He is Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. Born in 1592
in the Highlands of Scotland and he is still alive.
He is immortal. For four hundred years, he has been a
warrior, a lover, a wanderer, constantly facing
other immortals in the battle to the death. The
winner takes his enemy's head and with it, his power. I am
a Watcher, part of a secret society of men and woman
who observe and record, but never interfere. We know
the truth about immortals. In the end, there can be
only one. May it be Duncan MacLeod.
Duncan MacLeod moved through the thick crowd,quickly and carefully, excusing himself in his deep Scottish accented voice. His long legs ate up the sidewalk as he moved, his long trench coat flapping behind him. His eyes were on every face, searching for the one familiar person.
The sun had set almost two hours ago and the city was ablaze with bright lights. It seemed no one slept here, for the roads and walks were as busy as they had been during the day. Paris was as he had always remembered. There were so many people, he knew he'd never find Richie.
His young friend, Richie Ryan, had taken Duncan to Paris for a motorbike competition, Richie's chosen occupation. They had been heading back to the hotel, to which only Richie had the key, when Richie had spotted a pretty blonde. He'd left Duncan to pursue her, promising he would be right back.
That was nearly an hour ago and Duncan was ready to
give up on him The anger he felt for his young friend
was rising with every minute that passed. Richie knew
that he had the key and that the proprietor went to
bed after midnight, leaving the tenants to fend for
themselves. Of course, that was a typical Richie move.
He was young so he didn't think through everything
before he acted. Later, he was always sorry, full of
apologies to everyone he may have angered.
Duncan shook away his bitter thoughts. He was just
jealous. He couldn't cut loose anymore and that
bothered him. Of course, after four hundred years
of fighting to keep your head, that tended to happen.
Walking carelessly down the street was a luxury he
could not really afford.
He glanced over at a store, finding it familiar. The hotel was only a few more blocks down the road. He felt himself being watched and turned to see two heavily made-up prostitutes staring at him, leering obscenely. Duncan cast them a smile, feeling it grow broader as they giggled.
Duncan MacLeod was a strikingly handsome man, one who
often received double takes by both women and men when
out in public. His hair was very nearly black and it curled to below his shoulders, often tied back in a low ponytail, like now. His eyes were brown, a glowing amber color that deepened when he was excited or stressed. He had a strong face, a hard jaw that hadn't been shaved for a day, but it was softened by the full, sensuous mouth that was now a little tight.
Duncan was tall, over six feet, his body lean and sculpted from years of martial arts and swordplay. He was an imposing figure to those who wished to challenge him with his stunning looks and sharp mind. His skill with the sword and in the martial arts were legendary. They were why he was still alive.
Duncan moved on again, anxious to get to the hotel. He didn't know how he was going to get into his room, but he hoped that Richie had already arrived there. He wanted to take a long hot shower and go to bed. He was looking forward to them both more than normal. It had been a long day. The crowd had thinned now and the street lights
were fewer and farther between. Duncan recognized this area too. The hotel was the next street down. Duncan
increased his pace, fatigue hitting him again. All he could think about was the warm double bed waiting for him in his room.
A large group of men were coming toward him, moving
to one side to let him pass. Duncan was nearly by when a rough shove forced him into an alley. Duncan was immediately alert, his body in a comfortable stance, one that was ready and aware. There were seven of them and they were all grinning dangerously. One had a lead pipe.
Then they all came at him, Duncan instantly on guard. He kicked one man away, smashing his fist into another. Someone was behind him and he turned, his leg swishing around with him. It caught one of the men, tossing him into the wall. The other person behind him was the one who had the pipe. He slammed it into Duncan's head, instantly breaking something vital.
Agony rose into his skull, hammering into his brain with sharp spikes. He fell to his knees, bright lights exploding around him. There was another hit, to the back of his head this time, and Duncan was face down on the dirty ground of the alley, a final breath passing his lips. He was dead.
They kicked his still form over onto his back. They took his wallet and ran, leaving him for dead. No one even glanced back. For a few moments, all was silent and still. The wind had even stopped, as if it were holding its breath. Then, out of the back of the alley, out of the darkness came a figure. The little light coming from the moon illuminated the pale face, revealing that it was a woman. A disturbingly beautiful face was framed by rich brown curls was tilted down at the
unmoving figure on the ground.
