Illicit Union_Sanctuary, page 34
“Oh, of course.” She too rushed about until only the fireplace and a pair of candles remained. They met by those tapers sitting on his grandmother’s dressing table.
He tugged at the long sleeves of linen, “Ye dinnae intend to wear this any longer? Do ye?”
“Of course, the workmanship is lovely.” She teased, “Just right for a wedding night.”
“And now it is the next day . . . so off it goes.” He motioned her arms upward, “Ye dinnae want to sleep all tangled in that.” When she merely looked at him, Ferquhar came to her, “Do ye?”
“The weather’s chill what if I get cold?”
“I guaranteed ye will not.” She seated herself, peered into the mirror, and began fussing with her hair, pulling heather out and untangling braids. He knelt behind her to hook his chin on her shoulder. “What are ye doing, wife?”
“Rescuing my hair before it forms mattes.” Informed Margaret surreptitiously watching the fall of his face in the mirror. His plaintive ‘why?’ prompted, “Because those twigs and braids will get wallowed into matts which I will have to chop out. Do you want me to hack and cut at my hair?”
“Nae. Dinnae do it. Ye were so lovely just as you were . . . naked and . . . all messy.” She never slacked in her grooming, so he began plucking heather and handing her braids to undo. “Will this take long?”
“Now I have help? No.” Reaching up she caressed his jaw line thrilling at the masculine bristle tickling her palm. “I love this.”
“Good, for I can nae find time to shave three times a day.”
Giving his cheek a sharp slap, she called him on his boast. “Three times a day? Nonsense.”
“If I wanted a smooth face all the day, I would have to shave morning, noon, and evening. Which I will never do, for then I couldn’t do this,” He rooted her neck abrading the tender skin and leaving a trail of slobber. Squealing with laughter, Margaret plied her brush to force him away.
“I’ve got to have my sleep.” Called out Alexander sounding as though he might be standing just on the other side of the door, “Ye two better calm down in there.”
“Are you calm? Ferquhar?” Inquired Margaret as loud as pleased her.
He answered in like tone, “Aye, ever since ye laid me down on the bed.”
“Och, I should have kent ye would be done by now, Willy Nilly Gillie.”
His black eyes popped, telling Margaret this was a taunt Ferquhar had heard before. He hissed, “That bastard . . .” But aloud he teased, “There’s them who can do, and those who can only try. I’d rather be done and over with than Allie Dilly Dally.”
A thump on the door conveyed Alexander’s response. Ferquhar plucked the brush from her hand saying, “Here let me.”
As Ferquhar stroked crown to tip running the brush as well as his fingers the length of her hair, Alexander yelled, “Din nae ye worry, Margaret. Let him have his way, and ye are rid of him all the sooner.”
Ferquhar grabbed an unlit candle and lobbed it at the door, “Get away, ye red-arsed ape. Tis my wedding night.”
“Still?” They could hear his laugher although he closed his bedroom door.
Her husband returned to grooming her hair quite assiduously until she prodded, “So Willy Nilly Gillie, what was all that about?”
“Aw, it goes back to . . . when we were randy colts out to discover life, or at least I was.” He stared into the mirror quite solemn, “Ye see I was so young . . . I tended to be a bit over excited. On the other hand, Allie had lost his wife . . . sometime before, months maybe more than a year. Well, he could nae . . . just could nae perform, ye ken?”
“Alexander lost his wife?”
“Aye, only two days after his wee laddie died – same ague. Remember he said so at the funeral.” The brush resumed its vigorous passages through her loosened hair. “Mayhaps, I ought nae tell ye this, but Allie paid the woman who first . . . well, I dinnae claim to be a virgin.”
What would be the correct response would be to a revelation of this nature. On one hand, she appreciated his honesty, especially when he clarified, “I would have ye understand, Allie and I are great friends and rivals for The McBain’s favor.”
But on the other hand, she could not deny the spark of jealousy in the depths her heart. Oh, how she hated the thought of any other woman, especially a prostitute, groping Ferquhar, seeing his trim body naked , or joining her squalid body with his Quite unfair of her, since they had been wed less than a day, and intimate for only . . . a week? Surely longer than that? A careful count produced a total quite shocking: she and Ferquhar had been intimately acquainted for maybe ten days depending on how she defined intimate.
