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Authors: Barbara Longley

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“Oh.” Her brow furrowed.

“I loved my wife. Though what I felt for her is quite different from what I feel for you.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell her?” Sidney’s eyes filled with tears. “She longed to hear those words from you. I can still feel the hurt deep inside me.”

“Because I
am
an idiot. Think about how I was raised.” He moved closer to wipe the tears from her eyes. “My uncles drilled it into my head never to let a woman get to me the way my mother got to my father. Their anger toward him for giving me away shaped my beliefs. The Druid priests were ascetics. They never taught me about the interactions between the sexes. I never witnessed the love between a husband and wife until I was fully grown and had returned to my clan. How could I express what I felt when I didn’t even recognize what the emotion was?”

He watched as she considered everything he’d said. “I want to thank you for what you did for my men and for me. You gave us back our lives.”

She waved her hand in the air in a dismissive gesture. He caught it, bringing her palm to rest over his heart. “Don’t you want to know why I chose to live a mortal life?” Putting his free arm around her waist, he drew her close. She tilted her head back to look into his eyes, her expression a mixture of hope and vulnerability. He brushed his lips across hers, and whispered, “Ask,
mo anam.

“Okay, why
did
you choose life?”

“Because I want you.” She made a huffing sound and tried to pull away from him. He hid his smile and tightened his hold. He did understand one thing about his love—wanting wasn’t enough. “I love you with all of my heart and soul. I chose to live because I want to spend my life with you. I chose you.”

Her breath hitched, and she studied him as if gauging his words and testing their truthfulness.

“I intend to prove how much I love you every day for the rest of our lives—if you’ll have me, that is.” Never had anything meant so much to him as this moment, never had he allowed himself to be so exposed and vulnerable. Offering up his heart to Sidney was the bravest thing he’d ever done. She was worth the risk. He stood over an abyss and waited for the drop. What if she turned him down, and he had to spend the rest of his miserable life without her? “I can’t imagine a life without you beside me.”

Sidney said nothing, and his heart skipped a beat or three. Maybe he hadn’t asked properly. Dermot dropped to one knee in front of her and held her hands in his. “I don’t have a ring yet. I thought someone would be sweeping my remains up off the dining hall floor about now.”

“Dermot—”

“I’m begging you to marry me.” He placed his heart and hopes into her hands. His breath held, he waited to hear his fate.

 

An hour ago she had feared Dermot would choose death. Now the love of her life knelt before her and proposed marriage. She was having trouble catching up.

“You’re no’ saying anything. You do no’ want me.” Dermot dropped her hands and rose from the floor. “I understand.”

“Again with the stupid.” She rolled her eyes. “I do want you. I’m just…still trying to adjust to the shock.”

“Then say yes.”

Dermot drew her into his arms, and her whole body relaxed. This was where she belonged and where she longed to be, safe and cherished in his arms. “Yes.”

His tender kiss sent joy straight to her soul. Mairéad’s old wound healed for good, and the voice in her head grew silent. She sensed she’d never hear it again, and in her mind, she bid her other self goodbye.

Dermot whispered in her ear, “I was thinking a Christmas wedding would be a fine thing.”

“This Christmas, as in a few short weeks from today?”

“Aye.” He gave her a wicked grin. “I have staff.”

The look on his face sent a frisson of desire spiraling through her. “What about my store? I don’t want to give that up. It’s important to me.”

Dermot lifted her chin so that their eyes met. His earnest expression melted her heart.

“I am no’ asking you to give anything up for me, love. I’m only asking for the privilege of standing by your side for the rest of my life. It’s up to you. We’ll live in the States, or if you prefer, we can live here. I have properties all over Europe. Wherever you want to go, whatever you choose to do, I’ll be right beside you.”

“Oh, Dermot.” She threw her arms around his neck. “We don’t have to decide today.” He lifted her off her feet and twirled her around. Sidney threw her head back and laughed, unable to contain her happiness. “We have the rest of our lives, and most likely the next.”

“I’ll love you forever, Sidney, no matter how many lifetimes we share.”

About the Author

Barbara grew up in a litter of five, and each of her siblings was born in a different state. Moving around so frequently, she learned early on how to entertain herself with stories. As an adult, she has lived on a commune in the Appalachians, taught on an Indian reservation and traveled from coast to coast. When her own children came along, Ms. Longley decided to try something new—staying put. She has made Minnesota her home ever since.

By day, Barbara teaches young children how to read. She holds a master’s in education, and has taught elementary education for many years. By night, she likes to explore things mythical, metaphysical and paranormal. Much of what she learns makes its way into her stories, where all things are possible. While she loves teaching, reading and writing are her passions.

 

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ISBN: 978-1-4268-9227-1

Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Longley

All rights reserved. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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BOOK: Heart of the Druid Laird
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