Anne Mather

Monkshood


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      Mills & Boon is proud to present a fabulous

      collection of fantastic novels by bestselling, much loved author ANNE MATHER

      Anne has a stellar record of achievement within the

      publishing industry, having written over one hundred and sixty books, with worldwide sales of more than forty-eight MILLION copies in multiple languages.

      This amazing collection of classic stories offers a chance

      for readers to recapture the pleasure Anne’s powerful, passionate writing has given.

      We are sure you will love them all!

      I’ve always wanted to write—which is not to say I’ve always wanted to be a professional writer. On the contrary, for years I only wrote for my own pleasure and it wasn’t until my husband suggested sending one of my stories to a publisher that we put several publishers’ names into a hat and pulled one out. The rest, as they say, is history. And now, one hundred and sixty-two books later, I’m literally—excuse the pun— staggered by what’s happened.

      I had written all through my infant and junior years and on into my teens, the stories changing from children’s adventures to torrid gypsy passions. My mother used to gather these manuscripts up from time to time, when my bedroom became too untidy, and dispose of them! In those days, I used not to finish any of the stories and Caroline, my first published novel, was the first I’d ever completed. I was newly married then and my daughter was just a baby, and it was quite a job juggling my household chores and scribbling away in exercise books every chance I got. Not very professional, as you can imagine, but that’s the way it was.

      These days, I have a bit more time to devote to my work, but that first love of writing has never changed. I can’t imagine not having a current book on the typewriter—yes, it’s my husband who transcribes everything on to the computer. He’s my partner in both life and work and I depend on his good sense more than I care to admit.

      We have two grown-up children, a son and a daughter, and two almost grown-up grandchildren, Abi and Ben. My e-mail address is mystic-am@msn.com and I’d be happy to hear from any of my wonderful readers.

       Monkshood

      Anne Mather

       www.millsandboon.co.uk

      Table of Contents

       Cover

       About the Author

       Title Page

       CHAPTER FOUR

       CHAPTER FIVE

       CHAPTER SIX

       CHAPTER SEVEN

       CHAPTER EIGHT

       CHAPTER NINE

       CHAPTER TEN

       CHAPTER ELEVEN

       CHAPTER TWELVE

       Copyright

       CHAPTER ONE

      IT had been snowing when Melanie left Fort William, small, driving grains of white that filmed the windscreen of the car and kept the wipers at full urgency, but nothing like this. Now the flakes were large and soft and unwieldy, apparently impervious to the slowing scrape of the wipers, settling in heavy cumbersome drifts against the windscreen, almost obliterating her view.

      Melanie quelled the sense of panic the situation aroused in her, comforting herself with the thought that she could not be far from her destination. After all, she had passed the sign for Loch Cairnross some time ago, and even allowing for the delay, she must have covered several miles since then. But darkness was drawing in, and although it was not late in the afternoon, Melanie found it all rather unnerving. Even so, she was loath to admit that Michael had been right when he had called her foolish and irresponsible driving all the way to Cairnside from London in the middle of December.

      Now she peered grimly into the blizzard, trying to distinguish some sign of civilization in the wilderness ahead. Surely there must be some habitation somewhere. Surely someone lived in these remote wastes, even if it was only a shepherd or a farmer. She thought of stories she had read of the Scottish Highlands; of descriptions of the lonely lives of crofters in isolated valleys between the hills, and her spirits plummeted. Hard on the heels of these thoughts came others of motorists and climbers imprisoned in their cars or in lonely hostelries and found days later dead from cold and starvation …

      She heaved a deep breath. She was allowing her imagination to get the better of her and there was absolutely no reason to suppose that she was going to be trapped in a snowdrift or anything else, and so long as the car kept moving she was perfectly safe.

      Another thought struck her, causing her to slow the car almost involuntarily. Once darkness came down what was to stop her from leaving the road altogether and maybe driving into bog or marshland, or even into one of the lochs themselves? Coated with snow, how would she be able to distinguish her way?

      A moment later her wheels began to spin. The slowing of the car combined with an impulsive depression of the accelerator caused by a desperate desire to reach her destination as soon as possible had achieved what her careful driving had avoided until now, and she realized that to continue revving her engine would simply embed the wheels deeper in the snow and slush.

      Fastening the top button of her sheepskin coat closer about her throat and pulling on the fur hat which had been lying on the seat beside her since she left London the day before, she pushed open her door and emerged from the warmth and comfort of the car into the blinding chill of the blizzard. For a moment the sudden icy blast took her breath away, but then she wasted no more time trying to look about her when it was impossible to see more than a few yards and bent instead to the rear wheels of the car. As she had already suspected, the wheels were caked with snow and had no grip against an already slippery surface. Sighing, she straightened and wiped tendrils of hair back from her forehead, wet now in the driving flakes of snow that melted against the warmth of her skin. What was she to do? She had no real idea where she was, never having visited Scotland before, never mind this remote area of the Highlands, and being