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Authors: Donna Grant

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BOOK: Highland Fires
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“So cold,” she said, her teeth
chattering.

His chest burned and his arms ached, but
Lugus climbed to his feet and lifted Ahryn in his arms. They had to
get out of their wet clothing and find a place to hide before
Marcus spotted them.

The first rays of sunlight filtered over the
horizon as Lugus made his way to Jonathon’s cottage. He was the
only person who would help him, but Lugus hated to put him and his
family in danger. Instead of waking them, he sat Ahryn down at the
back of the cottage and slowly made his way to the front.

“Lugus?” Jonathon asked as he walked from the
cottage. “What are you doing here?”

Lugus held up his hand. “Don’t say any more.
I wouldn’t have come here, but I had no where else to go.”

Jonathon’s brow furrowed.
“What happened?”

“The less you know, the better. I’m putting you and your
family in grave danger as it is.”

“What do you need?”

Lugus was amazed at Jonathon. He was a rare
man who would give whatever he could and not ask questions. He was
the only man Lugus considered a friend.

“Dry clothes and a blanket.”

Jonathon nodded. “My clothes might be a bit
tight on you-”

“Not for me,” he interrupted Jonathon. “I
need a gown from your wife.”

For a long moment Jonathon stared at him
before he nodded and went into the house. When he returned he had a
gown, two blankets and something wrapped in a cloth.

“There’s food, too,” he said as he handed it
to Lugus.

Lugus reached into his boot and pulled out a
dagger. “It is all I have for payment.”

Jonathon shook his head. “I won’t accept it.
Get to safety, my friend.”

“I won’t forget this,” Lugus vowed.

Jonathon smiled.

Lugus quickly tucked the food and gown
between the two blankets and hurried to the back of the house.
Ahryn was huddled in a ball against the rain, her thin shift her
only defense.

He refused to think more about her sitting
there nearly naked in front of him. Instead, he opened one of the
blankets and wrapped it around her, but not before he saw the
outline of her full breast and the dusky pink of her nipple against
the transparent material of her shift.

“We need to find shelter,” he said as he
wrapped an arm around her. “Can you stand?”

He smiled inwardly as she nodded and shakily
rose to her feet. He kept his arm around her to help her stay
upright and to also steer her and give her warmth.

With the sun making its ascent, they had
precious little time to find a place to hide. Lugus knew of an
abandoned cottage outside of town, but if he were Marcus, it would
be one of the first places he looked. Instead, he steered Ahryn
toward Marcus’ castle.

“Have you lost your mind?” she asked
incredulous.

“He’ll never suspect us to be here. Once we
get you warm and changed, we’ll head out, but until then there
isn’t a place in this village he won’t find us.”

“And how do you propose we leave the castle
without him discovering us?”

“Let’s deal with one thing at a time.”

Though the rain had slackened, people were
still loath to get out in the weather, which provided Lugus and
Ahryn the opportunity they needed to get into the castle gate.
Lugus had never ventured to the castle and now he wished he had so
he would know the layout.

“To the left,” Ahryn said.

Lugus let her lead them to a store room of
sorts that hadn’t been used in years. It smelled as though it
hadn’t gotten fresh air in decades, but it was a place to hide.
Once they were inside and the door barred, Lugus jerked off his wet
tunic and wrung it out.

“That blanket is wet. You need to get out of
that and your shift,” he said not looking at her.

He heard movement behind him and guessed she
had done as he suggested. When the blanket at his feet vanished, he
knew she had taken it to wrap around herself.

“I wish I could give you a
fire.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said and seated herself
on an empty chest. “I just need to warm up.”

Ahryn tried not to stare at Lugus. It wasn’t
as if she hadn’t seen him bare-chested just the night before, but
he drew her gaze nonetheless. With the blanket wrapped securely
around her, she reached up and wrung the water from her hair. She
felt his gaze on her and raised her eyes to him.

“Thank you,” she said.

He shrugged as if it had meant nothing to
him. She still had no idea what had changed his mind about helping
her, but she was glad that he had. Maybe with his help she might
succeed in returning to the Realm of the Fae, and once there she
would make sure she sought out King Theron and told him what Lugus
had done for her.

