Highlander series book #2
June 24, 2014
Avon
ISBN-10: 0062273574
ISBN-13: 978-0062273574




Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn't count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan . . . with the most sinful of curves.

Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved . . . until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn't fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding . . . and lead to a love she's never known?

 

"A charming, lovely, romantic read, To Marry a Scottish Laird was a fantastic historical romance. I totally loved this book! It was sweet, enjoyable, and with a few surprises in store. I've adored every book I've read by this author and this one is no exception." Goodreads

"This is one of my absolute favorite Lynsay Sands historical's yet! The story started off with a bang and never slowed down. There's plenty of action, romance, and mystery to keep the reader intrigued from beginning to end." Anna Snow reviews

"I found To Marry A Scottish Laird a personal favorite, and by far at the top of my list for historical's from this author. I have always been impressed with her paranormals, however this historical romance has won my heart." Addicted To Romance

"There's nothing quite like a girl dressed as a boy plot theme to catch a reader's eye. Those looking for feisty heroines and honorable heroes will find them here." RT Book Reviews.

"Delightful! To Marry a Scottish Laird by Lynsay Sands is a historical romance sure to please. Joan is a bold and vibrant heroine that elevates this story with her imaginative manner. " Readaholics Anonymous

"To Marry a Scottish Laird is the newest historical romance from the wonderful Lynsay Sands. She returns to the Highlands of Scotland for this book, the second one in the series. It was an absolutely charming book, with lovely characters and a sweet romance. In true Sands tradition, the story had a few surprises along the way. I loved everything about the story from beginning to end." NightOwlReviews

"Hot, kilted man rescues a boy.  Boy turns out to be an attractively-shaped woman.  Man and woman have lots of (hot) sex.  Plot causes them to marry.  Things get crazy with jealousy, murder, and lies to get in the way of happily ever after.  Thus, we have a Lynsay Sands historical set in the Scottish Highlands.  These are my favorite Sands historicals. " BrazenReads

"TO MARRY A SCOTTISH LAIRD is the first historical romance I have ever read by Lynsay Sands, although I have read countless of her vampire books, and I find it remarkable that she is as comfortable with Scottish nobility as she is with her famous undead. The author's style is fluid and elegant, the main characters are noble, brave and honourable, and she takes great care in not presenting an anachronistic view of a bygone era. TO MARRY A SCOTTISH LAIRD is a lovely book with a few unexpected twists and turns of events. A charming romance!" Fresh Fiction

 



Chapter One

Cam heard the trouble on the trail ahead before he saw it. The screams made him instinctively slow his horse as he rounded the bend, but when he saw a young boy being held by the scruff of his shirt and beaten by a big bull of a man, Cam reached for his sword and spurred his horse to move faster. A heartbeat later he’d reached the pair.
The thud of his boots hitting the ground made the assailant glance around, just in time to see Cam’s sword hilt before it slammed into the big oaf’s head. The fellow went down like a stone, unfortunately falling on the boy and landing with enough weight to bring a grunt of pain from the almost senseless lad.
Wincing in sympathy, Campbell used his booted foot to roll the villain off the boy. The moment the man’s weight was removed, the lad opened his swollen and blackening eyes and squinted up uncertainly.
“Ye’re safe,” Cam said and bent to offer him a hand up.
Instead of taking it, though, the lad glanced past him, swollen eyes widening slightly with horror. Cam instinctively started to straighten, but a blow to his lower back made him stagger. He managed to avoid trampling the lad and regained his footing after a couple of steps, then whirled to confront his assailant.
Assailants, Cam corrected himself grimly as he took note of the three men he now faced. They all had dirty faces and wore ragged clothes. None were as big as the man he’d knocked out, but they were not small either, and each had a different weapon. The bald man on the left held a club, the one with long dark hair on the right held a rusty old sword, and the ginger-haired one in the middle held a knife that was presently dripping with blood.
His blood, Cam realized even as he felt warm liquid begin to trickle down his lower back and leg. He hadn’t been punched in the back, he’d been stabbed. Mouth tightening, he raised his sword, pulled a small blade from his waist with his left hand and started forward, knowing he wouldn’t have long before the loss of blood weakened him. He had to take care of the men before that happened or he and the boy would no doubt be found dead here on the side of the road by the next traveler to come by.
Cam sent his knife flying at the man with the bloody blade first, waited just long enough to see it find a home in his chest, then swung his sword at the man on the right.
Despite his ragged clothes and filthy condition, the man handled his rusty old sword better than Cam would have expected. Or perhaps he was already weakening, and that—combined with the worry that he would be clubbed from behind by the third man at any moment—affected his abilities. Whatever the case, it took Cam half a dozen swings of his sword to finally fall his combatant.
Amazed that he hadn’t already received half a dozen blows to his head and back, Cam whirled to confront the other man, only to find him on the ground. The boy stood over him, the ginger-haired man’s bloody blade in hand.
“He was going to hit you,” the lad said defensively, dropping the blade when he glanced up to see Cam staring at him.
Mouth opening to thank the lad, Cam took a step forward, but his mouth closed when he found himself suddenly on his knees. He peered down with confusion as his sword then slid from his fingers, and turned bewildered eyes to the boy. But in the next moment he found himself planted flat on the ground and losing consciousness.

