Westfield Hall, Hampshire
Caitrin Macleod vowed never to step foot in England again-or at the very least, to keep her distance from Lycans in the future.
She stopped mid-pace to look out the bedroom window, her breath fogging the pane. She wiped it away with the flat of her hand and stared out into the darkness. She'd stayed in her bedchamber all day and now most of the night.
It was safer for everyone that way.
The visions had started days ago, wild visions where she saw wolves and their mates together under the light of the moon. There were several of them, all part of a family of Lycans. She was quite familiar with those particular Lycans, because her coven sister, Elspeth, had married into the family. Most days, they were simply the Westfield family. But one night each month, the male members walked on four feet instead of two under the light of the full moon.
Those visions weren't troublesome; she was quite used to them. But lingering around the edges of her visions was a wild wolf, an outsider. A danger. The Westfields were aware of the threat and had, indeed, prepared themselves to handle it.
She'd begun to see visions of a golden wolf, the wild one, earlier that very day. She knew what mischief he'd cause before the night was over. But she couldn't tell the others what she'd seen, or she'd risk affecting the future. And she didn't want to be the one to disrupt the natural order of events. The results could be disastrous.
To avoid breaking that unspoken rule, she'd locked herself in her guest room at Westfield Hall and refused to come out. She'd not set foot out the door and had only opened it briefly to take her meals. She'd wished several times for something to help her pass the time. At the rate she'd been pacing, she would wear a hole in the duke's Aubusson rug before long. That thought made her smile.
Caitrin closed her eyes tightly and tried to will the vision of the Westfield wolves into her mind. She sighed with contentment when she realized all was well. The danger to them had passed, and she was now free to leave the prison of her own making. None of them would return until the sun rose in the sky. The estate was empty except for her and any servant who happened to be still awake. No one would know if she donned her silk wrapper to sneak downstairs and retrieve her book while everyone was away. Maybe then she could try to get a few hours of sleep. She crossed to the chamber door and opened it quietly. On bare feet, she padded along the corridor and down the main staircase. The last place she remembered having her book was in the duke's study. Cait turned the corner into the darkened study and stopped short. Standing behind the duke's desk was a tall man, one she'd yet to meet. Most of him was hidden in shadow, but his face was lit by the moonlight that filtered through the drapes. He was a blond Adonis, tall and lean. A vague memory of him, maybe from one of her visions, created unease within her. A small gasp escaped her throat when he turned his amber gaze her way.
"I'm sorry. I dinna ken anyone was up at this hour." She turned to leave.
"Don't go," he said. Then he closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath. "You needed something in Blackmoor's study?"
"Aye, I left a book in here yesterday when I came ta find Her Grace." She glanced quickly around the room, though she didn't immediately see her copy of Maria Edgeworth's Patronage. "Perhaps I left it in the library." Perhaps I should run as quickly from this room as my legs will carry me.
"Having trouble sleeping?" he asked, his tone amazingly familiar. As though he'd known her for a lifetime.
"Aye. At times, I canna get thoughts out of my head." Why had she told him that? He probably didn't care to hear how her visions played in her mind at all hours of the day and night, preventing her rest.
He walked around the desk and perched a hip on it. His hips were narrow, his shoulders broad. Stop ogling the man's body, Cait. His eyes narrowed at her, as though he knew she had a secret. She closed her eyes and tried to get a vision of him, something to tell her who he was. But her mind was blank, which was more than disconcerting. Her mind was blank? That had never happened before.
"I canna tell yer future," she muttered under her breath.
"Pardon?" He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Ah, there's my book," she said, smiling at him, hoping he'd believe she hadn't a care in the world. She picked up a small, black leather book that lay on the desk behind him. It wasn't hers, but it would have to do.
Before she could turn around, he reached out and grabbed her by the waist. She couldn't even utter a gasp as he drew her body flush against his. Her breath stilled.
"What are ye-" she began, but he covered her mouth with his, his lips hard and urgent.
She shouldn't let a man she'd never met before take such liberties. But he smelled so good. Felt so good. Tasted so good.
Her tongue rose to meet his as a whimper of pleasure left her throat. Her heart beat wildly as he tilted his head and deepened the kiss.
Cait had been kissed before, but never like this. Never so thoroughly that she couldn't think straight. Never so expertly that her legs threatened to buckle. Never with enough passion that she could drown in it.
A tug to her hair sunk into her consciousness. He pulled her head back and looked into her eyes. He gently tugged, guiding her head until it leaned to the side, exposing her neck. She nearly jumped when his lips brushed feather-light down the side of her jaw as he trailed a kiss down her throat. He pulled at the neck of her wrapper and nightrail until they opened, baring her shoulder to his gaze. She shivered.
When he reached the place where her neck met her shoulder, he sucked at the tender spot and then nipped her gently. It was the most sensual thing she'd ever experienced. Light-headed, she heard a moan escape her throat. More. More, please.
He nipped her again, then opened his mouth wide and bit through the tender skin of her shoulder, jerking her instantly from the passion-induced haze.
"Ow!" she cried and smacked his shoulder. "That hurt!"