Authors: Starla Kaye
She kept her head pressed to his chest. Her hands smoothed over his back. “I’ve heard women talk of the wonders of having a man’s rod inside them. Of the wild sensations they feel.”
God’s teeth, she was killing him.
Move away from her. Put her away from you
. Yet he continued to hold her, continued to allow his cock to rub ever so slowly against her. “I’d like nothing more than to drive my cock into ye. To put ye on yer back and thrust…”
Somehow his words got through to him and he pulled her arms from around him. He pushed her away and saw the same tortured feelings he experienced in her expression. He recognized the same frustrated relief as well.
“We canna do this agin, Annabel. I’m no’ that strong.” His entire body throbbed from disappointment. He’d purposely not used the shortened name he’d given her. He needed distance.
Now that she was out of his embrace, she seemed to realize just how out of control they’d gotten. “Aye, Lord Devil, we cannot be alone together like this again. ‘Tis another reason I need to leave here as soon as possible.”
“I ken, but I canna let ye leave until a worthy husband has been found.” It tore at his gut to say again that he intended to find another man for her, but he would stand by his decision. “I will begin my search on the morrow.”
He saw her look ready to protest but he shook his head. “The final decision of a husband will be yers. I willna force anyone on ye.”
She heaved an accepting sigh. “’Tis for the best.”
Brodie left her then, walked out of the bedchamber and closed the door behind him. He’d never wanted a woman more…at least he didn’t think he had. But he’d agreed to the betrothal Edward had arranged, or so he’d been told by Douglas that he had. He was an honorable man, with or without his memories. If he’d given his word, then he would stand behind it. On the morrow he would not only begin searching for a husband for Annabel, but also he’d send for Lady Stonewall.
* * *
Annabel had kept as much distance between herself and Brodie as she could for the last couple of days. After what had nearly happened in her bedchamber that night, she hadn’t even been able to look him in the eye. It mortified her every time she thought about how she’d rubbed her body against him so brazenly. She was even more mortified when she remembered telling him that she wanted him and knew that he wanted her. The worst of it was that he’d admitted he did desire her. Her face heated every time she thought about what he’d said.
He wanted to drive his cock inside of me. Oh, dear God!
She walked toward the paddock to check on her horses, just as she did on a daily basis. But as she passed through the gate to go to them, her gaze went to the far corner. Four days ago Brodie had come to her in frustration and bent her over his knee there. He’d uncovered her bottom and spanked her with his stiff hand. It had hurt, but more her pride than anything else. He was a man of action, a man of passion. Whatever woman he took for wife would no doubt spend many times turned over his lap to get a sound walloping. He’d spanked her twice now: the first time when she’d refused to come with him here to Urquhart, and then for her determination to leave here. Not pleasant experiences. Yet she disliked the idea of him taking another woman over his knee, applying his hand to someone else. How silly was that?
Without being aware of what she was doing, her hands drifted back to cover her backside.
“Are ye in need of another warming, lass?” Brodie asked from behind her.
She spun about in surprise, frowning. “How can you sneak up on me so easily?”
His eyes were dark as he took in the blue gown she wore today. His gaze slowing as he focused on her cleavage. “Ye dinna answer my question.”
“’Twas a ridiculous question,” she countered with a roll of her eyes. “Of course I’m not in need of a…’warming’ as you put it. And I certainly wouldn’t seek you out to ask for one!”
He laughed, actually tipped his head back and chortled. It sounded rusty, like he hadn’t done it in a very long time. But still she enjoyed the sound of it, even if it was at her expense.
“Nay, I do no’ suppose ye would.” He sobered and seemed to realize they were alone, something both knew was dangerous. He stepped several feet back. “I’ve accepted four new men as soldiers in the last couple of days. One man, Angus Gordon, might be a worthy husband fer ye, Annabel.”
Her heart pounded. She wanted to shout, “I want no one but you, my Lord Devil.” But she held the protest within her. Instead she managed to nod. “Might be?”
He looked troubled now. “Aye, I havena decided yet. He’s still too new here. I’ll watch over him fer a bit longer ‘ere introducing ye to him.”
