His cock was hugely erect, stiff and distended just inches from her face. It gleamed with her wetness and the skin was stretched tight over the broad tip.

“Open your mouth, Keeley.”

He thrust one hand into her hair and cupped her nape, at the same time he grasped the base of his cock with his other hand and guided it toward her parted lips.

Her mouth stretched around his swollen girth and he pushed deep. At first she struggled to accommodate him, but he was patient, giving her time to adjust and to breathe from her nose.

Wanting to please him, she took more, but he pulled at her hair to prevent her action. “Nay, just remain still,” he murmured.

Holding her head with both hands, he began to thrust inside her mouth. Slowly at first. He glided across her tongue and to the back of her throat. As she relaxed more, he became more demanding, pushing deeper and holding himself there before retreating so she could draw breath.

The only sounds that she could hear was the wet sucking noises as he powered in and out of her mouth and his own harsh breathing.

He groaned when a tiny amount of liquid spurted onto her tongue. Salty and tangy. She prepared herself for more, but he pulled himself roughly from her mouth and then pulled forcefully at his shaft with his hand.

Hot semen splashed onto her chest. He held her neck and tilted her head upward as he directed more over her breasts. His fingers tightened at her nape and he groaned as he worked the last of his release onto her skin.

He stood there, his breaths coming hard while she knelt in front of him trying to catch her breath as well. Never had she imagined such a thing between a man and a woman. It invoked a primitive response deep in her being. She felt owned by the warrior. His possession to do with as he wished. Never had she wished so hard for anything to be true.

He bent and kissed the top of her head and then helped her to rise. He led her over to the wash basin and gently cleaned his semen from her body.

He washed himself and she could see that he was still rigidly erect. She wasn’t overly knowledgeable about such things, but she was sure this couldn’t be normal.

Leaving her hands secured behind her back, he took her back over to the bed where he piled pillows on the side. Then he simply nudged her until she lay over the pillows, belly down, her legs splayed wide with her feet planted on the floor.

This time when he slid into her from behind, he lacked some of the urgency of before. Almost as if he’d sated himself and could be more patient this time.

He pushed back and forth, setting a slow and steady rhythm, almost exploratory in nature. He squeezed her plump bottom with both hands and massaged as his cock disappeared into her body over and over.

He worked into her until her body started to respond. Soon she arched upward to take him and she tingled in anticipation, her womb clenching with desperate need. She gasped and curled her fingers into tight fists in their bonds.

Then he reached between the pillow and her body and his fingers found the sensitive nub between her legs. He stroked and caressed until she was wild in her need for release. Still, he continued his relentless assault, never deviating from the steady pace he’d begun.

She was nearly weeping with her need. Her body was strung too tight. The pressure was painful.

And still, he pushed back and forth, infinitely patient.

His fingers stroked gently over her flesh until finally she was as taut as a bowstring at full draw. And then finally, all the tension released in one huge burst of exquisite, mind-numbing pleasure.

Her vision blurred. She cried out his name over and over until all she could hear were her own sobs. Wave after wave, seemingly unending until she melted into the pillows holding her up to him.

She lost awareness as she floated on some distant cloud. For several long moments she had no understanding of her surroundings or that he continued to push into her.

Gradually she became aware of the slapping of flesh against flesh and realized that he was still inside her, riding her ruthlessly.

She hadn’t the strength to do more than lie there as he commanded her body. Unbelievably she felt the stirrings deep within her core as he continued to thrust.

He was less patient now. He grasped her hips, his fingers digging into her flesh. He pounded into her, now seemingly determined to build the fire within her anew.

It was sharper, faster, and more intense this time. He whispered her name. Then he leaned forward, his hips powering against her behind with bruising strength.

“You’re mine,” he uttered. “Mine. You belong to me. No man will ever have you as I’ve had you this night.”

Warmth traveled through her blood, curling low in her pelvis. Nay, no man would ever lay claim to her in the way that Alaric McCabe had.

She gave herself over to the rising tide. She surrendered. She wanted nothing more than to belong to this man. She shuddered in the throes of her release and opened her body fully to receive him.

He pulled from her, his retreat nearly painful around her swollen, tender flesh. Then she felt his seed against her back as he lay against her, his chest heaving with exertion.

He kissed her nape and whispered soft words she couldn’t even hear.

For a long moment he lay against her, his cock pulsing against her flesh. Then slowly he pushed himself off and untied her wrists. He held each one and massaged her hands until all the tingles had gone away.

“Stay here,” he said as he left the bed.

He returned a moment later with a warm cloth and gently wiped the remnants of his passion from her back and buttocks. When he was done, he rolled her over and pulled her into his arms.

“Never have I acted thusly with a woman,” he admitted as he stroked her hair. “ ’Tis something primitive within me that roars at me to claim you, to make you mine and to mark you in some permanent way.”

She smiled and cuddled closer to him. She was deliciously sore and sated. “I like that you mark me yours. I never dreamed that something like this existed between a man and a woman.”

“Neither did I,” Alaric said ruefully. “You inspire me, lass.”

She chuckled and then yawned. Alaric kissed her brow and pulled her even tighter against him.

“What do we do, Alaric?” she whispered. “ ’Twas only supposed to be one night.”

He ran his fingers through her hair and laid his cheek against her forehead. “We take it one day at a time and savor every moment together. When the time comes to say good-bye, we’ll have these nights to look back upon and remember how fierce the passion was between us.”


