?Now available! TRUSTING HER HIGHLAND LAIRD
When Eileen Glencairn is forced into marriage for the second time, she finds her new husband is completely different from her first experience. The love and kindness Gallagher has shown her is teaching her to slowly trust again. It’s Christmas in the Highlands, and she has plans for Gallaher’s first gift from her. But if she can’t control her deeply rooted fears, how can she ever gift him her complete trust and submission?
When Gallagher finds his father’s interesting and well-stocked play room in Castle McCrae, he is delighted and immediately wants to plan some fun there with his new young wife, Eileen. But Eileen isn’t cooperating. When he finds out the room is a source of nightmares for her, he immediately drops the whole idea…until she brings it up again at Christmas. The holidays may prove to be very interesting after all!
Publishers Note: This historical romance contains elements of power exchange.
Castle McKenna of the MacAlister clan in Scotland’s Highlands, the 1760s
“I’ve returned to claim my inheritance, Leenie,” Morgan MacAlister stated flatly, his vivid green gaze studying Eileen’s face and body as if he didn’t recognize her.
And in truth, she knew she was very different from the twelve-year-old he’d left behind eight years ago when their half-brother, Canton, had cheated him out of his inheritance. His use of her nickname from childhood softened her somewhat.
“I can see that ye’ve been treated badly whilst I was gone, and I’m sorry for that, but I intend to have what’s mine,” Morgan said.
Defeating Canton and taking back their home had been Eileen’s goal for the past four years, and she’d finally been successful. Revenge against all the men in her life, including her brother, had been a powerful motivator, and she’d been sated with the sweet taste of victory.
What she hadn’t planned on was Morgan returning just when she’d defeated Canton to reclaim his inheritance himself. Nor had she planned on him bringing back Gallagher Glencairn, the rightful heir to the clan she now led.
She panned the beautiful rose garden they were standing in, the one their mother had loved, and her gaze finally came back to rest on Morgan. They were within the soft-colored, outer yellow walls of Castle McKenna where they had grown up. She’d been so hurt when Morgan had left her behind and at the mercy of Canton. And he hadn’t been there for her when Canton had sold her to Donald Glencairn, the Laird of Castle McCrae, in return for gold to fill Castle McKenna’s coffers.
As her gaze traveled up and down the changes in his physique, she realized that although Morgan had left a bitter and disillusioned young boy, he’d returned a powerful man, fully capable of leading the MacAlister clan.
Eileen sighed. Canton had manipulated them both, and she wasn’t the only one who’d been hurt. It was time to let go of the bitterness she harbored against Morgan and make things right. After all, she was a mother now, and she had her son to think of. Morgan and his new wife, Kat, were his family too, and she wanted Soren to know them both.
“I’ll give ye back control of Castle McKenna, Morgan, if Canton has left anything worth claiming,” she agreed wearily. “‘Tis yere inheritance after all. I can try to help ye if the coffers are empty again. Canton has spent through them twice over now.”
Morgan flashed her a gentle smile, some of the tension seeming to leave his strong muscled frame. “I don’t need yere money, Leenie. I have plenty of my own to take care of things.”
The garden door slid open and they both turned. Kat ushered Gallagher Glencairn through it. Eileen watched the approaching man warily, not liking the way he was looking at her. She couldn’t say what it was that made her uncomfortable…unless it was the appraising look in his silvery eyes. Or perhaps it was the square jaw that bespoke of a stubbornness to equal her own. There was a determined air about him, and his lips were set in a grim line as if he had a bone to pick with her.
She lifted her chin in defiance, her back stiffening as he neared. She’d seen Jamie and Dungally dragging him off to the study earlier, and they must have given him the bad news that he was no longer his father’s heir. Apparently, his dispossession of the title and lands of the Glencairn legacy wasn’t sitting well with him. Not that she could blame him. It was too late though, Castle McCrae and the Glencairn clan was hers now, her and Soren’s’.
Gallagher stopped in front of them, his avid gaze never leaving her. She stood there proudly, growing angry. He inspected her from the feet up, his attention lingering at the curve of her breasts then finally resting on her flushed face.
“Do I pass yere inspection then?” she mocked scornfully, somewhat unnerved by his sensual appraisal.
“Aye, ye’re quite beautiful, lass. No wonder my father wanted to wed ye. He always had an eye for a buxom wench.” His own eyes were contemptuous, as if she’d seduced Donald Glencairn.
