A Highlander's Heart: A Sexy Regency Romance (Highland Knights Book 1) (10 page)

BOOK: A Highlander's Heart: A Sexy Regency Romance (Highland Knights Book 1)
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“Claire—do ye realize how long it’s been for me?”

She stopped, biting her bottom lip, looking up at him but keeping her lower body pressed tight against his.

“Did you stay faithful to me, Rob?” she asked quietly, anxiety tightening her chest. She’d lain awake many nights wondering this, thinking he certainly must be seeking out women. It seemed impossible that a man as virile as Rob could stay abstinent for any length of time.

He squeezed his eyes shut. “Aye. Of course I did.”

She expelled a breath.

“I made ye a promise when we married. I dinna break my promises.”

“You’ve been celibate for almost a year and a half?”

“Aye.”

“That’s a very long time.”

“Aye,” he said gruffly. “Ye think I dinna know that? I’ve been aching for ye, Claire. For so long, it feels like forever.”

She believed him. He’d never lied to her before, as far as she knew, and she remembered his warning last night that it had been so long for him, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to control himself.

“I’ve been faithful to you too,” she murmured.

He made another of those adorable grumbling Scottish noises. “Good. Means I don’t have to kill anyone.”

“Kill anyone?”

“Ye ken I’d kill anyone who touched you.”

A shudder rolled through her as she remembered how possessive he’d always been when they were together. She’d turned a gentleman’s head or two in her day, but when it happened in her husband’s presence, his quiet rage was so palpable, the offender invariably pretended he thought she was someone else.

She’d secretly loved his possessiveness. Loved knowing that he considered her his. Because she’d certainly considered him hers. At first, at least. Until she’d learned that, first and foremost, he belonged to the army.

“It isna easy for a man…to abstain for that long a time,” he said.

“It isn’t easy for a woman either.” She laughed softly. “Though I imagine it’s more difficult for a man.”

“When I said ye were killing me a moment ago? It wasna a lie.”

“My poor, poor Highlander,” she murmured. “Do you need me to relieve your suffering?”

“Please,” he groaned.

“Yes, my love. I’ll give you what you need.”

She kissed her way back down that light trail of hair until her lips covered the crown of his erection.

His whole body jerked beneath her.

“Sweet Jesus. Your mouth…feels so good.”

“Mmm,” she responded. She encircled his base with her fingers and moved her mouth down over him until her lips collided with her thumb and forefinger.

His hand went to the back of her head, pressing her down over him until she took him as deep as she possibly could. He released pressure, and she dragged her mouth back up his length until she was peppering little kisses to his cockhead again.

“More,” he demanded, pushing her to take him deep again.

She closed her eyes and eased into the motion, letting him guide her, relaxing her throat so she could take more of him in.

Her senses filled with him. He smelled so warm, so familiar. He tasted of man and sex. He was warm and solid and strong under her body, her hands, and her mouth. His low rumbles of pleasure rolled through her, satisfying in a most primal way. And when she opened her eyes, she saw that he was watching her every move, his blue eyes glazed with desire and something deeper she couldn’t interpret right then.

She tightened her fist over him, moving her hand and lips together in tandem. Tasting, touching, smelling, hearing.
Being
. Being one with him.

He grew tight under her, the muscles in his thighs turning to stone, the muscles in his abdomen taut and rippling. His hand tightened in her hair.

“Ye must stop,” he gasped out. “Stop, Claire.”

She made a sound of stubborn disagreement and focused on his hardness and her movements.

“I’m going to…to come.”

God, yes, she thought. Her own core was responding to him, tightening and heating until she was squirming, so lust filled she could hardly think straight.

Suddenly, his hand flattened over the back of her head, pressing her down deep onto him. And he came, his release pumping down her throat in long, hot bursts.

She closed her eyes and drank him in. When the pulses finally subsided, she slipped off him and crawled back up his body. She kissed his cheek and looked into his dazed eyes. He blinked at her. “Jesus, Claire.”

“Did you like it?” she whispered.

He closed his eyes and sank into the pillow. “There’re no words to convey how I’m feeling right now,” he mumbled.

“I think that’s a good thing.”

“It is.”

She tucked herself against his side, feeling happy and satisfied. She’d given her husband pleasure. For a moment, she’d controlled him completely. It had made her feel powerful, and she’d loved every second.

Clearly still in a weakened state from his release, he pushed at her arm. “You’re next.”

“No, my love,” she murmured. “Not tonight. Tonight was for you.”

* * *

The next morning, Rob awoke feeling more refreshed and contented than he had in a very long time. Not since the last time he’d awoken at his wife’s side after a night of making love.

The only thing that had been missing last night was her finding her peak. That would change soon, he thought with an inner smile, and during breakfast, he couldn’t get his mind off all the things he wanted to do to bring her to that sweet place.

So many things.

He knew his wife. Their first year together had been all about discovery. They’d learned how to wring the most pleasure out of each other’s bodies.

Maybe they could find that happiness again. As the days went by, it seemed like more and more of a possibility.

After breakfast, he and the men returned to the Home Office, where they all gave up their links to the military, became civilians again, and pledged their lives to the Crown. They arranged monetary compensation and discussed expenses—one thing the secret Agency did not seem to be lacking in was money.

Then the Knights received several large boxes full of files, which Adams said covered not only the network of the aristocracy they’d be expected to interact with, but the political situation and the key players in the North.

They were instructed to study the files, then report back to the Home Office in a week for spy training.

At that, Stirling raised his brows. “
Spy
training?”

“Yes,” Adams said, “the Agency—of which you are an offshoot—consists of men who are experts in the art of spying. We know the seven of you can fight, so that’s not going to be a problem. But you’ll also need to become proficient in the more subtle aspects of warfare.

“The man I’m bringing in to train you, Sam Hawkins, has been through it all. He was once a soldier, as all of you were. He is one of the original Agency members, and now he is retired, but he is willing to come back and share his knowledge with you.”

It was so odd for Rob to hear this talk of him being a soldier in the past tense. Wasn’t he just at Waterloo only last week, fighting for his life? Fighting for the life of the 92nd?

They took the boxes and returned to the town house, preparing to study for the next several days. And when Claire rushed into the entry hall to greet him, Rob decided there could be nothing better in the world than coming home to the welcoming smile of his wife.

Chapter Ten

That afternoon, as Rob and the men dug into the boxes that now lay scattered all over the drawing room, Claire asked if Mackenzie could be given leave to accompany her to her father’s house.

Rob drew her into the corridor. “D’ye think it’s wise?”

“What’s wise?”

Rob sighed. “Ye ken your father wilna approve of Mackenzie.”

She looked down. “I know. But I have never seen Grace so happy as she is with him, Rob. I want so for her to be happy. Even if it is only for a little while.”

Rob gazed at her for an appraising moment, then he nodded. “Verra well.” He opened the door to the drawing room. “Mackenzie! My wife requires a guard, and you’ve been chosen to fill the position. We’re all apt to envy you now. You needn’t slog through this”—he gestured to the piles of boxes—“at least not this afternoon.”

“Dinna worry,” McLeod said, his head popping up from behind a box and an evil grin on his face, “ye’ll pay for it later, Sergeant. I’ll make sure o’ that.”

The threat didn’t seem to bother Mackenzie. Instead, he joined Claire at the door, looking over his shoulder as they stepped into the corridor. “Farewell, lads. Enjoy yourselves! I ken I will—I’m off to see the bonniest lass in London.”

They closed the door to the grumbles of the other Knights, and Claire turned to Mackenzie, a brow raised. “Feeling impertinent today, Mr. Mackenzie?” she asked lightly.

“I’m a free man,” he said, and she realized he meant he was free of the army. “I’m feeling
verra
impertinent right now.”

“Can’t say I blame you.”

The carriage ride to her father’s Mayfair town house took about twenty minutes, and during that time, Mackenzie told her of his childhood in the Highlands.

“My da labored on a sheep farm in Inverness-shire, as did his da, and his da before that.”

“That sounds like hard work,” she said.

“Aye. I started herding and shearing alongside him when I was just a wee lad. Then I went to school in Inverness, and the other lads said I’d never wash the stench of mutton from my skin.”

“Did you have brothers and sisters to help?”

“Oh, aye. Six sisters, and all o’ them came after me.”

She looked at him with wide eyes. “Six? Six sisters?”

He nodded, and his mouth twisted into a wry grin. “My da cried when I left. He said to me, ‘Duncan, I beg you. Dinna leave. How will I endure this life surrounded by seven women?’”

“Poor man,” Claire said sympathetically.

When they arrived at the Earl of Norsey’s house, Mackenzie quieted, his brow furrowed and his lips tightened. He was nervous, poor man. She patted his knee. “Don’t worry. I’m just going to tell my father that Rob couldn’t come so he sent you in his stead. Everything will be fine.”

He took a deep breath and nodded.

Claire’s father’s longtime butler met them at the door. “Hugh!” she exclaimed. “It is so good to see you.”

Hugh inclined his head, his brown eyes twinkling. “And you, milady. I’m glad your travels were safe.”

“They were,” she said, sobering, “for me, at least.”

“I trust Sir Robert is well.”

“Yes, he’s almost completely recovered from his head wound, thank you for asking.”

Hugh’s gaze moved to Mackenzie.

“This is Mr. Duncan Mackenzie, lately of the Gordon Highlanders.”

“Welcome, Mr. Mackenzie.”

“Thank you,” Mackenzie said politely.

“Lady Grace and Lord Norsey await you in the drawing room.” Hugh ushered them inside, then led them down the corridor. He opened the door to the drawing room, then stepped aside to allow them entrance.

Claire glanced at Mackenzie and gave him an encouraging smile. Then she stepped inside. Grace leapt up immediately and rushed to her, enfolding her in an enormous hug and squeezing the breath out of her.

But when Grace suddenly dropped her hands, her breath catching, as she whispered “Duncan?” Claire knew she’d seen Mackenzie. She stepped away from her sister, leaving them to their reunion—which would probably consist of a brief, longing glance at each other—and turned to her father. “Papa.”

Her father had risen from his chair when she’d entered, and he stood there stiffly, his hands straight at his sides.

“Welcome home, daughter,” he said formally.

“Thank you. It is good to be home. But I shan’t stay long. Only for an hour or so, and I must gather some clothes besides these traveling dresses.” She gestured in chagrin down at her tattered gray carriage dress. “I fear I have ruined them all.”

“You will be living with your husband, then?”

She hesitated. She’d never technically “lived” with her husband in any place besides her father’s houses here and in Kent. The thought of doing so was frightening and exciting at the same time.

“It is too early to say,” she said quietly. “But for now, yes, I will be staying with him.”

“I see,” her father said tightly. He looked beyond her shoulder, his brow furrowing as he took in Mackenzie.

“Papa, may I present Duncan Mackenzie. He was a soldier in Rob’s regiment. Mr. Mackenzie, this is my father, the Earl of Norsey.”

“Milord,” Mackenzie said with a slight bow.

Her father gave a curt nod, his blue eyes scanning the younger man dispassionately.

“I’ve called for tea,” Grace murmured nervously. “Shall we all sit down?”

“Yes,” Claire said, “that’s a wonderful idea.”

They all sat, Claire and Grace on the sofa, and Mackenzie and her father looking uneasy on their armchairs. A maid came in with the tea service, and Grace poured tea for her father and Mackenzie. “Do you like sugar in your tea, Mr. Mackenzie?”

“No, thank you.” He sounded stiff and formal, so different from how he was among the Knights.

They drank tea in silence until, desperate, Claire began to discuss the weather. She despised meteorological discussions, but she didn’t know what else to do.

But the topic didn’t hold. They all agreed that it was far too humid for comfort, and that was that.

Just as Claire was about to bring up the new lamp she’d seen in the corridor, her father took a final sip and then firmly set down his teacup on the table. “Well,” he said uncomfortably, “I must return to my work. It is good to see you, daughter.”

“And you, Papa,” she murmured.

He barely glanced at Mackenzie before quitting the room.

When the door closed behind him, Claire and Grace both let out simultaneous breaths. Claire smiled at Mackenzie. “I’m so sorry about our father. He’s not the friendliest man in the best of circumstances. Even men who’ve been members of the same club for a score of years tend to label him cold and uncompromising.”

“He’s not, though,” Grace put in. “He’s just… Well, he can be a bit difficult. Claire and I have spent our lives in his house, and we feel we might finally understand him.”

BOOK: A Highlander's Heart: A Sexy Regency Romance (Highland Knights Book 1)
13.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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