Sins of the Highlander (A Highland Erotic Romance)

BOOK: Sins of the Highlander (A Highland Erotic Romance)
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Sins of the Highlander

 

By

 

Dawn Halliday

 

 

 

 

 

Sins Of The Highlander

By Dawn Halliday

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2012 Dawn Halliday

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976,  no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the author.

Digital books are not transferable. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

 

 

 

Table Of Contents

 

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Other Books By Dawn Halliday

About Dawn Halliday

Bonus:
Highland Obsession

Bonus:
Secrets Of An Accidental Duchess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Lawrence, who’s been my knight in shining armor more times than I can count.

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Dread sizzled in Aileen Munro’s blood, making the hair at the nape of her neck rise on end. She dropped her embroidery on the floor, tucked her knees under her chin, wrapped her arms around them and stared into the fire. She’d had a similar feeling three weeks ago, just before the men brought her husband home from the boar hunt lying on a stretcher, already cold.

Suddenly, the door to her chamber burst open and her maid, Jannet, rushed into the room.

“Lady”—Jannet reeled to a halt on the rug beside Aileen’s chair, her freckled cheeks bright pink with exertion—“a group of men have just arrived, saying they are from Ellandonan!”

Aileen spoke slowly. “Is that so?”

“Aye, lady. I am to tell you that the laird pays his respects. And…” The lass’s small body shook with excitement. “He invites you to his castle.”

Of course he does.
And Aileen knew very well the summons wasn’t an invitation. It was an order.

Releasing a controlled breath, Aileen rose, shook out her dress and went to the window. Jannet came to stand beside her and side by side, they peered down. Milky afternoon sunlight pushed through the fog, sending an eerie glow across the courtyard as Highland riders crowded through the castle’s open gates.

A part of her had known this was coming. The Mackenzie laird, John, was her older half brother, and he wouldn’t leave her to languish here at Dornoch Castle to be kidnapped or raped by an ambitious Lowlander eager for her lands. Nay, he would bring her to Ellandonan and keep her under his watchful eye until he decided upon her next husband, the next master of her castle.

Her
next master.

Aileen shuddered. John would use her newfound widowhood as an opportunity to create a political alliance, and right now, he needed an ally in the man Aileen despised above all—Gilbert Dunbar. Aileen had heard that Gilbert had gone north to petition the laird for her hand the very day Walter died, and Aileen knew he would do whatever he could to win her and her vast lands. The laird had no reason to deny the man his request—the intended bride’s disdain didn’t qualify as a reason, after all—and John could use the reassurance of Gilbert’s loyalty, especially since the relationship between the Mackenzies and the MacDonalds had been deteriorating for some time. John was collecting allies to help him defend the clan against the MacDonalds.

Worse, Aileen’s fool of a brother actually admired Gilbert Dunbar. John had never seen beneath the man’s slimy exterior and was unaware of the pure rot to be found underneath.

Aileen laid her cheek against the rough wood of the windowsill. After years of misery, she had finally dug deep enough within herself to find the means to survive living with her husband. Now she’d have to start over.

Below, men and children clustered around the newcomers, these men whose arrival signified the end of her short independence.

Glancing at Jannet, she saw her staring intently at the visitors, her nose pressed to the pane and lips parted in fascination. Aileen let her hands fall to her sides and glanced out the window once again. The crowd below parted and a magnificent white horse emerged from the mist, walking at a sedate pace. The rider, clearly the leader of the troop, sat tall, wearing a blue and black plaid slung over his mail shirt. Just inside the gate, he pulled on the reins and dismounted gracefully, unfolding a long, lean frame.

Aileen’s pulse quickened.

Niall MacRae. She recognized him from the way he moved. The boorish mannerisms of her husband had always emphasized Niall’s inherent grace.

A smile tugged at the corners of Aileen’s lips as she gazed down at him. Niall was a full-fledged warrior now, the commander of these men. During the early days of her marriage, he had been trained in swordsmanship by her husband. The same age, she and Niall had become friends and in subtle ways had protected one another from Walter’s rages.

Niall had matured since she’d last seen him. He stood straighter, seemed taller and broader through the shoulders than he had six years ago. Men surrounded him, competing for his attention, but he directed his gaze up the castle walls.