Joan stared at the Scot with amazement. One minute he’d been seemingly strong and well and battling her assailants, and the next he was facedown in the road. Stooping to pick up the knife again, she quickly wiped it on the dead man’s back to remove the blood, and then slipped it into the belt at her waist and stepped over him to move to her savior’s side.
Her gaze immediately found the dark patch on the back of his plaid. She didn’t need to touch it to know it was blood. He’d been stabbed, Joan realized, surprised at how serious the wound was. She’d seen the ginger-haired man approach him from behind with the knife raised and had assumed he’d stabbed him, but when her savior had battled so capably, she’d thought perhaps it had only been a paltry wound. The amount of blood on his back and soaking through his plaid from the buttocks down, though, suggested it had been a rather nasty one after all. In fact, she was now amazed that he’d managed to fight at all.
Sighing, Joan sat back on her heels and glanced around. She was pretty sure that three of the men were dead. But the man who had been beating her when her savior had arrived was merely unconscious. She briefly considered rectifying that situation, but Joan was a healer. Killing an unconscious man, even one who had been beating her but moments ago, went against everything she believed in.
Her gaze slid back to her savior and Joan raised his plaid to see the wound. She got an eyeful of his arse first, but this was not the first time she’d tended an injured man and her training kicked in, allowing her to ignore his naked behind and instead turn her attention to his lower back.
“Damn,” she muttered, noting the jagged wound. It looked deep and nasty. The knife hadn’t plunged right in and out, but Ginger had twisted it, leaving a hole rather than a slice in the skin. Cursing, Joan pushed herself to her feet and rushed to grab her bag from where she’d dropped it while the toothless giant had been assaulting her. She was rummaging inside when he moaned and shifted next to her.
Joan stiffened, her eyes shooting to the man. Toothless was waking, which was the last thing she needed. Mouth tightening, she glanced wildly around until her gaze settled on a good-sized rock nearby. Grabbing it up, she turned to Toothless as he started to push to his feet and slammed it into his head with a good deal of force. He collapsed to the ground with a grunt of pain and lay still.
Joan eyed him briefly, prepared to thump him again if he stirred. Killing a helpless man might go against her nature, but she had absolutely no problem knocking him out, and hopefully with enough force that it would leave him with a grand headache later. Certainly, Joan was going to suffer from his attack for some time. She was already suffering. Toothless had been furious when she’d refused to give up her bag and had taken out that fury on her, pummeling her face and chest with his big, ham sized fists. As a result, Joan’s face felt as if it was on fire and hurt everywhere. She had no doubt it was swelling and bruising by the moment. She was also pretty sure she had more than a couple of cracked ribs. If she were standing rather than kneeling, she’d kick Toothless a couple times to ensure he suffered as much as her when he woke up. However, she had to tend to her savior, so Joan dropped the rock and continued searching her bag until she found the items she needed and then moved back to the Scot’s side.
Despite the need to rush, she was careful to clean the wound thoroughly before sewing him up. The moment Joan had finished bandaging him, she checked on Toothless again. The man appeared to still be deep in unconsciousness. She considered giving him another good blow to the head to ensure he stayed that way for a bit, but then turned her attention to the Scot instead. Getting him on his horse and getting them both out of there, and far away from Toothless seemed a good idea. She started out trying to lift him, but the man was huge. After a moment to inventory what she had at hand, Joan then moved to her savior’s horse. The mount was a beauty. Only nobility would own a beast as fine. She murmured and cooed to the horse as she approached, caressed his nose when he let her near, and then caught his reins and urged him back to stand beside his owner.
Joan next moved to each of the dead attackers and quickly removed their clothes. They weren’t in the best of shape, threadbare in some places, torn in others. It made it easy for her to rip them into strips and quickly tie them into a cloth rope. She only hoped the cloth would hold the Scot’s weight.
Toothless was stirring again by that point, so Joan took a moment to hit him over the head again. Satisfied that he was again unconscious, she then tied the makeshift rope around the Scot’s chest, under his arms. She threw the free end over his mount’s saddle before rushing around to grab it up. Bracing her legs, she then began to pull.
The man was heavy. Joan had to literally bend her knees and curl into a ball and hang all her weight from the cloth rope to accomplish her task, but eventually she managed to get the Scot over his horse, arms dangling down one side, legs on the other.
Sighing with relief, Joan dropped the rope, then ran around to the other side of the horse, reached under its belly to catch the dangling cloth and quickly tied it to the Scot’s ankles. It was the only way she could think to make sure he didn’t fall off and she didn’t have to go through this again. The man might shift and hang under the beast’s belly, but he would remain on the horse. And hopefully, with her mounted behind him, she could prevent him from shifting. Rushing to her bag, Joan scooped it up, closed it and then collected the weapons the men had used.
Getting on the beast’s back was a trial in itself, but she eventually managed the task. Joan immediately took up the mount’s reins, but then paused. She was hot and sweaty, her face and head ached and she was even a little lightheaded now. Rather than risk fainting and falling off the beast, Joan paused to allow her heartbeat to slow down and her head to clear. She watched Toothless the entire time, though, afraid he’d rise up like some nightmare monster and stop them just on the verge of escaping. He didn’t, however, and still lay motionless in the road when she kicked her heels and urged the horse to move. Joan tried that three times before acknowledging that there was something wrong with the beast … or she wasn’t doing it right. She’d never ridden a horse before and had no idea what she was doing. Sighing, she slid off the horse again, moved around in front, and took the reins to lead it away along the path.
She had no idea where they would go, but it seemed a good idea to put some distance between this spot and them. She would walk for an hour or so and then try to find somewhere to stop, somewhere safe, where they could rest while they both healed, and where Toothless wouldn’t find them when he woke. After that … well, she’d stay with the Scot until he was well enough to take care of himself again, Joan decided. She owed him that much for saving her life.

