The first time he caught sight of Elizabeth Douglas, Thomas MacGowan thought she was a princess. To the son of the castle blacksmith, the daughter of the powerful Lord of Douglas might as well be. When it becomes clear that his childhood companion will never see him as a man she could love, Thom joins Edward Bruce’s army as a man-at-arms to try to change his lot. If he’s harbored a secret hope that he could close the gap between them, he faces the cold, hard truth when Elizabeth comes to him for help… she might need the boy who used to climb cliffs to rescue her brother from the hands of the English, but she would never see the son of a smith as a man worthy of her hand. Or would she?
He’d been waiting for this for too damned long. Waiting for her to come to him, to recognize what had always been between them, and to show her exactly what she’d forsaken.
No more holding back, damn it. He started out slow, as if testing whether his body would follow his mind’s command. Put your hand on her waist. Gentle, damn it. Don’t bring her in too tight. Move your other hand up easy. Cradle her head.
Ah, Christ. He bit back a groan as the smooth silk of her hair slid over his knuckles and sent a fresh wave of sensation racing over his skin. It taunted him. Tempted him. He wanted to lace his fingers through it, twist it around his hand, and bring her mouth in hard against his.
He wanted to slide his tongue into her mouth and kiss her hard and deep. He wanted to kiss her until her taste melded with his, until her tongue circled and thrust wildly — passionately — against his, until she felt the same insatiable hunger that was burning inside him.
Blood rushed like molten ore through his veins, urging him to devour, urging him to open those achingly sweet lips under his and taste her fully. But he forced his pulse to slow, forced his hands not to grip but to caress, and forced his mouth to sweep and entreat, not ravish and plunder like an uncouth villain.
As if she were the most fragile piece of porcelain, he drew her infinitesimally closer. The hand on her hip slid around her waist and the hand cupping her head brought her mouth more firmly against his.
He didn’t move. Didn’t trust himself to do anything other than let the sensations roll over him in a hot, heavy wave. But the honey sweetness of her breath, the velvety softness of her lips, the feminine lushness of the curves sinking into him dragged him under.
It was too much. It felt too good. The instincts firing through him were too powerful, the urges too primal. He was too damned hot. He couldn’t do this. He had to pull back.
But whatever rationality he might have possessed fled when she made a moan low in her throat. A moan that moved from her mouth into his. A moan that shattered every bone of restraint he had in his body and opened the damned floodgates.
He pressed her into the curve of his body, gripped the back of her head, and brought her mouth decisively to his. There were no more gentle brushes and sweeping entreaties; he opened her lips with his and sank into her deep and hard. Kissing the innocence from her mouth with bold, authoritative strokes of his tongue that demanded a response.
And she gave him one. Christ, how she gave him one. Her response undid him. Tentative and innocent at first — proving that she’d never been kissed like this before — and bolder and more passionate as desire took over.
Desire for him.
Aye, she wanted him, and the satisfaction of being right, of knowing that the connection between them was far more than friendship, was nothing to feeling it shudder through her, hearing it in her soft moans, and tasting it in the frenzy of her mouth and tongue sliding against his.
It was even better than he’d imagined — and what he’d imagined had been damned spectacular. But he hadn’t been able to dream up the incredible feel of all those womanly curves fitted against him, the delicate sweetness of her mouth, the silkiness of her hair, the fresh scent of soap that clung to her baby-soft skin. He sure as hell couldn’t have known how it would feel to have her hands digging into his back and shoulders as the kiss intensified, as if she were struggling to hold on. And he hadn’t had a damned clue what it would be like when her body rubbed against his trying to get closer. When his hand slid around the firm swell of her bottom to lift her against him. To feel his cock hard and snug in that one place he wanted it, and then feel her rock innocently but instinctively against him.
He damned near lost himself. The pleasure was so acute, the pressure so intense, he could have come right there.
He didn’t know how much longer he could hold on. His hands were no longer capable of caressing; they were too busy covering every inch of her. The soft swell of her hips, the lush curve of her bottom, the heavy swell of her breasts.
He couldn’t hold back the groan when he finally took those perfect mounds of flesh in his hands. Christ, they were spectacular. Lush and round and generous. Too much to hold in one hand generous. Bury your face generous. Wreak havoc with his nights generous. How many times had he dreamed of this? Dreamed of cupping her. Squeezing her. Circling his thumb over the turgid peak until she arched in his hand. Dreamed of making her gasp and moan.
If he’d ever had a doubt about the nature of the connection between them, it was gone. Passion like this couldn’t be denied.
Nor could it be controlled.
About the author: Monica McCarty is the bestselling author of the Highland Guard series, the MacLeods of Skye trilogy and the Campbell trilogy. Her interest in the Scottish clan system began in the most unlikely of places: a comparative legal history course at Stanford Law School. After realizing that her career as a lawyer and her husband’s transitory life as a professional baseball player were not exactly a match made in heaven, she traded in her legal briefs for Scottish historical romances with sexy alpha heroes. Monica McCarty lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two children.
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