Never love a highlander, p.11
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       Never Love a Highlander, p.11

         Part #3 of McCabe Trilogy series by Maya Banks
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Page 11


  Her cowardice made her choke. The food she’d tried to consume stuck in her throat and she couldn’t force it down no matter how hard she tried.

  She alternated between wanting Caelen to put in an appearance so she could dress him down for humiliating her in front of her kinsmen and wanting him to stay as far away as possible so she didn’t have to face him. Not until she regained her courage and decided her next course.

  Disgusted with her sudden timidity, she pushed aside her food and backed from the table. She wasn’t going to sit around arguing with herself about whether she wanted to see her husband. He could rot. She was tired. Beyond exhausted. It was past time she sought her bed.

  She braced herself for the cold when she swung her door open. Her room lacked a hearth for a fire, but there were no windows so no wind blew through the chamber. She collected two candles and returned to the hall to light them from one of the torches lining the walls.

  The meager light brightened the tiny chamber and the warm glow chased away some of the chill, although it was all in the perception. The half-burned candles could hardly provide enough warmth to make a difference. But still, they cheered her and made her feel a little warmer.

  ’Twas cold enough that she decided to leave her clothing on. All she did was remove her boots and then she donned her one luxury. A pair of wool stockings that Sarah had darned for her.

  She sighed as the soft, warm material slid over her feet. She flexed her toes and then climbed beneath the furs on her bed.

  Her eyes closed immediately but she didn’t fall asleep. Her mind was too occupied with all that had transpired in the last fortnight.

  If she were honest with herself, she’d admit to more than just passing trepidation. She was afraid of her future. Afraid for the future of her clan.

  No matter that she’d always dressed as a man and indulged in swordplay while other girls dreamed of marriage and children. She harbored secret girlish dreams of her own. She imagined beautiful dresses and a warrior with no equal falling to one knee in front of her to pledge his undying love and loyalty.

  She smiled dreamily and snuggled deeper into the covers. Aye, ’twas a nice fantasy. Her warrior wouldn’t only love her beyond reason. He’d accept her faults and he’d be proud of her accomplishments in warfare. He’d boast to his men that his wife was a warrior. A warrior princess with unrivaled beauty and accomplishment.

  They’d fight side by side and then return to the keep where she’d dress in fine gowns gifted to her by her husband. She’d serve him a fine meal directed by her own hand. Then they’d sit by the fire and sip fine ale before retiring to their chamber where he’d hold her and whisper words of love to her.

  “You’re an idiot,” she muttered, self-loathing suddenly consuming her. No man would ever accept one such as her. A man wanted someone like Keeley. All soft and gentle with traits acceptable to a gentle lady. Like healing. Or needlework. Or a woman who could run a keep and always have a fine meal on the table.

  All Rionna could do was cause injuries that required women of Keeley’s skill to patch them up and send them back into battle. Rionna had neither a gentle touch nor womanly softness.

  She frowned but kept her eyes shut. So what if she wasn’t as other women? She wasn’t lacking. Nor was she less. She was simply … different. Aye, she was different and a good man would celebrate those differences. If Caelen McCabe couldn’t appreciate his wife the way she was, then he could sit on his sword and have a good spin.

  The room was suspiciously warm. And the bed was softer and more luxurious than what she was accustomed to. She was aware that something was entirely different, but she couldn’t force herself awake long enough to take stock of the situation.

  Determined not to ruin a perfectly good dream, she snuggled deeper into the warm haven and sighed.

  A soft chuckle intruded on her euphoria just as a lingering brush along the swell of her breast sent a shiver racing through her belly.

  Her breast? She’d gone to bed with them bound. Indeed, she hadn’t undressed. She’d fallen into bed fully clothed and had been asleep in a matter of minutes.

  She cracked one eye open to see her husband undressing a mere foot from where she lay. She wasn’t in her chamber. Nor was she in her father’s. Best she could tell she was in one of the chambers reserved for honored guests. Not that there had ever been many of those at the McDonald keep.

  Rather than bolt upward and demand how she’d gotten from her chamber to here, she silently observed Caelen as he removed his tunic.

  His back was to her and his muscles rippled as he pulled the material over his head and tossed it aside. He spent a moment stretching before he began to divest himself of his trews.

  Her cheeks burned when his buttocks came into view. Hard but with enough shape to appeal to her feminine senses. Paler than the rest of his body and supported by two tree trunks for legs. There wasn’t a spare inch of flesh anywhere that she could see. All tight muscles, hair roughened and dark.

  She shivered again but it had naught to do with being cold.

  He was a beautiful warrior. All that a woman like herself admired. Not perfect. But beautiful still.

  Scars ran the length of his body, from his ankles to his nape. She found herself eager to explore each of them with her fingers and her … mouth.

  Would he enjoy the same attentions as he’d given her on their wedding night? The idea of kissing and tasting him so intimately tightened areas of her body that didn’t bear mentioning.

  She glanced down, once again cognizant of the fact that she was naked. Not a single stitch of clothing remained.

  The furs felt sensual against her bare skin. Her entire body was in a state of heightened sensitivity. Her nipples were hard points, thrusting upward as if begging for her husband’s mouth.

  She almost groaned. He did indeed possess a wicked, wicked mouth. And tongue. She couldn’t forget the wonders of that talented tongue.

  Her most intimate flesh twitched and drew up until an ache bloomed deep in her womb. What was happening to her that merely viewing her husband and remembering his attentions wreaked such havoc with her body?

  She stirred restlessly, no longer able to lie still. Caelen heard and turned to look at her, unabashed by his complete nudity.

  Her eyes widened at the sight of his manhood, so rigid and … erect. It, like the rest of him, was hard and fierce looking. She swallowed nervously as her gaze finally lifted to meet her husband’s.

