Authors: Donna Grant
Tags: #Adult, #Novella, #PNR, #Supernaturals
Daman looked into Alistair’s dark eyes and shook his head as he frowned.
“It began a year ago when our feud with the Blair clan escalated to another battle. We faced a bitter loss that day with over half of our warriors dead or dying. While we made the trek home with our wounded, the Blairs raided the castle and took all our sheep.”
Daman glanced at Innes to see her giving instructions to a couple of women.
“It didna take long for our food stores to run low,” Alistair continued. “Soon, people began to leave. My father took a handful of men and tried to take our sheep back. He was killed in the process.”
Daman took in the account and began to piece things together. Obviously, Donald wanted to be laird, but that was Alistair’s role. How far would Donald go to get the title himself? Daman suspected he would do anything.
“Our clan chose Alistair as laird over Donald,” Innes said as she walked up, confirming Daman’s suspicions. “Donald hasn’t forgiven Alistair for that. Or me for siding with Alistair.”
Alistair wrapped an arm around Innes. “We’ve lost a lot of our clan because I’m unable to feed them. Donald gathered a following of men and took them to another rival clan, the Sinclairs, to raid them. In the process, many of those warriors died.”
Innes leaned against Alistair’s chest. “Donald has made an enemy of the Sinclairs that we don’t need.”
“War is coming,” Alistair said. “And I doona have men to fight with me. I doona wish to battle the Sinclairs, especially when I know the Blairs are looking to take our lands. I need allies, no’ enemies.”
“That’s where you come in,” Innes said.
Daman’s frown grew. Him? What was he supposed to do? Sure, he was a good fighter, one of the best actually. Was he meant to ride into battle with Alistair? If that was what Innes wanted him to do, then he would do it.
But they would fail.
It didn’t matter how good a man was if he didn’t have the forces behind him.
Alistair waved his arm around. “You’re welcome here, Daman. I didna want my sister to wake you, but perhaps it was what we needed.”
Daman followed them into the castle wondering just how much he would be willing to do for the lovely Innes. Then he knew the answer – anything.
Innes couldn’t stop looking at Daman. He was quiet, his bearing commanding even without speaking a single word. Without meaning to, he drew everyone’s gaze.
She swallowed hard when he came to stand beside her in the great hall, his hand brushing hers. A spark zipped through her, primal and...erotic.
Then he looked at her.
His blue eyes were intense as they searched hers. Chills still raced over her skin from when he had traced her eyebrow. She wanted to ask him if he knew she had done that to him countless times, but she didn’t have the nerve.
“You must be hungry,” Alistair said. “We doona have much, but we’ll gladly share what we do have.”
Innes felt lost when Daman’s gaze slid from her and moved to Alistair. He touched her brother’s arm to get his attention. Once Alistair turned to him, Daman pointed to a bow and a quiver of arrows propped near the hearth.
Alistair frowned as he looked at the weapons then back at Daman. “You want to use them?”
Daman nodded and then walked to the hearth. He slung the quiver over his head, settling the strap across his chest. He lifted the bow and tested it by pulling the string back and looking along the sights. He lowered the weapon and caught Innes’s gaze once again.
Innes realized then why Daman was so quiet. “You can’t speak, can you?”
Daman’s gaze briefly lowered to the ground before he shook his head.
Alistair asked, “Have you always been mute?”
Again Daman shook his head.
Innes wasn’t sure she would be so calm if she woke after two hundred years without the ability to speak. Yet, Daman seemed entirely composed.
Daman pointed to Alistair and then the bow before he opened the castle door.
“You want to hunt,” Alistair said, a slow grin forming.
Her brother hesitated, and Innes hurried to say, “I’ll be fine. Donald is locked away, and we’ll close the gates.”
Alistair pulled on the end of her hair and strode away to get his bow and quiver. Innes looked back at Daman to find him watching her closely.
She noticed the silver chain around his neck that disappeared beneath his saffron shirt. Her necklace. The thought of it touching his skin made her stomach flutter in excitement.
If only she had been there when he woke. She would’ve had him all to herself for a time.
“We willna be far,” Alistair said, breaking into her thoughts.
Innes jumped and jerked to her brother. “Of course. Be careful. Both of you,” she said and looked at Daman.
Alistair exited the castle first. Daman hesitated before he gifted her with a smile and followed her brother. Innes walked to the doorway to watch them.
Her brother barked orders to the men standing guard at the gatehouse and those along the battlements. Alistair spoke while Daman nodded or pointed to something. It continued for a bit at the gate before they walked beneath the gatehouse. Alistair turned right, and Daman turned left.
Innes’s heart jumped when Daman glanced back at her before disappearing beyond the gate. Only after the gate was closed and bolted did she shut the castle door and face the hall.
~ ~ ~
Daman returned to the castle with a deer and four hares. He would’ve hunted longer, but he couldn’t shake the overwhelming need to get back to Innes.
The black-haired beauty was an enigma. All those times she had visited him, spoke to him...touched him. Her caresses had heated his blood, singed his skin. With the barest of touches, she made him crave more.
Now that he was awake, he wanted to yank her against him and taste her lips as he’d longed to do while he slept. She had no idea what her nearness did to him. She tied him in knots, and at the same time, she calmed a raging storm inside him that he hadn’t yet figured out.
Right at the tip of his memory was the knowledge of something he was supposed to do, but every time he got close to figuring it out, it slipped further away.
