TWENTY-ONE

Hayden knew he should leave. Hell, he should never have come to Isla’s tower, but he hadn’t been able to help himself. Thoughts of her, of their night together had given him no peace throughout the day.

He had thought to show her his Warrior form, to provoke her into rejecting him. Anything to break this hold she had over him.

She hadn’t been afraid of him, though. Had in fact shown him her own anger. It had shocked him, as had the force of her magic when she pushed him away.

He was in way over his head, but there was nothing he could do about it.

Hayden took a step toward her. He nearly rejoiced when Isla’s seductive lips turned up in a smile. How something so simple could move him, he didn’t know. And didn’t care.

She gave him a little shove. His knees hit the back of the bed and he sat heaving, impatient to touch her.

“Such a beautiful color,” she murmured as she caressed up his arms and over his shoulders. “Crimson. The shade of desire.”

Hayden could do nothing but sit while her hands stroked along his red skin. Her long nails teased his scalp as she sunk her fingers into his hair. And then those fingers wrapped around his horns.

His eyes flew open, lust filling him swiftly. Utterly. The force of it was powerful and addictive, the passion dizzying and beautiful. And the hunger … saints, the hunger clawed at him, demanded that he take her.

No one had ever touched his horns before. He was unprepared for his potent reaction or the longing that ripped through him sharp and true.

“This pleases you,” Isla whispered seductively. She leaned forward and licked his earlobe, her warm breath skating across his skin.

Hayden tried to swallow, tried to keep his breathing steady, but all he could think about were Isla’s hands on his horns, fondling and teasing him to such a degree that he nearly spilled his seed right then.

His climax swarmed him, intent on sucking him into the never-ending abyss of pleasure. But he wasn’t ready. Not yet. He wanted Isla screaming with him, her body pulsing from her own orgasm.

He grabbed her wrists and jerked her hands away from his horns and the paralyzing pleasure her caress gave him. At the same time he turned them both and pinned her on the bed, her arms held over her head in his firm grip.

Careful not to cut her with his claws, he hovered over her. “How did you know touching my horns would do this to me?”

“I didn’t. I’ve never seen horns such as yours, and I wanted to feel them.”

She ground her hips against him then. Hayden’s eyes closed and he moaned, thrusting against her as his desire only tamped down a moment ago, rushed to the surface. He wanted her right then, to lift her chemise and enter her with one push, deep and hard.

The need was so strong that Hayden shook with it. He had hurt her last time, he wouldn’t do it again.

“You must stop,” he ground out when she rubbed against him again. “I want you too desperately.”

Isla lifted her head and placed her lips on his. Hayden jerked back, not wanting to harm her with his fangs.

“Cease, Hayden,” she murmured. “You cannot hurt me.”

But he knew he could. With just a thought he pushed his god back, waiting until the red faded from his skin before he spoke. “You doona know how you goad me,” he said just before he kissed her.

Her chemise was thin and showed him the outline of her dark nipples, but it wasn’t enough. He grabbed the neck of the delicate material and yanked it in half with barely a thought. Once she was bared to him, he feasted on her breasts.

They were small, but firm and delectable. Her nipples responded quickly to his mouth and tongue, becoming rigid nubs that drove her to trembling the more he licked and suckled them.

Her moans filled the tower and made him burn hotter, harder, made him hunger even more. Her skin tasted like snow, pure and delicious. How had he ever thought to stay away from her, to deny himself such a bounty?

Isla held onto Hayden’s shoulders, her nails digging into his skin. He knew just where to touch, just how to touch to please her. She longed to caress his horns again, to see his nostrils flare and his body shiver.

It was heady, his reaction to her. She wanted more of it, more of him.

She gasped when his hand slipped between her legs and cupped her sex. She could feel the slick wetness of herself on his fingers as he parted her woman’s lips and teased her flesh.

His fingers were gentle but insistent as they fondled her, stroking the already bright flames of her desire higher, hotter.

Isla sucked in a breath when his finger rubbed over her clitoris, once, with the lightest of touches. Twice more he teased her, winding her into a fever pitch of need.

