The Witch and the Warrior
Suspected of witchcraft, Gwendolyn MacSween has been condemned to being burned at the stake at the hands of her own clan. Yet rescue comes from a most unlikely source. Mad Alex MacDunn, laird of the mighty rival clan MacDunn, is a man whose past is scarred with tragedy and loss. His last hope lies in capturing the witch of the MacSweens--and using her magic to heal his dying son. He expects to find an old hag....Instead he finds a young woman of unearthly beauty. There's only one problem: Gwendolyn has no power to bewitch or to heal. Now she must pretend to be a sorceress--or herself perish. But can she use her common sense to save Alex's son, and her natural powers as a woman to enchant a fierce and handsome Highland warrior--before a dangerous enemy destroys them both?
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"Gwendolyn," called MacDunn in a low voice, "come here."
She sat up and peered at him through the darkness. "Why?"
"Because your chattering teeth are keeping me awake," he grumbled. "You will lie next to me and share my plaid."
She stared at him in horror. "I am fine, MacDunn," she hastily assured him. "You needn't concern yourself about--"
"No." She shook her head. "I may be your prisoner, but I will not share your bed."
She waited for him to argue. Instead he muttered something under his breath, adjusted his plaid more to his liking over his naked chest, and closed his eyes once again. Satisfied that she had won this small but critical battle, she vigorously rubbed her arms to warm them, then primly curled onto the ground.
Her teeth began to chatter so violently she had to bite down hard to try to control them.
"For God's sake--" swore MacDunn.
The next thing she knew, MacDunn was stretching out beside her and wrapping his plaid over both of them.
"Don't you dare touch me!" Gwendolyn hissed, rolling away.
MacDunn grabbed her waist and firmly drew her back, imprisoning her in the warm crook of his enormous, barely clad body.
"Be still!" he ordered impatiently.
"I will not be still, you foul, mad ravisher of women!" She kicked him as hard as she could in his shin.
"Jesus--" he swore, loosening his hold slightly.
Gwendolyn tried to scramble away from him, but he instantly tightened his grip. Realizing she was hopelessly trapped, she opened her mouth to scream.
His hand clamped down hard over her lips.
"Listen to me!" he commanded, somehow managing to keep his voice low. "I have no intention of bedding you, do you understand?"
Gwendolyn glared at him, her breasts rising and falling so rapidly they grazed his bandaged chest.
"I may be considered mad, but to my knowledge I have not yet earned a reputation as a ravager of unwilling women--do you understand?"
His blue eyes held hers. She tried to detect deceit in them, but could not. All she saw was anger, mingled with weariness.
"I have already risked far more than I have a right to, to save your life and take you home with me, Gwendolyn MacSween," he continued. "I will not have it end by watching you fall deathly ill from the chill of the night."
He waited a moment, allowing his comments to penetrate her fear. Then, cautiously, he lifted his palm from her lips. "I will keep you warm, nothing more. You have my word."
She regarded him warily. "You swear you will not abuse me, MacDunn? On your honor?"
Reluctantly, she eased herself onto her side. MacDunn adjusted part of his plaid over her, then once again fitted himself around her. His arm circled her waist, drawing her into the warm, hard cradle of his body. Gwendolyn lay there rigidly for a long while, scarcely breathing, waiting for him to break his word.
Instead, he began to snore.
Heat seemed to radiate from him, slowly permeating her chilled flesh. It warmed even the soft wool of his plaid, she realized, snuggling farther into it. A deliciously masculine scent wafted around her, the scent of horse and leather and woods. Little by little, the feel of MacDunn's powerful body against hers became more comforting than threatening, especially as his snores grew louder.
Until that moment, she had had virtually no knowledge of physical contact. Her mother had died when she was very young, and her father, though loving, had never been at ease with open demonstrations of affection. The unfamiliar sensation of MacDunn's heat and strength wrapped protectively around her was unlike anything she had ever imagined. She was his prisoner, and he had saved her life only because he intended to greedily abuse the powers he erroneously believed she possessed. And yet, she felt impossibly safe.
You belong to me now, he had told her. I protect what is mine. She belonged to no one, she reflected drowsily, and no one could protect her from men like Robert, or from the ignorance and fear that was sure to fester in MacDunn's own clan the moment they saw her. She would escape him long before they reached his lands. Tomorrow she would break free from these warriors so she could retrieve the stone, return to her clan, and kill Robert. Above all else, Robert must die. She would make him pay for murdering her father and destroying her life.
But all this seemed distant and shadowy as she drifted into slumber, sheltered by this brave, mad warrior, feeling the steady beat of his heart pulsing against her back.