I'm taking a break from dating.
He's determined to date me.
Add a kilt and a Scottish accent,
and let the Highland Games begin.
Lark: After my jerky, now ex-boyfriend leaves me with an empty fridge and a maxed-out credit card, I'm determined to stay away from irresponsible men. If I need romance, I'll find it in my favorite historical Highlander romance novels. So, when gorgeous Dag Ross--the local Mr. Irresponsible--asks me out, I turn him down.
Dag: During the day, I lounge in bed or work as a part-time handyman for my best friend. At night, and under a secret pen name, I write wildly popular romance novels featuring a brawny, sword-wielding Scotsman named Duncan Magnus Ferguson MacLeod. Since I know true love doesn't exist outside of fiction, I'm blindsided when I meet Lark. And when I see her with her favorite romance novel--my novel--and she hints she'll date a hero like Duncan, I take on her Highlander wooing challenge.
Lark: Who would've thought Dag dressed in a kilt, spouting Scottish phrases could be this...hot? Keeping him at arms-length is getting harder by the minute. I'm worried if I let him in, he'll hurt me like my jerky ex.
But if I push him away, will I lose my chance at a happily ever after?
The Crescent Cove Romance Series features laugh-out-loud moments, plenty of swoony romance, on-the-page heat, no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after. Each book in the series is standalone and can be read out of order.
SOME LIKE IT SCOT
A Crescent Cove Novel
© 2019 Marlie May
Most women would rather go out on a Friday night than stay home with a hot man dressed in a kilt.
A fictional kilted man, that is.
Not me. Which was a problem. Admitting I preferred reading over a hot date suggested I was well on my way to cat lady status. It also implied I’d hit the bottom of the dating scene barrel and needed an intervention.
Which was true.READ MORE
I’d offered to take my sister, Paisley, out for her birthday tonight, which showed I was making an effort. Putting myself out there.
We crossed the road and stepped up onto the sidewalk. Only a few blocks left to go before a night of possibilities stretched ahead of us. For Paisley that is, because she was on the prowl. I was in this for the socialization. And the beer.
Paisley smiled over her shoulder. “Keep up, slowpoke.”
Groaning, I pretended to hobble. “My legs are tired.”
“What did you do today? Three? Four miles?”
“Jeez, Lark. Maybe you could take a few days off? You’re wearing yourself out.”
Since I competed in half marathons to benefit the Sweetwater Cancer Foundation, I couldn’t slow down now. Unhappy with my last finishing time, I’d stepped up my training in preparation for an event in the upcoming Highland Games. Good finishing times guaranteed generous sponsors. As well as tired Larks.
A gust of wind snatched up leaves and skipped them along the pavement like thin stones tossed across a pond.
Paisley hugged her jacket close. “Brr. Tell me again why we decided to walk and not to take a cab?”
“Because extra money translates into more beer.”
“Oh, yeah. I like the way you think.”
It was so cold, my cheeks ached, but that was spring in Maine for you. June had recently shoved out its timid cousin, May. But while people in warmer climates might be wearing shorts, this part of the world had barely moved beyond mitten season.
We passed a man coming from the opposite direction who smiled and tapped the brim of his baseball cap. “Evening, ladies.”
“Evening.” Paisley barely held in a giggle.
My lips twitched. While Paisley paused and stared after him, I continued toward the Crescent Cove Brew House—the only place downtown guaranteed to serve alcohol after eight.
Paisley rushed to catch up, her heels tap-tap-tapping on the pavement. She leaned near and whispered, “Where are you going? It was a man.”
I rolled my eyes. “I have it on good authority they’re not threatened with extinction.”
“Cute ones are.”
He had been cute, but cute was off limits. For that matter, not cute men were also off limits.
Paisley pouted. “You’re taking all the fun out of my special day.”
“By not flirting with strangers on the sidewalk?” Even though Paisley had been milking her birthday celebration since yesterday, she was right to call me out for being a grump. I linked my arm through hers and laid my head on her shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
With Paisley taking summer classes and me working all kinds of hours at the diner, sister time was rarer than…well, hot, kilted men. And that thought brought out my full grin. “What do you say? Should we hunt him down?” Stalking men could take our Friday night to a whole new level.
Her lips twisted. “He wasn’t that cute. Let’s take our hunting elsewhere.” Paisley hauled her hat down over her ears, making her blonde curls stick out on each side like corkscrews. Her pink nose wrinkled, but her eyes gleamed with happiness.
Inside the Brew House, I unzipped my jacket and soaked in the warmth. Music swirled around me, and my hips caught the rhythm and swayed along.
Taking stools beside a window looking out on the street, we ordered two pints of beer. Clear glasses topped with a healthy dose of foam were soon placed in front of us. The bartender also slid a bowl of pretzels down the bar, in case the urge to balance hops with salt overcame us.
