Iain's Plaid

Iain's Plaid

Skye Taylor

June 2017 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-768-7

Was she sent back in time to change Iain’s fate . . . or share it?

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Was she sent back in time to change Iain’s fate . . . or share it?

Caught between a job offer she should take and a marriage proposal she doesn’t want, Dani Amico is dying for some adventure. So she takes off to visit some of the places on her bucket list. The first - an abandoned island she read about while researching her American History thesis. While there, she tumbles into an abandoned cellar hole . . . and wakes up more than two centuries in the past.

It’s 1775 and Iain MacKail’s ship is loaded with contraband he is smuggling into Boston. This unknown Dani, the "boy” he found in his cellar, could be a spy for the British customs agents, so Iain is forced to take the boy with him to insure that he and his mission are not compromised. Only he soon finds out that this ”boy” is so much more.

As they travel through pre-revolutionary New England, Dani realizes she’s falling for the rugged Scotsman. But she can’t forget something she came across in her studies—the fate of Iain MacKail. He would be betrayed by someone close to him and suddenly disappear from history. Could this be the reason Dani fell through time—to save Iain? Could they live and love together in this war-torn time?

Then again, if she tries—and fails—to change his fate . . . will she end up sharing it?

Skye Taylor lives in Florida where she divides her time between writing novels, walking the beach with her dog, MacDuff, volunteering at the JAX USO, and trying to keep her to-be-read pile from taking over the house. She considers life an adventure and in a world of people who ask "why,” she has decided to ask, "why not?" She spent two years in the South Pacific with the Peace Corps (2002-2004). She started jumping out of perfectly good airplanes in her fifties and earned a basic sky diving license. She loves to travel and has visited twenty-seven states, fourteen countries on four continents, and the South Pacific. Her bucket list includes at least that many more places to see. Having been born and lived most of her life in New England where her children grew up, she is now a transplanted Yankee soaking up the sun, warmth, and history of St. Augustine, Florida. She's a mom and grandmother with five grown children and fifteen grandchildren. She's a member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, Ancient City Romance Authors, and Florida Writers Association. Check out her website at: www.skye-writer.com


Coming Soon!



"I DON’T KNOW,” Dani Amico said as she ran her fingers through her hair and pulled the tumbled curls back into a ponytail elastic. She turned her treadmill back on and resumed jogging.

"They aren’t going to wait... forever,” Theresa Graso, Dani’s friend, said in a slightly breathless voice from the machine next to Dani’s. "Acadia is a great school. They offered a fantastic starting salary... and you’d be teaching American History... just what you’ve always wanted.” More labored breathing came from the woman who was just getting back in shape after having her fourth baby. "If you don’t want this job, what are you waiting for?”

"I just...” Dani trailed off. She couldn’t explain the contrary feelings she’d been wrestling with since she got the job offer even to herself. "I feel like I’m missing something.”

"What does Clayton think?”

Dani sighed again and pushed the button to increase the treadmill speed. As if running faster would outdistance some unknown threat that was bearing down on her. "I don’t want to get married.”

Theresa stopped jogging and nearly tumbled off the end of her machine. She slapped the off button. "Clayton proposed? And you didn’t tell me?”

When Dani didn’t respond, Theresa turned off Dani’s machine, grabbed her hand, and dragged her toward a row of benches against the wall.

"When did he pop the question?”

"He didn’t. But he’s going to, if I give him a chance. And I don’t want to marry him,”

Dani repeated. The claustrophobic feeling had been growing ever larger over the last few weeks. She’d been trying to ignore it. Clayton was a nice guy. Nicer than she deserved. And he had every reason to think that marriage was the next step in their relationship. But it felt more like a noose to her. She mopped her sweating brow with the tail of her T-shirt.

"I’m not in love with him,” she finally admitted.

"But you’ve been together forever.” Theresa looked shocked. "Almost as long as me and Brian.”

"It feels like forever, but it’s nothing like you and Brian. It’s obvious you’re nuts about each other, in spite of having four kids and three jobs between the two of you. I’m jealous, if you want the truth. You had stars in your eyes the day you got married and you still do. I want to feel that way about the man I marry. But Clayton isn’t the one.”

