A Laird to Remember – Tammy Andresen

Lady Daisy Morningstar sat in front of her mirror assessing her blonde coif one final time. The loose arrangement had been painstakingly pinned to look effortless with the perfect amount of complicated twists in the back and loose strands in the front to soften her face. Generally speaking, she was considered a beauty by many, but she knew her features were a touch on the hard side. Cheekbones a bit too prominent, chin a little severe so she liked to temper her look whenever possible. And today it was doubly important. He was coming. T h e he she referred to was Lord Winston Price, an English earl and the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Though it had been three years since the last time they’d spoke, she had a wild hope that his trip all the way to Scotland was for her benefit. Their one and only meeting had been…magical. The dinner party where they’d met was one of the last events she and her sisters had attended before their lives had completely changed. To be more precise, fallen apart. But that night, she didn’t know her father would pass, her cousin would take the title, and then that cousin would toss them out of their own home. She certainly didn’t have any understanding that they’d travel to Scotland and build a new wonderful life here. On that first meeting with Lord Price, she’d danced two dances with him and he’d whispered all sorts of sweet words in her ear. About her beauty, her grace. He’d asked about her family, her father’s position as earl. She’d been certain he would court her. That was before her ruin, of course. But now, she and her sisters had risen again. Had he been pining for her all this time? Attempting to track her down? She sighed with satisfaction as images of how their meeting today might go flitted through her thoughts. He’d see her, stare longingly into her eyes, declare his love, get down on one knee and propose. She gripped the edge of the vanity. She was allowing her imagination to run away with her again. But they’d had such a connection during their first interaction she had to believe that he was coming for her. Her sisters had both found their happily-ever-afters and here she was still alone.

But hopefully, not for much longer… Standing, Daisy gave a bit of a twirl, letting her blue skirts flare out about her legs. She and her sisters had spent close to six months living with barely enough food. But after her eldest sister had gotten married, they’d been saved. She frowned. If only Lord Price had found them at that time. It must have been so romantic when Rose’s husband, Colin, had escorted them to Scotland and ultimately helped them find a new, bright future. She swished her hand through the air. No matter. Lord Price had found them now, that was the important part. Of course, he’d written to Colin asking about a possible shipping contract. But surely that was just a ploy to spend time with her. Both her sisters had married, and Daisy started to doubt she’d ever find that perfect man. Covering her stomach with her hands, she let out a long breath. Her turn was finally happening. With that thought, she headed out of room toward the stairs, sweeping her way down the grand entry of her sister’s home. Rose waited by the door, smiling up at Daisy. “Ready?” “Ready.” Daisy answered, straightening her shoulders. “When is Lord Price set to arrive?” Rose crinkled her brow, giving her sister a side stare. “Lord Price, along with Laird Abbott and Mr. McCreevy, are all scheduled to arrive at noon.” Daisy quickly nodded. “Excellent.” She didn’t give a wit about the other men. Lord Price was supposed to have arrived last night but a fierce spring storm had held him off.

Rose turned to face her sister. “Since they were supposed to begin yesterday, they’ll likely go straight to luncheon where they’ll discuss the possibility of a joint venture.” That made Daisy stop two steps before the bottom of the stairs. “They’ve journeyed a long way. Won’t they want a repose first?” Rose shook her head. “They’re anxious to begin on the business plan that has been proposed. Tom and Fiona will join us this afternoon as well.” “I’ll be glad to see Fiona, of course. It’s been too long since we’ve seen our friend.” Fiona had helped them leave England and introduced them to Colin. “But I’d like to get to spend time with Lord Price.” Rose looked up at the ceiling as though asking for patience. “Don’t expect to see much of the men for a few days.” Daisy frowned, her brows drawing together. “But surely Lord Price will want to see me.” Rose stepped toward her sister, threading her fingers together. An apologetic expression washed over Rose’s face. “I’m getting the impression that you’ve built this reunion with Lord Price up in your head. It’s been three years and you met for a single dinner party. The man may not even remember—” Daisy let out a tsk. “He remembers. I’ve already told you we had a connection.” Daisy took the last two steps, coming close to her sister. “Mark my words. This business meeting is a ploy to see me again.

” Rose reached for her sister’s hand. “I know men often go to great lengths to get your attention, but Lord Price stuck me as a man who is equally used to females vying for his. It’s possible he’s the sort who often gives women the impression he is serious but—” “What are you trying to say?” Daisy snatched her hand from Rose’s. “That he’s just a flirt? That he isn’t coming for me?” Though her words held a note of irritation, inwardly her stomach clenched. In her less confident moments, she’d faced the same worry. Her heart squeezed in her chest. Why hadn’t he written to her directly? Why had he taken so long? Rose winced. “It’s possible he doesn’t even know you’re related to Colin. He didn’t mention you in any of their correspondence.” Daisy’s stomach flopped about. He hadn’t mentioned her once? “That can’t be. The night we met, he told me of how he’d longed to meet a woman like me. He—” She clenched her fists. “We’ll find out soon enough.” Even if he wasn’t coming for her, she was certain all the old feelings would return once they saw each other again. Rose gave a tentative nod. “Would you really want to marry an Englishman at this point?” “We’re English, you know?” Daisy fired back, linking her arm through her sister’s. “Yes, but we live in Scotland, we’ve built a life here. Lily and I have married lairds. And if you left…” Rose bit her lip. “I’d hoped you stay.” Daisy stopped to look at her sister. “Even if I live in England, I’ll love you just the same.” “I’ll love you too,” Rose answered. “But try to look at Lord Price with the fresh eyes of your twenty-year-old self.

