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Blame It on Scotland, страница 1

 часть  #7 серии  Kilts and Quilts

 

Blame It on Scotland
 


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Blame It on Scotland


  Blame It on Scotland

  Kilts and Quilts: Book 7

  Patience Griffin

  Contents

  Praise for the Kilts and Quilts novels

  Books by Patience Griffin

  Dedication

  Pronunciations and Definitions

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Epilogue

  Kilts & Quilts™ Poppy Seed Bread

  Join Patience’s Newsletter

  Books by Patience Griffin

  Laird and I

  To Scotland with Love

  About the Author

  All Kilts and Quilts novels

  Praise for the Kilts and Quilts novels

  Praise for

  Patience Griffin’s books

  __________________

  "Griffin has quilted together a wonderful, heartwarming story that will convince you of the power of love."

  -New York Times bestselling author Janet Chapman

  * * *

  “Griffin’s lyrical and moving debut marks her as a most talented newcomer to the romance genre.”

  -Publishers Weekly starred review

  * * *

  “A fun hop to scenic Scotland for the price of a paperback.”

  -Kirkus Reviews

  * * *

  “Start this heartwarming, romance series!”

  -Woman’s World magazine

  * * *

  “With the backdrop of a beautiful town in Scotland, Griffin’s story is charming and heartwarming. The characters are quirky and wonderful and easy to feel an instant attachment and affection for. Be forewarned: You’re likely to shed happy tears.”

  -RT Reviews

  * * *

  “Ahhh, this series is my own little vacation to a land I love, even if the land in this series is a fictional Scottish fishing village where the men are braw, kilt-wearing, and have full respect for women.”

  -Gourmonde Girl

  * * *

  “The best thing about this series is the way that it touches you as a reader. The characters are deeply written, with flawed characteristics that make them seem familiar – like real people that you know and see every day.”

  -Ever After Book Reviews

  * * *

  “I dearly loved this romance, and I dearly love this series.”

  -Book Chill

  * * *

  “Patience Griffin gets love, loss, and laughter like no other writer of contemporary romance.”

  -Grace Burrowes, New York Times bestselling author

  “Patience Griffin, through her writing, draws the reader into life in small town Scotland. Her use of language and descriptive setting had me feel like I was part of the cast.”

  -Open Book Society

  * * *

  “Griffin has a knack for creating characters that I find engaging from the opening page. I love the Kilts and Quilts series.”

  -The Romance Dish

  * * *

  “I love Patience Griffin!! These Kilts and Quilts books are among my favorites EVER!!!”

  -Margie’s Must Reads

  * * *

  “Ms. Griffin paints a vivid picture of Gandiegow with the ever meddling members of the Kilts and Quilts. Fans of LuAnn McLane and Fiona Lowe will enjoy The Accidental Scot.”

  -Harlequin Junkie

  Books by Patience Griffin

  __________________

  Kilts and Quilts series:

  Romantic Women’s Fiction

  #1 To Scotland with Love

  #2 Meet Me in Scotland

  #2.5 The Laird and I

  #3 Some Like It Scottish

  #4 The Accidental Scot

  #5 The Trouble with Scotland

  #6 It Happened in Scotland

  #7 Blame It on Scotland

  * * *

  A Escocia con Amor (To Scotland with Love in Spanish)

  __________________

  Copyright © 2018 by Patience Griffin

  First Printing April 2018

  All Rights Reserved

  ______

  This book and parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written permission of the author and copyright holder, except as provided by the United States of America copyright law. The only exception is for a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  Cover by Kathleen Baldwin and Patience Griffin

  ISBN 978-1-7320684-1-4

  This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, an incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual person, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locale is entirely coincidental.

  * * *

  Published by Kilts & Quilts™ Publishing

  Created with Vellum

  Dedication

  For Kathleen Baldwin…

  Writing is more fun with friends! Especially a wonderful friend like you!

  * * *

  For Sue, Carin, and all my Clan…

  Your devotion to the Kilts and Quilts novels makes writing these books a joy. Thank you for being my book groupies!

  PRONUNCIATION GUIDE OF NAMES

  * * *

  Aileen (AY-leen)

  Ailsa (AIL-sa)

  Bethia (BEE-thee-a)

  Buchanan (byoo-KAN-uhn)

  Cait (KATE)

  Deydie (DI-dee)

  Ki (KI)

  Lios (lis)

  Lyel (LI-el)

  Moira (MOY-ra)

  Ryn (ren)

  * * *

  DEFINITIONS

  bampot—crazy person

  biscuits—cookies

  céilidh (KAY-lee)—a party/dance

  chuffed (chuhft)—very pleased

  dreich—gray dreary weather

  fash—to trouble, worry, or vex over

  fat quarter— a one-fourth yard cut of fabric, usually measuring 18" x 22"

  Gandiegow—squall

  horseshite—manure

  nappy—diaper

  Postie—postman

  rad—radiator

  shite—(shite) expletive

  1

  Along the dark roads of the Highlands, Tuck MacBride sped toward the small fishing village of Gandiegow, cutting it close…again. It wasn’t as if he was doing it on purpose. His luck was, as such, he found himself in these predicaments more often than he liked.

