The bride and the beast by Teresa Medeiros Read Online (FREE)
The bride and the beast by Teresa Medeiros
Originally published: 2000
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Preceded by: Charming the Prince
Followed by: A Kiss to Remember
Scotland, the Highlands
GWENDOLYN WAS NINE years old the day she almost killed the future chieftain of Clan MacCullough.
She was hauling herself up a sturdy young oak, carefully testing each branch to make sure it would bear her weight, when his shaggy pony came into view.
She settled her backside into a well-worn hollow in the trunk and peered through the minty green veil of leaves, her heart skipping a beat. Aye, it was he. There was no mistaking Bernard MacCullough’s regal bearing or the shock of dark hair that tumbled across his brow. He wore a scarlet and black tartan draped over his saffron shirt. A silver badge emblazoned with the MacCullough dragon secured the tartan, drawing her attention to shoulders that seemed to grow broader with each passing day. Below his short kilt, his long, tanned legs hugged the pony’s flanks.
Gwendolyn rested her chin on her hand and sighed, content simply to drink in the sight of him as he guided the pony down the rocky path with a grace and mastery beyond his fifteen years. Although he rode through this pass every day, she never tired of watching him. Never tired of dreaming that one day he would look up and catch a glimpse of her.
“Who goes there?” he would call out, reining his pony to a halt. “Could it be an angel fallen from the heavens?”
” ‘Tis only I, m’laird,” she would reply, “the fair Lady Gwendolyn.”
Then he would flash his white teeth in a tender smile and she would gently float to the ground. (In her dreams, she always had a pretty pair of gossamer wings.) Using only one hand, he would sweep her up before him on the pony and they would ride through the village, basking beneath the proud smiles of her mama and papa, the slack-jawed gazes of the villagers, and the envious stares of her two older sisters.
“Look! There’s Gwennie at the top of that tree. And they say pigs can’t fly!” A burst of raucous laughter jerked Gwendolyn out of her reverie.
As she looked down and saw the circle of children gathered around the tree, her skin began to crawl with an all too familiar dread. Perhaps if she ignored their taunts, they would just go away.
“I don’t know why ye’re wastin’ yer time up there. All the acorns are down here on the ground.” Ross, the burly son of the village blacksmith, slapped his knee, howling with mirth.
“Oh, do stop it, Ross,” laughed Glynnis, Gwendolyn’s twelve-year-old sister. She twined an arm through his and tossed her flowing auburn curls. “If you’ll leave the poor creature alone, I’ll let you steal a kiss later.”
Gwendolyn’s eleven-year-old sister, Nessa, whose silky straight hair was a shade more gold than red, captured his other arm, pouting prettily. “Keep your lips to yourself, wench. He’s already promised his kisses to me.”