Home > Delighting Her Highland Devil

Delighting Her Highland Devil
Author: Maeve Greyson


Chapter One



On the road to the Devil’s Pulpit

Finnich Glen, Scotland

June 21, 2023

“I demolished another laptop.” Jovianna Jacobs clutched the steering wheel, bracing herself for what would surely be an acerbic response from her mother, the remarkable woman who always insisted Jovianna address her by her first name.

Amaranth Jacobs didn’t say a word. She simply drew in a deep breath and released it with a heavy sigh. But her fingers tapped a rapid-fire warning on the armrest of the car door. More was to come. Her reaction was building. She cleared her throat and appeared overly interested in the scenery flying by the passenger-side window. “Another one, Jovianna?”

“Go on and say it. Get it over with so we can enjoy our outing.”

Jovianna’s mother chuckled and shook her head. “You are so like your father. Absent-minded to a fault.” She tucked a silvery strand of her thick, shoulder-length hair behind her ear. “I’m sure you realize that’s the third laptop you’ve ruined in the past six months.”

“I am aware.”

“The board will not be pleased, and I’m not sure if I can sway them this time. You understand that?”

It was Jovianna’s turn to unleash a heavy sigh. The dreaded board. Those who could either nurture or end her career as a professor of history specializing in Scottish culture at the University of Glasgow. The powerful dozen who had been more than kind and generous with her in the past. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her mother was one of them and a well-respected alumnus who not only brought the university fame but also a fair share of donations because of her discoveries in archeology.

“What happened this time?” Amaranth asked with a subtle lift of her perfect brows.

“Mr. Walkersby couldn’t seem to get the presentation to show on the overhead.” Jovianna needed to keep the explanation dry, simple, and without emotion. Nothing but the facts. When her esteemed parent heard the entire story, she might very well wet herself from laughing.

“Mr. Walkersby?” Her somehow ageless elder frowned as though trying to place the name, then brightened with a wicked gleam in her eyes. “That quite handsome young man recently hired on as an assistant professor? The one with all those delightfully climbable muscles?”



“Samual Walkersby is five years younger than I am. What would Father think if he looked down from heaven and saw you drooling like some kind of—”

“Careful, young lady,” her mother warned, “and your father would be glad I was living life to the fullest and enjoying my time left here on earth. You know that as well as I do.” She shook off the scolding with a twitch of a shoulder. “Now. What happened with the fine young Mr. Walkersby and the ill-fated laptop? Come now, tell Mummy.”

Tell Mummy, indeed. Jovianna ignored the seldom-used endearment from her earliest childhood years and squinted to read the signage in the distance. The Devil’s Pulpit. Not much farther. Thank goodness. They were almost there. At least while exploring the physically challenging gorge, Mummy would be too preoccupied with her footing to tease Jovianna overly much.

“Mr. Walkersby is a lover of coffee and always shows up at the lecture hall with a rather large cup.” Jovianna didn’t add that he also brought her the loveliest chai teas as well. That fact was not pertinent to the incident. “Unfortunately, he placed it on the stand beside the laptop.”

“I believe the techs have successfully dried out a laptop or two,” Amaranth said. “The physics department refuses to ban beverages from their labs. Are you certain it’s completely destroyed?”

“Oh yes. Without a doubt.” Jovianna cringed, bracing herself even more. “While trying to help him open the presentation, I knocked the coffee into his lap.” She clenched the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles popped. “And while trying to make amends by using my shirttail to wipe off his trousers, my bracelet snagged on his belt buckle and became quite caught.”

Amaranth snickered and hissed like a teakettle about to boil over. “And then?” she asked while failing to regain her composure.

“He thought standing might make it easier for us to disengage, but when I backed up, my bum tipped the stand, dumped the laptop, and then I accidentally stepped on it.” Jovianna shook her head. “They are quite wobbly when you stand on the keyboard. So much so that I stumbled and stomped the screen too.” She risked a glance at her mother. “Destroyed. Utterly shattered.”

Red-faced and her shoulders shaking, her mother exploded in a fit of laughter. “Oh dear, Jovianna. My poor, sweet fumbler. You are so like your father.”

“Yes. You said that earlier.” In fact, Amaranth always said that. Jovianna didn’t understand why. She couldn’t ever remember her father being as clumsy as she was.

She parked the car and was relieved to discover only one other vehicle was present. It seemed familiar, but she shook away the feeling as silly. It had been a very trying day. She wouldn’t trust her instincts about anything at this point. But thankfully, there was only that one car. At least they would have the lovely gorge mainly to themselves and be able to enjoy the magical glen as if it were their own private sanctuary.

Amaranth patted her arm. “We’ll work it all out with the board, sweetie. Don’t you worry.” Love and pride beamed from her. “Besides, if they try to let you go, I’m sure your students will rally behind you with another protest like they did the last time you were in danger of losing tenure. That was quite the impressive bonfire they lit that day.”

Jovianna couldn’t help but smile at the memory of a solid fifty or more of her students chanting around the raging inferno they started with the remains of the antique podium she had accidentally splintered to bits when she fell on top of it while trying to fix its wobbly leg.

That incident had been a near expulsion for her because the decrepit wooden stand had been a gift to the university from Dr. Grisham, beloved past president of the college, upon his retirement. “That laptop won’t be much of a fire starter,” she said while exiting the car.

“Probably not.” Her mother shot a quizzical look at something behind Jovianna. “Isn’t that your inimitable Mr. Walkersby?”

“Hello!” The familiar voice came from behind the only other car in the area.

Jovianna locked eyes with her mother, willing the woman to keep quiet about the laptop.

Amaranth’s brows shot to her hairline as if she took that as a dare. She smiled the dangerous smile that always made Jovianna clench her teeth. “Why, Jovianna,” she said in a loud voice while waving. “Look! It’s Mr. Walkersby.”

Before turning, Jovianna mouthed, Behave, then faced the handsome assistant professor. With a forced smile, she tried not to dwell on how impressively firm his lap had felt while she cleaned up the spilled coffee. “Samual? You didn’t say you were coming to the Devil’s Pulpit today.”

“I wanted to surprise you.” He flashed a nervously polite smile at her mother. “It’s good to see you again, Dr. Jacobs. I didn’t realize you would be joining Jovianna today.”

“Obviously.” Amaranth’s gaze slid from the picnic hamper in the crook of his muscular arm to the bottles of wine in a cloth tote, then back to his face. “And do call me Amaranth. After all, Jovianna is Dr. Jacobs too. Less confusion that way.”

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