Writing a new scene for Cameron Sutherland and Mary Elizabeth Rose’s first Yuletide was a joy. I hope this glimpse puts you in the mood to celebrate the season with the special people in your life, whether they are family or friends. And enjoy reading Mary and Cam’s romance in HIS HIGHLAND BRIDE (His Highland Heart Series Book 3).
“They’re coming!” Mary Rose burst into the Clan Rose library waving a parchment, blue eyes bright.
Cameron Sutherland set his book aside and glanced out the window at the waning wintry light, expecting to see riders approaching the gate. He saw nothing but snow streaked with pink by the setting sun and the deep green fir and pine forest beyond, so he rose and stepped toward his excited bride. “Who is coming, Mary my love? And when?” He reached out to brush a blonde curl from her shoulder just as Mary thrust the parchment toward him.
“My sisters are coming with their families. A Brodie rider just delivered Annie’s letter.” Mary clasped her hands over her heart. “Ach, Cam, I’m so excited. I can’t wait for the next three weeks to pass.”
Cam glanced at the bottom of the page while Mary talked. Signed by Annie, now Lady Brodie, with the Brodie seal stamped in the wax. “I thought I heard someone ride in. This explains why the guard didn’t send for me.” He gestured with the parchment. “The rider brought wonderful news.” He set the letter on top of his book, certain that Mary would rather tell him the rest than have him read the details. “Does she say why they dinna plan to come sooner? We are only a day’s hard ride away.”
“They’re having an early Yule celebration at Brodie first. Since Annie and Iain are bringing their wee son, they canna make the trip in one day. Kenneth and Cat will travel with them, along with an escort.”
“Aye, of course.” Though Rose and Brodie shared a border, travel in the Highlands was never safe, especially with the approach of midwinter.
“Ach, what if it snows again? They’ll be delayed even more.”
“Dinna fash, wife. They’ll get here, no matter the weather. And they’ll make our first Yule even more joyful than we’d hoped.” Cam knew his bride. Preparing for her sisters’ visit would keep her floating on clouds for the next fortnight. Her mind was surely spinning with ideas and chores enough to keep the entire clan busy until their guests—nay, their family—arrived. He took her hand in his larger ones. “What do we need to do first?”
Mary’s lips formed an “O” and she gestured toward the parchment. “I must set down every idea,” she said, her gaze drifting aside in thought. “What needs to be done, and when, in the keep and without. Cleaning. Making sure things are put out of wee Ewan’s reach so he doesn’t get into mischief. Decorating.”
Cam nodded, caught up in the spirit of Mary’s musing. “If Rose does as Sutherland does every year, we’ll need boughs of fir, sprigs of holly…”
“Aye, of course. Those will make the great hall smell heavenly!”
“But gathering some of them could wait until everyone arrives. Yer sisters might enjoy finishing the decorations in their childhood home. Iain and Kenneth can help me find a suitable Yule log for the great hall’s hearth. And we’ll need to plan hunts to keep them entertained.”
“And everyone fed, aye. I must speak with Cook right away. Ach, we’ve so many things to do!”
Cameron pulled his wife into his arms while a vision of apple cakes sweetened with honey danced in his head. They’d been a favorite of his growing up, but did the Rose cook know how to make them? He’d ask her later. Right now, Mary was in his arms, needing him. “Wheesht, Mary my love. Ye dinna have to arrange it all right this minute.”
“Nay, but ye ken how my mind works.”
“That I do. And I ken ye will put all in perfect order. The entire clan will help. We will do what ye wish, when ye wish it.” With one finger, he lifted her chin, then gazed deep into her eyes. “But there’s something I want ye to include as ye note each need,” he said, pulling himself from the blue depths he loved.
“There is?” Her brow furrowed and she stiffened in his arms.
“Aye.” Cam fought to hide a grin. He never intruded on Mary’s running of the keep, so he knew this demand surprised her. He hoped she’d like his request. “I wish for ye to put time for us in yer plans, wife. I willna have ye disappear from me for the next fortnight and more while ye set all to rights.”
She softened in his arms, a smile lighting her face as she nodded. “I could never disappear from ye, my laird. Nor ye from me. We will have our time, never fear.”
“That’s a promise, and I want a kiss to seal it.” He tightened his hold on her, then lifted her and swung her around.
She shrieked with laughter, then gasped, “Cam, put me down! Ye are making me dizzy.”
He set her on her feet, but kept her secure in his embrace. “I willna release ye until ye kiss me,” he threatened.
She placed two fingers over his lips before he could swoop in and claim her mouth. “But we have nay mistletoe,” she teased.
“’Tis no’ the Yuletide, yet, Mary my love. We dinna need it now. But ye will gather mistletoe. Lots of mistletoe. And hang it throughout the keep. I intend to kiss ye soundly wherever I find ye.”
“And I, to kiss ye back.” She proceeded to do just that.
When Cam finally came up for air, he had more than kissing on his mind. “Do we have time for us now, my lady wife?”
“Hmmm.” She tilted her head and tapped her temple. “I dinna believe that is on any tally I’ve yet begun, my laird. But with the right encouragement, I could be convinced to add it.”
“Then let me encourage ye,” Cam said and took her lips again. When Mary melted even deeper into his embrace, he scooped her up, then set her on the library table.
“Cam! Nay, no’ here. The servants…”
“Will no’ come near, but I will lock the door for milady’s peace of mind.” He left her long enough to make certain they would not be disturbed, then returned to his wife.
Mary reached for him, her expression full of love and longing. “How will we find moments like this with half of clan Brodie underfoot?”
“’Tis our home, Mary. We ken all the best places to hide…”
“Ye forget,” Mary said, her voice bright with mirth, “my sisters do as well.” She hugged him tightly as she chuckled, then sobered and captured his gaze. “We are about to celebrate our first Yule as man and wife. My sisters and their families will make it special, but while they are with us, I need ye to recall how grateful I am for ye.” She laid a hand on his cheek. “Ye will be at the top of every note I write, my first thought every morn’ and my last thought each night. I love ye, Cameron Sutherland.”
Cam couldn’t hold back the answering swell of love and contentment that filled his heart, nor did he want to. “And I love ye, Mary Elizabeth Rose. Ye are the best part of me.” His life, once nearly lost, had begun again with this woman. He needed her more than he knew how to tell her, but he had to try. “I ken ’tis early to say this, but I wish this to be the happiest Yule of yer life, the first of many we share together.”
“I do, too, Cam. Each more filled with love and laughter as the years go by,” Mary replied. “Happy Yule, my love.”