For the first few years of my life, I lived in tropical places. I never saw snow except in movies and freezing to me was sixty-five degrees. I loved nothing more than swimming, chasing lightening bugs and having the summer sun warm my skin that was sticky from melted ice cream and sweat.
So, it would be natural to assume that summer is my favorite season. But I love fall. I love the way the air cools and has a crisp edge to it. I love to see the leaves change from green to red, yellow then fall to the ground. I love to walk through the fallen leaves and hear the crunch under my feet. And there is nothing better than to bundle up in cozy sweaters that are more like a cocoon than a piece of clothing,
My love for autumn comes from more from the season and its trappings, it’s something about fall that relates to me deep in my soul. A part is the fact that I’m a late bloomer. I had always wanted to write but was to scared to go after it. When I applied to college, I marked my perspective major as creative writing in all but one university. That was the one that I went to—Syracuse University.
But after all that I was like an aster and my writing career bloomed in my early thirties. Another reason fall is my season is because of the change. When the world goes from ninety degrees to sixty-eight, you feel it. It’s shows in all the world around you, in every part of nature. Another part, I love is cuddling under a blanket and reading a book. I like being alone. I’m an introvert. And this season is for me.
Well, all but pumpkin spice. I hate pumpkins.
What season is your favorite season? And what do you love about it?
The Chieftain’s Secret
On a windswept Scottish Isle…
Many objects wash up on the shores of the rugged Isle of Mull. The Laird of Lochbuie never expected a pregnant wife to be included in that. Honorable Niall MacLean was wed to his childhood love when she died in childbirth. Now a widower, he struggles to get beyond his grief. Then a dear friend, Ermina Bruce pleaded for his help. His protective instinct came alive and he handfasted with Ermina to save her from an unsuitable marriage and one drunken night has led to forever after and a repeat of his past heartbreak.
The bonds of friendship…
Noble Ermina Bruce has loved Niall MacLean since he first fostered in her uncle’s home. But he loved another so she settled for the deep bonds of friendship. When her family arranged a marriage she didn’t want she knew Niall could save her from that miserable fate.
One night of passion…
That one night in Niall’s arms led to her pregnancy. Ermina has not told Niall of their secret baby. But his reaction isn’t her greatest fear. Her fear is even greater than the brave laird’s wrath. Every woman in her family has died in childbirth and all know the same fate awaits her. Once again, Ermina knows Niall is the only one who can save her. And if he fails, her last days shall be with the man she has loved since childhood.
Will love have a chance to come alive?
The church preached the Lord had a plan for all living creatures. Ermina Bruce wondered about her own divine design. Naturally, marriage, children, and a household of her own were included in the life plan. For Ermina, she would have liked a hint of what else awaited since her life had taken a surprising turn.
“Don’t fall into the fire.”
A scream squeaked from her as she spun around and nearly toppled into the hearth. Niall snatched her back and against his hard chest. She landed with a humph. Her nose and cheek smashed against him. She drew a breath into her empty chest along with the manly scent mixed with wine, leather, and musk. She planted her hands flat on his chest and straightened.
“Niall, you frightened me”—she shoved her palm hard against his chest, not that he wavered from her strike—“Sneaking in here without making nary a sound.”
He shrugged. “The skills of a Highlander.”Niall swayed on his feet.
Ermina grabbed him by his forearm to steady him. “The skill is made more impressive since you are drunk.”
“I am celebrating our handfasting.”He lifted his hand. He frowned as he realized his hand was empty. “I seem to have forgotten my cup.”
Ermina turned away from his empty hand hovering in the air as if it were curled about a cup. He couldn’t see her tears. He would ask her why she cried, and she couldn’t reveal the truth. Worse than her unreasonable emotions for him, she knew his reason for drinking until the world faded to the edges of his awareness. That knowledge never stemmed the roaring need to scream down upon his head. She hated seeing his eyes heavy from drink, his movement sloppy, and hearing his slurred speech.
“There have been enough toasts tonight. From all the warm wishes, if a wedding had occurred we would have had a very blessed lifetime. ”
That sounds wonderful. A lifetime with Niall.
“Your uncle scowled through the ceremony.”His befuddled voice snapped her free from her thoughts. His stance was wide but that failed to stop him from swaying.
She didn’t reach to steady him. Right now, with the dull ache thumping through her, she decided touching him was stupid.
Her uncle, the fourth earl of Annadale, and head of the family, had been snarling and growling since Niall and she informed him of the handfasting. There was no reason for his behavior to change on this day. “Aye, he did raise his cup begrudgingly.”She ambled to the bed and perched on the edge. “At least, we were both screamed upon but our lives were not in too much danger.” She put her feet up.
“I am accustomed to his temper. You were trembling like a new recruit.”Niall joined her and fell back. He threw one arm over his head and rested the other one on the flat of his stomach.
“I rarely witness that side of my uncle.”
“You thawed his plans but he gave in to your wants in the end. At least you will not be teetered to that auld man. I imagine Bruce will have more care in your next match.”
