"I'll not be taking your maidenhead. I promised you and I keep my word." He put his arms around her, pulling her close and little flutters of pleasure spread through her body.
She enjoyed his touch, but she was grateful he hadn't wanted to take her maidenhead. His organ was a tremendous thing, but the power of it made her tremulous inside. Surely such a bestial act would ruin a woman forever?
Yet he made her crave his touch.
"You canna go to the nunnery or to another knight, Arabel."
"I don't want another knight."
"I want you for my own." He reached out to her to cup her face.
Arabel saw the longing in his eyes for her and her heart fluttered like the delicate wings of the butterfly emerging fresh from a cocoon. If anyone guessed that she wanted him, David would be slaughtered in his bed. That thought alone was enough to clear her head from the effects of the demon drink. "Don't ask my brother for my hand. It would never be allowed." She sat, ignored the fierce blaze of anger in his eyes and brushed off his hands. A thundering sound of hooves rang in the distance. Arabel scrambled from the bed, smoothed down her kirtle and grabbed her veil.
"What is it?" he asked, pulling down his shirt.
As she fitted her veil in place with trembling fingers, she stared out the slit window. In the distance the highland mountains rose, their moss green color turning to blue as the sun set. Other mountains in the foreground had fierce jagged edges, as if a volcano had thrown up tons of earth and rock. The land was fierce like its highlanders, unpredictable and savage. The loch, ice-blue and freezing, caught the last of the sunlight, its depth so deep she never swam there for fear of the monster that lurked beneath that resembled a serpent. What trouble would she set in train if her wanting this enemy knight became apparent? She glanced at him and her heart stirred.
She must never let anyone know of her feelings.
"Who is approaching?" he asked.
Looking to the south she could make out a large band of men and the fluttering lion on the Bruce standard. "My brother, Sir James is returning. Unfortunately, Sir Hugh MacTavish will be at his side."
"One of the knights who asked for your hand?"
"My brother will be insisting on my obedience. I understand his reasoning. We canna afford trouble with the knights who border our lands, but I canna do as he asks."
"If my father can raise a ransom and free me, I'll find a way to marry you."
She strode over to him and gripped his hands hard. "Don't say anything of your feelings for me. I'll not have your death on my conscience. What we have is the devil's own lust. Nothing more. God knows, I'll be on my knees begging for his forgiveness for the rest of my life." With that, she strode from the room.
Arabel flew from Sir David's chamber and down the castle stairs as if she had a fiend on her heels. Servants dashed from the Great Hall down the stairs to gather at the entrance to await Sir James's return. No doubt there would be a feast tonight if her brother's business had gone well. She didn't know what he had been about as she was not party to his comings and goings; she just hoped she wouldn't be required to sit anywhere near Sir Hugh MacTavish.
When the Seneshal pushed open the castle's grand doors to welcome the fighting men back, Arabel saw her brother lift a young woman from his destrier. She was not wearing a veil and her hair flamed red as fire. She looked windswept and her pale skin made the haunted green of her eyes more striking. Arabel's stomach turned when she saw the young woman stagger, though Sir James righted her stance. She'd never known her brother to bring back a woman as a war prize nor to ill-use one. It wasn't like him, but from the look of raw possession in her brother's glittering eyes, Arabel knew she'd have a battle on her hands when she sought to convince him to return her to her people.
When Sir James entered the castle, he introduced the woman as Lady Isobel McLaird and announced her as his future wife.