She moved further to the edge of the sloping hill and stared down at the sight of a dozen or so men bathing in a loch. And froze. They were naked, their plaids, tunics, boots, and belts discarded on the grass, their horses grazing nearby.
A lad was running down the high hill toward them at a frantic pace, arms flying, fully clothed, and she wondered now if he was the one she had seen atop the hill, but he'd moved so quickly, he was like a red grouse flitting from the heather.
"There is a lady," the lad called out, pointing toward the hilltop, motioning toward Alana, not realizing she'd followed him here.
One of the naked men who had left the water was standing on the bank, plaid in hand, but not covering himself, his attention turning from the excited lad to the woman on the hill. The tall man was bronzed and muscled, his hair an earthy dark brown, a sturdy jaw, and dark eyes that stared at her as if he couldn't believe she really was there, staring back at him. Like a statue, she couldn't look away if she'd wanted to.
The other men stayed in the water where it licked at their chests. They were quietly observing her, not saying a word as if they thought she was a spirit or sprite or maybe the fae. Good, let them think that, and they'd stay put.
Breaking free from the shock that she'd felt at spying the naked Highlanders—and she was loathe to admit—fascination she experienced, she didn't wait to see what would happen next. Their grazing horses and swords lying next to their plaids and not a sheep around told her enough. A sheepherder was not among these men. A sliver of panic seized her at once. She tried to remind herself why she was here. That she needed to find the man named Rob MacNeill. To find the little girl who was ill who was his niece. But what if these men might wish her harm?
She whipped her horse around and headed back down the hill from whence she had come, careful to pick her way among the rocks lest she injure her horse.
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