“Yere father was a bastard,” Eileen snapped back at him. “How dare ye insinuate I had anything to do with this farce of a marriage? I thank the Gods that he’s been dead these past four years. He was a despicable excuse for a man.”
“I’ll not pretend a mock sorrow. I had no use for my father myself,” Gallagher responded grimly. “The real problem is how to get my inheritance back.”
“That’s not possible. Donald made his decree before the clan leaders and the village. It canna be broken.” She almost felt sorry for him, but not quite. He was Donald Glencairn’s’ own son after all.
“There’s always a way.”
He stepped forward and reached out to bring the knuckles of his hand along the side of her chin, and she drew her breath in quickly.
Flinching, she stepped back. “Don’t touch me!”
His hand dropped. “I was just going to tell ye there is a way. Dungally MacMillan, as clan leader, has made a decree himself.”
“And what might that be,” Eileen asked, suspicious, her heart beating faster. Her jawline tingled where he’d touched her and she hated the feeling. She didn’t want to react to him, nor to any man. And what the devil was Dungally up to?
“Ye can marry me.”
Eileen’s face surely paled. She couldn’t have heard him right. “M…marry?” she whispered, fearful.
“Aye, marry me,” he replied, watching her closely.
Morgan looked thoughtful. “Now that’s an interesting proposal, Gallagher. I don’t believe Dungally, even as clan leader, has the power to go over the law of the land. Besides, isn’t it a bit improper, considering the child?”
“It…it would be indecent,” Eileen stammered in agreement. Her face flushed, then grew cold again, her eyes stormed darker than before. “Even if I wanted to get married again, which I don’t, I can’t marry my dead husband’s son. Being married to a Glencairn was hellish enough the first time.”
“I knew my father, lass, so I can appreciate yere feelings. However, I am not my father.” He turned to Morgan. “Would ye leave us to discuss this ourselves? I will fill ye in later regarding the legalities.”
“Aye,” Morgan agreed with a slight frown. “As long as everything is legal, I’ll leave ye to it.”
“I have no intention of discussing this, now or any other time. I will not marry ye.” Eileen stepped around him with the intent of leaving.
He reached out and grasped her arm.
Quick as a wink her right hand came up of its own accord and she slapped him across the face. “Take yere hand off me,” she said, trying to jerk loose.
Gallagher held her easily while she squirmed to pull free. When she couldn’t, she screamed in frustration and attempted to slap him again.
“Stand still and I’ll release ye,” he said calmly, stopping her swing and holding both arms as she struggled wildly.
“Gallagher,” Morgan began and started back towards them, concern for Eileen in his green eyes.
Gallagher stopped him with a look. “I won’t hurt her, Morg,” he assured him, reverting to the casual use of his friend’s name.
The two men studied each other.
Morgan finally nodded and stepped back. “I’ll just be inside if ye need me, Leenie.”
Gallagher’s warm hands on her arms created strange sensations, and Eileen didn’t like it at all. Why was his mere touch having this effect on her? She stopped struggling and was rewarded with her release. She quickly folded her arms beneath her breasts again, her chest heaving with exertion. She stared at him, defiant, hating him for the reaction he’d incited in her unwilling body.
“Don’t ever hit me again, lass.” His gaze bored into her eyes with a deadly warning.
“Or what?” She eyed him, contemptuous. “Ye’ll hit me back?”
Gallagher’s brow curled upward. “Nay, I don’t hit women. But ye won’t like the consequences, I can guarantee that.”
“Keep yere hands off me and I won’t have to,” she replied derisively.
The door to the garden closed, making them both aware that Morgan had left, leaving them alone. Suddenly, Eileen felt trapped and at a distinct disadvantage. Although she knew Morgan was within earshot if she chose to call to him, she couldn’t help the feeling of abandonment once again. Shaking it off, she backed up until she was well away from Gallagher’s physical aura and felt like she could breathe normally again.
“I’ve been giving it some thought, and I have a proposition for ye to think about.” He folded his bare brawny arms across his wide chest as he spoke.
“Go on,” Eileen ordered disdainfully, although she had no intention of agreeing to any outlandish offer. Not even for Dungally MacMillan, who had treated her like the father she still mourned the loss of, or Jamie McCann, who had been her staunch friend, would she accept it.
“We’ll have a marriage in name only and for the period of one year. After that, I’ll set ye free with all ye need to live on and see to it that the child is well taken care of. What do ye say?”