"Isn’t it about time you told him how you feel then? You’re not being—” Theresa bent to grab the towel a passing woman had dropped and tossed it back to her. "You’re not being fair to him.”

"I tried to tell him, but he didn’t want to hear it.” Dani glanced sideways at her friend. "I didn’t want to hurt him, either.”

"He’ll be hurt worse if you let it drag on.”

Dani’s shoulders slumped. She stared at the tips of her bright-pink sneakers, considering the truth of her friend’s words. She could just move all her stuff out of Clayton’s apartment while he was at work. That would get the message across. But that was the coward’s way out. She was better than that.

"What will you do next if you don’t take the teaching job? You can’t intend to work at the Four Roses forever. I thought history was your passion.”

"The Four Roses is a slice of history. It’s the reason I went to work there in the first place. Well, that and the fact that the job fit my schedule at BU. Did you know that the Four Roses tavern has been on that same site since before the Revolutionary War began?”

"I think you’ve mentioned it a few times.” Theresa rolled her eyes. "But even so, you surely don’t plan to prance around in a sexy pair of short shorts serving drinks for the rest of your life. Someone with a Master’s in American History should be better employed than that.”

"Of course, I’m not going to work there forever. But I just wish...” What did she wish exactly? "I thought there would be a little more adventure in life before I settled down. My brother has been all over the world. Or, at least to a lot more places than I have. When he talks about the places he’s been, I’m envious.”

"Gino is a soldier. He’s been to war, too. I don’t think you’d care to see the world while wearing a uniform.”

"Well, no. I like going to the range with him when he’s home, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the targets shooting back at me. Besides, I like his black powder replicas better than the fancy weapons he uses at work. There’s more to them, you know. A whole science to getting it just right. It’s a lot more challenging than just pulling a trigger.”

"What if—?” Theresa clearly wasn’t impressed with Dani’s fascination with Gino’s hobby guns. Her eyes glittered in speculation. "What if you took a few months off? Maybe even a year? Or two? You have that nest egg you inherited from your parents. And there’s really nothing tying you down, once you tell Clayton it’s over between you. Gino’s in Japan for another eight months at least, and your parents are gone. No one is counting on you for anything. Well, I’d miss you, but I’ve got Brian and the kids. And you can send me postcards. Why not take that bucket list you’re always talking about and check a few things off it?”

Dani leaned back against the wall. That wasn’t a bad idea. The excitement lighting Theresa’s eyes began to fill her. Why not? She could afford it. And she might never get another chance once she took a permanent teaching position.

"I like it. I like it a lot. And I’ve got the perfect place to start.”

"Thailand?” Theresa suggested. "I’ve always wanted to go to there. Or Australia, maybe. You could even visit Gino while you’re on that side of the world.”


"Maine! Why Maine? That’s not very exotic. You can jump in your car and go there any weekend you please.”

"But next month there’s going to be the biggest Revolutionary War reenactment ever at Popham Beach State Park. Thousands of reenactors and history nuts will there. It’s going to be at the beach and the park. British soldiers, colonial minutemen, a whole village of colonial citizens. Even Native Americans—real Native Americans—will be participating. I heard they even brought in a Hollywood actor to play Sam Adams. It’ll be fantastic. I was going to sneak up there on Friday, but if I give Randy two weeks’ notice, I’ll still have time to get myself rigged out to join the fun. I’ll be able stay for the whole weekend.”

Theresa grinned. "Now you’re getting into the spirit of things.”

"And then I could rent a boat and sail out to Damariscove and explore the island.”

"That’s the place that hero in the book you’ve been reading came from, right?”

"Captain MacKail,” Dani affirmed, enthusiasm for the plan building.

"Clayton never had a chance.” Theresa shook her head. "I think you’re half in love with a guy who’s been dead for over two hundred years. What do you think you’ll find out there? MacKail’s ghost?”

"There is supposed to be a ghost out there. Some headless man and his dog. I don’t know much about his story. I don’t believe in ghosts anyway. But I am intrigued by this captain, a little. He was born in Scotland, and when he was three, his father was captured by the British after Culloden. He grew up with an uncle and later came to the United States. Only it wasn’t the United States back then. It was still the colonies.”

