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Warrior of the Realm

Written by Shannon Curtis

Chapter Ten

Heat, hard and fast, swept over her, and Nieve sighed as she surrendered to his kiss. At last.

This warrior was so determined to be respectful, to be honorable, he’d driven her to distraction. Each night, beneath the stars, she’d snuggled up to him. She’d rubbed herself against him, felt him harden and lengthen behind her…and each night he’d steeled himself against their attraction.

She’d seen him eyeing her as they rode—when he wasn’t falling off his horse. He was so big, so strong, she’d felt drawn to him. She felt safe with him. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt safe with anybody. Balor was a constant threat, but even in the center of Balor’s camp, he’d made her feel protected. Each night he’d caught them food with that odd little contraption he hid in his leggings. He’d tended to her needs with care and patience, had chatted with her during the days’ long rides… With everything he’d done, she had been his focus. She trusted him.

And now, finally, she’d tempted him to kiss her. She was beginning to think she’d become an ugly old hag, trapped in that cave.

Lugh’s hand slid beneath her braid, and she sighed as he angled her head. His tongue slid past her lips, and she opened her mouth wider. She’d been kissed before, but they’d been hurried, stolen kisses behind the stables with some of the finer lads in her father’s care. None had kissed like this.

Heart pounding, she slid her arms up over his broad shoulders. She could feel the strength in his arms, and he pulled her tighter against him until her breasts were against his chest.

It was glorious.

He trailed his hand down her back and around her side to cup her breast, and she moaned against his mouth. Her breasts swelled at his touch, her nipple tightening as his thumb strummed against the peak, and he bore her down into the grass.

A horse whinnied close by, and her eyes sprang open. Lugh stared down at her, his eyes a dark blue, hot with arousal, before he slowly tilted his head.

His horse was trying to nibble at a tuft of grass near his shoulder. Lugh frowned and made a hissing sound. The horse nudged him, and Nieve giggled.

“I hate horses,” Lugh sighed. He stared down at her, his gaze drifting over her face, from her forehead to her chin. “We should get going. I need to get you home.”

She pouted as disappointment flooded her, and he lowered his head and kissed her gently, briefly, then levered himself off her. “I need to go for another swim.”

Nieve covered her smile as he walked back into the stream.

# # #

They halted at the crest of the hill. Luke spied a darker shadow against the darkening sky, with lights glimmering from what could have been windows. Like the flickering gleam of a many-eyed dragon in the darkness. Luke turned to look at the beautiful woman at his side.

“This is your home?”

She beamed at him as she nodded, and he smiled back in reflex. She sat with her back straight, her breasts thrust forward, and not for the first time his gaze drifted over her. He’d been the perfect gentleman over the last few days. Well, apart from earlier that day. That had just been…perfect. He felt at ease with Nieve, and it was a friendship unlike any he’d ever had with a woman. He tightened his lips. Friendship. Oh, it was more than just friendship. All she had to do was send him one of those shy, under-the-lashes looks and he wanted to get back to kissing her—and more. But it was more than just attraction. Well, okay, lust. She was friendly, she was caring and patient with him learning to ride, but there was something about her… She carried herself with sense of pride and dignity that he could only respect.

He looked away. He’d nearly delivered her to her father. For a very brief moment, he was tempted to ride off with her and just keep on riding, keep this easy conversation going and maybe lean in for that kiss—and more. Then the horse beneath him shifted, and he winced, painfully jerked out of his daydream. He hated horses. He glanced around.

It was getting dark, and he didn’t really want to spend another night trying to get as much warmth as he could from a woman he’d sworn to himself to protect yet never force himself onto, considering the situation he’d found her in. And damn, if he thought riding a horse bareback was painful on his balls, denying his own arousal was more so.

He'd been able to fool himself into thinking this was a nice break, a cozy little interlude with a beautiful woman, but he couldn't hide from reality any longer. He was in an unfamiliar place—hell, an unfamiliar time. As insane and alien as that thought seemed in his head, there was another that preoccupied him even more. He was returning a woman he'd grown to care deeply for to a family that may have betrayed her, and he had no idea of the kind of welcome they could expect.

He urged his horse toward the dark shadow on the horizon.

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