The entire ACOTAR series is on our sister website:

We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

Betrayed (Wild Mountain Scots, #4): Chapter 36


Wincing with each step, I entered Castle McRae’s great hall, only too aware that upstairs, Lia was getting ready.

This afternoon was our wedding.

It was killing me not to see her. A month ago, Maddock and Rory had been married outdoors on the estate, hosting a mini festival in the sunshine with kids running around and music playing. My cousin, Viola, had done the same, organised by her rockstar husband, Leo, and Maddock had loved it so much he’d dreamt of having the same.

I’d wanted mine to be more traditional.

The kilts, the sense of ceremony.

It reflected how I felt about Lia. The solidity our love gave me.

It was fitting, too, for this to be done in style. The last McRae wedding had to be special.

Chairs stood in rows across the room with an aisle running up the centre, and flowers wound around every possible surface. It was August, and a large gazebo waited outside for the party which would continue on until late into the night.

We were half an hour ahead of the ceremony, but I’d needed to make sure everything was as I’d planned it.

Besides, I’d barely made it through the last of my bridegroom trials intact, and I had relatives to side-eye for their role in it all.

In the centre of the room, my da and Uncle Wasp stood talking. In the same McRae tartan as me, both grinned at my approach.

“Ye made it out alive then,” Da quipped. He elbowed his brother. “I heard they had him hogtied.”

“What are ye talking about? I know ye were still there,” I scoffed.

The bruise on my hip and ringing in my head were testament to the lengths to which they’d gone. After they’d caught me outside the castle and my blindfold had been put in place, the older generation of my father and uncles called out their goodbyes. But I’d more than suspected they’d stayed around for the fun.

Uncle Wasp squinted at me. “Don’t know what you’re talking about, but I think ye still have marks around your wrists.”

I scowled and pulled at my sleeves, and both men cracked up.

My cousin, Lennox, sidled over, delight in his eyes. “Did ye scream before the heli picked ye up or after?”

It had been both, but my glare didn’t stop his cackle at the memory. The thundering of the heli had scared me half to death. Then when I’d been slowly raised by the rope tied to my feet, I’d genuinely thought they’d taken it too far.

Surely they couldn’t transport me, tied up and blindfolded, upside down and by helicopter. The fear had been real.

But then the heli roared away without me, and I got dumped into a filthy muddy puddle. Laughter and the thuds of people running away announced the end of the night, and my constraints had fallen away easily as I’d righted myself. Dripping. Not all that sober. Sort of laughing with them.


“Max,” another voice stole my attention. Uncle Callum moved in on me. “I had an interesting conversation this morning, with your father-in-law. He asked if he could buy your apartment. I told him no, because I cannae sell off the castle. So instead, he paid your rent for the next twenty years.”

I goggled at him. I’d burned through my savings keeping the castle apartment as our home. Affording it permanently had been ever-present on my mind. “Seriously?”

“Aye. I thought you’d like to know. It’s naw a gift ye can wrap in a bow.” He clapped my shoulder and strode away.

My phone buzzed in my pocket.

In a haze, I answered the unknown number. “Max McRae.”

“Mr McRae, this is Dita from the AST lab. We have your results. Is it a good time to talk?”

“Yes. No. Hang on.”

My stomach dropped, and I wheeled around and marched out of the hall, down the little corridor that led to Gabe’s tower apartment. Out of earshot, I tried to steady my breathing.

What felt like forever ago now, I’d spoken to Lia’s father, and he’d strong-armed some influential person to get me the DNA test I needed to prove my paternity over Evie.

I didn’t need this result to be her father.

I’d made that clear to both him and Lia.

But still, the test had to be taken. Arranging it took weeks. The infinitely detailed DNA mapping longer.

“It is now. Please give it to me straight. Don’t explain anything first. Just the answer.”

“Very well. I can confirm that you are the father of Evelyn Rothschild.”

Instant emotion crashed into me. I closed my eyes and staggered against the stone wall. My heart smacked hard into my ribs, and I slid to my arse on the stairs in front of Gabe’s doorway.