Cam felt like hell. That was his first awareness. His back hurt, his mouth was as dry as dust, and—he suddenly realized—he was lying on his stomach with his bare arse in the air. What the hell? He started to shift, intending to roll over, but a hand pressed down on his back, stopping him.
“Don’t move.”
Cam glanced warily over his shoulder and let his breath out when he recognized the boy he’d saved on the road. Actually, he didn’t recognize him so much as guess it was the lad by his bruised face. The poor boy had really taken a waling. His face was almost deformed, it was so swollen under the wool cap he wore. Cam would guess that the lad was probably in as much, if not more, pain than he was presently suffering. Wincing in sympathy, Cam turned and lay flat, only to wince again, this time in pain from whatever the boy was doing to his back.
“What the devil are ye doin’ lad?”
“Cleaning your wound again before I put a clean bandage on.” The answer was a bit slurred, no doubt from the swelling around the boy’s mouth. “It stings like the devil, I know, but has to be done.”
Cam grunted in response, and then stuck his fist in his mouth to keep from screaming as something was poured over his wound that made it feel like the area had been set on fire.
“Breathe,” the boy suggested. “You’re holding your breath and ’tis easier do you breathe through the pain.”
Cam let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, and sucked in another deep draught that he immediately released. Oddly enough it did help. It didn’t exactly relieve the pain, but somehow made it more bearable. He breathed deeply in and out until the burning agony lessened to a nagging ache.
“You’ll need to sit up for me to bind you.”
Cam removed his fist from his mouth and eased carefully to his hands and knees, and then sat back on his haunches and raised his arms, ignoring the fact that he was completely naked. The boy rubbed something soothing on his wound, then began winding cloth around his lower waist, reaching around his stomach to pass the strip of cloth from one hand to the other and draw it back to wrap around him again. He made three passes before tucking the end of the cloth in to the binding at Cam’s side.
“Done.”
Cam glanced back to see the lad packing his medicinals and tools back into a cloth satchel.
“You should dress,” the boy suggested, nodding past him. “’Tis chilly today.”
Cam glanced forward and noted that he’d actually been lying on his plaid. Grabbing it up, he quickly shook it out and then laid it on the ground and began to fold pleats into it. His gaze flickered upward as he worked. The sun was high in the sky, making it about the nooning hour. It had been late afternoon the last he recalled. He’d obviously been unconscious for at least almost a day. He glanced around his surroundings next, taking note that he didn’t recognize the area.
“How long since the attack?” Cam asked as he finished pleating the cloth. Straightening, he spotted his belt and grabbed it to slip beneath the pleated cloth. He then laid on it. Before this, Cam had never noticed how much movement there was to donning his plaid, but with every shift in position causing a shaft of pain to shoot through his back, he was aware now. Lying on the wound was the worst though.
Cam was pulling one side of the plaid around his body when he realized the boy hadn’t answered him. Glancing over he noted that the lad was staring at his groin with a wide-eyed fascination that almost verged on horror. A smile pulling at his mouth, Cam shook his head. “Do no’ worry, ye’re just a stripling. Yers’ll get bigger in time.”
The boy blinked. “What’ll get big—” The words died in his throat as his gaze shot down to Cam’s groin with understanding. The boy then flushed and turned away, focusing firmly on the task of repacking his bag.
