"When these two open up to each other, it is loving, it is sensuous, and unlike anything they have given to anyone else and you can feel the depth that their little gestures have on each other." ~ Book Passion for Life
If Brigid McLaine had to spend another day breathing the stale air of her confinement, she’d rip off her guard’s handsome head and serve it to the wolves. It would be a pity really—Micah Nelson’s arrogantly sloping nose serving as a midnight snack. Or his soft sensual lips being used for anything other than the purpose they were made for. And frankly, the thought of those pale blue eyes as an appetizer made Brigid’s stomach churn. But four months of imprisonment within the stone walls of Sgàil na Faileas—supposedly her home—was more than enough. She was going mad, slowly but surely.
She squinted at the back of Micah’s head, annoyed by the casual way he lounged on the sofa and studied a book of incantations that he would use against her when she managed to override his most current means of binding. His bottled lager sat forgotten on the short table to his left, droplets of water coursing down the paper label to create rings in the finish.
If she dumped it over his head at least the monotony would lift.
Brigid sighed and dropped her bowl of crackers on the floor. Pottery shattered, breaking the silence. The sound was loud enough to make her jump, but Micah didn’t do so much as glance over his shoulder.
“What now, Brigid?” he asked with a touch of indifference.
She straightened her legs and stood, fully aware of the way Micah watched her in the gilt mirror over her stone hearth. She stretched. Took her time to elongate her arms, arch her back, and push her breasts ever-so-slightly forward. A smirk tugged at the side of her mouth as Micah’s gaze slipped down the length of her body.
“You’re bored every day. You aren’t locked up for fun and games.” His gaze dropped to his book.
No, she was locked up for standing against her brother Fintan who chose to act against their incubus sire, Drandar. A demon Brigid feared more than any spell Micah could ever cast. Not that Micah’s powers were weak. Her father’s were simply horrific. She rolled her eyes, stepped over the shards of pottery, and crossed the room to the couch. Bending over the back, she dipped her mouth to Micah’s shoulder. Close enough he could feel her breath on his exposed neck but not yet touching. “I’m tired of outthinking your magic. Let’s do something…” She dropped her head a fraction more and grazed his skin with her lips. “Else.”
Something like tangle up the sheets in her bed or find a new use for the ragged old couch. Anything to break the sexual tension that had been building between them for years. Not only had four months of imprisonment grated on her nerves, spending that time with the one man who’d been playing games with her libido ever since she met him, was driving her out of her mind.
Micah’s body stiffened. The pen he used to jot notes in the book’s margins stilled. His knuckles went white. “Just what did you have in mind?”
Brigid smiled as she slowly lifted her head. Her gaze locked with his in the mirror. Torturing Micah was surely a better alternative than throwing his head to the wolves. “I don’t know. Chess?” Sarcasm laced her words. She leaned on her elbows and drew a fingernail down the length of Micah’s neck as she lowered her voice to a husky murmur. “What sounds good to you?”
Micah abruptly leaned away, but made no other outward sign she affected him. “What sounds good to me is finishing this book.”
Uh-huh. Sure. She didn’t buy it for a minute. When he’d come out of his adjoining room with that book in hand, it had sounded so compelling that he put off reading for small talk until she caught him hungrily appraising her shorts-clad legs. Then he beat a hasty retreat to the couch.
Where he’d been watching her in the mirror when he thought she wasn’t aware ever since. Problem being, Brigid was aware of every instant Micah’s attention shifted to her. Four months of living together deepened the connection of six years of friendship. Sometimes, she’d swear she could hear his thoughts. More often, her skin prickled like a warm sunshine bath when his thoughts and attention honed in on her.
She knew he shared the same awareness. Oh, he tried to hide it, but Micah might be able to bar her from the outside world, but he couldn’t bar himself from her. He wasn’t as immune as he wanted her to believe.
She laughed softly and rounded the edge of the couch to fold one leg on the cushion beside him. As she sat, she leaned against his muscular arm. The side of her breast brushed his bicep, and a streak of pleasant fire surged up her spine. “So how many times have you read,”—she paused as she glanced at the book—“page 28? Three?” Deliberately she trailed her hand up his thigh. “Or more?”
To her delight, Micah’s muscles bunched beneath her palm. A sharp breath hissed through his teeth. Satisfaction thrummed through her. Maybe, just maybe, she could use this to her advantage. Not only might she find some relief from the ever-present ache of wanting him, but if she played him right, he might also neglect to strengthen the wards that kept her from leaving the trio of rooms and opening windows. She could run. Be free of this Scotland castle. Free of her brother Fintan’s happiness.
Free to follow the dark instincts that ran in her blood.
“Micah, I can think of better entertainment than that book.” As casually as she could, she dipped her fingers into the crease of his jeans at the juncture of his thigh.