Eileen was astounded at Gallagher’s words. “And just why should I agree to this peculiar scheme? I’ve got it all now, and my son’s future is assured. He will have everything his father had to offer him. Donald Glencairn owed me that, so why should I turn it all over to you and retire on a stipend? It’s a ridiculous offer, and the answer is no.” She glared at him, daring him to refute her.
“Two reasons. One, the child is not my fathers.”
Eileen felt horrified and sick at heart beneath his disapproving scrutiny. “Dungally told ye about Soren?” she asked, disbelieving.
“Aye. He said ye were forced against yere will and that my father decided to take the babe as his own.” A brief flash of sympathy played across his face but was instantly gone.
“Something like that,” she agreed and then laughed bitterly, knowing it was Donald who had forced someone to breed with her. He was certainly no hero, taking Soren on as if she’d actually been raped. The old man had planned it.
“And two, the clan is unhappy with a woman leading it. They want me back, and I intend to have my rightful place back as well. Dungally and Jamie have insisted we be married to put things right.”
“As far as the clan is concerned, Soren is Donald’s son, and I don’t have to marry ye. No one knows any differently,” she declared.
“Nevertheless, ye will marry me.” He stared down into her rebellious face, imposing his will upon her own, and Eileen felt helpless suddenly.
“But…it’s against the law to intermarry. The king himself has decreed it.” She watched him carefully, his regal bearing lazily sensual as he studied her, gauging her reactions. A pull tugged at her senses in spite of herself. He was a handsome brute.
“We are not related by blood, lass,” Gallagher replied. “And knowing I’d be back one day, Jamie took it upon himself to request an exception from the king’s own lips, should it prove a viable situation. He has the paperwork with the king’s seal on it authorizing our marriage.”
Eileen was stunned. She’d been outmaneuvered and she hadn’t even seen it coming. Curse Jamie and Dungally for not telling her, and damn them for their well-meaning machinations.
“Nay! I won’t do it,” she yelled furiously. Despair filled her heart as she saw her well-ordered, hard-won world crumbling about her. “They can’t make me marry ye, they have no right!”
He moved in closer. “If ye refuse to wed me, then ye leave me no choice but to come against ye in war. I’ll win, but it will cost many lives, some of whom will be our friends. They will have no choice but to support ye, even if they don’t approve of yere position, and some will die for that loyalty. Do ye want that on yere conscience?” His gaze locked with hers. “I have no wish to do that, but ye leave me little choice. Jamie McCann is my cousin, and Dungally is the clan leader, and they want me back. But they will not support me if I declare the child an illegal heir. Also, because of the great respect I have for yere brother, I have no desire to shame his sister. So war would be my only recourse.” His head dove down and he looked her straight in the eye, his expression fierce as he made his declaration. “Make no mistake, I was born to rule the Glencairn clan, and rule it I will, with or without ye.”
“I can’t believe yere own conscience would allow ye to wage war,” she whispered painfully, her face undoubtedly deathly white at his words. There was no denying he meant every one of them.
“I’ll do what I have to do,” he replied with a grimace. “If ye agree to marry me and we find that we suit one another after the year is up, we’ll make it a real marriage. Soren will be my heir and have his place amongst our children.”
Eileen could have sworn regret and kindness lingered in that silvery gaze, hiding somewhere behind determination. If she had, his next words destroyed it.
“But if ye make me come against ye in war, when I defeat ye, I’ll turn ye out with a mere pittance and no inheritance for the child either.”
“Ye are a bastard then, just like yere father,” she hissed, swinging in reaction to land a vicious slap across his face once again. She put all her pent-up frustration and fury into that slap and immense satisfaction coursed through her at the immediate red handprint that blazed across his lean jaw.
Her satisfaction was short-lived as his eyes tapered to slits. He grabbed her arm and whirled her around. His long arm was a steel band around her middle, and he pulled her against him and quickly divested her of her armor, sword, and belt. Then he dragged her, angry and kicking at his thick calves, over to a stone bench inside the shaded arbor.
“I said, don’t touch me,” she yelled, fearful. What was he going to do to her? Would he rape her? She’d been caught off guard, not expecting any requital, and that had cost her.
It was a shock of a different kind when she unexpectedly found herself face down over his hard, muscled thighs. She fought desperately, suddenly aware of where this was going. “What are ye doing? Let me up!”
Just in time for Christmas, with enough spice and sexy sweetness to keep you warm and entertained!
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