Read An Excerpt

by Hannah Howell

Genre: Scotland, Historical Romance

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Ainslee gave a soft cry of surprise, for she had not heard his approach, then cast him a brief glare of annoyance over her shoulder, before returning all of her attention to Ugly.

The way Gabel stood so closely behind her quickly began to unsettle her. She was too keenly aware of his presence, of his warmth at her back.  It annoyed her that, despite spending most of his day with another woman, her interest in him had only grown stronger. She still wanted him. Still dreamt of him, and still ached for his kisses. It was, she decided, all rather pathetic. Her only comfort was in the fact that he had no knowledge of her weaknesses.

“He has been treated as weel as any bairn,” she said, squeezing her fingers through the slats to scratch her dog’s ears. “He doesnae understand why he cannae run free.”

“As I said, I believe that, if he runs free now, he will die.” Gabel slipped his arms about her tiny waist, and rested his chin on the top of her head. “The Frasers see your dog as a threat.”

“And ye cannae stop them from doing as they please?” She inwardly cursed the hint of huskiness in her voice caused by the warmth his touch stirred within her.

“Stop them from protecting themselves? Nay, I could deny that your dog was a threat, but, in truth, most people would wonder why I troubled myself over a dog.”

“And because the dog is mine, ‘twill be thought by many that the Frasers were right to kill him,” Ainslee said quietly, ruefully acknowledging that the MacNairn name was enough to condemn her or any of her own.

“I fear so.” Gabel touched a kiss to the back of her ear, smiling faintly when she trembled in his arms. “Why would the Frasers falsely accuse your dog?”

“They hate dogs.” As he teased her ear with warm, gentle kisses, Ainslee closed her eyes and leaned back into his hold.

“Clever, Ainslee, but not an answer good enough to silence my questions.”

“Why trouble me with questions anyhow? What does it all matter?”

“Something is going on at Bellefleur, something between you and the Frasers.”

“Do ye think we plot against you?”

Ainslee turned around to face him. She had hoped that that move would end his kissing and the confusing heat stirred by his body pressing so close to hers. The respite she gained was only brief, for he placed his hands against the sturdy pen on either side of her, caging her body between his and the dogs’ cage.

She shuddered when he touched a kiss to her cheek, slowly drawing his body closer to hers until they brushed against each other. She clenched her hands into tight fists as she fought the urge to reach out to him and pull him hard up against her. All her needs and desires were descending upon her with a vengeance and a strength she was finding impossible to fight. The clarity of mind she needed to fend off his questions was swiftly retreating.