* * *
Micah ground his teeth together. Christ Almighty, the woman was going to kill him. She might not accomplish it with her dark powers or her vile alignment with the incubus who gave her life. But she sure as hell would flay him open if she kept up this game. It didn’t matter that he knew she attempted to bend him to her wishes for her own designs. It didn’t matter if she represented everything he spent his life trying to banish from earth. His body hadn’t given a damn about Brigid’s demonic blood since he’d laid eyes on her a good six years ago. It wanted her like lightning wanted metal.
He pushed her hand off and snapped his book shut. “I can too.” Rising to his feet, he returned her sultry smile with one of his own. Two could play this game. She wouldn’t like it, but his job didn’t involve pleasing Brigid, no matter how he might desire her. He leaned in close and brushed his lips across her cheek as he whispered, “I’m going for a walk. See you later.”
It required every bit of his self control not to laugh when a low growl rumbled in Brigid’s throat. Her amber eyes flared like the fire she so easily manipulated, and her delectable mouth pinched into a hard line. He tossed her a casual wink, strode to his room, and shut the door behind him.
He leaned against the door, drawing measured breaths to push the tension out of his body. “Damn,” he muttered. If it weren’t for her demonic blood, he would have already given in to the desire that stirred each time he looked at her. One of these days he wasn’t going to be able to walk away. She’d touch him like she had on the couch, put those damnable lips on him again, and he’d forget all the reasons why he should stay clear. Reasons like she was a demon. Like the even deeper desire to extract revenge on him for keeping her confined that she tried to hide.
Reasons like the dark curse that destined her to kill the man she loved.
The scent of amber and patchouli wafted from the fibers of his T-shirt to his nose. Micah shoved away from the door, stalked to his dresser, and jerked a clean shirt out. He could walk until the sun refused to rise and he’d never clear his head with Brigid’s perfume clinging to him. And if he happened to cross paths with Fintan and Beth, they’d never believe Micah hadn’t succumbed to Brigid. They expected him to fail. That he’d survived four months was testament to his training and his knowledge of demons.
He intended to survive another four. By then, maybe the McLaine’s would defeat Drandar and Brigid might escape the fear that imprisoned her far more than Micah’s incantations and spells of warding.
In the meantime, fresh air would grant him sanity.
Exiting his room, he took a moment to murmur the memorized words that would strengthen the invisible boundaries that confined Brigid to these three rooms. She shot him a glare from her position near the window, where she picked up the broken pottery. He threw her a sugary smile. “Have fun.”
Not caring to hear the litany of oaths his jibe would bring, he hurried out the door. Brigid in a fit of temper was a thing to behold. Sexy. Persuasive.
In the hall, he took a deep breath and focused on that harsh truth. No matter how she affected him, he couldn’t forget Brigid was her father’s daughter and every bit as deadly. She’d turned on her own brother. Left Fintan without aid and subject to Drandar’s malicious attack. Proof enough. She wouldn’t hesitate to turn on him if he gave her miniscule opportunity.
Still, another side of his conscience nagged as he made his way down the winding stone staircase. Brigid might be demonic, but only half. Another part of her was human, and that half was all woman. A woman that played on his mind more often than he cared to admit. He dreamt of her. She stayed with him even when he left her within the confines of her temporary prison. Brigid McLaine managed to do what dozens of other demons had never accomplished—she haunted him.
In her games he realized her desperation to be free from confinement. In the far away stare she assumed when she looked outside her windows, he recognized her longing for the nature she stemmed from. And in the infrequent touch of her lips he understood passion that burned as deep as his and carried a tenderness Brigid would never admit to.
He also recognized her fear. Not of what Micah was capable of. Not fear of her brother Fintan and his strength of light. But fear that stemmed from the very being who created her. Drandar.
Brigid feared her sire more than she feared anything in this world. Micah would stake his life on the gut feeling that terror drove her to the things she did.
Of course, he wasn’t stupid enough to point that out to her. Still, he hadn’t failed to observe the slight vibrato of faltering courage that rang in her voice when she managed to work around his magical wards and render them useless. Confronting her with that truth, however, would only enrage her.
And right now, Micah wasn’t strong enough for the inevitable fight with her stubborn pride. His magic could stand up to hers, yes. His strength of will to perform that magic on her—another thing all together. He would if it meant saving his own life, but despite everything she was, everything she represented, he couldn’t bring himself to summon his full strength and physically harm Brigid.
He saw too much of the woman inside her hard shell of darkness. Understood her too well.
Grumbling to himself, he descended the stairs. Sympathizing with a demon was the first step in failure. If he let her get to him, he would indeed succumb. And that was even worse than combating with the fiery redhead he spent his days and nights with.
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