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BRIDE OF A SCOTTISH WARRIOR
by Adrienne Basso

Genre: Scotland, Historical Romance

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“This is not the first time the possibility of a second marriage has been raised by my brother, Ewan.” She paused. He smiled when she spoke his name. A lopsided grin that was so boyishly disarming she nearly smiled back, before blinking rapidly and regaining control of her senses. “Ye do me a great honor by asking fer my hand. Yet my answer remains the same to ye as it was to the others. I wish to retreat to the convent and a life of religious reflection. I know ’tis best fer me.”

She said the last forcefully, then felt a stab of worry that she had gone too far. Men did not like being told they were not in charge, in control, especially of females. Yet Ewan did not appear annoyed; his eyes were still dancing with merriment.

“They willnae allow ye all yer pretty baubles in the convent,” he said innocently.

“I shall manage without them,” Grace bit out.

He looked at her inquiringly, his head tilting slightly. “I’ve been told that silence is a virtue well regarded and sought after among the good sisters. Will that be difficult fer ye to endure day in and day out?”

Grace squirmed in her seat, though she supposed she deserved this bit of teasing. “I will strive and struggle day and night to hold my tongue.”

“Or ye could avoid these restrictions completely and marry me.”

“Nay,” Grace gritted out.

Sir Ewan’s jaw bulged as he clamped it together. She waited for the explosion of anger, but he was somehow able to conquer it.

“Women are known for changing their minds. ’Tis one of their many appealing traits.” His voice dipped lower, honeyed and coaxing. “What can I do to influence yer mind, fair Grace?”

“Accept the truth, good sir. I willnae change my mind nor my answer.”

She spoke each word crisply and held Ewan’s eyes as she uttered them. It seemed the best way to make him understand the depth of her feelings, the extent of her determination to remain unwed.

She braced herself, fully expecting him to cast off his flirting smiles. But he surprised her with a gentle look she found even more disarming. “I enjoy a challenge, especially one from a worthy opponent. It makes victory all the more sweeter, fer nothing of great worth in this life is ever easy to obtain.”

“Yer pretty words have no effect on my decision.”

“Aye, ’tis the deeds that matter.” His eyes filled with warmth. “I willnae threaten, nor cajole ye, lass. Instead, when the time is right, I’ll make my appeal to yer heart. Directly from mine.”

 Oh, my. It took an extreme effort not to look away. Or down. To keep her eyes steadily focused on him without betraying a single ounce of emotion that was spreading through her body.