Defended by a Highland Renegade released!

Defended by a Highland Renegade has been released as a stand-alone novella. It was previously published in the Enchanting the Highlander anthology.

When Lady Mairiana MacKerrick witnesses her fiancé, Alec Lindsay, committing a murder three days before their wedding, she decides she must run away. Darack Grant, secretly an outlaw MacGregor, is on a clandestine mission, but when he finds Mairiana hiding in the stables, he decides to help her escape. He remembers the lovely lass from their one meeting a few years before. Though he was drawn to her, he always saw her as far beyond his reach. Mairiana finds her hidden inner strength and trusts the Highland renegade to protect her on their journey through the Scottish Highlands. On the way, they find an astonishing passion. But Alec will stop at nothing to reclaim his betrothed and destroy Darack, even pin a murder on him.


Darack MacGregor Grant stepped into the horse's stall, wishing he could take the pitchfork to O'Quigley, the stable master. Nay, 'twas the thief Alec Lindsay he wished to see on the end of the pitchfork—or better yet, a sword.
Darack forked up a pile of horse dung and tossed it into the large wooden wheelbarrow sitting just outside the door. As clandestine missions went, this was one of the worst, but he would do almost anything to see his mother smile again.
He turned to scoop up another pile but his gaze landed on a small dark form in the corner of the stall. He froze, at first wondering if the person hunched there would ambush him. They did not move.
"What are you doing there?" he blurted in a quiet tone. Were his eyes deceiving him in the low light? Had he lost so much sleep he was imagining things?
As his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he saw 'twas a lass wearing a black cloak, sitting on the ground with her knees drawn up. Her face was pale and her eyes wide.
"Hurry up in there, Grant!" O'Quigley yelled in the doorway as he passed. "You've ten more stalls to clean afore bedtime. Several guests will be arriving in the morn. The stables will be full to overflowing."
"Aye," Darack called back, forking more dung into the wheelbarrow. His gaze returned to the lass.
She placed a finger before her lips.
"What are you doing in here?" he whispered.
She rose to her full height, which was still almost a foot shorter than his own six feet, four inches. Even though the stall was dimly lit, he now recognized her—Lady Mairiana MacKerrick. Of course, he'd heard all the servants talking about how Alec was to marry her in a few days' time. He remembered her from a few years ago, when he'd gone with his cousin, the Grant chief, to Rornoch Castle to visit with her brothers. He'd thought her an overindulged and bratty young lass.
He doubted she would remember him.
When she didn't answer, he asked, "M'lady? Is something amiss?"
She took a step forward. "Darack MacGregor?"
"You must not speak that name here," he whispered, glancing at the open doorway. "I'm known as Darack Grant now." She should well remember the MacGregor name had been outlawed near the whole of their lives. To claim the name was to ask to be strung up on the gallows. His own father, the MacGregor chief, had been executed in Edinburgh when Darack was just a lad. Since then, they had lived like outlaws and vagabonds.
"I'm surprised you remember me," he said. "Do you need help, Lady Mairiana?"
"Aye. Do you promise to tell no one?" she whispered.
"Of course."
"I must find my way home, back to Rornoch." Tears glistened in her eyes.
Confused by her words, he frowned. "I thought you were going to marry Alec Lindsay in a few days."
"I was going to but… I cannot. He…" Clamping her lips between her teeth, she shook her head, blinking back more tears. "He is not the man I thought he was. Can you help me get back to my brothers?"
"Saints, lass," Darack hissed. What the devil was he supposed to do now? Hearing the footsteps of the stable master, he forked more manure into the wheelbarrow. If he left now, he couldn't complete the task he'd come here for.
Once O'Quigley's footsteps receded, he turned back to her. "Why did you decide not to marry him?"
"Alec is a thief, a liar and…."
Darack knew that already. 'Twas why he was here pretending to be a stable hand in need of work. The bastard Alec had stolen his mother's valuable brooch at a gathering of Highland clans two months ago. His father had given her the brooch on the day they married, many years ago. His mother treasured it above all things. 'Twas the only material possession she had from his father. Because of the king's proclamation fifteen years ago and the many MacGregor men executed, those still living—mainly women and children—had been forced to flee their own lands and take refuge with allied clans. Darack and his mother had sought the protection of her clan and, since then, pretended to be Grants. The MacGregors disbursed to the four winds like so much thistle down… Children of the Mist.
He couldn't give up on finding the brooch, the rightful property of his mother, something she valued so highly she'd rather starve than to sell it to buy food. Of course, he would never let it come to that, anyway. He and his kin always provided for his mother.
"What did Alec steal?" Darack asked.
"My brother's priceless dagger. He is also…" She snapped her mouth closed.
She crept closer to him, then tugged at his arm until he leaned down. "He is also a murderer," she whispered so softly into his ear he could hardly hear her. She motioned with her thumb over her shoulder.

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