The Scottish Highlands, 1899. A life altering event led Catrina Davies to hide from her family and society. Alone in The Highlands she exists in a lonely world cared for only by her saviour, a kind old gentleman.
When she receives a surprise visitor, Travis Millard, the man she used to love, her head and heart are thrown into turmoil. Travis is determined to save her from this poor life and return her to her family where she belongs. No one is more surprised than he when she agrees to marry him.
When Catrina arrives back at her family estate, Davmoor Court in Yorkshire, she is stunned to see the changes. While her father clings to life, Davmoor is nearly ruined by her brother’s gambling obsession, and there is something strange about his new wife.
As Catrina adjusts to her regained position in society and being with Travis, her marriage comes under attack from Travis’s grandmother, who has her own secrets and reason for loathing the Davies family.
When one of her brother’s adversaries comes to stake his claim on the estate, the resulting chaos threatens not only Catrina’s home, but the very lives of those she loves the most. Can she find the strength to fight once more for the right to be happy?
Catrina allowed her shawl to slip further down from her shoulders while she gathered wildflowers. The warmth of the sun, so rare in this part of the world, peeked out between scattered clouds, caressing her back. Spring in the highlands was late this year and if she’d been forced to spend another day inside the house she’d go mad.
From the height advantage on the side of the mountain, she could see for miles. Before her lay a carpet of heather and wildflowers of purple, yellow and green, which covered the steep rugged slopes down to the valley and the close-knit hamlet she rarely visited. In the distance, snow still capped the highest peaks, giving the air a clear, bracing feel. Catrina breathed in deeply and smiled. The end of winter always signalled renewed energy and her body simmered with the need to run and skip, to remember the girl she once was. Then she frowned, she’d never be that girl again. How could she after all that had happened?
Turning, Catrina spied her maid, Lettie, clambering up the incline, her brown skirt hitched in one hand. She waited until Lettie was close enough so she didn’t have to shout. “What is it?”
“You’ve a visitor, Miss.”
“Nay, I would’ve said if it were him.” Lettie paused to take some deep breaths. “Why do you walk so high up? Mad it is, total madness.”
Ignoring Lettie’s mutterings, Catrina headed back towards the cottage nestled in a hollow half way down the mountain. “Is it someone from the village?” She worried, wondering who would come to her door. She never had visitors. Side-stepping an outcrop of lichen covered grey rock, she looked towards the cottage wishing she could see through the thick stone walls and know who was inside.
“No one from the village.” Lettie stumbled down the sheep ruts behind her. “It’s a gentleman.”
Catrina jerked to a halt and Lettie nearly tripped into her. “A gentleman?”
“Why did you not say so immediately?” A shiver of anxiety flickered through her body. “He’s not lost perhaps?”
“No, he asked for you by name, so there’s no need to look at me like that, Miss. It’s not my fault, I was a bit shaken hearing the knock at the door. Nobody comes to the cottage, but Mr Henley, and I knew he weren’t due to arrive for a few days yet.”
Catrina was both apprehensive and curious as to who had arrived. No one knew she lived here, except for those in the village and none of the males down there could be classed as a gentleman. She hurried over the small rises and dips that years of harsh weather had carved into the mountain, wanting for once that she lived on level ground. After flinging open the small wooden gate in the walled garden behind the cottage, she weaved between the vegetable beds that she worked on earlier. At sunrise she’d been up digging and planting the beds ready for the summer crops. Geese honked out of her way, offended by the intrusion.
At the back door she hesitated, puffing, and glanced at Lettie. “Did he say nothing at all?”
“Only that he wished to see Miss Catrina Davies.” Lettie opened the door, which led into the stone floor scullery and then through to the small, yet comfortable kitchen, which was her domain. Lettie turned in the act of taking her apron down from the hook on the wall. “I must say he seems very…important. Do you think he’s come from your old home?”
Catrina flinched. She’d had no contact with her family for three years. She slowly pulled out the pins securing her straw hat. It wouldn’t be someone from home, surely? How would they know where to find her? Unless something had happened to Hugh...
Seeing her concerned face, Lettie patted her arm. “Nay, Miss, don’t worry. It might be something and nothing.” She smiled, her plump cheeks dimpling. “Go on through and I’ll set a tea tray.”
Summoning her courage, Catrina slipped off her shawl, tidied her hair and smoothed down her skirt of light green and white stripe. On impulse, after washing off the dirt from the garden this morning, she had dressed in one of her best day dresses, as her way of welcoming the fine weather and the hope of spring. She was thankful she at least looked suitable for visitors, even if she didn’t feel it.
From the kitchen, Catrina stepped down the narrow dark hall to the front sitting room. Her footsteps faltered in the doorway as movement near the fireplace caught her attention. A tall man, dressed in dark trousers and a long black coat stood with his back to the door. On the chair by the window sat his hat and gloves. This touch of manliness was foreign. The only man to have been in this room for years was Hugh Henley. She glanced around the room once more to check if anything else was different, but nothing showed out of the ordinary. Her embroidery lay on the side table, a handkerchief on top of the book she’d been reading last night.
Suddenly the gentleman turned around to face her. Catrina stood rigid, shocked. Travis. He was here. Her focus dimmed and all went black.
Dimensions: 203 x 133mm
Page Count: 209