Read Moon Awakening Online

Authors: Lucy Monroe

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #love_sf, #love_history, #Romance, #Historical, #Love stories, #Paranormal, #Man-woman relationships, #Scotland, #Werewolves

Moon Awakening (17 page)

BOOK: Moon Awakening
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"The situation was volatile enough. You bring out the worst in my brother. I did not want him challenging me out of pricked pride."

"I do not mean to bring out the worst."

"I do not blame you."

"You don't? Even though I have a sharp tongue?"

"I like your sharp tongue, but Ulf is not so tolerant."

"Oh." She licked her lips. "So, I can be plainspoken with you and you will not be offended?"

"If you offend me, I will seek retribution, but not of the kind my brother would like to mete out."

For some reason, that promise made her want to offend him rather than fear doing so.

He smiled as if he knew.

She swallowed. "You do not want to kill your brother."

"Is that such a surprise to you, or do the English not balk at killing their family?" He crossed his arms over his chest, his expression relaxed, but there was a tension about him that the calm stance and expression could not hide.

"I thought you did not care who you hurt as long as you got your own way."

"Did you?"

She licked her lips. "I was wrong."

He gave her a questioning look.

"About the revenge… you could have done far worse than to take Cait and see her mated to your first-in-command."

"Do you think?"

Irresistibly drawn by the intensity emanating off of him, she stepped closer until they were almost touching. "Yes, I do think. I also think that if you had wanted to hurt Talorc's pride and were as uncaring of the feelings of others as I accused you of being, you would have used me and then discarded me. But you did not."

In truth, he had not harmed her in any way.

"Only a weak man has to resort to using a woman."

"I don't think Ulf would agree, but that is why you were so sure Drustan would not hurt Cait, isn't it?"

"He is not weak."

"And neither are you."

"Ulf thinks I am."

"Ulf is hotheaded and bloodthirsty. He truly does not seem to care who gets hurt or ends up dead if his pride is satisfied. I don't think he would make a good leader. Your clan would constantly be at war."

"I agree."

"It is a blessing you were born first then." The urge to touch him grew with every passing breath.

"I wasn't. He was born two years before me."

"But you are laird."

"He did not challenge me when I stepped into my father's place upon his death."

"Because he knew he could not win against you."

"Yes. If he were truly stupid, that would not have mattered. He would have challenged me anyway."

"You admire him."

"In many ways."

"It hurts you that he criticizes your choices."

"A warrior is not so easily affected."

Unable to stifle the desire any longer, she reached out and laid her hand against his chest, right over his heart. "I think a warrior is affected, but he does not show it."

Her body jolted in recognition of that slight connection, and that secret place between her legs that only he seemed to affect ached for something she could not name. It also grew moist and she pressed her legs together in private embarrassment and tried to assuage the ache.

Lachlan's nostrils flared and she could swear he knew her body's reaction to being so near him. "I am not so weak."

"Neither was my father, but when he lost my mother, he lost part of himself. Warriors feel, even when they don't want to."

"Your father was a bastard to you."

"He never hurt me again after that time at the pond."

"Physically maybe, but he hurt your tender heart."

"How can you know?" she asked in a whisper.

"He sent you to marry a Highland laird he knew nothing of. He was willing to let you go to pay for his own mistake. He did not value you as a father should value his daughter."

"I told you, I asked to be sent."

"Because you were terrified they would send your deaf sister."

"Yes."

"He forced your hand."

"Sybil did."

"You were wrong about more than my character, you know."

"What else was I wrong about?" she asked with a smile. His arrogance was starting to charm her.

"Abigail would not have been miserable here."

"I think you are right. Given time, I think even Talorc would have warmed to her. She is very sweet."

"Then you two must have a great deal in common."

Emily did not know what to say to that and stared into Lachlan's dark eyes with their intriguing golden rims for several silent moments.

He ran his fingertip over her lips, making her shiver. "You are a good friend to Cait."

"I care for her."

"She cares for you, too."

"Yes."

"Very much. She offended Drustan by insisting she be allowed to check on you."

"He thought she should have trusted him that I was unharmed?" she guessed. She was beginning to understand these Highland warriors.

"Yes."

"You are both so arrogant."

"But not cruel?"

"No. I do not think you are cruel."

"And Angus?"

Confused, she asked, "What about Angus? I never thought he was cruel, except maybe by association."

Lachlan didn't look pleased by that bit of news. "You show a preference for his company."

"Not over yours. I couldn't have."

"Couldn't?"

"No. It would be impossible for me to show a preference for his company because I prefer your company above all others." Perhaps she should not have told him, but part of her needed to let him know how important to her he had become.