Dani began to recite Captain MacKail’s history. "According to the book, he didn’t want to get involved with the Sons of Liberty. He thought Britain was too powerful and men like Sam Adams were crazy to think the colonies had a chance against the best army in the world. But in spite of that, this guy risked everything to smuggle food and supplies into Boston when the British occupied the city. He was an ordinary guy who did extraordinary things.”

"Didn’t he meet a tragic end, though? You read me his story back when you first found the book at that yard sale.”

With a pang of regret, Dani nodded. "Maybe. I mean, no one seemed to know for sure. He was in the Massachusetts militia, but he wasn’t killed fighting the British. He just disappeared one day in between the start of the war in April and the Battle of Bunker Hill in June. No one ever found out what happened to him.”

"That sounds pretty tragic to me. You must like sad stories. I could think of any number of really super guys you could lose your heart to who would be more exciting than pining after a guy who went MIA.”

"I didn’t lose my heart to this guy. I just think his story is interesting. He wasn’t a gung-ho soldier like Gino or a rabble rouser like Sam Adams. He just did what he thought was right, even though it could get him killed. Besides, the whole island has a fascinating history. Did you know that the British were trying to intimidate the people who lived in New England, especially along the coast around Boston? Something like what they call ‘shock and awe’ now. They burned Portland to the ground after stealing a bunch of sheep from a farmer on Damariscove, all just to scare people into not joining the Sons of Liberty. And I bet you think the Pilgrims were the first people to settle in New England, too. But you’d be wrong. There were people living on Damariscove long before the Pilgrims even got here.”

Theresa’s brows lifted. "Wow! I never knew that. Where did you find all that out?”

"In a book I read on the history of the Maine islands. There isn’t anyone living there now. Not since the 1950s. Still, I’d like to go out and explore the place. I tried to talk Clayton into a day trip when we went to Boothbay Harbor last summer, but he was more interested in getting home in time to watch the Red Sox game.”

"So, that takes care of the first thing on your bucket list. Let’s skip the rest of the workout and go over to the North End for coffee while you tell me where else you might go. Then I gotta get home before Brian thinks I’ve deserted him and the kids.”



Chapter 1

DANI CAME ABOUT and ducked under the boom as the sailboat rounded the buoy and headed for Damariscove. The sun was shining; it was a perfect day for a sail. Perfect day to explore, too. The reenactment had been even more amazing than she’d anticipated. The man playing Sam Adams had the accent and cadence of speech down perfectly as he spoke to the crowds of folk playing colonists. It felt like being there, right in the midst of the heated days leading up to the Revolutionary War. Some of the reenactors were still there and she’d almost stayed, but she’d already made arrangements for the sailboat. And she was eager to check out this scrap of an island with so much history.

Goosebumps lifted on her arms and she shivered. A weird feeling snaked its way down her back. She reached for her backpack and pulled out the linen hunting shirt she’d bought at one of the sutlers’ tents. She’d decided to dress as a boy instead of a woman because that had seemed like it would be more fun, and she’d loved the soft feel of the finely woven cloth. It went perfectly with her costume. Today she had on jeans, but the linen shirt went with them too, so she’d brought it along in case it was cool on the water.

Damariscove grew bigger as she neared the island. The peaked roof of the late nineteenth-century life-saving station appeared above the long low spit of land protecting the harbor from the west and north. She passed the mouth of the harbor and followed the shore toward a little stony beach on the east-facing shore. When her boat passed through an oddly smooth patch of water, a strange frisson shivered up her neck. Then the wind and waves picked up again and the feeling disappeared.

That was odd! She glanced back at the tranquil patch of water, but it had disappeared. She shrugged and prepared to let the sails out and glide into the beach. She hauled the centerboard up at the last minute, and the little boat crunched gently onto the shore. Dani scrambled out and tugged it further up the beach, well above the high-tide line.

For a moment, she hesitated, surveying the long fringe of beach roses that hung over the edge of the land and onto the pebbled shore. It was quiet here in the lee. And peaceful. After the hectic pace of the last few weeks, the contrast was sharp and welcome.

