Wishing For A HighlanderBy: Jessi Gage
“Looks like a lass,” one of the wounded men said with a grin as he looked her up and down. “A bonny one at that.”
“Where’d ye find her, Big Darcy?” another man asked.
“In a mud puddle,” another answered. “’Tis clear to see.”
“Where’s the rest of her dress?” another asked.
“Is that blood beneath the mud?” Archie asked, wading through the wounded until he stood directly before her.
Nervous, she shifted to hide behind Darcy, but he didn’t cooperate, turning to go back the way they’d come. Just before disappearing back through the wall of trees, he said over his shoulder, “Though she looks to have taken a bath in blood, none of it seems to be hers. Take care of her, Archie.”
He slipped through the trees, leaving her staring disbelievingly after him. The brute hadn’t even said goodbye.
Ignoring Archie’s hand on her arm and the exhaustion demanding she sit and rest her weary pregnant bones, she marched toward the trees.
Darcy’s head poked through, so close that if she’d been a foot taller, he would have headbutted her. “I almost forgot,” he said to Archie. “She’s no’ English.”
He disappeared again without even glancing at her.
“Wait!” She shook off Archie’s hand and pushing through the densely-packed branches. “Darcy, wait!”
He stopped and turned, though his impressive body clearly strained to get back to the fighting.
“I need to go with you,” she said.
“No. Ye will stay here with Archie and help tend the wounded.” He strode away.
She trotted after him. “I can’t. There’s something back there I need. At least, I hope there is. I have to look for it.” She caught up and ventured to grab his arm to slow his gait. His skin was hot velvet stretched taut over granite-hard muscle. She couldn’t resist relaxing her grip to smooth her fingers over the enticing flesh. He really was cover model material. But she only appreciated the feel of his tawny skin for a second. She had to get that box. Had to get home. Alan and the others helping with the Scottish immigrants exhibit were depending on her. Her friends and family would be beside themselves with worry. The dining-room-turned-nursery-nook in her apartment was only half decorated. She had to water her plants.
Darcy stopped walking and stared at her hand until she removed it. “What is it ye lost? I’ll look for you. You are to stay here, understand?”
She remembered the sight of Darcy pulling his sword from the bodies of the men he’d killed and how the “Gunn” had pinned her down and threatened her. Maybe she didn’t want to go back there. On the other hand, she’d be a fool to trust this warrior to look as hard as she would for her ticket home.
“I have to go with you,” she insisted.
Huffing a frustrated breath, Darcy picked her up again, this time not as gently as he had when she’d tripped on the root. He carried her under one arm like a sack of grain, though to his credit, he avoided putting pressure on her lower abdomen.
“I said no, ye contrary thing, and I’m big enough to make ye obey whether ye want to or no’.” He crashed through the line of trees, stomped past the wounded men, and set her firmly in the wagon. “A skirmish is no place for a woman. I willna be responsible for you getting raped or killed.” That vulnerable look softened his hard features for a second. “I could tie ye down, but then ye’d be no help to Archie. So what’ll it be, lass? Will ye obey me or no?”
He tried to intimidate her with his posture and size, bracketing her with his bare arms. It didn’t work. Rather, the sight of the succulent, hard mound of his exposed shoulder so close to her face made her wet her lips. His strong collarbones and sinewy neck glistened with sweat, and he smelled of pine and male exertion. Her libido jumped like a feisty poodle.
Jeez Louise, Mel, get a grip. This is not a romance novel. He’s not your hero. The box got it wrong. The box was way out of line.
“I need it,” she said, pleased her steady voice didn’t betray her attraction. “I have to go with you.”
“I told ye I’d look for whatever ye lust.”
Lust. The antiquated word spoken in his deep voice did strange things to her tummy. It took a solid effort not to lick her lips in invitation as the word called to mind activities that most definitely related to wanting.
Home, she reminded herself. She had to get home. “I don’t trust you to look as hard as I would. I’m coming with you.”
“Where are your ropes, Archie?” he asked. “The woman refuses to stay put, so I’m going to tie her to the wagon.”
Several of the wounded men snickered.
Archie said, “In the foot case there. And bring me some of yon dried moss before ye tie down your woman.”
Your woman. The casual declaration made her stomach leap, and the sensation wasn’t entirely unpleasant.
“She’s not mine,” Darcy growled as he opened the lid of a wooden chest in the wagon. To her horror, he removed a coil of rope. After tossing a yellowish clump in Archie’s direction, he came at her.