.

"What can I get for you today?" the overly cheery woman said as I stopped in front of her. I sighed. "I'd like a double latte, skinny, extra froth, decaf with a shot of Irish Cream." The woman smiled at my small coffee challenge. She called back the order precisely as I had ordered it and turned back to me. "And one of those cream cheese pastry things." She pushed a few buttons on her little machine and asked if that was going to be it.

"That's it."

"Okay. Your total today with tax is $6.54." I almost felt my jaw drop. God, Starbucks with sales tax will kill you. I payed up and waited patiently for my coffee and food. A few minutes later, my order was called out and I eagerly grabbed it up.

As I walked back to the terminal, there seemed to be some sort of commotion going on. I walked up to the crowded ticket counter and pushed my way in. When Madge saw me she sighed. "Here she is." I tilted my head and watched her. "We've got three first class ticket upgrades to give out to passengers, and I saved one for you, chickie." She smiled and handed me my new ticket.

"Wow," I breathed. I couldn't afford first class. "Madge, thank you," I said, my voice fluttery.

"Ah, nothing to thank me for." She smiled. "You said yer self this was yer dream vacation, right? Well, I just made it a might bit better." She leaned in close smiling. "Besides, you've been stuck around here for three days. You deserve it right out, you do." She straightened and waved me away. Speaking into the microphone next to her, she looked directly at me. "First class passengers en route to Glasgow, Scotland, flight 7884 will be loading in approximately ten minutes. Coach passengers will load in twenty. Thank you for flying British Airways."

"Thank you," I mouthed to her, as she busied herself with another customer. I was beaming from ear to ear. I had my ticket, a fist class ticket, my passport, and I was going to board in ten minutes. I went with my luggage to the line for first class and smiled. This was going to be fantastic!

When I boarded the flight, a very polite British woman checked my ticket and asked me to follow her to my seat. She lead me to a window seat near the front of the plane. As she took my very large carry all bag and expertly stowed it above my seat, she asked me if I wanted a complementary glass of champagne.

"No thank you." I said smiling. I held up my coffee. "My latte will hold me for now. Thanks though." She smiled politely at me and went back to help the next passenger to his or her seat. I settled in to the large luxurious seat, and sighed.

This was going to be a wonderful flight.

I fell into a much needed sleep soon after take off. I didn't wake up until we were well over the Atlantic. Reaching beside me where I had stowed my historical romance, I quickly flipped to the page where I had left off and began to read again.

I looked up as the same flight attendant from earlier came by and asked if I would like a breakfast, since they had passed them out as I slept. I was glad to take it off her hands as I was starving.

Unwrapping the foil, I felt my mouth begin to water. In coach, the food was hardly tolerable. Watery eggs, cold sausage. The works. This time, it was steaming. Fresh looking eggs with cheese, sausage with bacon and hash browns. Wow, I was definitely flying first class from now on.

I read as I munched and soon the meal was gone, much to my disappointment.

Sooner than I expected the flight was coming to an end. I hadn't realized it, as I was so engrossed in my book. "Please take your seats as we will begin our decent into Glasgow International Airport in precisely ten minutes." I almost shouted with glee. I was really there! We landed safely, and after I completed my encounter with customs, I was on my way to the real Scotland. I jogged quickly, following the signs for baggage claim. Just as I got there, I saw my suitcase rolling by on the conveyer belt. I grabbed it quickly and headed outside.

It was fall in Scotland. As soon as I pushed the doors open I could smell it. The scent of wildness, fresh air and history. All becoming to me. I grinned and headed to where the cabs were. Hailing one, I jumped in and told the cabby the address of the Inn I was to be at.

I'm not so foolish as other passengers. I know that I can't drive one of those, wheel on the wrong side, cars. Hell, I can hardly drive my wheel on the right side of the car, car. I wasn't deluding myself. Besides I had already figured in all the cab rides I would need into my expenses. Not that it really mattered.

This would probably be the best time to tell you a little about me. My name is Regan Shepherd. I grew up in upper New York, and went to the finest schools. I attended Stanford for College and decided to go into teaching. My family own a hotel chain around the country, and once the hotel in Paris opens, around the world. I come from old money, and I hate it. I love my family, don't get me wrong. I do. But I hate that they think I should sit back, drape myself with diamonds and do nothing. I have to be doing something with my life.

I choose teaching. My mother and father were shocked at first that I would want to teach at a public school of all places, but after explaining to them for the hundredth time that I felt that was where I was most needed, they stopped arguing with me.

I was completely independent. I could afford my own apartment, and everything else I needed with my teaching salary. But if I should ever fall on hard times, I always have my trust fund. I hadn't touched it since I paid off my student loans. My parents blanched when I had gotten them, but I wanted to stand on my own two feet. Not have daddy pay my bills my whole life. After working for three years in the history department of a very violent school in Portland, I decided I needed a break. I took off the next school year, and packed my bags. And here I am.