Randy hadn’t been happy to accept her resignation. He’d told her how much his customers had enjoyed hearing everything she knew about the history of Boston. Still, he’d wished her well on her travels. And the superintendent who’d offered her the teaching job regretted she would not be joining his staff come fall, but told her to keep them in mind when she returned. Overall, it hadn’t been too bad. Except... Clayton had been hurt.

She’d known he would be. She’d tried to explain her need to have some time to herself, but he kept asking when she’d be back. Telling him she didn’t intend to come back, at least not to him, had been the hardest part. Even she had felt a little sad. But it had been the right thing for both of them.

She sucked in a lungful of salty, sun-filled air and headed up the beach to explore. After scrambling through a narrow opening in the beach roses, she gazed out over the island; nearly all of it visible from her vantage point. To her right, a small pond nestled into the narrowest part of the island, and a long stretch of land tapered off to the north, covered with scrub growth and wildflowers. To the south lay the harbor. She turned and headed in that direction.

Clusters of old cellar holes dotted the island, most of them on the high ground above the harbor. The path widened and began to look like it might have been used recently. Someone had told her that a family—a man, his wife, and a young boy—spent the summers out here, living on a boat tied up to the old stone pier, but it was too early for them. Whoever had walked this path lately wasn’t here now. Unless they could fly. The harbor was empty, and hers was the only boat in sight.

The path disappeared as she scrambled over a ledge of granite and reappeared on the other side. A small building stood in the shelter of the next outcropping of rock, the boards long since stripped of any paint they might once have had. A sign hung on the door. Dani climbed the two stairs and read:

Welcome to the Damariscove Museum. Please, come in.

Doing just that, she chuckled. This had to be smallest museum in history. Someone had carefully arranged an assortment of artifacts on a waist-high shelf along two walls with handwritten explanations beside each one. She made her way along the exhibit. There was a brass button the unknown curator claimed had once belonged to a British soldier. Hand-blown glass fishing floats. The head of a farmer’s pick, its wooden handle long since rotted away. A few Indian arrowheads. Pieces of a handgun that dated from the 1700s. Another shelf held a collection of shells and colored sea-glass.

Suddenly the same odd feeling she’d had as she’d sailed through the oddly calm patch of ocean near the entrance to the harbor curled its way down her spine and made the hair on her neck stand up. Dani hurried out of the small space that now felt slightly claustrophobic.

Back out in the sunshine, the feeling left her.

That was weird!

If that headless man and his dog were to appear right about now, she might believe in ghosts after all. But the island appeared just as deserted as before.

She climbed the rest of the way to the ridge where the path reappeared again and wound away from the harbor and up toward a meadow filled with lupine. A vast stretch of purples, pinks, and blues. A field of lupine in bloom was one of the prettiest signs of the coming summer in Maine.

To Dani’s right, the outline of a foundation stretched away in two directions. It was larger than most. Maybe it had once been a barn. She stepped up onto the large square of granite that made up the cornerstone and gazed back down at the brilliant-blue stretch of water that was Damariscove Harbor.

Another shiver ran down Dani’s spine. The hair on the nape of her neck prickled. She glanced toward the little museum in case there was unexpected company, but the path was just as abandoned as the foundation she was standing on. No one is on this island... unless ghosts really do exist?

"Idiot,” she chided herself. "Ghosts aren’t real.” But her skin still tingled, and the uneasy chill lingered in spite of the warm sunshine.

Dani hugged her arms across her chest and checked the skyline above the invisible stony curve of beach where she’d left her boat. The top of the aluminum mast thrust skyward above the wild tangle of beach roses with its jaunty red windsock snapping in the stiffening breeze.

Maybe I shouldn’t have sailed out here alone.

Except it had been solitude she’d been seeking. Even though the phone calls urging her to accept the teaching position had ceased and Clayton’s proposal forever forestalled, she’d still needed time by herself to think about what she did want before taking a plunge that would change her life forever.

She and Theresa had come up with an ambitious list of possible destinations, but so far, she hadn’t decided where to go next.

So, think already! She slid down to sit on the massive old corner-stone, dangling her legs over the edge.

Clayton had been a comfortable companion and an okay lover, but she hadn’t been in love with him. Getting married was supposed to be exciting, and her gut had been telling her Clayton was not the one. The immense feeling of relief that filled her once she’d told him the truth proved it.

