Loki (The Highland Clan Book 1)(4)

By: Keira Montclair



Logan helped Gwynie mount and climbed up behind her, wrapping his plaid around the both of them. Silently, Loki cursed himself for having made them come out in such cold weather. It was not quite winter yet, so they could still navigate, but it would not be the best of treks through the Highlands at this time of year. He’d try to talk them out of following him the entire way later. He didn’t have the energy right now.

“Did you find out anything at all about your true sire?” Gwyneth asked.

“Nay.” Loki frowned. “I really do not care any longer. I’ve ended my search.”

“Whenever you change your mind,” Gwyneth said, giving him a knowing look, “we’ll be glad to help again.”

“My thanks,” Loki muttered. It was hopeless. He’d never find out who he truly was and why he’d been living in a crate at seven summers in the royal burgh of Ayr.

His interest in his past had finally been beaten out of him.

***

Arabella Lewis trudged down the hill from the Grant keep kitchens to her father’s cottage, carrying a loaf of fresh bread and a trencher of stew. When she reached the hut near the stables, she opened the door and walked straight to the table to set the food down in front of her sire along with some mead.

“What took you so long? You’ve been playing around with the lads again?” Her sire’s narrowed gaze told her exactly how much he trusted her.

“Nay, Papa, I do not play with the lads.” Bella had to admit her interest was limited to one lad in particular—and had been since the first day she met Loki Grant. He was the strongest, most loyal, and cleverest lad she had ever met, and she liked how his brown hair had a glint of gold in it. Her mind filled with a vision of him all muscle from working hard in the lists. A sigh escaped her lips as she remembered all the times she had sneaked out to watch him work at his sword-fighting skills, usually taking off his tunic to practice. Her favorite part of Loki was his eyes, strictly because they did not match, something that made him unique. But now Loki was busy training to be a tracker for the Scottish crown, something that would take him away for long periods of time, and Bella was stuck in her role as a kitchen maid.

Her sister, Morna, piped up. “Papa, she’s not interested. She’s sworn off all lads after you refused Loki Grant as her husband.”

“Aye, well, ‘tis a good thing I did,” her sire barked. “He’s not good enough for my lassie, and he ran away, besides.”

She glanced at the ceiling to keep herself from shrieking at her father. His repeated refusal of Loki’s request to marry her made her want to tear down the walls around them. “Papa, that is ridiculous. He’s the nephew of our laird, Alexander Grant. Who is good enough for me in your eyes, the King of England?” She wished to scream to the rafters over her father’s foolishness, but he was too stubborn for that to do any good.

Her father snorted, “Aye, he would suit. I know you all favor Loki, but I promised your dear mama you would marry a lad born in our clan, and I will not go back on my word. Loki grew up in a crate until Lady Celestina brought him here. You know I tire of this conversation, daughter. You will not marry him.”

“Why do you hate him so? You know all he has done to protect his clan. There have been many, many times when his ingenuity has saved others, especially his mother and his Aunt Jennie.” She made her way around the small hut, picking up after her father and her sister as the two of them shared the stew she had brought in from the keep.

“Aye, you mean his adopted mother and his adopted aunt,” Morna added.

Arabella bumped into her sister as she passed by, intending on giving her a not-so-subtle message of what she thought of her disloyalty. “They consider him their true kin, so why can you not see it? The two of you drive me daft.” Bella wanted to punch something. No matter how often they discussed the same topic, neither would budge.

Her father barked, “I do not hate the lad as I can see he is a hard worker, but he is not a true member of our clan. Who knows what blood runs through his veins?”

“According to everyone but you, he’s a Grant.”

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