Chuckling, Cam finished donning his plaid and then eased cautiously to his feet. “Ye did no’ say … how long has it been since the attack?”
“You’ve been in a swoon for three days,” the boy answered, closing his bag and tightening the tie at the top.
“Three days?” Cam asked with disbelief, and then scowled. “And I did no’ swoon.”
“All right, you’ve been sleeping for three days then,” the boy said with a shrug. After a moment, he added grudgingly, “You were in and out of fever most of that time. It broke this morning.”
Cam grimaced, and glanced around. They were in a clearing by a river. He didn’t see a road anywhere. “Where are we?”
“I thought it best to get you somewhere safe to recover,” the boy said quietly and straightened with his bag. “Now that you have, I suppose you’ll mount your horse and be on your way so …” The lad nodded at him. “Thank you for saving me life. I’m sorry you were wounded. Safe travels.”
Cam’s eyebrows flew up as he watched the boy move over to sit on a small boulder by the river. The lad really expected he’d just get on his horse and leave him here now that he was on his feet. Although, on his feet was a rather generous way to put it. He might be standing, but his legs were shaking beneath him, and he felt extremely weak. He was in no shape to travel yet, and even if he were, he’d hardly abandon the boy after he’d spent three days nursing him back to health.
Spotting his sword and knife on the ground, Cam moved over and bent to pick it up, just barely refraining from crying out as his stitches pulled in his back. Damn. Mayhap he was glad he’d slept these last three days. If this is how it felt on the fourth day of healing, he was not sorry to have missed the first three.
Straightening with a grimace, he eased his sword and knife into his belt and then settled on a boulder next to the boy. He stared at the water moving slowly past and cleared his throat. “Thank ye fer tending me.”
“’Twas the least I could do,” the lad said with a shrug. “You were wounded saving me from those thieves … and I thank you for that.”
Cam eyed him silently, one eyebrow raised. The boy was an English peasant and obviously poor, his clothes threadbare and dirty, his hat in no better shape. All he seemed to have was the bag of medicinals. “What were they trying to steal?”
“Me bag,” the boy answered, brushing his fingers over the bag he’d set on the ground between his feet.
“For that they were beatin’ ye?” He asked with disbelief, wondering why the men would waste time pounding their fists on such a short thin lad when they simply could have taken the bag and left.
“Nay. They were beating me because first I wouldn’t let go of the bag until they forced me to, and then I kept chasing after them trying to get it back,” the boy admitted.
“Ye’d risk yer life fer a bag o’ weeds?” Cam asked with disbelief.
“They aren’t weeds. Weeds wouldn’t have saved yer life. They’re herbs,” the boy said stiffly, and then sighed, picked up a branch lying next to his boulder and began to absently strip the smaller twigs off. “’Sides, ’twas not the herbs I cared about, but a scroll that I am charged with delivering.”
“A scroll?” Cam asked curiously.
The boy nodded and began to dig in the dirt in front of his bag with the stick as he said, “Me mother asked me to deliver it on her deathbed.”
“Ah,” Cam said with understanding. “A deathbed request is a hard one to refuse.”
“Or fail at,” the boy added grimly. “I have to deliver the scroll. Mother said she’d not rest peaceful in her grave if I didn’t.”
“I see,” Cam murmured, his respect for the boy rising. He hadn’t taken the beating to save some small trinket, but to fulfill a deathbed request. He had honor, and obviously loved his mother. The boy’s voice had deepened several octaves when he’d spoken of the woman. That thought made Cam realize that the lad still had a higher voice, which meant he was even younger than he’d first thought.
