Monday, August 24, 2015
My Highland Bride by Maeve Greyson
With bedroom eyes and racetrack curves, Kenna Sinclair seems like just another pretty Kentucky girl. But she can also read minds, erase memories, and jump through time—a skill set that comes in handy when her matchmaking granny sends her back to thirteenth-century Scotland on the pretext of visiting her older sister. When she encounters the clan’s womanizing man-at-arms, Kenna instantly knows the gorgeous Highlander has only one thing on his mind. She vows to steer clear of him, but after a single electrifying touch, she finds that playing hard to get won’t be quite so easy. . . .
Bewitched by the first lass who could ever resist him, Colum Garrison will do anything to prove his devotion, even ask for Kenna’s hand in marriage—and swear off his chosen form of recreation until their wedding night. It’s a burden for a man of his thunderous appetite, but the sinful temptation is not his alone: Colum’s fetching bride-to-be is practically trembling with anticipation for a moment that can’t come soon enough. When she’s willing, Colum will be ready and waiting—with a love that lasts a lifetime.
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Scotland—The Highlands—Thirteenth Century
“Have ye e’er seen such a lovely set o’ bosoms?”
Colum Garrison lowered his cup enough to peer past the metal rim. Aye. Diarmuid had the right of it there. The man had a keen eye when it came to the lasses. The newest serving girl was indeed a comely maid blessed with a bounty of curves.
Colum drained the tankard, licking the last of the tangy ale from his lips as he slid the empty mug to the table. “An untapped MacKenna keg against that fine ale ye bring all the way from Ireland. What say ye? I gi’ ye fair odds. Whoe’er leaves the hall with her on his arm claims the spoils.”
Diarmuid squinted one eye shut while scrubbing his fingers through the short black beard curling along his jaw. “Fair odds, me arse. If I win the gift of the lass’s charms, ye’ll gi’ me yer best bow along wi’ that keg of fine MacKenna whisky.”
Colum tapped a thumb against the handle of his empty tankard. Yon sweetling would easily choose him o’er Diarmuid, but wager his best bow? O’er something as flighty as a woman’s druthers? Instinct and past experience with Diarmuid’s less-than-scrupulous wagers gave him pause. The man’s terms reeked with the stench of a carefully laid trap. Colum drummed his fingers atop the rough table. “That bow was a gift from the chieftain. There’s none like it in all the Highlands.”
Diarmuid grinned, held up his index finger, then slowly allowed it to droop at the knuckle. He gave a sly wink as he flipped the sagging appendage, making it appear boneless. “What ails ye, m’friend? Are ye no’ feelin’ up for the wee challenge?”
Colum banged his empty mug atop the long trestle table and waved the girl toward them. “I’ll show ye ‘up.’ After the lass has been with me, she’ll no’ have a hunger for yer wee sausage.”
Diarmuid rubbed his hands together, his impish grin widening into a devilish smile. “We shall see, man-at-arms. We shall see.”
The teasing look in the young woman’s eyes, paired with the coy tilting of her head, settled the matter nicely. Aye. The lass is as good as mine, and so is another keg of Diarmuid’s fine ale. Colum slowly traced a fingertip around the curve of his mug. Soon his fingers would trace along much finer curves.
The girl tucked her broad wooden platter under one arm and sashayed toward them. When she reached the men, the red-haired vixen leaned across the bench and propped a hand atop the table. Her smile widened as she not so subtly arched her back, providing an even better view of the creamy cleavage about to spill free of her tightly laced kirtle. “Aye, master. Can I be a fetchin’ anythin’ for ye?”
Colum released his most beguiling smile, leaned forward, and ever so gently slid a finger beneath the young maid’s silky chin. Diarmuid ne’er stood a chance. This wee filly was already his. The truth of it shone in her clear blue eyes and her barely parted lips, already beggin’ for his kisses.
A deep voice boomed across the crowded hall. “Colum! Here. Now. The MacKenna bids ye see him in his solar at once. Best be about it, man.”
Colum let his hand drop to the table, clenching his teeth to keep from cursing aloud. Damn Galen and his ill-timed interruptions. What the hell was wrong wi’ the man? Could he no’ see there was serious business at hand?
Diarmuid chuckled and scooted Colum farther down the bench, bumping his way in front of the still smiling maid. “Dinna worry, friend. I’ll make sure this fine young lass doesna feel neglected by yer absence.” Diarmuid tickled a finger up and down the maid’s lightly freckled forearm as a beguiling smile lit up his face. “Do ye happen to fancy sausages, m’dear one?”
A low-throated growl escaped him as Colum swung out from the bench and stood. He searched the far wall of stone archways for Galen. ’Twas a sorry day when he’d been fool enough to make that clot-head his second in command. Aye, Galen was a fine warrior, but the stubborn bastard had a talent for bein’ a verra large pain in the arse.
Barrel-chested Galen grinned and waved from the widest of the arches leading up to the private rooms of the keep. He nodded and winked, rolling up on his toes to bounce a bit higher than his stumpy height, which barely brought him to Colum’s shoulder. His smirking grin widened to a toothy smile as Colum closed in on him. “Now, lad, dinna fret. I’m sure ye can win the lass back from Diarmuid as soon as the chief is done wi’ ye.”
“Ye just cost me m’best bow and a keg of whisky.” Colum shoved Galen aside as he shouldered through the doorway.
Galen lowered his broad shoulder and effectively bounced Colum a few steps sideways into the opposing wall. The man might be short of stature but he was nearly as wide as he was tall and stood as solid as Beinn Nibheis. He jabbed a short stubby finger toward the center of Colum’s chest. “I saved ye from yer chieftain’s wrath, ye ungrateful bastard. Were ye no’ just tellin’ me how the MacKenna warned ye to leave the maids alone for a bit? Did he no’ tell ye he grows weary of gettin’ his arse chewed by both his wife and her grandmother for how ye run through the women in the keep? Good Lord, man. Ye should be a thankin’ me. I saw Mother Sinclair herself headin’ toward ye from the kitchens.”
Damn the squat bastard. Colum rolled his shoulder, still stinging from scraping the rough stone of the wall, and glanced back behind them. Sure enough, Granny Sinclair was currently blessing out Diarmuid. She had one bony hand clamped around the serving girl’s elbow while she shook a bent finger just inches from the tip of Diarmuid’s nose. The old woman didna even pause for breath as she whipped around and shook the same scolding finger in the face of the wide-eyed maid.
It appeared a debt of gratitude was owed rather than a swift kick in the arse. Colum clapped a hand to Galen’s meaty shoulder and hurried them both farther down the hall. “I owe ye greatly, m’fine friend. I swear t’ye, I’ll do the sword dance at yer next weddin’.”
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