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Authors: Kimberly Killion

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BOOK: Taming a Highland Devil
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Simply put, the man was…well, he was certainly easy to look upon.

Effie decided her sister had been blessed with good fortune, until Laird Sutherland turned toward his seneschal. A scar trailed a sinister red line from in front of his ear, down his thick neck and into his
léine
shirt.

Vanna sucked in air, her spine straightened.

Effie wanted to scold her. The girl slept peacefully night after night beneath the blanket of protection the Mackay warriors provided. War was essential to the security of their borders. No one knew this better than Effie. She had her own scars, though none marred her skin.

“Wake the servants and warm ale for our guests,” Laird Sutherland issued the order to no one in particular for his attention was now on Vanna. He added instructions to prepare their accommodations, then set himself before his betrothed.

“If this is your sister, then ye did her no justice in your missives.” Laird Sutherland eyed Vanna from tit to toe and awaited introductions.

Ian angled himself toward Vanna. “May I present Lady Vanna Mackay.”

Vanna’s smile could weaken any man’s resolve, and she knew it. She glossed her full lips, batted her curled black lashes and dipped low as Effie had taught her. “’Tis a pleasure to finally meet ye, m’laird.”

His bow was deep, reverent, but his eyes darkened with lust. ’Twas how men looked at Vanna. She possessed uncommon, exotic beauty, unlike Effie, who resembled every other green-eyed lass in the Highlands with unruly copper-colored curls and pale skin. The one physical attribute Effie had to her favor was her firm, round breasts. Not that anyone ever noticed them.

Laird Sutherland noticed. His gaze flitted over Effie’s person then lingered long seconds on her breasts.

Her heart skidded, but she quickly pulled the seams of her mantle tighter around her bosom and tucked herself farther behind Ian.

“And who, pray tell, is this bonnie creature?”

Ian had to follow Laird Sutherland’s eyes before he replied, “This is Euphema Reay—”

“Effie, m’laird,” she corrected quickly and stepped forward beside Vanna to curtsey. As she stood upright, she glared at Ian. At four years her junior, Ian had the bitter disposition of a man twice his age. “I am my brother’s
other
sister.”

Laird Sutherland’s brows perked up, his head tilted, then his eyes shifted back to Ian. “I was not aware ye had two sisters.”

Ian scratched his beard. “I saw no point in mentioning it during our negotiations.”

Laird Sutherland’s gaze swept over her like a gust of heat before he met her eyes. “Are ye married, lass?”

“I’m widowed, m’laird.” She hated those words. Had hated them for two years.

“And past her years.” Ian’s callousness spiked her temper.

“I just turned two and thirty. I’m hardly dead.”

“Do ye still bleed?” Silence hummed in the wake of Laird Sutherland’s inquiry. The fire cracked in the hearth, raising the short hairs at her nape.

She considered herself keen, but it wasn’t until he asked his blatant question that she fully understood the path of the conversation. She held no desire to take another husband, much less take a husband from her sister. Staring wide-eyed at the rushes scattered about the floor, she felt almost ashamed when she answered, “Aye.”

Effie swore she heard Vanna’s teeth grind as Ian attempted to remedy the situation. “Forgive me, but ye agreed to marry Vanna in exchange for an alliance.”

“We’ll have our alliance.” He locked eyes with Ian. “But I’ll remind ye that I agreed to a union with your sister.” Laird Sutherland’s attention shifted between Vanna and Effie. “I’ll need a fortnight to decide which one is best suited to be my wife.”

Chapter Two

“Are ye completely wowf?” Mam scolded Magnus the following evening, arms whipping this way and that, nearly striking one of the two housecarls removing the wooden bathing tub from his solar. “Ye have insulted the Mackay and his sisters and put the clan in jeopardy of losing this alliance.”

“Mayhap I dinnae want the alliance. Ian Mackay’s quest to avenge his father’s death will only result in another battle with Clan Ross, and ye well know it.” Magnus sat in a high-back chair beside the hearth and drummed his fingertips atop the arm. His mother was going to be the death of him. If she hadn’t given him life, he would be sorely tempted to banish her from the clan. “We will reap no reward from this alliance.”

