Melissa Mayhue’s Highlanders are one of my favorite books to read. She takes modern day heroes and warriors and sends them through time to help out a damsel in distress. Her next book in the series Warrior Reborn comes out this month so we wanted to share a snippet of it, and the amazing Melissa has given us one!
It felt as if he’d just laid his head on the pillow when Chase awoke to a gentle breeze brushing over his chest. His groggy confusion told him he’d been sleeping deeply, but it did nothing to help him identify the source of the insistent green light flashing in the room.
He sat up and scrubbed his hands over his face, scanning the room for evidence of entry.
His door was closed and he certainly hadn’t left any windows open. It made no sense at all, a breeze blowing in his room like this. No more sense than the brilliant shots of light sparkling around him.
Tossing his covers back, he climbed from his bunk and struggled to stand as the floor heaved under his feet.
“What the hell,” he muttered, completely awake now.
Arms outstretched for balance, he attempted to cross to the door as the floor rolled like an angry sea beneath him. Earthquake? They had them up here, but he’d never experienced anything like this.
He’d barely made it two feet before a gust of wind whipped past him, battering at his bare skin. The lights changed, a brilliant green splattered with a million colored twinkles, sparkling and dancing, shooting around the room like angry shards of rainbow.
A second heavy gust toppled his chair and knocked him from his feet, battering his ears as if with words shouted from afar. He held up his arms to cushion his landing as he fell, but the floor he expected to hit had disappeared.
Instead, he felt himself tossed into the air and slammed forward into an endless void, the incessant chant of “Now, now, now!” ringing in his ears as his mind faded to black.
Northern Highlands, Scotland
Cold gnawed at his skin like a starving animal, and voices buzzed angrily in his ears. Chase struggled to open his eyes but it felt as if his eyelids had been glued shut.
“Best you keep to your saddles, lads, if you value your heads upon your shoulders, that is,” a deep voice said.
The words made no sense. From what Chase remembered before he’d blacked out, he must have been right at the epicenter of the biggest earthquake in Montana’s history. Had rescuers arrived? That had to be it! He needed to let them know he was here.
He struggled to call out to them, but all he could manage was a grunt.
“What’s happened to that one?” another voice asked.
“Set upon by thieves, I’d say. His mount, his weapon, even his clothes are gone. They left him with naught but a nasty bump on his head.” It was the first voice again, filled with authority and tinged with an odd accent. “Could even have been the two of you, for all I know.”
A bump on his head. They were talking about him! They thought him a robbery victim? What was wrong with these guys? There had been an earthquake and…
“Here, now, we’ll be hearing none of that from the likes of you. We’re about our good laird’s business, seeking men to his employ. We’ve no a need to be robbing strangers along the road.”
Chase struggled to move, but couldn’t, and realized that he was bound by some rough cloth as if he were a mummy. Bandages, perhaps?
“And who might this great laird of yours be, this man who seeks to hire strangers to his cause?”
“Torquil of Katanes,” one man said, his voice hushed. “Laird of the MacDowylt.”
At last Chase’s eyes cooperated with his brain’s commands, and opened. Not bandages but a woolen blanket covered him, wrapped around and under him. With a super-human effort, he rolled himself from his stomach to his back, lying still when he finished, unable to do more than breathe through the weakness gripping his body.
“Yer lad over there is moving around.”
“So he is,” the original voice agreed. “Am I correct in assuming we’d be well paid if we were to choose to throw our lot in with this Katanes of yours?”
“For yer service, he offers a full belly and a roof over yer head. He offers a home at Tordenet Castle.”
The original speaker chuckled. “I’m quite capable of finding my own food and shelter, lads. That’s precious little incentive to raise my weapon in battle on your great laird’s behalf.”
“He also offers silver,” a third voice added. “The amount of which will be dependent upon yer usefulness with that weapon you brandish about.”
“Done, then,” the first man boomed. “How do we find our way to this Tordenet Castle of yours?”
“You follow this trail. Two days ride to the northeast and you’ll come upon her. You canna miss her, for she gleams in the sunlight like a white jewel in the distance. Tell the guards that Artur, right hand to Ulfr, sent you.”
“That I will, Artur, Right Hand to Ulfr. Go in peace.”
Chase’s heart pounded as he laid there, his eyes blinking against the light. This was insane. Everything he’d heard was utter jibberish. He needed help, not some bad reenactment of Shakespeare.
“So, you’re back from Hela’s clutches at last. Strong enough to sit up, are you?”
The hand that grabbed Chase’s was massive, fitting for the massive man it belonged to.
“Don’t try to stand yet, lad. Get your wits about you first. You’ve been out for quite some time. How is it you come to be here?”
“Depends on where “here” is,” Chase managed, his voice cracking as he looked around the clearing.
Because wherever here was, it sure as hell wasn’t the least bit familiar.
The big man poked at the campfire with a long stick before he sat down next to it. “Here is an easy day’s ride from the coast. Does that help?”
