Ready or Scot… read a sneak peek from Kilt Trip by Alexandra Kiley


Ready or Scot… read a sneak peek from Kilt Trip by Alexandra Kiley

For fans of Emily Henry and Sarah Morgenthaler comes a brand-new Scotland-set romantic comedy. In this enemies-to-lovers romance, one woman discovers more than the just the magic of the heartland’s lochs and landscapes — but not before clashing with the proud Scotsman she’s forced to work with.

Ready or Scot…

Globetrotter Addie Macrae always follows her wanderlust. As a travel consultant, she jet-sets around the world — anywhere but Scotland. But when she’s sent on assignment to help a struggling family-run tour company in the Highlands — and save her own job — Addie packs away her emotional baggage and turns on the professional charm.

Rugged as the land he loves, Logan Sutherland’s greatest joy is sharing the beauty of Scotland’s hidden gems…even if it means a wee bit of red ink on the company’s bottom line. The last thing Logan wants is some American ‘expert’ pushing tourist traps and perpetuating myths about the Loch Ness Monster — especially when Addie never leaves her desk to experience the country for herself.

As they wage an office war, Logan discovers Addie’s secret connection to Scotland: a handful of faded Polaroids of her late mother. Hoping for a truce, he creates a private tour to the places in the pictures to help Addie find closure and appreciate the enchantment in less-traveled destinations, never expecting the off-limits attraction sparking between them. But Addie’s contract is almost up, and magic won’t pay the bills. They can’t afford distractions, but how can Addie do her job if she hasn’t explored all Scotland — and Logan — have to offer?

Logan ranked the success of his trips by the tourists’ faces. Glassy-eyed from Scotch whisky—at least a six. Smiling at their own Scottish-folklore jokes—a sure eight. He lived for the groups that came for immersion in his land and history.

The tour today was a solid ten, due to one woman in particular.

Heather sat on the far end of the community table, her blond hair curling around her temples and backlit by the hearth. She chatted with the mother and daughter from Spain, all big hand gestures and bright laughter that continued to snag his attention from Ling asking the most direct route to Skye.

As Logan detailed the complicated public transport to the remote island, he sank into the comforting bustle around him. Nothing about this pub had changed in the ten years since he and his brother Jack had known exactly how many drunken, shuffling steps it took from the brass-plated front door to the university residence halls. His old friend, Gavin, tended bar like always. The scent of stale beer greeted him at every visit, the shelf of books ringing the perimeter of the room remained undusted, and the same tweed-outfitted men congregated in front of the footie match.

Logan had brought thousands of tourists through this pub over the years—they’d end up at The White Hart if left to their own guidebook-influenced devices—but he’d never been quite so pleased to see someone settle in here as he was watching Heather unwind her scarf and roll her shoulders against the heat of the fire.

His favorite tourists were the ones who came here for an experience and a connection instead of rushing to cram in the sites. There was no greater joy than knowing someone carried a piece of his world in their hearts when they returned home.

Heather understood the beauty of living in the moment, forgoing the distraction of a camera, and gazing out at the city as if his stories had moved her. When she’d pressed her hand against her chest, taking in the skyline, the same thrill had pulsed through him as the first time his dad had taken him up Calton Hill.

She undid her braid and the firelight sifted through the blond strands, damp from the rain. Her dark, wistful eyes conjured to his mind a selkie—the seal folk—a beautiful creature of ancient legend rising from the sea.

She wasn’t alluring, she was fucking ethereal.

A glass shattering across the room and the subsequent “Ooh” from the patrons dragged him from his musings, and Logan refocused on the tourists gathered round him. He wasn’t one to cheat his guests from the sights and stories they might otherwise miss. “Have you heard the selkie’s tale?” he asked the group.

Met with interested expressions and elbows placed on the worn wooden table, he began. “These mythological beings, who transform from seal to human and back again, are said to be graceful and enchanting. Legend has it, a lonely man, tired of returning every night to a house that was never a home, came upon an astonishingly beautiful selkie sunbathing on a rocky shore.”

Heather watched him, amusement dancing in her eyes. And maybe something heavier, like interest. She dragged her thumbnail across her bottom lip in a particularly distracting manner.

“He stole her sealskin, and because each skin is unique and irreplaceable, the selkie was forced to stay with him. She made a fine wife, but she longed for the ocean. Whenever the man was away, she searched the house for her skin and, one day, found it hidden in the rafters. She disappeared forever, and the man lived out his days with a broken heart. A selkie will always return to the sea.”

While the woman across from him cooed over the sad story, Heather looked at him from underneath her lashes as she sipped her drink. Her tongue teased the corner of her lip to catch a drop of whisky, and his blood pounded in his veins.

There was a reason they called whisky the water of life in Gaelic.

For the next hour, Logan shared stories and answered travel questions, unsuccessfully keeping his gaze off Heather. By the time the last tourist clapped him on the shoulder in parting, she was still at the far end of the table, flipping through a stack of postcards.

