Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5) (6 page)

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
5.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Leslie truly was not doing well. Or might it be said, she wasn’t painting the picture of doing well. She and Iosbail were fighting with daggers. The only weapon Torra figured the futuristic lass knew how to battle with. And it seemed she was failing miserably even if she
was
still on her feet.

Iosbail had a wide smile on her face as she walked around a bedraggled Leslie. Without a care in the world, the Broun flipped her dagger over and over in one hand. An example, Torra imagined, done to show Leslie just how good she was with only a single hand. But it was clear that if nothing else, Leslie possessed perseverance.

She wouldn’t go down without a good fight.

Torra’s speculations were soon proven correct when Iosbail came at Leslie fast, flicking her blade back and forth. Leslie crouched and lurched away, spinning back quick to keep an eye on whom she battled as she held her blade high. Iosbail chuckled, eyes curious as she tracked her foe.

In the meantime, Colin and Valan’s battling was becoming far more fervent. Torra knew they spoke telepathically and whatever they said was fueling their blades. For every slash Valan made, Colin struck back with two. Though they breathed heavily, it didn’t affect their energy in the least.

The crowd sensed something and quieted.

Leslie, it appeared, was gaining rhythm in her battle against Iosbail less so because she actually fought the woman but because she moved often. Torra sipped from her mug as she watched. Leslie was up to something. Had to be. Because from her viewpoint, the thrusts between the women were traveling. Iosbail obviously had the upper hand and would have already defeated her competition if she wasn’t on the run so much.

“What is Leslie doing?” Sheila said.

Torra watched the fighting, curious, until it occurred to her. Stunned, she said, “She’s trying to work with him.”

Sheila’s eyes narrowed. “Who?”

Torra shook her head, a small grin forming. “Her former enemy.”

No sooner had Torra said it did Leslie move her battle with Iosbail closer to the sparring men.

“Jesus, seriously, what is she
doing
?” Sheila murmured.

Torra again sipped from her mug and kept grinning.

Clang. Clang.

The men’s swords were pounding, relentless. Sweat poured off both. Were they aware how close the women came? But of course they had to be. They both possessed magic and were seasoned warriors. But what good did that do two men out for blood? Torra knew.

Little if nothing.

Though Torra watched everything closely, she wasn’t sure how they meant to pull it off. But it didn’t matter because they did. Sheila along with the crowd gasped as a quick series of events unfolded.

Leslie darted away from Iosbail and flung her dagger hard at Valan. In response, he darted to avoid. That was all Colin needed to catch the Hamilton unaware. In an enviable move, he simultaneously caught the dagger seconds before it hit Valan and drove the Hamilton back against the wall, blade to his neck.

At the same time, Leslie seized the scant few seconds she had when Iosbail’s eyes flickered to the men and brought her other dagger flush against the Broun’s neck.

All froze.

The crowd became deadly silent.

Winded, gripping her blade firmly, Leslie narrowed her eyes on Iosbail. “You are so incredibly friggin’ awesome.” Then her eyes went to Valan still held tight by Colin’s blade. “And
you
can go straight to hell for thinking you could have Torra because of a swordfight. What a bunch of barbaric bullshit. No man
has
a woman like that.” Her eyes narrowed further if possible. “In fact, no man
has
a woman period if she doesn’t want to be had.”

If it wasn’t for the meager sound of spitting torches the whole of Scotland might have gone silent. But it seemed Leslie wasn’t fazed in the least by such silence when her eyes turned to Iosbail, voice firm. “Declare Colin the victor.”

Iosbail watched her through narrowed eyes. “I dinnae take orders.”

Leslie pressed the blade tighter against her neck. “Now you do.”

Long moments passed.

Nobody said a word as Iosbail stared down Leslie and vice versa.

Torra knew, Leslie knew,
all
knew, Iosbail could kill her in an instant with magic. But that wasn’t what this was about. And such became blatantly clear when a wide smile soon split Iosbail’s face and she managed a small nod despite the blade still to her neck.