Something shifted in his gaze. If she didn't know better, she would think it was relief. "That is good to know."

"Is it?"

"It shouldn't be."

She didn't ask why. She could guess and she didn't want to think about how impossible a future between them would be. "I may be wanton with you, but I am not a wanton. I do not feel for any other man what I feel for you."

"And Talorc?"

"I will ask him not to send me home, but I cannot marry him now. I do not think he will mind." As a werewolf, he would have even less desire to marry Emily than Lachlan did, for no fire of desire burned between the two of them.

"Because I have touched you?"

"Yes," she whispered, not adding that she wanted no other man's caresses. She had revealed enough.

"You are worried he will consider you soiled by my touch?"

"No."

"You do not want him to touch you the same way."

He saw too much, but she refused to answer.

"I have barely begun to touch you, Emily. There is so much more pleasure to be had between us without the breaking of your maidenhead. More intimacy than you can imagine."

Sometimes he was so crude and yet it did not offend her, merely embarrassed her because she could not hope to match his honesty in this matter. Not yet anyway. "I was naked with you," she reminded him. How much more intimate could it get?

"Learning to swim." Without warning he swept her up into his arms. "And now it is time I taught you something else."

He carried her to a chair beside the fire and sat down.

"Here?" she asked, shocked he had not taken her someplace more private.

The great hall was empty, but it might not stay that way.

"If I take you back to your room, I will bury myself inside you and damn the consequences," he admitted in a guttural voice that revealed a depth of feeling his stance and conversation had not hinted at.

"And you cannot do that."

"No."

She knew it to be the case. She even understood why, but it hurt. Terribly. Because werewolf or not, she loved the proud and strong but compassionate laird. It did not matter if the feeling made sense; it was there and she knew to the depths of her soul that from this point forward, it always would be. He possessed her heart, but all he wanted was her body.

She would give that to him, freely and without condition, for the sake of the long, lonely years ahead. She would at least have this.

She put her hands on either side of his face and kissed him, then spoke against his lips. "Make me forget."

"Forget what?"

"Everything."

And he did.

From the moment his mouth touched hers, Emily ceased to think of anything but Lachlan. She sat on his lap, but they did not actively touch anywhere else except their lips. His moved against hers with sensual expertise, but he could have sat there completely still, only pressing his mouth to hers, and she would still be drowning in the need he evoked in her.

Just to touch him was to crave everything he would give her.

Chapter 16

Molding her lips to his, she imitated his movements and inhaled the scent of his utter masculinity. This man might be part wolf, but he was all male, everything she could ever imagine wanting. Her recently discovered love blossomed and consumed her heart until it was a burning but beautiful ache in her chest.

She opened her mouth for his tongue, but he pulled his head back with a curse. "We have to stop."

"Why?" she asked in a dazed voice she barely recognized as her own. She did not want to stop. They had barely begun.

"I thought I could touch you… pleasure you, but my control is too shaky right now."

"I don't understand."

"The confrontation with my brother left emotion I need to burn away, but if I burn it the way I want to, I will break the promise I made to you."

"I don't care if you do," she admitted, her voice almost pleading.

He shuddered. "I would care," he said harshly.

She sat up, as far away from him as she could get while still sitting on his hard thighs. There was another hardness there, too, one that moved under his plaid, and she knew he was not stretching the truth when he said his control was precarious. But that did not make her feel better about his rejection.

"Because you would feel committed to me and you don't want to?" she asked painfully.

"Yes. You are a virgin."

"And if I
offer
you my virginity?"

"You offer it because I have enticed you to feel things you are not used to, because it is a full moon, because I am close to my… too close to you. I should not have started this tonight, but you make me lose my head."

"So you think we are both out of control?"

"Yes."

"But I do not have excess emotion I need to rid my body of." Unless they were talking about love and they weren't. "If I offer myself, I know what I am doing."

"You don't. There are things about tonight you do not understand. Things you don't know."

"And these things mean I do not know my own mind?"

"Yes."

"Why does it matter so much?"

"I will not break my word to you. I will not take advantage of my beast."

Now that she knew what she did, she understood he wasn't using beast as a euphemism for lust. He meant the wolf inside of him, she was sure of it, but she did not comprehend how his being a werewolf had anything to do with her offering herself. It did not matter though. Not really.

She wouldn't beg. She didn't need to understand his reasoning to realize that if he wanted her anything like she desired him, he would have accepted her offer. With alacrity. It might hurt to admit the truth, but it was obvious that while the feeling might be mutual, it wasn't mutually intense. But then how much of her desire was bound up in the love she felt for him? He liked touching her, but he did not love her.