With that he turned to leave, stopping at the gate. “’Tis fer the best, as we decided.”
Brodie walked from the coolness of the keep into the blazing sun. It took but a second for sweat to bead on his brow and on his back. Most of the men were taking a rest in the great hall, cooling down from the morning’s practice session. They were tipping up mugs of ale and taunting each other about who was better at swinging a sword, or at fending off a knife, or at any other such boastful nonsense. He’d joined them for a short while and become restless. So he’d decided to check on his horse, which had suffered an injured hoof on their ride to the village yesterday.
He walked down the stone steps and headed toward the paddocks. His thoughts were scattered about, going from why he’d suddenly begun having more headaches, to a feud between some of the serfs that he would need to deal with, to wondering when Lady Stonewall would arrive, and most frustratingly to Annabel. He tried to avoid her as much as possible. Yet she seemed to be everywhere. If she wasn’t helping in the gardens, she was trying to teach one or another of the young maids something new to do with herbs and flowers. If she wasn’t bringing jugs of mead for the men practicing in the bailey, she was sitting on the keep’s steps watching them and encouraging them. If she wasn’t chasing one of the castle’s children about, they were chasing her. It seemed like the air constantly carried the sound of her lilting voice, whether she was chattering away at someone or laughing at something.
This time when he caught the sound of her voice coming from the paddocks, she was cursing. Colorfully so. She needed a good swat on her bottom for such unladylike behavior! And why did his thoughts always go to spanking her? Because it was the only way he could satisfy his need to touch her. He had no real rights to do so in any manner, but he needed to almost as much as he needed to breathe. So swatting her sweet ass it was.
As he pulled his thoughts back from his confusing frustrations and focused on the paddocks, he spotted her…and immediately wished he’d stayed in the keep. God’s teeth, the woman was going to be the death of him! The reason for her swearing was obvious. She was half-in, half-out of the back of her tinker’s wagon, apparently stuck. Wearing braies again, her pert little bottom wiggled back and forth in her attempt to get free of whatever held her in place.
He knew he should go help her, but he didn’t move. The fabric pulled taut over each tempting cheek held his attention. He couldn’t seem to catch his breath, though his heart was near pounding its way out of his chest. The erection he seemed to have whenever she was near was back, tenting up the front of his kilt.
Evidently she’d sensed him watching her, because she craned her head and frowned at him. “Are you going to help me or not?”
“I’m thinking about it.” He really wasn’t sure he could survive touching her just now. Still, he took a few steps in her direction.
She squirmed some more, cursed again, and glared at him once more. Then he saw her notice his kilt problem. Her face turned a pretty shade of pink, but she said sassily, “Stop staring at my backside and help me! I’m stuck.”
“Stop yer cursing, lass,” he warned, the promise of a swat to her bottom in his tone.
Before he could reach her or she could protest his gruff statement, Angus Gordon strode by him, grinning. “I’d be glad to help ye, lass.”
Brodie growled low in his throat in displeasure. “Go aboot yer business, Gordon.”
He was too late. Angus’s hands were already clasped around Annabel’s waist. The lean-yet-muscled Scot Brodie had taken on as another soldier recently looked far too hungry for a woman as he held her. Brodie had been considering him as a potential husband for her, even introduced them a couple of days ago, but now he was having second thoughts. His hands clenched at his sides.
As if he cared not that his laird stood nearby scowling at him, Gordon took his time lowering her feet to the ground. His hands remained on her waist far too long, in Brodie’s opinion. Then he gave Brodie a dismissing glance and smiled flirtatiously down at Annabel. “Anything else I can help ye with?”
Annabel awkwardly turned around and scooted away from him. “I thank you for your assistance, kind sir. But, nay, I need no further help.”
Still, Gordon didn’t leave. He reached out to wipe at a smudge of dirt on her face. “Will ye sit with me fer sup this eve, sweet Annabel?”
“I…” Her gaze darted to Brodie, appearing more panicked than wanting to agree with the red-headed Scot.
“Nay. She sits on the dais with me,” Brodie stated in a tone that allowed no argument.
