Faceless Angel

MacCormac Warriors Trilogy #1

by LuAnn Nies

Faceless Angel by LuAnn Nies With a threat of civil war, Laird Cameron, Chieftain of the MacCormac Clan agrees to an alliance with Sir Alexander, an English baronet. He accepts the baronet’s daughter as payment in exchange for his protection against a band of murdering thieves terrorizing the Highland’s southern border. However, on his way to retrieve his betrothed, Cam and his army are attacked, and he’s severely wounded and expected to die.

Lady Adriana is averse to her younger sister marrying the notorious mercenary. But when she learns the severity of his injuries, she seizes the opportunity to escape her cruel father by taking her sister’s place and weds the unconscious laird. A deception that could seal her fate and lead to her execution.

Should the laird survive his injuries, she fears he will realize she isn’t the beautiful young obedient bride her father had promised. If offended by his spinster wife and the scars she carries from her past, he could put her to death or send her back to face her father’s harsh punishment.

But if her identity is kept a secret from him until she becomes pregnant with his heir, he might let her live to be a nursemaid to the child. For her own salvation and under the cover of darkness, each night she slips into her husband’s chambers and seduces him. But how long can she keep this deception alive?


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Release Date: June 4, 2024
Genre: Historical Scottish Romance

~ A Pink Satin Romance ~


Chapter One


Castle Corell 1690

Scottish Highlands


Laird Cameron MacCormac, chieftain of Clan MacCormac, ambled out the ancient keep of Castle Corell and drew in a deep breath. The crisp autumn breeze rustling through the nuim trees and mountain ash soothed his tight muscles but did little to alleviate the uneasiness of his forthcoming meeting with the English Baronet, Sir Alexander Boyd. A foreboding sensation hovered in the morning air triggering his senses to full alert. Vigilantly he scanned the inner bailey.

Cam spotted his former brother-in-law, Rory Murdock, and three young recruits standing in the training ring. Scratching his scruffy beard, Cam tossed back his untethered black mane. Taking his time, he trekked down the wide stone steps and strolled toward the fenced in area. There was no reason to hurry; the requested training session wouldn’t take long. There were more important matters at hand like the unexpected visit from the Baronet, Sir Alexander, which required his complete concentration.

As Cam approached the training area, he surveyed the four men, determining each man’s presumed capabilities. One of the men, more of a lad, cleared his throat and retreated two paces, not unlike a startled young stag preparing to bolt.

Cam snickered.

Hugh MacCormac stepped forward and presented Cam with Cam’s double-edged broadsword, which had served Cam well over the years. Holding a wooden targe shield so Cam could slip his arm through the leather straps, Hugh said with an undertone of humor, “Take it easy on the lads. Donae kill them right off.”

Cam eyed his cousin and sneered. “I’ll go easy on them.” Even though he wished this scrimmage was with only his ex-brother-in-law, Cam had no plans to grant Rory or Rory’s men a scrap of clemency.

Graceful as a red deer, Cam jumped over the wooden rails into the training ring. Steam billowed from between his snarled lips as he slashed the air with his sword and taunted them with barbed insults. “Nay a sorrier bunch of tit-suckers I hae ever seen.” He evaluated his four opponents as he edged his way around the training ring. The purpose of Sir Alexander’s forthcoming visit loomed in the forefront of his mind. What did the baronet want from him? Cam tilted his head from side to side and rolled his stiff shoulders in hopes of relieving some tension. Nevertheless, the thought of the English Baronet’s appending arrival twisted his guts into burning knots.

Cam advanced, singling out two of his four challengers. Both men raised their backswords only to stand frozen in the dirt. The men regarded each other apprehensively, neither aspired to be the first to engage their chieftain, the Black Giant as he’d been labeled over the years.

The third man raised his sword and lunged forward, baring his teeth. Cam growled and advanced. The lad raised his targe to ward off Cam’s blow. But Cam’s heavy broadsword struck the wooden shield knocking the lad off balance and sending him careening backward. The fourth man, Rory Murdock, Cam’s former brother-in-law, took advantage of Cam’s position and attacked from the side. Cam whirled out of Rory’s reach. Their swords collided; the menacing sound of metal striking metal pierced the air.