There would be no comparison between the need generated by the two.

Blinking back tears and swallowing her hurt, she traced the blue pattern that circled his bicep. This was his Chrechte marking, or at least one of them. The other was on his back. She realized now the simplistic beast on his back was probably supposed to represent a wolf, but the tattoo band on his arm was different. None of the other warriors had it.

"Is this to mark you as clan chief?" she asked, wanting to distract herself from thoughts of love.

He gave a strange kind of shiver and gently pushed her hand away. "Yes."

"It's beautiful," she said as the blue markings blurred before her dampening eyes. He would not even allow her to touch him in this innocent way.

"God willing, my son will have the same marking one day."

She blinked furiously. "Your son?"

"I must have sons."

"And daughters?"

"I would welcome daughters, too."

Just not by her… because even if it were possible, however unlikely, there was still the risk their children would be born human rather than shape-changers. "Why haven't you married?"

"I was barely past my voice change when I took over leading the clan. Many pressed me to marry then, but I did not want to. I was too wild and there was too much to do to learn how to be a good clan chief. Now, it is a matter of taking the time to select a wife. My position consumes every waking hour."

"Not right now. Not this morning when you were teaching me to swim."

"You make me forget my duties."

Having gained control of her tears, she could meet his dark gaze without flinching. "Is that a good or a bad thing?"

He looked down at her for a long time, the golden circles around his dark irises almost swallowing the brown. They had never looked more like wolf's eyes to her.

He brushed a kiss across her still lips before pulling back again. "It is a precious thing."

Was she wrong? Did she mean something to him, even if they couldn't have a future? "What I feel with you is precious to me, too."

He stood up, dumping her off his lap. "It is only lust."

She swayed as if struck. "For you, maybe."

"Do not love me, English."

That was beyond anything. Bad enough that he thought he could dictate everything else. He could not dictate her feelings. "I will love you if I want to. If my heart ends up broken because of it, that is my own affair."

She wanted to rush off in anger, but at the last second she remembered her promise to Cait. Though she had almost no hope of her seduction plan being a success, she asked, "You will come for me tomorrow, to my room, before the swimming lesson?"

"Mayhap you should have Cait teach you to swim. You are right. I have neglected my duties too much already in favor of spending time with you."

She had not said that, but it was obviously what he believed.
Precious
? Not likely. She almost gave a snort worthy of Ulf, but stopped herself. The important thing was to keep him from the lake, she had to remember. Not for her to overcome her fear of the water.

"As you wish." She turned and started walking away.

"Damn it, Emily."

She ignored him and kept walking.

His hand heavy on her shoulder, he stopped her in the shadows between an archway and the wall. Neither said anything for several heartbeats.

Finally she asked, "Was there something you wanted?"

He turned her to face him, his expression an inscrutable mask in the darkness beyond the candlelight. "You did not request permission to leave me."

"I do not believe this." She fisted her hands and settled them on her hips in a way that Sybil deplored. "I am not one of your clan members. I am only a captive. I do not owe you that courtesy, or any other for that matter."

"First you speak of loving me and then declare I am not worthy of your respect. Which is it, English?" he asked in a mocking voice that infuriated her.

"I did not say I loved you, merely that I would if I wanted to. You cannot dictate everything, laird. It would take a very stupid woman to fall in love with a man who sees every moment spent in her company as a waste of his time."

"I did not say that."

"You did."

He sighed, conceding defeat in the only way he knew how maybe… silence. After a protracted pause, he said, "I did not mean to hurt you."

"I did not say you hurt me and it is horribly conceited of you to assume you did."

"It is not conceit to note the way your lip quivers when you are trying not to cry or the fact that you cannot wait to be quit of my company because I have told you some unpalatable truths."

"Your truth, as you call it, is not anything I did not know before. You need not concern yourself and if my lip quivered, it is probably because I wanted to kiss you again. More the fool me. Apparently
lust
has no limits, even for an intelligent woman."

"Or an intelligent man," he muttered. "Since it is what we both crave, mayhap I
should
kiss you again."

"Do you think you can spare the time?"

His answer was a kiss so carnal that her body locked in shock. He forced his tongue past her only partially parted lips and took control of the interior of her mouth like the marauder he was. Where before it had all been about lazy pleasure, now he held nothing back. His hands were everywhere, touching her body in impossible intimacy through her clothes and she did not protest, but begged for more with little mewling noises, arching toward his roaming fingers.

This was what she wanted. This was what she craved.

She felt herself lifted and pressed against the cold stone wall, but she was not cold. She was so hot her skin burned with it. He pressed his big, hard body to hers, the bulge she had felt earlier rubbing against the apex of her thighs through her dress. She shuddered in pleasure and pushed back, seeking a relief from the agony of pleasure spearing through her.