Keeley was convinced that the birth of Mairin’s child was not only a blessed event in the McCabe clan but in heaven as well. In January, when winter was usually at its harshest, what could only be considered mild weather settled in just a fortnight before Lady McCabe’s birthing time.

It was as if the whole of the highlands waited with held breath for the appearance of the heir to Neamh Álainn.

Oh the weather was still cold to be sure, but the snows hadn’t fallen in weeks and the wind hadn’t howled. The sun seemed to shine brighter for the short period of the day it rose, and the nights didn’t seem quite so dark.

Mairin was becoming increasingly impatient. In the evenings, Keeley gathered with Maddie, Bertha, and Christina and they took turns entertaining Mairin to keep her mind from her impending delivery.

Even Ewan joined in and spent many an evening sitting with his wife in front of the fire in the great hall. ’Twas a relaxed time, and more and more Keeley felt a part of the McCabe clan.

Though she and Alaric were careful to keep public contact to a minimum, their nights were spent behind the closed doors of her chambers.

He’d come to her late, once all were abed, and he’d make sweet love to her until dawn’s rays spread across the sky.

After her illness, she hadn’t tried to deny him. She was powerless to. Oh, she knew their time was drawing to an end, and the thought instilled a fierce ache in the deepest recesses of her soul, but not for one moment would she regret being with him. It was a joy she’d carry with her all the days of her life.

This morning they stayed abed longer than usual. It was typical for Alaric to go quietly back to his chamber before the rest of the keep awakened, but today they lay and he traced lazy lines up and down her arm as she snuggled against his chest.

“I should rise,” he whispered before pressing his lips to her temple.

“Aye, you should.”

He remained still. “I find it harder and harder with each passing day to leave your arms.”

She closed her eyes against the ache and squeezed him to her a little tighter. ’Twas the truth she’d expected for him to grow tired of her after a few nights. She’d resigned herself to taking what he offered and not saying a word when he left her bed. But for the past weeks, he’d visited her bed with increasing frequency, until it was commonplace for him to spend every night with her.

“Do you train today?” she asked lightly.

He grunted. “Aye. And every day. ’Tis important not to grow fat and lazy in the winter. With Mairin’s day drawing nigh, the chance of attack grows stronger by the day.”

She sighed. “ ’Tis no way to live. Poor Mairin.”

They rested in silence for several more minutes before Alaric turned and captured her lips in a hungry, carnal kiss. It caught her by surprise and before she could muster a response, he rolled, fitting himself between her legs.

There was no gentleness. Where before he was infinitely patient and loving, now he was urgent and demanding. It reminded her of the night when he’d commanded her complete obedience and had taken her over and over.

His cock slid over her entrance and then stabbed deep. She gasped at the overwhelming fullness and her eyes went wide at the savage look in his gaze. He was fierce. A predator intent on his prey.

Reaching down, he grasped the undersides of her legs and yanked upward, the motion seating himself fully within her.

Her fingers gripped his shoulders, her nails digging as he moved over her, his body covering hers completely.

His breaths came harsh, the sound explosive in her ears. “I can never get enough of you. I tell myself one more time. Just once. And it’s never enough. It’ll never be enough.”

Her heart went soft at the pain in his voice. She’d spent so much time dwelling on her own despair and dread for when they were to be parted; she hadn’t considered that he, too, was full of regret.

She reached for his face, cupping his strong jaw before pulling him down until his mouth was a mere breath from hers. She traced the lines of his cheekbone, feathering down to his mouth and chin.

“I love you,” she whispered. “I told myself I wouldn’t make it hard, that I’d never breathe those words. But ’tis harder for me to go without saying them. I need to give them to you.”

His breath caught and anguish flooded his eyes. He stilled within her and gazed down at her with such emotion that tears pricked at her lids. When he started to open his mouth she pressed a finger to his lips.

“Don’t say anything. ’Tis no need. I feel the very heart of you inside me, surrounding me. I carry you with me everywhere I go. Do not speak of forbidden things between us. Let it remain my sin alone.”

He crushed her to him and rolled until she was atop him. He kissed her breathlessly, her mouth, her cheek, her eyes, and back down to her chin.

They took each other desperately, feeding as if starved, loving as if this would be their last time together. She knew not what fed the urgency, but she didn’t fight it.

“Ride me,” he whispered. “Take me. Make me yours, lass. Let me hold you in my arms and watch you fly. There’s not a more beautiful sight.”

Swallowing the knot in her throat, she pressed her palms to his chest and began moving over him, sensuously, watching his every expression as she took him deep inside her body.

His eyes glittered and became half-lidded, smoky with desire, and his lips curved into a satisfied smile.

Aye, he was hers. Her warrior. No one could ever take that from her. Another woman might bear his name and his children, but she would own his heart just as he would always own hers.

The power in his body mesmerized her. Every ripple and bulge of his muscles, the broad plane of his chest and the taut surface of his belly. He was all male, all hard, all beautiful.

She hoisted herself upward and then leaned her head down to run her tongue up the middle of his chest. He tensed and held his breath when she nibbled a path to his neck. She nipped playfully and then sank her teeth into the thickly corded column below his ear.

With a groan, he wrapped his arms around her and dragged her down, bucking his hips and driving deep into her softness.

“I love you. I love you.”

It was a litany on her lips, a song from the depths of her soul. Tears swam and slipped down her cheeks as she gathered him in her arms.

His arms slipped around her body like bands of steel. They held tightly to each other as the storm swelled around them. Her release, when it came, was sweet and tender, not the tumultuous tide it had been so many times before.

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