Authors: Donna Grant
Tags: #Adult, #Novella, #PNR, #Supernaturals
Daman tried not to think of Innes, but he couldn’t seem to help himself. That kiss had set him ablaze. The fire within for her had already flamed hot. Now, he burned.
Did she know how she made his blood heat? How he yearned to have her near? How he longed to hold her?
He thought she had been with him for decades, because that’s what it felt like. But it was more like years. Just how long had he been in that cave?
Why was he put there? Innes and Alistair must know the answers. If only he could ask them. But that was rather hard without his voice.
He rose and began to pace the room. There were no memories. He responded to his name, he knew he could fight, and he knew he could hunt. Other than that, his mind was blank.
Except for the clawing feeling that he was supposed to be doing something.
He latched onto the word. Looking. He was supposed to be looking. But for what? For who?
Daman squeezed his eyes closed and gripped his head. A dull ache had begun, settling in at the base of his skull. The pain grew until his entire head pounded.
It took him a moment to realize there was a second pounding – that of a fist against his door.
Innes shifted in her seat in Alistair’s chamber. She couldn’t get comfortable. Ever since that scorching kiss with Daman, she’d been unable to think of anything other than him.
All through the evening meal she’d kept hoping he would come down, but Alistair had wanted to give him time. After the meal, however, Alistair waited until the hall cleared and then went after Daman.
Since neither she nor Alistair was sure of how many more of their people sided with Donald, they decided to keep their conversation private. There was nowhere more private than the master chamber.
Innes jumped when the door opened and Alistair filled the space. He gave her a frown and stepped aside. Then her gaze landed on Daman. Their eyes locked, held. It was a good thing she was sitting down because she was certain her legs wouldn’t have held her after she saw the desire reflected in Daman’s blue gaze.
“Thank you again for helping me hunt,” Alistair said as he stopped at the hearth and turned to Daman.
Daman glanced down the hall before he closed the door behind him. He bowed his head and crossed his arms over his thick chest as he leaned against the wall.
Alistair clasped his hands behind his back as the fire popped behind him. “I wish things were no’ so dire for us. I was none too pleased that Innes woke you, but now I think she did the right thing.”
Innes saw Daman’s slight frown, his hesitation, as if he were trying to figure things out. There was something about the way the lines bracketed his mouth that made her think he was in pain.
She held up a hand to stop Alistair before he continued. “Daman, do you know why you were in the cave?”
He shook his head slowly.
Innes frowned. “That part of the story was lost to us. I was hoping you would remember. All we’ve been told was that you would one day save our clan.”
Daman held her gaze for a moment before his blue eyes slid to Alistair and he shrugged.
“Aye, I didna think you would know that either,” Alistair said with a sigh. “The truth is, you doona have to do anything. Our family has kept watch over you for two hundred years.”
Was it Innes’s imagination, or had Daman jerked at the mention of the time that had passed?
Alistair continued, saying, “Now that you’re awake, you can do whatever you wish. Nothing holds you here.”
Daman pointed to Alistair and then to Innes.
Innes glanced at her brother. “Daman, you don’t owe us anything.”
“She’s right. You doona,” Alistair said. “But I’m asking if you’ll stay and help us fight if needed. Now that Donald is no longer a worry, I must turn my attention to the Sinclairs. They want a meeting.”
Innes swiveled her head to Alistair, shocked. This was the first she had heard of it. “What?”
Her brother pulled out a rolled missive from the sleeve of his shirt. “This arrived before the evening meal. David, the laird of the Sinclairs, wants to meet at our border. He is bringing the Lord of Ravensclyde with him.”
“And his army, no doubt,” Innes said tightly. “The Sinclair doesn’t want to talk. He wants to fight.”
Alistair tucked the missive back up the sleeve on his left arm. “David is an honorable man, Innes. I believe him. I was hoping Daman would accompany me.”
Daman was nodding even as Innes asked, “When is this meeting?”
“In the morn.”
She closed her eyes in despair. Her world was truly crumbling around her. If only Donald had stood with Alistair instead of against him.
“I would like you there as well, sister.”
Innes’s gaze snapped open to look at her brother. If he wanted her with him, that could only mean one thing – a marriage proposal.
She couldn’t pull a breath into her lungs. They were frozen with dread. How could she possibly go to another after having Daman with her?
After his kiss?
She was being selfish, but that didn’t stop the feeling from continuing. The lives of her brother and her clan rested with her. She could broker peace if she were willing to be the bride of the Sinclairs’ laird.
Innes had known her fate for years, even if she hadn’t known which man she would marry. Why was she rebelling now?
“I sent a missive to The Sinclair two days ago,” Alistair said into the quiet, as if reading Innes’s thoughts. “He was willing to meet, but now that Donald has attacked, I doona know where we stand.”
She tried to swallow, but her mouth was too dry. “Give him Donald. Let the Sinclairs exact their justice.”
“I’m sure they will want that, but Donald is family. I’ll punish him myself.”
Daman shook his head and looked pointedly at Innes.
She shivered, remembering the fury she’d witnessed in Donald’s gaze before Daman intervened. Donald would’ve killed her.
“Hmm,” Alistair said. “Good point, Daman. But Donald willna be leaving the dungeon so he can no’ hurt Innes.” Alistair walked to the round table near the hearth and motioned Daman over. “I’ve made a map of our land, as well as where we border with the Sinclairs and the Blairs.”