It was his duty as the guide to check in with all guests before they left, but the excuse sounded flimsy at best as he slid down the bench. He couldn’t help imagining his knees brushing hers under the table or stop himself from leaning in on his elbows and closing the space between them.

“Can I help you with anything before you leave?”

“I’m waiting for my suitcase. It took a side trip to Berlin.”

“Mind if I join you? I’m sticking around a bit.” He tipped his head toward his mate sliding open a keyboard stand on the makeshift stage. “My friend’s in the band.”

“I take it you come here a lot?”

He nodded, raising his hands to encompass the room. “Best pub in Edinburgh.”

“And best kickbacks?” Heather quirked an eyebrow.

“No. But they do appreciate the business. Tourists spend more on drinks than these chaps—” he jerked a thumb at the driving-capped group currently pounding their fists on the tables to punctuate the Hibernian FC fight song “—cheering for whoever’s playing against Manchester United.”

Heather’s smile lit up her face, as blinding as the first clear day of spring.

Logan gestured to the russet-haired barkeep. “The pub’s been in Gavin’s family for generations. I’m happy to help in whatever small way I can.”

Jack and Logan had met him the first time they’d come in. They knew all about the anxiety Gavin dealt with keeping his family business afloat while supporting his ailing father living upstairs.

Heather settled her chin on her fist and studied him. “How long have you been guiding?” she asked.

“Och, it feels like forever.”

Since the early days on their dad’s tours, when they could barely see out the window of the coach, he and his brothers had planned to run The Heart of the Highlands together. Carry on the family legacy. Logan never questioned their future.

But Jack and Reid had.

If Logan hadn’t wanted to leave his mark on the family business, if he hadn’t pushed them to invest in whisky tours, if he hadn’t stepped out of line… He scrubbed a hand over his face. Stewing over his mistakes and why his brothers left him to fail alone got him nowhere.

“Did you grow up around here?” she asked.

He didn’t quite know what to make of the interview questions. From someone else, he’d assume she was a bit nervous, but that didn’t fit the woman in front of him. Her posture exuded confidence, her bright eyes discerning.

“Born and raised in Edinburgh. My family’s all here.” But he didn’t want to talk about the lot of them at the moment. Logan lifted his chin to the pile of postcards she’d been shuffling. “What have you got there?”

“I send my best friend postcards from every place I visit.” Her eyes glimmered with humor as she turned the stack toward Logan. “What do you think?”

The plaid-printed card read Kilt: It’s what happened to the last bloke who called it a skirt.

Logan narrowed his eyes at the card and then at her. “Clever,” he said dryly, playing her game, and the corners of her lips tipped up.

She flipped to the next card featuring a cartoon bagpiper captioned Pack Yer Bags.

“A highly overrated instrument, if I’m being honest.”

“Mr. Scotland himself doesn’t like bagpipes,” she said, shaking her head and tsking.

He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling as she slid the card behind the rest. “The haggis is offal good?” he read, furrowing his eyebrows just to see her grin. He couldn’t deny the warmth spreading through him was from more than the whisky.

“It sounds even better when you say it.”

With an amused grunt, Logan swiped the stack of postcards from Heather’s grasp. “Give me those.” He turned the card so she could see the two kilted men tossing bread in a lake for Nessie and leveled her with a mock-chastening scowl.

“What, they have it all wrong? She only eats canned shrimp?”

“And irreverent tourists who wander too close to the water.”

Heather’s cheeks pulled up into a hidden smile, and perfectly straight teeth pressed down into the curve of her full bottom lip. A primal urge to do the same coursed through him. Logan pushed the irrational desire away, focusing all his attention on thumbing through the remaining cards.

He Frisbeed one across the table with a huff, and she caught the paper-doll Scotsman before it slipped to the floor. Naked but for a fig leaf and two socks, the card provided punch-out clothes and accessories including a pint, a tam-o’-shanter, and a black Scottie dog.

“I agree. It’s the clear winner.”

“That’s a fine representation of Scotland you have there, lass.” Logan tapped the cards into a stack against the table and slid them to her. “You can send these, but the Royal Mail will most likely destroy them. Might as well use them as fuel,” he teased.

Waving the paper doll, she said, “Maybe I’ll keep it. I always was partial to a man with a sporran.”

The wooden bench creaked as Logan shifted to ease the expansiveness ballooning in his chest. He’d been initiated in the ways of flirtatious travelers ages ago. It came with the territory and the kilt. Starring in some American girl’s Outlander fantasy imploded when she inevitably went back home—he’d learned that the hard way at nineteen and hadn’t dallied with a guest since—and yet there was something different about Heather that made him linger.

She made him feel light. Reminded him why he loved this job when most days it felt like the weight of the business on his shoulders might crush him.

Between her raincoat and her smile, she was sunshine. And sunshine never went unnoticed in Scotland.

“Can I buy you a drink?” He wouldn’t get carried away, but he was undeniably intrigued.

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