  He’d left the pub in Inverness with plenty of time to get back, catch a nap, and still help John Armstrong on his fishing boat today. But when Tuck had climbed into his auto to leave, he’d closed his eyes for only a moment before the long drive back to the village. He’d woke with a start with barely enough time to make it to Gandiegow.

  He checked his watch again. Oh crap! He pressed down harder on the accelerator.

  Inverness should’ve been fun, a diversion, but turned out to be just as boring as the last time, and the time before that. In moments like these—alone and in the dead of night—Tuck had to admit he had no real purpose to latch on to. Everyone mistakenly assumed he moved from place to place and from
job to job because he was bored. They thought he longed for adventure, that he was one of those guys who enjoyed pulling up stakes to satisfy his wanderlust. They were wrong. He’d been running away for so long that it felt more natural to go than to stay.

  His brother Andrew, Gandiegow’s Episcopal priest, had an inkling of what drove Tuck to do the things he did—possibly the only one in the world who understood. Time and time again, Andrew urged Tuck to be still long enough for God to fill the void.

  Horseshite. What did Andrew know? Life had always been easy for him. Aye, he was a good person and Tuck didn’t begrudge him for that. It just wasn’t easy for Tuck to be the older brother—though only by a year. At thirty-two, Tuck should be settled by now, like Andrew. But Tuck was different than his brother. Andrew hadn’t suffered with dyslexia for his whole life. Trouble hadn’t chased him as it did Tuck, despite Tuck trying to do the right thing. St. Andrew—Tuck had dubbed him that when they were kids—was perfect. The perfect child for their schoolteacher parents. The perfect Episcopal priest to tend his parishioners in Gandiegow. And most recently, Andrew had married the perfect wife, Moira. Andrew was the good sheep, and well, Tuck was the opposite. Though he didn’t like it, he had no choice but to accept his darker role amongst the branches of the MacBride family tree.

  If it wasn’t for Andrew, Tuck would’ve picked up and been long gone from Gandiegow by now. Gandiegow might be the perfect place for some people to while away their life, but the village was too small to hold Tuck’s interest. He’d tried, really tried to make a go of it and stay on the northeast coast of Scotland…for Andrew’s sake. But from the start, it had felt as if the cards were stacked against Tuck.

  Seven months ago, when he’d arrived in Gandiegow, Tuck had been ostracized for missing Andrew and Moira’s wedding. Yeah, he’d cut it close then, too, and unfortunately missed the ferry off the Isle of Lewis. Some might say he’d done it on purpose. And maybe he should’ve caught the next one to at least make an attempt. But he hated weddings. Wasn’t it enough for everyone that he’d been willing to sacrifice his principles for Andrew and at least make an effort to attend his nuptials?

  Tuck glanced in the rearview mirror as if seeing into the past and scoffed. Those sacred vows and the wedding registry weren’t worth the paper they were written on. At one time, he’d believed in marriage—the binding of two souls. But that was before his heart had been betrayed and stomped on. Witnessing two people standing up in front of the kirk—willingly chaining themselves to each other—wasn’t Tuck’s idea of a good time. But out of deference for Andrew and his bride, Tuck had gone to the pub that night in Stornoway and raised a glass to Andrew and Moira. And instead of rushing to Gandiegow, Tuck had taken a short-term fishing job. Hindsight was a taunting bitch. If he’d known the consequence of not going right away, he may have done things differently. He didn’t want to admit it, but deep down, he knew he’d crossed a line by not standing up with Andrew at his wedding. But eventually Tuck had come to Gandiegow and then stayed way beyond what was comfortable for him. Especially since everything had been bollixed from the start.

  Being late this morning would only confirm Gandiegow’s opinion of Tuck. He took the next bend in the road too fast, skidded a little, but the Almighty must’ve been rooting for him. He came out of the curve just fine.

  Never in a million years did Tuck imagine Gandiegow would make such a stink about him missing the wedding. To them it was a capital crime. The townsfolk let him know from the start that he was lower than the mud on their work boots. And since then, Tuck had been accused of a lot of things—filching pies, stealing wellies from the General Store, and making off with the virtue of more than one woman in the village.

