Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid

By: Suzanne Enoch

Prologue

“What do ye think, Lachlan?”

Her heart pounding, Lady Rowena MacLawry pirouetted in the middle of the Glengask House morning room. All the way from Paris, this gown was. It practically floated on the air, mauve and a deep gray she knew precisely matched her eyes, because she’d spent hours holding up swatches of material to her mirrored reflection until she’d found the perfect charcoal hue.

“What do I think aboot what?” Lachlan MacTier, Viscount Gray, returned from the corner of the room.

“My gown,” she added, trying not to sound plaintive.

He looked up from the game of cards he was playing against her older brother Munro. “Oh. It’s fancy. Are ye having a costume ball fer yer birthday, then?”

Rowena frowned, dropping the folds of the skirt she’d held to show off the lace hems. “This isnae a costume. It’s my new dress. Ranulf willnae tell me if he’s bought me a gown, so I had this one made. I cannae be withoot a new dress fer my eighteenth birthday.”

Munro chuckled. “Gads, Winnie, ye know ye could torch half yer wardrobe and still nae wear the same gown twice in a month.”

“Oh, be quiet, Bear,” she countered, using her brother’s rather appropriate nickname. “A lady must have gowns.”

“‘A lady,’” Lachlan repeated with a snort. Pushing to his feet, he walked over to tug on her long, midnight-black ponytail. “I dunnae think a lady has burrs in her hair.”

She tried to ignore the responding tingle running down her scalp. “I dunnae have burrs in my hair.”

He tugged again. “Nae today.”

“I’m going to put it up fer the party, anyway. Ranulf said we could have four waltzes. Four!”

“Aye?” Lachlan sat again, a strand of his dark brown hair falling across one light green eye as he looked at her. “Best of luck in finding four lads willing to brave the Marquis of Glengask glaring at them like the devil himself.”

Three. She only needed to find three lads, because he would be the fourth. That was how she’d imagined it for months and months. Rowena kept her expression carefully amused. “Ranulf’s my brother; nae my jailer. And he likes ye, Lach. We could waltz.”

“Aye, he likes me. I’m a MacLawry clan chieftain, and I agree with where he’s guiding the clan. And we cannae forget that I bring all the MacTiers to clan MacLawry, and he’s the MacLawry.”

Yes, and Ranulf had become both the chief of clan MacLawry and the Marquis of Glengask at age fifteen, back when Rowena had only been two. The clan was as it had been since her first conscious memory of it. And Lachlan was … Lachlan, eight years her senior and her brother Bear’s closest friend. Handsome as sin and destined to marry her. Except that lately she’d begun to wonder if he realized that last bit.

“It’s more than that, and ye know it.” Rowena gave an exaggerated sigh. “I’ve a mind to go fer a walk through the glen. Would ye care to join me?”

“Nae while Bear owes me five quid,” he returned, picking up another card and then setting it down faceup. “Where’s Arran?”

“In the library, I’d wager,” Bear put in. “He’ll go with ye.”

But she didn’t want to go walking with Arran; yes, he had a better grasp of fashion and proper, gentlemanly behavior than either Munro or Lachlan, but in the end he was her brother, set midway between Ranulf and Munro. The ladies down in An Soadh and Mahldoen whispered that Arran was devilish handsome—though they said that about all three of her brothers—but the simple fact was that he wasn’t Lachlan. “I’ll go on my own,” she announced, and turned on her heel.

Oh, it was so aggravating! There she was, a week shy of her eighteenth birthday, a young lady of both wealth and good education, and fairly bonny if she did say so herself. And the man she meant to marry found playing a dull game of cards more interesting than taking a walk with her. She could likely say she was going to the kitchen pantry to escape through the Jacobite tunnels below Glengask, and Lachlan would only tell her to take a lantern with her. He was supposed to be chivalrous and attentive, not … not interested.

“Ye shouldnae chase him so hard.” A low brogue came from the library doorway as she stomped past it, and Arran emerged to join her march down the hallway. Or she was marching, rather; with his tall frame and long gait it was merely a leisurely stroll for him.

“I’m nae chasing anyone. I’m off fer a walk, and I asked if Lachlan would care to join me.” She scowled. “And why shouldnae he want to? I’m a charming lass, am I nae?”

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