The coast. How was that even possible?
“Washington?” Chase croaked, reaching out to accept the flask the big man offered. Couldn’t be. That was over eight hundred miles from The Lazy J.
He started to say as much but the drink burned down his throat in a cold rush, shutting off his breath for a moment, leaving him to suck air in between his teeth.
“Not as I’ve heard it called, lad. Pictland it is. Or was, I suppose. Scotland, they call themselves now.”
Scotland? A second drink hung in the back of his throat and he choked, coughing as the big man laughed and reached over to pound on his back.
“Easy, lad. The mead is bit strong, but always good for what ails you.”
He must be dreaming. None of this was possible, no matter how real it felt. The last thing he remembered was standing in his room, in the middle of an earthquake, his skin glowing with that crazy green light like some kind of…
Chase’s mind froze as if he’d taken a slap to the face, an old memory shoving its way to the front of his thoughts.
Green light exactly like his father had always described accompanying a burst of Faerie magic.
Another memory followed on the heels of the first. The pounding chant of now, now, now in those last moments before he’d blacked out.
A thrill of excitement tightened his chest. That shooting star had been a message sent for him, his father’s promise to him fulfilled. He just hadn’t been smart enough to realize it.
“Not an earthquake,” he muttered, lifting the flask to his lips again. Prepared for the burn this time, the heady liquid flowed much more smoothly down his throat, warming his chest and belly. “But perhaps, at long last, where I’m supposed to be.”
His companion took the flask from his hand and tossed back a swallow of his own. “Where you’re supposed to be, I cannot say, only that here is where you are. What are you called, lad?”
“Chase. Chase Noble.” He stuck out his hand to shake. “And you?”
“Halldor O’Donar, at your service.” Halldor rose to his feet, a wide grin lifting his features. “Ah, yes. Noble, it is. By fidelity and fortitude, eh?”
Chase shrugged, having no idea what the big man meant. “It’s just a name.” Though the fidelity and fortitude line did appeal to him, sounding very much like something his father might have claimed.
“That’s an interesting mark you wear upon your arm.” Halldor ran his fingers down his beard, scratching idly like a man who had something more to say. “I’ve not seen its match worn so before.”
Chase had never seen one like it before wandering into that little dive of a tattoo parlor on a whim and letting himself get talked into getting inked.
“Yeah. It was supposed to be something else entirely. But I kind of like it now.
“I carry naught but this one spare tunic,” the big man said, digging in a large leather bag and pulling out a roll of cloth which he dropped in Chase’s lap. “It’ll no doubt be a bit large on you, but it’ll do until we make our way to our new laird’s castle, eh? You can use the plaid there, too. Neither of them so new or fancy, but a sight better than traipsing around in those strange little trews of yours.”
Strange little trews? Chase looked down. His boxers. How perfect was this? Absolutely perfect if you thought like a Fae, with their inherently warped sense of humor. Strand someone halfway across the world in nothing but their underwear. There must be a whole roomful of Faeries laughing their asses off about this one.
Wait. His mind raced in a whole new direction, one that didn’t offer the least bit of comfort. Trews? Laird? Castle?
No, no, no. That would be way too wild, even for Faeries. But it was Faeries, after all, so he couldn’t discount the suspicion.
“Can you tell me the date?”
Halldor paused, the flask halfway to his lips and stared thoughtfully into the sky, his fingers idly scratching at his heavy beard. “Let me think. Winternights has passed but it’s not yet Jul. I’d say we’re in early December, though I’ve lost track of the exact day.”
“Not the day. The year. I need to know the year.” Chase could barely push the words past his lips.
His father had told him of the ancient Fae’s power to manipulate time. But surely those were nothing more than stories of days long gone.
Just like Faeries were supposed to be stories?
Surely they couldn’t. They wouldn’t. Not after he’d faithfully waited for so long.
“Twelve Ninety Four,” Halldor answered, his brow wrinkling in concern. “That blow to your head must have been harder than I thought. Best we find ourselves a healer in the next village we pass and get some herbs to put on that swelling.”
“Twelve ninety four,” Chase muttered. “Twelve freakin’ ninety four.”
They could, they would, and they had.
Damned unbelievable Faeries. His father had been right. Even when they gave you what you wanted, they always had to add their own screwed up twist to it.
Former special ops agent Chase Noble has been searching his whole life for the place where he belongs. As a descendant of Fae, he senses fate has more in store for him. And he will not rest until he discovers what his true purpose is. When he travels back in time to medieval Scotland, he discovers his mission is to save a beautiful woman—the same woman he is destined to be with.
Christiana MacDowlyt possesses the gift of foresight. Prisoner of her evil half brother, Christiana has visions that show her that only one warrior can rescue her—a man she is mysteriously drawn to. The only problem is, he’s in the future. Now she must rely on the magic of a fairy to transport him to the past. And when Christiana finally meets Chase, the sparks between them set off a smoldering desire. But will the magic that brought them together also tear them apart?