Paisley took a long drink of her beer. She clunked the glass back on the counter and smacked her lips. “Ahh. Nectar of the gods.”
I sipped my cranberry wheat, savoring the tart pinch in the back of my throat. “It is good, isn’t it?” I rocked my drink back and forth on the smooth wooden bar top surface, making the amber liquid slosh.
Paisley danced in her seat in time with the music. “Thank you for my present.” She hugged me. “We haven’t done anything like this together in ages.”
I couldn’t remember when we’d last gone out. Between working at the diner and getting everything ready for the first Highland Games Committee meeting, I’d barely found a moment to think. Playtime always got shoved aside for later, and later never came. Sometimes, just keeping up with life overwhelmed me.
“How’s the job hunt coming along?” Paisley asked.
“I’ve got an interview next week for a managerial position at the indie bookstore near the mall.” In the town next to ours. If I was lucky, I’d soon get to use my business degree. Standing at college graduation a few weeks ago, it hadn’t mattered that at twenty-seven, I was one of the “older” students. Sure, it had taken me nine years to finish, but I’d gone part-time. Checking off that goal was all that mattered. But it was time to find full-time work in my new field.
“How can they not hire my wonderful sister?” Paisley toasted me with her beer. “Don’t forget to mention what you do for the Foundation.”
“It’s on my resume already.” I’d been asked to help with the upcoming Highland Games, an event the Sweetwater Cancer Foundation was hosting to raise money. My half marathons guaranteed a good donation to the Foundation, but the Games would give the organization the financial boost it truly needed. I’d never find a way to fully repay them for what they’d done while Paisley was sick with leukemia a few years ago. Thankfully, she was in remission now.
Paisley slid off her stool and nudged her head toward the hall with the bathrooms. “I’ll be right back.”
Facing forward, I tapped my fingernails on the bar. A pretzel spiked my appetite, so I ate another, washing it down with beer. I glanced around, but still no Paisley. There must be a long line for the bathroom.
I opened my purse and pulled out my book. A soft smile lifted my lips as I traced my fingertip along the cover model’s muscular chest. Revenge of the Highlander was one of my favorites in this series.
Opening to my bookmark, I started where I’d left off earlier.
Duncan dispatched the last kidnapper with a thrust of his claymore. While the outlaw gasped his final breath, the brawny Scottish warrior turned to where Lenore was tied to the back wall of the cave. He stalked toward her, the folds of his blue and green kilt shifting across his muscular thighs.
Halting, he stroked her face, and a growl rumbled in his chest. “Och, lass, what have they done to ye?”
“Tis nothing,” she said. “I feared for your life. Those men—”
He kissed her forehead. “Dinnae fash yerself. All is well now.”
Pulling his dirk, he made quick work of her ties. As he gathered her into his embrace, his scent, heavy with the thrill of battle, swirled around her.
His lips descended. His tongue slaked across hers, stirring her fire. She—
“Jeez, Lark.” Paisley settled on her stool. She waved at the worn paperback. “I can’t believe you’re reading when we’re supposed to be out celebrating.”
“You were gone a long time.” Heat filled my face as I tucked my book away in my purse. I’d only planned a quick peek, but like every other time, I’d been sucked into the life of Duncan Magnus Ferguson MacLeod. His broad shoulders. His chivalrous ways. His heady kisses.
No real man could compare.
“S’okay.” Paisley glanced sideways and shifted around to speak by my ear. “Hottie alert at nine o’clock. Did you see the guys at the other end of the bar?”
I leaned forward. A man with wavy brown hair sat beside a blond guy. Both looked a few years older than me. As if sensing my attention, the darker-haired one raised his eyes to meet mine. My neck tingled, and I wrenched my gaze from his.
“Pretty sweet, huh?” Paisley asked.
I fanned my face. Was he ever. Chiseled jaw line. Muscular build. Drop-dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, like every other cute guy out there, Mr. Tall Dark and Everything was probably aware of his blinding appeal.
“We should go over and introduce ourselves,” Paisley said.
“Not tonight.” I snatched a pretzel from the bowl and chased the saltiness with beer. The Brew House sure knew how to keep their customers drinking.
“Because I’ve come to a momentous decision recently.”
Paisley lifted her eyebrows.
“I’m swearing off dating.”
She snorted. “For good?”
“Because of Ted.”
“He burned me so badly, I’m contemplating signing up for firefighter training.”
“Decent career. And firefighters?” Paisley wiggled her eyebrows. “They’re smokin’ hot.”
“I’m not hooking up with a fireman.” Although, there was something appealing about muscle-bound men striding around with their bare chests hanging out. Posing with puppies for calendars. Sliding down those poles…I shook my head, sending my long brown hair onto my back. No more men for me.
“I know you’ve had a dry spell since Ted…left, but the best thing to do is get back on the camel.”
