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Chapter 8

Drustan had spun to face her and his expression was grim. "I cannot let you ran, Cait."

Her entire body tensed with the need to do just that. "You must."

"No," he gritted, as if the single word was hard to get out. He wanted the chase, too. She could see it in his face. He took a visible rein on his desires. "I promised not to hurt you or the babe. I cannot let you do so either."

She didn't want to hurt her baby, but she had to ran.

With two deft movements, he removed his plaid. Suddenly the air crackled like it did during a lightning storm and before she could take a breath, he had taken wolf form. He bounded to the door, leaping past her and landing against it. He circled to face her and growled, baring his teeth.

She'd been around werewolves and femwolves her whole life, but she'd never known fear in the presence of one. She knew it now a primal fear that had nothing to do with concern he would harm her. It was a sexual fear of being dominated and yet it was mixed with the need for just that.

She could not change during pregnancy, but she felt no disadvantage facing him as a woman rather than a femwolf.

She took a step toward the door. "You won't hurt me."

But he didn't have to. He blocked the door as effectively as a stone wall. He was huge as a wolf, almost as tall on all fours as she was standing up.

"How long will you keep your wolf form?" She smiled provokingly. "You cannot claim me that way." And then she would win. The taunt hung, unspoken, in the air between them.

He began to stalk her again, a fierce growl rumbling in his chest, his ears pinned back, his tail straight up, his huge animal body shouting intimidation in every sinuous movement. And in spite of herself she backed up and kept backing away from the threat that her brain told her was not a threat. Her instincts demanded she avoid contact with the wolf that looked at her with eyes shining with a man's intelligence and determination.

He wouldn't attempt to claim her as a wolf, not when she couldn't make the change. Her mind told her that, but his feral behavior mocked her certainty. So, she kept moving, no longer caring whether or not she reached the door, only that she kept distance between them. She didn't realize where he had herded her until she stepped backward into a dark room.

The bedroom.

The air shimmered again and then he was there, a warrior towering over her, his body no less intimidating than it had been in wolf form perhaps more so because she knew that as a man, he really would claim her in the ancient mating rite. His fully aroused nudity was silhouetted in the doorway to the other room, which was still lit by candlelight.

Her gaze skimmed his bodyshe could not help her self. And she sucked in air when she saw the size of his male organ. He was bigger than Sean. Much bigger. Dark, angry veins pulsed on Drustan's erect flesh, reminding her that he came to her as a werewolf, not merely a man.

A responding rush of wetness between her legs told her what her femwolf thought of his readiness to mate with her.

He grinned, his eyes lit with arrogant certainty. He knew her wolf wanted him. "Undress yourself, Cait. Claim me as I plan to claim you."

She stared at him, inexplicable emotion curling inside her heart. The claiming was supposed to be mutual, but often it was not. Werewolves and men alike often saw their wives as possessions rather than true mates. Drustan's words said he thought differently, that he recognized her worth and strength. Of their own volition, her hands began to peel her clothing away until she stood before him as naked and proud as he was.

Her stomach protruded, but she was not embarrassed by it. Femwolves did not become pregnant easily and to be with child was evidence of the deepest level of her femininity, not something to be ashamed of. The changes in her body made her more beautiful. Any wolf would say so.

Drustan's gaze, so intent on her, reflected agreement with those thoughts. "I have never touched a woman with child," he said hoarsely.

She reached for his hand and laid his palm against her belly. The heat of this simple touch seared her and a shudder went through his big body, showing he was as affected as she was. Tears she did not understand welled in her eyes. Everything was different with him. Everything.

He swung her up in his arms and carried her to the bed, then laid her out on it, his touch possessive. "I cannot let you run from me, but I will prove my strength to be your mate."

She stared up at him, her whole body shaking with the need to feel his in intimate contact. "How?" she asked in a bare whisper.

"You will beg me to take you and in this way I will prove the rightness of our mating."

He thought to make her plead? A femwolf never begged. Not ever. "You cannot do it."

She wasn't taunting him, but was truly concerned. He'd set himself an impossible task and she didn't want their mating to be impossible.

"You doubt my strength?"

"I am a femwolf," she reminded him, knowing better than to make a direct challenge:

"And I will make you beg. Believe it." He inhaled deeply and smiled like a Viking conqueror. "The scent of your arousal is like an aphrodisiac to my blood. You will beg, you will plead you will ache for my possession before I claim you."

