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Authors: Tamara Gill

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BOOK: Banished
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She took another
sip and inwardly smiled, knowing Eddy would have been one of them had he come.

Unable to deny
herself, she took in his perfect form. Oblivious to her query, the man stood at
the bar, amiably talking to friends. So, that was what highland men looked like:
tall and unbelievably broad-shouldered, with defiant jaws and sinful lips.

Wow!

Her mouth dried when
he turned, giving her full view of his back. The woolen jumper he wore enabled
everyone to glimpse the hard planes of muscle beneath the material. Bloody hell
he was gorgeous. He laughed at something the man beside him said and his deep baritone
made her body sizzle to life. Her breathing hitched and for the first time in Chloe’s
life she wanted to jump a man’s bones.

What the hell!

Chloe looked
around and realized she wasn’t the only one ogling the guy or being affected by
him and his wickedly sinful voice. She licked her lips as her attention moved and
stopped on the nice firm arse covered in denim jeans. He wore sneakers, which
gave him a look of casual ease, and her heart thumped hard and fast in her
chest.

“Here you are,
lass.”

Chloe jumped as
the waitress startled her from her gawking. Heat stole up her neck and she looked
down at the meal to hide her embarrassment. “Thank you, it looks great.”

“Would you like
another beer?”

“Ah yeah thanks,
that’d be great.” She needed all the alcohol fortification she could get.
Picking up her fork and knife, she started to eat. The chicken melted in her
mouth and for a moment she forgot all about the gorgeous highlander taking up
all the space at the bar.

The chime on the
bar door sounded but she didn’t look up.

“Chloe, there
you are. I wasn’t sure what pub you were in. I tried the other one first but
you weren’t there.”

Chloe snapped
her attention to Eddy and watched him shake out his coat, taking no heed as to
who he wet while doing so. Her gaze moved beyond his shoulder and locked with the
man now staring at her from the bar. A shiver raked her body as his gaze bored
into her. His features registered utter shock, as if he was surprised people
ate meals in the establishment.

She picked up
her beer and sipped it in the hope it might settle her fluttering stomach. Why was
this stranger making her nervous? Standing, she smiled at Eddy and allowed him
to kiss her before sitting down across from him. Then wished she had swapped
places, because every time she looked up, she had a full on view of the
highlander in the background. She relaxed as his attention moved to Eddy before
he turned his back to them and continued his conversation with his friends. She
frowned, and wondered what his problem was.

“I suppose I’m
too late for a meal.”

“I ordered you
takeout, but here finish mine, I couldn’t eat another bite.”

“You’ve hardly
touched it,” Eddy said, pulling the plate over to his side of the table.

“Truly I’m no
longer hungry. You have it.” Chloe watched Eddy scoff down the chicken before he
stood and gestured for her to get up. “What? What are you doing?”

“Come on, let’s
go to the bar. They have the Liverpool game on.”

Chloe sighed.
She picked up her beer and followed him. Tried and failed to claim a stool as far
away as possible from the Scottish highlander whose fixated attention was verging
on rudeness. She glared and narrowed her eyes at him then looked away and tried
to concentrate on the match.

“Where you from,
love?”

Chloe turned to
the bar lady. “I’m an Australian, but I now live in London.”

“What would you
want to leave such a beautiful country to live in England for lass? Your mind
addled or something?”

Chloe laughed,
having wondered the same thing a few times, especially as the English summer
often resembled an Australian winter. “No I came over on a working holiday and
never went home. I’m engaged to an Englishman now so I suppose Australia will
only be a future holiday destination from now on.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Chloe
replied, smiling. She jumped as an empty beer glass slammed down upon the bar.
The highlander then stormed from the pub. Chloe looked back to the bar lady.

“He’s our Laird,
miss. Lives up in Castle Cree. Can be a bit temperamental at times, but we all
love him just the same. Family been local for many, many years. Hundreds in
fact.”

“Is he married?”
Chloe frowned at her own question. Why did she care if he was?

“No. But
hopefully one day he will be.”

Chloe smiled,
nodded then watched as the lady moved on to other customers. The crowd cheered
a goal and Chloe near jumped out of her skin.

“Eddy, I’m going
to get some air.”

Eddy waved her
away and yelled as an umpire gave a player a yellow card. Chloe shook her head
and walked toward the door; welcomed the cool night air and the smell of rain
from the passing shower. She looked up the street devoid of people and started
to walk in the direction of the castle. The town was quiet beside the odd yell
and laughter coming from the two pubs.

She gasped as
she was pulled into a darkened alley, a hand firm around her arm.

“Are you
following me?” said a voice that sounded strangely familiar. Chloe looked up
and found herself gazing into the unrelenting orbs of the highlander from the
pub.

Chloe slapped
his hand away. “How dare you grab me?” She stepped back and rubbed her arm, her
skin burning from his touch. “Of course I’m not following you. I came for a
walk.”

He stared down
at her with brooding silence, his eyes dark and suspecting.

“Your name’s Chloe.”

It wasn’t a
question. “Yes and yours is … ?” Chloe licked her lips as she watched his own
move. She wanted to reach up, clasp his hair and pull him into a kiss. She
shook her head to dispel the image. What the hell was wrong with her? He had
just physically manhandled her. No one was allowed to do that.

And yet ... The
image of him manhandling her in other ways almost made her moan.

“Cian McKay.
Laird of Durness.”

Chloe looked
toward the road. “Well, now that we’re introduced, perhaps you ought to apologize
for turning all William Wallace on me.”

“Sorry,” he
said, not a hint of regret in his tone as he folded his arms over his chest.

Chloe looked at
his pecs now outlined against a very, tight and very nice chest. She swallowed.
“You went all highlander on me. Muscle and brawn and not much else. Do you
often pull women into dark alleyways by way of talking to them?”