The castle gates opened and Daman discovered Innes there to greet him. Her eyes lit up at the sight of the meat. It almost made him want to go back out and get more.
She took the hares from him as she said, “Alistair isn’t back yet. You’ve made everyone very happy.”
It was her bright smile that caused something in his chest to expand. Things were bad off at the MacKays. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do, but he knew he would help in whatever manner asked of him.
As soon as he and Innes walked around the side of the castle to the kitchen, Daman saw the women. They were standing around, waiting for him. He shrugged the deer off his shoulder and laid it on the ground. Then he stepped back and let the women take over.
“Follow me,” Innes said.
As if Daman would refuse. They passed through the kitchens and then up the stairs. He watched the sway of her hips and his cock hardened.
A memory flashed of brightly colored skirts. Then, just like that, it was gone again as if it never were.
Innes didn’t halt until she reached the door to a chamber. She put her hand on the latch and waited for him. Her dark eyes held a hint of shyness, but there was curiosity and awareness, as well.
“You have no idea how much you’ve helped us today. Donald would’ve tried to kill Alistair, and though Alistair knows Donald needed to be brought to heel, he’s still family. You saved Alistair that trouble and stopped Donald’s attempt to take over the clan.”
Daman didn’t know what to say. He had only done what he thought needed to be done.
“Then there is the hunting. Alistair has put it off to search for Donald, but there is only so much one man can do. Thank you.”
He didn’t want her thanks. He wanted...her.
“Do you remember anything before you awoke?” she asked.
Daman nodded slowly.
“You remember why you were in that cavern?” she asked hopefully.
He hated to disappoint her, but he couldn’t lie. Daman gave a swift shake of his head. How could he explain that he remembered instinctive things, but didn’t know his name? It didn’t make sense, even to him.
He knew he was formidable in battle and could wield a bow or spear as well as a sword. He knew he could ride a horse, steering the steed with nothing but his legs while charging into a fight so he could use his weapons.
Beyond that, there was nothing.
He wanted to ask her to help him figure it all out, but the words wouldn’t come. Somehow, he knew that he’d never asked anyone for anything.
“There’s a bath waiting,” Innes said into the silence. “And food. It’s the least I could do.”
She started to walk past him, and he grabbed her hand. Her head jerked to him, her eyes wide. He placed his other hand over his heart and bowed his head.
Her smile was slow and sweet. “You’re welcome.”
He knew he should release her hand, but the feel of her soft skin was his undoing. His thumb grazed the top of her hand in slow circles.
When her lips parted and he noted the wild beat of her pulse in her neck, all he could think about was kissing her, of pulling her against him and feeling the warmth of her body as he held her.
He gently tugged her closer, his thumb still caressing her hand. She leaned toward him. Daman lowered his gaze to her mouth as he ducked his head.
He hesitated for just a moment, giving her time to pull away. When she didn’t, he touched his lips to hers.
The low moan that rose from within her had his body demanding more. He turned them both, pressing her back against the wall.
He kissed her again, adding more pressure. As soon as her lips parted, he slipped his tongue between them. Their tongues touched and danced while her arms wound around his neck and her fingers slid into his hair.
Daman deepened the kiss. The more he sought, the more she gave. Her kisses were seductive and innocent, enticing and wanton.
This was the woman who had awakened him, who wanted him to help her clan. The last thing he should be doing is assaulting her. Besides, it would not be good to have Alistair discover them like this after having been taken into their home. Daman needed to stop.
If he didn’t stop now, he wasn’t sure he would be able to later. His desire for Innes was that great.
He ended the kiss and pulled back. The sight of her kiss-swollen lips made him groan, but no sound could be heard.
Her eyes opened, blinking up at him dazedly. She touched her lips with her fingertips. “I have no words for how amazing that felt.”
Satisfaction filled him. If only she knew how close he was to kissing her again.
He cupped his hands around her face and looked deep into her black eyes. Such beautiful eyes. They were so dark and deep that he could feel himself falling into them.
She lifted her lips to him, silently asking him to continue kissing her. Just as he began to lower his head, he heard Alistair’s voice below.
Daman gave her a quick kiss and stepped away. When she didn’t move, he turned her toward the stairs and gave her a gentle shove. Only when she began to walk did he go into his chamber and shut the door.
He sighed heavily. The kiss had been beyond his expectations. Innes was captivating, and she must have worked some kind of spell on him because he was bewitched.
A warning zipped through his mind, cautioning him to be wary. But as he tried to search the dark corners of his mind for why, he once more came up empty.
Daman removed his sword, boots, kilt, and shirt to walk naked - except for the necklace he still wore - to a wooden tub filled with water. It was still relatively warm. He scrubbed himself twice before he rose and dried off.
He touched the amulet around his neck. It was the same one he’d found in his hand when he regained consciousness in the cavern. If Innes was the one to wake him, did that mean this was hers? He knew it didn’t belong to him.
Daman put his clothes back on and walked to the small round table and chair in his chamber. He sat and poured ale into a tankard as he looked at the trencher of food before him.
After the first bite of cold meat, he realized how famished he was. It didn’t take long for him to clean the trencher of every morsel.
He sat back to finish his ale as he looked around his quarters. It was a medium sized room. The bed sat against the far wall with bed curtains that were dark blue velvet. They were a little frayed, having seen better days.
It was more visible evidence that the MacKays were in trouble. Daman wasn’t sure how they had lasted as long as they had.
With little food, very few men to hold the castle, and fighting within the family, they were ripe to be taken over.