Circling each other they fended off the other’s lethal strikes. Rory sliced his blade at Cam, missing his mark. Cam lunged forward; his sword slashed across Rory’s sword arm. With the tip of his blade, Cam caught the open weaved hilt of Rory’s backsword and flung it to the ground. Enraged, Rory pulled his dirk and lunged forward. The strike deflected off Cam’s targe. Cam struck Rory in the side of the head with the basket-hilt of his broadsword, dropping the man to the ground. “Mon, yer baby sister was a worthier opponent than yerself,” Cam growled at the bleeding man crouching in the dirt like a frightened, wounded dog.

All at once the three other men converged on Cam. Their blades struck his sword and targe; the sound of their skirmish echoed throughout the inner bailey drawing interested onlookers. Within a short time, the three men who’d recently joined the MacCormac garrison were panting and grunting, their sweaty bodies growing weak and weary. Cam easily warded off their unskilled strikes.

Done with this game, Cam delivered several hard blows, sending the men reeling against the rail, leaving them to wonder about their lots in life.

With his opponents momentarily incapacitated, his thoughts returned to Sir Alexander’s impending visit. Did the recent raids on the border clans have anything to do with the baronet’s reason for venturing so far into the Highlands? A messenger arrived earlier, and merely stated Sir Alexander would arrive today, and wished to speak with Cam on an important matter.

Filling his chest with a long, slow breath of cool air, Cam rose to his full height of six feet four inches and readied his stance for another siege. One of the younger lads leaning against the fence, moaned, and slid to the ground. Cam’s cousin and second in command, Hugh MacCormac, and his captain of the guard, Malcolm Haywood, stood beyond the rails of the ring and chuckled at the lad’s dejection. Malcolm reached through the rails and patted the defeated lad’s shoulder. The other two opponents, dripping sweat and exhausted, exchanged a look. They conceded their defeat, dropped their swords, and sank to the ground beside their friend.

Cam turned to face Rory who’d regained his senses and had retrieved his sword. Blood trickled down the side of the angry man’s face and arm. Their eyes locked. The glint in Rory’s narrowed eyes pricked Cam’s suspicion. The desire to finish the man off, then and there, crept forward from a dark area in the back of Cam’s mind.

Recently Cam had heard tales were being spread amongst his clansmen that he was no longer capable of leading or holding the MacCormac clan together. No need to wonder who had started those rumors, he thought. Loathing for his former brother-in-law recharged Cam’s strength. He needed to abolish these falsehoods before someone managed to divide the clan, pinning brothers against brothers, sons against their fathers.

Rory snarled and lunged forward. Cam raised his targe, deflecting the man’s assault. He could smell the man’s blood. His sweat. His hatred and determination.

They faced off, scrutinizing each other as they sidestepped around the training ring. Rory lunged forward. Their swords sliced through the tension, jabbing mere inches from the other’s body. They fought for several minutes, then Cam heard the pounding of horses’ hooves approaching.

Done trifling with Rory, Cam turned his wrist and struck Rory in the jaw with the hilt of his sword. The force of the blow knocked Rory to the ground. Holding his blade out in front of him, Cam stood over the man who lay on his back in the dirt. Leaning forward Cam stated in a quiet growl, “Laird Cameron MacCormac remains yer chieftain. I will continue to hold the clan together. Best heed what I say, mon.”

Dismissing the man, Cam turned away and watched sixty riders enter the inner bailey. Dressed in a grand, purple brocade, wide-cuffed coat with matching knee-length breeches, white silk stockings, and low boots, the Baronet, Sir Alexander made a noble and striking presence. His long, curly black wig and wide-brimmed hat bounced in rhythm with his prancing mount.

Cam slid his sword into his belt and hopped over the rails. As he crossed to stand before the Baronet, Hugh stepped to his right, Captain Haywood stepped in line to his left. “Sir Alexander,” Cam hailed with a smile. “You couldna hae picked a finer day. Welcome to Castle Corell.”

“Laird MacCormac, it is good to see you again.” Sir Alexander’s sharp eyes shot to the training ring then back to Cam’s with a strained expression. “I warrant this is an acceptable time for us to speak?”

“Aye. Just training with some new lads.”

Sir Alexander’s strained features relaxed. “Thank you for receiving me on this day. We have much to discuss.”

“Come inside and wash the dust down from yer long journey with a glass of brandy. I find I enjoy a glass myself after exercising.” He shot a glance toward the ring. “No matter how brief.”

One of Sir Alexander’s thick brows rose, and Cam wondered whether it was due to the mention of his brandy or what he considered mere exercise. The baronet and ten of his guards dismounted, handing their reins over to the approaching groomsmen.

