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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.



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Chapter One


December 1884


Ian Mackenzie hated funerals.

He especially hated dour, overly long funerals that dragged family and friends out to the side of a damp grave in the middle of a Scottish December, wind coming off the hills to chill the bone.

The only warmth was Beth, standing at his side like a bright flame. She wore a dark gray frock trimmed with black, in keeping with the solemn occasion, but she could have been dressed in fiery red for the heat that suffused Ian. Because of Beth, he was able to come today and pay his respects to an old neighbor.

The minister droned on about man being cut down like a flower in his prime--ridiculous, because Mrs. McCray had been ninety. A Sassenach from northern England, she'd married the laird in the next valley, a crony of Ian's father. Now Mrs. McCray and her husband were gone, and her sons, tall Scots lads who'd already produced more tall Scots lads, would take over the lands.

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