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Authors: Jackie Ivie

Knight Everlasting (7 page)

BOOK: Knight Everlasting
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Aidan waited once the deed was done and ground shoveled into place, getting wetter in the downpour while the grave mound she stared at got the same.
He spoke in a tone his men would be teasing him over if they heard. He frowned slightly as she ignored it. Or failed to hear it. Aidan cleared his throat, looked down at the mass grave, and that was when his eyes widened and he started silently cursing his own foul stupidity.
Facing death altered things for him. It always had. Aidan was a demon in battle, where there was too much action and force and split-moment maneuvering during the killing to experience much of anything, especially death. That happened later. Afterward, when the silence came, that was when he'd feel and experience chest-crushing suffocation, a heart that skipped and altered to the point it frightened him, and a numbness that more than once he'd feared he'd succumb to it. It was another curse he suffered, but this one he kept to himself.
Aidan fingered his sporran for the right charm, starting a silent chant in his head before he found it, while he worked at overcoming the heavy feel spreading beneath his breastbone. He sucked in, got a chest full of damp-filled air, but the tight feeling persisted. And then his heart missed a beat.
“La . . . ass?”
He tried again, only this time the word was in two syllables and had gone into a higher pitch, sounding choked and raw. He couldn't help it. He couldn't gain enough air to speak properly. She was flirting with fate the longer she stood in the evening rain making him wait with her. Because there was one sure thing that canceled out all the death feeling and made Aidan feel alive again. The joy. Power. The frustration, anguish, anger, thrill.
All involving a woman.
Oh . . . Christ.
Aidan lifted his head to the sky and watched raindrops fall all over him before he closed his eyes. His birth curse was shoving itself right in front of him . . . taunting him. He'd been rash. Impulsive. Reckless. Unthinking. He knew this happened every time he faced death and he also knew how much his body craved this Juliana . . . yet he'd done nothing to alter it?
The amulet wasn't working. Cursing silently wasn't helping. Sending hollow promises to the heavens did little good either. He should've left the dead where they'd fallen or had them buried before reaching camp. And if he had to be that foolish, he should have planned for this. Left her in another man's care. Sent her to the tent. Escaped to a different one. Put her back with Arran. Run away. Hid . . .
Aidan reached for her, locked on to her upper arm, and then swung her to face him. He might have used too much force, since he had to catch her with his other hand to prevent her from colliding with him. That was just as stupid, since that put Juliana in his hands, beneath his nose, and within his grasp. Aidan was further provoked when his own arms began shaking. His heart dropped another beat, startling him.
“Lass?” he tried again, but this time the word cracked, sounding brittle and dry. He swallowed, but choked on it since his throat felt like it was already closing off as it numbed.
She lifted her eyes to his, taking his breath with the contact while his heart jumped instantly into a quick-paced hammering. She looked brittle, fragile, and everything her posture had been demonstrating to him throughout the burial. She was suffering. Grief-stricken. Pale. Bereft. Hollow-eyed. Completely passive. Only the lowest wretch would even think of taking her at such a time . . .
Lowest wretch . . .
Despite the slur he'd put on himself, Aidan pulled her close, lifting her at the same time, until he had her frame and face matched to his. Her lips parted and he swore the soft sigh of breath from them touched his lips. Even through the steady film of rain draped between them.
“Take . . . me . . .” she said.
Aidan stiffened, while the roar of reaction at the content of her words made his hold shakier, his chest fuller, and the numb feeling started dissipating. He couldn't prevent everything on him from ratcheting to a primordial level of want and need. Instantly. Voraciously. Noticeably. He gulped.
“It's na' . . . the best . . . place,” Aidan replied before he lost his wits. The rain might be wet and carry a chill, but nothing about it damped the heat rising from contact with her. His voice was shaking now as well. He was incapable of moving his eyes from hers.
“Please?” she answered.
His curse word carried a plea with it. Something about it bothered her, for a small line crinkled through her forehead as she frowned. Blushed. And then she smiled slightly.
“I meant . . . take me home,” she whispered.
Aidan didn't have a strong enough curse word available. There was a whooshing sound filling his ears and it just got louder and louder, amplifying the volume of his own heartbeats as she put her mouth in a kissable pout right in front of him. Daring him. Begging him . . .
She was asking to go home; for him to take her there. As if she still had one. Aidan sucked in a huge gulp of air that moved her with it and then he held it. Hard. Long. Steady. Counting the heartbeats that accompanied it. Before God, he wasn't taking a grieving woman! No matter what the provocation.
She blinked, instantly silencing the whoosh of sound in his ears, but then it hit his nose as he released the breath. She dropped her gaze to the area of his chin or throat, and then she shivered . . . and added a soft moan.
Aidan had her into a berth within his arms the next moment, well away from the torment that was her woman spot rubbing right against his lower belly. Then, he was stalking through the wet, soft ground. He was determined to carry her to his tent, deposit her on the cot, and leave her there.
They were the curse and bane of the earth. That was what they were. And women who looked like this Juliana were the worst. They were put here to torment a man, make him do and say and think things that weren't. Punish him for chivalrous behavior. Punish him worse for need. Keep him in a frustration of want fueled by his own honor and denial. Make certain he'd regret not only the saving of a bonny wench, but also the self-induced restraint that kept a man from taking and enjoying and savoring said wench until hell sounded better.