Innes watched as Daman strode to the table and braced his hands on the wood as he let his gaze wander the map. Occasionally, he would point to something. Alistair would then explain the area in detail.
While the men studied the map, Innes kept thinking of marriage. She touched her lips, her stomach fluttering as he recalled how Daman had turned and trapped her between him and the wall.
Chills raced along her skin as she remembered the feel of his lips – firm and eager – and the way he’d held her.
As if there were no tomorrow.
In some ways, there wasn’t. Not for them.
Innes waited until both men were too engrossed in the map and their planning – Alistair talking and Daman either nodding or shaking his head – to notice her before she got up and quietly exited the chamber.
She made her way back downstairs to the kitchen. Innes pushed up her sleeves and began helping a few others clean up from the meal. More and more people left the clan every day. Pretty soon, it would only be her and Alistair.
She stopped washing dishes as it hit her. No, she wouldn’t be with Alistair, she would be with her new husband far away from here. Her marriage would foster peace between the Sinclairs and MacKays. That also meant that Alistair would have the backing of the Sinclairs.
It would be enough to keep the Blairs away. The Sinclair clan was the strongest around. No one went against them. The support of the Sinclair clan would allow Alistair to find himself a wife and procure another ally. Hopefully their people would return by then.
It was the only way to survive.
Why then did it feel as if she were doing the wrong thing? Why did it feel as if her place was to remain right where she was?
Innes was so conflicted. She wanted to help save her clan, but she also wanted Daman. The way he looked at her, it was as if he knew her. Which was silly, since they’d just met. She had been visiting him every day for years, but he didn’t know that.
Innes finished the washing and dried her hands. She walked from the kitchen as Daman was coming out of the solar, his head swiveling as if he were looking for something.
As soon as he spotted her, he walked to her and took her hand. Excitement coursed through her when he laced his fingers with hers. She lifted her skirts with her free hand and followed him up the stairs all the way to the battlements. She sucked in a breath when the cold air hit her.
Daman turned to face her as he pulled her against him. His heat enveloped her, wrapping them in a cocoon of warmth. He gently touched her face with first one hand, then the other. One hand slid into her hair and around to the back of her head. His gaze was intense, the desire palpable.
There were no words needed between them. The passion was too great, the need too forceful.
She rested her hands on his chest and wished that there were no clothes between them. She ached to be pressed skin against skin. Everything she thought, everything she
centered upon Daman.
His eyes lowered to her mouth a heartbeat before he kissed her.
Innes wrapped her arms around his neck and melted into him. It wasn’t a soft, learning kiss like the one from before. This one was full of fire and heat and longing. And her body responded instantly.
He deepened the kiss before she could right herself, sending desire pooling in her belly. Before Innes knew it, she was pressed against the battlement wall by Daman’s hard body.
She ran her hands over him, touching every part that she could. There wasn’t a part of him that was soft. Just steely muscle beneath her palms.
Her head dropped back as he kissed down her throat. Innes didn’t know such passion existed, but now that she did, there was no way she could marry another.
Cool air hit her legs a moment before Daman’s large hand hooked beneath her knee and yanked her leg up. Innes gasped at the feel of his hard arousal pressed against her.
In the next instant, she was holding air. She grasped the battlement and lifted her head to search for Daman. He was standing against the back battlement wall, his face contorted with regret and need.
Innes knew she couldn’t go to her groom anything but an innocent, but it wasn’t him she was thinking about. It was Daman and how she felt in his arms. Nothing mattered but this moment.
She held out her hand to him, but Daman gave a rough shake of his head and drew in a shaky breath.
“I don’t care what Alistair has planned,” she said. “I don’t want this to stop.”
Daman’s blue eyes flared with desire. He slowly looked her up and down, his intent clear. If he kissed her again, there wouldn’t be any stopping him.
Innes crossed the distance until she stood in front of him. “I don’t want you to stop. Ever.”
He cupped her face and stared at her as if his world had just been ripped to pieces.
“I’ve waited years to have you open your eyes and see me,” she said. “I’ve tasted your kisses, felt your desire. Don’t take that away.”
He jerked his head behind him, indicating the castle and clan.
Innes licked her lips and shrugged. “Everything I have ever done has been for the clan. I’m not thinking of anyone or anything other than me and you right now.”
Daman looked as if he wanted to argue the point more. Then, he released a deep breath as his frown disappeared. He gave a nod. Once more, he slipped his hand in hers. Together, they faced the battlement door and walked back into the castle to his chamber.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Innes was once more yanked against him in a fierce kiss that took her breath away.
Daman was shaken, staggered.
With every kiss, every touch, Innes sank deeper into his soul. He knew he shouldn’t be with her since she was promised to another, but he couldn’t walk away. He had to hold her, just as he had to take his next breath.
She had become the center of his world.
He didn’t wonder why or worry. He simply accepted the fact.
Innes grounded him in a way he couldn’t understand. Even the knowledge that he had been asleep for two hundred years wasn’t enough to send him away. Because without her, without her soft voice and beautiful, dark eyes, he knew he would go mad.
She was the only one who spoke to him while he was in the cave.
She was the only one who touched him as he lay sleeping.
She was the only one who penetrated the darkness, giving him...hope.
She was the one who awakened him.
Daman ended the kiss and leaned back to look at her. He wished he could tell her how she gave him a reason to live. He wanted to tell her that her beauty left him breathless.
More than that, he desperately wanted to tell her that she healed the raw, aching wounds deep inside him with only a smile.