Not even my family knows I'm gone.

I smiled at the landscape as it passed along on the wrong side of the car. I wanted to laugh. It was like a twisted roller coaster ride. I loved it. The roads began to tilt upward, and I knew I was getting closer to it. I had always had a love affair with the highlands of Scotland. I always imagined to be beautiful, but what I was looking at out my window was more than I had ever anticipated. The hills were rolling and green with soft fall breezes. The mountains in the foreground were astounding. Never had I seen such beauty.

A short time later the cab pulled up in front of a small Inn. As I stepped out into the fall sunshine, I smiled, and breathed in the crisp air.

"That be fifty pound, missus," the cabby said as he dropped her bags at my feet. I turned and smiled happily at him. He gave me a small smile as I began to dig in my wallet. Handing him the money I thanked him. "Aye, welcome you are, missus. This here be Fraser land, it does. A few hundred years ago, I'd get me feet chopped off for daring to come on this land." He looked disgruntled. "Aye, how time changes." He seemed mad that his family wasn't warring with the Frasers anymore.

"What clan do you come from?"

"I hail from the clan MacPherson. Sworn enemies of the bastard Frasers." He puffed up proudly and pointed to the South. "My clan holds land there." I turned to look in the direction he was pointing and smiled.

Turning back to him I dropped my purse. The cab was gone, as was the cabby. I shook my head. That wasn't possible. I looked back down the road that was visible for a good two miles in both directions. No cab. I touched my head. Must be all the traveling. He must have left long ago and I never noticed. I told myself.

Picking up my purse and bags from the ground I turned to the Inn and made my way inside. There was a small reception desk on the left side with an older man sitting behind it. To the right there was a room, my guess would be a salon. It was beautiful from what I could see. Done in rich burgundy reds and gold, I couldn't wait to curl up in there with a book and read in front of that inviting fire.

Smiling, I walked to the desk and set my bags down.

"Hi." The older man looked up from his book startled. "My name is Regan Shepherd. I have a reservation?" He was so cute, fumbling with his book and trying to stand at the same time.

"Of course, Ms Shepherd. I'm Henry Fraser, the proprieter." He held his hand out and I took it. It was warm and leathery in mine, much like a grandfathers. I beamed at him. He was the same one I had spoken with on the phone. "I see you made it in one piece."

I laughed. "That I did Mr. Fraser."

"Please, call me Henry." He smiled as he pushed his glasses farther up his nose. Turning a large book so I could read it he pointed to a line. "If you'll just write in your information here, I would be more than happy to get your key for you, Ms Shepherd."

"Call me Regan, please." I said as I began to fill in the required information.

A few minutes later he handed me a key. "Iris!" He yelled squeakily. I wanted to laugh when an older woman came stomping out of what appeared to be a back kitchen, her hands on her hips. "Now see here, old man, there will be no shoutin in this here house!" She wagged her finger at him and was getting ready to do more than that when he interrupted her.

"Iris, this here be Ms Regan. Show her to her room." Instantly the woman was contrite.

"Beggin your pardon my lady." She smiled at me and reminded me of the grandmother I had always wished for. Her blue eyes sparkled and her hair was done in a tight bun. Yes, exactly like her.

Her face darkened when she looked back at her husband. "Don't think I'm done with ye, Henry Fraser. Just ye wait until I come back down from showing this lady to her room." She left him with a scowl, and smiled at me. I smiled at her, and followed her up two flights of stairs to my room.

"We've no other boarders this time of year, so ye've got the run of the place. If ye'd perfer a room else where, I can get another set up." She said as she opened the door to the room.

"I'm sure this will be wonderful." As I stepped inside, I thought I'd entered a fairy tale. The bed was a four poster with a bright yellow quilt on top. It looked fluffy and wonderful. There was a dresser with a mirror and chair, like in olden days. A lounge chair sat near the bay window looking out. The entire room looked warm and cheery with the mix of soft blues whites and yellows. I walked to the window and looked out.

In the distance, a few miles away, sat the ruins of a once magnificent castle. Most of it was still in tact, but a few of the outer walls had crumbled. I was in complete awe.

"Will this room suit?"

I turned and beamed at her. "It will suit wonderfully," I said. I don't think I had ever been more happy in my life...

I spent the rest of the day in my room. Jet lag. As soon as she left the room, I flopped on to the inviting bed and sighed. The sun was sinking low behind the ruins of the castle. I turned onto my side to watch the sun sink low, even as I felt my own eyelids sinking lower and lower.

I don't remember falling asleep, but I remember dreaming.

I was walking through a forest. It was dense and thick with foliage. I felt that I was being drawn forward through the thick woods. I pushed my way through a bush and stopped. There in front of me was the castle. It rose in stark splendor. The outer walls weren't crumbling. That was the first thought through my mind.