  “So you are awake. ”

  She nodded dumbly. Of course she was awake. Any fool could see that.

  “Why were you sleeping in that tiny, airless chamber? Were you hiding?”

  His look suggested he was amused by that prospect. She scowled and sat up, realizing too late that the movement bared her entire upper body to his gaze.

  “ ’Tis my chamber. Where else would I sleep?”

  He cocked one eyebrow as if to tell her the absurdity of her statement.

  She bared her teeth in frustration. “I don’t see you once, not even at the evening meal. How am I to know what your expectations are?”

  He curled his hand around the base of his erection and pulled upward, his gaze never leaving her. A faint smile hovered on his lips, one that told her whatever it was he’d say would infuriate her.

  “Have I neglected my new wife?” he drawled. “And here I thought I was attending to important matters like the defense of your clan and asserting my authority. ”

  She curled her fingers into the bedcovers until they were bunched in her fists. “ ’Tis your clan now. Not only my clan. You speak as though you do us a grand favor, but ’tis the truth you gain much in this bargain. ”

  “How fierce you look, wife. Have I told you how appealing I find you when you scowl at me?”

  “ ’Tis not my purpose to be appealing!”

  He grinned as he moved closer to the bed, his hand still doing curious things to his
swollen shaft. She couldn’t help but stare. It seemed it was all she could focus on.

  “Whether ’tis your purpose or not, it doesn’t change the way of things. I go as hard as a stone every time you open that saucy mouth of yours. ”

  He loomed over the bed—and her—leaving her feeling small and vulnerable. The look in his eyes made her nervous. There was promise there, but of what she was unsure. She licked her lips and edged back, clutching for the furs to cover herself with.

  “ ’Tis no use hiding your charms, lass. I’ll find them soon enough. ”

  “What mean you?” she asked breathlessly. ’Twas the truth it was becoming increasingly more difficult to draw air into her lungs. Her chest was tight and an odd squeezing sensation gripped her until she was light-headed.

  He tugged the furs from her clenching fingers and tossed them down toward her feet.

  “What I mean is that tonight I’m not going to stop short of my complete and utter satisfaction. ”

  His eyes gleamed as his fingers stroked over one full breast to her nipple. He thumbed it gently until it puckered into a taut bud.

  “And my satisfaction?” she asked crossly. The man sounded selfish and arrogant.

  He smiled. “I don’t think you’ll be complaining, lass. You certainly weren’t the night after our wedding night. ”

  She had nothing to say to that because the man was certainly right.

  Her legs trembled. Her fingers shook. Butterflies danced in her belly and up into her throat.

  He bent over and then slid one knee onto the bed until he was over her, so close that she could feel the heat of his breath.

  Instead of pressing his mouth to hers as she expected, he angled his head and brushed his lips over her neck.

  It was like being caught in a fierce lightning storm.

  She gasped and arched upward, her head falling back in an invitation for him to nuzzle below her ear.

  “You have beautiful skin, lass. ”

  His voice purred over her throat, vibrating and husky until her entire body tingled in anticipation of where he’d kiss her next.

  His teeth sank into the column of her neck, light and grazing, a gentle nip and then one a bit harder.

  “You taste as sweet as you look. ”

  She sighed and closed her eyes. “You have a wicked mouth, husband. ”

  “And to think I’ve only just begun. ”


  Rionna reached up to grasp Caelen’s shoulders, her fingers digging into his hard muscles. She strained upward, wanting more of his mouth. Shivers of delight raced in patterns over her flesh, like raindrops on a warm summer afternoon.

  “That’s it, lass. Hold on to me. ”

  Gently he lowered her until her back met the bed and she landed with a soft bounce.

  “You’re a feast for a man’s eyes. ”

  “Why is it the bed chamber is the only place you have a kind word for me?” she said with a twist of her lips.

  He reared back, a faint smile curving his mouth. “ ’Tis the only time you’re obedient, wife. ”

  She balled her fist and hit him ineffectually on the shoulder. He captured her wrist and pulled it over her head, holding it there as he cupped one of her breasts and caressed the swell.

  He stroked lazily with his fingers, tracing soft lines to her nipple. He captured the peak and pulled, gently at first and then sharper. Each tug sent a streak of pleasure straight to her core. Her womb clenched. She squeezed her thighs together and arched farther into his touch.

  Then he lowered his head until his breath blew warm over the puckered bud. She moaned in anticipation, hardly recognizing the breathy, feminine sounds sliding from her throat.

  Warm and rough, his tongue slid sensuously over her nipple, leaving a damp trail to the top of her breast. He released her wrist and lowered his hand to cup her other breast. He kneaded and massaged and then plumped them together.

  He licked over one nipple and then pressed a tender kiss to the tip before moving to the other. She stared down at his dark head as he suckled. With each pull, her body tightened more until she was rigid beneath him.

  Unable to resist, she thrust her fingers into his long, black hair. She stroked the braids at his temples, pulling when he stopped sucking. With a chuckle, he resumed and she relaxed her hold so that she threaded through the strands, enjoying the slide over her hands.

  “I have a mind to taste you again, to feel your honey on my tongue,” he whispered.

  She closed her eyes and let her hands fall away as he kissed a path over her belly and lower to the juncture of her thighs.

  He leaned over on his side, his big hand splayed over her pelvis. He propped himself up on his other elbow and idly toyed with the curls shielding her femininity. It mortified her and fascinated her with equal measure.

  Part of her wanted to squeeze her thighs shut and turn away and the other part wanted to open them to give him easier access.

  Carefully he delved inward and gently parted her flesh until she was open and damp to his touch. With one finger, he stroked down and then back up again to circle the tiny sensitive nub.

  “I’m fair to bursting, lass. I want to bury myself deep inside your warmth. ”

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