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Beyond the highland mist, p.30

Beyond the Highland Mist, page 30

 part  #1 of  Highlander Series

 

Beyond the Highland Mist
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  “Don’t you know how dangerous it is to be throwing idle wishes about, lass!” he thundered.

  “Oh, this one wasn’t idle at all,” she called cheerfully before the door swung closed. On the rooftop of Dalkeith, Grimm sank to his knees and stared up into the sky, desperately seeking another wishing star … just in case.

  Adrienne’s gown rustled as she slipped down the corridor. Lydia had told her where she might find the Hawk and, over tangy mint tea, had filled her in on a few things her husband hadn’t bothered to mention to her. Such as the fact that he’d destroyed her beloved nursery, the one she’d lain awake fantasizing about when she’d been stranded in the twentieth century. So that was where he’d rushed off to looking so worried about “the scant few months left.” She entered the nursery so silently, Hawk did not hear her approach.

  She traced her fingers lightly and lovingly over an exquisitely carved doll and paused.

  He was kneeling beside a cradle, rubbing oil into the wood with a soft cloth. Clad only in the blues and silvers of his kilt, his dark hair fell forward in a silky wave. The nursery was aglow with dozens of oil globes, casting his powerful torso a gleaming bronze. His eyes were narrowed in concentration and the muscles in his arms flexed and bunched as he rubbed.

  Adrienne leaned against the jamb and watched him in silence, tallying the room’s meager furnishings. Many of the toys were back, but all the cradles and beds were all gone. What phenomenal passion must have raged through him!

  “I suppose I should feel flattered,” she said softly.

  His head jerked up guiltily.

  Adrienne stepped into the room, conscious that her breasts, made fuller by pregnancy, swayed beneath her gown, and that the Hawk seemed fascinated by the ripeness of her lusher curves. They’d made love that afternoon, desperately, quickly, and fiercely, scarcely making it from the gardens to the privacy of their bedroom. Lydia had patiently waited all of one hour before she’d knocked on the door and demanded to see her daughter-in-law.

  When Adrienne had been trapped back in the twentieth century, fearing she would never be intimate with her husband again, memories of their incredible passion had cascaded through her mind with bittersweet fury, heightening her awareness of all the sensual things she’d longed to do with the Hawk, but had been denied. Those long, torturous months of desire, coupled with the demanding hormones of pregnancy, enhanced her daring now. She hungered for the slow, delicious loving she’d been afraid she might never experience again. “Hawk?”

  He gazed up at her, still crouched on the floor, ready to pounce if she so much as moved an inch.

  Adrienne moved—deliberately and erotically. She stooped to pick up a toy soldier, bending so that her breasts threatened to spill from her bodice. She caught her lower lip between her teeth and sent the Hawk a smoldering look from beneath lowered lashes. He was on his feet in an instant.

  “Stop!” Adrienne raised a hand to hold him back.

  Hawk froze mid-stride.

  “What do you wish of me, Adrienne?” he whispered huskily.

  “I need you,” she said breathlessly. He lunged forward and she raised her hand again. “No, let me look at you,” she said as she circled slowly around him. She smiled when his eyes widened. “When I was back in my time, one of the things that I really wanted to clear up was a question about Scotsmen and their kilts….”

  “And that question was?”

  “I saw you mounting your horse one day—”

  “I know you did,” he said smugly. “You were in the window by the nursery.”

  “Oh! You did do it on purpose!”

  Hawk laughed, mischief crinkling his eyes, and it fueled her bold resolve. If he could tease her—well, two could play that game. She’d see how well he handled such toying with his desires.

  Stepping closer, Adrienne placed her hand on his muscled thigh and stared into his eyes provocatively. His nostrils flared, and his eyes darkened beneath hooded lids. With her other hand she tugged the bodice of her gown, freeing her breasts to spill over the top. She felt deliciously wicked, knowing her nipples were rosy, puckered, and begging to be kissed. When he leaned forward to do just that, she pushed him back playfully, slid her hand up his thigh, and wrapped it around his shaft, delighted by his husky groan. “Nothing beneath this plaid, just as I suspected,” she observed pertly.