She reminded herself they had been acquainted since last summer . . . or really late spring. Panic swelled in the depths of her stomach, and her heart quickened with alarm. What had she done? But all regret crumbled when he said, “Once, I dinnae understand his problem. He kent Betty was nae coming back, and his vow dinnae tie him to a dead wife.”
Light kisses landed on her neck, and in between he said, “Now . . . I can understand. But how can he . . . lay with that light skirt Yvette time and again . . . having loved Betty as I love ye.”
Twisting about she planted her lips upon his. “Oh, Ferquhar, I love you so. I’m so glad I found you and had the sense to realize you are the one.”
Chapter Twenty Six
The kiss evolved. Their tongues caressed each other, chills emanated in waves to her heated inner core. The passion lying dormant since she ‘calmed’ him down erupted undiminished. When he tugged on the gown, and again asked, “Ye dinnae intend to wear this any longer? Do ye?”
Her arms flew up before she could think twice. Instead of whipping the gown up and over her head. He pulled up the hem, inch by inch, and when it reached her knees, he moan, “Aw ye took off her hose.”
“Yes, before some savage clawed them to pieces.”
“Fair enough, for ye have made a beast of me.” His hand ran up to her buttock and stayed supporting weighing the heft it.
“What about you? Are you going to drop your breachan or wrap us both in it?”
“I may do both before this night is through.” He pulled the gown up and off. To her surprise he folded it and laid it carefully on the chest. “It is braw. I wonder which maiden will have one less gown when she comes to be wed?”
He stripped, likewise folding his breachan and shirt before diving under the covers. “Come now, yer going to freeze out there.”
They cuddled together, Margaret grateful for his warmth both of body and of soul. For he patted her shifting stomach, saying, “Our babby is restless, maybe it needs to rest, and go riding in morning.”
“As you wish, husband, but would you neglect your debt on our wedding night?”
“Nay I’ll repay ye, fear nae. As I recall, ye were thirsty.” In a flash he was out of bed, and at the dresser pouring mead. His pale buttocks glowed in the moonlight. Shadows rippled as the muscles in his back and legs flex and receded. She sat up folding the covers across her chest. He handed off both cups, “It’s getting colder. I’m going to tend the fire.”
He poked and prodded and added more fuel to the fire conversing. “The candles were just braw, ye they nae?”
“Yes, so touching.”
“And the food? Did like the beef? I’ll wager my smoked beef bests the nasty blob I bought in Inverness.”
“It would have to.” Agreed Margaret, and he turned to smile at her.
“Did ye get any of the liver pate? Una made it for ye when she heard how ye loved the beef liver.”
“It was so tasty.” Answered Margaret in all civility but her impatience mounted. “Chicken livers, right?”
Turning a circle he ticked off, “The door is locked; the fire is banked; the candles are out; my arse is frozen; tis time to go bed.”
He lunged under the covers pressing his chilled skin against hers from shoulder to knees. Margaret shivered and drew him close but when he
“I cannae stop. I need yer warmth. I’ve lived in the cold for so long.”
Margaret’s heart melted, “But no more. Neither must I lie alone, flee alone, or stand alone, for I have you. God has blessed us, hasn’t He?” Gushed Margaret momentarily overcome with sentiment. Realizing the spiritual bent of the small talk, she forcefully altered the tone by taking his yielding genitalia in hand purring, “And you, my love, are quite blessed yourself.”
“Maggie, it could drop off, and if I still have ye by my side, I’d count myself blessed.”
Aw . . . leave it to Ferquhar to find the spiritual in the profane. She cheered considerably when the flesh in her hand became increasingly inflexible, and his thumbs each found a nipple to tease; moreover, he purred, “Especially if ye put up with the likes me without getting any of that.” His hips flexed to illustrate his point.
She was riding full tilt when a hammering at the door merged with the frantic thump, bump, and squeak of the bed. Over it all, Allie bellowed, “Och, it a poor host ye are, MacGillivray. Keeping me up all the night when I must travel the day through tomorrow.”
