I began down the stone staircase for what I thought would be an evening meal like the night before. Iain stood at the bottom, waiting for me. Twenty steps separated me from two-hundred-fifty pounds of muscular warrior dressed in an ivory linen shirt and his dark green and black plaid that had been fastened about his hips with his brooch. Firelight glinted off the ornate heirloom and danced shadows over his dark features.
The lustful look he blasted my way melted through my body like warmed honey, sliding down on pace with his gaze. His appreciation of me in my new emerald gown confirmed what I’d surmised in my room only moments ago: those magical seamstresses had a talent for capturing a woman’s assets and displaying them proudly.
Iain let out a slow sigh, his words purring out above a whisper. “Damn, Isa. You’ve descended straight from Heaven.”
I blinked, feeling a blush heat my cheeks. The man earned points within seconds.
My fingers slid across his outstretched palm. The intoxicating scent of woods and earth, mixed with pure essence of Iain, drugged my senses. He stepped aside, wrapping his other arm around me, guiding me with a hand at the small of my back.
A giggle escaped, and I shot a hand to my lips, shocked. Ian’s overpowering presence—his scent, that dominance, the electrical current that charged the space between us, warming every point of contact—threatened to turn me into a nervous idiot.
Iain led me into the courtyard. I stopped cold, startled at what awaited us: his saddleless stallion accompanied by a stable boy. The black, beautifully muscled creature reacted to our arrival with excited urgency, tramping his hooves in place and lifting his head, crying out a soft whinny. Moonlight reflected a black-blue luster in his glossy coat. Before my surprise settled into apprehension, Iain lifted a leather satchel, swung up onto the horse, and grabbed me under the arms, depositing me in front of him.
My loud gasp and subsequent protest was lost to the wind as his steed obeyed some silent command, charging into the darkness. Iain’s iron grip around my waist and expert bareback riding calmed my nerves from a near-hysterical pandemonium down to a low-anxiety thrum.
The animal galloped with grace, hugging every curve like a train on the rail, flowing over every rise and fall like rushing water. A growing sense of merging with the animal overcame my fear of our precarious perch as Iain rode astride and my dress-bound legs dangled off to one side.
Without reins or saddle, I marveled at the perfect communication between Iain and his beast. I shifted to get more comfortable, and Iain adjusted his hold instantly, tightening his grip, pulling me closer into his protective embrace. He leaned back imperceptibly, and the horse responded to the change in weight distribution, reducing his pace. As we slowed to a walk, I realized how Iain had been directing us: the slightest pressure from his thighs—or a shift from a hip forward or back—had translated instructions to his horse.
We traveled outside of the perimeter wall and ran parallel along it until we reached the farthest corner, veering off a couple hundred yards to a moss-covered ledge that jutted out into the night sky. The platform saluted an almost-full moon rising above the tree horizon.
Iain lowered me down in a gentle slide and held my shoulders until I confidently stepped away. He remained on the horse’s back, leaning forward, slowly brushing his hand down its neck as he murmured soft words of praise in Gaelic. The animal replied with a gentle whuffle. Iain dismounted in an effortless jump and slapped the animal’s flank. It wandered off to a nearby clearing, dropping its muzzle into newly sprouted grass.
Unruly wisps of hair that had escaped their ribbon binding at my nape tickled my face in the cool breeze as I waited. A mineral fragrance traveled on the air current, and I inhaled deeply, enjoying the crisp freshness of the spring mountain night. Iain opened an arm wide when he returned, the satchel dangling from his shoulder.
“Come, lass. ’Tis over here,” he said.
I stepped into his arms, and he pulled me tight to his side, kissing the top of my head. He led us further out on the mossy overhang, and my breath hitched at the enchanting view.
The glassy surface of a great body of water shimmered a streak of bright moonlight toward us. Insects marked their invisible presence with tiny, circular ripples. The moon inched higher, and my vision adjusted to the darkness, the far shoreline revealing its many muted shades of black. Spires of pine tops edged the sky, a grassy carpet blanketing their feet. The night paid quiet reverence to what amounted to a first date with Iain, the hushed sounds of soft insect chirps and the occasional low hoot of an owl becoming our distant nighttime melody.
Iain’s soft chuckle broke through my awe of the breathtaking nightscape. He grasped my hand, tugging me. The empty satchel sat on the corner of a spotless plaid upon which he’d spread out a picnic—fruit, meat, a round of bread, and a wineskin.
