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Headstrong, and seeking a little respite from a suitor’s relentless wooing, Queen Larikke rides the arctic wind far beyond the bounds of Northland, only to have her horse bolt at a shot from a hunter’s gun. Her “rescuer” is a handsome, mysterious man who lives alone in the wilderness, his cabin filled with erotic images of women.
Rather than fearing her fate, Larikke sets out to seduce him, hoping for one last fling before she settles down to do her duty and wed. Thinking he was saving a life, Drake dragged a very strange woman home, stripped her, and warmed her by his fire. Now he finds his long, self-imposed isolation may have made her allure impossible for him to resist and that he’ll endanger her when he shares his special kiss.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
A footfall behind her made her stiffen.
“Let me take your cloak,” he said, his voice gruff.
“Will you enslave me in ice?” she asked, glancing warily over her shoulder.
His eyebrows drew together in a frown, and his gaze swept over her. “Enslave you?” he asked, tilting his head.
“Like the poor creatures guarding your door.”
“Damn.” Suddenly, he gripped her shoulder to turn her toward him. Then he reached for the frog closures at the top of her cloak and plucked them open. He slid the cloak off her shoulder to let it fall to the floor.
She found herself being pulled toward the fire, but his hands didn’t stop their wicked work. “Stop that!” she said, swatting at his dexterous fingers as they made quick work of the buttons at the neck and along the side of her gown.
“I won’t harm you,” he said, between tight lips. “You’re suffering from hypothermia. Your dress is wet. I need to get you out of it.”
“Hypothermia?” What was he saying? “Is that a curse?”
“It will be if we don’t get you out of those clothes and warm,” he said, his voice steady, but roughening.
Had he already used his magick ? She was certainly growing warmer by the moment. Allowing him to finish stripping away her gown, she stood in front of him with the fire warming her backside.
His intent expression didn’t fill her with alarm. Instead, a glowing warmth from within left her breathless. What did he see when the soft undertunic slid to the floor? How did she compare with the women mounted on his wall?
He knelt and skimmed down her thin stockings, making a disapproving noise. “These won’t keep you very warm.” He pushed them to her feet and removed them along with her slippers, then slowly stood.
Finally nude, she shivered in anticipation of what he’d do next.
His gaze slid quickly over her, his cheeks reddening-but he turned and swept up a throw from one of the couches and drew it over her shoulders. “I guess you’re fine. Your skin’s warm enough.”
Her skin prickled and she shrugged off the throw, letting it sift to the floor. “It itches.”
“It’s wool,” he said, his jaw tightening. “It’ll keep you warm until your clothing dries.”
She wrinkled her nose. “It itches.”
One eyebrow rose. “You’d rather be naked?”
She drew a pillow from the sofa and sat on it before the fire, wrapping her arms around her knees, pretending his presence didn’t trip her heartbeat.
He sighed. “I’ll take that as a yes.” His feet shifted on the floor beside her.
She stretched her legs, lifting her toes toward the fire and studied the way the firelight limned her legs, all the while aware of his gaze sweeping their length like a heated caress. Did she dare give into temptation? Shouldn’t she fight his seductive allure?
He drew a ragged breath.
She glanced up and found his dark gaze roaming her body, landing on her legs, sliding upward to her hips. She tossed back her hair and let him stare at her bared breasts.
“Would you mind if I sketched you?” he asked softly.
Her glance darted toward the paintings. Is this how he seduced the women? First, he captured their souls on canvas? She remembered his roughness as he’d forced her over his shoulder, his strength when he’d lifted her from the sled. He’d brooked no argument from her. Would he be the same way when he came over her in lust?
Thure’s lovemaking had been gentle. He’d treated her respectfully, even when he thrust inside her, begging her first for the privilege. Somehow, she knew this barbarian wouldn’t be as deferential toward her rank. The thought of just how ungentlemanly he would be had her breasts tightening and a heated glaze seeping from her pussy.
“I won’t mind,” she whispered, holding his hot gaze.
He turned away, striding stiffly toward a cabinet in the corner and drew out a thick sheaf of paper and black sticks. Setting them on one of the leather couches, he unbuttoned his jacket and shrugged out of it, then rolled up the sleeves of his red shirt.
Larikke forced her stare back to the fire and tried to relax as he scratched the paper with the black sticks. She’d never watched a man create a painting-only seen the finished products which the faerie folk traded for in the faraway land. Her gaze lifted to one of the paintings, this one of a woman with her head thrown back, her teeth buried in her lower lip. She looked pained, but Larikke recognized the source as passion.
Thure was skilled and had brought her a gentle release a time or two, but she’d often yearned for something a little wilder. She wanted to be swept outside herself, frightened by the power of her desire.
Perhaps this interlude was her chance to taste true freedom from the expectations placed upon her. Soon, Gudvin would know she’d not returned from her ride. He’d mount a rescue, scouring her usual trails. When those proved futile, he’d search his golden orb to locate her.
She couldn’t stay here. But she might use the time spent here to learn her true nature-and explore the passion that even now rose up to cause her breaths to catch and her nipples to swell.
The scratching paused. “Would you touch yourself?”
Larikke blinked. If she did something so decadent, could she tempt him to show her his barbarian side? “Like her?” she asked, tilting her chin toward the painting.
He shook his head. “Do what pleases you.”
She dipped her head, embarrassed she didn’t really know what that might be. “I’m not sure.”
“Start with your breasts, then.”