“The reward is an heir. And ’tis obvious the younger Mackay is more suited for breeding.”

“Breeding?” Ack! The woman was callous. ’Twas no wonder Da had kept so many mistresses. Magnus stood and fidgeted with the clasps of a green damask robe. “We are talking about the future Lady of Dunrobin, not bluidy livestock.”

“Providing the clan with an heir is the sole duty of the laird’s wife.”

“What about managing the household and being my advisor?” he argued, thinking he wanted more in a wife than a body to plant his seed.

Mam snorted. “Ye have a council and a head steward for such tasks. What ye are looking for does not exist. There are two types of women in this world—women who warm a man’s bed and women who do everything else. At the present, ye need the former.” She punched her hips with her fists. “Ye owe the clan a legitimate male heir.”

“Then mayhap I should bed them both and marry the first to get with child.” His response was as cold as Mam’s presence, but her comment infuriated him. She’d never hidden the fact she blamed him for the death of his nephew.

“Do not mock me, Maggie.”

He gave Mam his back and added peat to the fire, igniting a flame to match the anger roiling inside him. He knew he had to marry, but he wanted a damned choice. “Clan Sutherland will have its heir within the year.”

“You’ll need more than one heir. I gave your father four strong boys and the bluidy wars took three of them from me.”

Magnus needed no reminder. He wore his brothers’ scars on his person and was tortured by their memory every time he looked upon his reflection.

“How many bairns can the elder Mackay give ye before she can no longer produce?”

“I suspect a half-dozen or more if I shackle her to the bed and get her with child every year ’til her womb is auld and withered.” The sarcasm in his voice didn’t deter Mam in the least.

“Marry the younger, more fertile Mackay. If she is not to your liking, then ye can take a mistress. No woman will expect a man of your status to be faithful. ’Tis the way of things.”

Magnus cocked his head over his shoulder to give Mam a questioning look. “Ye knew Da was unfaithful?”

She rolled her dark eyes. “Of course. And I was happy to send your father’s mistresses to his solar.” Her demeanor seemed to soften with this statement. The wrinkles at her eyes smoothed. Her brow became less furrowed. “Not every woman enjoys her conjugal duties.”

The direction of their conversation soured his stomach twofold. For one, he no longer wished to hear the grim tales of his sire’s marriage bed, and for another, he refused to take a wife who didn’t enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. He crossed his solar and kissed Mam’s forehead, feeling a great deal more sympathy for her than he ever had before.

“Dinnae look at me like I’m a leper. Think ye there is another reason men and women of nobility retain separate sleeping quarters?” She crossed her arms, refusing his compassion. “I’m not alone in my thinking.”

“’Tis enough. Ye’ve spoken your peace.” He guided her toward the door. “I’ll heed your advice as I make my decision.”

“Verra well,” Mam conceded with an audible exhale. “Sleep well, son.”

Once he was free of Mam and her opinions, he sent for the younger Mackay and nursed a goblet of gooseberry wine while he awaited her arrival. He considered himself a good judge of character, especially when it came to women, but he wasn’t choosing a maid for the evening. He was choosing a mate for life.

Of course, he wanted someone to share his bed with ardent enthusiasm, but he also wanted his wife to possess other qualities—intelligence, tolerance, devotion. S’truth, he wanted a woman who could help him carry the burdens his brothers had left him. Not that his blood kin were burdens, there were just so damned many of them. Unfortunately, the legitimate bairns were all lasses. He wanted sons as much as Mam did, but he also wanted to be around long enough to watch them grow.

Ian Mackay had already urged Magnus to schedule a meeting with the leaders of their warbands. The man was bloodthirsty and eager to avenge his father, but Magnus intended to avoid a war with Clan Ross at all costs.

A knock at the door pulled him out of his musings.

“Enter,” he commanded and set his goblet atop the side table.