She became uncomfortable in the silence. “How
long will we stay here?”

He raised his gaze to her and lifted a brow.
“When you stop shivering and it’s safe for us to leave.”

She looked away. Out of the corner of her eye
she saw Lugus slide down the wall and stretch his legs in front of
him. With his head leaned back and his hands clasped at his waist,
he closed his eyes.

Ahryn let her gaze linger on his well defined
chest and abdomen. His neck and arms were just as large, and she
suspected it was the years he had spent forging the weapons that
had given him such a delicious body. Most Fae men, though muscular,
weren’t as defined as Lugus.

Everything about him still spoke of the Fae,
but there was something else, something dark about him as well that
drew her. Maybe it was the sadness in his eyes, but regardless of
what it was, she knew she wanted to spend more time with him.

Fate had put her in his hands. However things
turned out now, she would accept it. At least she was attempting to
make it back to her realm. She had been smart enough to realize
that though she might be able to sneak out of the castle and reach
Lugus’ isle, she wouldn’t get farther than that before Marcus
caught her. And she had been right. She had barely stepped foot on
the isle before Marcus’ soldiers arrived.

But with Lugus by her side, she just might
make it to a gateway. She was eager to find out if he knew of a
gateway, but when she raised her gaze his eyes were still closed.
She might be insatiably curious, but she wasn’t mean spirited.

Alone with her thoughts, her mind wandered to
her family and the Realm of the Fae. She missed the beauty and
grandeur of her realm. She missed the magic that Earth lacked.

Slowly, the chill that had encased her began
to ebb away. She still recalled the chilling waters that had nearly
pulled her down to their dark depths. It had been Lugus that had
saved her from certain death and then had to watch his home being
burned. It had been beyond cruel of Marcus.

Her gaze sought Lugus again. He was exactly
who she needed to take her to the gateway. She just hoped he didn’t
discover who she really was before then.

Chapter Five

 

 

 

Lugus struggled to bring Moira’s face into
focus. He had memorized her beauty so that he would never forget,
yet even now, only a few years later, he couldn’t remember the
exact shade of her hair or the shape of her mouth.

The one thing he did remember was her Druid
green eyes. He knew he would never forget her eyes.

He opened his own eyes and found Ahryn dozing
on the chest. Her flaxen hair had dried to a tangle of strands that
fell over her shoulder to cover her breasts. Just the thought of
her breasts sent his blood straight to his rod. He cursed and
shifted positions.

For too long he had been without a woman,
something he would have to rectify soon. Very soon.

To turn his mind off his need for sexual
release, he began to plan their route to the nearest gateway. Their
destination would be the Isle of Skye. It was one of the most
powerful gateways to the Fae realm, and the closest. It would only
be a two to three day journey, by his calculations, once they left
Marcus’ castle.

Suddenly, he caught the sound of approaching
feet. He jumped up and reached for Ahryn as he fell behind a pile
of old chests. He looked down to tell her not to speak when he
found her gazing at his mouth.

With his body still in a vicious state of
need, just the idea that she might want him sent a bolt of fierce
hunger running through him. The blanket she had secured around her
had come loose, allowing him a sight of her flesh from her shoulder
to the swell of her breast. He swallowed and made himself raise his
gaze to hers.

“Someone comes,” he said just before someone
tried the door.

He could hear mumbling outside the door, but
he couldn’t make out the words. If they busted down the door there
was no where for him and Ahryn to hide. He realized then that they
must leave the castle immediately. Under cover of darkness would be
the best, but Lugus didn’t know if they could stay that long before
being discovered.

“I think they’ve gone,” Ahryn said
softly.

Lugus rolled from atop her and held out his
hand to help her to her feet. “How do you feel?”

“The chill has left me,” she said.

He nodded, pleased with her answer. “We’ll
leave tonight.”

“Do you think we can last that long before
Marcus finds us?”

“He’s a man, Ahryn, and he’s arrogant. Which
means he will never suspect us of being here. Whoever was at the
door just now was not Marcus or his guards.”

