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THE LAIRD'S CHOICE
by Amanda Scott

Genre: Scotland, Historical Romance

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Andrena did not hear Mag coming until the latch clicked, startling her so that she dropped her brush. Snatching it up, she jumped to her feet as the door opened, unwilling to be sitting when he entered. He would tower over her, and she felt vulnerable enough already.

He entered, glanced at her, and shut the door. Then, taking off his belt and his plaid, he hung both on a hook by the door, pulled off his boots, and without saying a word, went to the washstand in only his sark.

“Are you so angry that you don’t mean to speak to me?” she asked.

“If I’m ever angry enough that you need be wary, you’ll know it, believe me.”

In that moment, she did know it.

He turning toward her, “Don’t you think I have reason to be irked? How would you feel if I introduced you to friends of mine and took the liberty of providing them with my version of your feelings about them?”

“When you put it that way…” She nibbled her lip. “By my troth, sir, I meant only to help. I wanted you to understand how much Father trusts them. But I also wanted to see how they reacted, so I could tell whether you and I should trust them as much as he does.”

“I agree that you are likely right and both men are trustworthy,” he said.

She relaxed.

“However,” he went on, stirring her tension again, “you cannot know we can trust them simply from the way they received what you said. Sakes, lass, they both reacted only with surprise that you would say such things about your own husband.”

Standing had not helped. Nor was the slight space between them helping.

He loomed over her, large and authoritative. Even so, she could not tell what he felt. He radiated calm.

So why, she wondered, did he make her feel so vulnerable?

She wanted to explain that she could tell when people were sincere, that she could sense even small reactions and what people were feeling when they made vows or agreements. But she’d rarely spoken of her gifts or, as her mother called them, her extraordinary instincts. Not only were they inactive where he was concerned but he’d also dismissed what little she had revealed about them. She was reluctant to tell him more.

When he turned back to the washstand, she felt immediate relief and decided that her uneasiness had been due merely to guilt at having said what she had.

Then he turned and stepped toward her, making the tension leap again. Other feelings leaped, too, sensual ones less familiar to her.

When he put his hands on her shoulders, those feelings increased tenfold. Warmth from his hands, and trepidation, sped throughout her body.

She could scarcely breathe.

He was her husband. They barely knew each other. Yet, if he decided to punish her or couple with her, he could do either one. In any way he chose.