I looked up as I approached, unaware until just then that I had been walking, and saw soldiers patrolling the wall. One saw me and called out to have the gate opened. I walked through the gates as they slowly creaked open and smiled. Directly in front of me was the entrance to the large castle. But that wasn't what had me smiling.

He was large, his hands on his hips, and smiling at me. I felt myself rush forward and at the same time, saw him start for me. He wasn't running though. Part of me knew he wouldn't. That he didn't want to seem overly eager in front of his men.

As I reached him, I vaulted from the ground and threw my arms around his neck. His arms circled my waist, and crushed the breath out of me.

"You've been gone to long, love. I have missed you." He pulled me back from his thick embrace and kissed my forehead. "Much too long." He turned and began to pull me toward the castle doors.

I felt myself being dragged behind him, and couldn't have been happier about it. It wasn't until I tripped on the stairs leading up to the castle doors that I realized what I was wearing. A woolen dress, scratchy against my legs, with a tartan around my waist and then pulled up and over my shoulder. It was secured with a beautiful pin. What appeared to be... strawberries?

He tugged me along, and I looked up into his face. Dark brown hair fell to his shoulders with an occasional braid and bead. His eyes were pristine blue. Like a lake that had yet to be touched by man. So clear. His face didn't have any scars on it, but I could see his legs, and they had a vicious amount of scars.

I looked quickly into his face, and felt myself smiling. This man was a warrior. He pulled me up into his arms and began to walk again. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. Looking down from his arms, it had to be a good five foot drop, but I hadn't ever felt more safe in my life.

He blasted through the doors and turned to the right. On that side of the great hall were stairs. There wasn't a rail to hold on to, and I wondered if anyone had ever fallen down the stone steps. He climbed them three at a time, and didn't loose his breath once he was at the top.

I began to play with his hair. Pulling on the little beads and running my hands through the thick wave of hair. He was mounting another bout of stairs, but this time, they were circular. I could hardly keep the excitement out of myself as I realized we were going to his room. I don't know how I knew, I just did. The Laird's tower. I knew that was what it was called.

He kicked in a door at the top of the stairs and stomped inside. He slid me down his body incredibly gently. I knew he could hurt me. He was strong, and big. At least six-six, but I also knew he would die before he ever hurt me. He held me close and looked into my eyes for a moment, before moving away and closing the door. He locked it with a quick flick of his wrist.

Turning to me, he smiled. And oh Lord. He had a little dimple on the left cheek that winked at me. I felt my heart rate speed up as he walked slowly toward me. "I have been waiting a long time for this, my love." He nuzzled my neck. "You have been gone too long." I sighed.

He was kissing under my ear now. I moaned inspite of myself and tilted my head so he would have better access to it. He wrapped his large arms around my middle and hauled me up against him. I lifted my head and looked deep into his eyes, and felt a tear slide down my cheek. He loved me. I knew that. And I loved him.

I pushed my lips against his and kissed him with all the love there was inside me. The rest soon became a daze. Hungry lips, groping touches. His hands were everywhere, and I loved it. I was naked suddenly, and so was he. There was no embarrassment. We were on the bed, covered in animal furs and plaid. His touch was so gentle, so loving. "I love you," he whispered over and over again.

I felt him slide into me and I cried out with the rightness of it. He was big. Not so big as to be a carnival freak, but big enough that it was this side of pain to have him push his way inside. "I love you," became his chant as he thrust himself into me over and over. It seemed to last forever, and was over all too soon.

I cried out, arching against him as I climaxed around him. He shouted and thrust himself in hard one last time, shuddering against me, calling my name, and chanting his love. We held each other for a long time after that, stroking and kissing, smelling and tasting. It had been too long. I had been waiting for this day for too long.

"Don't go," he said as I felt myself begin awake.

"I must, Cien. I cannot stay." I snuggled closer to him. "I wish to stay here for all eternity." I slowly felt myself being pulled away from him and looked into his face, it looked as pained as I felt.

"Come back to me, my rose, come back to me!" His blue eyes became haunted, and his arm reached for me. I reached out with my arms trying desperately to grab him and hold on. But it was too late.

Morning sunlight streamed into the room, waking me. I sat up, unaware of where I was at first. Where was Cien? Why wasn't he next to me? As I looked around I slowly remembered where I was, that I fell asleep in my clothes, and that it had all been a dream.

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and looked around me dazed. I needed a shower and clean clothes, then I was going to find out what the hell had happened to me. Who was Cien, and why had he called me his rose?

Standing up, I grabbed a pair of jeans, a clean tee shirt and clean under things and went straight to the bathroom. I was going to be getting a history lesson from the proprietors today, and there was no way they were getting out of it.