She nodded and adjusted the blanket. Lugus
remembered the gown he had gotten from Jonathon and retrieved it
for Ahryn. “I’m not sure of the fit, but it will be better than the
blanket.”

She smiled and accepted the gown. “Thank you.
Again.”

He turned his back as she reached for her now
dry shift. He heard material rustle and could imagine the blanket
falling to the ground as she slid the shift over her head and it
slid slowly down her lithe body.

With an inward curse, he closed his eyes and
tried to think of anything but Ahryn’s naked body.

“How do I look?” she asked.

Lugus said a silent prayer of thanks that she
had finished and turned toward her. The plain gown was a soft blue
that brought out her eyes even more. It fit remarkably well except
for the length.

“It’s a little short,” she said and looked
down at her feet.

“No one will notice.”

She laughed. “Then you obviously don’t know
women very well at all.”

He smiled inwardly as he reached for the food
Jonathon had packed for them.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“I’m only going to ask this once more,
Jonathon,” Marcus said as he looked at the ruby ring on his right
hand. “Tell me where Lugus is.”

The men holding Jonathon jerked back on his
arm. Jonathon growled in pain. “I’ve already told you, milord, I
have no idea where he is.”

“Is it not true that you supply him with
leather?”

“You know it is. You commissioned a sword
from him.”

Lugus withdrew the small dirk from his waist
and brought it to Jonathon’s throat. “I can kill you right this
instant. You and your family,” he added. “Lugus has something of
mine and I want it back. Now, tell me. When was the last time you
saw him?”

“Yesterday. He came and bought some leather
for me to begin work on your sword and sheath,” Jonathon said, his
lips thinned in pain as the men tightened their hold on him.

Marcus glanced at Jonathon’s wife huddled at
the door to their cottage with their children. “The difficulty is,
Jonathon, that I have no idea if you are lying or not.”

For several moments Marcus debated on whether
to kill Jonathon and his family. Finally he waved away his men, and
Jonathon dropped to the ground. Marcus stepped on Jonathon’s hand
and grabbed his hair and pulled until Jonathon looked at him.

“I will have you watched. I am sure Lugus
will return here, and when he does, I will be waiting for him.”

Marcus released him and walked to his horse.
Fury pumped with every beat of his heart. He had worked long and
hard to secure the enchanted slave bracelet, and then worked just
as hard to make sure it was a Fae that tried it on. He refused to
believe he had lost Ahryn, because if he had lost her then he had
lost everything.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Lugus cracked open the door to make sure no
one was about. The castle occupants had long since found their
beds, but he had wanted to be cautious so he had waited another
hour. He held out his hand as he pushed the door wider.

Ahryn placed her hand in his, and he led her
from the storeroom. He paused and pulled her into the shadows
before he closed the door and scanned the bailey again. She stayed
behind him, always keeping to the shadows, as they slowly worked
their way to the massive gate.

Lugus saw four guards at the gate, two on the
gatehouse tower and two in the bailey. He had hoped to get out of
the castle walls without having to kill anyone. He had done enough
of that for four Fae lifetimes. But, it looked as if there was no
way around it.

“I have an idea,” Ahryn whispered near his
ear, her warm breath sending chills racing along his skin.

Lugus halted, his hand reached for his
throwing dagger, and looked at her. “And what would that be?”

She smiled seductively. “I’m Fae, Lugus. What
do think I will do?”

He stared after her as she walked toward the
two men at the gate. They each fell under her spell immediately as
she smiled at them. There wasn’t a need for her to even speak for a
Fae’s sensual essence drove humans mad with desire. And that was
all that was needed to keep the guards’ attention.

Lugus crept toward the door in the gate, his
eyes never leaving Ahryn and the two guards. He reached over and
unlatched the door then quickly stepped through it. Instead of
dashing into the shadows, he waited for Ahryn. If a situation
became too much, a Fae could just vanish back to their realm, but
Ahryn didn’t have that luxury, and now Lugus worried that the men
would overtake her.

BOOK: Highland Fires
5.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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