“I pray you are right. I do not wish to be bound to a man who believes a husband should not spare the rod with a wife.”Ermina fell back beside Niall. He peeked out the corner of his eye and stretched out his arm. She scooted over and propped her head on his muscular forearm.
This wasn’t the first instance that Ermina had been this close to Niall. This time, though, felt different. They were handfasted. Not that that knowledge changed anything. That was a falsehood. It changed everything for her. Her yearning for him sharpened.
She could bury her nose in the crook of his neck and breath in his scent. Just one whiff of his singular scent and a rush of warmth and pure happiness filled her. Then the longing came and the knowledge that she would never have his love smothered every ounce of her desire.
He rested his head against hers and let out a wine-scented sigh.
His lips were less than half a finger length from her own. Their breaths mingled. She could kiss him. She could finally feel the texture of his lips and discover if they felt as she had imagined.
That was wrong. They were friends. He had saved her from a marriage to a man she had no desire to be united with. A kiss would ruin their bond. That was one act she refused to allow.
“’Tis the first time we have lain together on a bed.”
“You make it sound sinful.” She hoped she put enough of a sneer into her voice so he couldn’t hear the rush charging through her.
He rolled his head to the side and wiggled his dark brows. “Most sinful.”
His intoxicated gaze flittered over her face and lost the stressed lines that pinched his face. His warm regard changed to one darkening with desire. His gaze slowly traced over the lines of her face then to her mouth where it lingered, tracing the shape. His mouth parted as if he were preparing to kiss her.
She stilled, unwilling to break the bond between them. Not once in her life had she been the focus of his smoldering gaze. She had seen glimpses of it when he spoke of Siobhan. Now, his narrowed eyes centered on her. His desire was meant for her and her alone. She had never been kissed. For Niall to be the first… Her whole body went hot and slowly melted. She went a little dizzy. He would kiss her. She licked her lips in preparation.
He blinked. Niall let out a heavy sigh laced with a groan. She understood its meaning. Siobhan.More than twelve months had passed since his wife’s death. Naturally, she understood the reasons for him losing himself in drink. Niall had loved his Siobhan since their childhood.
When Niall arrived at Annadale to foster at the age of eight, he had already been—as he said handfasted—to her. When he returned to the highlands as a knight, he had wed her. Ermina never met Siobhan, but she had been entertained and jealous of the highland lass as she listened to his countless stories that always centered around Siobhan. With each telling, she had felt the all-encompassing love he possessed for her. Aye, she understood the reasons for his drinking with each raise of his cup, and her heart ached for him.
“If I were to take another wife, I would be pleased to have you.”
He rolled on his side and placed a peck on her cheek. Instead of putting a proper distance between them, he rested his chin upon her shoulder. She leaned her head against the top of his head and listened to his easy breathing.
“I would be pleased to have you for a husband.”She felt that emptiness inside of her that ached to be filled. The sensation that hollowed her whenever she thought of Niall. If she had to name the turmoil within herself, she might have thought it longing. The corner of her eyes began to burn as if tears were forming. She blinked with such rapidness she could have started a storm. There was no reason for them. Niall would not be the man she would spend her life with.
He lifted his head. His nose brushed along her jaw and across her cheek, halting when he buried the tip in her hair. His lips hovered over her ear. His exhales blew across her lobe. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the lulling sensation.
“Ermina, you are a beautiful woman and shall have all the happiness life can give.”He kissed her—a simple peck that sparked goose bumps across her.
He drew back and stared at her. There was softness, nay, tenderness in his eyes. It wasn’t because of the color but the hooded shape that gave him an earnest expression. The hazy gloss dulled the brightness of his dark, burnished eyes.
“This isn’t right but I can’t stop myself. I don’t want to.”He fitted his mouth to hers with the softest of pressure. She should have turned away. Niall did not know what he was doing. She did.
With his top lip, he nudged apart her shocked mouth. The tip of his tongue flicked against her stiff one. She opened to him. Her mouth filled with the taste of wine. The tart flavor jolted her. The hairs on her arms stood as a current race through her.
This was foolish.
’Tis only a kiss…
About the Author
An Air Force brat, Mageela Troche has lived throughout the world then landed in New York City. She wanted to leave the same day she arrived. Yet, with her stubbornness, Mageela learned to like the place and the libraries were the main reason. Since she was a little girl, Mageela wanted to be an author and an actress, however, once in college, she changed her life plan in the pursuit of money. After all, college loans must be repaid.
With life’s twists and turns, she returned to writing and focused on the romance genre. Mageela Troche’s first break came when she sold a short story to a magazine. She sold two more before the publication of her historical romance novel, The Marriage Alliance.She has gone on to write four more novels and a novella.
Mageela is currently writing in the cramped corner of her Big Apple apartment. She is the proud owner of a Black-masked lovebird named Boobula. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found online at
Social Media Links
website: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest: blog: Amazon Author Page: Goodreads: