The Clan MacLaren #4
Now and Forever
Glynis married Aaron Redding, her beloved captain, and plans to sail the seas with him for the rest of her days. A turn in events reunites Glynis with her brother Ross and his family. Her happiness is short-lived as tragedy strikes at the most unexpected moment.
Ross will do anything to protect his family from the Duke of Essex, John Alder, even if it means crossing the ocean to live in the American colonies. Finding his sister, Glynis, makes everything better. He hopes to find peace in this new country, unaware new challenges await him.
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Genre: Historical Romance
~ Pink Satin Romance ~
“Glynis MacLaren Redding. Aye, ’tis my name, Neptune.” She stared out at the water as she let her hair free from the confines of the wool Monmouth cap on her head. Shaking out her dark locks, Glynis felt the wind take hold and whip strands of hair in every direction. A sense of freedom always filled her soul when she stood one with the ocean.
“And dinna ye forget it, ye watery bastard. Ye and I have had good times and bad, but I am asking ye for smooth sailing since my brother and his family are aboard.” Glynis took in a deep breath of sea air and tasted the salt on her lips. She leaned against the rail of the crow’s nest, her favorite place to be as the sun rose. Each day could be different, and she did not want to miss one. At times the horizon appeared entirely pink or streaked with orange and gold. Usually, a mist would hover over the water and slowly burn off to showcase a glorious day. Certain days she dreaded, when gray clouds gathered and turned the sea the same color, a foreboding warning of what was to come.
Glynis proclaimed today as one of those glorious days. The waves, less than a foot high, gently rocked the ship. A pink sky would soon turn into a brilliant orange and yellow as the sun made its appearance from its watery grave. Glynis chuckled and sank to the floor of the nest where she’d continue to watch the show. She liked to think of the sun rising from the dead each day after the blackness of night had stolen it away.
A voice below signaled she was not alone. Glynis scrambled to her feet and leaned over the railing to see who climbed the ropes. A dark-haired man, his hair plaited in a neat braid down the back of his neck, slowly made his way up the rigging which swayed one way and back again with each move he made. He lifted his head, giving her a dazzling smile, one she never tired of seeing. His emerald eyes twinkled, and he said, “Ye didna think I would come, did ye?”
“Did my husband see?” Glynis peeked over her shoulder.
“No, he is too busy shouting orders.”
“What of yer wife?”
“Busy with the lads.” He had finally reached the crow’s nest, and Glynis scooted over so he could join her.
“I am glad ye chose the breeches and shirt,” Glynis said with a laugh. “I told ye a kilt doesna stay in place with all the wind on the ship.”
“So ye didna want the people on the ship to see my manly parts?” He poked her in the ribs with his elbow.
“Ross! Stop!” Glynis shoved her shoulder into his chest. “I never want to see yer manly parts, and I am sure Juliet doesna want ye showing them to others.”
“Sister,” Ross said as he snuggled closer. “Thank ye for sharing yer special place. I can see why ye like it. Ye can be one with the sea up here, as if ye are alone and not part of down there.” He nodded toward the deck where the crew scurried about doing morning chores. “What were ye saying as I climbed the rope? I couldna hear it all.”
“I prayed to the God of the Sea, Neptune, as I do every morning,” Glynis answered. “Asking for a safe journey.”
“Have ye become a heathen since I last saw ye?” Ross closed one eye. “Praying to gods instead of our one God?”
“Ross,” Glynis said as she narrowed her eyes. “I have not given up my religion. The crew, and even Aaron, prays to Neptune, no matter what their belief. ’Tis a sailor thing to do. Besides, how do we ken what lurks in the sea? Have ye ever seen a mermaid?”
“Och, many times, but they arena mermaids, merely sea cows. Men get cross-eyed after a long journey and sometimes see what they want to see.” Glynis giggled. “But the stories are always fun to hear.”
“I am sure I will hear many stories while on board,” Ross said. “But that isna why ye invited me up here. Ye wanted to speak in private.”
“Ye ken me well, Ross. Juliet has told me things, but I would like a few quick answers from ye.”
“Are ye saying my wife speaks too much? I havena noticed.” Ross chuckled.
“No, ye beef head, I am not saying she rattles on like most women do. ’Tis just…”
“Ye dinna have to explain to me. I ken what ye mean.” Ross looked at her from the corner of his eye. “We should have been the twins.”
“But we are a year apart, so I could be the older and wiser one.” Glynis smirked.
“I will agree, only because we are alone. In company, I will always protest.” He smirked back. “I wish ye could have seen our twin niece and nephew, Glynis.” Ross slowly shook his head. “Two MacLarens if I’d ever seen one. They have our dark hair and green eyes. They were a few days old when we left, and they already had the look.” He wiped under his nose. “I hope to see them again one day.”
“Ye will, Ross. We MacLarens always keep our promises. Ye promised Mum and Da ye would return.” Glynis looked away and sat in silence for a moment. “Ye said they named the girl after our sister, Greer?” She crossed herself. “May she rest in peace.”
“Aye, and the lad is Logan. Named after Da’s older brother who died young.”
Glynis wrinkled her nose as she turned back to face him. “I canna recall any stories about him.”
“No, we never heard of him until the day Da suggested the name,” Ross answered. “Logan will wear the name proudly.”
“It makes four bairns in three years for our younger brother, Duncan.” Glynis squinted as the morning sun rose above the horizon.
“Aye, they have their hands full.” Ross smiled.
“And ye have two lads now. Ye have to tell me how Cowan became yer ward.”
Glynis thought back to the day her sister, Greer, passed away after a long illness. She had asked Ross and Juliet to take in her three-year-old son, Alec, and become his parents if something should happen to her. Her husband, Ewan, had been killed in the 1715 Uprising that autumn, and Greer wanted to be sure Alec had someone to look after him, although their family would have been up to the task. Ross agreed, assuring Greer she had many more years to live and enjoy her son. But things took a turn for the worst. A few months after asking her brother to be her son’s guardian, Greer had died. Maybe her sister had known something the rest did not. After three years of marriage, Juliet had yet to conceive and doted on Alec as if he were her own. Now, they had another child to look after and call their son.
“Wee Cowan, our cousin...” Ross said as he poked Glynis. “Are ye listening or with yer own thoughts?”
“Sorry, I did get lost in thought for a moment. Aye, I want to ken about wee Cowan. Although he is not so wee anymore. He told me he turned ten.”
“I am sure Alec piped in he would be six in December.” Ross laughed.
“He did, even though ’tis April.”
Ross exhaled and stared out over the water. “The lad...Cowan saved my life,” he whispered.
Glynis sucked in a breath and made a noise in her throat. “Well then, I will have to thank him.” She took Ross’ hand. “I have a feeling this had something to do with his high and mighty self, His Grace, John Alder, the Duke of Essex. He has barely worn the title, his poor Da hasna grown cold in his grave...” Glynis let out a long breath of air. “And he has already used the position to do evil deeds.”
“Ye are right, sister. John Alder is the reason we make this journey. We didna have much time to explain what happened when we saw ye in Crail, or tell ye why Cowan traveled with us, but let us just say, we are both in hiding.”
“Ye havena told me what the lad did, Ross. And what happened to ye?” She punched his arm. “Why does it take ye so long to get to the point?”
“The point is painful, dear sister.” Ross rubbed his bicep. “And so is that punch! Ye have stronger arms now ye climb these ropes.”
“All right.” He chuckled. “John Alder, our dear English friend and nobleman,” he said in a sarcastic tone, “canna leave Juliet alone. I ken he once loved her, and she thought she cared for him but that was back in England, years ago. He canna accept the fact she married me and wanted to stay in Scotland. Any reasonable man would accept the end of a relationship with dignity, but not him. He took her away when I was fighting in the Uprising, and ye and I had to rescue her. John didna care she was married. He planned to pay a judge for a divorce. Luckily for Juliet, he was called away to fight in the last battle. Ye ken the rest, sister. We climbed into her room in the middle of the night to rescue my wife and take her home. Ye would think John would give up.”
“He hasna? I remember when he sent his friend, Edward Coward, to check on Juliet.” Glynis exhaled. “I had hoped Edward would convince John that Juliet wanted to live at Glenhaven.”
“Aye, but when we returned from Crail after seeing ye off to America, Duncan told me John had been at the castle.”
Glynis pounded a fist into her hand. “Has the man gone mad?”
“Mad or obsessed or perhaps verra cunning, sister. He still wants her. I made the decision to leave Scotland to protect us all.” Ross glanced down at the deck. “Especially Juliet. She has been through so much the past few years.” He bobbed his head. “There she is, setting up our breakfast. I should go to her.”
Glynis spotted her sister-in-law at one of the tables, chestnut hair pulled back in a braid, wearing a simple blue linen dress, which matched her eyes. She looked beautiful even from a distance. Her kindness outshone her beauty, and Glynis was grateful to have her back in her life. “Go, but first, ye big beef head, tell me how did ye get yerself arrested?” She lifted the MacLaren eyebrow, a trait all the siblings learned from their mother.
“How did ye ken I’d been arrested?” Ross lifted a brow in return. “Och, ’tis a stupid thing I did. Alder requested to be stationed at Fort Augustus, a half-day’s ride from Glenhaven, close to Loch Ness. General Gage oversees the fort and didna need another commanding officer, yet he greeted him with open arms. I suppose the money and support Alder offered helped. The general has plans to build a town around the fort. The money would be quite useful. John is building a home near the fort, Essex Manor of Scotland he calls it. The bastard told Juliet she and Alec would live there one day.”
“Alec? God’s teeth! The man has gone mad.”
“He may have or may have not. I thought if I let him arrest me, it would satisfy him. He had been trying to provoke me into a fight since he arrived in the Highlands, so I started one myself. Instead, he charged me with treason and said he had a witness to prove I fought with the Jacobites.” Ross snorted. “Alec.”
“Alec was four at the time.” Anger welled up inside her. “The bloody bastard.”
“Aye, he is. What I thought would be a week in jail turned into months. Wee Cowan, our cousin and Da’s favorite spy, found me working at the manor, digging out rocks in the field, and brought me home. I hid until the first snowfall, all the while planning to leave at the first sign of the spring thaw.”
“Ye thought it best to visit Heather and Jamie in Perth Amboy.” Glynis nodded. It made perfect sense to her. “And hoped to find me?” she asked.
“My youngest sister is thrilled we are coming, and I hoped she would ken something of yer whereabouts. I didna think I would find ye myself aboard the verra ship that would take us to the colonies.” Ross nudged her. “I am going to breakfast, come with me.”
“I have more questions than before, but aye, let us go. I will meet ye at the table later if I can. Dinna forget supper in the captain’s quarters later.” Glynis stood, shook out her arms, and rolled her neck. “Ye first.” She studied the deck below as she waited.
Two boys chased a third, making her smile. Poor Noah canna get away from my nephews. He willna admit he likes it even though he says he doesna. Cowan and Alec look up to him.
Noah had been part of Captain Aaron Redding’s life long before she met him. Aaron took responsibility for the boy after his mother died. Glynis liked the fact they made a quirky family and looked upon Noah in a motherly way.
Her gaze traveled along the deck toward the quarterdeck, a few steps up from the main one. Mathias, the second officer, stood behind the ship’s wheel while he spoke with Miguel, Aaron’s uncle, a typical start to the day.
Glynis’ eyes moved to the door leading to the captain’s cabin under the quarterdeck. Aaron stood tall and proud in his uniform blocking the entryway. His black tricorn hat sat artfully on his head, mostly covering his short brown hair. She could feel his piercing blue eyes cut through her as he gazed up at the crow’s nest. The look said he wanted her to come down, never liking the fact that she climbed all over the ship. He’d reluctantly agreed she could do as she pleased as part of their marriage agreement. She would not wed him if he had declined.
“Glynis!” Ross called from below after landing on the deck. “I will see ye soon.”
“I will be there after I change,” she answered, then skillfully made her way down the rigging and hopped onto the wooden deck.
“Glynis!” Noah startled her, appearing out of nowhere. “Aaron is waiting.”
“I ken he is. I saw him,” she mumbled then gave the boy a smile. “Ye are enjoying my nephews?”
“I guess.” He shrugged. “At least Cowan is close to my age and can do as I do. Even though Alec is young, he is strong for his age. I do not mind him.” He wrinkled his nose. “Are ya sure Alec is from Scotland and yer kin? The boy speaks like his mum, the English woman.”
“Aye, he is my kin.” Glynis laughed. “I dinna ken how it happened, Noah.” She shrugged. “He will fit in well when we get to the colonies, dinna ye think?”
Noah nodded. “Yer family will be surprised when they arrive in Amboy. So many accents and languages.” He closed one eye. “Are you looking forward to seeing yer sister, Heather? I liked her and Jamie.”
“I havena seen her in almost two years. She willna be happy about me staying away for so long. But, aye, I canna wait to see her and the bairns. Jamie too. I will stay with her while Aaron sails south. When ye return from the trip, we will stay on for the summer.”
“All in the same house?” Noah asked. “If I remember, the house is not large enough for all of us.” He made a face.
“No, ’tis not. Ye can stay on the ship with Miguel.”
“And the rest of the crew?” Noah’s eyes lit with excitement.
“Anyone who wishes to stay, can live on the ship. Aaron always gives the crew shore leave. Whoever wants to return to London will meet us in Boston.” Glynis was confident of the crew’s loyalty and stability. Aaron never went to prisons to find extra hands or asked along the docks for help. He treated and fed his men well then let them make their own choices once ashore. If he needed to add to the crew before they returned to London, he would place a post in the Boston newspaper and hang signs in the taverns by the dock.
“Speaking of Aaron.” Noah cocked his head in the direction of the quarterdeck.
“Glen!” Aaron’s bright blue eyes locked onto hers as he walked toward them, and her stomach flipped as it always did when he used her pet name. “Are you changing out of your breeches before breakfast?”
“I am.” She sank her teeth into her bottom lip. “Will ye be coming with me to the cabin?”
“I thought you would never ask.” Aaron offered his arm and escorted her to their cabin door.
“I have missed ye so,” Glynis said when they entered the apartment.
She never tired of their retreat, the grand room so handsomely decorated by Aaron. He had made it his own with rich mahogany furnishings and framed navigation maps hanging on the wood-paneled walls. Every inch of space was well thought out. A cushioned bench had been built over a small bookshelf which ran along the floor of the room. A strip of wood held the books in place for when the seas were rough. He’d placed a luxurious feather bed at the back of the cabin in an alcove surrounded by small windows.
“Missed me? I do not understand.” Aaron crossed his brow as he turned her to face him. “We see each other every day and sleep in that bed.” He gestured with his head to the stern of the ship. “Every night.”
“’Tis what we do, Aaron. Sleep!” Glynis poked his chest. “And ye hardly get any. Ye are in our bed a few hours at the most.”
“Glen darling, you know I am busy when we first leave port. The passengers require my attention, new crew members need my assurance, and I have to be watchful for pirates. We have been able to avoid them since your first crossing.” He smiled, looking so boyish and handsome Glynis had to kiss him.
“What was that for?” Aaron laughed. “I thought you were upset with me.”
“Not any longer.” Glynis pulled her linen shirt over her head, exposing her shift tucked into her breeches. She undid the front of the pants, letting them fall to the floor as she stepped out of her shoes. “Now ye.”
“Glen, I have to go above. The men are waiting.”
“Pftt, the men arena waiting on ye. Miguel is there.” Glynis began to unbutton his captain’s coat. She slid her hands inside, massaging his chest while she skillfully undid his shirt.
“I think you just like to undress me.” Aaron shook his head and grinned.
“I do.” Glynis placed her lips on his bare chest and kissed him down to the top of his pants. She felt his hands pull her up to him, and he walked her backwards to their bed.
“I really should...” Aaron laid her down gently as she pushed off his jacket and shirt.
“Aye, ye should.” Glynis gave him a wicked grin. He would not get away this time. She had been spoiled during their winter in London having him all to herself. Now she had to share him with others and found it hard.
Glynis ran her hands up and down his well-muscled arms. “Hold me,” she whispered.
“First.” Aaron slipped his hands under her shift. “This has to go.”
Glynis wriggled out of the cotton covering and scooted closer to the windows to make room for her husband. She rolled to her side and stared at the ocean. “I never tire of looking at it.”
Aaron’s arm slipped around her waist and his head rested on her shoulder. “You make me so happy, my darling. I never thought I would find a wife with the love of the sea. Please, Glen, turn and kiss me.”
“No,” Glynis shook her head. “Stay like this…with both of us looking out over the sea.” She shivered as she waited for his touch, thinking life could not be any better than at this moment.