She dropped swiftly and silently beside him, the gleam in her eyes dangerous. Her hand closed about his chin and began to turn his face toward her. The surprise registered on her face when she noticed that he was moving again. Duncan tried to clear his head because he knew something was happening and it wasn't good. A terrible sense of malevolence had struck him, making him feel more alarmed than when he knew an immortal was near. His eyes fluttered open and he struggled to find the face that owned the hand around his jaw.
Something told him that this person was not here to help. "What is this?" he whispered hoarsely, his voice not working properly yet.
The stranger leaned in closer and he could feel a softness brush across his face; hair. Judging by its floral scent, it was a woman's hair. He could not explain why, but he knew that scent. In the back of his mind, he could remember lifting a dark lock to his lips, the perfume lingering on his clothes and
skin. The familiarity caused him grief.
"You're dead," she whispered in return, her voice breathy and somber.
Duncan was gathering his bearings quickly and he wasn't liking what was happening here. The pangs of distress that had filled his entire being were something that he'd never felt before. All his instincts were telling him to run, to get away as quick as he could. This woman was not after his
head,but something much worse.
Just then, Duncan's unclear view of her focused, bringing her features sharply into his awareness. She was staring down at him as well, her eyes wide and her mouth dropped a little. Duncan gasped, his own eyes going wide and circular in recognition.
Duncan drew himself up against the headboard of the large bed as he watched the beautiful woman at the vanity. Slender hands drew up the silky mass of brown curls to the crown of her head where she pinned them in place. Then she let them fall, the rippling river of her hair cascading down her back.
Duncan stared at the graceful curve of her neck,
remembering how just moments ago he had kissed that
gentle slope, touched that beautiful hair, let it drift through his fingers like water. He sighed as his mind took him farther back into the day, letting him remember again what other things he had kissed and touched.
Duncan realized that her topaz blue eyes were watching him in the mirror, looking so intently at him that he swore that she knew what he was thinking. Suddenly, the intensity of her gaze fell away, an exasperated expression coming into them. He wasn't sure which one he preferred.
"Are you going to get dressed or are you going as you
are?" she asked.
An obscene grin formed over his face, his white teeth
ablaze. That smile was all he was wearing. "If I go this way, you have to as well," he warned her, his eyes smoldering at the thought.
She turned to him then, an amused smile on her face.
"That would please you, would you not?" she asked in
Duncan nodded profusely, his eyes wide and the hint
of a pant coming into his breath. Alexandra Payne let
loose a capitulating sigh and stood. As she moved to
her wardrobe, Duncan's eyes followed her, delighting
in the way her white silk robe moved gracefully about
her lovely body. She opened the two tall mahogany
doors, revealing a riot of colors and fabrics. She
removed two and turned, holding out a gown in each
hand for his inspection.
"The blue or white?" she asked, eyebrows raised.
Duncan knew she didn't miss the gleam in his eye. She
just chose to ignore it.
"Neither. I think my former suggestion would be much
more appealing on you," he replied, his voice slightly
"Need I call in my girl and have her decide for the
both of us?" she asked, referring to Tess, Alexandra's
maid. Alex threw him an annoyed glance before she replaced
the blue gown. She wasn't really mad at him and Duncan knew it. And even if he didn't, her next several motions would have cleared it all up.Alex slipped her robe off her shoulders, letting it fall around her, revealing all of her lovely body to Duncan. Not that he hadn't seen it many times, but it was always a pleasure to gaze upon such perfection. No, not perfection. It was more than that, as if God himself had sculpted her body.
Duncan had met Alexandra Payne at a ball, much like
the one they were going to tonight. He was not really
searching for anyone when he met her, it just
happened. Their eyes met across the room and that was
all it took. Duncan knew he had to have her,something
in her jewel blue eyes promised him happiness like he
had never known. She had kept that vow. Alexandra was intelligent. She was not just intelligent alone with him, she let everyone know that she was educated. She did not flirt or act like a brainless child in nobel company as so many other young women were taught. No one was saved from her biting wit, nor could they demean her when her
sparkling laugh passed her lips. The nobility held her in a special regard, as if she alone had the right to act different from every rule of decorum.
