In Bed with a Highlander

By: Maya Banks

“Will you tell me what it is I want to know now?” he asked. To be fair—and he was a fair man—he wanted to give her the opportunity to confide her identity before he related his own knowledge.

She thrust her chin upward in the show of defiance he now expected from her and shook her head. “Nay. I will not. You cannot order me to trust you. Why, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

He sensed she was warming up for a full-length diatribe, so he did the one thing he knew would silence her.

He rapidly closed the distance between them, curled his hands around her upper arms, and hauled her upward. His lips found hers in a heated rush, her gasp of outrage swallowed up by his mouth.

She went rigid against him, her hands shoving between them in an attempt to push him away. He brushed his tongue over her lips, tasting her sweetness, demanding entrance into her mouth.

Her second gasp came out more as a sigh. Her lips parted and she melted into his chest like warm honey. She was soft all over, and she fit him like his sword fit his hand. Perfectly.

He pushed inward, sliding his tongue over hers. She went rigid again, and her fingers curled into his chest like tiny daggers. He closed his eyes and imagined them digging into his back as he thrust between her thighs.

Lord, but she was sweet. Nay, bedding her would be no hardship at all. The image of her swollen with his child flickered through his mind, and he found himself very pleased with the image. Very pleased indeed.

When he finally pulled away, her eyes were glazed, her lips deliciously swollen, and she swayed like a sapling in the wind.

She blinked several times and then frowned sharply. “Why did you do that?”

“It was the only way to silence you.”

She bristled with outrage. “Silence me? You took liberties with my … my … my lips in order to silence me? That was very impertinent of you, Laird. I won’t allow you to do it again.”

He smiled and folded his arms over his chest. “Aye, you will.”

Her mouth gaped open in astonishment and then worked up and down as she struggled to speak. “I assure you I won’t.”

“I assure you that you will.”





CHAPTER 1





Mairin Stuart knelt on the stone floor beside her pallet and bowed her head in her evening prayer. Her hand slipped to the small wooden cross hanging from a bit of leather around her neck, and her thumb rubbed a familiar path over the now smooth surface.

For several long minutes, she whispered the words she’d recited since she was a child, and then she ended it as she always did. Please, God. Don’t let them find me.

She pushed herself from the floor, her knees scraping the uneven stones. The plain, brown garb she wore signaled her place along the other novices. Though she’d been here far longer than the others, she’d never taken the vows that would complete her spiritual journey. It was never her intention.

She went to the basin in the corner and poured from the pitcher of water. She smiled as she dampened her cloth, and Mother Serenity’s words came floating to mind. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

She wiped her face and started to remove her gown to extend her wash when she heard a terrible crash. Startled, she dropped the cloth and whirled around to stare at her closed door. Then galvanized to action, she ran and flung it open, racing into the hall.

Around her, the other nuns also filled the hall, their dismayed murmurs rising. A loud bellow echoed down the corridor from the abbey’s front entrance. A cry of pain followed the bellow, and Mairin’s heart froze. Mother Serenity.

Mairin and the rest of the sisters ran toward the sound, some lagging back while others shoved determinedly ahead. When they reached the chapel, Mairin drew up short, paralyzed by the sight before her.

Warriors were everywhere. There were at least twenty, all dressed in battle gear, their faces unwashed, sweat drenching their hair and clothing. But no blood. They hadn’t come for sanctuary or aid. The leader held Mother Serenity by the arm, and even from a distance, Mairin could see the abbess’s face drawn in pain.

“Where is she?” the man demanded in a cold voice.

Mairin took a step back. He was a fierce-looking man. Evil. Rage coiled in his eyes like a snake waiting to strike. He shook Mother Serenity when she didn’t respond, and she warbled in his grasp like a rag doll.

Mairin crossed herself and whispered an urgent prayer. The nuns around her gathered in a close ball and also offered their prayers.

“She is not here,” Mother Serenity gasped out. “I’ve told you the woman you seek is not here.”

“You lie!” he roared.

He looked toward the group of nuns, his gaze flickering coldly over them.