Cat opened her eyes. If you ignore countless injuries and her torn jacket, she had to admit that she had been damn lucky in misfortune. Only her head was booming and hammering, as if it had been worked with a pneumatic hammer. Carefully she tried to straighten up, but already with this small movement she got dizzy.
Damn it! She must have suffered a concussion. That was all she needed now, too! If she really had a concussion, it meant she had to stay in bed for several days. This way she would certainly not be able to finish the cursed work, and that meant that she could forget her master.
“You fucking son of a bitch, I never would have met you,” she cursed.
“What a day,” she heard the deep voice of a man who seemed to come straight from the waterfall. “First Fiona and now another woman spitting poison and bile! In this time the women have far too much leisure! They should better concentrate on the really important things, such as having children. That would definitely take away their enthusiasm for such a behaviour and idiom.”
“Is anyone there?“
Cat tried to turn her head in the direction the voice had come from, she demonstratively ignoring the dizziness again.
“Did Gwenny send you?”
She could see the contours of a man in the foggy wafts. A man in full Highland costume! Plaid, shirt, Bonnet and everything else that belonged to it. He looked as if he was about to go to a costume party, and maybe it was, because she herself had originally wanted to go to a party too. The stranger squatted on one of the stones, stared at the waterfall and muttered incomprehensible things.
“Hey, you! Did Gwenny send you?” she repeated her question.
But the man she asked did not respond.
“Hello! I mean you! You there at the waterfall in the green-blue-red plaid.”
Mentioning the colours of his tartan, the man raised his head and looked in her direction.
Was this astonishment, what showed up on his face? Or was she simply too dazed from the fall to be able to interpret his facial expression correctly?
Now the young man stood up and moved slowly in her direction. The closer he came, the more clearly she could see him.
He was tall! Real tall! About six feet, if she had to guess. He was strong, but not fat. Probably an amazingly trained six-pack hidden under his wide shirt! A true nature boy!
Her gaze wandered further up. Pitch-black hair, tied in a braid at the neck, framed an even face. But the most fascinating thing about him were his dark blue eyes, sparkling like little blue stars even in the white soup of the mist.
“Wow!”, was all she could say. “I have to go to the country a bit more often, where at least the men still look like real guys!”
“Are you talking to me?”
The young man had finally reached her and looked at her with disdain.
“With whom else? Do you see anyone else?“
The stranger looked around, shook his head and then mumbled, “That can’t be” to himself.
“What can’t be?“
The young man ignored her question and stared at her only completely amazed.
“I have to say, you are behaving very strangely,” she remarked. “I don’t understand why you won’t help me and just stare at me like I’m a dog with two heads!”
His gaze became even more penetrating, which slowly drove Cat to the egde of the francy. The more he stared, the more angry she became. Even her headaches were temporarily forgotten.
“If you didn’t want to help me, why did you even bother to come here? Then you might as well have gone to your damn party,” she pressed out snorting as she slowly straightened up. “I’m used to a lot of things from men, but thisis the crowning glory! I’ve never experienced anything like it before!”
“Have you finished your litany?”
The stranger’s eyes sparkled with amusement.
“A hellcat is nothing against you!”
“Hellcat? You compare me to a hellcat? Wouldn’t you be angry if you fell and the only person who could help you just stood there gawping at you like a monstrosity from a chamber of horrors? And how do you even talk? Are you one of those role-players who, once they wear their costume, are completely absorbed in their role?”
The young man raised one of his eyebrows questioningly.
“Roleplay? Costume? And, what the hell does “a monstrosity from a chamber of horrors” mean?”
“Enough of this shit! I think it’s good that you’re totally absorbed in your role, your costume is really awesome, but in my situation, you’re not really ready to play games!”
“Games? Your situation?“
Was he mentally retarded? It was obvious what was going on with her.
“I slipped down the slope and hit my head on one of the rocks.”
“Oh, that’s why! I thought you’d simply enjoy insulting unsuspecting strangers!“
His amused tone of voice broke the camel’s back.
“Now what? Will you help me or not? It seems that Gwenny did not send you. While you’re here, you might as well make yourself useful.”
Again he stared at her.
“God damn it! Give me your hand so I can finally get up!”
The stranger stopped stiffly in front of her without making the slightest effort to fulfill her request.
“What a stubborn buck! Maybe I should think about going to the country more often.”
“No, I did not come to help you!”
Fucking bastard!, the thought followed his statement without her doing.
Were there really only selfish idiots on this earth?
“I could have imagined that too! What’s the matter, are you afraid that I could spot your expensive costume?“
“No, it’s nothing like that,” she heard him say quietly. “I can’t!”
“How, you can’t! Is that supposed to be a joke? You are standing here in front of me, so you can help me too! What is the problem?”
“Cat? Cat? Can you hear me?” Gwennies voice echoed down to her before her head appeared above the slope.
“Are you all right? Or have you broken something? Don’t move! I brought help! They’re coming down for you now!”
“Except for my head, everything seems fine. If the guy here wasn’t so unpleasant, I’d be up there again by now!” she yelled to Gwenny.
“Which guy?” her friend shouted back.
“I am not unpleasant! To a certain extent I am only not able to help you!“
“Who asked you?” Cat then drove at him. “Earlier you didn’t get your mouth open either. You can leave! I don’t need your help anymore!“
“Who are you talking to”, Gwendoline looked down at her irritatedly.
“With the guy here!”
“The one standing right next to me staring at me as if I had two heads!”
“Cat, there’s nobody!”
“Gwenny, are you kidding me? The guy can’t be overlooked!”
“Catriona Campbell, apparently you hit your pretty head a little bit more than you want to show me with. You’re hallucinating, my dear!”
“Damn it, Gwenny, I’m not hallucinating! You should see him too! He …!”
“You are a Campbell? That explains a lot! Actually I should have noticed it much earlier,” the stranger interrupted her rudely.
“What does that mean?“
“You have unmistakably the traits of your clan! Your men are smug cretins and your wives …”
“Oh, that’s the final straw! Do I have to take your abuse too? You…! You…!”
“If I were you, I wouldn’t say what you think! Otherwise you might be sorry!“
“Do you want to threaten me? What do you actually imagine? You …?”
“Not at all! It’s just… All the Campbell women I met were man-hating hellcats!”
“I’m not a man-hating …”
“Are you not?” he interrupted her again. “May I remind you of what you said? I think you mentioned a cursed son of a bitch.”
Cat words died on her lips.
“You heard it?,” she finally brought out agonized. “That was …”
“I don’t think your son of a bitch can be any worse than the sons of a bitch of your clan I owe my situation to.”
“Cat, stop arguing with your imaginary stranger. It’s getting embarrassing!”
“Gwenny, I would, but this guy is driving me crazy. He insults me all the time! Would you stay calm there? I …”
“I do not insult you, I only show you things from my point of view!”Now it was the young man who flashed angrily at her.
“Who was to blame for the massacre? If this cursed massacre had never taken place, I would not stand before you now. Morgane would not have taken me into her clutches, and I could have spent my life peacefully at the side of my clan. But thanks to your betrayal, nothing of this has happened. No, quite the opposite! Morgane’s game has gone so far that you of all people can see me! After all these years, another Campbell. Villainous Campbells! Sneaky female! To hell with both of you.”
With those words, he vanished into thin air before her eyes.
Cat stared at the now empty spot.
How was such a thing possible? He must have disappeared in the increasing fog that wasgetting thicker and thicker. There was no other explanation. Especially not for her.