Duncan had never met anyone like her. At first, she
had been cold and distant, ignoring what he knew was
stirring in her heart. Duncan had not given up in his
pursuit, needing this enchanting woman for his own. It
did not take long. Once he got behind the indifferent facade she presented at court, and the old age in her young eyes, he found a woman that he knew was different than any other.
Laughter flowed easily past her lips in his presence,
her eyes danced merrily when he commented on something
he found amusing. She was able to tease him so well
that he was not aware of the fact that he had indeed
been teased until well after the incident. Their
conversations ranged from the fashion at court to the
latest novel in print. He could not remember being
quite so happy before. Just looking at her made him
thankful that he was alive to know her, to have a
lifetime with her.
When she let him into her bed, her passion and erotic
nature overrode all his fears of ruining her. He was
not disappointed to find that she was not a virgin,
but was relieved . There was nothing to fear in
loving her completely and totally. He could not get
her with child and they were careful to keep anyone in
society from thinking Duncan was doing anything
He knew more about her than most, but not my much.
They were a beautiful couple, but the constant source
of gossip. She was a wealthy young woman with a very
mysterious past. He was a well known bachelor in the
circles of society. The gossip hounds enjoyed romanticizing their relationship, not knowing that it was already to the point that they spoke of. No one knew much about Alexandra besides the fact she was beautiful and rich. She told people she'd lived in France with her husband until he was killed. She'd inherited a decent chunk of his money. She was so
enchanting no one really cared that she was living by
herself, with only two servants or that Duncan was
often seen leaving her home in the morning. Proper
decorum seemed to end at her door.
Duncan knew he was in love with her. She was the part of his life that had been missing for a long time. He knew that he'd needed a companion, just never found one to stay with. Alexandra was his other half, his perfect mate. He'd discovered this in just the two months they'd been together.
He had never felt this way about anyone. He had thought he had been in love before, but now he knew how wrong he was. He had never felt this all consuming passion for a person that reduced him to a helpless puppet in her hands. He had not been aware that this deep level of adoration existed, he never thought his heart and soul could be so centered around one being, the one in his life that made it worth living. Until he met Alexandra.
He hadn't told her of his immortality yet. He wasn't sure why, except that he was terrified she would leave. He wasn't sure he could make it without her. He lived and breathed Alexandra, her love kept him sustained. He knew she was strong and could most likely handle his secret, but he was afraid to lose her.
She was a mortal woman and he knew that she would die
someday, leaving him to his fate. That is why Duncan was taking such drastic measures to ensure that he would have her until then. He'd gone down to the jewelers a month ago and had a ring commissioned for her. It was to be their engagement ring. It was a gold ring of diamonds, the clear kind that threw off rainbows in the light and blue diamonds, the color of her eyes.
The blue diamonds in the ring fascinated the jeweler. He had never seen their equal. In fact he had never thought that blue diamonds really existed. They were myth, a fantasy, and he had been awed by the exquisite stones. Duncan, of course, did not tell him that they had been a gift from a sheik in the Middle East in the late seventeenth century. He decided that tonight was going to be the night. After the ball he would tell her everything. No matter what the consequences. He couldn't take not knowing whether or not she would've accepted it in the future. What would she do the first time she saw his sword in action? How would she react if she ever saw him take another's head?
Duncan wanted to be with her forever, but he knew she
didn't have that long. He would take what he could get because he knew that he would never find another woman who was so close to his own soul again. She had to know all of him if he wanted to keep her. How could he could he keep such a secret from her?
Alexandra turned to him them, her stare so intense as
to be felt on his skin. Duncan looked back at her, wary of the expression on her face. It looked as if she was going to tell him something very important, something she needed to tell him more than anything. He tensed, waiting for whatever she had to say.
"I love you, Duncan," she blurted suddenly.
Even though it filled his heart to hear her say those words, he felt a terrible disappointment. He knew that was not what she was wanting to say to him. It was a diversion tactic, maybe more for herself than for him. Normally, he would let it pass, but it was a night for revelations.