I snickered. “One problem. The saying includes a horse, not a camel.”
Paisley shrugged. “If we were in Egypt, we’d be saying camel.”
“If we were in Egypt, we’d be drinking in an oasis.” I waved my glass at the room in general. “But I’m not seeing palm trees or blue pools of water.”
“Or sheiks. Don’t forget the sheiks.”
“With you here, I doubt I could.” Why was I picturing the cute guy at the end of the bar dressed in sheik’s robes? With a sexy beard.
Astride his horse, he pursued me across the desert sand. His mocking laughter rang out. Ye will be mine, lass, he said.
No, wait. That was Scottish, something Duncan would say. And a sheik would say…well, I wasn’t sure what a sheik would say. Something Arabic, I supposed.
My imagination must be ruling my brain tonight. Or stupid Cupid had decided to tease me the second I’d announced I was taking a dating hiatus.
“I don’t plan to marry them,” Paisley said. “I only want to get to know them better. One of them, anyway.” Her face scrunched. “I’m not into threesomes.”
Neither was I. For months, I’d only been into onesomes. Maybe I was going through a dry spell. Unable to help myself, I peered in their direction again. Mr. Tall & Brooding’s gaze pinned me to my seat. Delicious shivers raced through my bones, but I needed to ignore the feeling. “Already told you. Not interested.”
“What’s not to like? They have all their teeth, they’re decently dressed, and from what I can tell from here, they’re not drunk. Yet.”
“I’m not setting myself up to get hurt again. Whenever I trust someone, he turns into a jerk.” Well, except for Duncan. Who was unavailable because he was fictitious. But that was being picky. My Highlander made the perfect dating material. To go out with him, I only had to open one of his books, flip through the pages, and drool during the steamy parts. And when I got tired of him, I could put him back on the bookshelf until our next interaction.
“You just haven’t found the right one yet,” Paisley said.
I stabbed a pretzel circle and shook my finger at my sister. “I tell you, there are no right ones out there.” My ex-boyfriend, Ted, had lounged around my house all day and spent the rest of his time eating a path through my fridge. I’d kicked him out, but not before he’d borrowed my credit card and racked up enough debt to drown Paisley’s camel. “I’m not going out with anyone until I’m convinced he’s decent,” I said. “I can take care of us, but I draw the line at letting some guy leech off me again. Hey. Maybe I should use my new degree and treat dating like a business. Before I go out with someone, I’ll check his references.”
The idea wasn’t that far-fetched. My potential dates could fill out applications. I’d interview their former girlfriends and maybe their moms. Well, moms might be taking it too far, but—
“Why not ask them to get DNA testing while you’re at it?”
I tilted my head. “Do you think they’ve identified the jerk gene yet?” I chuckled, but I wasn’t exactly joking. “You’re implying this is complicated, but I don’t actually need much in a man.” With my fingers, I ticked off what I considered decent dating material. “He needs to be trustworthy, single, employed, use his own credit card, not mine, and…”
“And what?” Paisley asked.
“Bonus points if he’s a hero.”
“Like Spiderman?” Paisley grimaced. “Not into spiders.”
“All those webs.” I shuddered. “I was thinking about the heroes in my books.”
“Oh, like the Highlander one you were just reading? Nothing like a man in a kilt.”
“Men like that don’t exist.” A lifetime of longing weighed down my sigh.
“I still think you should’ve kicked Ted’s loser ass to the curb long ago. And made him pay. It’s not like you owed the money. He’s the one who used your card for those sites.”
What a way to convince a woman she wasn’t fun enough between the sheets. I’d tried not to translate his porn addiction into a lack of appeal on my part. Told myself that turning down an invitation to join me under the covers to jerk off instead was his problem, not mine. But it hadn’t been easy. It still hurt.
“It’s been three months,” Paisley said.
“It’ll take longer than that to put it behind me.” I forced a grin. “But let’s not talk about me anymore. It’s your birthday, which means we need to indulge your every desire.”
“Since this night is about fulfilling all my wishes, we should start by sampling each brew on tap.” Paisley lifted the menu. “They have some new ones. Apricot jalapeño, chocolate stout, a peach IPA—”
“Hello. Apricot jalapeño?” I squinted over Paisley’s shoulder. Sweet, fruity flavors that lull you into a mid-summer night’s dream, only to shove you out of bed with a fiery kick in the morning. This place used the best descriptions for beer. “How about we order a couple sampler flights?”
“Can we get some curly fries, too?” Paisley asked. “I’m famished.”
“Deal.” The Brew House’s fries were better than sex. Any sex I’d ever experienced.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the men stand.
Mr. Smoldering, Dark, and Too-Cute spoke to his friend before moving around the end of the bar. He was tall, like six-two or three, and he moved like a panther on the prowl.
When his gaze locked onto mine, my heart flipped.