  “Adrienne. You’re killing me.”

  “I’ve only just begun, my love.” She wrapped her fingers around his magnificent arousal and slipped her hand up and down his shaft with a velvety friction.

  Hawk grabbed her hips and lowered his head to kiss her; but she moved her head and laughed when he buried his face in her breasts instead.

  “Stop,” she commanded.

  “What?” he asked disbelieving.

  “Step back,” she encouraged. “Don’t touch me until I ask you to. Let me touch you.”

  Hawk groaned loudly, but let his hands fall from her body. His eyes were fierce and wild, and Adrienne suspected he wouldn’t permit her subtle torture much longer.

  She leisurely unfastened his kilt and dropped it to the floor. Her husband stood nude before her, his bronze body glistening in the candlelight, his hard shaft bucking insistently. Adrienne traced a fascinated and admiring path over his shoulders and across his broad, muscled chest. She lightly brushed his lips with hers, kissed his jaw, his nipples, teased his rippled abdomen with her tongue, then sank to her knees, her mouth inches from his shaft, her hands splayed on his thighs.

  “Adrienne!”

  She kissed the sweetness of him, stroking her tongue up and down his hard length. Hawk buried his hands in her hair and made a raw sound deep in his throat. “Enough!” he pulled her to her feet and backed her against the ledge beneath the windows. He swept her off her feet, deposited her upon the ledge, and tossed her gown up, spreading her legs to accommodate him. “Now, Adrienne. I want you now.” He kissed her deeply as he gently but insistently thrust into her beckoning wetness. Adrienne gasped with pleasure as he filled her completely. Hawk stared into her face, taking careful note of each shudder, each moan that escaped her lips, and just when she reached convulsively for the exquisite apex, just when she felt the sweet tremor begin—he stopped moving completely.

  “Hawk!”

  “Will you be teasing me again like this, my love?” he murmured.

  “Absolutely,” Adrienne replied saucily.

  “You will?”

  “Of course. Because I know my husband would never leave me wanting. Just as I would never tease him without completely satisfying his desires. So, satisfy me, my sweet highland laird. Take me to Valhalla, husband.”

  He laughed softly, then thrust into her carefully and gently until they came in perfect tempo. The intensity of their union, so perfect in body and soul, made Adrienne cry aloud with the wonder of it.

  Later, the Hawk shut the nursery door and carried his sleepy, satisfied wife to the Peacock Room, where he held her in his arms through the night, marveling at the completeness of his life with her in it.

  Lydia smiled when she heard the nursery door close soundly above her. All was well at Dalkeith-Upon-the-Sea. She paused a dreamy moment imagining the wee bairns that would grace the nursery soon.

  Life had never been sweeter.

  But it could be even sweeter still, Lydia.

  Lydia’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully on Tavis MacTarvitt’s back as he stood pensively before the fire. A wave of guilt crashed over her as she recalled how he’d come back to her that night after talking to the Hawk, and she’d turned a cold shoulder to him, and retreated once again into the familiar safety of formality.

  The strain in his patient smile was all the reproof he’d betrayed.

  My love, he’d called her, and she’d felt so guilty for having love when her son had been so alone that she had refused to acknowledge it. How much more time do you plan to waste, lass?

  Very quietly, Lydia unpinned her plaits, freeing her wavy chestnut hair. Her eyes
never wavered from Travis’s back. With a smile of anticipation she tossed her head upside-down, finger-combed her hair into tousled curls, then flipped it back over her head, allowing it to fall in a wild tumble down her back.

  So many years!

  She tugged nervously at her gown, studied his back another moment, then shrugged and unbuttoned a few pearl buttons at her collar. She took a deep, trembling breath as the butterflies took silken wing inside her belly.

  “Tavis?” she called softly. Once decided, she fully committed to not wasting one more precious moment.

  Tavis’s back straightened and he peered briefly over his shoulder at her.

  She almost laughed aloud when his eyes flew wide and he jerked completely around to face her, his gaze roving over her wild mane, her loosened collar, her parted lips.