Impressed, I knelt down. Iain yanked me toward him, and I landed sideways onto his lap. He embraced me, preventing my escape.
I laughed, lightly smacking his forearms. “Hey, watch it, mister. I never agreed to second base on a first date.”
He growled. “Nay, you dinna. But then, I’ve never needed permission to take what I want.”
My mouth fell open at his blatant arrogance. He seized the opportunity by capturing my lips, proving he indeed did not need my verbal agreement. Delicious tingles and hot pulses sizzled everywhere, my traitorous body responding to his like he conducted my entire orchestra. Any plans I’d made to make the man come to heel fell away, forgotten.
Iain gently nipped my bottom lip, and I nibbled his. He slid the tip of his tongue across the seam in erotic suggestion, and my lips parted of their own volition. He invaded, his tongue pressing in, tangling slowly with mine. We dueled in a sensual dance of lips and tongue, heated and urgent, slow and tender. He threaded his fingers into the bound hair at my nape, slowly pulling my head away from his as if his mouth couldn’t bear the separation.
My chest heaved, starving for oxygen, as he gazed deeply at me. His darkened eyes glittered with mischief and desire along with the sparkling moonlight. He stole a chaste kiss as he shifted me off of his lap, nestling me against his side. An uncontrolled whimper came from my throat.
He grinned, kissing my nose. “Isa, if you stay on my lap, we’ll be tumblin’ right here. You doona want that. We’ve a great fire buildin’, and there’s immense pleasure to be had in the waitin’.”
He’d found his moral fiber right as my rioting body wanted very much to be tumblin’ without further delay. I licked my lips, savoring his salty taste. A deep ache between my thighs fanned into a delicious warmth, and I briefly wondered why I’d fought giving in to a man who obviously wanted me. But I abandoned the question in favor of enjoying the moment, wanting nothing to spoil the most romantic date ever.
Iain popped the cork from the wineskin and took my hand, entwining our fingers around it as we held it between our chests. “Isa, I know you pictured your life differently. Aye, I wanted you, but I never imagined this would happen. I truthfully had no idea, neither here nor there, that I’d been livin’ another life. Bein’ with you here, though, ’tis a dream come true from both lives. I am the luckiest man alive.” He lifted a hand, cupping my cheek as tears sprang to my eyes. “You’ll make me the happiest man—in all of any time—if you agree to be my wife.”
He leaned forward, kissing me tenderly, and I melted into him. His powerful words touched me. In the misty whirlwind of my mind, only sensations existed—the brush of his fingers on my cheek catching fallen tears; the gentleness of his lips teasing mine; the heat of his thigh against the silk of my skirt.
Iain broke the kiss. I’d grown breathless . . . felt weightless. He stared deep into my soul as he lifted the wineskin that we still grasped to my lips. I sipped the tart, earthy wine. Iain drank after me, our gazes locked together.
As he lowered the wineskin, Iain’s crooked smile appeared, amusement dancing in his eyes. If I’d ever wondered what provoked that wicked expression, I did no longer. He rendered translation unnecessary as his gaze drifted down, visually feasting on what nearly spilled over my gown’s revealing neckline.
His hand fell from my cheek, a look of wonder filling his eyes as he dropped his gaze, floating his fingertips above my breasts, the lightest touch feathering across my flushed skin. I closed my eyes, swallowing hard. He pulled away, and I glanced up to see blazing desire in his eyes. We both inhaled so deeply, I wondered if we’d left any oxygen for the rest of Scotland.
His low, graveled tone sounded like the softest silk to my ears. “I love the instant reaction you have to me: the quick pulse at the base of your neck, your struggle for breath, those beautiful green eyes all dark and dilated. You’re a breathtakin’ present, beggin’ to be unwrapped.”
A dull ache throbbed low in my body, my inner beat thrumming to his cadence. I had no doubt every word he spoke bore the truth. He’d trapped me so thoroughly in his sweet seduction, if he wanted me here and now, he could have me.
He already has you.
WHOA! and YOWZERS!
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book in full!
Huge hugs and many thanks to Kat Bastion for allowing Bookish Temptations to share this first and exclusive teaser.
Forged in Dreams and Magick releases 9/23/13 ~ Add To Goodreads
Kat has a great giveaway going on as well and you can enter it here.