An attorney, no, make that a barrister, as the gentleman called himself, had appeared at her door in Maryland announcing she was to inherit the estate of Castle Loch Haven. The previous Lord, her cousin Rollie, had died, leaving her everything.

Lady Devin Noone. A giggle threatened to escape her mouth as she bit her lip to stifle the sound.

The lush green countryside drew her attention back to the view outside the cab window. Brilliant blue skies dotted with pristine white clouds hovered above the dark blue-black waters of the lake. Whitecaps crested the waves as they crashed upon the craggy shoreline. The massive stone castle stood at the edge of the cliff, overlooking the water below. The setting reminded her of the postcards Rollie had sent over the years and the travel books she’d perused for the past two weeks.

The photos the barrister had included in the

11 Patti Shenberger

packet didn’t do justice to the castle or the surrounding scenery. The same way she felt as the new Lady of the Manor, an ugly duckling leading the swan parade. What did she know about running a castle? For that matter, she barely knew how to work half the appliances in her own apartment.

Devin straightened, angled her head for a better view, and then paused.

A man stood at the cliff’s edge, dressed in tight black pants and a billowing white shirt; bagpipes nestled securely in his grasp. Seconds before, that same spot had been empty. The mist rose from the waters to encircle his body. Tiny tendrils of vapor climbed higher and higher until he was all but consumed by the haze.

“Stop the car,” she called out, unable to tear her gaze from the figure.

The cabby complied as Devin pushed open the car door and took a few steps forward, out of the cab. Haunting strains filled the air, the sound low and melancholy. She shivered as the music carried across the land. She stood frozen, eyes focused intently on the man. It seemed he played for no one’s ears but his own. When his song ended, he lowered the bagpipes.

Her breath caught in her throat as Devin took another unsteady step forward.

The man turned, holding her captive with a single glance. His steely-eyed stare rocked her to her toes.

Her fingers clutched for the door handle, afraid if she let go her knees would give out. The moment stretched endlessly as time ceased to exist.

With a gulp, Devin forced her attention in front of her. He stood strong and silent—his posture ramrod straight as he faced her. She rubbed her eyes, and then stared again, trying to see his face. But she couldn’t. The waves were clearly visible The Laird’s Lady

through his torso. She shook her head. This was impossible. Jet lag, it must be jet lag. Her imagination had shifted into overdrive and now she was seeing things.

Once more, the mist swirled and climbed, parried then retreated before her eyes. The figure disappeared, leaving only a whisper on the breeze, the cliff empty before her.

He vanished!

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