  “Lydia?”

  She heard a hundred questions in his one word, and was thrilled by the knowledge that she finally had the right answer to give him. “I’ve been wondering a thing, you see, old man,” she said patting the bench beside her. “Those hands of yours …” Her voice trailed off, a wicked sparkle in her eyes. Coquettishly, she wet her lower lip in an invitation older than time itself.

  “Aye?” There was a hoarse catch in his voice.

  “Being that they’re so talented and strong …”

  “Aye?” His brows rose. His breath snagged in his throat as Lydia made a suggestion for those hands that shocked and delighted Tavis MacTarvitt to the very seat of his soul.

  When Grimm finally left the rooftop that night and entered the Great Hall, he stifled an oath and scrambled, in full retreat, right back out the door. In the hall, of all places! Lydia! And Tavis!

  “Och! Love!” he grumbled to the stars that twinkled above him with dispassionate splendor.

  Three months later the healthy cry of a baby boy resounded through the halls of Dalkeith-Upon-the-Sea.

  Hawk Douglas, bursting with pride, sat at Adrienne’s side on the bed.

  “Look at him, Hawk! He’s perfect!” Adrienne exclaimed.

  “He’s not the only one,” Hawk said huskily, smoothing her hair back from her forehead.

  Adrienne smiled at him. He’d held her hand through her labor, alternating between cursing himself and cursing her for letting him get her pregnant in the first place.

  But there would be many more such times, Adrienne thought, because she fully intended to have half a dozen babies. Hawk was just going to have to get used to the process of bringing them into the world.

  Adrienne touched his cheek wonderingly. “You’re crying,” she whispered.

  “Happy tears. You’ve given me a new life, Adrienne—a life I never dreamed I’d have.”

  She gazed at him adoringly, their baby snuggled between them.

  Adrienne could have remained like that for hours, but Grimm entered the Peacock Room just then, briskly ordering the guards about. “Place it there, by the bed.”

  Hawk glanced over his shoulder. “Ah, the cradle. I finished it last night. I suspect he will not be seeing much of it for a while.” Hawk possessively drew their tiny son in his arms. “He should sleep with us for a time, don’t you think?”

  “I don’t think I could allow him out of my sight, could you?”

  Hawk nodded his agreement as he studied his son intently. “My jaw,” he said proudly. “Just look at that fine strong angle.”

  Adrienne laughed. “Stubborn angle,” she teased, “and he already has dark hair.”

  Behind them Grimm made a choked sound.

  Hawk glanced over his shoulder questioningly.

  “What the bloody hell … er, excuse me, milady,” he said to Adrienne, “and pardon me, wee one,” he said to the babe. “But why did you go and carve this on the cradle, Hawk?” Grimm asked. “Haven’t we all had enough of the blasted Fairy?”

  Hawk raised his eyebrows in confusion. “What are you talking about, Grimm?” He gently relinquished their son to Adrienne and strode to the cradle.

  Flowing letters had been carved deep into the wood. The entire cradle gleamed as if it had been brushed with a sprinkling of gold dust. Hawk gazed a long moment at words he knew he hadn’t put there. A smile curved his lip as he read aloud to Adrienne:

  Remember this, mortal—you have your own kind of

  forever—the immortality of love.

  Blessed be the Douglas.

  Aoibheal, Queen of the Fae

  About the Author

  KAREN MARIE MONING, a New York Times bestselling author, graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Society & Law. In addition to appearing on the New York Times bestseller list, her novels have been USA Today bestsellers. They have won numerous awards, including the prestigious RITA Award. She can be reached at www.karenmoning.com.

  Don’t miss the greatest

  adventure in the

  Highlander series

  The Immortal Highlander

  by

  Karen Marie Moning

  Now available from Dell

  Please read on for a preview….

  The Immortal Highlander

  Adam Black raked a hand through his long black hair and scowled as he stalked down the alley.

  Three eternal months he’d been human. Ninety-seven horrific days to be exact. Two thousand three hundred twenty-eight interminable hours. One hundred thirty-nine thousand six hundred eighty thoroughly offensive minutes.

