Excerpt: The Warrior Laird
Book One: The Highland Brothers
‘Tis 1717 in the Scottish Highlands. Laird Dugan MacMillan must do all he can to keep his clan from being evicted. So he and his men chase down a wild rumor about a map that points to a hidden treasure, left by the French in 1717 during the last Uprising. He finds a portion of the map, but just before he and the others head for home, he encounters Lady Maura, the lovely lass he’d seen earlier in the taproom. Only now, she is without her Sassenach escort.
When they were finally alone, Dugan’s companions wrapped themselves in their plaids and stretched out wherever they found adequate space. Lachann made a trip outside while Dugan took out the maps and spread them out on a low table. He pulled a lamp close, but before sitting down with Lachann, he saw a fetching feminine figure slip down the stairs and out the door.
The inn was shrouded in darkness, so Dugan wasn’t certain who had gone out, but he had a suspicion. ‘Twas the bonny Lady Maura, the thoughts of whom he had not been able to eliminate completely from his mind.
He followed her scent and was rewarded when he stepped into the shadowy veranda of the inn.
“You’ve abandoned your escort, Lady Maura?”
She whirled to face him, and in the soft light of the moon, Dugan saw that her expression was troubled. Her distress touched him deeply and he put aside his own difficulties for the moment.
“Are you in trouble, lass?” he asked, recalling the obvious animosity between the lady and her escort. He felt a perverse satisfaction in it.
Lady Maura shook her head. “No,” she said quietly. “I’m…”
Dugan came close enough to touch her. The top of her head barely reached his shoulder and he could not resist reaching out to feel the texture one of her soft curls. “You are what, Lady Maura?”
“I-I am…” She turned her gaze upon him, seemingly at a loss for words.
“A woman as lovely as you should have naught to worry about.”
She frowned as she looked up at him, and he could not resist sliding his hand down to cup her jaw. Her cheek was so smooth, he ran his thumb across it as he thought about tasting her. Just one kiss, though ‘twould not be nearly enough to satisfy his burgeoning arousal.
She shivered and closed her eyes. “As lovely? As much trouble, you must mean.”
“Are you trouble, Lady Maura?” he asked quietly tipping his head down toward hers. Aye, she was more enticing than any lass in Braemore Glen – and as unsuitable for him as any lowlander would ever be.
He felt her throat constrict beneath his hand. She was so delicate, he wanted her as he’d wanted no other. She made all his protective instincts come to the fore.
“Aye. Trouble to all who know me.” He heard her tremulous sigh and knew there was a world of turmoil lurking within her breast.
Dugan had an urge to discover exactly how much trouble she could bring him. And he intended to start with a kiss. He leaned down and touched his mouth to hers. He felt her sharp intake of breath, but then she softened and her body drifted toward his.
Dugan gathered her close, fitting her wondrous curves against him. He sensed her inexperience, but deepened the kiss anyway, as raw desire shot through him.
Some part of him knew there could be naught but a kiss between them, but Dugan could not keep from drawing her tightly against him and ravishing her mouth with his lips, tongue, and teeth. She tasted of sweet highland water and smelled like heather.
He was lost. The desire to do more than just steal the most incredible kiss of his life nearly overpowered him. With a low growl, Dugan continued to plunder her mouth while he fought a savage instinct to carry her away to some private bower and gratify the primitive needs she roused in him.
He slid one hand down to her waist, and she slipped her fingers into the hair at his nape, loosening his queue. He let his hand drop lower, pulling her hips against his, making her quite sure of her effect on him.
She pressed back against him, fitting his hard length to her body in just the right place. Dugan felt glorious and powerful, all at once.
He had to be insane.