I’ve decided to go ahead and give you a part of chapter two of the Highland Stones to whet your whistle! Please, share, comment, reblog, or whatever you need to do to get the word out. May 10th is the intended date of re-release and I’d love to have you all involved!!! If you’d like to review for me and are willing to post your review on Amazon (if Amazon isn’t a brat and removes your review…if so, please post on Barnes and Noble), Goodreads, or any other platform, let me know. I’ll GLADLY send you an ARC. If you would like to become one of my regular reviewers, please fill out this form:
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The old man leaned against the cab playing with his phone as he watched tourists and others arriving on their flights, hoping to take in the beautiful countryside of Scotland. He, however, was waiting on one particular tourist. The rain did not bother him, he lived here all of his life. The smell of jet fuel, diesel, alcohol, and putrid romance bothered him. It distorted the natural state of the countryside.
Once her plane landed, typical Scottish weather welcomed Adeline to its shores. The raindrops felt like stinging pellets on the exposed skin of her arms. I really wish I had brought my umbrella, she thought to herself.
She hailed the cab and hurriedly entered it.
“To Edinburgh, please.” she said to the cab driver.
“Aye. An’ where in Edinburgh, would ya be wantin’ to go, lass?” The cab driver’s Scottish brogue could be detected, but it wasn’t as thick as Adeline believed it should have been. Then again, she thought, it’s not like I’ve ever been to Scotland before.
“Castlebrook Arms Hotel, please.”
The cab driver pulled out onto the road and left the airport. Along the way, he tried to make small talk. Adeline hated small talk, but she would indulge the cab driver—mostly because she loved hearing his accent. It wasn’t as smooth as Sean Connery’s accent, but it was appealing in its own right.
“So, are you here on vacation or business?”
“Sort of both, to be honest. I just received a letter two weeks ago that I got the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“And what opportunity would that be?”
“I’m to be an intern to Dr. Matthew MacStone at the University of Scotland.” Adeline hated to brag, but she reminded herself she should be proud of her accomplishments.
“That is a wonderful thing, I think. Good for you, lass. How does your boyfriend feel about you being so far from home?”
Adeline sighed. She hated when people asked these kinds of questions. Just because she was relatively attractive doesn’t mean she had to have a boyfriend. Why can’t people just revel in her studious nature?
“I don’t have a boyfriend. I would rather read a book than engage in the mindless dance that people perform when they’re dating.”
The cab driver laughed. “Aye, lass! Someone as beautiful as you? Tis a shame, but I’m certain that you will find the one when you desire it. Until then, enjoy my homeland. Scotland has its own magic, you know.”
“Well, this is my stop. I thank you for the wonderful conversation, Mr…um, sir?”
“The name’s Connor MacLiam, miss. Tell you what. Why don’t you just give me a call when you need to go anywhere? I’ll take you on a tour of my homeland one day, if you like.”
Connor MacLiam was a kind, old man. He wasn’t very old, but was about fifty years of age Adeline estimated. He was married; she would come to find, as he proudly talked of his wife Mary and their six bairns, or children. She loved listening to his accent and how sometimes, he would use words that she would have to use context clues to decipher.
“Thank you, Mr. MacLiam,” Adeline said as she took the card he was holding out to her. “I will most definitely call you should I need a cab. I really don’t know if Dr. MacStone will even let me in the field.”
“Well, g’nite to you, lass. If Dr. MacStone should let you have a day off, let me know. No strings.”
Adeline turned as the cab pulled away, taking in the magnanimous monstrosity of the building that stood before her. She wondered if she was at the right place until she saw the sign just above the door. She wondered, at first, how she missed it, but then she looked again at the building that called itself the hotel.
Castlebrook Arms Hotel was not just any modern day hotel. It was a castle. The door of the hotel was carved from the sealed up drawbridge that used to cross the moat that still surrounded it. The entry way was a concrete bridge where the drawbridge used to lay. Nighttime had draped itself across the sky complete with stars behind the castle-turned-hotel. Adeline entered through the grand lobby and was even more impressed with the luxuriousness of the place she would call home for the next four months.
Inside, it was more than your average country girl could imagine. The floors were made of white marble slabs, wildly streaked with gray color and there was a mahogany staircase leading up to the second floor. Climbing the stairs was a solid colored blue velvet rug stretching to the top of the grand staircase where it met with the second floor. Engraved in the wooden rails of the staircase was silver lined Celtic knot-work. In the center of the white marble floor was a grand picture of a silver heart topped with a crown and hands outstretched as if it were holding the heart on a blue circle background.
“May I help you, miss?” asked the man behind the counter. His accent wasn’t as strong as the cab driver’s was, but he still carried a lilt.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I—I think I’m in the wrong place. I’m looking for the Castlebrook Arms Hotel.”
“You’ve found it. We’re not as ritzy as many other places, but we do well enough.”
“THIS is the standard hotel?”
“It is. Many of our hotels, except for the newer Holiday Inns, do business from many of our older castles.”
Adeline was in complete awe of her surroundings.
“Can I help you? Do you have a reservation with us?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Yes, I do. My name is Adeline Bruce.”
The desk clerk’s eyes widened slightly. “Are you of the Highland Bruces?”
“Um, I’m quite certain I have no clue what you’re talking about. I’m from Paxton Falls, Alabama in the United States. I’m just your average southern chick.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Bruce. It is just that your name—well, around here, it’s quite well known. Well, here is your key. Your room is suite 301. You take the lift to the third floor and take a right. You will go to another lift. It leads directly up to your room. Here is your security code. You will be the only one other than the hotel manager who has it, but you still have to approve his entry once you’ve entered. Is there anything else I can do for you, ma’am?”
“No, thank you. Wait—yes, could you set a wakeup call for my room for 8:00 am?”
Adeline was quite astonished by her surroundings and even more amazed by her room once she got inside. It looked like a penthouse suite from a magazine. Squealing with delight, she ran into the bedroom to find a huge king size bed. The quilt on it was a sapphire blue goose-down quilt with a silver letter ‘C’ embossed on the center. She would sleep so soundly tonight.
Adeline would find campus life to be quite hectic in coming days. She had a week before she had to be at the school—a week she would spend sightseeing. She made certain to visit some of the major highlights such as visiting Edinburgh Castle, Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, and so much more. After her seven days of fun was over, however, it was time to buckle down and get to work.
She went to the school and completed her registration. Though Adeline wasn’t interested in dating while attending the school, she couldn’t help but notice the man behind the table was quite handsome.
“Name?” he asked.
“Adeline Bruce,” she said trying to cover her southern drawl. She never noticed how much it stood out until she arrived in Scotland. She often wondered who had a harder time of understanding the other—her or the Scottish.
The man behind the desk shuffled a few more papers, and after finding the ones with her name on it, looked up at her and said, “Welcome to Scotland, Ms. Bruce. I’m Dr. Matthew MacStone, your instructor for your archaeology and anthropology courses.” He extended his hand.
She shook his hand and replied as she had been taught all of her life, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Dr. MacStone. I look forward to learning all that I can.”
“I hope you mean that, because I’m quite intent on teaching all that I can.” He grinned a half-cocked smile that made Adeline question what she was really in for.
Dr. MacStone was an accomplished archaeologist in his own right. Having written many academic papers on various related subjects, he was very well-known. Rather, his reputation as a man knowledgeable in his field was well-known, but the man himself was a mystery.