Chapter One

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AN~
So this is my very first time writing anything at all. So if it's horrible please go easy on me. This is historical fiction so I am going to try to make is as accurate as I can. If anybody sees a mistake in my facts or grammar please let me know. I would love any constructive criticism. Hope you like it!

Chapter One

June 21, 1743

Adair clan, Scottish highlands

"Catrìona!"

My head snapped up at the sound of my faither yelling my name from inside the keep.

I looked my horse Angus in the eyes with an exasperated expression.

"Mah god" I ask him, "Whit can it be noo?"

I finished brushing his coat and poured some grain into his feeding trough before I kissed him between the eyes and walked out of the stables.

As I strolled through the bailey I got lost in my thoughts.

There had been so much strife in my home lately. The English have been pressing at us Scotts to create a treaty with them. Many of us however believed that by doing that we would be giving up our freedom. And that eventually the English king would not be satisfied with just being allies. We worried that they would want to rule over us. Many of us, especially including the Highlander clans were completely against accepting this treaty. Some are even prepared to take a stand and fight against any English opponents that come our way.

For the past few months, my faither and brothers have been debating on which decision they believed that our family should support.

'Tae heel wi' th' sassenach,' that is what I personally thought about it anyways. But nobody in my family cared what a silly young lassie thought about a debate. In my brothers' and faither's opinion you can't trust anything that comes from a woman. And why? Because all women are daft and don't have a lick of sense.

'To hell wi' th' also' I add.

"Catrìona!"

I am jerked out of my inner monologue as I hear my faither's rough voice loudly calling me from inside the keep.

I rush up the stairs and gracefully sweep into the inner bailey.

I look around the room and see that my faither, Laird Grant, is sitting at the high table along with my three brothers; Ronan, Logan, and Blane. They all had a cup of ale sitting in front of them. It didn't surprise me though. They nearly drink themselves silly with the stuff.

"Aye Faither?" I asked serenely as I avoided looking at my two eldest brothers. I just knew that they would be looking at me with smug expressions.

My whole life my brothers Ronan and Logan have done nothing but cause me grief. They are always finding ways to get me on my faither's bad side as well as constantly making my life miserable.

"Och look at ye Catrìona," my faither groused as he took in my appearance with a disgusted look. My blonde hair was filled with dust from my long ride and it had long since fallen out of the braid I had put it in that morn'. My blue dress had also managed to get nearly covered in mud from the stables.

"Hae ye been playing around in the stables again?"

I just looked him in the eyes defiantly and nodded.

"Dammit Catrìona, it's time to put these childish ways behind of you. It's time to stop acting like a wee lassie and be more of a groon woman."

And that was the moment that something deep inside of me snapped. I could no longer let him berate me as I stood there like a silent ninny.

"And why can I noo just be myself?" The words exploded out of my mouth as if the wall in my brain that had been holding them back had suddenly crumpled and left no resistance on them.

"Is that so wrong?" I was fuming at the men sitting at that table with dumbstruck looks on their faces.

"Is it so wrong that I would rather ride mah horse and practice mah archery then sit in the damn keep all day just embroidering and helping the servants run the household?"

I stopped to take a deep breath and began to pace back and forth in order to try and let my temper cool a bit.

When I turned back to face my faither and brothers I saw that they had all recovered from their earlier shock and we're now looking at me with enraged expressions.

The only exception was that my dear brother Blane was only trying to cover up his amusement at my antics. Blane is the only brother that I get along with. Since he is closest to my age we have always had a bond that has never existed between me and my other two brothers.

I pretend to glare at him and he finally lets the facade drop as he broke into a full grin.

I mentally rolled my eyes at him as I turn my attention back to my faither. I did it just in time to see him rise from his chair and stalk towards me.

I braced myself, for I knew how my faither can be when he became this angry.

"How dare ye speak to me like that ye useless wench!" He fumed as he lifted his arm and backhanded me across the cheek.

My head whipped to the side from the force of the blow and I stumbled backward several steps before I was able to regain my balance.

I stare at the ground as I sway on my feet and try to focus on my anger and not on my fear of this man who sired me. I will not cry and allow him the pleasure of seeing any weakness in me.

"Ye shall will ne'er speak to me like that again, understood?"

I nodded my head quickly without looking up at him.

"Now, since that is over with, the reason that ye cannae be who ye really are, as ye put it, is because that wulnae help ye tae get and then keep a husband."

That caused my head to rise from the ground and I looked at his chest. I didn't have the courage to look him in the eyes just yet.

"But I dinnae want a husband faither." I stated quietly.

"That is nae yer choice Catrìona, yer brothers and I have decided that it would be best for us to side with the English. We have discussed ways of establishing an ally in one of the English lords and the best way tae accomplish that is through a marriage tie."

I am completely shocked at this news. My eyes jerk over to stare into Blane's. His eyes hold a mixture of guilt as well as sadness. I assume that this was not his first choice but he could not persuade my faither or our oldest brothers otherwise.

"B-but why faither?" My voice came out shaky and I inwardly curse myself at allowing it to be that way.

"It is the only way," he replies with an emotionless voice.

"Please reconsider faither," I plead in a desperate voice.

He just returns to his seat, "Ye marry Lord Nicolaus Neville in two weeks. After which ye will travel with him to his home in England. Yer maid Fiona will be traveling with ye. And that is the end of the discussion."

As he turned back to his ale I looked at all my brothers. I saw that Ronan and Logan were indeed looking at me with a smug happiness plastered on their faces.

Blane however would not make eye contact with me. He just stared down into his ale and he swished it back and forth in his tankard.

I sighed and walked out of the keep to be in the comforting presence of my dear friend, who also happens to be my faithful horse.

Sometimes animals make much better company then humans do. They listen and don't talk back. Och, the joy of having no one to put down your happy thoughts.

As I head to the stables I think to myself that I should make the most of the time I have with my horse today. Because it may not happen very often over the next two weeks.

Thanks for reading!
~Alayna~

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