And want.

Her hips lifted from the bed, a cry on her lips, as he slid his finger inside her. Isla’s body rejoiced at the contact, the feel of him within her.

He kissed her then, every ounce of his hunger, his craving in the way he laid claim to her. His finger began to move in and out of her in time with his tongue, caressing expertly.

His touch was easy and hard, delicate and rough. He gave no quarter as he fondled her, demanding that she take everything he offered and gave as much in return.

Isla was incapable of doing anything else. The pleasure was too intense, his touch too tender, but her body cried out for more, sought more the higher her desire built.

It coiled within her, building and building, winding her tighter and tighter.

Just as she thought she couldn’t take any more, he joined a second finger with the first.

“Hayden,” she murmured, her body moving on its own against his hand seeking the fulfillment that was just out of reach.

When he wouldn’t let up on his exquisite torture, Isla reached between them and under his kilt to wrap her hand around his rigid cock. It was larger than she had thought, thick and hard as steel. Yet, the tip of him was soft as cream.

She moved her hand up and down his length and heard him hiss in a breath, felt his muscles stiffen. With her desire rising as quickly as the tide, she tried to hold it back the climax that was upon her.

But Hayden would have none of it.

He moved away from her long enough to jerk off his kilt with stiff movement, and then he loomed over her once more. “I can feel your magic every time you touch me. It makes me burn.”

Isla had never known a Druid’s magic to penetrate another as Hayden said hers did. Was that what seemed to connect them, what seemed to pull them together despite everything?

She soon forgot all about her magic and what it did to Hayden as he nudged her apart with his knee and positioned his erection at her opening.

His gaze locked on hers. He slid inside her slowly, steadily until he was sheathed fully, filling her perfectly. A soft, barely discernable sigh escaped him.

Isla lost herself in the black depths of Hayden’s eyes. For just a moment, that half a heartbeat, she had seen inside him. It left her reeling, seeking more.

He shifted his hips, the friction jerking Isla out of her thoughts, her body reminding her of the pleasure that awaited her. She lifted her legs and wrapped them around his waist, bringing him even deeper.

He began to move with long, slow thrusts. Each glide of his cock inside her brought her closer and closer to her climax.

His tempo increased until he was driving into her hard and deep and fast. Hayden held her gaze, his black eyes smoldering with passion while his body filled her again and again.

“Come with me,” he urged.

Isla was so close. She could feel the orgasm building, taking her higher and higher. And then she was flying. She screamed his name as her body jerked with the force of her climax.

Hayden continued to thrust, his hips pounding against hers until he let out a shout and buried his head in her neck as his own orgasm claimed him.

For long moments neither moved, their ragged, torn breaths the only sound in the tower. It took a long while before Isla’s heart slowed. Even then, having Hayden atop her was delightful, incredible. She loved the feel of him, his thick muscles and wonderful heat.

He kept most of his weight on his forearms that rested on either side of her head. She let her legs fall open as Hayden raised his head.

Instead of leaving as she assumed he would, he pulled out of her and moved them so that their heads rested on the pillow. She turned toward him, just to soak up his warmth, and was surprised when he wrapped an arm around her.

Tears burned Isla’s eyes. No man had ever held her so tenderly. For the rest of her life, however long that might be, she knew she would never again get into a bed without thinking of Hayden holding her.

She used her fingernail and lightly drew circles on his chest. She must have hit a ticklish spot on his side because he sucked in a breath sharply.

His hand closed over hers and he looked down at her with a smile. “No tickling.”

Isla grinned. “But I love the feel of you. You’re all hard muscle and smooth skin.”

He snorted in response but released her hand. “And you’re all womanly curves and silky softness.”

She could hear the beat of his heart beneath her, feel his chest rise and fall with each breath. It lulled her, giving her a sense of tranquility that she hadn’t had since before Deirdre kidnapped her. It didn’t even bother her that his hands skimmed over her scarred back.

“Do you like it here?”

