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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Parchment Scroll by C.A. Szarek

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The Parchment Scroll (Highland Secrets #3)

by C.A. Szarek

Published August 2014 by Paper Dragon Publishing

 The Parchment Scroll




*can be read as a standalone



Book Three in the time travel, fantasy romance trilogy, Highland Secrets!


Her sister is lost…in the past.


Three weeks after her sister goes missing, Juliette McGowan encounters her on a beach in Scotland. Her sister gives her a scroll full of claims about time travel and disappears—literally.


As a sister, Jules is determined to find her. As a cop, she can’t go to the authorities. The piece of parchment declares magic exists; they’d think she’s nuts.


When a mysterious woman vows she can help her get to the seventeenth century, Jules goes along with it out of desperation.


He’s an infamous barbarian…


Hugh MacDonald is intrigued when he finds a disoriented naked lass on the beach. She holds a scroll that was written by his rival’s wife. Clan MacLeod will pay ransom for her safe return, so he takes her captive.


She challenges his authority—and his desires. What started off as a plan to anger the MacLeods ends with Hugh wanting to keep her for himself.


Can Jules break free of the barbarian, find her sister and return to the future or will she give in to her attraction and desire to remain in the past?




From Chapter one… (PG)
“I’m not giving up. I have to find her.” Jules listened to her partner drone on about needing her. He wanted her to come home to Texas.
Too freaking bad.
“Jules, I hate that this happened, but what else can you do?” Dan asked.
She tried not to growl at him. “I’m a cop. I’m gonna do what I do.”
“In another country?”
“Yes. You might as well leave off, Dan. I have two more weeks’ vacation. Chief is cool with this. Why aren’t you? Some support would be nice.”
“I think you’re setting yourself up for disappointment is all. I’m worried about you.”
“Disappointment? You’re acting like this is a missing puppy. We’re talking about my baby sister. So you can kiss my ass.”
He sighed and she pictured him shoving his hand through his dark hair like he always did when he was frustrated with her. “I’m sorry, Jules. I’m not trying to be a jerk, or sound insensitive. It’s just—”
“I know. It’s been three weeks. It’s just if they’re not found within the first forty-eight hours, they’re usually not found.”
Jules didn’t tell Dan about the scroll in her hand. Or that she’d seen—held—Claire in her arms on the beach.
She didn’t believe a word on the parchment. Despite the fact it was written in her sister’s neat, tight handwriting. “I know my sister. Something’s not right. She didn’t take off on her own.”
Despite what the letter says.
He sighed again, not answering right away. “Jules…”
“Look, I gotta go. I have an appointment with a guide and I don’t want to be late.”
“Just be careful. Call me if you need anything.”
“I will.” Jules hung up the phone in the bright room of the hostel. She shook her head and glared at the broken MP3 player on the nightstand.
She’d hit every isle, every historic landmark, museum, even castle and quaint village Claire’s tour group had traveled to. No sign until Tuesday last week when her sister had fallen into her arms naked—literally appearing out of nowhere. Jules had hugged her and demanded to know where Claire’s clothes were, as well as where she’d come from.
Hadn’t gotten her anywhere.
If she didn’t have the MP3 player and the piece of parchment as proof, Jules might’ve thought she’d dreamed it.
Claire had told her to read the scroll. Said she’d gotten married.
Then she’d said she loved her, and… well, disappeared.
The rest was hazy.
Jules was still full of what the hell?
No logical explanation.
No sign of her sister, either.
Claire had told her she’d probably never see her again.
“Screw that.” Jules made a fist, but was careful not to crush the fragile scroll. She’d read the words more than a hundred times.
Still didn’t believe them.
She sucked in a breath and sat hard on the bed. “What the hell am I supposed to do?” Jules closed her eyes and tugged at her messy ponytail.
Silence and a whole lotta no answer to her question.
Claire’s all I have.
“Dammit,” she muttered.
Jules stomped her feet into her boots and yanked the side zipper all the way up. She hadn’t worn the clunky things since she was a patrol cop, but they came in handy trudging all over the rocky beaches of the Hebrides.
“Not that it’s got me anywhere,” she growled, yanking her backpack off the chair in the corner. She grabbed her hoodie and slipped it on. The weather was chilly, and warmer clothing was almost an afterthought, since Texas was usually pretty mild in the spring.
With a sigh, Jules slipped one of the bag’s straps over her shoulder and surveyed the room. She had everything she needed to be gone all day, including two flashlights and food in her bag in case she got the munchies.
She didn’t know the chick she was meeting at the pub. The woman was Irish—at least from her accent on the phone—and she’d called Jules in response to the missing persons ad she’d placed in the local paper.
