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My Highland Wedding

Middlemarch Gathering, Book 5

My Highland Wedding

January 8, 2024

Edwina dreams of a musical career rather than the life her grandmother is pushing her toward—that of marriage, children, and tradition. Boredom on a grand scale! Attendance at the Highland gathering is a compromise, and all is going swimmingly with not a mate in sight until he prowls into the ballroom. An older man—striking and confident, and everything her teenage self wished for in a partner before music and songwriting became her focus.

Shapeshifter Mikhail has come to claim his bride, and he’s not leaving without her. A wife will ensure his life and household run smoothly, and he can focus on his business. Edwina isn’t the willing bride he expects, but with a bit of blackmail, the wedding moves forward. His feline adores her sass, and their instant connection surprises him.

Powerless to halt this abduction, Edwina puts on a brave face and publicly accepts the hand life has dealt her, but she refuses to let this charismatic tiger shifter walk all over her, even if he makes her purr…

Other Books in the Middlemarch Gathering series

Read an Excerpt

The formal Highland Gathering ball was off to a rip-roaring start, with a top cover band belting out a song that made Edwina McClintock’s right foot tap and her hips rock. The lead guitarist was perfection, and the vocalist’s smoky voice had more than one shifter female and a few males studying him with interest.

Edwina grinned at her best friend, but Suzie had eyes only for the drummer.

Edwina focused on Scott, another of the Middlemarch contingent attending the gathering. “Are you asking anyone to dance?”

“Some of these shifters scare me,” he muttered.

“Yeah,” Liam said, the other male in their dwindling group. “It’s not their teeth or their claws. It’s the desperation glowing in their eyes.”

Suzie joined their conversation. “Is it me, or do these shifters look reckless?”

“Got it in one,” Scott said. “That’s why they terrify me.”

Liam grimaced. “Some of them don’t have understanding folks at home. Most don’t have a Saber Mitchell or a London Drummond on their team.”

“True.” Edwina agreed. Desperation was the right word. A vibe of hopelessness and frustration permeated the air and rang out in loud, sometimes sharp laughter. The participants danced with a fervor that matched the bang, bang, bang of the drums. She scanned faces, some familiar after days of shared activities and experiences. A few had left with newfound mates, like their friend Anita.

Edwina made a note to text Anita since she should almost be home by now. Ramsay, the last member of their group, had disappeared, but he’d found his mate. She wasn’t sure what was happening with him. Maybe Anita had heard.

A wistful sigh escaped her before she got her head back in the “gathering” game. She needed to find a dance partner, or rather partners, because she didn’t want to send any male the wrong message. “We should mingle.”

Scott and Liam grimaced, and she rolled her eyes even though she sympathized with their procrastination.

“If I can socialize, so can you. I’ll go first and show you how.” She studied the nearest shifter males for a likely candidate. A flutter of murmurs to her right snagged her attention, and she angled her body. Her breath caught, and her eyes widened. “Whoa.”

The shifter causing the commotion was tall and built, with an arresting presence. Every female stood straighter, and whispers raced from one shifter to the next. He strode into the room like a man with a goal. The man was older than her by at least ten years, and his self-assurance came from his wealthy background since his suit molded his muscular body and screamed designer.

He paced a circuit of the crowded ballroom as if searching for someone.

Edwina’s insides squeezed tight as his path brought him closer to her. Most Middlemarch men were black leopards with black hair and green eyes. This man’s hair was dark brown and bore tawny streaks. It was slightly too long, and the urge to test those locks for softness had her fingers curling inward to dig into her palms. As if he sensed her fascination, his head cocked in her direction. His nostrils flared as he scented the air.

Edwina released a soft laugh. He probably regretted the deep inhalation because the perfume and aftershave in the ballroom made her eyes water. En mass, it was an overpowering cloud of stinky chemicals and natural scents.

When the shifter’s gaze settled on those around her, she got her first full glimpse. His wasn’t a pretty face since age and determination had left their stamp on him, but it was arresting and worth a second glance. She mentally added more years to his age. He was fit, his body moving fluidly beneath that designer suit. Edwina wondered which animal he transformed into and speculated it might be a feline because of the way he prowled.

There was no other word to describe his swinging yet controlled gait.

Edwina continued to monitor the intriguing male. She gasped, suddenly requiring a hit of air to clear her head. She didn’t even care if she started sneezing from the excess perfume, not when her lungs screamed for oxygen.

“Who is he?” Suzie whispered.

“I-I don’t know.” But something about his presence drew her and had her heart fluttering. She took half a step before she jerked to an appalled halt. Despite attending the gathering, she had no intention of hooking up with a male. When she and Suzie arrived back in New Zealand, they were packing to leave for Wellington and a university life full of music.

She was too busy for any man, even an intriguing one.

His gaze passed over her and Suzie and continued.

Edwina’s breath hissed out in disappointment before she chuckled, mocking herself. A man would mess with her plans.

“Wow,” Suzie murmured. “I wonder who he’s searching for? I kind of wished it was me for a moment there.”

Edwina laughed louder, catching the man’s attention.

Blue eyes. He had striking blue eyes the color of Lake Tekapo in McKenzie country. Beautiful and stunning—a crystal blue. Those blue eyes of his widened slightly, and he halted, his gaze wandering across her face and down her red dress. Not a garment her grandmother would approve of, but it made her feel like an old-fashioned film star, and it was essential to don clothes that gave one confidence.

He straightened a fraction and changed direction, his prowl taking him to a spot directly in front of her.

Over to her right, a beautiful blonde wolf sighed.

A leggy brunette standing slightly to her left stepped forward. “Can I interest you in a dance?” she asked, not put off by his silence or his leashed power.

“No,” he said without taking his gaze off Edwina.

A pain in Edwina’s chest reminded her to breathe. This time, the cloud of perfume didn’t assault her. Instead, she smelled him—a hint of pine and fresh mountain air.

Yes, a feline.

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, impatience stamped into his handsome features.

“Me?” Edwina touched her right hand to her chest, her body suddenly clammy. He was a stranger—a sexy one—and he’d mistaken her for someone else.

“Yes, hurry. We must leave, or we’ll miss our plane.”

“What?” Suzie demanded.

Edwina was glad Suzie asked because words failed her. She swallowed to moisten her dry mouth. The man’s presence was overpowering, and her feline had gone strangely silent.

The stranger ignored Suzie, his focus entirely on Edwina. “Come,” he said and extended his hand. “The minister has a deadline.”

Edwina blinked, trying to make sense of his words. The man grasped her hand and lifted her right off her feet. She flew with ease, her stomach settling on his hard shoulder. Her lungs emptied with a whoosh.

“I’m here to claim my bride, and the minister awaits in the castle chapel.”