Kilt by Love

 


55,000 Contemporary Category Romance

 

Chapter 1

 

     Can I show you photos of my sixteen grandchildren?”

     Sasha Nolan nodded, and then rubbed her sleeve over the dusty windows of the Silver Trails tour bus.

After losing her job in the states, she spent most of her savings taking her dream vacation to Scotland. What she hadn’t planned was spending the two-weeks on a bus full of senior citizens.

     Crossing her legs she listened to Frances weave stories about when she was young. The woman reminded Sasha of her own Grandma, but Frances had much more spunk left in her.

It wasn’t that Sasha was having a miserable time, it was just turning out different than she’d fantasized about for so many years.

     Scotland was a lush backdrop with a marvelous historical past. That she was seeing. But being surrounded by seventy-plus year olds day and night made her chances slim in having a Scotsman take her mind off her problems.

The men on the twenty-seat bus had taken her under their wing, and were making sure her dignity was protected, glaring at any man who was younger than they were.

Great. She’d spent her life being cautious. Now, for the first time she tried to be spontaneous, wanting to be a carefree, wanton woman, and it was going nowhere.

     Her original plan was to find what Scotsmen wore under their kilts… first hand. A few nights with a hot Celtic God was all she asked. But with thirty-five Grandpas trailing after her she might as well be wearing a chastity belt.

But Sasha was questioning her plan before it ever began. Would a few nights of hot sex solve her problems? A man would only provide a temporary diversion. Sooner or later she was going to have to face reality. She’d blown her savings, was out of a job, a thousand miles from home, and couldn’t even get laid.

     Sasha dropped her face in her hands and rubbed the pounding sensation in her temples.

     Suddenly the bus pitched, and everyone screamed. It swerved and skidded, tilting from side to side. Sasha grabbed for Frances’ arm, terrified the older woman might fly off the seat.

     Water bottles and canes sailed through the air tumbling into the aisle. A high pitch squeal of breaks was followed by   the smell of burning rubber.

     Sasha pressed her back against the seat, closed her eyes, and tensed for the crash. She also waited for her life to flash before her eyes… nothing happened. She guessed it was because she’d never experienced enough of it to matter. She’d lived enough life for a flicker, but definitely not a flash.

     The bus tipped again, accompanied by the sounds of crushing gravel, as the wheels fought to catch hold. Just when Sasha was sure the bus would flip on its side, it righted itself and bounced to a stop.

     Her heart continued to beat a staccato rhythm in her chest.

     “Did we hit something?” Frances asked, barely above a whisper.

     Sasha opened her eyes, fear replaced with concern.

“Are you alright?” she said turning to Frances. When the woman nodded, Sasha stood on shaky legs, and looked around at the other passengers. “Is anyone hurt?”

     Pale wrinkled faces turned to look her way.

     “I think we’re all right,” Ernie, one of the older members on the tour said over the murmur of voices. He blew out a long breath. “A bit shaken, but all right.”   

Angus, the bus driver, flipped his phone closed. Slowly standing, he slid his grey wool cap off his head, and ran a meaty forearm over his brow.

“A front tire blew. I checked them before we left. I don’t know how it could have happened,” he said, shaking his head, obviously shaken. “I’ve called for help from town, and they’ll be sending a doctor out. Everyone stay seated until they arrive.”  

 “Goodness,” Frances exclaimed. “That gave me quite a start.”

“There’s nothing like an adrenaline boost to begin your afternoon with a bang.” Sasha patted Frances’ arm. Rising, she moved up the aisle.

Everyone said they were fine, but Sasha wanted to make sure no one was hurt. She didn’t have formal medical training, her background was in event planning, but hopefully she could spot anyone who was experiencing any serious medical problems.

The front doors of the bus opened, and Angus disappeared outside. Sasha tried to see out the windows, but the heavy layer of dust from the road made it difficult to see what was going on.

Minutes passed until Angus finally came back, brushing off his hands. “Nothing too serious folks. I’ll be able to get it fixed and we’ll be on our way again in the morning. The castle MacTavish is our next stop, and they’ve offered to come and take us in groups to the inn.”

Sasha patiently waited as everyone filed off the bus. Stooping to pick up wayward items, she reached for her backpack and tossed it over her shoulder.

She hadn’t remembered seeing anything about the Castle MacTavish. Maybe it was a bonus, added in at the last moment.   

Trying to catch a glimpse of Frances out the front window, Sasha began her decent down the steps of the bus. Feeling her foot catch, all that escaped her mouth was a startled squeak before she tumbled forward. She heard a deep umph, as she stopped short from hitting the dirt.

At first, all Sasha saw was a black t-shirt. Large, male hands grasped her upper arms, as he sat her back on her feet. Standing a half-foot taller she had to crane her neck to look him fully in the face.

 He had the most amazing green eyes she’d ever seen.