She loved history and teaching, but accepting the job Clayton had engineered for her had seemed just another tie to him. Maybe she’d just been refusing to admit she was a grownup, but a few months away exploring new places would give her the space to do it.

Maybe next she’d try snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Although a visit to Thailand to see the temples and ruins that Theresa thought were exotic would be cool to see. And she’d love seeing the place where so much history had happened. Then again, she could go to Stonehenge. Or maybe even the battlefield at Culloden, the battle that had precipitated the emigration of so many Scots to the colonies. Scots like the captain she’d been reading about.

She studied the landscape again, imagining this tiny scrap of land off the coast of Maine as it might have been more than two hundred years ago. When Patriot sea captains had swaggered down to the harbor to set out in their swift little sloops to harass the British Navy, and fishermen had salted their catches of cod along the shell-lined beach while Native Americans glided in and out of this harbor in their canoes trading furs for guns.

What might the village have looked like, huddled around the edge of the harbor? Some of the buildings that existed in Boston were that old, but the city had grown up around them, dwarfing them in importance. Here, the buildings had crumbled away to nothing, leaving only the abandoned cellar holes to show they’d ever existed at all.

If those old cellars could talk, what stories might they tell? The one she was sitting atop was bigger than most. A wide set of granite steps to her right must have led up to the main floor. Perhaps it had been a meeting hall? Or a big barn?

Abruptly and inexplicably chilled with her hair standing on end, Dani snatched her backpack off the ground and pushed herself to her feet. The lichen-covered chunk of old granite wobbled, then toppled into the hole. She yelped in surprise and tried to scramble back away from the abyss, but her foot slipped.

Tumbling downward in a rattling shower of stones and dirt, she landed, gasping for breath, in a shocked heap just inches from the gaping cavern beneath the old stairs. Her backpack thudded down on top of her.

Then the world went black.

IAIN MACKAIL STRODE into the ink-dark alley behind his warehouse with an unaccustomed curse on his lips and a hefty belaying pin clutched in his left hand.

"Ye willna get away with it this time, ye bludy spy!”

Set deep into the thick fieldstone foundation, a stout oak door rattled insistently against the iron bolt that held it shut. Iain tightened his grip on the belaying pin, gritted his teeth, and reached out to release the door.

A dark figure exploded through the doorway and hurtled headlong into the alley with a gasp. Iain grabbed the intruder by the collar and thrust him against the wall.

Shocked by his captive’s diminutive size, Iain just barely managed to abort the blow meant to stun a much larger adversary. The scamp wriggling frantically within Iain’s grip couldn’t have been more than twelve. Thirteen at most. Maybe he’d been mistaken. Maybe this was just a matter of thievery and not another of the damnable prying turncoats spying for Malcolm.

"Put me down, you bastard!” The lad clawed ineffectually at the shirt collar pulled tight around his throat by Iain’s iron grip.

In spite of the furious stream of vulgarity, Iain heard fear in the breathless young voice. He lowered the lad to the ground with a mixture of suspicion and annoyance. What, in heaven’s name, was he to do with this unexpected interruption? With a hold full of contraband destined for Boston, he couldn’t take chances on being caught. The citizens of Boston were in desperate need, or else he wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place. But he was involved. And if this scamp was a spy, he was in trouble.

Curst chance! He needed to be aboard his ship in the next half hour, preparing to weigh anchor when the tide turned. What he didn’t need was a youthful, would-be thief to cope with, even if the intruder was not working for the British customs agent. Iain touched his breast pocket, reassuring himself that the incriminating list of goods and donors he’d shoved into it hadn’t fallen out in his rush to catch the spy. His irritation grew.

He kept his tone deceptively mild and asked, "Have ye naught to say for yerself besides blaspheming?”

"I... I don’t have to say anything. I haven’t done anything wrong. And you’re hurting me.” The lad wriggled in another attempt to free himself. "God damn you.”

"Aye, I expect He already has.” Iain pursed his lips ruefully.

"Let go of me!” The lad squirmed harder.

"If I do, will ye promise ye willna be scarpering off?”