His gaze dropped to the bag and he shook his head. The thieves wouldn’t have been interested in the scroll or the weeds in the boy’s bag. Had he just given it up, they probably would have upended it, spreading the contents on the ground and then—finding nothing of value—would have left him alone and continued on their way. But his refusal to give up the bag, and then his determination to have it back, had no doubt convinced them there was a king’s ransom stashed in the small satchel.
“What’s your name boy?”
“Joan—Joan-as,” the boy answered.
“Jonas?” Cam asked, wondering if the boy had a stutter or some other speech impediment. Perhaps it was just his swollen face affecting his speech, he decided.
“Aye. Jonas,” the boy muttered, ducking his head.
“Well, Jonas, I am Campbell Sinclair. Cam to me friends.”
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance Campbell Sinclair,” Jonas muttered, ducking his head again.
“As I said, me friends call me Cam, and since ye saved me life, I think I’ll count ye amongst them,” he said with a smile.
“Cam,” Jonas murmured, and then cleared his throat and said, “You can call me Jo. ’Tis what my friends call me.”
“Jo ’tis then,” Cam said easily.
They were both silent for a moment and then Jo asked, “Isn’t Campbell a clan name?”
“Aye. ’Twas me mother’s clan. So she gave me her last name fer a first,” he explained.
“Oh,” Jonas nodded and then began digging again with his stick.
“Let me see the scroll,” Cam said abruptly. When Jonas’s head shot up, eyes narrowed, he shook his head and said, “I will no’ take it. I do no’ even need to touch it. I just want to see it.”
Jonas hesitated, but then set down the stick and opened his bag. After rifling through it briefly, he pulled out a small, but thick, scroll. Cam could see the wax that sealed it, but it was just a blob, probably from candle wax dripped on it. There was no mark in the wax, however, as would be on a nobleman’s message. But then a peasant wouldn’t have a family ring with a crest to press into the wax. On the other hand, parchment wasn’t usually something a peasant had either.
“Tuck the scroll in yer shirt,” Cam said finally. “’Twill keep it safe, and the next time someone tries to steal yer bag, ye will no’ risk yer life to keep it.”
Jonas’s eyebrows rose, but then he nodded and shoved the scroll down the top of his shirt. It pressed against the loose material, but you wouldn’t notice it unless you were looking for it. Satisfied, Cam nodded.
“You’re rubbing your stomach. Is it sore or are you hungry?” Jonas asked suddenly.
“Hungry,” Cam admitted with a grimace. His stomach felt completely empty. He was sure if he swallowed a coin, they’d hear it rattling around inside his hollow belly.
Jonas nodded and stood. “I’ll trap a rabbit and gather some berries.”
“I can help,” Cam said, pushing to his feet.
Jonas didn’t humiliate him by pointing out that he was wavering on his feet like a sapling in a stiff breeze. He merely shook his head. “I’ll be faster on me own. Besides, you’ll tire easily for the next while. You should rest while you wait.”
Before Cam could even respond, the lad had slipped away and disappeared into the woods. He’d also left his bag behind. Cam would have liked to think it was because Jonas trusted him, but knew the truth was the boy now carried the only thing of import that it had previously held. Still, the weeds had come in handy and might again, so Cam stooped to pick up the bag, mouth firming against the pain the action caused. Straightening carefully, he carried it over to set beside his own bag, and then eased his way down onto the ground and lay on his side. A little rest sounded a good idea.

