Scotland, long ago and far away
Never look at the moon as you reach for the stars…
Displaying herself half naked had never been part of the plan. Especially not in a see-through scarlet dress, in the middle of a raging snowstorm. But Lord Ewen McDunnagh was handsome so a plan could change.
It was unfortunate it should change so soon when he was also a drunk with a reputation for hiking the skirts of all women between the ages of fifteen and fifty and she’d still to gain entry to Lochalpin, but then again a knife jabbed her throat–his. So why not?
Show herself fully naked either? Well? Wasn’t she meant to be alluring, despite the fact it killed her to the fossilized back ends of her chattering teeth?
Behind her, Kendrick—who else?—sounded as if he was hunched in abject despair over his palfrey.
When it later came to him describing her behavior, slut and she has learned nothing weren’t words her bastarding, old father would exactly want to hear. But the stars could only be reached in Lochalpin. That place no stranger had set foot in in five years. Alive anyway. Here she was on the doorstep.
So the first thing wasn’t to ignore the way the snowflakes glistening in Lord Ewen’s umber colored hair, had just caused her jaw to drop when he first rode through the curtain of snow, the fact he was hard strength in worn leather and his voice when he’d told her to stop in his name, was richer than winter blackberries, too. The first thing was to get over it at all costs. The doorstep that was. That she’d been told to expect a troll and this wasn’t a troll wasn’t even secondary.
What exactly was Lord Ewen going to do if she didn’t shut her cloak which, actually, it had killed her to open? Send her back down the pass with her father’s men? Hardly. If it was his brother, the terror of her glen, perhaps. But it had been agreed he wouldn’t be here today.
Fisting the reins to control her nickering mount, she raised her chin.
“Thank you, Kendrick but I do think I’m capable of handling this. Lord Ewen, sir. I’m your bride, here at last after an arduous journey through the storm. So … so if you would just be so kind, so good …” Good was not something he looked like he was much accustomed to being. Except perhaps in bed? So maybe being good was something she should skip over, “as to remove … “
“Yes. To be, that is, sir. Because of course, we are not wed … yet.”
His sea-green glare said yet would be a long time coming–if at all–that he found her left nostril more appealing. Thankfully him wanting her was optional. In fact, if five years in her father’s dungeon had destroyed her allegedly famous allure, think of the hassle it saved her if he didn’t when she’d been expecting a troll and this wasn’t a troll.
There were shores she’d once danced on. This wasn’t one.
“Lady Kara—” Kendrick muttered again.
“Yes. Lady Kara McGurkie, my lord. Will you please stop interrupting me Kendrick, thank you? Chief … Chief Ian Dhub’s oldest daughter, in case you’ve somehow forgotten.”
Lord Ewen lowered his gaze, edged his lip with his tongue. The faintly rueful smile was the first, tiniest crack in his veneer.
Good. It would be a disaster if every piece of tittle-tattle ever to slip past his brother, Callm the Black Wolf, was just that and he’d changed his mind about this wedding.
Or he thought there was something untoward about her, sitting here dressed like this. But she could relax. Finally the glen beckoned.
“The tinker chief bastard’s daughter, my bride?” He thrust the dagger back in his belt, displaying an inch of hardened stomach muscle. “Don’t you just love learning something new in life every day, Princess?”
Yes, she did. Particularly that she was not going to have to fight him off until that ring sat on her finger. Obviously his brother wasn’t the only one who didn’t like strangers in his precious glen. It made her even more generously disposed towards him.
“Already my lord likes his little joke, I see.”
“Damn right I do.”
“Then I shall be sure to see—“
He leaned closer. It was only the brush of breath against her cheek. Yet the shock of the contact travelled the length of her body, the one she’d been dead inside of for five years. “Because where you’re concerned, you can count on it splitting my sides.” Before she could open her mouth he turned to the mob surrounding him, on foot and horseback. “Well, can’t she, lads?”
Lads? Do pardon her for thinking she’d seen better-looking corpses. But to a man they whistled, catcalled and stuck out their tongues, so obviously they were as alive as her, for the time being anyway.
This wasn’t going quite as well as she’d like and if Kendrick complained again it might go even less. What exactly was Lord Ewen going to do if she didn’t shut her cloak? Send her back—remember? At least she hoped she did. Because that would not be a good choice for her.
“Oh, I think you’ll find when we’re wed, sir, I shall count on anything.”
“My lips are wet already.” He curved them in a deep grin. “With what you’re showing me here.”
Because frankly—damn him–the time had come to stop sitting here showing him it in the perishing cold, the snow piling up in her hood and do what she’d come to do. She removed her gloved hand from the reins. “Because you agreed to put an end to the war between our clans by wedding Chief Ian Dhub’s daughter, Lady Kara McGurkie, did you not? And I am Lady Kara McGurkie. Yes. My credentials are right here should you wish to see them.”
An armory clinked. Claymores, dirks, and axes. All glinting in the snow-lit dusk. All leveled at her. His men were good all right. Far better than her father’s stretched on horseback along the narrow pass behind her. Imagine the wedding night if they did that around the bed.
“Jesus.” The sloping, three-legged, shaggy beast at his side—what it was she’d no idea, except that it had fangs and it yowled, as his boot hit its backside. “Hell, Dug. Shut up, will you?”
Dug? She swallowed. He called the dog, Dug? How basic. What would he call his children when he had them? Child? Bairn? You? Son …
Her ribs tightened.
God, her mind whispered, don’t waylay me on the road to perdition. You can’t win. But there it was in that same moment. A vision, a boy, sitting right there on Lord Ewen’s shoulder, pale as the snowflakes dusting it, ethereal as the roiling mist. The eyes blue as the sky on a sunny day. The same soft hair. Her boy, her son, Arland.
Was she completely, ragingly insane?
There weren’t going to be any children. And there wasn’t going to be any wedding night.
Because, after the wedding feast, there wasn’t going to be any groom.
Desiring her could be murder.
To love, honor, and betray…
To get back her son, she will stop at nothing…
Dire circumstances have forced Kara McGurkie to forget she’s a woman. Dire circumstances force her to swear to love and honor, to help destroy a clan, in order to get back her son. But when dire circumstances force her to seduce her fiancé’s brother on the eve of the wedding, will the dark secrets she holds and her greatest desire be enough to save her from his powerful allure?
To save his people, neither will he…
Since his wife’s murder, Callm McDunnagh, the Black Wolf of Lochalpin, ruthlessly guards heart and glen from dangerous intruders. But from the moment he first sees Kara he knows he must possess her, even though surrendering to his passion may prove the most dangerous risk of all.
She has nothing left to fear except love itself…
Now only Kara can decide what passion can save or destroy, and who will finally learn the truth of the words… Till death do us part.Releasing December 7th. Now available on pre-order for (99 p?!1.29 cents..limited time, pre-order only. Also coming on print. Just need to sort that with the er.. dudes….