The lad stuttered out something that could have been a denial. Iain dropped his hand and thrust the belaying pin into the waistband of his breeches. "Come along, then. Ye have some explaining to do.” He gave the lad a shove toward the mouth of the alley.

"Why should I go anywhere with you?” The youthful voice held a mutinous challenge.

"Because I didna give ye a choice.”

Iain prodded his reluctant prisoner up the wide granite steps and through the door. He pointed to an armless, straight-backed chair. After a brief hesitation, the lad dropped into it.

Clad in a hunting shirt several times too large for him and a pair of oddly fashioned breeches, the lad returned Iain’s probing gaze and shivered. His emerald-green eyes seemed too big for the delicate, fine-boned face, and at the moment, they held an unsettling blend of outrage, bewilderment, and fear. Iain was torn.

Wishing he could stay out of the volatile political wrangling going on in places like Boston and Virginia, Iain had been faced with a difficult choice. He felt no loyalty to a king whose father and uncle had visited devastating ruin on the land of his birth and filled his childhood with grief. But neither could he foresee any happy outcome in defying so powerful a monarchy again in spite of the persuasive arguments of men like Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

Iain had abandoned Scotland for the colonies looking for a better life. And he’d prospered. The new world was filled with opportunities for men who were willing to work for them.

But now history seemed to be repeating itself. Just like the Scots after their defeat at Culloden, the citizens of Boston were being crushed by a vengeful Parliament, and Iain was forced to take sides. Forced to wonder if innocent-seeming young boys were being paid to spy on men like himself who were just trying to help their beleaguered neighbors.

"Now then,” Iain began, carefully curbing the impatience he felt, "suppose ye begin by telling me who you are.”

"I don’t see why I should tell you anything.” The lad lifted his chin defiantly. To give him credit, the chin did not quiver, but the brave front surely took a great deal of grit and determination.

He counted to ten. "Did. Malcolm. Send. You?”

"I don’t know anyone named Malcolm.” The lad swallowed with visible effort. "And even if I did, why would he send me here and get me locked up in your damned cellar?”

"’T’would be just the sort of place I would expect to find one of Malcolm’s curst spies.”

"You gotta be... do I look like a spy?” The lad appeared genuinely astonished. A sprinkle of freckles decorated his sun-browned, hairless face, and a shock of silky black hair tumbled disarmingly into one eye. He looked a picture of innocence.

Except that Iain couldn’t afford to believe either his denial or his appearance.

"Well, do I?” The lad had spirit.

The wide green eyes assessed Iain belligerently. Iain laid a heavy hand on the lad’s thin shoulder and lowered his voice to a menacing whisper. "I want the truth out of you, and I’m running out of patience.”

A fist flashed out faster than Iain would have thought possible and connected with an undefended rib.

"Bludy h—” Iain swore.

The lad ducked under Iain’s arm and bolted for the door. Iain moved faster. Now he was angry. He jerked the lad clear off the floor and shook him hard enough to rattle his teeth. "I dinna advise trying that again, laddie.” He thrust the youth forcefully back into the chair and didn’t even try to mask his fury. He no longer cared if the lad was frightened.

"I... I’m n-not who you th-think I am! I’m not even a la—” Abruptly, the boy shut his mouth.

"Then, who the Devil are ye? And why were ye snooping around in my cellar?”

"I wasn’t snooping...”

Iain clung to what little patience he had left as he closed the space between them. The boy shrank back as Iain loomed over him.

"Who are ye?” Iain ground the words through clenched teeth.

"D-Dani Amico,” Dani answered in a rush as her bravado wavered. She tried not to cringe, but the man was a lot bigger than she was. He was under the impression she was a boy which, considering the things an unscrupulous man could do to a woman, might be a good thing. But what had she done to piss him off except get shut up in his basement?

"Well, Master Amico! If not snooping, suppose ye tell me what ye weredoing in my cellar?” Her captor rubbed absently at his chest where she’d punched him.

If he wasn’t so intimidating, he’d be attractive. The distracting thought flitted through Dani’s brain in spite of her confusion and her still pounding heart. Even in his historical getup, he wasn’t a man any normal woman could pretend indifference to. Easily over six feet tall, he had the sculpted, firmly muscled body of a man who worked and played hard. His dark-blond hair, streaked with sun-bleached highlights, hung loose and long about his ruggedly handsome face and, even as furious as he so obviously was, his amber eyes were compelling. He had a musical Celtic lilt to his speech, and he moved with surprising grace.

