“Jesu! Ye are like two peas in a pod!”
Duff MacDougal grinned at the old man. He radiated such total confidence and authority that he could be none other than Laird MacKenzie, tenth Lord of Kintail, the master of more land than any other in the Highlands. They'd never been far from Duncladach until invited to learn from this far more prosperous clan. Their guide had led them to this meadow, and to the man who'd determine their actions until spring. Thanks to the dowry provided by Laird Fraser for his niece, Fiona, no one at Duncladach was likely to starve this winter. Removing two hungry warriors would ease the way for the others.
MacKenzie looked back and forth from Duff to Malcolm with shrewd eyes. “Cormac and James are much like ye. Can aught tell ye apart in the dark?”
“Gillis has red hair and Fin is blond,” said Duff. “The rest of us are dark with blue eyes, like our father.”
“And ye're all braw laddies?”
“The youngest two haven't filled out yet, but aye, we run to tall, dark, and handsome.” Duff grinned, playing the fool as usual. “Except for him.” He tilted his head to point to his twin. “He's the ugly one.”
“I told ye to keep yer trap shut,” said Malcolm, finally speaking.
MacKenzie's face cleared. “Ah, ye got a scar on yer chin and the other doesna. Be ye Duff or Malcolm?”
“He's Duff,” said Malcolm. “Thank ye for bringing us here to serve ye, Laird MacKenzie. My younger brother acts the fool but he can swing a sword as well as the rest of us.”
Duff rolled his eyes at the gruff reply, openly enough that MacKenzie noticed. They might be identical in looks but they were opposite in personality. He loved adventure, reacting as events unfolded. Malcolm was a rule follower, soberly worrying about what might happen. Meeting such an important man made his twin act even more stuck-up than usual.
Duff didn't care what people thought. He did what was right and would not compromise his principles. They'd grown up with so little he'd decided to grab as much fun along the way as he could. Though he enjoyed life he never shirked. Since they were always together they balanced each other out.
When the laird kept frowning as he noted any differences Malcolm slowly lifted his bent right arm, keeping an open hand to prove he held no blade. He pushed his sleeve back to show a raised scar on his forearm.
“I bear the mark of the older twin,” he said stiffly.
Duff rolled his eyes, catching the attention of MacKenzie. “And I bear the mark of the one who got bashed into a stone wall head first,” he drawled. He tilted his head to better show the mark along his jaw. It was easy to see as they'd shaved that morning, taking advantage of the hospitality at Lovat Castle to look their best.
“Did yer twin do that to ye?”
“Can't rightly remember,” replied Duff. “We were having a wee tussle with Cormac and James at the time.” He frowned, scratching his head as if thinking was a difficult task for him. “Angus and Gillis joined in, and then the wee lads Zander and Artair got in a few punches. Mayhaps Tearlach and Rory hauled Gillis off me afore all went black.”
MacKenzie's bark of laughter startled the birds in the trees. “James said there was sixteen of ye MacDougals. Ye got in a few scraps, aye?”
“Aye, we scrapped, and we wagered over everything, Laird MacKenzie,” said Duff, grinning back. “From who threw their knives best to which spider would climb the wall first.”
“That time he went into a corner, hitting his chin and the back of his head,” said Malcolm. “He tells the lasses he got the scar while killing a dozen Campbells. Singlehanded, of course,” he added drily.
Duff was impressed Malcolm had unbent enough to joke with the man holding their futures over his head. Laird Fraser had told them MacKenzie enjoyed a good laugh. Getting on his good side could only help their chances for a better life.
“And then,” said Duff, leaning forward as if to give a secret, “I say I've got a bigger scar but I'd have to lift my plaid to show them.” He winked, making the laird roar again.
“He willna be doing that here, Laird MacKenzie,” added Malcolm. He gave Duff the same warning look he'd been using all their lives. “We willna dishonor our clan, or yours.”
She yanked at his forearm with both hands, unable to budge his grip. Knowing she couldn't see him, he grinned at her frustration. He'd never realized how much fun it could be to irritate a woman. She growled in fury. He set his chin on the top of her head. She fit just right.