With a voice loud enough for all closest to hear she said, “Torra MacLomain is Colin MacLeods’. He is the victor.”

Leslie eyed Iosbail for another long moment before she nodded and pulled her blade away. But apparently Colin wasn’t about to do the same. He pressed his blade against Valan’s neck so tightly that blood started to trickle. Grant, not helping matters in the least, had sauntered up alongside.

“God, they’re going to kill him aren’t they?” Sheila said.

There could be little doubt that Grant had shared much about Valan with not only Sheila but Leslie and Malcolm as well.

Torra was about to respond when Grant brought a dagger to Valan’s side. Aimed as it was, its thrust would be fatal. Colin clenched his jaw and peered into Valan’s eyes. Meanwhile, Grant pressed his dagger tighter against the Hamilton’s skin, leaned in close and whispered something.

Torra stemmed out her magic and listened.

Few words were said.

“Once more your life is saved. ‘Twill not happen again.”

Valan, emotionless, looked from Grant to Colin and Torra knew. He didn’t necessarily care if they killed him. Her throat tightened as another startling revelation occurred to her. Valan likely allowed her brother to kill him back in that cave.

The Hamilton
wanted
to die.

Iosbail gave the men their vehemence for several more moments before her voice rose up once more. “Time for others to fight!”

A tentative round of applause ensued. Almost as if the clan wasn’t sure if they should cheer their matriarch’s defeat at the hands of a stranger. But then Iosbail was never really defeated. If Leslie slipped one by her, it had somehow served a purpose.

In a show of unexpected comradery to Leslie, Iosbail grabbed her hand and raised their arms, crying out, “To battles well fought! Now let us have some more fighting or if ye’ve tired of that then off to the bonfire for lusting aye?”

The crowd roared to life.

All cheered. Some drifted off toward the fire, but most stayed to watch more fighting. Grant and Malcolm had started battling with a few Broun warriors.

“They’re gonna totally slaughter those guys,” Leslie remarked.

“No doubt about it,” Sheila agreed.

Colin was heading Torra’s way.

“Something tells me he’s set on the lusting Iosbail promised the victor,” Leslie said, a little smirk on her face when she glanced at Torra.

Sheila removed her arm from around her shoulders moments before Colin scooped Torra up into his arms and started toward the drawbridge. Her eyes widened as she wrapped one arm around his neck while keeping a precarious hold on her mug. “This isnae necessary.”

“Aye, but ‘tis.” His eyes were merrier than she’d seen them in a very long time. “After all, I lay claim to my prize.”

The pipes had already fired up and the crowd was rowdy. Still without a tunic, Torra was overly aware of his hot, slick skin against her body. How incredibly small she felt in his arms. There was something about Colin MacLeod that made her feel so thoroughly protected. Even when she’d been in dragon form flying over the Hamilton castle and they’d battled against each other, she’d felt his inherent need to protect her.

And though she’d normally avoid the question, the whiskey was loosening her tongue. “What was it like for you to fight me when I was the dragon?”

“Truly terrible.” But then a small smile came to his face. “But also exhilarating.”

Torra hadn’t expected that. “I cannae say I found anything exhilarating about it.”

“Nay?” Colin eyed her. “I think then that you are not being entirely truthful with yourself.”

“Do you?” When in dragon form her conscience was altered. While she had an awareness of herself, it was vague. Almost as if she was in a dream state. She didn’t think like she did when in human form. Not at all. Yet she always seemed to recognize those she cared for. Or at least she hoped as much.

“Aye, I think you are less than honest with yourself,” Colin said. “If you and I are ever at our happiest ‘tis when we embrace the whole of who we are…
what
we are.”

“Why does it almost sound as if you think you know me better than I know myself,” she murmured.

“Because we are both creatures of fire,” he said softly. “It can be no other way.”