Duncan got out of the bed, not bothering to reach for his robe. His arms went around her tiny waist and he pulled her into the warmth of his embrace. One large hand cupped around the back of her head guiding her cheek to his chest. Alex wasn't a tall woman. She clung to him, as if she were afraid to let him go, as if her life depended on it. "And I love you, my dear Alexandra," he whispered,meaning it with all his heart.
They stood that way for several moments, neither moving, only breathing. Duncan wasn't sure what was wrong with her, but it worried him. Alex sometimes had problems revealing her emotions and he sensed that they ate her up inside at times. He could not complain. She stayed out of the things he wished to keep to himself.
"Do you trust me, Duncan?"
Her voice was strange when she asked the question. It was tight, as if she were holding her breath as she waited for the answer. Duncan knew he did and was in fact, going to let her in on his biggest secret this very night.
"Of course I trust you, Alex. I trust you with
my life," he replied.
He tried to move away from her, to look at her face, but Alex wouldn't let him go. Surprise came over his features at the strength in her grasp. Her fingers were curled around his shoulder blades like thin bands of steel. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest.
"Will you love me and trust me no matter what you may
see or find out?"
Her questions were starting to really make him feel uneasy. She was acting as if she'd done something horrible, but he knew his Alex would never do anything that fell into that category.
"Yes. What is this all about, Alexandra?" he asked her, finally pushing her away from his body. He was not prepared for her face. Her eyes were remarkably clear as she looked up at him. Gone were the shadows that had lurked there only seconds ago. A smile was on her face again, dazzling him with its beauty. He had not expected this total change.
"Nothing important. Now that you're up, you have no
further excuse to stall. Get dressed," she ordered,
abruptly changing the subject.
Duncan watched her carefully as she moved back over to the vanity. He wasn't sure what had just happened, but he knew it was not good. Alexandra had almost told him something he did not know about her, but she changed her mind. She looked back at him, and seeing him still standing there, repeated her command.
Duncan obeyed, knowing that his prying would only serve to annoy her. Better to get ready and make her happy. He was ready before she was and he sat on the bed, watching Alex as she finished, thinking. She was brushing rouge onto her exquisite cheek bones, adding some color to her pale face. A black beauty mark was placed near her succulent mouth, drawing attention to its lush curves and its beautiful dusky
rose color. Her eyes were surrounded by thick lashes, that swept over the brilliant blue like fans. Those eyes were strangely vacant, though, as if she were somewhere else during all of this.
Duncan was unsure of what her earlier words had meant. Was she hiding something from him, some dark and terrible secret that had clouded her eyes only a few minutes ago? Duncan found that he didn't care about what she did. He loved her too much to care. Her life was so short and he didn't want to waste it dallying over the right and wrongs of things. He just wanted to live.
Alex was ready soon after and they were in the carriage, on their way. Alex's eyes were raking him up and down, her mouth becoming an admiring smile, all her earlier tension gone.
"Not bad, McLeod. Not bad," she told him, nodding
Duncan had always like to dress nice. It was in his blood to dress with pride and taste. His clothes tonight were of deep burgundy. His great coat was the deep red with roses stitched in black, the matching vest black, silver roses adorning this fabric. Black breeches hugged the strong muscles of his legs, the black shoes shined to a brilliant finish. The outfit was completed by a pristine white shirt
under his vest, layers of lace at his throat and wrists.
"You are as intoxicating as ever, love," he told her,delighting at the way her eyes sparkled when he complimented her.
Her ball gown was all white. He knew that no other woman at the ball would be wearing anything like it because there weren't many women who could carry off the unadorned color. Alexandra did, though, and she did it beautifully. Her hair was daringly unpowdered and the dark sweep of her hair against the gown formed a contrast that took his breath away. The bodice was low and round, her full breasts thrusting proudly out of the fabric. The middle of the dress was snug, displaying Alex's hand-span waist, pouring gracefully over her hips. Layers of fabric adorned the back of
the gown, draping down the back of the sweeping skirt.
She was truly a sight to behold.
He knew that they would make quite a sight walking through the door together. They usually did. Alex could make anyone look good beside her because no one was able to look past the vision she presented. Her beauty was so perfect that he sometimes wondered if her maker was the same as everyone else's.