  Okay, the part about the women might be somewhat true. But every lass he’d bedded had been willing. And he’d made it clear with each one, too, he would never come close to proposing marriage again. Sometimes, when he lay awake at night, he wondered at Andrew and Moira. Those two made marriage look easy. And fun. But Tuck wasn’t kidding himself. He would never marry. His past had proved marriage wasn’t in the cards for him.

  “Good for Andrew and Moira,” he said to no one as he rounded the top of a hill.

  On autopilot, it barely registered there was a car sitting cockeyed in the middle of the deserted road, until he had to throw on the brakes. “Holy crap!”

  Adrenaline flooded his system. He barely missed the stationary vehicle. His own auto slid sideways, nearly tumbling into the gulley before coming to a complete stop. For a full minute, Tuck couldn’t pry his hands from the steering wheel as his headlights illuminated a field of spring barley. Finally, he looked over at the other vehicle.

  He jumped out ready to give the driver a piece of his mind. But two steps from his vehicle, he saw a figure slumped over the steering wheel. He ran the rest of the way and yanked the door open.

  “Thank heaven,” said the man weakly as he lifted his hand. With his other hand, he clutched his chest and labored to breathe.

  Heart attack—was Tuck’s first thought. “Hold on there. I’ll ring for help.” He pulled out his mobile but had no signal. He cranked his head toward the road ahead and behind. No one was out. “Let’s get you to the hospital.” Tuck slipped his arm around the man’s waist and eased him from the car, then supported him, rushing as fast as he could back to his own vehicle. After settling the man in the backseat, Tuck dug around in the glove box, found the first aid kit, and pulled out an aspirin. “Here.”

  The man opened his mouth and Tuck dropped the pill inside.

  “Chew.” Tuck wished he could sprout wings and fly over the curvy, hilly byways of the Highlands. “What’s yere name?”

  “Raymond.”

  “Okay, Raymond, I’ll get ye there as fast as I can.” Tuck U-turned in the middle of the road and tore off the way he’d come, heading back to Inverness, his worries of ten minutes ago now gone.

  It seemed to take forever, but finally they made it to Inverness and arrived at the emergency room. The medical staff came to the rescue, maneuvering a gurney to the auto and hoisting the patient on it with practiced choreography. The man didn’t look great, but there was gratitude in his eyes as he gave a weak wave to Tuck as he was wheeled away.

  Tuck stood at his car, watching the emergency crew enter the hospital and then the doors closing behind them. He said a quick prayer—acting as if he was St. Andrew or something—that the man would be all right. As Tuck closed the car’s back door, he noticed something lying on the floor. He reached in and pulled out a wallet, knowing it must’ve fallen from Raymond’s pocket while removing him from the car.

  Tuck trotted into the hospital and spoke with the nurse behind the reception desk. “Can ye tell me how Raymond is doing? The one they just wheeled in here with a heart attack?”

  “Are ye family?”

  “Nay. But I found him while driving back to Gandiegow.”

  “Sorry,” the nurse replied. “I can’t. Privacy laws.”

  “Here.” Tuck handed over Raymond’s wallet. “Can ye make sure that he gets this?” Tuck gave his own name and information, explained again which patient, and watched as the nurse wrote everything down.

  Mentioning Gandiegow to the nurse reminded him of his commitment to be on John’s boat. As he walked from the hospital, Tuck pulled out his phone and called John’s number. No answer, which meant John had already pulled anchor and was out to sea. Next, Tuck tried the satellite phone on the boat, but John didn’t pick up then either. He’s probably pulling a net. Tuck pocketed his phone, slid into the driver’s side, and started the engine.

  As he put the car into gear, the adrenaline rush began to fade. He’d never know whether Raymond lived or died.

  Tuck took his time driving back—no need to hurry now. He’d catch the afternoon run with John on the boat and everything would be fine. John was thirty-seven, five years older than Tuck, but the age difference seemed much greater. John was married with his own fishing business, and Tuck was unc
onstrained, no responsibilities, not a care in the world…footloose and fancy free. And that was the way he liked it.

  He made a detour into Lios to treat himself to a fresh cup of coffee and a pastry at the little bakery on the corner. He sat at his table, congratulating himself that he’d done a good thing in the wee hours of the morning, maybe even saving Raymond’s life. He picked up the discarded newspaper lying on the table beside him and ordered another coffee. By the time he drove down the road leading into Gandiegow and parked, it was almost noon. Once John returned from the morning run, Tuck would explain everything. Then he’d join him on the boat this afternoon to make up for his absence this morning.

  In the meantime, Tuck headed to Andrew’s to squeeze in a nap.

  He whistled as he strolled away from the car and made his way through town. As Mrs. Bruce was stepping into the General Store, he said hallo, but she only gave him a disgusted look.

 
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