“Yer men can water their horses by the stables, and the ale house is over there.” Cam pointed to a building next to the keep.

Sir Alexander nodded his approval and stepped forward. Cam turned and headed toward the keep; though, he quickly adjusted his stride to accommodate the older and shorter man’s pace. Hugh, Malcolm, and the ten guards followed a few paces behind them. Sir Alexander studied his surroundings as they walked.

Cam kept a wary eye on the baronet as they ambled toward the stone steps to the keep. What were the man’s intentions? Surely, he didn’t plan an attack with only sixty-some-odd men? If more men were positioned outside the barmekin, the alarm would have already been raised.

Once inside the great hall, Cam led his guest to the high table on the dais. Sir Alexander slowed his stride as he inspected the enormous fireplaces positioned at each end of the huge hall, the colorful tapestries, and the extraordinary displays of weapons, which covered the ancient stone walls. Cam’s chest swelled with pride. He had taken his chieftain’s pledge seriously. He’d fought hard to protect what the lairds afore him had built and handed down for his safe keeping.

Cam gestured with a sweep of his hand for Sir Alexander to take a seat at the high table. The baronet’s guards settled at one of the trestle tables below. A tall skinny lad with reddish-orange hair advanced and filled their cups with Cam’s best brandy, while trenchers heaping with cheese, fruit, bread, and a variety of sliced roasted meats were set before them. Cam glanced at the older man who seemed oblivious to the absences of Cam’s second in command and his captain of the guards.

Sir Alexander took a sip of his brandy then set the cup down and turned toward Cam. “I’ll get right to the purpose of my visit, Laird MacCormac. Raiders are plaguing border clans again.” His black curly wig bounced as he shook his head. “The assaults ceased for quite some time, then last month a band of murdering thieves attacked several of my crofters. They not only burned their fields and homes to the ground, many of my crofters’ horses and livestock were either slaughtered or stolen. It’s become unmanageable.”

Cam nodded as he listened to the man’s explanation. He’d heard of a group of vicious thieves, men who supported the cause to see King James returned to the throne. After William of Orangé defeated King James of Scotland in Ireland, James had fled to France. The English, and most likely Sir Alexander, and most of the English borderers, were loyal to their new sovereigns, King William, and Mary II.

Clearing his throat, the baronet continued. “They are not interested in taking prisoners or stock to ransom, they seem intent on killing any living thing they come across. I’ve lost forty good men.” The man’s black wig swung from side to side as he shook his head in disgust. He paused to stuff a piece of roasted pheasant into his mouth.

Cam took a drink of his brandy. So, he’s come to request I send my army to defeat this band of thieves, some who are likely kinsmen.

Settling back in his chair, Cam sighed and gazed out across his servants and clansman who had gathered in the hall. “Do ye ken what you’re asking, mon?”

The Baronet turned and pinned Cam with a frustrated stare. “I’m asking a highly respected and powerful highland chief with one of the largest garrisons to put a stop to these murderers. These men have become too reckless, too dangerous. It has become senseless murder of men and beasts, and destruction of crops.” Sir Alexander’s gaze locked with Cam’s for a few seconds before he turned away and took another drink of his brandy. After a moment, he continued. “I lack a large enough army and the alliances with sizable clans to rise up against this band of killers.”

Cam scratched his beard then rubbed at a pain emerging from the back of his neck. If the raiders continued to attack the borderers, the lords would present their grievances before King William. If William and his army marched toward the highlands, it could easily spark more uprisings, which had quieted down considerably over the past couple months.

“Ye ken the cost will not be cheap,” Cam exclaimed.

The older man’s hand shook as he picked up his cup, taking a sip then setting it down. With his thick grey brows pulled tight together, he added, “I understand. It’s a mighty hardship I am asking of you. Nonetheless, I have lost fields of grain that were counted on to feed my people this winter, valuable livestock, and many men. With winter coming, I’m afraid I’m unable to offer you any amount of coin.”

Cam pushed to his feet. His chair slid backwards and rocked on its back legs before crashing to the floor. He glared down at Sir Alexander. “Ye expect me to transport my army south, a journey which would take many days, then lead them into a fight for no compensation? Ye’ve lost yer mind, mon!” The smaller man bolted to his feet; his head snapping back to stare up at Cam. Never turning away, Cam heard Sir Alexander’s men clambered to their feet, and a couple dozen heavily armed MacCormac men enter the great hall from various arched doorways. The room fell into an eerie silence, every man waiting to see who would draw his weapon first.

