Kara searched for a familiar landmark in the landscape. Nothing. Her stomach grumbled as she happened upon one family packing up their vegetables. She’d give up chocolate for a month if even one piece rolled off their stand unnoticed. Miraculously, an apple came to rest up against her shoe having done exactly that. As casually as possible, Kara picked up the apple and quickly sauntered away from the cart before kicking up speed to a jog. A thundering sound of horses careened toward her. She stumbled and fell.
A horse whinnied.
She threw her arms over her face and screamed before the rider reined the animal in. The horse reared, its massive hooves kicking out at the air above her head. Its active forelegs landed a foot away and a figure jumped off the stallion and roared down on her.
“Bloody hell, woman, be ye mad, jumping in front o’ me horse like that? Ye could’ve been killed.”
Kara lowered her arm. I’m not trampled. Words caught in her dry throat, and her stomach flip-flopped as she gaped at the mountain of a man towering over her. His dark hair whipped around broad shoulders and his blue eyes burned with anger.
It was him, the dark giant who came to life in her dreams.
Finally finding speech but sounding croaky, she said, “I twisted my ankle.”
He dropped to his knees beside her and with gentle fingers touched her swollen flesh. Startling blue eyes now looked at her with concern and something else she couldn’t place. “These be odd garments.” He rubbed his hand against the denim on her calf. “Strange cloth.”
Panic flared in her.
“Ye shall catch your death.” He held her hand in his light grasp to gently wipe rocks and grass away from her palm.
Kara shivered. His Scottish brogue caressed her ears, sounding better in real life than in her dreams.
“Where be your companions?”
He seemed thrown by her comment. “Foolish woman. Ye shouldna travel alone. What ’tis your name?”
“Malone. I dunna recognize the clan.”
She groped for a clever response. “I’m not from around here.”
“O’ that I be certain.”
Again, he looked at her the way he’d done a million times in her mind. Except now she saw skepticism, suspicion.
“I—I’ve come far and am unfamiliar with this area of the Highlands.” At least, she hoped she was in the Highlands.
With sleek grace, the Scot stood. “I be Alaxandar MacLeod and that,” he pointed to his companion. “’tis me cousin, Jamie.”
She nodded at the stocky, well-muscled barbarian.
“Come, I shall take ye tae the keep tae have your leg looked at.”
Alaxandar lifted her into his arms with ease. She shrieked and grabbed his shoulders. She’d never been manhandled like this before.
Frowning he said, “Relax lass, I’ll not drop ye.” He turned to his cousin. “Jamie, bring me horse. He sat her on the animal’s back then hopped on behind her.
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Highland Stone (The Talisman Trilogy Book 1) by Sloan McBride
A mysterious inheritance and magical forces thrust Kara Malone through the ages to the Scottish Highlands of old. There she encounters Alaxandar McLeod, the dark stranger who inhabits her dreams.
Alaxandar leads the charge to learn the truth about the violent raids against his clan. When his horse almost tramples a beautiful stranger, he is beguiled but skeptical. Is she a spy, or worse, a witch come to lure him with her body and distract him from his quest?
With his clan ever leery of Kara’s presence, and the raids intensifying, Alaxandar must decide what is right for his family and his heart. Will Kara choose to stay with the stranger from her dreams made flesh, or the mission she vowed to complete?