His Stolen Bride
His brother’s betrothed becomes the captive pawn of his revenge…and the woman who steals his heart.
Wrongly accused of murdering his father, Drake MacDougall wanted nothing more than to strike back at his guilty, duplicitous half-brother. So he made the fiend pay by abducting his bride-to-be. But as Drake carried his captive off to a windswept Scottish isle, he soon found that vengeance wasn’t the only thing on his mind. Lady Averyl Campbell proved herself no biddable maiden, but an alluring, strong-willed beauty who could tame his dark moods with her touch. When danger and treachery threatened to part them, Drake realized that only she could heal his tormented soul, for she had won his love.
Even now, even when she likened him to a serpent, he could easily imagine Averyl’s dewy alabaster skin bared for his eyes, his hands, as she cried out with pleasure in his arms.
Aye, his want coursed more fiercely than he could ever recall. For now, he would seal her babbling mouth with a kiss.
“What do you know of desire, Averyl?”
“As much as I need.” Her words sounded brave, but the quivering of her fingers and the wariness of her eyes revealed a woman fearful, or a woman wanting. Or both.
With slow steps, he crossed the room to her, the crunch of his boots just a tinge louder than her breathing. Or was that his? He concentrated on the pulse beating at the base of her neck as he stopped mere inches away.
Her green gaze remained steady, even stalwart. Had she the physical strength, she would have made a formidable warrior, for she had courage aplenty. Aric would like her. And he had no doubt that Kieran thought her worthy of a tumble or two.
Averyl returned his stare stoically. Then Drake unleashed his hunger for her within his eyes. She drew in a soft gasp of breath but did not look away.
“Do you yearn to be touched, Averyl?”
“Nay,” came her breathy denial as he curled his fingers around her wrist.
Its warm fragility sent his heart pumping. Averyl tried to twist away, but he drew her forward until her breasts nestled against him, shocking him with an instant of need, a surge of want. When he slipped a hand around her waist, fitting it at the small of her back, he found the soft femininity of her small body fit perfectly against him.
She wriggled against him for freedom.
Drake gnashed his teeth. Damn it, he had never been at a loss to find a willing wench. So why did one who resisted and hated him so stir his blood? Why could he not erase the taste of their last kiss from his memory, even as he anticipated drinking of her mouth again?
In his arms, Averyl stilled and tensed. Then he reached up and removed her wimple.
“Nay!” she protested. “Give that back.” She stretched across his chest, grasping for the headdress he held behind him.
“You’ve no need for it.” He let his words whisper across her neck as he dropped the cloth to the dirt at his feet.
Averyl cursed him roundly. Driven by the feel of her in his arms, Drake turned his attention to the combs and pins enslaving the curls atop her head.
Handling her with care, despite her struggles, Drake drew out the restraints. His eyes widened in awe when the mass of golden spirals fell around her shoulders in a tumble. He slid his fingers into the glossy tangle of her sunshine tresses.
“Never wear this hideous scrap of cloth again.” The words slipped out, raspy, sounding near reverent.
Averyl swallowed, saying naught. But her haunting eyes communicated such vulnerability. Drake ached to touch her, reassure her somehow. Lord, he behaved half-cocked, felt utterly daft. He muttered an oath.
Drake could no longer deny he had been craving the chance to feel her against him. Her gaze touched his mouth, and he heard the nervous quickening of her breath. Good. She was not unmoved by him. Leaning closer, Drake anchored his hands in her hair and brought Averyl’s face within a heartbeat of his.
“Do not do this.” The militant tone she’d began with ended in a breathy rasp.
Drake ignored her, leaning closer. “Give me your mouth.”
His intimate murmur arced between them. Her flushed face revealed both pleasure and uncertainty before she looked away.
“Do not touch me,” she whispered.
“I scarce touch you now, Averyl.”
“’Tis not true. You do touch me.” She swallowed.
He smiled. “Not nearly as much as I would like.”
He lowered one hand to her waist and urged her closer.
Averyl placed her warm hands against his chest, his beating heart. He saw the protest hovering in her mind, on her tongue. But she did not push him away.
Drake clasped her damp palm in his, interlocking their fingers. Averyl tried curling her hand into a fist, but as his thumb stroked her palm, her fingers slowly uncurled.
Their gazes met. Awakening and apprehension swirled together in the arresting depths of her greenish eyes. A pulsing pleasure beat in the pit of his stomach. He checked an urge to ravage her mouth.
Averyl dropped her gaze to the dirt floor, tensing against his hold. When she said naught, Drake lifted his hand to stroke her jaw, trail down her arm, then wander to her waist. A hunger to touch her intimately, without the confines of clothing, kicked him in the gut and attacked him lower still with all the force of a one-million-man army.
Averyl quivered in his arms as he slid his hands about her neck and coaxed her face upward again. He scanned her eyes, feeling oddly breathless, and lifted his fingers to her cheek. She stared back, not uttering a word of protest.
“Do you know, Averyl, that you tempt me until I ache?”
Her eyes widened. Upon her face, he saw a flash of surprise, then a desperate wish to believe him, and a yearning for something he did not fully comprehend.
“That is untrue,” she accused.
“I will show you how true it is,” he vowed, lowering his mouth toward hers.