A Highlander for the Holidays
In the wintery Highland mountains, Aileen and Niall unleash their forbidden passion. But Aileen is promised to another this Christmas, and the wicked Lowlander will stop at nothing to have her.
Aileen Munro doesn’t want another cruel husband. But just as the laird of the Mackenzies pledges her to a man much worse than the last, her old friend Niall MacRae bursts back into her life. Niall is a full-fledged Highland warrior now, and his quiet strength sparks a burning desire within her.
Niall has come to accompany Aileen to her brother’s castle, where her holiday betrothal will secure an alliance between the bordering clans. Niall has always had strong feelings for Aileen, but to touch her will be a betrayal of the oath of fealty he has made to his laird.
Torn between loyalty, duty, honor and love, Aileen and Niall have denied their forbidden attraction for too long. As soon as they unleash their passion, they are torn apart. But Aileen and Niall have only one wish this Christmas: to be together…even at risk to their honor…and their lives.
Note: This book was previously published under the title Sins of the Highlander. It has been revised from its original version.
Warning: Highlander: (n) [hahy-luhn-der] A warrior who inhabits the untamed and sometimes violent Highlands of Scotland. Tall, handsome and built powerfully enough to wield a Claymore. Possesses strong senses of honor, duty, loyalty and passion, and will defend those with his life. Able to bring his woman to the heights of pleasure…and keep her there. This story contains sizzling scenes that will make you long for a Highlander of your own to keep you warm at night.
A Highlander for the Holidays is a short novel of approximately 45,000 words, or 150 pages.
Warning: This excerpt contains material inappropriate for minors.
By reading on, you are certifying that you are over 18 years of age.
He raised his knuckles to the wood and knocked.
He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. She was sitting at a chair before a low table strewn with parchment, wearing a dress of fine dark serge that made her long, plaited black hair glow with copper highlights. She raised her gaze to greet him. “Niall. I was just thinking about you.”
Niall’s heart jumped. What had she been thinking? By the hooded look in her eyes, those thoughts hadn’t been all that innocent.
Dare he hope she was having the same conflicted, powerful feelings he was?
“Were you?” he said slowly.
She blinked and looked down at the table. “I was, ah, hoping that the servants were assisting you and your men in whatever way you required.”
Of course she didn’t share his feelings.
Unable to move, he simply stared at her. “Aye. They are.”
“That’s…excellent.” Aileen shifted in her chair. She had changed, somehow, since last night. She had seemed almost shy at breakfast, and now color flooded her pale cheeks. What had brought about this change?
Abruptly, she rose from her seat. “Are you hungry? Can I offer you something to eat?”
Hungry? Aye…so hungry.
“Nay. I’ve just eaten. I’m here to thank you for your generosity to my men.”
She waved her hand. “’Tis nothing.”
Niall bowed his head to prevent her from seeing the longing in his eyes.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Lady Aileen, to help you prepare for the morrow?”
She took a step toward him, and her nearness almost broke his resolve not to touch her.
She spoke softly. He loved the sound of her voice, low for a woman, but sultry and smooth. “Please, dinna be so…formal. Can we not be friends? Like we once were?”
Unable to continue facing her without touching her, he turned away and strode to the window. Resting his palms on the sill, he looked out over the inner courtyard. For a long moment, he stared at the people going about their business below. Her gaze burned into his back.
When he had regained some semblance of control, he pushed back from the glass. “Aye, of course we can be friends, lady.”
He forced a smile. “Of course. Aileen.”
“Good. Are you and your men ready for tomorrow?”
“Aye. And your men are ready too. You manage this castle verra well.”
She gave him a genuine, warm look of pleasure. Clearly, she took pride in her work here, as she ought. “Thank you.”
“And your women?”
“They are near ready. They’ll just be packing the last of the bags.”
He chuckled. “And I was worried you didna allow yourself sufficient time.”
She grinned. “So here we are, with naught to do but be idle for the afternoon.”
Idle pleasures… As he watched awareness of the meaning of what she’d just said pass over her face, Niall shifted his stance to alleviate the growing discomfort of his arousal. When Aileen was near, he couldn’t stop himself from craving those idle pleasures.
Her gaze inched downward, coming to rest on the pleats of his plaid beneath his belt. Her tongue swept across her upper lip. Then, as if she realized what she was doing, she looked away, a crimson flush blooming over her cheeks.
Her actions ripped through his resolve, tearing it to shreds.
She did want him! She wanted him very badly indeed. But she was fighting it just as fervently as he was.
He took a step closer to her. As if pulled by a string, his hand rose to touch her arm. She stared down at his fingers on her sleeve, wide-eyed.
He could hardly get a word past the chokehold of emotion. “Aileen…I…”
With a little whimper, she launched herself into his arms, tilted her head up, and pressed her lips against his.
Niall gathered her into his embrace and kissed her back. He dragged one hand down the side of her hip to her upper thigh. Her body was small but curved enticingly beneath her dress. He coaxed her plump, supple lips open with his mouth, and when they parted, he teased his tongue inside for a taste.
Her body jerked in reaction. She moaned and made a wee noise that sounded like, “Oh!”
Niall withdrew his tongue in surprise. Surely she had been kissed before? Brushing his lips against hers, he brought her closer, stepping forward until her back pressed against the tapestry near the hearth.
He ran his lips down the soft, silky flesh of her jaw and stroked his hand down her slender neck, over her collarbones and over the tight bead of her nipple through the fabric of her gown. She buried her face in his neck, gasping.
His cock was so hard it hurt. Their clothing was in the way. Blood pounded in his ears.
He needed her. He would have her. He would make her his.
Niall hiked up her skirts, sliding the rough pad of his thumb over the supple flesh of her thigh. She moaned against his neck.
He moved his fingers higher on her thigh, then stroked the damp skin between her legs. She squirmed, but he ground his cock into her hip and pinned her against the wall.
He slid a finger deep into her slick, hot flesh. She went rigid.
Niall froze. She shook in his arms, trembled all over. She was terrified.
What the hell was he doing? Raping Lady Aileen? She’d merely kissed him—a chaste, closed-mouth kiss like the gentle lady she was—and he’d pushed her against the wall and nearly thrust his cock inside her like a rutting animal.
Good God, he’d lost his mind. With a hiss of breath, he jerked his hand away and jumped back, leaving her slouched against the wall with a stunned expression on her face.
She would never forgive him. He would never forgive himself. He covered his face with his hands, but his fingers were slick and smelled of her sex. He fisted his hands and dropped them rigidly to his sides.
“Lady Aileen,” he rasped. She looked up at him with wide, shining eyes. Guilt flooded through him. “Please forgive me.”
He strode to the door and threw it open. He couldn’t get out of there quickly enough.
He stepped over the threshold. But then her voice came from behind him, trembling but low and sultry and edged with heat. “Wait.”