The one that has suffered and risen above. You’re a stronger woman now.” Daisy shook her head in denial, but Rose’s words did soften Daisy’s irritation and her voice was gentle as she replied, “Thank you. While I appreciate your words, try to understand. When I met Lord Price…it was simply love at first sight.” Rose frowned. “Daisy, you’re making too much of this. You’ve been in love with at least three men since we’ve arrived in Scotland.” With that, her sister crossed the entry and opened the door, gesturing for Daisy to step outside. Daisy huffed a breath as she walked through the entrance. Her sisters were always giving her a difficult time about how quickly she developed feelings for a man. They claimed she was prone to infatuation. “I have not.” Colin stood on the drive ready to greet their guests, standing strategically between two puddles as he waited for the men to arrive. The storm that had blown through the night before had left the ground soggy and wet and delaying the arrival of the men. “You have too. You fall instantly in love with a man from the first dance. You come home swearing you’ll marry him and by the third meeting, you’ve lost interest. Either because he’s misspoken, or because of his table manners, or perhaps—” “If you’re discussing Laird Sampson, the man went an entire meal with spinach all in his teeth. How can a woman overlook that?” Quietly, she’d been contemplating kissing him but not with his teeth looking like that. Her stomach churned at the memory. “Is it possible that you just didn’t have a chance to see Lord Price make a mistake so you never had an opportunity to get over a simple crush?” Rose squeezed her sister’s arm, her voice calm and neutral. Daisy winced. She hated to admit that there were some shreds of truth to Rose’s words. “Well, I’ll have the chance to find out.

Won’t I? And in the meantime, I’m ready to meet the man who might just be my one true love.” “You certainly are.” Rose pulled her sister a touch closer. “You look stunning.” Daisy drew in a deep breath. Despite Rose’s words of caution, she felt that this meeting was completely significant. Something wonderful was about to happen. * * * Laird Blake Abbott kicked his horse into a trot as a large manor house came into view. Colin MacFarland, the ship’s captain-turned-laird was the perfect man to help him. After his father’s passing, he’d inherited the title, the land, and all the responsibility that came with both. And, despite what his father had always thought about Blake, which had never been much, he was ready to take on the challenge. He grimaced thinking back to his last meeting with his father. Even on the man’s deathbed, he’d been handing out advice. “Don’t get distracted, Blake. Ye ken how ye can be. More interested in fun than duty.” Blake had held his tongue…barely. Had his father not noticed that his son had taken over the lairdship for the past several years as the elder Abbott’s health had declined? Yes, Blake had been an errant youth. But his father’s rules had been so constricting. He’d done a great many things he regretted for the simple pleasure of needling his inflexible father. He let out a heavy sigh. That had included becoming engaged to a woman of high temper and spirit. Ailish had been like a wild horse ride. Their relationship had been passionate and breakneck and when the it had finally come to a halt, he’d been left completely spent. And he’d learned to temper himself.

A lesson his father had never acknowledged. Several small figures came into view, standing by the front steps of the estate. Even from this distance, he could see the varied colors of their dress, alerting him that women were also in attendance. He’d expected to meet Laird MacFarland’s wife, but he groaned at the idea that her eligible sister would also be present. He was too busy this trip, or in general for that matter, to deal with marriage-minded misses. Picking up speed, he made his way to the manor, noting a carriage in the distance. Clearly the other members attending their discussion would be arriving as well. Good. That would make all of this run more efficiently and get him back home to his duties as quickly as possible. Leaning out over the animal’s neck, he pushed his horse faster, eager to meet MacFarland. Blake’s primary business was raising sheep. He sold most of the meat locally, but the wool was another matter. MacFarland had the ships to move the wool and a connection to a merchant who could sell it at a much higher price than he currently received. It would increase his profits without adding to the workload for him or his people. He took pride in his idea and the one way he’d done far better than his father. Drawing closer, he slowed his horse. A tall broad man stood with a lovely brunette at his side. Just to her right was an even more stunning blonde woman wearing a shade of blue that glittered in the sun. He clenched his teeth. He didn’t need to notice pretty girls. He needed to sell his wool. That was it. After pulling to a halt just in front of the group, he swung down. “Laird MacFarland?” The other man smiled. “Aye.

I am. And this is my wife, Lady MacFarland, and my sister-in-law, Lady Daisy Morningstar.” He looked at the blonde again. She stared back with the sort of blank expression that left him wondering about her thoughts. She certainly didn’t look like the sort who was eager for his attention. Frowning slightly, her perfectly pouty lips turned down, she appeared to be looking over his shoulder as though she didn’t notice him at all. For some reason, that irritated him and he shifted to block her view. “Pleased to meet you, Lady MacFarland, Lady Daisy.” Then he stuck out his hand to MacFarland. “Blake Abbott. Pleasure.” Colin gave him a solid shake that instantly put Blake at ease. Not too firm, not too soft, the gesture spoke of a confident man even as his warm smile put Blake at ease. Which was likely why he relaxed the reins of his steed. At that exact moment a tiny mouse skittered out from a crack in the foundation of the house and across the path of his horse. What happened next would have left his father cackling in his grave.


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