What the caller knew about her sister was a mystery—she’d refused to spill on the phone.
“Well, I’m about to find the hell out.” Jules pulled her door shut.
“Goin’ ou’, lass?”
Jules plastered on a smile for the owner of the hostel when she made it to the foyer of the building. “Gonna check out that famous pub.”
The older woman smiled. “Enjoy tha day.”
She nodded, turning away without another word. The only way Jules would enjoy her day was if she found Claire.
The sea air made Jules close her eyes and take a deep breath. It permeated everything, but she didn’t mind. The wind was clean and refreshing. Too bad she couldn’t take a minute and enjoy the serenity.
Her sister had always been fascinated with Scotland, but until Jules had set foot on Skye, she hadn’t understood why. She could see the appeal now, with the sprawling green fields and rocky beaches, the castle ruins strewn about, and even buildings as much as eight or nine hundred years old still standing.
History and legend dominated the Hebrides and if she hadn’t been on a mission, she would’ve loved exploring. Every place Jules had visited had been beautiful, even if it was a bit cold. And the accent—add it to a cute guy, and she could see why Claire would melt. She probably wouldn’t get used to the plaid everywhere, though. It made her think of school uniforms.
From Chapter Five… (PG-13)
Jules struggled to no avail. The man’s hands were like iron on her waist, and she was laid across the back of a huge black horse, so if she fought him harder, she would probably fall off and hit her head. “Let me go!” she commanded for the billionth time.
Air hit her bare ass, and she couldn’t even reach to yank the shirt down over it. He had her face-down, arms pinned, and damn horseflesh cut into her stomach, stealing her breath. Blood rushed to her head, making her pulse pound in her temples. She wiggled, but he held her tighter. “Seriously! Let. Me. Go.”
He chuckled and held on with only one of his hands.
God, he’s strong.
The guy was huge, too. She was tall for a girl, at five-ten, but this dude had towered over her on the beach. He had to be six-five or six-six, and he was broad, well-muscled, like he lived in the gym. He was hot, too, which just pissed her off. His long dark hair kissed his shoulders, and he had eyes to match.
Another breeze ruffled the shirt, shooting air up her spine. She clenched her thighs and whimpered. No doubt he could see her everything.
His grip burned through the thin linen of the tunic, but he wasn’t hurting her. Not really.
“Hope you’re enjoying the view,” Jules bit at him.
A deep chuckle teased her ears—and made her gut roil. She kicked her legs, trying to flip over and hit him. She’d always hated being restrained, even back in police academy days.
“Calm yerself lass, or ye’ll fall off my horse.”
Jules froze when she felt his big hands on her bare thighs. He brushed higher, getting closer to her girly parts, so she yanked her arm from beneath her and tried to punch his side.
The guy released the hold on her thighs—he only had two hands, after all—and she was able to get a hit in as he tried to grab her wrists.
He missed, she rolled, and clocked him in the ‘nads. Dude cursed—she guessed, it wasn’t English—and Jules took the opportunity to slip from the horse’s back. She landed so hard her bare feet shot pain all the way up to her knees, but the best part was the shock on his face.
Her captor had one hand on his crotch, and those dark eyes were wide. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, staring at her.
“Later, sucker!”
She ran. Harder than she ever had to go after a suspect. Her lungs burned, her legs seared all the way into her quads, and her feet were on fire. Maybe bleeding from the rocky terrain, but she didn’t stop to inspect them.
Hooves on her heels made her push harder.
He was yelling curses and orders from best she could tell, but Jules kept going even after she heard the thud of boots hitting the ground. She didn’t look over her shoulder to see where he was, but he was taller and had a longer stride than her, so she didn’t have a chance if she hesitated even for a second.
Hard hands seized her from behind, and then she was enveloped in his heat. He lifted her off the ground effortlessly and said nothing.
The guy stalked to the horse and threw her on its back, but this time he sat her up properly, swinging up behind her before she had time to react, or think about her bare ass on horsehair—there was no saddle. He wrapped her in his arms, and lifted her so she was sitting on his lap, then pinned her to him. The sound he made deep in his throat shot awareness down her spine and Jules squirmed.
She could feel his anger. He was seething, but he still hadn’t hurt her, despite the steel hold he had going on. His bare chest was hot against her back. And what a chest it was! Despite her own anger, her body was aware of every hard muscle, every defined line she could feel through the shirt she was wearing.
His shirt.
She tingled all over, against her will, worse than when he’d kissed her. Jules shivered and it had nothing to do with the chilly air. After all, she was still flushed from her escape attempt.
