Love is Not Ours to Command
Over his life, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had had many lovers, women whom he’d cared for, but there were only a handful of women he had loved.
Debra Campbell had been the first. It was a youthful love, romantic and naïve, but that had not made it any less true. He had loved her with all his heart, and it was torn from him the day she fell.
Even Kristin, with all her flaws, he had loved truly. He knew that he sometimes fell into the same trap as all men, confusing lust for love, but even after the desire had been destroyed by time and treachery, he still couldn’t kill her.
Kate, he wasn’t so certain about. Was it love he had felt then or merely the tug of her Quickening drawing them together? And now, was it regret for a love lost or guilt for taking her mortality from her?
He knew he loved Carmen. She had thrown accusations at him, but he had given his pledge in good faith. He loved her and would have married her gladly if her family hadn’t forced the issue.
But he had not dwelled on that long, for if he had married Carmen then he might not have met Little Deer. Her death had nearly killed everything that could feel inside of him, but he would not trade the happy memories of her life for anything.
It took nearly a century for him to love again. A century of flirtation and careless trysts with pretty but shallow women. Then he landed on Tessa Noel’s boat and he was complete again.
She made him feel young again, young and stupid. She made him feel like writing poetry or breaking into song (though thankfully he refrained from both as a rule). She made him almost believe that they could live happily ever after, until Connor and the Game came crashing through his skylight. Until a shot in the dark turned his world upside down again.
Through it all there was Amanda. Amanda was unique, and his feelings for her equally so. He couldn’t imagine them settling into marital bliss like Robert and Gina, hell, he couldn’t see Amanda ever settling in one place.
But they were bonded in a union, a partnership for all time. They might be separated by oceans, they might fight like cat and dog, they might be with someone else. But through it all, they loved each other and Duncan knew that his world was kept level by the constant of her presence.
But in the end, all his loves had become gravestones to be tended, anniversaries on which to pause and reflect. He hoped that he never lived to mark Amanda’s grave. For what is love except to fear the absence of it? But as Bertrand Russell had said, to fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.