Chapter 15

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I remove the pieces of white heather from my hair, a Scottish tradition to offer good luck, pressing my lips together, frustrated. My new husband is in the corner, removing his clothing. My eyes flicker to him, awkwardly.

My chest is pounding wildly, unprepared for this. I was touched by another man this morning and I fear Lachlan's hands will destroy that feeling for me. I fear his touch will eliminate MacCallan's.

He removes his plaid and kilt, setting them down onto the chair in the corner of the room. I live with him now- all my belongings, what little I have, has been brought into this room.

I feel the loss of my privacy and I feel it keenly. The loss is suffocating me, presently.

When he pulls his shirt over his head, baring himself completely, I look down at the wood of the vanity, wide-eyed. I've seen his body before, multiple times, but this is different. It's extremely different.

He's thinned out around his mid-section from lack of exercise. He used to be diligent about getting to the gym, he went almost everyday but here, he has duties, duties that keep him locked away in this castle many hours of the day.

The rest of him looks the same as I remember. He's a good-looking man. Wonderful to look at, troublesome to know. I stiffen as he nears me, coming up behind the chair.

"I can help you with that," he murmurs softly, reaching to stop my hands. At the first sign of contact, I drop my hands onto my lap, letting him reach into my hair for the pieces of heather stuck.

"Thank you," I whisper, breathlessly.

"You sound scared of me," he says, after a moment.

"Why shouldn't I be?" I answer, looking at him through the mirror. He pulls out a piece and drops it onto the floor, pressing his lips together.

"I don't want you to be... We're married now. There is no turning back. We have to make the most we can of this."

I close my eyes when he sets his hands onto my shoulders, rubbing.

"I- look, I know you cared for him but I did what I had to, to ensure your safety."

"You did what you had to, to keep me with you, Lachlan. Don't turn this around to sound gallant."

He shakes his head. "... I was trying to calm you."

"Well, I'm sorry to say it, but I'm not going to calm down. So-"

I stand up, turning. I walk past him towards the bed, shaking violently but desperate to maintain some kind of authority. I stand, still as a tree at the end of the bed and drop my head towards the ground, waiting to feel his hands.

When I do, I flinch, unable to help it. He wraps his arms around my waist and bends, settling me onto the sheets, coming above me.

Like a flash, I see Callan in his place and then he's gone once more. Symon grasps my face and kisses me, deeply. I don't give him anything back and he sighs, pulling back.

"Please- just try."

"You didn't say anything about me having to act like I'm enjoying this."

His lips turn down and I see how much he's trying to control his temper. "It would be a lot more enjoyable if you just went with this, Gillian. This is our future."

"Just screw me and be done with it, Lachlan. You got what you wanted."

"Touch me, Gilly," he says immediately, resting his hand over mine on the bed. Lifting it, he presses it to his chest. Realizing that he's unable to sleep with me like this, I do so, closing my eyes to avoid seeing his face.

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