Sean had never made her ache.

She realized she'd said the words aloud when Drustan chuckled. "He was not a Balmoral."

"He was wolf enough to make me pregnant," she snapped back, unwilling to accept the implied slight on the clan of her birth.

Drustan did not look even mildly offended, but smiled again a predator's smile that made her shiver. "I will make you wish the baby were mine."

Then he touched her, his fingertips gliding along her skin, the caress so soft, it made her fine hairs stand on end and goose bumps form on her skin. He used his mouth, his hands and his body to mark every bit of her exposed flesh with his scent and in the process, he brought her excitement to a fever pitch.

She arched off the bed, her body in an agony of pleasure. "Drustan!"

He laughed low, the sound another impossible caress. "Do you want me, little one?"

"Yes!"

"Enough to beg?" he demanded.

Her mouth clamped shut on the words she wanted to utter and then opened again immediately in a gasp of delight as his fingers trespassed her most private flesh.

"You are wet and luscious."

She made a garbled sound, unable to talk.

He pressed his fingers deep inside her, but was careful not to touch the small nub of her utmost pleasure. He played with her, sliding his big fingers in and out and all around her swollen folds.

Then he put his fingers to his mouth and sucked. "Delicious."

She moaned.

He pushed her thighs wide and then lifted her hips with his werewolf strength before lowering his mouth to the exposed heart of her desire. He kissed her with closed lips all over her sensitized flesh. Then he kissed her with his tongue in shocking intimacy. Sean had never done this and she could not believe it was permissible, but it felt too wonderful to question.

Besides, if she opened her mouth to speak, she feared broken words of pleading would be all that came out.

He tasted her for long minutes, drawing away when her body trembled on the brink of spending. He did it over and over again until she was writhing below him, trying to get that final touch that would send her over. But he held her where he wanted her and continued to pleasure her until she was mindless with need. He pulled his mouth away and sat up between her spread thighs. She cried out in protest, only to moan again when his fingers delved deep within her once more.

He pulled them out and her wolf's vision could see her glistening wetness on them, even in the shadowed darkness.

His expression was somber as he marked first his penis and then his chest right over his heart with her intimate scent. She broke, unable to hold back her words of need any longer, and cried out with guttural pleas for him to take her.

He did with one hard thrust, joining their bodies in complete oneness. He was big and she was swollen with excitement. She felt stretched to the point of pain-edged pleasure. He pressed against her from head to feet, careful to curve himself over her protruding middle, affecting the final marking of their scents on one another's bodies.

"You are mine," he said in age-old tradition.

"I am yours," she replied, her voice filled with emotion she did not want to name.

He withdrew until only the tip of his large member rested within in her and then waited in silence, his body rigid with the tension of controlling the urge to drive for both their fulfillment.

"You are mine," she said in an ancient dialect the Celts of their clan would not understand.

"I am yours," he responded in kind and then thrust to the hilt.

She cried out, her body bowing with the intense pleasure of the mutual claiming. He set a rhythm that brought gut-wrenching pleasure with every stroke until her entire being clenched in need, on the edge of a precipice higher than any she had ever known. He ground his hips into her, rubbing her sweetest spot once, twice and then she exploded, stars bursting behind her closed eyelids and inside of her until all she knew was blackness.

When she came to, he had her cradled against his body and no candlelight glowed from the other room.

She touched his chest, right where he had marked himself with her sexual scent. "We are one now."

"Yes." The word sounded more like a growl, but she understood him.

And he had been right earlier in that moment, she wished more than anything that the babe inside her were his. Because the fact that it was not was the one thing that might have the power to tear them apart.


There was no warning knock before Emily heard the bar sliding against the outside of her door as it was lifted from its place. Ulf was probably the soldier accompanying the housekeeper this morning. He was rude enough not to bother with such a common courtesy.

The night before, Angus had been with the housekeeper and not only had he knocked, but he had waited patiently while she and the housekeeper visited. The servant hadn't been in the least surly toward Emily, which had lifted her spirits considerably. She'd been so busy talking, in fact, that she'd eaten very little and was subsequently starving now.

She'd been up since sunrise after getting very little sleep the night before worrying about Cait. She'd done everything she could do to occupy herself, including making her bed and using the water in the pitcher and the small towel to clean her room. She'd even given her hair one hundred strokes with the brush the housekeeper Marta had provided.

So, even if it was Ulf on the other side of that door, she welcomed the intrusion.

But when the heavy wooden door swung open, it wasn't Ulf's scowling countenance she saw, but Lachlan's. He wasn't scowling though not precisely, but he wasn't smiling either.

She wasn't about to smile at him either, not after his threats the evening before. She ignored him completely, greeting the housekeeper. "Thank you kindly for the food, Marta. I wondered"

She paused and gave Lachlan a sidelong glance, unsure whether her request would better be saved for a time when he wasn't with the servant After all, if the intent of locking her in the tower was to punish, then giving her something to keep the boredom and worry at bay would be the last thing he would allow.

"Yes, milady?" Marta prompted when Emily didn't speak again.

What if Marta left and did not return again until the midday meal? Emily could not bear the thought of hours more spent doing nothing but thinking about what terrible fate might have befallen her friend. She bit her bottom lip and then smiled tentatively. "I had hoped you might have some chore for me to do to help me pass the time."

Marta looked uneasily at Lachlan and he gave a slight shake to his head.

"I am sorry, milady, but I do not." Her eyes expressed pity for Emily's plight though.

Filled with disappointment, Emily acknowledged the woman's words with a nod. "Thank you all the same."

Lachlan dismissed the servant with a flick of his hand and she left. Emily stifled a sigh. She would have liked to chat with the other woman again, but his presence made that difficult anyway. She straightened the already-made bed and wondered how long he planned to stand there watching her.

"Your porridge will grow cold if you don't eat it."

Right now cold porridge was the least of her problems. She shrugged, busying herself by giving her already shining hair a few unnecessary strokes with the brush.

"Emily." The warning was there in his voice, but she chose to ignore it, instead rearranging the things on the small table.

"I do not like being ignored, English." He said it as if he truly believed she might not realize that truth already.

He was probably too arrogant to latch onto the fact that she was baiting him on purpose. Not that her behavior was more than a paltry defiance at best. He did not care for her opinion, so the fact that she chose to ignore him was barely worth his notice. But he had noticed, she reminded herself. Her lips twitched in satisfaction.

She did not like being kidnapped, but that had not stopped him from taking her and she did not think she owed her captor polite consideration.

She didn't hear him move, but suddenly his big hand landed on her shoulder. He turned her to face him, but she refused to look at him and kept her eyes averted.

He sighed.

She considered what she wanted mostto annoy him further or to ask about her friend. Her concern for Cait won. "Have you seen Cait this morning?"

"Look at me when you speak to me."

She thought about it and then stiffened her spine. "No."

"If you want me to answer your question, you will."

Deciding news of her friend's well-being was more important than her pride, she did. And wished she hadn't. He was so handsome and it made her angry that such a beautiful man could have such a black heart.

"No."

She stared, thinking she must have misheard. "You haven't seen her?"

"No."

"You made me look at you only to tell me no?" she demanded, incensed.

"Do not raise your voice to me."

"You tricked me."

He shrugged. "You should not have denied me."

"Why, pray tell?"

"I am your laird."

"I am not a member of this clan. I am your captive and I owe you no allegiance."

"You owe me respect."

"I owe you nothing."

Instead of getting angrier, he shook his head with a strange smile, making him look even more appealing than normal. "My fiercest warriors would not talk to me so and yet you, a mere slip of a woman, defy me without pause."

"I'm not afraid of you."

"No, you are not." He sounded bemused by that fact. "I do not expect to see Cait or Drustan for a day or more," he offered without further prompting.

"You are not serious?"

"I am."

"But that is" She stopped, unsure what to call it. She supposed that a newly wedded couple might want time to themselves. She could hardly fault mat, but Cait and Drustan had married under anything but usual circumstances.

"It is normal," Lachlan said in a hard voice.

"Is it?" she asked, finding it difficult to keep track of their conversation with him standing so close.

"Yes."

"I have no experience in these matters." Not yet anyway. "But I am worried about her. I hardly slept last night for thinking about what might be happening to her."

Lachlan stared at her and she blushed, realizing how her words sounded.

"I wasn't thinking about that."

"What?" he asked, a devilish glint in his dark eyes.

"That... you know. The bedding."

"What else did you think might happen to her on her wedding night?"

"She might have refused him."

"She didn't. You saw how she responded to his kiss on the boat. The lass wanted him."