Aidan was shoving words through his head with every step, adding more transgression to beautiful women who denied a man at his lowest, before he reached the door flap of his tent. He didn't even slow down, pushing it instead with his momentum and making the piece of material cling to his head before he moved three large steps to the cot, set her down atop it, and then went to his haunches on the ground beside it.
He'd failed. He knew it. He only hoped she didn't.
The door flap settled into place behind him, sealing them into a personal bit of space that had only rain-lit dusk to light it. Juliana had her legs curved over the edge of the cot, her hands wrapped about her torso, and a wide-eyed look that gave him a full unsettling dose of her eyes. They'd stunned him when he first saw them, and it hadn't changed. Or muted. Or done anything other than intensify the dazed state of everything. Aidan shook his head to clear it. Then, he did it again.
Why her?
“Please?” she asked.
Aidan thought that was what she'd said, but the whooshing sound was back again, fuller than before. Nothing about her whisper penetrated it. All of which was an excuse for shaking his head again like he didn't understand.
“Why not?”
“You nae longer have . . . a home.”
He answered brutally and watched her eyes moisten with tears she could blink into existence. But she didn't. Instead she watched him with dewy eyes and a frame that was shaking as she caught her breath in little gasps. And then she raised her little chin, narrowed her eyes, and argued with him.
“I do.”
“Na' back there,” he replied.
“You don't know that.”
He nodded. “I do.”
“Let me go. Please?” She had a pretty plea tone as well. If he wasn't in a whorl of frustrated longing, he might even listen before he denied her.
“Nae.” He made certain she understood by shaking his head.
“Why not?” She sounded cross. Strict. Stern. She didn't look it. Aidan roamed his vision over lush, lovely, and rightsized woman curves.
“Because I rescued you,” he told her when he'd finished looking her over.
Her plea look changed to a completely blank one. If it wasn't so shadowed in the tent, he might be able to find an expression, but he doubted it.
“So?” she asked.
“And I claim you.”
“You can't claim me,” she informed him.
Aidan raised an eyebrow, watched her glance at it, and saw her swallow quickly. She was acting a bit unsure and flustered. So, he raised the other brow as well and then moved them both several times. “Why na'?” he asked finally.
“Because I say so.”
She'd replied quickly, but she sounded shaky, too. Aidan spent a moment on that. If she was feeling unsettled by his presence and what it meant right here and right now, then that was fair and just and right. He grunted.
“Well, I say different, and I'm the laird. My word is law.”
She called him a name he hadn't heard before and Aidan raised his brows again, higher this time. He didn't say anything. He didn't know what to say.
“For how long, then?” she asked finally.
“Ever,” he replied.
“Oh no. Never. And never you.” She had a slight sneer to her mouth as she said it. She also shook her head as if she had a choice in the matter.
“Why na'?”
Aidan went up on his knees, crossed his arms about his chest, tightened the sinew to make it impossible to overlook the strength and power he possessed, and then he tightened every muscle in his chest to fullness, in the event she failed to notice. He was a prime male, in perfect health, and he knew it. He was also hard, enlarged, and ready to take her. Fully. Right here and right now. And without much more delay. Aidan didn't need to flex. She could see for herself. He watched her look to his groin before returning to his face. Her eyes were huge and filled with a fearful look he'd seen from the battlefield. But it couldn't have been, for the next moment she'd pulled her lower lip into her mouth and started sucking on it. That little move could easily release the severe hold he'd placed on himself. Aidan shifted his glance away before that happened.
“Well?” he prompted when he returned his attention to her and all she did was suck on her lip.
“Y-You . . . already have . . . women.”
She was stammering, sounding a bit like Arran. She was also avoiding looking anywhere near him.
“I'll send them away,” he replied.
She was using her plea voice again and jumbling everything in his head. Aidan was finished with games of words and emotions. And women who toyed with both. He'd been cursed and he wasn't forgetting it.
Rash. Reckless. Thoughtless.
“Come here,” he ordered her in a raspy voice that didn't sound like him.
“No! Please?”
Her beautiful face feigned shock and confusion as she whispered it, or if she suffered either, he didn't know why. Everything on him was giving her a sign of just how ready he was and what he wanted. Aidan leaned forward, put his right hand on the rope ends that held the cot suspended, and yanked them backward, tumbling her forward, right where he wanted her.
Before she landed, he had her with his left arm about her belly, swiveled so she was sideways with her buttocks pressed into his groin, his right hand had moved to push the mass of cloak out of his way, and then he had his lips on hers.
Fire exploded all through him at the contact, sending a flame so bright, clear, and raging that he almost saw it. Heat flooded him, consuming . . . burning . . . and the contact of her mouth against his intensified the sensation. Aidan sucked on her lips, mingling his breath with hers, amid groans and whimpered words of ache, desire, and massive need. He pushed her cloak open farther, until he had her head pinioned in his right hand, his fingers separated strands of her hair, clenching and unclenching about the strands with a rhythm that coordinated perfectly with the shoves he was making against her buttocks.
The desire sensation was heady. Raw. Powerful. Potent. Aidan eased his lips from hers to trail his tongue along her jaw, flicking it slightly and totally enjoying the lurching of her frame as she reacted to his caress. He reached the delicate skin at the back of her throat and then tongued his way about her ear, licking at the goose bumps put into play by his attention.
BOOK: Knight Everlasting
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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