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Excerpt: Highland Wishes and Dreams

A Scottish Regency Romance Novella

And therein lay the problem. How did Galina explain to Finn, a man who likely had never experienced, or looked for the love that Wen and Andrew shared, what this loss has done to her brother? How could Finn possibly understand the gaping wound in Andrew? He wasn’t here each day to see how Andrew’s smile lit up the minute Wen walked in the room. Finn hadn’t seen the secret smiles, the brushing of hands, the stolen kisses… She had, and it broke her heart to see Andrew suffer, but she knew the warm memories would feed his soul for the rest of his life, until he could let Wen go just a little, and marry again.

She let go of Finn so he could greet his nephew.

Galina watched Finn with the wee babe. He was a natural. He’d make a wonderful father. Finn caught her staring at him. “He looks so much like Wen, doesn’t he?”

She merely nodded. “He has her manor too. He’s such a good, happy babe.”

Finn came to sit beside her cradling Jake who lay content looking into his uncle’s eyes.

She reached for his little hand and marveled at the strength of the grip on her finger.

“I cannot wait to hold my babe in my arms.” She couldn’t believe she’d spoken those words out loud.

“Even after what happened to Wen?”

She shrugged. “It’s God’s will. Emily was fine. Besides, to bring something so wonderful into this world is worth the risk.”

Finn shook his head. “And they say men are the brave ones.”

He sat quietly before asking, “Why have you yet to marry if you want children? I thought you’d marry when Emily and Wen did.”

She took a deep shuddery breath. Say it… Tell him you’re waiting for him. However, the words would not come. Instead she uttered, “I want to make the right choice. I want the right man, not simply a husband. You probably don’t think about things like this, but men have their estate business, their mistresses, and children. I don’t want to be left lying in my bed night after night alone. I want what Wen and Andrew have—had.”

Finn turned away and gazed out of the window, gently rocking Jake in his arms. “My sisters’ did make good matches.” He looked back at Galina and added, “You’re wrong. Men too want to make the right choice. A lifetime is a long time to spend with anyone. I think finding the right person is very important.”

She nodded wishing to gain the courage to ask him if he had a lady in mind. He surprised her instead. “Is there a man whom you favor?”

Their eyes clashed and her head swam at what she saw there. It was as if he was worried that she might have met someone. Before she could find the words to answer, his hand founds hers and they sat silently staring into each other’s eyes while Jake gurgled softly in Finn’s arms.

Her world filled with sunshine and she broke into a smile. Finn returned her smile and squeezed her hand. Had he finally seen her as someone other than his sister’s friend?

So lost in each other, Galina didn’t notice Andrew enter the room. It was only when her brother cleared his throat that Finn turned away, and upon seeing Andrew he let go of her hand and stood.

“I’d like to spend some time with my son.” Andrew’s voice shook with anger and his eyes flashed daggers at Finn.

Finn placed Jake into Andrew’s arms and on a bow to Galina, slipped from the room.

“My wife has been in her grave two months. You might wait a respectable time before throwing yourself at Finn.”

Galina tried not to let Andrew’s words hurt her but a barb struck true. “I would never do anything to impugn Wen’s memory. I loved her too.” With that she walked past Andrew towards the door.

“I’m sorry. Can you imagine how it feels to see you and Finn? I’ve just lost the love of my life and the pain is almost unbearable. I cannot bear to see happiness when my world is in darkness.”

Galina didn’t know what to say. Andrew was being unfair but then for him life wasn’t fair. “I can’t stop my heart from loving any more than you can. I want to marry Finn if he will have me, but we will of course wait out the mourning period.”

Andrew looked at her bleakly. “Wen always thought you would marry her brother. But please, not now. It’s too soon for me to grasp. If you leave me….”

“You’ll have Jake.” At his bleak stare, she walked and placed a kiss on Andrew’s cheek. “I won’t leave you while you need me.”

Andrew briefly closed his eyes and then nodded. “I’ll always need you. If you leave, I’ll have no one.” He turned away and started talking to Jake. Galina wondered if her brother would ever recover. She would give him time but she would not wait forever.

When she closed the nursery door behind her, she was surprised to see Finn leaning against the corridor wall. He held out his arm. “How about some fresh air with a stroll in the garden.”

She felt her face flush as she tucked her arm through his. “I’d like that.”

On the way to the garden Finn told her about the letter he’d had from Emily, with a poem she wanted Finn to read at Jake’s christening.

They both looked at each other wondering how Emily was coping with her twin’s death and the safe delivery of her son.

She took Finn to the rose garden. The stunning blooms filled the air with fragrance chasing away the smell of death that had been hanging over the house for far too long. The early evening dusk gave a red glow over the gardens. “Wen loved walking out here just as night was falling. Andrew’s not the only one who misses her dreadfully.”

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