When the Midnight Bell Tolls
Time to Love a Highlander – Book 8
When the Midnight Bell Tolls (Time to Love a Highlander Novella)
Grudges among the living steal their joy. Grudges among the dead create eternal rage.
Chieftain Grant Reddoch and his lovely wife Lyla consider themselves more than a little blessed until the clan installs a bell in the newly built church tower honoring the birth of their twins. Whenever the new bell tolls midnight, unrest fills Eadar Keep. Their infants become inconsolable, doors repeatedly open, then slam shut, and furniture tips over and tumbles across rooms.
Grant orders the bell silenced, but the eerie midnight tolling doesn’t cease and neither does the malevolent spirit. It roams the corridors every night, growing bolder and more maniacal. The Reddochs refuse to run. A Scot never relinquishes their ancestral home without a fight. But the attacks become more focused, targeting Lyla and the children. When the clan priest cannot oust the spirit, the Reddochs fear all is lost.
But where evil lurks, goodness often follows. Eternity demands balance. Without light, there can be no darkness. Without darkness, light becomes blinding. But which side of the eternal scale will triumph at Eadar Keep? And can the Reddochs survive the battle?
Enjoy this return visit with Grant, Lyla, and Clan Reddoch from Capturing Her Highland Keeper - Book 4 in the Time to Love a Highlander Series.
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The deep tolling of the great bell interrupted the peace of the midsummer night. The steady, rhythmic bong counted off the midnight hour.
Lyla Reddoch rolled to her back and waited to see if tonight would be the same as the past three. She caught the whispering shush of tiny feet kicking in the cradles beside the bed. A hesitant yowl tested the dimly lit room, then changed to an angry squall. A hiccupping cry joined it. Her feet hit the floor, and she rushed to soothe her precious babies.
“It’s all right, my sweetness.” She scooped up her eldest daughter, tucked her close, then hurried to pick up her twin sister. “Mama is here. Everything is just fine, my darlings.”
Grant Reddoch, chieftain of the clan and her beloved husband, appeared at her side, yawning and holding out both hands. “Which wee banshee shall I walk tonight?”
“Hope doesn’t seem nearly as upset as Joy.” She offered him the calmer babe. “And I think she’s a daddy’s girl, anyway.”
“A wise lassie, she is.” He smiled down at the fussing infant, then put her to his shoulder, alternately rubbing her back and patting her rump. He sidled around and kissed the wailing mite squirming in Lyla’s arms. “Now, now, Joy. I shall walk ye, too, if need be. Ye know Da loves ye just as much.”
“If they keep this up much longer, I’ll have to feed them.” Her breasts already ached with fullness, the milk dropping in response to the babies’ cries. She smiled and cuddled the little one she held closer. Even though bone-deep weariness had set in days ago, she cherished every second of motherhood. She wished she could introduce her wonderful babies to the doctor who branded her infertile after she miscarried her precious first daughter Avery back in the twenty-first century.
Who knew it would take traveling back in time to the seventeenth century to bless her with a loving husband, his adorable twins from a previous marriage, and two wonderful children of their own. Life was good indeed.
As Grant lapped the bedchamber with a bouncing walk, he gave her a victorious grin. “Mine is asleep already. Appears I have the touch.”
Little Joy screeched even louder, enraged at something only she knew.
“Mine is still not happy,” Lyla said. “Shh…it’s all right. Are you hungry again?” She tried putting the babe to her breast, but the infant wasn’t interested. The wee one twisted away and squalled even louder.
“My goodness. Is it your nappy or your tummy?” She checked for wetness or something worse but detected nothing. “She must be colicky tonight.” Or was it that bell again? She hesitated to blame the clan’s gift honoring the birth of the twins, but they hadn’t slept through midnight since the bell started marking the late night hour. The odd thing was it didn’t seem to bother either baby when Father Rubric rang it at noontime.
A metal chamberstick on the bedside table rattled across the surface, heading toward the edge. Grant caught it right before it scooted off onto the floor. “What the devil?”
She frowned, patting the unhappy baby at her shoulder as she paced. “Maybe the floorboards are loose, and all our walking shook it.”
He moved the chamberstick to the mantel between the other two glowing candlesticks. “Perhaps so.” After easing his sleeping daughter back into her cradle, he checked the table’s steadiness. The mahogany nightstand, weighty with two drawers, appeared as solid and well-rooted as the tree from which it came. “Our walking did not shake this.”
A sudden gust of cold air made her turn to shield the baby from its touch. The icy eeriness zipped across the back of her neck, setting her sixth sense tingling as if on fire. The breeze hadn’t come from the window. Heart pounding, she moved closer to Grant. “I think exhaustion is playing tricks on me,” she said, trying to convince herself more than him.
“I felt it, too.” He wrapped a protective arm around her and moved them closer to the cradle with the sleeping baby. “I shall speak to Father Rubric about blessing the rooms of the keep.”
Gently bouncing and patting the babe in her arms, Lyla kissed the child’s warm, velvety head and cuddled her closer still. Fear squeezed her heart, and she hated it. “Will you have him bless all the rooms?”
The second-floor chambers had been closed once again. Too many strange things happened when anyone entered there. Servants complained of hearing whispers when no one was there. Furniture slid across the floor to trip them, and some were pinched and poked until they fled.
She noticed Grant failed to answer. “All the rooms?”
“Aye. Every room.” He dragged a hand across his eyes and turned away in a poor attempt at hiding his worries.
“None of this started until the bell came.”