Sorry all for taking me so long to get back to blogging. I could go on and on about all the things that have happened in my life that have distracted me from all the things I should be doing with writing, but it would bore you. Let's just say that life interruptus had struck again and leave it at that.
My last post The Battle Within discussed how I changed the ending of Highland Stone at the publishers/editor's request and how because it was my debut novel I went on the recommendation and changed the ending of the book. I did get a couple of comments asking to see the original ending, so I am going to post it here. I'd love it if you would read The Battle Within, and this original ending and leave your thoughts.
ORIGINAL ENDING TO HIGHLAND STONE
With a cocky grin and an arm around her shoulders, Rusty said, “Hey, boss. I’d like you to meet my old college bud and your next genius on the lava-caked slopes, Kara Malone.”
Her new boss extended his hand. She hesitated before grasping it. The minute they touched, the look on his face changed from friendly stranger to something more.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Ms. Malone. I’m Alex, Alex MacLeod.”
Her legs buckled and she almost withered right at his feet. Alex wrapped his arm around her waist. “Hey, you okay?”
Blinking to make sure she hadn’t fallen asleep again or perhaps lost her mind, Kara smiled. “Sorry. It’s been a long day.”
Without letting go, Alex turned to Rusty, “Bring her stuff.”
She tried to walk but her legs wouldn’t cooperate. “I’m sorry.” She apologized to him again.
“No problem,” he said before scooping her into his arms.
“Relax, Ms. Malone. I won’t drop you.”
Kara gaped at his perfect smile before winding her arms around his neck and laying her head against his chest. De’ja vu.
He made a beeline for the elevators. His breathing hardly labored as if she weighed nothing.
“May I ask you something?”
Locking gazes, he winked. “Sure.”
“Did your family originate somewhere in the Highlands?”
Alex grinned and trotted down the few steps to a sunken part of the lush lobby. “Aye, lass. Deep in the Highlands.”
Kara watched as rays of sunlight twinkled in his eyes. More than anything she wanted to push the stray hair across his forehead and kiss him. “Have you ever been to Scotland?”
He laughed. “Once, when I was about ten. The family has a castle there.”
“A castle? Dunvegan,” Kara murmured.
With a look of surprise he said, “How’d you know?”
“Lucky guess.” She bit her bottom lip and glanced in his direction.
He graced her with a disbelieving smile. “It’s huge,” he went on.
“Impressive,” Kara whispered.
Alex slowly came to a stop at the first set of elevators. Rusty dropped the suitcase right behind him.
“What do you have in here?” He leaned over Alex’s shoulder. “Did you bring your own rocks?”
Kara chuckled. Rusty always managed to make her laugh.
“I can probably walk now,” Kara offered.
Alex readjusted his hands with her still in them and walked the short distance to the next group of elevators. Nope, that hasn’t changed. She smiled, welcoming a familiar tingle.
“So what does a ten year old boy do with a castle?”
“He rides a trusty steed, wields a massive sword…”
Alex pushed the up button. He released her legs and let them slide to the ground while keeping her body pressed tightly against his. She gulped some air and swallowed hard. Kara raised her eyes to his. They turned deep blue and burned with fire. A look she recognized all too well.
“Eck’em.” Rusty coughed.
Alex put a little more distance between them, but kept his fingertips touching her arm.
The elevator arrived and they stepped inside then she said, “You didn’t finish.”
“Finish what?” Rusty asked.
She looked over at him. “His story.”
Kara curled her nose up at Rusty’s perplexed expression. “He was telling me that when he was ten, he went to his family’s castle where he rode a trusty steed and swung a massive sword, and…” She looked at him expectantly.
They arrived at her floor, the doors whooshed open and the bell dinged. As he stepped out, Alex smiled. “And rescued damsels in distress.”
The heat rose in her cheeks. “Were there many damsels in distress?” she asked while he led them down a long hallway and around the corner.
He winked. “A few, but my exploits were not nearly as interesting as the ancestor I was named for.”
This peaked Kara’s interest. She assumed it was her Alaxandar he spoke of. Licking her lips and finding her voice she begged him to tell her.
“Alaxandar was not yet the chief of the MacLeod Clan when a woman appeared out of nowhere. He nearly ran over her with his horse.”
Kara envisioned the day as it had actually happened. Her heartbeat sped up.
“Anyway, he took her to the castle so his mother could tend to her. They invited her to stay until she was better and during her stay, Alaxandar fell in love with her.”
“Did she fall in love with him too?” Rusty had been listening and seemed to be intrigued.
“Yes,” they said in unison.
Alex glanced at her. “Yes. At least that’s what the legend says.”
Legend. I’m a legend?
“The word had been that he would take her for his wife, but one morning, on the steps of the castle, she disappeared right before his eyes.”
Rusty blew out his cheeks. “Wow.”
Kara held her breath. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear what came next.
“No one could explain it.” Alex went on. “It took a few years but Alaxandar became the chief of the clan and fell in love with another woman. They had four kids and many grandchildren, though it’s said that he never forgot the mystery woman, the first woman to steal his heart.”
Kara’s heart sank. She should be happy that he’d found another.
“And the rest is history,” Alex finished. He slid the card in the door lock then pushed it open for her to enter.
Kara released a breath. “History?”
Alex flashed that MacLeod smile. “In a manner of speaking.”
“Interesting story,” Rusty hollered from the other side of the room where he deposited her suitcase.
Kara stared out the windows. “Yes.”
She couldn’t look at him. It hurt. So Alaxandar did find someone else to love. How could she blame him for that? The chief of the clan had to have heirs to keep the clan going. That’s what they did back then. Right?
“Are you okay?”
She knew his voice—the timbre, the tone. If she closed her eyes, she would see Alaxandar. But he wasn’t here in this century. He died a long time ago. Only to her did it seem like just last night when he’d made love to her. “I’m fine.”
Alex ran the tip of his finger down her arm. She shivered.
The concern in his voice coaxed her to look at him. She saw similarities in the profile and differences. Perhaps this man before her did not look exactly the same as she’d first thought. Maybe getting to know him would be exciting, in more ways than one. Kara smiled before answering. “No, but the future is looking brighter.”
When I was young, I created stories in my head taking me to all the places I dreamed of visiting, and I always had a handsome someone to go with. As I got older, the places got more exciting and adventurous and the someone got more rugged and gorgeous. What can I say, I'm a dreamer. I'm also a hopeless romantic. In that vein, my stories took on a romantic flare and though I never wanted them to end, they always ended happily.