Emily's hand flew up to cover his mouth. "Don't say such things. It isn't seemly."

He kissed her palm and she jerked her hand away as if burned. Worse, she felt marked as if his kiss had seared her palm with the imprint of his lips.

He smiled. "You watched them. You know I speak the truth."

"I didn't watch," she lied.

"You did and it excited you."

"It didn't!"

"It did and that made me hot."

"Hot?" She shook her head, unable to believe they were having this conversation.

He nodded. "Oh, yes. Your lips parted as if you were ready to be kissed yourself."

"I did no such thing."

"You did. And I liked it."

"You shouldn't have noticed. It was rude."

"You think I'm a barbarian."

"A barbarian who speaks Latin," she said wryly.

"I am interested in many things."

"Well, I am interested in my friend's welfare. Will you allow me to visit her?"

"There is no need. You will trust me when I tell you she is content to be with my warrior and you will stop worrying. Drustan gave his word he would not hurt her."

"As you gave your word you would not hurt me?"

"Yes."

Then she had plenty to worry about.

Her opinion must have shown on her face because he said, "You will cease believing my choice of reparation for insult is some horrible fate that has befallen your friend. Cait is unharmed."

Emily laughed. She couldn't help it. The man was daft. "It is a horrible fate."

"No more so than any other woman given in marriage."

"She had no choice!"

"Most women have little choice in who they wed."

"This is different, you must see that."

"How?"

"You chose for her."

"And was she allowed to select her first husband?" he asked in a tone that implied such a thing highly unlikely. "Were you allowed a choice in whether or not you were sent to marry Talorc?"

There had been no choice not if she wanted to spare her sister. "No." Sighing, Emily also remembered what Cait had told her about her first marriage. "Cait's brother decided on her first husband."

"Ah," Lachlan said with satisfaction. "Her first marriage was arranged by her brother who was also her laird and now her new laird has chosen her second husband. It is no different."

"It's different all right." How could he be too stubborn to see that? "She didn't choose to be a member of this clan."

"Did she choose to be a Sinclair?"

"She was born a Sinclair."

"And now she has been made a Balmoral."

Implying neither had been her friend's choice. Looked at in that light, she could see his reasoning, but it was flawed. Only she did not know how to explain that fact. "You are trying to confuse me."

"No. I'm only trying to make you see the truth."

"What truth?"

"That I have done nothing reprehensible in commanding this marriage take place."

"You said my opinion did not matter."

"I have changed my mind. I want you to stop thinking I am some kind of monster."

"Why?"

He glared at her. "You did not eat your dinner last night, and this morning you have not touched your porridge."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"You will eat. I command it."

"And if I don't what threat will you use against me to make me obey? Will you take me like a whore to your bed?" She couldn't believe she had asked that, but he certainly didn't hesitate to discuss issues best left unmentioned.

"To warm my bed would not make you a whore," he growled.

"Wouldn't it? What do Highlanders call women who share their bodies with men who are not their husbands?"

"Accommodating."

Emily gasped, unable to believe her ears. "You did not just say that."

"I did. I am no Englishman to say one thing and mean another."

"How dare you?"

"I dare anything I like. I am laird here." And according to him, that made him tantamount to being a king.

Well, he wasn't her king and that was that. With a huff, she spun away.

"If you want to see Cait, you must eat."

"So that is to be the threat?" Not that he needed to threaten her to eat. She'd only been waiting for him to leave before she ate her porridge, but he was right. It was going to be stone cold if she didn't eat it soon.

"If that is what it takes to make you act reasonably, then yes."

"I did not realize that prisoners were expected to be reasonable." Because she wanted to anyway, she sat on her bed and began to eat.

He moved to stand near her, propping one foot on the bed frame. "You are not a prisoner."

She tried not to look at the muscular leg so close to her, but could not keep her gaze from straying to it. Englishmen covered their legs, but she did not think it would matter if he wore hose and a long tunic. Lachlan was so very masculine that he called to everything feminine in her even when she was angry enough to throw her porridge right at his head.

"So the door is not barred on the other side when the servants leave?" she asked with faint mockery. "I must have imagined hearing it slide into place then."

"I warned you that you would be locked in a tower if you ran from me again yesterday. You ran."

"And you followed through on your threat, but you didn't tell me you were going to torture me with boredom."


Chapter 7 | Moon Awakening | Chapter 9