It made no difference to how much I loved my daughter, but I couldn’t speak or even summon a grunt by way of reply.

All of my thoughts on the subject evaporated, burned away, fled from my brain.

I was already Evie’s dad, now I was her dad.

Dita waited for me to speak, but I couldn’t find my words. If I opened my mouth, I’d probably cry like a bairn.

And that was the other thing. Lia was pregnant again. Just like the first time, we seemed to have natural luck in that respect.

“I’m going to talk you through the process so that you’ve heard this, but a copy will be sent through to you in the mail, too.” Dita read out a long list of processes and information I couldn’t understand. She listed facts and figures, bright yet neutral in her tone in the way of a trained professional.

When she ran out of things to say, I’d finally sucked in a breath and could force out words.

“Thank ye. It’s my wedding day, and this is the best gift.”

“My goodness, that’s wonderful,” she broke out of her mould. “Congratulations. I won’t keep you any longer. Read the information when it comes through, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I wish you a long and happy marriage.”

The bombshell call complete, I stashed the phone in my pocket and dropped my face to my hands.

I had to tell Lia, but we were closing in on the time she’d be walking down the aisle, and I wanted her to have her moment without drowning her makeup with tears.

She’d always insisted there was only one answer to this question, and she’d been right.

A clatter of bootsteps sounded on the stairs by me. I leapt up just as Gabe threw open the door.

In his suit, he looked like fucking James Bond, and the dangerous glint in his black eyes backed that up.

His gaze set on me, and he grabbed my shoulder. “Really sorry, I’m going to miss the wedding.”

“What are ye talking about?”

“I have to go. Now.”

“Where? Why? Talk to me.” I pursued him into the great hall.

“That situation I told ye about, it’s happening. Right now.” He spotted Maddock in the crowd. “I need to secure a heli from your brother. Enjoy your day, and give my apologies to Lia. See ye as soon as I can.”

“What situation?” I called after him, but the man was gone.

Gordain paced over, his gaze fierce like he knew something. “I’ve got him. Dinna worry.”

Any other day, and I’d have sprinted after them. Helped them out just like they’d helped me with the Struan situation. The wild, fucked up revelations on his life that were a story for another time.

But I had something more important to do.

On a makeshift stage in the corner, the string quartet played, alerting everyone to the time. I strode to the door, Maddock moving over to join me. As my best man, he’d been responsible for most of my stag do troubles, but I forgave him.

We’d come too far for anything to shake our brotherhood again.

Guests filtered in to take their seats, and we greeted them all. Family and kin had come from miles around. My sister and her family, uncles and aunts, cousins and their bairns, distant relations, and people who lived on the estate I’d known all my life.

Lincoln entered with his boyfriend. No, fiancé now, Lia had said. They were moving in together, and Trent had asked to be medically retired from the military so they could settle down somewhere. Lia had written Lincoln an excellent reference, so finding a new family to work for wouldn’t be a problem.

All around the great hall, happy couples took their places. Or a happy throuple in the case of my cousin, Blayne, who arrived with Brodie and Casey, his husband and wife, and their two bairns.

This wedding was a celebration everyone could share in.

Hard to believe it was mine and Lia’s big day and that we’d made it through all the shite that had been thrown at us.

I shuffled in my smart shoes and straightened my kilt.

“Aw, don’t sweat. Lia willnae mind your black eyes and hungover slouch. Ye still look pretty as a picture,” my brother whispered.

I elbowed his ribs with a swift jab.

He groaned and doubled over, laughing.

Once everyone was seated, we made our way to the front of the great hall, taking positions next to the celebrant. Then the musicians changed the tune, and my nerves built. Everyone turned to face the stairs that ran down the interior wall.

First, my mother appeared carrying Evie, two redheads so similar in their features.

In a flouncy blue dress with a McRae tartan sash, my bairn squealed in excitement and tipped up her flower basket so the petals scattered through the air, making it nowhere near the aisle.

A ripple of adoration and amusement went through the crowd. When Ma reached the bottom of the stairs, Evie spied me.

“Da!” she yelled, struggling to be set down.

