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Chapter One

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A fearsome guttural growl issued forth as the claymore came down, rending flesh, muscle, and bone as it cleaved its way to the ground. The upswing of the same weapon quickly ended the agony the first blow had issued. Immediately the mountain of a Highland warrior recoiled his muscles in preparation to dispatch the next English solider foolish enough to challenge him. There were no brave fools left in the knot of men facing him. For a moment that seemed to hang in time, they stared white faced at the man crouched over the body of their officer. Knowing the certainty of the fate that lay before them, they turned and fled the field of battle. All across the filed, that flash of reason spread to the rest of the English ranks. Following the course of their commanders, the retreat crumbled its way across the field. Raising his bloody claymore aloft, the highlander roared a victory cry. The rest of the Scots still standing on the filed rallied to him and join the shout. The English would pursue the Scots no further across their own land.

A the clamor and battle cries passed, the only sound rising from the field of battle were the final prayers of the last of the dying Scots. The Scots had won this day, but the cost of victory was high. So many brave highland warriors had taken the cup of honorable death. The new lads coming to take their places would be lads, indeed. But this was not what pressed its way into Angus' mind. Why was King Duncan risking so much for so little?

As he stood there overlooking the field, lost in his thoughts, his trusted lieutenant approached.

"Laird MacBain, all is ready. The field will be ablaze by gloaming."

"Very good, Fergus," he half replied.

"Do you think maybe you should take some time to refresh yourself?"

That seemed to wake Angus from his pondering. He looked down to assess himself and found that he was still caked in the grime and blood of battle.

"Aye, Fergus, tis time I refreshed myself," Angus said as he strolled down the hill and toward the stream in the woods beyond the field. His men knew full well how to take care of the possessions of the honored dead, so he left them to it.

Angus stalked through the woods like a predator. The power of fresh spilled blood still surged in his veins. Even when he wasn't covered in the filth of battle, Angus was a very powerful and imposing man. His height alone would have been intimidating, but Angus was not just a head above the rest. Years of combat had etched themselves on his body. His powerful arms, shoulders, and chest rippled with muscles that bespoke of the death blows he could deal in battle. His appearance was further enhanced because his upper body was covered with nothing other than an array of weapons strapped to a leather band across his chest. Even though he wore a belt and sporran, his kilt tended to slip low on his left hip revealing more of his raw masculinity.

As he walked through the woods he cleansed his mind as he would soon cleanse his body. Nearing the stream the only thoughts left were the desires for good food and a good woman.

That was the moment he first heard it, a sweet and tempting voice singing in the distance. He slowed his pace, wary of the presence of someone so near the battle field. As he continued, he began to concentrate on the voice. Definitely a young lass, but the tune she sang was not one he recognized, yet it seemed familiar.

When he finally burst forth from the wood, Angus beheld the sweet young lass that he had heard singing. She sat on a huge boulder at the edge of the stream washing linens and clothes. She must have washed her own clothing for she sat there wrapped in nothing but one of her men's tartans. How very lovely she looked. The plaid was draped so loosely that her fair back was exposed all the way to her hips. Her luscious ass hid just below the edge of the fabric. Her dark auburn hair flowed in soft waves down her back and played softly in the breeze.

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