Family has to be resolved and wrongdoings undone. Love recognised, accepted and returned. Then, only then, can life move forward. Or can it?
Baird Drummond is the only one who can help his ancestors correct wrongdoings after Culloden.
Now, centuries later, he’s the one who appears to be learning what life has in store for him, and he’s not happy about it at all.
A teacher exchange to Wanaka in New Zealand? He’s all for that. Until he gets told the Wanaka Tree is important to his family—but not why.
Or why his new landlady isn’t overjoyed to meet him.
It’s not that restaurant owner Helena actively dislikes him—she suspects it’s anything but. However, she has enough on her mind without considering whether she might have a future with Baird.
Like people appearing in front of her who aren’t really there, youths wondering if she’s worth robbing, and a dishwasher with a mind of its own.
With each other’s help, they can thwart the potential robbers and solve the mystery of Baird’s heritage. Then and only then can they look forward to the future.
General Release Date: 13th June 2023
It was the dream again. He hadn’t had it for ages.
Not since his younger sister had chosen her destiny and soon after a voice had told him—“Now, it is you. You—you and yours—are our destiny. Without you all is lost.”
Not a very comfortable pronouncement.
He tossed and turned. Why did he never see her face?
He might not be truly awake but he knew. How even as he caressed her, took each sweet nipple tightly into his mouth and nibbled and teased, his body sang with the sheer sensation of her nearness.
She sighed, shuddered and moaned… “Please, now…” Emboldened, he sank deep inside her and together they rode to fulfilment. Shouted as they climaxed. Together. As he heard her sob his name.
“My lover. My life.”
“Come to me, let us plight our troth. Be as one and let the piper rest in peace.”
Where was she? Who was she? Always, her features were blurred. Out of focus. Denied to him.
Baird touched his tiny dolphin tattoo as if for reassurance and strove to understand why he was being contacted. Being shown what might happen. Why now?
His two sisters were settled, it was true, but he’d always been the one who had been told his destiny was different. He’d gone his own sweet way and never been pulled up.
Until that moment.
Why now? He was contented as he was. In his work, his rest and… And…
“You don’t know her, but you will. She is your destiny. Your life. Or is it her end? Her time to depart this life?”
Baird muttered something and strove to wake up. If indeed he was asleep. Sometimes he had no idea. What was his purpose?
“It is her. She is your purpose, your direction, your salvation.”
A glimpse of long, blonde hair—hair as yellow as the broom that blossomed in spring. An arm cleaving through water, a… He squinted. A dolphin? Like mine. In his mind he traced the tattoo.
“It is a sign.”
Was that positive or negative? He swore he could hear her laugh, splash water and shake her head as the droplets sparkled in the sun. It could be anything, for all he knew. Baird strove to see more. A bad move. The vision faded.
And he still didn’t know her features.
He’d thought his life was mapped out—plenty of time before he was called to the fore. He worked, he went home. He dug his garden, planted veg, cussed the midges, enjoyed the fruits of his labour and made reasonable home-brewed beer, sloe gin and cider. He rarely socialised and liked it that way.
Silence was his solace, noise an unwanted necessity.
His private life was just that. Limited, very limited—and extremely private. The few relationships he’d had tended to be short and not always sweet. Hearing someone say he never bothered about splashing his cash and was hot in bed but never wanted to go out, so he was a boring old fart, wasn’t good. Even if he had to admit to the boring part. The hot in bed he’d taken the girl’s word for. He had nothing to compare that with! Except for hearing otherwise at times. Each to their own ideas of what was good and what wasn’t.
However, what had been even worse was when someone had muttered she didn’t want to write her shopping list three times over. Did that mean he went on too long, or indulged in too much foreplay and didn’t hold their attention? Touched the wrong bits in the wrong way? Baird had no idea. He supposed it was better than hearing they knew they’d only have one minute forty-five or whatever and that meant they hadn’t finished the veg aisle in their minds?
Better not to know.
All that in Baird’s life tended to mean very little play of any description, unless you counted a game of so-called football with a lot of eager but not particularly talented thirty-something males from the surrounding area. Something which gave him tired legs and an assortment of bruises, and took a lot more of his energy as well.
Trying to block noises, people, things from his mind required a lot of effort, even though he’d done it for years. Sometimes things sneaked in. Like the boring fart comment. Others could on occasion be helpful…"the fucker’s gonna try and score from the left"…which meant he could get into position to foil him. Or the opposite…"wonder who’s got some haemorrhoid cream…” He hadn’t, and for a good while after he could hardly look the bloke who’d thought it in the eyes. Then the time he couldn’t help but hear a couple breaking up, and the bloke had plotted murder and, gods help him, Baird had thought the guy had meant it. That had led to an anonymous phone call to the local police. Were things like that the reason why he often thought his gift was a curse as well as a blessing?
As for the rest? His family, his heritage…his future? He had thought all he could do was watch. Be there. Wait and let it play out.
Because that was the only arena in which he couldn’t make himself hear what was being said. He heard what his gods wanted him to, no more, no less.
He accepted it was complicated. That things had gone up a level and like it or not—
”It is your time."
“You’ve said that already. A few hints might be helpful.”
The silence went on for so long, Baird thought he wouldn’t receive an answer. Then he heard one word.
“Wanaka.” An exasperated sigh reverberated around his mind. “Wanaka. Remember it.”
The only thing he knew about Wanaka was that his sister Marcail and her husband spent half of each year there, and the Wanaka Tree was famous because it was in the lake and had grown from a fence post.
He didn’t know how things would go, just that there was about to be change. Change, he had an uncomfortable feeling, that he would neither want nor like, but reluctantly accept.
For years, for centuries, his ancestors had understood that one day, she—that special someone—would come back. That then and only then could the piper be given peace and all debts be paid in full.
Since Culloden, nobody had known when, how or where. Not even which one of them would be chosen or why.
But it would happen and without it, without the circle competed, his family would never be whole again.
They knew—each and every one of them—that someone was waiting for them and them alone. That there was only one person for them each, but who it was and when they would meet was unclear. As was who would accept them as they were. With all their gifts.
Love, fulfilment and life.
Baird had accepted it might happen. And that somehow he might be the one to end the curse or whatever it was that to finish and bring closure.
Clear as mud really.
His sisters were settled with the people who were their mates, their chosen ones, though he couldn’t see how it could happen for him. Where did he go to meet anyone? Home, school, the village shop when he had to. The bulk of his deliveries came via van and he blocked off the driver’s mental comments about having to navigate his rutted drive.
Please don’t let it mean I’ve got to socialise.
The sounds of the pipes came to him.
“Remember, this is destiny.”
Somewhere, somehow, he heard sobbing.
After 30 plus years in Scotland, Raven now lives near the east Yorkshire coast, with her long-suffering husband, who is used to rescuing the dinner, when she gets immersed in her writing, keeping her coffee pot warm and making sure the wine is chilled.
With a new home to decorate and a garden to plan, she’s never short of things to do, but writing is always at the top of her list.
Her other hobbies include walking along the coast and spotting the wildlife, reading, researching, cros stitch and trying not to drop stitches as she endeavours to knit.
Being left-handed, and knitting right-handed, that’s not always easy.
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