Torra had been so busy watching his face that she hadn’t realized he took her not to the bonfire but around the castle. Now he traveled down a cottage lined path that led through the forest to the shoreline.

“Where are we going?”

“I wish to swim,” he provided. “You dinnae need me kissing you until I’ve washed off the battling.”

Torra wasn’t so sure about that. She rather liked the animalistic scent coming from his taxed skin. Not foul in the least, he smelled of heated male and dark, sinful promises. And what was this about kissing? Before she could question him further, he set her down on the shore and started to remove his boots. A moonless night allowed for little light, but neither needed such with their superior vision. Random small fires lit the forest and endless stars twinkled over the North Sea.

“I truly dinnae mind your body such as it is,” Torra began then stopped when he pulled off his plaid and tossed it aside.

“That’s good to hear, lass.” Colin grinned. “‘Twould be unfortunate otherwise.”

Torra had seen nude men before when watching the romping against the stables but this…Colin…was vastly different. Larger. More. Of everything. Her eyes were everywhere at once as her knees gave way and she thumped down. Good thing there was a tree stump to break her fall.

Maybe Leslie was onto something.

Because for the life of her Torra couldn’t utter a word. She could only focus on what had lain beneath the plaid. Though she might be amongst the most powerful of her clan with the blood of a mythological creature running through her veins, she suddenly felt very young and naïve.

The pure masculinity of his form both overwhelmed and astounded her. While she had fantasized about what he might look like, it did nothing to prepare her for the actual revealing moment. It was by
far
better than she imagined. And what impressed her all that much more was how remarkably comfortable he was in his own skin. But then what man wouldn’t be if they possessed such a body. Colin eyed her for a long moment, clearly pleased with her reaction, before heading toward the sea.

This gave her another view entirely.

Torra slowly brought the mug to her lips and took a deep gulp. She couldn’t help but think it would be well worth unleashing the dragon if it meant touching what she now looked upon. Her blood was already raging through her veins. She flexed her fingers and longed to touch the hard contours of his backside.

Lust continued to rocket through her even as he vanished beneath the waves. But this certainly wasn’t the first time she’d felt such when looking at him. Nay, her need for Colin MacLeod had been unrelenting from the moment she first touched him at the Highland Defiance.

A small smile came to her lips as her thoughts rolled back in time…

 

“Care to dance, lass?”

His deep voice burned a path into places she didn’t know existed. Torra was so wrapped up in thoughts of the handsome MacLeod she’d just met outside the Highland Defiance that it took a moment to realize he now held out his hand to her.

Dance? With
him
? Aye. Then his hand slipped into hers and pure fire sizzled over her skin. It almost seemed he felt it too because his heated gaze shot to hers. He’d no sooner swung her into the crowd before he pulled her close, a charming smile on his face.

His lips came close to her ear, words low. “What is yer name?”

“Torra,” she whispered then cleared her throat and tried again. This time her voice worked. “Torra.”

“Torra,” he murmured as if he savored it on his tongue. “‘Tis a truly bonnie name.”

“And yours?” she managed, eyes sliding shut when his lips stayed close to her ear, his warm breath fanning the delicate flesh just beneath.

“Colin,” he said.

Colin. How ironic in that her oldest brother shared the same name. But she related it with strength and protection so found it suited him. When she gave no response he pulled back slightly and Torra’s breath caught. His eyes were the color of silver gleaming in the sun and she swore she saw a flicker of actual fire in them.

In that extraordinary moment, she for the first time felt not fear but a softening toward the dragon within. His eyes registered shock then something else as he touched her cheek tenderly. His voice was deeper, more emotional, when he murmured, “
Nathair sgiathach
.”

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
5.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Mania by J. R. Johansson
Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith
A Woman Involved by John Gordon Davis
Don't Die Dragonfly by Linda Joy Singleton
Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk
Unseen by Yolanda Sfetsos
Men in Black by Levin, Mark R.
Endless Magic by Rachel Higginson
The Taking by Katrina Cope