Highland Weddings, Book 4
Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 5, 2017)
ISBN-13: 9781492602538 ♦ ISBN-10: 1492602531
Laird Diocail Gordon has just come into his title and inherited his father’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.
Widow Jane Stafford is on a mission-return to England even if it means trudging through the Scottish Highlands on foot. Her travels lead her straight to the path of danger until a mysterious, brawny man comes out of nowhere and saves her-and the spark between them is immediate. With a target on Jane’s back, she knows the only way to stay safe is to go with Diocail. But the real trouble will be guarding her heart from her newly ignited Highland flame…
Connected Books: Highland Weddings
Read an Excerpt
Her name was oddly intimate on his lips. It felt as though they were becoming more and more familiar with each other. She had no idea why it unsettled her, and yet her belly was twisting once again.
“Surely you understand,” she began. “I should be long away by now. However grateful I am, I cannot stay.”
Diocail let out a long sigh. “And ye should clearly understand that I can nae leave ye in yer shift on the side of the road.” He was back to gripping his shirt, tearing once more. He grunted and muttered a word beneath his breath. “Perhaps ye think because I’m Scottish, it makes it acceptable for me to see ye starving. How long will ye last before ye turn to prostituting yerself to avoid dying? Maybe I am no’ English like yer husband, but—”
“I thank God for that,” she exclaimed. “My English husband placed my favors on a gaming table and cheerfully rolled the dice and expected me to honor his loss. You are nothing like him.”
She’d said too much.
Far too much.
She’d known Diocail was a dangerous man; now she watched his expression turn deadly.
She felt too much on display, her pride too torn and shredded, and tried to turn away. The only solace available to her was to keep her shame secret. Diocail reached out and locked his hands around her biceps, pulling her in front of him.
“Jane?” he demanded softly, but there was no missing the rage in his voice. “Explain yer words.”
“There is no point.” She looked him straight in the eye. “What’s done is done, and he was beaten to death for his excess at the dice.”
“He’s damned lucky he was,” Diocail exclaimed, “for I’d have broken his legs and left him alive.”
Oh, but she liked the sound of that.
For a moment, they stared into one another’s eyes, and he was absolutely everything wonderful in the world. A man of honor, one she might depend on to do all of the righteous things she’d been raised to believe good men did. She was so close she could smell him. Henry had never pleased her senses the way Diocail did. She liked the way he smelled and felt herself trembling as she watched his attention shift to her mouth. Everything else seemed to dissipate, leaving her with only the feeling of his hands on her and a tingle across the delicate surface of her lips while he contemplated them.
I would like his kiss…
“Is she yer strumpet, Laird?”
Diocail released her in a flash as young Bari’s voice came from behind her. Jane fell back from him, realizing she had truly been nearly in his embrace and completely captivated by him.
“Is that why she wears no skirts?”
With the innocence of childhood, Bari asked what was on his mind. He rubbed his eyes and cocked his head to one side as he waited for an answer.
“No, lad.” Muir was suddenly there, taking Bari up and back toward the wagon. “She’s a decent woman. No’ the sort ye say a word like strumpet to.”
“But why has she no skirts?” Bari wasn’t ready to let the matter go. “I heard the women in the village call her a strumpet and a doxy. I’ve never heard that word before, doxy.”
Jane’s cheeks heated as she heard Muir hushing the child.
“The next village is a larger one,” Diocail explained. “There will be an inn with a proper bed, and I’ll find ye something to wear or at least the cloth to be sewn.”
“I really can’t accept more from you.”
He drew himself up and sent her a look she doubted many argued with. “As I have told ye before, mistress, best reconcile yerself to our company. For I’ll bring ye back if ye are fool enough to try me.”
A wise woman would have let the matter be.
But wisdom had led her to where she was, and something inside her snapped.
“I am quite done being told what to do by men.”
Diocail had turned, meaning to leave her with those final words, but he snapped back around as her comment hit his ears.
“Is that so, Jane?”
He was using her name on purpose now, trying to impress on her how little choice she had.
“And just what will ye be doing under yer father’s roof?” he demanded as he stepped close enough to whisper. “But I am no’ fool enough to send ye back to a man who has no sense when it comes to who he weds ye to.”
“I refuse to allow you to pity me.”
He liked that comment. Jane stared at him, confounded by the way his eyes lit with enjoyment. No man enjoyed a woman who was too free with her tongue.
Except for Diocail Gordon, it would seem, for he was grinning at her as though she was the most fetching female he’d ever set eyes upon.
She let out a huff. “You make no sense. Why do you let me tell you what I think? And speak when I have not been asked to?”
He slowly chuckled. “Because I like ye with the flames dancing in yer eyes, lass.” He reached out and hooked her by her upper arms, pulling her toward him. His attention dropped to her mouth a moment before he pressed a kiss against her lips.
She recoiled, but not because it was unpleasant.
Quite the opposite, really.
For a moment, her belly twisted and anticipation gripped her so tightly she was breathless. Never in her life had she realized her body might experience such a level of bliss. It overwhelmed her, making her yank away from him and the uncertainty he roused in her.
Was it right?
She struggled to comprehend the way he’d made her breathless.
His lips curled up, and he flashed his teeth at her while his eyes flickered with a satisfaction that made her cheeks burn. She was lifting her hand and laying it across his jaw before her thoughts cleared. The hard smack of flesh against flesh shattered the strange moment like a bubble that had landed on a thorn.
Diocail Gordon released her, backing away as he chuckled. “I deserved that, ’tis a fact I did.” He opened his arms wide and offered her a slight lowering of his body in a courtesy. “And I enjoyed kissing ye full well.” He straightened, and his expression tightened into one of promise. “Jane.”
She snarled at him, stunning herself with just how passionate the sound was.
What was happening to her?
Was Scotland truly turning her savage?
It defied rational thought, and yet her heart was thumping so hard it felt as if it were hitting her breastbone, driving her blood through her veins so fast she felt light-headed and fought to stand in one place. It was exhilarating and unsettling on a scale she had never experienced.
Henry had never kissed her like that…
Disrespectful to the dead, perhaps, and yet it was a solid truth.
One that left her wondering just what else she might discover if she embraced the heat licking at her insides.
* * * * *
“Now I’m jealous,” Muir muttered as he nursed a flask of whisky. “I only asked her for a shirt,