From Chapter Fourteen… (PG-13)  THIS IS THE HOT ONE!
“I’ll have ye, Juliette. I’ve though’ of nothin’ else since ye left me.”
A shiver racked her frame. He felt it beneath his palms. She swallowed and Hugh restrained himself from kissing her. “Then what?” she whispered.
He leaned down and brushed his lips against hers. When Juliette didn’t scoot away as expected, Hugh tugged her to him and took her mouth properly. He pinned her to his chest and forced her mouth open, but like before, she kissed him back.
Hugh slid his hands down the stiff material covering her back and kept going, cupping and squeezing her perfect bottom with both hands. He lifted her, rocking his pelvis into hers.
She yanked away all too soon, her scowl back in place. “No, Hugh.” Juliette put her hand up. Her face was flushed and she panted, her perfect breasts heaving in that corset. She might be denying him with words, but her body wasn’t.
One look at her kiss-swollen lips made Hugh bite back a groan. He was already hard and aching. He had to have her.
“We’ll speak in my rooms.” He pushed words out, but had to clear his throat. His voice was thick, desire evident even to his own ears.
They’d do more than speak. He just had to convince her.
Like he’d told her before, Hugh wouldn’t take Juliette by force, but her shaking form said he wouldn’t have to.
He grabbed her waist and hauled her close again, then swung her up over his shoulder without another word.
She yelped, hollered, and struggled, but she didn’t try to kick or punch him like she had before.
Hugh hurried his step. He’d not want to gain his aunt’s attention. As it was, he was lucky she hadn’t stormed the bailey when the MacLeods had been at the gate.
Obviously word hadn’t traveled its usual speed at Armadale. He had no doubt Mab would pound his doors down when she heard Juliette was here, but Hugh would deal with it then.
Now is for Juliette.
“Put me down!”
He didn’t follow her order until they were shut inside his quarters.
“You can’t just pick me up and carry me off every time we disagree!” Juliette’s exasperation leaked into more than her voice. She threw her arms wide and paced.
“Why no’?”
“Really?” She froze with that one word, a fair eyebrow arched.
His Juliette was gorgeous, and he enjoyed her temper. He closed the distance between them and reached for her.
“No. Not again. Don’t you dare put your hands on me.” His little lass’s glare could have slain him on the spot.
Hugh flashed a lazy grin and twirled one of her honey-colored locks around his finger. “Ye certainly liked my hands on ye a ’fore. Just now. In mine own great hall.”
Juliette scowled. She put both hands to his chest and shoved.
He planted his booted feet and didn’t move an inch.
Their gazes collided. Her mouth parted and Hugh’s cock twitched. His trek up the stairs with his lass over his shoulder had done nothing to alleviate the heavy ache in his groin. He swallowed a groan and yanked her to him.
Hugh dipped his head down, claiming her mouth and muffling her yelp.
Instead of fighting him, Juliette slipped her arms around his neck. She opened for him, whimpering as she kissed him back.
This is different from the kiss in the great hall.
It was more. She was fully with him this time.
Triumph shot down his spine. He lifted her into his arms and kissed her harder, squeezing her rear end as she wrapped her legs around his waist. He damned her trews to hell and back. Had she been wearing skirts, he’d already have his hands on her bare flesh.
She fired him in ways no other woman ever had. His cock was hard and pulsing, demanding freedom so he could slip inside her sweet body.
Hugh had missed her over the last three days. Thought of nothing but his foundling, his Juliette. And doing this. “Jesu, lass,” he breathed into her mouth.
Juliette moaned and tilted her head back. He answered her silent request and set a line of kisses on her neck, nipped her earlobe and she wiggled against him.
“Hugh,” she breathed.
Her body was wrapped around his, her softness hitting his hardness in all the right places. But they had too many clothes on.
“I willna take ye by force, lass. But by God, I burn fer ye.”
She whimpered.
He kissed her again, because he couldn’t not plunder her sweetness. Their tongues dueled. Juliette was kissing him back just as fiercely as he pressed his lips to hers. Hugh slanted his mouth over hers again and again.
His limbs shook, but he held onto her as tightly as she was holding on to him.
Hugh needed more.
So much more.








C.A. Szarek



Bestselling, award winning author of romantic suspense and epic fantasy romance, C.A. loves to dabble in different genres. If it's a good story, she'll write it, no matter where it seems to fit!


She's a hopeless romantic and always will be. Risking it all for Happily Ever After is what she lives by!


C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She's happily married and has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.


She works with kids when she's not writing.





Previous books in the series

The Tartan MP3 Player

The Tartan MP3 Player #1

The Fae Ring


The Fae Ring #2

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