The Weddingby Julie Garwood
Lady Brenna MacAlister harbored no illusions that her husband, a quick-tempered highland laird, was in love with her. How could he be enamored of his bride when, on their wedding day, he had assured her that she could return to her home in England as soon as she had given him a son? Marrying Connor MacAlister had been an impulsive act for Brenna. But MacAlister and… See more details below
Lady Brenna MacAlister harbored no illusions that her husband, a quick-tempered highland laird, was in love with her. How could he be enamored of his bride when, on their wedding day, he had assured her that she could return to her home in England as soon as she had given him a son? Marrying Connor MacAlister had been an impulsive act for Brenna. But MacAlister and his warriors, a savage-looking band who had captured her and her party en route to her arranged marriage to another, offered precious few alternatives. Nor could Brenna deny that in fact she had proposed to MacAlister even if that had been ten long years ago, when she was just a child, and Connor a visitor to her father's castle. Actually, Brenna scarcely remembered the secret missives she'd sent to MacAlister, abetted by her mischievous older sister...yet she had never forgotten the tall visitor's dazzling, unexpected smile. Now, after a hasty forest wedding, they were man and wife. Determined to be happy, Brenna soon endeared herself to most of the clan, despite or perhaps because of - her uncanny knack for getting into trouble. And although she grew to adore her brave, superstitious, gentle husband, she had no clue that Connor lived for the moments she whispered "I love you"...words she never meant him to hear. But when a rival laird struck out at the MacAlisters, trapping Brenna in a web of dangerous intrigue, she knew that only her faith in her gallant mate could save her....
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Meet the Author
Julie Garwood's New York Times bestselling romance and suspense novels include Mercy, Heartbreaker, Ransom, Come the Spring, The Wedding, and The Bride. There are more than thirty million copies of her books in print.
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Read an Excerpt
"This will do," she answered.
The isolated spot she'd chosen was a flat piece of nothing squeezed in between the pines. There was barely enough room for him to roll over. She seemed to like it, though, and for what he owed was going to be the very last time, he let her have her way. He stood behind her as he removed his boots, all the while tryiShe spread the blanket out on the ground, and though he was sure she would try to make an hour-long project out of the simple task, she surprised him by being quick about it.
When she was finished, she removed her slippers and then stood up, facing him. She moved closer, until her toes were touching his, and stared into his eyes, holding her breath while she waited for him to touch her.
He didn't move. Tension filled the air between them, her ,anxiety building as she stared into those dark, inscrutable eyes of his, looking for the first sign of displeasure. Lord, she couldn't stand the silence long.
"I had thought to keep my clothes on."
He slowly shook his head. "But then I thought to take them off," she whispered.
And still he waited. She told herself she had made the decision and now it was up to her to keep her word. Her hands shook as she untied the belt at her waist, and the woolen material he'd draped around her fell in a swoosh to the ground.
She thought about moving to the side before she took her gown off, because the moonlight was blocked by the tree branches there and shadows would hide her nudity from him, but then she decided to stop being such a coward.
Should she tell him she wasn't wearing anything underneath her nightgown? No, she decided, he would find out soon enough. Her heart was pounding frantically, but her anxiety had faded a little-because he wasn't attacking her, she supposed-and somewhere in the back of her muddled thoughts was the realization that Connor wouldn't deliberately hurt her. She couldn't understand why she felt that way, but she did, and oddly, her hands weren't shaking nearly as much.
She felt she was in charge of what was happening to her, and that made all the difference.
She regarded him gravely while she gathered her courage and then slowly removed her nightgown. She kept her gaze on Connor all the while, searching for a hint of displeasure or disgust because her body was so terribly imperfect. She was fully aware of her flaws. Her breasts were too large, her hips too narrow, and her legs were too long for the rest of her body. He was bound to notice, she knew, and if he so much as frowned with displeasure, she thought she would close her eyes and die of shame.
He took his time looking at her. His gaze lingered on her parted lips, her full breasts, her narrow waist, the blond curls shielding her virginity, her long legs, all the while trying to remember how to draw a breath. Dear God, he hadn't expected such beauty. He was overwhelmed by her, for he had never imagined such a woman could exist, and if he weren't a practical man, he would have thought she wasn't English at all but a goddess sent down from heaven to reward him for the vengeance he had sought in his sainted father's name.
He was fast becoming desperate to take her into his arms and plant himself firmly inside her. He didn't give in to his body's demands yet, but stood where he was and let her take the lead once again. For some reason he didn't understand, she had gotten it into her head that she should be the one making the decisions tonight. He had come to this startling conclusion when he had hesitated instead of ordering her to remove her clothes and be damned quick about it. He had shaken his head at her to let her know he didn't care for her decision to keep her clothes on, but before he could explain exactly what he wanted her to do, she changed her mind.
And he got exactly what he wanted.
The blush covering her face reflected her embarrassment. She was trying to look defiant and not afraid, but she was worried. He could see it in her eyes, in the way she stood as straight and rigid as a spear, and in her hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. Oh, yes, she really was perfect.
She must have believed he would become the aggressor now, and when he didn't reach for her, she slowly began to relax.
Why didn't he take off his clothes? She worried about that for a full minute before deciding to offer her assistance.
"I had thought you would remove your own clothes, but then I considered you might want me to assist you. Sometimes wives in England help their husbands disrobe."
She was obviously making it all up as she went along. If it helped relieve her fear, he didn't mind."Do you want me to undress you, Connor?"
He considered answering her, then decided what had worked before would work again, and so he simply nodded agreement.
She took another shaky breath, no doubt bracing herself for what she thought she would find, before she finally gathered enough gumption to reach for his belt. Her toes, as weightless as a butterfly's wings, brushed over his, and the second the knot was undone and his plaid began to drop to the ground, she took a quick step back.
He wasn't wearing any underclothes. She noticed that right away, God help her for being foolish enough to look, and she deliberately turned her attention to his chin until her heart calmed down. She'd only taken a glimpse below his waist before she forced herself to look away. It was still more than enough to make her want to run all the way back to England.
"Connor, are you certain this will work?"
The bewilderment in her voice amused him. God, she was innocent. And young.
He gently pulled her into his arms and held her tight against him. His head dropped down to the top of her head. "Yes," he promised.
He was a little surprised he could speak at all. The feel of her soft breasts pressed against his chest demanded his full attention, and honest to God, he was beginning to believe the unbearable wait had been worth the trouble.
He couldn't wait any longer though. Neither his body nor his mind would allow another minute to pass without fulfilling all of his urges.
Connor had fully expected to be surprised again, and that he was, because once he'd convinced her to quit hiding in the crook of his neck and tilt her head up toward him, she let him kiss her. She didn't know what she was doing, of course. Her lips were closed tight against his, but with his gentle coaxing, she began to relax. Then he told her what he wanted her to do. She didn't fight him, just gave him a look that suggested she thought he was out of his mind to want her to do such a thing, and after he'd repeated his demand, she finally conceded to him and opened her mouth.
And then he kissed her the way he'd imagined he would from the moment he'd first seen her today. His tongue quickly moved inside her sweet warmth to stroke and explore. It was much, much better than what he'd imagined it would be. God, how he liked kissing her this way.
She liked it too. She wound her arms around his neck and began to stroke him, timidly at first, then far more boldly, until she seemed as eager as he was to experience more of the erotic pleasure.
Copyright © 1996 by Julie Garwood
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