He didn’t look like the kind of man who would take advantage of a woman, but looks could be deceiving. She needed to calm him down until she could find her cell phone and call for help. If he’d meant to do her harm, surely he would have already done so. He was angry, but it wasn’t her fault. The scariest part was that she had no idea where she was or how she’d gotten here.

If this was just an extension of the reenactment she’d been participating in for the last two days, which this hunk’s garments seemed to indicate, he was an awfully good actor. But that still didn’t explain her being shut up in his cellar.

"I already told you. I haven’t got a clue how I got into your damned basement. I—” Dani broke off, her brain scrambling. She tried desperately to recall what had preceded regaining consciousness in the murky depths of a strange cellar, surrounded by whiskey-scented kegs and heaps of reeking, tar-soaked rope. She shoved an errant curl back behind her ear. Then winced.

"Ouch!” Cautiously, she explored the back of her skull. Tears sprang to her eyes as her fingers met with an enormous lump and a sharp stab of pain erupted inside her head. "S-somebody hit me,” she gasped. But why? Why would anyone hit her?

"I think someone mugged me and stole my backpack.”

The big man snorted.

Why couldn’t she remember? "But, I have no idea how I got into your basement.”

"And ye expect me to believe that?” The man’s brows rose.

For a fleeting moment, Dani considered the possibility that the big man was responsible, then dismissed the idea. He seemed genuinely put out by her unexpected appearance. And he hadn’t hit her with the stick he’d been carrying.

"You feel it then, if you don’t believe me.” Dani bent her head and directed his attention to the throbbing welt. When he didn’t move, she grabbed his hand and placed it gingerly over the lump. "See?”

"Aye, it does appear ye’ve had a nasty blow.” His fingers were surprisingly gentle. The skepticism in his voice was not.

"You make it sound like you think I did this to myself.” Dani leapt to her feet and tried to stare him down. She refused to let him intimidate her any more than he already had.

He smirked down at her with maddeningly masculine condescension. "I didna suggest any such thing.”

"Then stop smirking.”

His eyes glimmered as if he was amused, but his face went obediently blank.

Dani dared a quick inspection of his old-fashioned clothing. A lot of the guys she’d been hanging with at the huge reenactment event had been dressed similarly. All except for the tattered plaid cloth draped over his generously pleated white shirt. There had been a few guys in kilts, but none in breeches and just a wide length of fringed tartan. Where was she, for Pete’s sake? Brigadoon? "You’re not from around here, are you? I mean, your accent is kind of... foreign.”

"And here I was thinking ’twas ye who spoke rather peculiarly.” Her captor sagged back until his hips came to rest against the edge of the desk. A hint of amusement colored the man’s voice, and his temper appeared to have cooled considerably.

Dani flashed another glance at her surroundings. The village created for the reenactment had been large and elaborate, but she thought she’d seen all of it. Except nothing about this place looked familiar. It was an office of sorts, with a desk buried beneath a pile of leather-bound ledgers and lit by a kerosene lamp. A large white feather protruded from a squat green bottle beside a stack of papers, but that was it.

"In spite of yer injury, I am still waiting for answers. D’ye need me to shake them out of you?”

"I told you, already. I don’t know how I got here. And for what it’s worth, I don’t even know where here is.” Confusion still buzzed in her head. How had she ended up in this mess?

A hint of scorn touched the man’s amazing eyes. "’Tis Damariscove, Master Amico. D’ye expect me to believe ye dinna recall even that?”

"I don’t give a damn if you believe me or—” Dani broke off abruptly as a rush of fragmented memories hit her like an avalanche. Damariscove Island!

Lichen-covered granite foundations. The rocky remnants of long-ago piers. The ruins of an abandoned village. The hair on the back of Dani’s neck stood up. "Maybe I’m dreaming,” she whispered, trying to ignore the eerie sensation rippling across her skin.

"Dreaming?” the big man repeated sounding puzzled.