  He’d become obsessed with increments of time. It was an embarrassingly mortal affliction. Next thing he knew, he’d be wearing a watch.

  Never.

  He’d been certain Aoibheal would have come for him by now. Would have staked his very essence on it; not that he had much left to stake.

  But she hadn’t, and he was sick of waiting. Not only were humans allotted a ridiculously finite slice of time to exist, their bodies had requirements that consumed a great deal of that time. Sleep alone consumed a full third of it. Although he’d mastered those requirements, over the past few months, he resented being slave to his physical form. Having to eat, wash, dress, sleep, piss, shave, brush his hair and teeth, for Christ’s sake! He wanted to be himself again. Not at the queen’s bloody convenience, but now.

  Hence he’d left London and journeyed to Cincinnati (the infernally long way—by plane) looking for the half-Fae son he’d sired over a millennium ago, Circenn Brodie, who’d married a twenty-first-century mortal and usually resided here with her.

  Usually.

  Upon arriving in Cincinnati, he’d found Circenn’s residence vacant, and had no idea where to look for him next. He’d taken up residence there himself, and had been killing time since—endeavoring grimly to ignore that, for the first time in his timeless existence, time was returning the favor—waiting for Circenn to return. A half-blooded Tuatha Dé, Circenn had magic Adam no longer possessed.

  Adam’s scowl deepened. What paltry power the queen had left him was virtually worthless. He’d quickly discovered that she’d thought through his punishment most thoroughly. The spell of the féth fiada was one of the most powerful and perception-altering that the Tuatha Dé possessed, employed to permit a Tuatha Dé full interaction with the human realm, while keeping him or her undetectable by humans. It cloaked its wearer in illusion that affected short-term memory and generated confusion in the minds of those in the immediate vicinity.

  If Adam toppled a newsstand, the vendor would blithely blame an unseen wind. If he took food from a diner’s plate, the person merely decided he/she must have finished. If he procured new clothing for himself at a shop, the owner would register an inventory error. If he snatched groceries from a passerby and flung the bag to the ground, his hapless victim would turn on the nearest bystander and a bitter fight would ensue (he’d done that a few times for a bit of sport). If he plucked the purse from a woman’s arm and dangled it before her face, she would simply walk through both him and it (the moment he touched a thing, it, too, was sucked into the illusion cast by the féth fiada until he rele
ased it), then head in the opposite direction, muttering about having forgotten her purse at home.

  There was nothing he could do to draw attention to himself. And he’d tried everything. To all intents and purposes, Adam Black didn’t exist. Didn’t even merit his own measly slice of human space.

  He knew why she’d chosen this particular punishment: Because he’d sided with humans in their little disagreement, she was forcing him to taste of being human in the worst possible way. Alone and powerless, without a single distraction with which to pass the time and entertain himself.

  He’d had enough of a taste to last an eternity.

  Once an all-powerful being that could sift time and space, a being that could travel anywhere and anywhen in the blink of an eye, he was now limited to a single useful power: He could sift place over short distances, but no more than a few miles. It’d surprised him the queen had left him even that much power, until the first time he’d almost been run down by a careening bus in the heart of London.

  She’d left him just enough magic to stay alive. Which told him two things: one, she planned to forgive him eventually, and two, it was probably going to be a long, long time. Like, probably not until the moment his mortal form was about to expire.

  Fifty more years of this would drive him bloody frigging nuts.

  Problem was, even when Circenn did return, Adam still hadn’t figured out a way to communicate with him. Because of his mortal half, Circenn wouldn’t be able to see past the féth fiada either.

  All he needed, Adam brooded for the thousandth time, was one person. Just one person who could see him. A single person who could help him. He wasn’t entirely without options, but he couldn’t exercise a damned one of them without someone to aid him.

  And that sucked too. The almighty Adam Black needed help. He could almost hear silvery laughter tinkling on the night breeze, blowing tauntingly across the realms, all the way from the shimmering silica sands of the Isle of Morar.

 
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