The Princess and The Laird

The Princess and The Laird (A Highland Secrets Prequel) from Paper Dragon Publishing!

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He’s a reluctant Laird…

Alex MacLeod always knew he’d be leader of his clan, but duty was thrust upon him before he was ready.

His father’s devotion to his sick mother is something to admire—or so he keeps telling himself. He regards the man above all others and can’t understand why he would forgo duty for love.

He teeters on the edge of selfishness—the drive for something more.

She’s a runaway Fae princess…

Headstrong Alana is used to disobeying her father, king of the Fae, especially when he commands her.

When she sneaks through the Faery Stones into the Human Realm, she never expects to run into the human laird. Despite her cousin’s warnings and her father’s wrath, Alana finds herself increasingly drawn to a man she can never have.

Together they share a forbidden union…

Alex and Alana find freedom in each other that they’ve never experienced with anyone else. They’re both running from something. Can the solace they find in each other overcome the danger that awaits in both their worlds?

 

Excerpt:

Alana left his side to stroke Bán’s neck, and his horse nickered, bumping her hand for more affection. “He’s beautiful. What’s he called?”

“Bán.” Alex cleared his throat and made a go for his stallion’s reins, brushing the thick gray mane out of the way.

“But he’s not all white, is he?” Alana’s mouth curved up again.

“Ye speak Gaelic?”

“Human Gaelic isn’t so different from Fae, really. Most of our words are close, or even the same.” She said what he could recognize as ‘hello, how are you?’ but the tone and some of the inflection was off.  “Could you make out what I said?”

He nodded. “I’m fine, how’re ye?”

Alana grinned and he couldn’t help but return it. “See? Not so different.”

The cheerful look on her pretty face turned his brain to mush, and Alex had to concentrate to speak. “Well, aye, my horse was named for his hide’s color, but when he was wee, his mane and tail were white, as weel.” He pushed words out about his beloved mount, but he didn’t care to discuss the animal.

She reached for his hand. “Let us walk. Show me your isle.”

They talked about everything. Laughed together. Questioned each other about everything human, and everything Fae.

Alana had a bright curious mind and all the knowledge Alex had didn’t seem to satisfy her. In that, she seemed innocent, but he couldn’t call her naïve or childlike. Her beauty stunned him as much as the shot of energy when she put her hand on his arm so he could escort her.

The more her countenance displayed obvious excitement about mundane day-to-day clan life, the more his heart cantered. He wanted to mention his dreams, but her cousin followed their path, and took part in the conversation when Alana forced him to.

Alex respected him a notch for the distance he tried to keep to give them an air of privacy, but he wasn’t foolish enough to believe the man couldn’t hear everything that was said—another reason to hold his tongue on what he’d done to the princess in his sleep.

She told him of her realm—things of magic and wonder he couldn’t fathom being true, although Alex believed every word. Even about the orange and blue grass, and pink and purple trees.

His princess explained that her cousin was her sworn personal guard, and he was a renowned Fae winged Warrior.

He didn’t have his wings in the Human Realm, but she swore his magic and skills were still unparalleled. Alana stated there was less magic in Alex’s realm, which made the place undesirable for most Fae, and was the reason Xander had no wings.

Actual wings were hard to imagine, let alone a man flying, but when her cousin grunted and looked away from her praise, Alex had to smirk.

The affection they had for each other was obvious—there was no doubt the man saw her as more than a mere charge, and the princess felt the same. They resembled each other enough to be siblings, and he could tell they cared about each other as such, as well.

She explained that they’d grown up together, and been educated together, so it was only natural they’d stayed together when he’d finished his training as a Warrior and sworn himself to her.

Alex found it hard to tell her his mother was very ill, especially when her eyes watered for a woman she didn’t know, but he made his way through it, explaining how he’d ended up laird and telling her of Duncan and Janet. He talked about his family and his clan, as well as their proud stronghold, their castle.

Morning melted into late afternoon, and he didn’t want her to leave—ever.

He wanted to sweep her into his arms, steal her away to Dunvegan and keep her forever. He didn’t care that he hadn’t eaten since dawn, and his stomach was rumbling demands for food.

Alana squeezed his hand as if she could read his mind, and he slipped into those unusual eyes again. His gut shouted what she’d say before she opened her mouth.

“I…need to go. We’ve been here a long time.”

He swallowed a sigh and looked at her cousin. Offered him a nod. “Thank ye fer bringin’ her back ta me.”

She smiled and pulled his hand to her mouth, kissing his knuckles. “He couldn’t keep me away.”

Xander snorted and averted his gaze.

“Contention a’ tween ye?” he whispered.

Alana nodded “‘Tis dangerous…for me…us…to come here.”

Instinct said there was something she wasn’t saying, but he released a breath and tried to stave off the sorrow threatening to consume him.

She’s leaving me again.

Alex cupped her face and tugged her chin up so she had to meet his eyes. “I dinna want ye ta go.”

She swallowed.

His need to kiss her burned, but he wouldn’t tempt a wager with Xander.

“I do not want to go, believe me. But…I have to.”

“Fer good?”

Alana closed her eyes and the raw emotion she was trying to hide just about slayed Alex. “It…should be.”

“But it willna?”

“I can make no vow to you, this day or any other.” When she met his gaze, her violet orbs were filled with tears she was trying hard not to shed. One slid down her cheek, and he thumbed it away.

“I shall make a vow ta ye, Yer Highness.” He kept his voice low, serious.

She startled in his grip, but made no move to break their physical contact. “Alex—”

“I will see ye again. I dinna accept anathin’ less.”

Alana whimpered, then slid her arms around his neck and tugged him down to her mouth.

He didn’t deny her—wouldn’t have been able to—but he kept the brush of their lips soft, tender and short, for her cousin’s sake. If Alex kissed her like she’d kissed him earlier, it’d just be more of a lure to steal her away. He didn’t need another erection he couldn’t use, either.

Xander had respected him; he owed him the same.

Even so, pulling away stabbed him in the gut—and maybe higher, in his heart.

“I don’t know if, let alone when,” Alana whispered.

More tears spilled now, and he wiped them away as they appeared. “Dinna worry, lass. I shall find ye.”

When her protector beckoned, she put her hand in his.

Alex watched until they’d disappeared from sight, his grip so tight on Bán’s reins his knuckles burned.

If he had to stalk the beach every moment of every day, he would see her again.