Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. Nothing, not even Highlander Marcus MacGregor, will stop her from returning home to ensure that the man responsible for her daughter's death hangs.
Until she must choose between his life and her revenge.
Political intrigue, lust, and secrets are what drive the relationship between Elise Landen,America shipping heiress, and Marcus MacGregor, the Marquess of Ashlund and leader of his clan. Neither know the other’s true identity…until it’s too late.
That’s what love does, blinds a person.
Marcus's chest tightened. She hadn't denied loving him. He gently squeezed her hand. "I am not Riley."
Elise twisted in his arms in an earnest attempt at escape. "You overstep your bounds, milord."
He barely repressed a sudden laugh when she thumped his arm with a small fist. She shoved at his chest and Marcus hugged her so close their lips almost met.
"Surely, I have proven I am not faithless," he demanded.
"Faithless? Good Lord, you're lucky I don't sacrifice you for my own selfishneeds."
"Needs? Aye, lass, you need me. Nay," he added when she opened her mouth to interject. "Don't think I am ignorant of your needs." He slid a hand into her hair. "They are not unlike my own."
Marcus kissed her. She breathed deep and he felt his body throb with a need that he now realized had only begun to surface. What would he have done that first day he saw her in the meadow had he known just how badly he would one day need her? Send his men away and take her there—leave her no choice, nowhere to go but to him? Turning and fleeing straight back to Ashlund would have been the wisest course of action. But he would not have—could not have—even then. He had loved—or thought he loved—other women. He had been hurt in the past, but Elise held the power to destroy him. He slid his mouth down her chin and along her neck to the swell of her breast. Her head fell back onto his arm without resistance.
"You would marry a stranger?" she murmured.
"Take a lowly servant girl to wife."
He jerked his head up. "I wouldn't relegate anyone to that status, least of all, you."
Her eyes unexpectedly softened. "I know, but that doesn't change the differences in our classes."
"I care nothing for so-called classes. I care about living life.
"Her expression turned appraising. "Even you did not flout that responsibility. Didn't you marry out of a sense of duty?"
"Aye. Which is precisely why I will not do so again."
Marcus crushed her lips to his. She didn't protest this time, and he slid her from his lap and onto the couch. Grasping her hand, he slipped it beneath his kilt and forced her fingers around his erection.
"Nay," he breathed in her ear. "Do not run from me. God, you haunt me at every turn." Releasing her fingers, he yanked her dress up and reached between her legs. "Your body responds to me without reservation. Let your heart follow. I promise, I will love you."
He slipped a finger inside her slick heat. Her grip on his shaft tightened convulsively. Marcus drew in a sharp breath, gritting his teeth to keep from spending himself. He removed his hand and slid on top of her, pressing his lips against her ear.
"Guide me into you, sweet," he whispered. "Let me show you how much I want you. Let me show you what love is."
She did as he urged, and he caressed her with his movements, his body meeting hers, arching away, then gently thrusting again.
"Is marrying me so terrible?" he asked against her neck.
She breathed deep. "No, but after the fact you"—she gasped when he thrust with a quick motion—"you will regret being chained to me."
Marcus laughed. "It will be the sweetest of tortures." He drove deep again.
She cried out as her muscles clenched around him.
"It's not as if you need to marry me." She blurted in a strained voice. "I have not withheld myself from you."
Marcus halted. Bracing a hand on either side of her, he looked down at her. "I love you. I want you—need you." He held her gaze as he moved slowly, nearly filling her, then thrust quickly and pulled back.
"I haven't left you," she insisted.
"You withhold a part of yourself. If not, you would be dragging me to the altar."
"You don't trust me." He kissed her ear.
She shook her head. "I cannot believe we are having this discussion in the middle of… that is, I can't believe we are-are doing this in the middle of a disagreement."
Marcus chuckled. "'Tis a new experience for me, as well. But, if we must disagree, this is a most pleasant way to do so." He slid his hands beneath her thighs, coaxing her legs around his waist. "Aye." He buried his face in her hair at the nape of her neck and drove into her. "I will protect you." He cupped a breast—she was breathing hard now, she wanted him—needed him.
He thrust quicker. Her breathless response told him she neared her pleasure. "You will be my wife, my marchi—"
"Your servant girl made mistress of the manor," she said.
Marcus jerked, his thrust going hard and deep. Elise gasped. He remained inside her, full to the hilt. "Why did you allow me to touch you?" he demanded. "Don't say it is because I am lord and you are servant. We both know better. I have the power to care for you, protect you."
At last, uncertainty shown in her expression.
"As my wife, your security is assured. No Campbells, or anyone else, can harm you."
"Nothing is that certain," Elise replied.
"I haven't failed you yet."
Her mouth parted in surprise.
He kissed her mouth and moved in her again. Kissed her forehead, cheek, then ear. "Admit you want me." He quickened his thrusts.
Her muscles tightened around him in readiness for her release.
"Admit it," he pressed. "You want me now and every day and night hereafter."
Elise hugged him tight. "Yes," she cried as her climax rolled over her.
"You are mine," Marcus rasped. "You will not regret the choice."
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