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Taken By The Highlander
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But I hae nothing to offer her but ma’ heart. I am a man twice her age, wi’ out much o’ a future. But I must hae the lass, I canna wait to feel the taste o’ her sweetness on ma’ lips, the honey o’ her youth, and I will do anything I can to make her mine. I would fight to the death for ma’ lass.
*Taken By The Highlander is an insta-everything standalone instalove romance with an HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.
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Fighting is the only thing I seem to ken, the smell o’ a man’s sweat in the air and the tang o’ blood on ma’ tongue. Tis the same stench whether on the field o’ battle or on the street, and I’ve had ma’ share o’ both. But today is different. I’m no’ on the battlefield nor on the street…instead, I’m fighting for ma’ supper… the man everyone wants to beat…The Highland Hustler… Angus Ross, the infamous bare-knuckle fighter.
I left ma’ home to fight wi’ Charles Stuart at Falkirk Muir and then on to Culloden when I was no more than a boy, and I came home defeated but a man. The battle changed me forever, and life would ne’er be the same again. I couldnae bear to work the land like ma’ older brothers. The land is harsh in the Highlands, and every year is a battle wi’ nature. It killed ma’ father and turned ma’ mother into an old woman too soon. By the time I returned home, the old farm was gone, ma’ mother dead and ma’ brothers emigrated from the land ma’ family had worked for hundreds o’ years. Wi’ mother gone, there was no reason for them to stay, and they moved out into one o’ the towns. Or so I guessed. When I returned to the croft, it was neglected… windows already broken and exposing the shabby interior to the wind and the elements. Old Fraser Anderson was the only man left, too old to change his ways and would probably die there. He told me that ma’ mother had died and brothers were gone. There was nothing left for me, no’ that I wanted to stay. I had no family, no friends, nothing…just the clothes on my back…ma’ belted plaid and woollen coat were almost everything I owned and only a few shillings in ma’ sporran.
I spent many a night out in the open. It was no’ really a hardship looking back, I was young and had spent many a night on the hills as a soldier, but without proper shelter or food, I ken I wouldnae last out the winter, and I headed for Inverness, keeping out o’ the way o’ the redcoats… being arrested as a Jacobite and wearing ma’ plaid would hae surely seen me transported o’erseas, ne’er to see ma’ beloved homeland again.
On the first night in Inverness, I got drunk spending ma’ last few coins on cheap whiskey and then into a fight wi’ two men for calling the Stuart a coward that saw me bloodied and beaten, but I came out the best. Years o’ fighting for ma’ life had turned me from a gangly young lad into a beast o’ a man that dinna ken his own strength. I had knocked out both men wi’ a couple of blows o’ ma’ fists. I remember, I sat in the gutter, rubbing at ma’ bruised knuckles wondering what was to become o’ me. Call it chance or fate, good or bad, I dinna ken, which, but a man approached me from the bar and offered me lodgings. I was wary at first, a strange man in a strange place, but what choice did I hae? He pulled out a grubby card from an even grubbier waistcoat pocket and handed it to me.
It merely said, Charles Menzies. Aberdeen.
Taking the card back immediately, he placed it once again into his waistcoat pocket and proceeded to tell me that he owned a booth in a travelling show and was looking for men like me. I was still unsure, but let him take me back to his cheap boarding house, where he gave me supper and ale and let me sleep on the floor. There was a small fire in the room, and although the floor was hard, I slept like a babe until the next morning. When I awoke, the fire had been remade, and there was a basin o’ warm water to wash myself wi’. Charles Menzies was out but soon returned wi’ some lowland clothing for me to change into. The redcoats were still milling about Inverness, and he said I had been lucky not to be caught. O’er a small breakfast, he said he owned a fighting booth, a carnival attraction that saw men try to beat his prize-fighters. One of his men was getting a bit long in the tooth, and he was looking for someone to take his place. He had been impressed with ma’ fighting skills and said he was looking for a man just like me. I shook ma’ head at first. After ma’ years o’ fighting for ma’ country, I wasnae ready to make a career o’ it.
I can still hear his words. It was a very generous offer. The only other options open to me were general labouring, hard work for a pittance, and I would still hae to find me some lodgings.