She was surprised at his question. “I fear it’s all a dream. That I’ll wake back at Cairn Toul once again. The people here, their openness, their sincerity is difficult for me to accept sometimes.”

“But you have.”

She nodded against his chest. “I’m trying. I had given up hope. On the Druids, on Warriors, on life in general.”

“That is certainly easy enough to do. I think all of us have done it at one point or another.”

“What changed you?” she asked.

He was silent for a long moment. “After I escaped Cairn Toul I wandered continuously.”

“Were you searching for something?”

“I suppose,” he said with a lift of the shoulder she wasn’t lying on. “One night, as I sat before a fire, I sensed someone. Wary as I was, I hid. He came toward the fire and looked to the exact spot in the tree I was hiding.”

Isla smiled. “Who was it?”

“Galen. I knew instantly he was a Warrior.”

“Yet you trusted him?”

Hayden snorted. “There is something about Galen that brings on that trust. I knew I would fight him if I had to, but it was soon clear he was nothing but a friend. A day later Ramsey joined us.”

“So you three stayed together?” Isla was amazed at how Hayden had opened up to her, and she was eager to learn more about him.

“Off and on. We would separate, but always we would meet back up a few years later. One day on my way to meet them I stumbled across Logan.”

When he paused, Isla lifted her head to look into his face. “What happened?”

Hayden’s black eyes shifted to her. “He looked lost, as if he didn’t know what to do with his life. I brought him with me to Galen and Ramsey. The hopelessness I had seen vanished eventually. He kept us laughing with his jests and teasing.”

“You two are very close.”

“He reminds me of my brother.”

Isla returned her head to Hayden’s shoulder. “I’m glad you found Logan. Everyone needs someone they can depend on.”

“Aye.” Hayden’s fingers tangled in her hair as he pulled her tighter against him.

Isla’s eyes drifted shut, but she didn’t fight it. She would rest, just for a few hours in Hayden’s arms. A few hours in heaven.

It was her last thought as sleep claimed her.

*

Hayden knew the moment Isla fell asleep. He was still stunned he had told her so much of himself. It hadn’t been his intent. He had wanted to discover more about her.

He had told himself he would leave her once she was alseep, but now that the time had come, he was content to stay as he was. It would only mean trouble for him the next day, though.

The more he was around Isla, the more he gave into his desire to have her, he found it harder and harder to stay away. He tried to tell himself he hadn’t spoken with her all day because he didn’t want the others to speculate on anything, but the truth was he knew if he was near her, he would give into his desire and take her.

No matter who was around.

Everyone knew his hatred of droughs, yet the moment he had lifted Isla in his arms on Cairn Toul, he had wanted her. Only her. His ardor had dampened a bit when he’d learned she was drough, but that wasn’t enough for him to keep his distance.

His body had been eased of its need, but his soul ached for what he was doing to his family’s memory. What would they think of him if they could see him now?

Hayden stopped his mind before it continued down that path. The satisfaction he’d lain blissfully in was evaporating quickly, and he wasn’t ready for that.

He cleared his mind of everything then. It didn’t take long for the woman in his arms to fill his memory. Hayden closed his eyes and smiled as he recalled how she had once again screamed his name.

Every detail of their lovemaking replayed in his head. He had enjoyed his time with Isla, but he had to let her know that they could not continue as they were.

He must have fallen asleep because he awoke to Isla’s hand on his cock, her caress sure and confident as she stroked him. Hayden groaned and thrust forward so that her hand slid down his hard length.

“Ah, you’re finally awake,” she whispered.

His brain wouldn’t register any words in response. Her thumb smoothed over his arousal and smeared the drop of precum over the head of his cock. Her other hand cupped his balls and gently rolled them in her palm.

Hayden had never felt such pleasure, such blissful torment. Women had touched him before, but not like Isla. Not like this. She had a special touch. It was like her magic, extraordinary and vibrant.

It made his skin tingle and set his blood afire.

When she lowered her head, Hayden forgot to breathe. He was frozen, his limbs locked in place, his muscles tense. He watched, spellbound, as her lips hovered over his rod.