This ball was being held for Lord Reiter's daughter's engagement. Duncan was good friends with the Lord.
They had conferred several times on shipping and trade
and the Lord was pleased with the results enough to pay Duncan twenty percent.Once at the ball, Duncan and Alexandra found themselves surrounded by friends and admiring strangers. Lord Reiter pushed through them all, his
stout body decpetively strong. He shook hands with Duncan in greeting and kissed Alexandra's hand. She smiled at him, curtsying gracefully.
As she was standing, Duncan noticed a slight wobble to her balance. He quickly caught her arm, concerned. Alex was always the epitome of grace and a stumble was nearly unheard of. Her face was even whiter than normal.
"Are you okay?" he asked her, his voice hushed.
No one else seemed to notice.
"I'm fine, Duncan," she replied, her dazzling smile in
Lord Reiter was taking Duncan's arm, telling him he needed to discuss certain activities of government. Duncan looked to Alex, asking with his eyes if she would be alright by herself for a few moments, not wanting to offend his host.
Alex waved him off, the smile still in place. Duncan and the Lord spoke for quite a while, much longer than either intended, about the farm and the new taxes that were being imposed on the upper class. When Duncan was free to go, he searched for Alexandra and her pure white dress. He saw neither.
He caught the arm of a young serving girl and asked about Alexandra's whereabouts. She told him that she was upstairs in one of the guest rooms. She'd been there for some time, now.
Duncan flew up the steps, worry flaring in his veins. He should have stayed with her if she was feeling badly. Duncan quietly swore at himself for his callousness. Alexandra wasn't the type of female who simpered over her illnesses for attention. As a matter of fact, she was one of the healthiest people he knew. Her only malaise was an occasional attack of weakness every now and again. It went away after bed rest, but he still should have taken her home. He should have stayed with her.
The halls were dark and empty and as he moved through
them, he noticed the first pangs of unease. He couldn't explain why, but he sensed death in these halls, in one of the rooms. Some sixth sense was warning him about something behind the doors. Without a thought he knew Alex was in trouble. There was a white hot pierce in his heart as this thought entered his mind and he knew he wasn't wrong.
Duncan began throwing open doors in dawning dread. Where was she? Then he felt another immortal. He raised himself up and then it was gone. Had he imagined it? Yes, he
must have. There was no one in the hall. Panic was racing through him, threatening to overtake all rational thought. He inhaled deeply, trying to calm himself. You'll open a door and there she'll be, lying down just like the maid said. Even as he said it, he knew he was lying. He had never felt this way and not found doom as the cause.
Then Duncan came to the door he knew she was behind.
He sensed her presence behind the solid oak. He sensed something else. Danger in a very cruel form, ready and waiting for him. With a paralyzing consternation, he opened the door. The dim light of the hall filled this dark room,
illuminating the terrible scene before him. A chair was lying splintered on the floor beside a young steward in a pool of blood, his throat torn out. He was very obviously dead judging from the glassiness of his eyes, the slackness of his mouth.
But that wasn't what Duncan noticed, not at first. It was the pure white gown, spread over the floor, the dark curls that had come loose from the coiffure it had been arranged into, tumbling into the shadows. It was the deep color of the blood, so contrasting with the white of the gown, spilling over the cleavage he had always found so enticing, to pool into a dark puddle on the floor. With a choked cry, Duncan saw Alexandra's face, her long sweeping lashes still parted, her blue eyes sightless. He knew even before he touched her that she was dead. The blood that was still spreading over her gown and the floor could not leave a person in
that way and still leave life. He knew death when he saw it.
There was a wooden chair leg protruding obscenely from her chest, right in her heart. It was buried deep, testifying to a great strength. With a detached thought, Duncan knew he'd never be able to put his ring on her finger and see how perfectly it matched her eyes. Duncan stumbled to her still form, his legs not wanting to support him. He dropped beside her heavily, his hands falling flatly to his sides. This
couldn't be Alexandra, not his Alexandra. She was too young, too beautiful to be lying here now. It just
wasn't possible. She was still downstairs, probably
searching for him right now..