“I asked you a question, you toad!”
He jerked her braid down, forcing her face up and turning her yell into a yelp. He tilted his head slightly, an eyebrow raised in question as he stared into her eyes.
“Excuse me?” he asked softly.
She flushed, her eyes dropping. It pleased him that she understood it was not a question, but a demand for obedience. He held her there, unmoving, waiting for her response.
“I apologize for my words,” she said, though it sounded grudging. “But you didn't answer my question.”
“You already kenned the answer, kitten.”
He squeezed her nipple between his fingers, a reward for giving in. She made a noise in the back of her throat. A small one, but powerful.
Surrounded by enemies, they'd all had to learn to be observant. It had helped him to survive eleven older brothers and four younger. Watching for the flex of a muscle meant his chin was gone before a fist could connect. She leaned into him, meaning she wanted more. When the hand on his arm squeezed, he did the same to her breast, using the same pressure. She might think he was taking control. In truth, he was following her lead.
“I guess I did,” she admitted. She shifted, body tensing. “Why did you call me kitten? I'm not your pet.”
He nuzzled her neck. No, she wasn't his pet. Not yet. “I have to call you something. Would you prefer 'toad'?”
“No, thank you,” she grumbled.
He continued nuzzling. She smelled good. The few women he'd bedded were older, eager for the touch of a young male who would listen while they taught him what they liked.
“I call ye kitten as you are a wee thing, soft and cuddly though ye think you are brave. And when I stroke you with my fingers and tongue you'll purr,” he promised in a whisper.
He dropped his hand to her soft bush. His fingers trailed over her lips, hinting at what would come later. She shifted, spreading her feet a few inches in invitation. He hid his smile in her hair and returned his hand to her breast.
“I am brave,” she blurted. “I live alone with my dog. I've a wee sheiling nearby. None live near, so I do as I choose.”
“And today you choose to have my hands and mouth on you.”
“Aye. So why is one hand in my braid?”
She'd barely finished her complaint when he used his foot to push hers father apart. He released her hair and sank the fingers of one hand into her wet, slippery folds, putting the other on her arse. He ran his fingers back and forth from her clit, over her pussy lips, and back. The other hand slid between her smooth cheeks to open the crack of her arse, all the way to her puckered entrance. She dropped her head back, eyes shut and mouth open, panting.
He repeated the motions over and over, gathering pussy juice to help him slide up her crack. She trembled, her clit swollen and hard. He could easily bring her to her peak but he'd leave her at the edge, wanting more. He set his wet hands on her hips. His heart pumped as if he'd run miles and his cock threatened to explore.
“Dinna stop!” she wailed.
“'Tis your turn to touch me.”
“But…you said you'd make me peak.” Her chin quivered in complaint.
“You will, kitten. When I say ye may.”
Her pout was magnificent. She broke free. He'd allow her a moment to calm before he stormed her again. She turned to him, fists jammed on wide hips, back arched to thrust her breasts toward him. Her thatch hid the swollen lips he was eager to taste. Her wet thighs glistened in the sun. She gave him a look of scorn which he ignored as he strolled past. He shook his plaid and spread it on the grass, making sure his horse had not lifted his tail nearby. He moved carefully, his hard cock a nuisance. He wanted to feel her hot pussy yielding to him. Wanted it as much as he wanted to put his mouth on her clit and make her scream. Both would happen but not until he had that wide mouth and thick lips sucking him in.
“So what should I call you? Puppy?”
She was trying to wrest control from him. Trying, yet hoping he was strong enough to stand up to her. He was. He kept his eyes on hers, dominating her. She licked her lips, nervous, but didn't break his gaze. A brave woman, indeed. But then, had she ever been truly threatened? She stood, proudly naked in front of a stranger with not a kinsman within miles to save her. She'd been well protected or she would never behave so brazenly. Just who was she? It didn't matter. She would soon be his, and Malcolm's.
He liked that she stood tall, daring him to react. It made him want to conquer her. He stalked her, stopping with his chest a bare inch from her breasts. She panted, making her nipples brush his chest hair.
“You,” he said, keeping his words quiet, slow, and distinct, “may call me Master.”