Joan wasn’t surprised when she returned to camp and found Cam sleeping. She’d seen enough injured men to know he’d do a lot of that for the next day or two. Maybe longer. That was all right with her. She hadn’t slept much the last couple of days as she’d watched over him. She hadn’t dared sleep while he was feverish, and had instead spent her time soaking his plaid in the river’s cold water and then laying it over him in an effort to cool him off. It was the only way she’d known to fight the fever. Joan couldn’t even guess how many times she’d rushed back and forth from the river to the unconscious man. He’d been so hot, the cloth had seemed to grow warm and dry in minutes. The only other thing she’d been able to do was dribble willow bark tea down his throat along with other tinctures she’d thought might help … and wait. Now that the fever had passed though, Joan didn’t have to watch over him constantly. It meant she could actually get some rest too.
Settling beside the fire, Joan turned her attention to cleaning the rabbit. It wasn’t the first time she’d performed the chore, so the process didn’t take long. Once that was done, she started a fire and then found a good-sized branch and skewered the animal on it. As she set it over the fire, Joan couldn’t help thinking that a pot would come in handy. Cam would have done better with soup than roasted meat, and she’d come across some wild onions and carrots while catching the rabbit. However, she had no pot, so they would have to make do with roasted rabbit and the vegetables she’d found, wrapped in the large leaves and roasted in the hot coals.
Sighing, Joan removed her hat and ran a hand wearily through her long hair as it fell around her shoulders. She was exhausted, and filthy. She hadn’t bathed since setting out on this journey two weeks ago and she itched everywhere. Two weeks and still she hadn’t made her way out of England and into Scotland, she thought with a shake of the head. True, her travels had been interrupted a time or two when she’d stopped to help an ailing or injured traveler, but still, she’d expected to be further north than this by now.
Sighing, she slid her hat back on her head and glanced to Cam. He seemed an all right fellow for a Scot. He’d troubled himself enough to stop and save her from a nasty situation. Many wouldn’t have. He’d even thanked her for tending to him afterward, something she wasn’t used to hearing from nobility. Generally, nobles took what they wanted without a by your leave, or reacted to a kindness as if they were entitled to it. But he’d thanked her.
Mind you, he thought she was a boy, Joan reminded herself. She didn’t know if that made a difference or not. Perhaps he still would have thanked her had he known she was a woman. She’d never know, because he’d never know she was a girl. Joan had told the truth when she’d said she was delivering a message as a deathbed request from her mother. The other part of her mother’s request had been an insistence that she dress herself as a boy for the journey. It had been a smart idea. After everything that had happened, Joan didn’t think she’d have got far on her journey had she traveled as herself. Even as a boy she’d encountered some pretty despicable characters with less than honorable intentions. She’d had some narrow escapes. This last one had been the worst, though.
Joan glanced to Cam again. It was something she’d done often over the last couple of days. It was impossible not to; he was a good-looking man with all that fair hair falling around his handsome face. He was also very well built. The man had muscles to spare. And his behind? Joan gave her head a shake, trying to remove the memory of the man’s derriere. She’d managed to avoid looking at it the first several times she’d tended his back, but temptation or perhaps exhaustion had weakened her and, of late, she’d found herself stopping to look at his behind as she’d tended his wound … and it was a fine behind. So fine she started to wonder if he had a lady wife. He probably did … and if not, then he most definitely had a betrothed. Things like that were arranged when a nobleman was a child.
Joan didn’t know why she even bothered to wonder about it. A lord would never be interested in a village lass, at least not for anything more than a dalliance. And Joan had no intention of being anyone’s dalliance. Truthfully, she didn’t think she wanted to be anyone’s wife either. From the time she was born her mother had taken her along to birthings and healings. Joan’s first memory was of a birth that had gone wrong. It was nothing but a fuzzy blur of blood and screaming, but that was enough. Since then she’d seen many other examples of what happened when a child was born. She’d seen women ripped up so badly below that their blood ran black. She’d seen women die with the child still lodged in their bodies. She’d also seen everything in between those two extremes when it came to birthing and it was enough to scare any desire to have children right out of her.
Nay, children were not for her. Joan was content with healing and midwifery and tending the sick. She had no desire to bind herself to another and bear children. No matter how attractive the man’s derriere was.

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