Tears overtook Duncan in a furious torrent. There was no denying that it wasn't her and he knew it. In one terrible moment, Duncan realized that no other person could have these fine features, but one. Alexandra Payne. He pulled her limp body into his defeated arms, pulling her close to his chest. Her head rolled bonelessly to the side, no breath passed her lips. His world came crashing down around him at that horrifying realization, drowning out everything outside of him. A jerking shudder erupted through his body then, as if something was being ripped from him, something he wasn't aware that he had until now. He knew it was the part of her that he had taken for granted, the part of her that had put a smile on his face even when she wasn't there, that had made him able to feel something for life again besides the hunt.
He hugged her close, praying that maybe if he held her tight enough, focused enough love into her, her still heart could move again. Somewhere in his mind, he had given up. That part was controlling the tears, the racking shudders that gripped his frame, the defeated slump of his shoulders. It was the rest that was still holding onto the hope that it was all a horrible mistake that was in his awareness. Not his Alex, God please, not her. He had just found her! She was an angel that had been sent to him for some unknown reason. She didn't deserve to die like this, she deserved to die old and happy. No one deserved to die like this.
Duncan's mouth fell open as his heart put forth a deep cry of utter agony. This wail was the hope dying in him, the pain sinking in like a sharp dagger. It sounded as if someone had just lost their soul.
The room was full of people suddenly, brought forth by the sound of misery that Duncan had let out. He could hear the shocked gasps, even a few thumps as several people fainted, but he didn't realize them. All he could see in his mind was the way her head had rolled onto his arm when he lifted her, no life at all giving it support.
Lord Reiter was taking Alexandra from his arms and Duncan didn't resist. That wasn't Alex anymore. It was only a beautiful shell without her intelligence, her passion, her love. It no longer had her soul in it, so it was useless to him.
Dully, Duncan realized people were speaking to him. They were exclaiming that they had seen no one go up these steps but Duncan and no one in their right mind would suspect Duncan of killing her. That would be like killing himself and they all knew it.
A hysterical Lady Reiter testified that Alexandra had appeared unwell and had asked for a room to lie down in. She had sent the steward to show her where she could rest. Duncan's eyes lifted to thing that used to be the love of his life. Lord Reiter removed the offensive leg from its chest with a quick jerk, sending forth another obscene gush of blood. Duncan's glazed eyes barely saw this, only saw the glassiness of Alex's eyes, realizing that they could
be the blue diamonds of her ring. Cold and sparkly
with nothing behind them.
Duncan could barely recall being led from the room, a glass of brandy shoved into his hands. He was in his own world of hurt and pain, the loss slowly tearing his heart out by the roots. In his mind, over and over again, he asked himself who would kill such a beautiful and kind woman as his Alexandra? A woman who'd never done anything but help people her entire life, who was kind and gracious to everyone? A woman who had lit up his dark life brighter than it had ever been before in only two short months?
That night, he sat before a blazing fire in his favorite chair, his thoughts of only her. The gorgeous, soul-wrenching smile she bestowed so unselfishly, the joyful ring of her laughter, his no longer to see and hear. The way she seemed to always know what he was thinking. She knew what to say, and what to do when he was feeling down on the world. God, he wished she were here now.
The funeral was a hazy experience, the rain making a gray sheen over the grounds. It all seemed suiting somehow. The crypt was cold and damp, but his face was full of heat. He didn't cry, he didn't talk, he didn't even move, all he could do was stare at the elegant tombstone set in the wall before him, bearing her name, oblivious to the expressions of sorrow and sympathy.
Duncan was only thinking of one thing. He vowed to find her murderer and tear him apart as Duncan's grief was doing to him. To make him feel the pain he was feeling, to hurt him the way he'd hurt Alexandra. The fury was a hot fire against the grief and anguish in his heavy heart. It almost felt good.
The only way he was able to live through the next few months was to focus on that fury, to constantly stay
near the heat of his grief. He knew that the only way
to avenge her was to find her murderer. Only then,
could her soul rest, and with it, his own.
Though, as the months rolled past, then years, Duncan
still had not found a clue after relentless searching. He gave up all hope of avenging her death, knowing that by now the murderer was in God's hands to do with as he saw fit. He gave up, yes, but he never forgot,never let it stray far from his mind.
He should have stayed with her.