She glanced at him, her ice-blue eyes flashing with excitement and passion. It made his heart quicken its beat and his arousal to swell even more.

Isla smiled seductively, sensuously before her lips closed over the head of his cock and her mouth swallowed him.

Hayden’s lips parted, breath filling his lungs as the heat, the wetness of Isla’s mouth surrounded him. He was sinking, spiraling out of control with every lick of her tongue.

And he loved every moment of it.

“Isla,” he whispered, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Hayden buried his hands in her hair, holding her head as he sank into her hot mouth. Her tongue licked him, her mouth sucked him, and all he could do was ride out the amazing, torturous pleasure.

Again and again her mouth slid up and down his arousal. He was lost in the pleasure, the elemental bliss of her lips on his cock.

No woman had ever freely taken him in hand. That Isla had did not go unnoticed by him. In truth, it only made him crave her more. If that was even possible.

It came to a point, much quicker than Hayden would have liked, that he knew if he didn’t stop her, he would spill in her mouth. As much as that tempted him, he wanted inside her once more.

Hayden grabbed Isla’s slim shoulders and tossed her onto her back. She reached for him again, but he rolled her onto her stomach and lifted her hips. He slid his fingers over her sex and found she was drenched and hotly aroused.

Just as he wanted her.

Just as he needed her.

He positioned himself at her entrance and thrust into her from behind hard and quick. Isla moaned and threw back her head in abandon.

She was so tight, so hot, and he was already so primed to come that he feared he wouldn’t be able to wait for her.

Isla panted, soft cries coming from her mouth every time he shifted his hips. He reached around so that his thumb found her clitoris, and he began to stroke her in slow, tight circles.

He rotated his hips, afraid to do more than that lest he peak too soon. The feel of his body rocking into her soft behind only built Hayden’s desire to a staggering height.

Isla began to move back against him, matching him thrust for thrust. She held nothing back, gave him all of herself and more.

Hayden pumped inside, wanting to touch her soul, brand her so that she would think of no one but him. Want no one but him.

He wanted her to tremble for his touch, to dream of him. Just as he did for her. He didn’t want to be this ravenous for Isla, but he was.

And he wanted to ensure she felt the same.

As passionate as Isla was, it wasn’t long before she moved her hips back against him seeking more, her cries coming louder, her breath choppy and harsh.

“Hayden, please,” she begged.

He kept his thumb teasing her as he began to move in and out of her core with long, hard thrusts. He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw at the feel of her heat, her slick wetness that pulled him in and nestled him deep inside her.

Dimly, he heard her shout, heard her cry out his name, but he was too lost in the passion, too lost in Isla.

When he felt the walls of her sex clench around him as she peaked, Hayden threw back his head and shouted her name as he finally gave in to his climax, finally gave in to her.

He rode the wave of the pleasure for what felt like eons, each shudder that wracked his body sending him spiraling anew, deeper inside Isla, closer to her than he had been to any woman before.

When he finally opened his eyes, he had never felt so calm, so content. So peaceful.

Hayden kissed her shoulder and rolled them to the side. She gave him a sleepy smile over her shoulder before she drifted off. Hayden knew better than to stay this time.

As much as he enjoyed tasting her body, he knew he had to leave. He couldn’t chance staying, couldn’t chance what would face him in the morning if he awoke beside her.

Couldn’t chance finding her deeper in his psyche than she already was.

He rose from the bed and dressed, waiting until he knew for sure Isla wouldn’t wake. He should talk to her now, tell her this was it, but what they had shared had been too special to ruin it with cruel, harsh words.

Tomorrow would be soon enough to crush whatever was budding between them.

Hayden leapt to the window and turned back to look at the bed one last time. Isla was on her side still, her long, thick hair spread around her like black silk. Her skin was flushed rosy and the moonlight illuminated the many vicious scars on her back, scars he hadn’t noticed as he had held her.

She looked beautiful and tempting. Too tempting for him to risk sampling again.

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