“No, I do not. I
thought you were following me.”

Chloe scoffed. “Is
the wee Aussie really a threat to the highlander lord?”

“Are you mocking
me and my accent, lass?”

“If the shoe
fits,” Chloe said, stepping toward him and raising one eyebrow, “I am.”

The air whooshed
from her lungs when he stepped toward her, his body closer than she liked. Or
worse, as close as she liked but not close enough as she would like.

“You seem to be
breathing quite fast there, lass. Does something have you all riled up? Excited
perhaps?”

His breath so
close to her whispered against her cheek. “If you want me to kiss you, lass, it’ll
be no chore, I assure you.”

Chloe took a
deep breath and clasped his shoulders, ran her hands into his hair and stood on
tiptoe to whisper in his ear. “I don’t know how many girls you’ve landed this
way by wooing them in an alley, Laird, but this Aussie girl isn’t going to be
one of them.” Chloe stepped back and smiled. “Good night.”

A large hand
clamped around her arm and dragged her up against his chest. Chloe couldn’t
breathe, couldn’t do anything except stare into two demanding, hard eyes that
captured her whole attention.

“What would it
take for a Scottish lad then to woo the Aussie lass?”

Chloe bit her
lip when his hand clasped her jaw and lifted her gaze level with his. “This
girl’s already taken, my lord. You’ll have to find another one.”

His smile
resembled a snarl. “What, you’re spoken for by the wee, puny Englishman?” He
laughed and stepped away. “Perhaps it’s better that I don’t kiss you, you’d
probably not be able to handle it.”

Chloe laughed
and watched his eyes turn ebony. “You’re right, I wouldn’t be able to handle
it. You’re obviously too much man for me.” She turned and walked away, made her
feet take each and every step further from the intoxicating highlander behind
her. A man who, for whatever reason, drew her in and made her yearn for him to
touch her, to look at her, do anything with her in fact.

Heavens! The
highland air was making her abnormal.

She sought out Eddy and demanded he take her home. What did it
matter what the highlander did, what he said and asked? Just as long as he
didn’t pull her into any more alleyways and try and kiss her, they’d get along famously.

Cian McKay
stormed from the alley. “Damn you to Hades, Zeus,” he swore, and walked toward
his jeep parked up the road. He felt the wind pick up before settling back
down. Glad the bastard deity had heard him. Well he would hear a lot more than
that and worse by the time he was finished tonight. Chloe was back. His Chloe.
His love. The one and only woman he would ever love.

And she was
engaged ...

He ripped the car
door open and settled behind the wheel while his body fought for control. Cian breathed
deeply, then lost the battle with his temper and punched the steering wheel.
She was as beautiful as the last time he saw her in 1830 London. It was by chance
he had run in to her that day.

A young woman of
twenty-five, she’d been married and carrying a child of six months of age in
her arms. He had been strolling in Hyde Park and had spotted her sitting upon a
woolen blanket. She had been dressed in the height of fashion. Her gown
displayed every curve, every curve he knew intimately.

Selfishly
wanting to be with her again, he’d courted her, wooed her to engage in an
illicit affair outside the bonds of her marriage. And when her husband had died
at an early age of thirty-two, he had married her almost immediately. And when Chloe
had died in his arms twenty-two years later, he’d cursed Zeus to Hades. Not
that it had made any difference.

He drove home
and turned to pass over the original moat. He stopped the car and got out. The
cool night air helped to dispel his temper as he breathed in the refreshing sea
breeze. He hadn’t seen her last century. The men he had sent to find her had
all come back without a whisper as to where she may have been.

And the world grew
more populated every day. It was only a matter of time before he would never
see her again. That she would become too engrossed in her busy life—whatever it
may be—to take note of her inner feelings, needs and wants to find him. To
start again the life they would always crave together.

Cian walked up
to the battlements and looked over the town. For near a thousand years he had
viewed the village from this point. A thousand years and still he could not
find a way to break Zeus’s curse. He had to have her. Needed to taste her lips
and swim in her love. His sanity depended on it. And other things ...

An image of the
man who accompanied her entered his mind. What a wimp! A man he could snap like
a twig if he so wished. History had demonstrated Chloe’s taste ventured to tall,
masculine men, much like himself. Yet, her fiancé, she called Eddy, was none of
those things. And now he was going to have to break up her engagement.

His jaw clenched
not liking to have to win her love. He already had it, she just didn’t know it.
It was pathetic that her father would settle such a harsh punishment on his
daughter because of her love for a mortal being had made him immortal for a
time. Cian harrumphed as lightning belted across the sky. “Bring it on, old man,”
he said. “Your day of reckoning is coming.”

Chapter Three

Chloe walked up
to Castle Cree, her steps hesitant over running into the Laird who obviously
harbored ... something for her.

Walking along
the road and slight incline, Chloe stopped to look out over the ocean and watched
the waves crash against the rocks lining the shore. It was certainly a
breathtaking spot to live in. She continued on before stopping on the wooden
bridge that sat above a moat. She looked down into the canyon and shivered as
the wind blew up from beneath her. The castle seemed to sit on an island detached
from the mainland. She stared as the waves crashed, the sea-spray reaching high
into the crags. She gasped and laughed when water spray reached right up to
her.

Turning toward
the castle, she stopped and took in all its historical grandeur. Made from the
same stone it sat upon, Castle Cree was a castle untouched by time. Chloe could
see the entrance to the keep. Battlements surrounded the massive edifice which
still had four towers. Forgetting the laird, excitement thrummed through her
blood as she walked towards the great doors. She wondered if the interior was
just as grand as the exterior, only to be met with a sign she was half an hour
too early for the tour.

BOOK: Banished
4.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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