When Lady Vanna stepped inside his chamber and closed the door, his body responded to her beauty like a flame to a charred wick. She was stunning with silken black hair, lush lips and flawless skin, and he had nary a doubt the body hidden beneath her pale yellow robe would be tight and firm with her youth.

His bollocks tingled with expectancy. His cock swelled to stone. He squirmed in the chair and wished he’d gratified himself while he’d awaited her audience. If the lass turned out to be a virgin, he’d already decided he wouldn’t take her maidenhood lest he marry her.

“Ye sent for me, m’laird.” She reached for the ties binding her robe. “Would ye like me in the bed?”

“Patience, little bit.” Magnus smiled and gestured toward the cushioned hassock in front of him. He welcomed her eagerness, but he would know her mind before he explored her body.

She floated gracefully across his solar then settled atop a round footstool and crossed her hands atop her knees. Her fine-boned frame and long, slender neck added to the perfection of her pose. Everything about her demeanor was measured, practiced, refined, down to the arc in her wrists.

He suspected she’d been taught submission, but the boldness of her gaze as she held his stare told him she resisted such obedience. Still and all, she held her tongue and awaited his instruction. ’Twas good she knew her place, yet didn’t fear him.

“Tell me, Lady Vanna, do ye know your letters?”

Her chin raised a half inch. “I’m well-read. I also have a mind for numbers. And I speak four different languages.”

“Ye were schooled abroad?” He handed her a goblet of watered wine, hoping to loosen her rigid stance as well as her tongue.

“Nay.” She didn’t elaborate, nor did she accept his offering.

“Then your father hired tutors?”

One of her eyes narrowed, be it ever so slight. “My sister took charge of my studies when my mother…left.”

“Then your sister is educated as well?”

“She is.”

“Tell me about her.”

“She is strict and overprotective.” Quick to criticize, Lady Vanna rushed on with animated features—wide doe eyes, enunciated words, sharp hand movements. “Effie smiles very little and laughs even less.”

“Mayhap responsibility has stolen her merriment.” He knew the weight of that burden all too well. “Does she have bairns to care for as well?”

Lady Vanna’s small nostrils widened, her lips thinned into a straight line and a spark of indignation flickered in her brown eyes. Her mask of indifference crumbled, revealing her obvious displeasure in his defense of her sister. “If ye are interested in learning about Effie, I wonder why ye sent for me instead of her?”

The lass had been in his company for mere minutes, and already he’d found the temper he suspected she tried—without success—to hide. He didn’t favor her with a quick response. Instead, he settled into the chair and took two long sips of wine while he watched her fidget. “I sent for ye because I thought it fair ye have the first opportunity to prove why ye are better suited to be my wife.”

The shift in her façade came instantly. Her pink tongue darted out to gloss her lips. Her eyelids lowered to half closed. Oh, he knew this face. ’Twas seduction.

“I possess the blood of two noble sires.” She stood and stepped between his spread knees as she untied the laces binding her robe. “I’m in the bloom of my youth.” She opened the seams of silk to reveal small, pert breasts, but she wasted no time teasing him with subtle glimpses before she discarded her robe over her shoulders. Standing naked before him without a morsel of timidity, she ran her palms over narrow hips then plucked at the tips of her tawny nipples. “And I’m confident I can match your sexual appetite while striving to give ye an heir.”

Magnus’ cock no longer cared about knowing her mind. His bollocks concurred, but one question needed answering before he allowed himself to accept what she so willingly offered. “Are ye still a maid, lass?”

She hesitated.

“Dinnae lie.” His gaze lowered to the small triangle of black curls decorating her womanhood. “I will know.”

“I am not, m’laird.” She settled on her knees and easily found his cock beneath his robe. When she wrapped her hand around the shaft, his fingertips dug into the wooden arms of the chair. “Given your reputation, I wanted to be experienced when I came to your bed.”

The words to argue her justification sat on his tongue, but he swallowed them the moment her plush lips spread over the head of his cock. She took half his length into her hot mouth without effort. Tongue whipping, she bobbed rhythmically up and down his sensitive pole like an experienced whore.

BOOK: Taming a Highland Devil
12.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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