He yanked her skirts up, baring her legs, and she wrapped them around his hips with an instinctual sensuality that she did not question. This time when she rubbed against his hardened flesh under his plaid, arrows of sweet pleasure pierced her with each tiny movement. He surged against her, increasing her enjoyment beyond what she thought her body could bear.

Then as suddenly as he had started, he stopped and yanked his mouth from hers.

"Lachlan?" she asked, her tone pleading and she did not care.

"We are no longer alone," he whispered right next to her ear before slowly unwinding her legs from his body and lowering her to the floor.

She stood, swaying before him. And it was several seconds before his words made sense to her. Eventually, the other noises in the hall besides her own labored breathing and fast heartbeat penetrated her consciousness. Though she could not see them, she could hear a group of soldiers that had gathered by the fireplace. From their comments it was obvious they were waiting for Lachlan to join them.

Tears of frustration welled and spilled over.

Lachlan said something she did not understand, grabbed her and kissed her again. His hand went down her body and rucked up her skirt and then he touched her sweet spot, once… twice and everything inside her exploded. Her body bowed against his and he kept his hand where it was, increasing the pleasure until she collapsed against him, her legs too weak to hold her.

He finally broke the kiss and then lifted her into his arms as if she were indeed a precious treasure. He said nothing as he carried her all the way up the spiral steps and to her room. He stopped outside the door and lowered her, helping her to lean against the wall for much-needed support.

"I do not want you to leave this chamber for the rest of the night."

"Are you going to lock me in?" she asked in a voice that sounded slurred as if by too much wine.

"Do I need to?"

"No."

"Promise me, no leaving for any reason."

"I promise." She turned and stumbled into the room, closing the door behind her.

She barely divested herself of her tunic and shift before climbing beneath the covers and sprawling in a boneless heap. The light of the full moon coming in through the windows high in the wall lit her chamber almost as brightly as daylight. Didn't werewolves change at the full moon?

Her thoughts were muzzy from the incredible experience Lachlan had given her, but questions peppered her mind until she was more awake than she wanted to be.

Was that why he had said his control was not as strong as he wanted? Did his animal instincts make it harder for him to control things like lust close to a full moon? She supposed they must. Was her werewolf even now in changed form and hunting, as Cait called it, under the full moon? Would he go to the lake?

Surely Talorc would have been smart enough to leave the island in that case. Or could werewolves tell if another wolf was a werewolf and not just a wild beast? She certainly hadn't been able to tell the difference between werewolves and humans in their human form.

She turned to her side and her body throbbed with remembered pleasure. What had Lachlan done to her? He had touched her and now that she was not drunken with the pleasure that he gave her, the memory of the way she'd responded shamed her. She had made noise. Even with his lips pressed firmly to hers, her moans had been audible.

Especially to werewolf ears, and she somehow thought those soldiers that had been in the great hall were probably exactly that. Had they come to join Lachlan for the hunt? There were so many things she wanted to know, so many questions she had for Cait. But regardless of why the men had been in the hall, they
had
been there and even knowing it, she had done nothing to stop Lachlan touching her so intimately. She had needed his caresses too badly.

But he had not found the same pleasure in her arms. Had he? In truth, she had no way of knowing, but he certainly hadn't gone limp like her. And that hardness that made his plaid protrude had still been there when he carried her up the stairs.

She chewed endlessly on her thoughts until finally, she was so tired, she could not keep her eyes open any longer. As she finally slipped into sleep, she heard the lonely howl of a wolf and something deep inside her insisted it
was
Lachlan in beast form under the cold light of the moon.

 

Lachlan could see the castle tower from his position near the loch. She was in the tower. His mate.

He shook his big wolf's head… the human inside him denying she could be any such thing, but his wolf cried out to her. He wanted to go to her, he wanted to see her through wolf's eyes, not just those of a human. He wanted to smell her, to rub his fur against her and mark her with his scent. Never in his life had his willpower been more sorely challenged than tonight. Leaving Emily outside her chamber had taken all of his strength. If he had gone in with her… he would have made love to her. Over and over again. His need for the change would have been supplanted by sexual fulfillment.

But he had not allowed himself that release. He and the rest of his pack had hunted tonight and he had eaten the kill, sharing with the other wolves in traditions as old as marriage vows and other human bondings. But the pack had long since dispersed. A couple of the bitches had tried to entice him into running with them, but he had snarled and snapped until they had all retreated with their tails between their legs. He was alone now.

BOOK: Moon Awakening
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