The baronet sighed with irritation. “Not for nothing,” he stammered. “I’m willing to offer you my most valued possession, my beautiful daughter, and of course my written allegiance.”

Cam glowered at the man. “I hae no need for yer beautiful daughter. I donae want a wife.” Whatever he had expected the man to offer, a wife was the farthest thing from his mind, and the last thing he wanted.

“Listen to me MacCormac. You are getting older like the rest of us. She’s young and obedient. Has beautiful golden locks and eyes the color of the sky on a bright cloudless day. She will give you many strong sons. Strapping, bonnie lads. Lads to carry on the MacCormac name...to lead your clan when you’re gone from this world.”

Cam leaned forward and scowled at the man. “Ye arenae listening to me, Alexander. I said I donae want a wife.” He turned and began to pace the dais, his heart slamming painfully against his chest. What did he want with another wife when the first had made promises she couldn’t keep? He’d almost lost his mind the night his blessed Blair died, taking his son and heir with her.

He shook his head in hopes of clearing the painful memories away. Cam stopped pacing and drew in a ragged breath. Righting his chair, he sat back down. Sir Alexander exhaled a long breath and nodded to his men, who all settled back onto the long benches.

“She comes with a sizable dowry,” Sir Alexander added, a hopeful thread in his voice.

Lifting his glass to his dry lips, Cam finished off his brandy in one swallow. Sons, his sons. The idea washed over him like a river of warm healing water, filling his mind with encouraging aspirations. The possibility of a son after already accepting the fact of never having an heir overwhelmed him.

Nonetheless, his past haunted him. The anguish of how it felt to have his heart ripped from his chest. He couldn’t go through that again. He considered that this time would be different, he wouldn’t love this woman. If she died after giving him a son or two, it wouldn’t matter. He would have the heirs he required.

He shot Sir Alexander a quick glance. More importantly, if he didn’t make this alliance and didn’t stop this band of murderers, the situation could easily spur the uprisings again, even to the point of a civil war. Too many clansmen had already died in countless battles like Dunkeld and Cromdale. Although those battles were victorious for the cause’s army, many clansmen perished in the Battle of Killiecrankie.

King William’s troops were many and it was unlikely that James would ever return to the throne and be King of Scotland again. It was only a matter of time before the highland clans would be forced to swear their allegiance to King William or be charged with treason and pay the high price with their lives and the lives of their families and clans. An alliance with Sir Alexander at this time could possibly influence other highland clans to lay down their arms for now and accept William of Orange as their King.

Resigned to his responsibilities as chieftain, Cam turned his attention back to the baronet.. A long gradual breath deserted Cam’s body, and he asked, “The lass, she has agreed to this arrangement?”

The baronet threw back his shoulders, his bushy brows dipping deep between his piercing gray eyes. “I stated she’s obedient. She will do what she is told,” the man replied, insulted by Cam’s inquiry.

Cam glanced down at his signet ring and recalled the first time he’d tendered it as his word. Circumstances were different this time. He didn’t want to know anything about this girl, not even her name. There would be plenty of time to get to know her after this was all over and settled. Twisting the ring off his finger, he handed it to the baronet. “This is my oath to ye and yer daughter. I will take her for my wife. My men and I will come and retrieve her. From today on you will hae the protection of Clan MacCormac. I will command a hundred and eighty men to escort ye home.” He shot a look toward Malcolm who nodded and fled the hall.

The baronet exhaled a sigh of relief and placed the ring in his pocket. Pleased, he reached out his hand and the two clasped arms. The man’s expression displayed an air of hesitation, though he nodded and said, “Well done lad.”

They finished their meal in silence, Cam having trouble reining in his thoughts. Several minutes later, Cam led his guest and his men out into the inner bailey and watched them mount their horses. Hugh stood next to Cam, they observed the baronet, his men, three supply wagons, and a hundred and eighty heavily armed MacCormac warriors as they rode out the main gate.

Hugh shook his head; his deep chest trembled when he chuckled.

Standing with his hands on his hips, Cam glanced over to his cousin. “What do ye find amusing in the midst of this mess?”

“Did ye not see the mon make the sign of the cross over his chest before ye walked out?”

Cam’s hand moved to the hilt of his sword. “No, but little good it will do him if he means to deceive me.”



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