Dani barely heard him. "Damariscove,” she repeated in a disbelieving whisper.

A kaleidoscope of images skittered through her brain: A deserted harbor and fields full of nothing but pink and purple lupine and old cellar holes. A sudden, inexplicable nervous feeling as she stood at the brink of one such ruin. No one around except the soaring gray gulls. Except maybe the ghosts she’d read about.

"Damariscove is a ghost town,” Dani croaked, trying to sound more convincing than she felt.

"And I am a ghost then?” Dani’s captor arched one blond brow.

"You don’t look like a ghost,” she conceded uneasily. This was getting stranger by the minute. She’d been under the impression that all of the reenactment activities had been in Popham, not on any of the islands. Especially not Damariscove. Her heart seemed to be trying to beat itself free of her chest.

"I dinna feel like one, either.” The man pressed his fingertips against his chest, a reluctant grin softening his features.

"I read a book.” Dani’s voice was barely audible even to herself. And she’d sailed out to explore an abandoned island.

"You read a book and what?”

"And... and it said Damariscove Harbor was full of sailing ships when the Pilgrims came from Plymouth begging for food.”

"Probably was. The harbor’s been a busy place for a long time.”

"Not anymore.”

The man folded his arms across his chest and eyed her as if she were babbling nonsense.

Dani couldn’t blame him. "I wanted to see Damariscove for myself.”

She didn’t believe in ghosts. That meant that if she’d been struck by someone, she had not been as alone on Damariscove as she’d thought.

"And now that ye’ve seen it, what do ye plan to do with such knowledge?”

Dani stared at her captor, unable to frame an answer to his question because her brain was still scrambling to make sense of things. Even if there had been someone else on Damariscove, what possible reason could they have had to knock her out, haul her off the island, and dump her in a cellar in some other place?

"Master Amico?” prompted the big man.

But if she’d only fallen into that empty cellar hole and blacked out, how did she end up in a basement with bare joists and a wide-planked floor over her head?

And if this was just another elaborate scene in the reenactment, why would anyone force her into participating? All they’d have had to do was ask. She’d have jumped at the opportunity.

"You didn’t have to kidnap me.”

"I didna kidnap you.”

"Then how in hell did I end up here? Tell me that, damn it.”

"Such language doesna become ye.” The big man clucked disapprovingly, then straightened. "But, enough of yer nonsense. Are ye going to tell me who ye really are and who sent ye or must I lock ye up until I figure it out for myself?”

"I told you. I’m Dani... Daniel Amico. And nobody sentme here.” No point in revealing her gender until she knew for sure he had no intention of taking advantage of her.

"Who d’ye work for?”

Dani’s fiery temper flared. "What business is it of yours? I don’t have to tell you anything. I...” Dani forced herself to put a lid on her temper. Being rude wouldn’t get her anywhere. "Tell you what? Why don’t I just leave and we can forget we ever met?”

"This place is my business. I canna force ye to answer my questions, but I dinna have to let ye go before I figure out what ye’re up to either.” In spite of his non-threatening stance, the steel had returned to his voice.

"This is ridiculous!” Dani sputtered. "Maybe you’re the thug who hit me.”

"I am not in the habit of striking lads half my size. However, if ye continue to try my patience, I canna be promising not to start. Now whoare ye working for?”

"Randy Blackburn,” Dani snapped. "At the Four Roses in Boston. That answer your stupid question?” At least that had been true... until she’d given Randy her notice.

The blood drained from the man’s shocked face, and her regrettable temper vanished in an instant. Now, he looked like he’d seen a ghost.

"The bloody whoreson!”

"You know Randy?” Dani asked anxiously. What were the chances?

"That deceitful, murdering, scum...”

The man shut his eyes, his jaw working. Then he opened them again and glared at her.

"Is Blackburn yer father?”

"You gotta be kidding!” Dani’s jaw dropped at the laughable accusation. "He was my boss. I worked in his bar. I don’t know anything about lying or murder.”

"Dinna say another deceitful word. I’m going to ferret the truth out of ye sooner or later, and ye’ll tell me what I need to know unless I lose all patience and throw you overboard first.” He grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to the door. "Ye’re coming with me and there’ll be no more sass.”

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