The face of the youth she had once known had disappeared, replaced by a man who stole the breath from her lungs. Clutching the window frame, she stared down at him. Everything else faded away, and there was only Niall—the stark planes and angles of his face, pale skin, and dark, piercing eyes. Dark blond hair framed his face and fell to his shoulders in loose waves. Somehow he honed in on the window where she stood and locked his gaze with hers.

Frozen moments ticked by until someone physically pulled his attention away, breaking their eye contact, and Aileen’s body roared to life. Her limbs shuddered, her nipples tightened against the wool of her bodice, her heart thumped against her ribs.

Niall turned to speak to the man. The afternoon breeze ruffled through his golden-brown hair. An erotic image blasted through Aileen’s mind—that soft hair tickling her overheated and sensitive flesh as his tongue swiped over her breast.

Jannet finally spoke, her voice breathless. “Will we, lady? Will we go to Ellandonan?”

The lass’s words slammed the door shut on Aileen’s fantasy. Flexing her fingers, she realized she’d clutched the windowsill hard enough to lose the feeling in her hands.

Aileen had never had such a reaction to a man before. She’d never thought of Niall in a carnal way. He’d simply been one of Walter’s men—young, handsome, and trustworthy. A loyal friend but not someone who made her heart race. Not someone who made her think wicked thoughts.

“Aye. We will go to the laird.” Then, with Jannet’s expectant look, she remembered her duty as the lady of this castle. Aileen would be responsible for personally seeing to her guests’ comfort, for making sure Niall’s men had a good supper and their leader was provided with a comfortable chamber and a warm bath.

She might see him naked. A shiver of anticipation rushed down Aileen’s spine.

Stop it!

Walter was not a month in the grave and she was having lustful feelings toward a man she knew only as an old friend. It had to stop. She cleared her throat. “Tell the maids to prepare the guest chamber for the laird’s man, and to have it ready the moment he finishes his supper. He will be weary from his journey.”

Jannet curtsied and disappeared. Aileen turned to the window one last time. Niall didn’t look at her again, nor did he leave the courtyard. Instead he worked alongside his men as they unsaddled the horses and unloaded the carts.

With one palm skimming over her stomach and the other pressed against the cool glass, she watched Niall kneel to examine his horse’s hoof. He spoke to a stable lad briefly then rose, brushing off his hands. For the briefest of moments, his eyes met hers again, but then he tore his gaze away. Nodding at a cluster of men gathered nearby, he turned and strode toward the entrance of the great hall.

Aileen stepped away from the window, adjusted her veil of mourning and prepared to greet him.

 

***

 

After dinner, Lady Aileen excused herself while Niall MacRae remained in the hall to share a drink with her factor, Donegal and their men. After one cup of whisky, he pleaded exhaustion and went upstairs. But he took the narrow tower stairs two at a time. By all rights he
should
be exhausted, for he had been riding hard the past two days. Yet he felt strangely alive. Energized. Seeing the lady after all this time had poured fire into his blood.

He reached the end of the passage and stopped short when the door to the chamber opened as if by magic.

Lady Aileen stood before him. She had removed her veil and let down her raven black hair so it cascaded loosely around her shoulders.

“Come inside.”

He hadn’t expected to see her in the room she’d assigned to him.

Before he could stop himself, his gaze raked down her body, taking in the rich gown tied low on her hips with a wide belt. She was bonnier than ever.

Long ago, Lady Aileen had been a frequent subject of his adolescent fantasies. He’d thought those days had long since passed, but when the Mackenzie laird had given Niall the task of bringing his half sister home, something had stirred deep inside him. Memories of those fantasies. Memories of the brief and furtive—yet innocent—touches they’d shared.

Now, he was older and far more experienced when it came to women. Still, the unbidden fantasies flashed through him. In them, his hands, mouth and cock stroked every one of her lush curves and valleys.

He nearly groaned. It was bad enough that he’d had to sit beside her in the hall as she presided over dinner. Watching her, smelling her. She smelled like heather and sage. The past years had seen her beauty grow, but they had also left a hardness in her violet eyes that worried him.

BOOK: Sins of the Highlander (A Highland Erotic Romance)
6.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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