His answer shouldn’t have been a surprise to the other man. Brodie had insisted she sit at the laird’s table with him and Sir Douglas from the day they’d arrived here. He’d made it clear to her and to all others that he’d taken on the role of her guardian, which meant she sat in a place of honor. In truth, he hadn’t liked the idea of her sitting too close to any of his men. Far too many of them watched her with lust-filled eyes. None would act on their desires for her…not and live, which they all understood. Yet Angus Gordon dared more than his other men. He was not easily intimidated.
Annoyance flashed across Gordon’s face, but he nodded acceptance. “Mayhap we can take a walk after sup.”
Brodie was about to voice another refusal when Annabel asserted her independence. She gave Gordon an encouraging smile. “That sounds nice. I’d very much like to walk with you a bit.”
“Go aboot yer duties, Gordon,” Brodie bit out. He was tempted to dismiss the man as one of his soliders, to send him packing and away from Urquhart this day. But he had no real grounds. Jealousy was not an excuse, especially when he had no right to feel that way. “Now, Gordon.”
The well-skilled warrior met Brodie’s eyes, making it clear he’d won this round in a battle that had only just begun. Then, as if unconcerned that he’d irritated his laird, Gordon walked back the way he’d come with a bit of a swager. “I’ll see ye later, Annabel. Fer that walk.”
Brodie stood silently fuming at the situation even though he had duties to attend as well. Again, he thought how much of a trial Annabel Henderson was to him. He should never have brought her with them back here to Urquhart. But he couldn’t have left her to travel alone. He was still tortured by the occasional thought of what might have happened to her if he and his men hadn’t found her.
Clearly intent on doing more to vex him, Annabel walked right up to him, her face pinched in irritation. “Why do you act this way? You yourself introduced Angus to me but a couple of days ago. You wished me to get to know him better, to consider him for a potential husband. Yet you have tried to keep us apart ever since.”
He’d regretted the introduction from the instant it had happened. “I have changed my mind. He’s no’ the mon fer ye.” He didn’t want to explain his reasoning. “Ye should just accept my decision.”
But she never gave in easily. She put her hands on her slender hips and inhaled a deep breath before releasing it. The action made her breasts rise and fall in a way that no man alive could keep from watching. “The decision is not up to you, just as you told me previously.”
And she thought him stubborn! “I’m only trying to protect ye, Anna.” He regretted hearing the frustration in his tone.
As she picked up on his use of the nickname he’d given her, her eyes lost the spark of fire and her face softened. “You do not need to protect me from Sir Gordon. He has shown me nothing but kindness in the rare times we have spoken.”
“He lusts after ye,” Brodie stated in disgust, remembering what he’d seen in the other man’s expression as he’d held her. “While ye are at Urquhart, ye are under my protection.”
She let the ‘protection’ issue drop, choosing to focus on the matter he would rather she have ignored. “Mayhap he lusts after me, but I don’t know for sure.” To his annoyance, she smiled impishly and glanced down to where his kilt still remained tented out. “But I do know that you do. ‘Tis obvious, my lord.”
Aye, he did and it was. Anytime she was nearby, anytime he could draw in her scent, his cock had a mind of its own. It immediately swelled and ached with the need to mate. He shook his head and stepped safely away from her. He was done talking about this improper subject with her. “Behave yerself, lass.”
She gave a soft laugh. “Or what? You will bend me over your knee and spank me?”
The thought of taking her over his lap, baring her bottom, touching her even for a spanking, made him curl his hands into fists. He drew in a shaky breath. “Ye almost sound as if ye wish me to warm yer bottom.”
“You are a passionate man, Lord Devil, even when delivering a spanking. ‘Tis true my backside suffered a fair amount of sting the other day.”
Her eyes darkened and she gave a small sigh. “’Tis also true that the touch of your hand on my bottom was not completely painful. I felt warmth inside me as much as outside. A very interesting feeling.”
Brodie knew he had to get away from her now. He, too, had felt the stirrings of desire when he’d spanked her. He’d burned her butt, yet it could have been much worse. But now he ached to put his hand against her bare ass, caress it, and then…
“Do no’ try to entice me to do something we both ken would be wrong.” He turned toward the bailey, having already forgotten why he’d been going to the paddocks.