Once on her feet, she scampered the rest of the way, somehow not tripping over her dress in her haste to get to me. I stooped and caught her up in a big hug.

“Aren’t ye beautiful? Is your ma okay? Have ye been looking after her this morning?”

Evie giggled and patted my face. She opened her mouth to speak again.

“Hush. Not yet,” I chided.

Despite her ability to find a name for me, Evie’s speech hadn’t miraculously improved. Not that we were worried, we loved her exactly how she was. She had a new word, though. One we’d been practising over the past several weeks.

My mother made a more elegant walk down the aisle and collected Evie from my arms to stand nearby.

The celebrant stepped forward. “Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for the bride.”

Of all the moments I’d expected to hit me in the gut, this one knocked me out. As one, all of the people who’d assembled to see us wed took to their feet in honour of my bride.

A shiver ran over me, and I rocked on my feet.

Maddock inched closer, and his hand landed on my back. He took a fistful of my jacket, holding me upright.

Then there was Lia at the top of the stairs, her arm linked through her da’s. Miraculously, her father had managed the journey, though in secret, and he’d be leaving almost directly after. I knew it meant the world to her that he’d attended.

With his support, she carefully descended the steps.

I drank in the sight of her. My cousin, Skye, had taken her dress shopping along with my sister, mother, Rory, and what seemed like a small army of female relatives. They’d found the perfect dress but in the wrong size, and Skye, a dressmaker, had been here multiple times to carry out fittings. Making it perfect for Lia.

I knew nothing about dresses, but she looked like a princess. Sleeveless, the ivory gown fitted close to her chest in the way that made me want to tear it off her, and the skirts fell into a short train.

“Remember to breathe, then tell her how beautiful she is,” Maddock instructed under his breath.

I didn’t need the reminder, except I was lightheaded. I took a deep inhale, and Lia approached.

Then Evie opened her lips. “Ma!” she called.

My beautiful wife-to-be stalled in her footsteps. Her fingers flew to her mouth, and tears pooled in her eyes. “What did you say, baby girl?”

My heart throbbed hard. “Say it again, like we practised,” I asked my daughter.

Evie peeked between me and Lia. “Mama,” she said in a clear, sweet wee voice.

Holding her, my mother burst into tears. In the audience, faces crumpled.

Down the aisle, Lia stood wide-eyed and unable to move.

“I don’t… I can’t,” she uttered.

Then she sobbed.

I took Evie from Ma and broke protocol, carrying her to Lia. Then I embraced my bride one-armed.

On my shoulder, Lia bawled.

“Didn’t mean to make ye cry,” I said into her ear, my throat tight. “You’re so beautiful.”

Lia wept even more, and Evie beamed, grabbing at the jewellery in her mother’s hair.

“Hey now, little madam.” Lia’s da took her from me, saving the bride’s hairstyle.

I hugged onto Lia hard.

For a long moment, we stood together, under the ancient rafters while our families dabbed their eyes.

“I knew I’d break down at some point today. Probably at multiple points, but that floored me.” She lifted her gaze to Evie. “You’re so clever.”

“And she’s mine,” I slipped out. I hadn’t meant to, but it fell from my lips.

Lia’s mouth opened. “You mean…”

“I mean the results. Aye. Mine.”

Lia and her father were the only people who could hear and understand this. I’d tell my brother later, but right now, this was all for us.

Lia hugged me again and wiped away her tears. “God. I knew it, but that’s good to hear. What a gift.”

She managed a steadying breath and peered around us. “Sorry, everyone. Emotional moment. Take two.”

Words of reassurance flew back our way, and Rory darted over with a box of tissues and some kind of makeup in her hand.

I kissed Lia, took Evie from her da, then travelled back to my position. A small flurry of fixing up, though she still looked perfect to me, and Lia was good to go. The music started again, and she finished her journey, joining me so we could start our lives together.

Our vows were read. Our kiss passionate.

Our family applauded us, and we made the reverse journey as husband and wife, ready to party.

In all we’d been through to be together, our love had beaten the hate. Lia and I were two halves of the same soul. Perfectly matched and deeply entwined. No betrayal of our hearts could separate us again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode