Authors: F.S. Hyman
Derek strode into the keep. He was furious, more at himself than at Annabelle. He should expect resistance from her, but it was not something he was used to. Most of the women he had dealt with in the past sought him out. He had always been able to placate even the most resistant female. They had always given up in the end. He did not know how to handle this one. She was different. This was going to be harder than he thought. And then add in the fact that his good friend was in love with the very woman he was going to marry was enough to stoke his anger.
“What has happened?” Megan asked as he strode past her.
“Nothing,” he growled.
“The priest is ready to perform the ceremony when ye are.”
Derek growled. He just kept up the stairs.
“What should I tell the priest?” she called after him.
“We will be down shortly,” he grumbled and headed toward his bedchamber.
Derek did not know how he knew she was there, but he burst through the door startling her at the window. The look on her face stopped him in his tracks. There were tear stains on her face, but the look in her eyes was the complete opposite of what tears should mean. There was fire in their green depths, and he had the feeling that if she thought that she could get away with it, she would have murdered him on the spot.
“The priest is ready to perform the ceremony, Annabelle,” he said quietly.
The fire in her eyes seemed to burn hotter. He wondered if they would have the same look when she was in the throes of passion.
She did not answer, but continued to stare at him. He could feel the tension flowing from her body. He knew she objected.
“Ye have nae choice, lass. Ye have been compromised and we must be wed to correct the situation,” he said in a hard voice.
Annabelle gave an unladylike snort and turned again to the window. Derek stepped farther into the chamber and closed the door.
“I only have yer word that is what happened,” she finally said.
“But ‘tis true. I remember exactly that it happened,” he smirked.
Annabelle turned on him with a scowl.
“And, besides, we were found together in bed, and that alone is enough for us to wed.”
“I willnae marry ye, Derek MacDougal! I have a betrothed, and soon I will be going back home to wed him. So ye might as well release me from this farce!” she said to him hotly.
For some reason, hearing her say that she would wed another made Derek’s anger return. He strode up to her and pinned her against the wall with his body. Instantly, his memory returned of the feel of her body against him as he drove into her heat. His breath quickened. He noticed that her breath quickened also, but he could not tell if it was from anger, fear, or if she was remembering also.
“I find, Annabelle, that I canna allow that to happen,” he said into her ear.
Annabelle stiffened. The memories came flooding back of the feel of him against her body, what she thought had been a dream. Her breath quickened. His breath on her ear as he spoke sent shivers down her spine.
“Why willnae ye release me, Derek? It will be so easy to just allow me to return home. My betrothed need not ken what has happened. Maybe he willnae notice that I wasnae a virgin on my wedding night,” Annabelle asked as a whisper trying to reason with him.
“But I will ken what has happened. Because now that I’ve had a taste of ye, I realize I want some more. And I willnae forget,” he said and connected his lips to hers.
Annabelle froze. She put her hands against her chest to push him away, but he resisted, and the kiss that started off soft became hard and demanding. She struggled against him, but he would not relent. His arms came around her and pulled her closer into his body. She could feel the hard planes of his body pressing into the soft curves of her own. She seemed to fit him perfectly, she thought distractedly. She felt herself softening into the kiss.
Derek suddenly let her go. He looked down in her face intently for several moments. His grey eyes appearing almost cobalt. His gaze dropped to her lips and then to her heaving breast.
“The priest is waiting. Let’s go,” he said turning and heading for the door. Annabelle watched him head toward the door, not making any effort to follow.
Derek stopped at the door and turned, expecting Annabelle to be right behind him. When he noticed that she had not moved, but stood watching him with a look of defiance on her face, he scowled.
“Either ye come under yer own power, or I will carry ye down to the priest,” he said.
He saw the indecision on her face. For some reason, it made him angry. Although he knew that she should be reluctant, she should not be this reluctant, and it pricked his male ego.
Having enough, he strode back toward her and stood towering over her. She looked him steadily in the eye, never wavering.
“I doona want this marriage, Derek, and I ken that ye doona either. Why go through with it?” she asked again.
Annabelle struggled to keep her voice even. He intimidated her, but she would not let him see any weakness in her. She had to make him see reason.
“Ye can go on with yer life the way it was. I’m sure Eilidh would be happy to have ye to herself again,” she added. She saw his jaw twitch.
Derek grew angrier with her mention of Eilidh. She was the farthest thing from his mind. That kiss they had just shared was enough to wipe anything else from his mind. He wanted Annabelle, and he knew that he would have to marry her to get her back in his bed, to hell with anyone else.
Instead of replying, Derek grabbed her hand in a vice grip and pulled her toward the door.
“I willnae do it, Derek! Let me go!”
Annabelle struggled against him, but he held on and dragged her from the room.
“I hate ye! Let me go, Derek! Stop and see reason!” Annabelle continued to struggle, but Derek would not stop or slow down his pace.
When they reached the hall, everyone was already assembled to witness the ceremony. All eyes turned as they heard them descend the stairs. Some faces were shocked, but most were amused.
“Where is the priest?” Derek asked as they came to the last step.
“At the head of the table,” Megan supplied hiding a grin.
Annabelle sent her a scathing look, but then turned her attention back to the man who was hauling her to the alter. She almost tripped trying to keep up with his long strides.
Annabelle caught a movement and turned to see Eilidh glaring at her. She sent her a triumphant smirk, even though she did not feel triumphant. She just wanted to get under the other woman’s skin. Eilidh turned and stormed back into the kitchen. Annabelle could not hold back a smile.
“Marry us,” Derek demanded to the priest as he pulled Annabelle up beside him.
“Nay, I refuse!” she shouted looking at the priest.
Derek growled and his hold increased almost too painfully. She turned to him.
“Ye canna make me do it, and I refuse,” she hissed at him. The look in his eyes almost made her swoon.
“I can and ye will. Marry us!” he shouted at the priest.
The priest looked between them nervously.
“If she isnae willing, I canna marry ye,” he stammered out. He looked about to swoon also at the look Derek swung on him.
Derek leaned over and growled into her ear.
“If ye refuse, I will explain in detail why we must marry. I will leave nothing out.”
Annabelle gasped. The look on his face said that he was quite serious.
“Aye, I will, believe me,” he smiled wryly.
Annabelle felt her anger rise, but she knew that she was defeated. She felt herself blush just thinking about what he would reveal. She knew he would do it.
“Ye will regret this marriage, Derek, I promise,” she said as she turned from him and looked at the priest.
“Marry us,” she repeated to him.
Derek watched as Annabelle danced with Colm. She seemed so carefree and she laughed at something Colm said to her. His scowl grew darker. Colm also looked enraptured by the beauty of her face. And she was beautiful. Although she wore a plain blue gown, Megan had given her a wreath made of heather to wear upon her head, and the contrast of the white flower against her luscious red hair took his breath away. She could not have looked more ravishing if she had been wearing the dress that he found her in. He picked up his tankard and took a long drink of his ale.
Megan had prepared a wedding feast for after the wedding. Everyone present at the wedding had offered their congratulations, and he had noticed the amusement in most of their eyes. Evan and his father began to play the music for the ceilidh, the traditional wedding dance, on their fiddles. He had pulled Annabelle in his arms, but she avoided looking at him. When they began to dance, she was stiff in his arms.
“Ye could at least pretend to be enjoying yerself, for appearances’ sake,” he rumbled down at her.
She did not lift her eyes to him, or acknowledge that he spoke. When he opened his mouth to repeat himself, she finally spoke.
“It was very underhanded of ye to trick me into this farce. I told ye ye would regret this, and I mean what I say. Ye could have let me go back to my parents and married my betrothed, but ye insisted. Doona expect me to pretend to feelings I doona have,” she hissed at him, still not looking at him once.
He frowned. He wondered why her words bothered him. At that moment, the dance ended and she abruptly left his arms and walked toward Colm. When the music began for the next dance, Colm led her onto the makeshift dance floor.
“Do ye want to dance, Derek?” Eilidh asked as she sidled up to him.
Derek just grunted, watching as Annabelle put her hand on Colm’s arm. He had to restrain himself from going to pummel his friend. Her words came back to haunt him. Apparently she had feelings toward Colm and she did not seem to be pretending.
Eilidh decided to take a chance and sat down on Derek’s lap. He did not push her away, nor did he embrace her. She decided to take that as a good sign. She had been livid when Annabelle had given her that triumphant smile. She wanted to kill her right then and there, but she decided to bide her time. Maybe Derek was not as keen on this marriage as he had seemed at the ceremony. Maybe she could convince him to visit her bed tonight. She wrapped her arms around his neck, but she noticed that his eyes stayed on his new wife. The thought made her angry, but she was not going to let it stop her from winning him back.
“Why doona ye come to my bedchamber and let me take yer mind off of yer troubles,” she purred nuzzling his neck.
Derek barely heard the words Eilidh was saying or felt her kisses on his neck. He kept his eyes on his wife as she danced with his men. When she finally let her eyes wander to where he was, he decided to give her the same show that she was giving him. He promptly put his arms around Eilidh and pulled her more snuggly into his lap. He pasted a satisfied smile on his face as Eilidh continued to kiss his neck and his jaw.