Gillie gasped out, “I can nae help if she keeps me up all the night.”
Her shadowed face frowned down at him, and he rasped, “Sorry” before she made him pay for his gaffe. A rebellious shift wrought a reversal in the power balance. Once he had her pelvic bone pinned between his and the mattress, he drove the headboard in relentless enthusiasm. In no time, her sighs deepened to groans. Her moans rose ever higher to become yelps of sheer joy, audible expression of the pleasure erupting deep within her. God, how he loved being married.
“Oh . . . Bleeding Christ!” Yelled Allie. “Have pity, Gillie.”
Pausing only briefly, Gillie taunted, “For ye? I always have.” When the truth was just the opposite until today. Inspired by this revelation, Gillie demonstrated how pitiless he could be.
In the morning, Allie demonstrated he could be pitiless himself, for he awakened Gillie hammering on the door demanding, “Get ye up and open this door, for I must talk to ye before I leave.”
Weak, depleted, and sleep deprived, Gillie snapped, “Shove off.”
“I’ll nae shove off. We must have a chat, we three.” Insisted Allie pounding out a steady cadence on the door.
Gathering his wits, Gillie remembered no less than three orgasms the night before, counting the first as when she calmed his passions. Bless her heart, the vixen. No wonder he felt like a wrung out rag. Weary of the pounding and noticing Maggie’s eyes blinking sleep away, Gillie repeated, “Go . . . write me a letter.”
The pounding stopped, but only to be replaced with Allie’s ultimatum, “Aw hell’s fire, cover yerselves up, so I can talk to ye without broadcasting our business to all including the deaf.” A moment of fragile silence dissolved, “Come on now, I have to get going.”
Gillie puzzled out the tangled covers until he could spread them over Margaret soft curves, shoulder to toe. “Good morning, Lady Mine. Allie . . .”
The pounding resumed. “I hear the great oaf.” Grumbled his wife. She pushed herself up, and thrust the covers through her underarms, a presentation a bit too sleazy for Gillie’s taste. With her hair tossed all about despite her efforts to smooth and control the long shiny strands, she was the embodiment of sexual allure. He instructed, “Straighten yer hair some . . .”
She snipped, “Straighten your own, and let that idiot in.”
More or less holding his breachan in place and trailing the rest, Gillie hobbled to the door, threw the latch and dashed back to bed dropping his plaid as he went. He felt the draft from the door as he burrowed back under the covers.
“Well well” Drawled Allie. He looked them over and when his eyes came back to rest on Margaret they softened, “At least I can assure the McBains that ye survived, Lady MacGillivray.” His pale eyes dropped shyly, and Allie appended, “And that ye looked more beautiful than ever . . . I’ve seen.”
“Hey.” Pleaded Gillie.
“I ken she’s all yers, ye lucky . . . well, I guess ye have a streak of good luck coming to ye. Are ye happy?” Casually Allie pulled over a chair next to the bed. He flopped down demanding, “Laird MacGillivray, ye go first.”
Astonished Gillie bristled, “What’s all this? Invading a man’s bedroom, asking a bunch of nosy questions.”
“Listen, bridegroom, I’m going to Black Bannoch, and this very evening I will have to sell Lyall McBain on this marriage. How he reacts depends on how Lady McBain feels about the whole situation.”
Margaret’s head had started nodding halfway through Allie’s discourse. Having Allie so clearly come down on their side heartened Gillie who conceded, “Oh, he’s going to spit fire.”
“Aye, tis why I’m nae dragging ye two to Black Bannoch like Lyall asked.”
Now Allie had his thorough attention. Leaning forward Allie laid out his plan, “So really I must persuade Alfreda. If she dinnae mind her sister married ye, who is Lyall to disagree? He’s your friend and ally. Eh? He would be pleased to call ye brother.”
“Brother?” The word blindsided Gillie. He had not once considered wedding Margaret altered his relationship to The McBain.
“Aye, ye are nae longer an honorary uncle to William. Ye are now his uncle by law, married to his mother’s sister.” Allie winked, “And the son in law to an English Baron, same as The McBain.”