“You never know what will fall your way, do you now? Watch your step, lass. You made it through the bus mishap, let’s not have you break anything now.” A crooked grin put dimples in his rugged cheeks. “The name’s Allister,” he said, in a thick Scottish brogue.

      He was tall, handsome, and young. The moment he took her hand, wrapping his fingers around hers, Sasha felt electricity shoot up her arm. Quickly pulling her hand free, she shoved it in her pockets.

     “Are you here to fix the bus?” Sasha’s fingers combed her messed hair, pushing her glasses up her nose.

     “No, I just got the call Angus needed help.”

     Sasha eyed him up and down. His well defined chest helped cushion her fall, and for that she was grateful. Coppery disheveled hair curled around his strong face. Her gaze fixated on full lips, making her think they would be perfect for slow, open mouthed kisses.

     Snapping her thoughts back, her cheeks flushed. “You’re not the doctor are you?” Looking down again, Sasha eyed the tartan kilt hanging an inch above muscled calves. The bold red and black plaid, she assumed, woven in his family’s tartan.

     “No, not that either.”

What Sasha had been thinking slipped out of her mouth, “Too bad, you look like you would be great playing doctor.”

Allister shot her a quizzical look. Hopefully the innuendo had been lost in translation. She had never successfully learned to flirt. Men were never that interested in her to try out the skill. The way Allister looked, she was sure he’d been hit on by women who were experts.  

 He flipped his head toward the side of the road where a cluster of seniors were gathered. “Doctor Robertson is looking over them.”

     A man in his mid-fifties was pressing a stethoscope to Ernie’s chest, and nodding his head to something Ernie was saying.

     “Well…” Allister looked past her, distracted.  “Watch your step. There are lots of stones on this path. I need to get back with Angus.”

     So much for the fantasy. The most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on just dismissed her as a klutz. Which she was. Sasha tried not to groan.

     Why couldn’t she be the woman who never wavers walking on four-inch heels, and who would never be caught dead falling out of a bus. Who falls out of a bus? Oh yeah, she did.

     Here was her big moment with Allister-Mac-Dreamy, and he hadn’t given her a second glance. It was no different in Scotland than in Seattle.

Scuffing her foot in the dirt she stood next to the two crouching men. Pulling a water bottle from her backpack, she downed a deep drink before stuffing it back in the pouch.

     Allister and Angus were surveying the front tire of the bus.   

     “Looks like a nail,” Angus said pressing against the rubber with the palm of his hand.

     “How did a nail get out here?” Allister asked glancing up the rural gravel road.

     Something in the ditch off to the side caught Sasha’s eye. Moving toward it, she lifted the box, and rattled it in her hand. “What about this? It’s a box of framing nails.”

     Allister came towards her frowning, taking the box from her grasp. He opened the lid and shook a pile of three inch nails into his hand.

     Angus came to stand beside him. “They must have fallen off a truck.”

     Allister shook his head. “There’s no new building going on within twenty miles of Kirkshire.”

     “Do you know everything that’s going on?” Sasha began to laugh, but it caught in her throat when she saw the stern look on Allister’s face.

     “As a matter of fact I do,” he said coolly.

     “And there are no outside trucks allowed on your roads… because its, what, Brigadoon?”

     Allister began to reply, but Angus laid a hand on his shoulder. “The lass is probably right. Don’t read more into this, son, than there might be.”

     Shaking his head, Allister turned and strode off. Grabbing a few suitcases off the storage compartment of the bus, he flung them in the back of his jeep.

     “I can take three at a time to the bed and breakfast in town where you’ll be staying for the night.” Opening the side door he helped Frances and two others into the jeep, and then slammed it closed. Shooting a look over his shoulder at Sasha, he jumped in, gunned the motor, and drove off.

     “What has him wound so tight?” Sasha asked, shrugging her shoulders. “I was only kidding.”

     “It’s not you.” Angus said, shoving his hat in his back pocket. “Allister’s been having problems with a local clan who is trying to force him to sell them a portion of his land.”

     “No one wants to be forced into anything. I can see why he’s upset.” Sasha agreed, hooking thumbs in the belt-loop of her jeans.

     “Allister just became the laird of Kirkshire.”

     “Laird?” Sasha had heard the word, but didn’t understand the meaning.

     “He owns the ground you’re standing on. Recently his uncle named him the executor of MacTavish Estates which is xx acres and the town. But unfortunately, this gift came with huge debt. If Allister can’t figure out a way to bring in money, he’ll be forced to sell. Hundreds of people will lose their homes and their jobs and local businesses will close, not to mention losing the castle which has been in his family for generations.”

     “That’s terrible,” Sasha remembered the look on Allister’s face when she’d found the nails.

     “What’s worse, he suspects the McDougals for being behind the recent accidents on the grounds. He thinks they are trying to scare tourists away, and along with it any hope of him recouping funds owed to the bank.” Angus sighed. “But if the McDougals are willing to go to the extent of harming of bus full of innocent elderly people, then I’m afraid what they’ll try  next.”