His head felt light, and room cavernous. From far away, Margaret elbowed him laughing urging him to smile as did she and Allie. He croaked out, “I am?”
“Aye, Gillie, ye have come up in the world.” Allie regressed, “So anyway, I’m counting on Alfreda to be swayed if ye two are happily married. So are ye?”
“Y-yes, of course.” Confirmed Margaret.
Gillie cheerfully reported, “Ye ken I am as happy as ever ye have seen me. I fear I have used up my share of happiness for next ten years.”
Allie came down like a sledgehammer, “Pray God nae.” He heaved a hard breath and lectured, “So I’m going to pass this off to Alfreda as . . .”
Margaret interrupted, “What does she know? Has her husband told of my baby? My marriage – the first one?”
“That takes me back to how furious Lyall will be when he has to tell his grieving wife ye have nae gone back to London as she thinks to attend the royal wedding. But that ye are here, being hounded by a murderer, heavy with child, recently widowed, and immediately remarried to the MacGillivray all in one breath.”
Gillie felt the body in the bed next to him shudder before his wife mused, “Put that way, it’s dreadful, and all while she struggled to bear then lost her longed for daughter.”
Gillie gawked at her as did Allie until she continued, “She wrote begging me to come . . . in November. She knew all was not well with the baby even then.” The saddest eyes blinked in Margaret’s tender face, “Oh, I wanted to come, but I had problems of my very own. Somehow while reeling from one disaster to another I forgot Alfreda.”
Gillie laid a comforting arm around her shoulder, while Allie chided, “Life oft times backs ye into a corner. But I’m leaving here to nae only break the ‘happy’ news to Lyall, but to push him to drop it on Alfreda too.”
His voice dropped to conspire, “For Lyall is right. Lady, ye did need to remove to Black Bannoch - with that snake slithering thither and yon.”
“So The McBain is locking the gate on him?” Solicited Gillie.
“That was the plan, but a poor one in my estimate. I tried pointing Lyall in another direction,” Allie shrugged, “The man is grieving so hard, he goes after the easy, short term solution, and damn the consequences.”
After a dramatic pause, Allie winked, “So I thought out a better solution.”
“You? Going against the McBain’s wishes?” While he had tried to inject a mocking
Allie must have picked up the seriousness beneath the jest, “I am the Tanist of Clan McBain, Laird MacGillivray. Tis my job to secure our clan and allies if The McBain . . . can nae do so.” Allie pulled himself tall in the chair, “And I have a better plan.”
“Let’s hear it.” Urged Gillie, taking care tuck Margaret’s covers close, for this could be long tale. “Go on.”
“Well, the way I see it, barricading Margaret in Black Bannock puts Lyall and the clan McBain in the midst of this . . . mess.”
Margaret leaned up to exclaim, “My fault entirely. I had so little time to think . . .”
“Nae, ye came to right place for help.” Assured Allie before continuing, “The trick here is protect ye and yer little one while nae making matters worse.”
“Indeed.” Exclaimed Margaret then demurred, “If it can be done.”
Allie boasted, “And it can.”
“So let’s hear it.” Pleaded Gillie already having better plans for these early morning hours.
“So the problem here – long term – is that yer in-laws dinnae want the bairn to receive some sort of inheritance. I presume titles, a fortune, lands and estates.” Allie’s sharp blue eyes looked to Gillie’s bride, “Right?”
“Ah, well, yes. More or less.” Affirmed Margaret.
“If they are well assured the babe has no claim, what interest have they in ye and yer bairn? None.”
Margaret would have answered, but Allie ploughed onward, “Now barricading ye in Black Bannoch, brings too much notice. Locking those gates proclaims The McBain’s estimate of the child’s worth. Clan McBain could well become the protectors of a babe against a great and powerful English family.”
“Clan MacGillivray too.” Inserted Gillie.
“Aye, our two clans in the midst of a storm which could drain their coffers, cost them favor in the court of St James, and possibly lives.”
A gasp from Margaret tightened Gillie’s arm about her shoulders, even Allie paused. He interrupted Margaret’s moan of “Oh no, I’ll . . .” with “So the best thing is to defuse the storm. You marrying Margaret presents the best course.”