Dare To Love A Scot (Desperate and Daring Book 10)
Dare To Love A Scot (Desperate and Daring Book 10)
Engaged to a man she's never even kissed, Primrose Everly looks forward to a staid and proper marriage. But when she meets Lachlan Dennehy, she realizes there may be something missing in her perfectly pure relationship.
Lachy is tasked with returning his struggling village to prosperity with the help of the Duke of Alberhill. Primrose sets his blood on fire, but as the dukes relation, she is untouchable.
But when Primrose returns to Alberhill Castle, jilted by her pompous fiancé, the lure of temptation is too much for Lachy and Prim to resist. Caught between passion and a promise, their desire threatens Prims reputation and Lachys leadership of his clan. Can love mend a treacherous past between the clan and the English who stole their castle or will history destroy their chance for a happily ever after?
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May 22, 1825
“This is a rather slapdash affair, isn’t it?” Primrose Everly whispered into her older sister’s ear.
“Hush,” Heather scolded. “Not everyone wants a long engagement like you, Prim. Look at them—I predict she’ll be with child by next month.”
Heather grinned as their new brother-in-law, the Duke of Selbourne, twirled their middle sister past them, Violet’s joy evident as she gazed into her husband’s eyes.
Prim frowned as they passed. Their mother had given her full approval for the marriage, orchestrating this small wedding in a matter of days, but Prim was still foggy on the details.
“They’re just dancing. I don’t see what you see. Besides, it was Peverel that wanted the long engagement. He thinks rushed ones are scandalous.”
And this wedding would certainly be infamous, if everything Violet had said about the events of the house party leading up to it were true.
I wanted him, and now I shall have him, Violet had confessed to her sisters. She’d waited five long years for her duke, but Prim’s nearly two-year engagement was nothing out of the ordinary. It’s what Peverel had wanted, and she had no reason to object to such a wait. What was the rush? She was in no hurry to reach her marriage bed, and neither was her fiancé. He was a gentleman through and through, not some creature enslaved to his primitive nature.
The duke, however, looked more than ready to throw Violet over his shoulder and carry her away to his lair. Prim hid a grimace behind her fan. How distasteful to be at the mercy of a man’s desire. She thanked the heavens for Peverel’s cool demeanor. He would never behave in such a fashion.
Heather tugged on her elbow. “Come, Erick has a brand-new foal, and I know you will want to see it before you go. The newlyweds will wish to retire to their room soon, anyway.”
Prim made a face and Heather laughed.
“One day you will understand, little sister.”
“No, I won’t.”
She wished Violet all the happiness in the world, but what Prim didn’t understand, was how Violet had come to be so in love in the first place. Three weeks ago, she’d left for a house party. Lord Roderick Andrews had been the man her sister was supposed to marry—or so Prim and her mother had hoped. Instead, she’d somehow ended up marrying Lord Andrews’ older brother, the duke.
Prim shook her head as she followed Heather from the ballroom to the stables. She had recognized the duke as the young man Violet had met years ago in Hyde Park, when she’d pegged him in the head with a kite. That much she understood, but what she couldn’t figure out was why Violet was so taken with him, and why she had taken the chances she did.
Her sister had been quite open about things when Prim had arrived, which was a pleasant surprise. For years, Violet had been rather close-lipped about her feelings, and the reasons she had for turning down eight proposals during her four seasons. Prim shook her head at the difference in her sister. Now Violet was bursting with happiness, and everything she said involved Weirick, the duke.
Perhaps that was why Prim found Peverel so interesting. Emotions never got the best of him. He was cool, collected, and so very smart. But he also said the sweetest things to her, and he cared for her in a way that was not—well, it was nothing like Violet and Weirick’s relationship.
Violet behaved like she routinely wanted to undress her husband and drag him to the bedchamber.
Prim would never leer at Peverel in such a way. It was undignified, to say the least. She supposed that people simply loved differently. Her love for her fiancé was calm and respectful, whereas Violet and Weirick were hot and explosive when it came to their emotions.
They were different; that was all.
Prim felt much better, now that she’d rationalized it all in her mind. She noticed that Heather had gotten far ahead of her, and had already disappeared inside the stable. Lifting her skirts discreetly, Prim trotted into the stable, eager to see the new foal.
She skidded to a stop at the unexpected sight of a man, and the air immediately left her lungs.
A shirtless man, dripping wet as he sloshed water from the pump onto his chest. Then he took notice of her, his gaze holding her prisoner.
And just like that, everything that made Prim cool and reserved evaporated in wafts of steam from her skin.
He studied her as he ran his fingers through his dark, damp hair. Beads of water slowly slithered down his broad chest, some catching in his chest hair, some following a wicked trail to his navel, and then into the waistband of his breeches. Others simply took their time, and his chest did look like a divine place to linger.
She’d never seen a man with such large muscles in his arms and chest, tapering down to a lean waist.
Prim licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as the Sahara.
He smiled at her and wiped his face with a towel, pulling on his shirt in what appeared to be slow motion.
“Miss Primrose, I presume?” he asked with a Scottish burr.
She fisted her hands on her hips and reminded herself that she was not intrigued by manly nakedness. “Uh, yes, and you are?”
He walked forward, his stride loose and long, and extended his hand.
“Major Lachlan Dennehy, but me friends call me Lachy.”
“Lachy… Pronounced almost like lucky?”
Prim ignored his extended hand. She was an engaged woman, yet she was certain that touching this man would somehow alter that fact.
“Aye, lucky I am.”
Then he winked at her, smiling crookedly, his irises black in the dim light.
Prim instinctively squeezed her thighs together. For some reason, her body was tingling in odd places. “I’m looking for my sister. There is a new foal here, yes?”
She tore her gaze away from him and scanned the stable which was obviously empty, except for the horses and the two of them.
“Out in the paddock.”
Prim turned away and walked as carefully and as quickly as she could. Heather stood at the fence, stroking the nose of an adorable colt. Prim hurried to her side, startling the colt.
Heather brushed a stray curl from her cheek. “Goodness, Primrose. Where did you wander off to? And why are you so flushed?”
“There is an odd man in the stable. Do you know who Major Lachlan Dennehy is?”
“Of course. He lives here.”
“He’s been in the East India Army for some time, but now he’s returned. He’s part of the original clan this castle belongs to. Erick and he are working on plans to improve the village, and Erick invited him to make use of the empty tenant cottage nearest the castle.”
“Oh,” Prim replied.
That settled it: She could never come back here. Just knowing he was still inside the stable, his shirt sticking to his damp skin, set her blood on fire. A mere man was not supposed to make her feel like this, certainly not a man who was not her intended husband. She was suddenly overheated, her skin prickly and her head woozy. She needed to get back to London and back to Peverel, as soon as possible. Seeing him would surely cure her of this temporary madness.
“Let’s go back inside,” she said abruptly. “I need to prepare for my return to London.”
“Are you in that much of a rush to see Lord Peverel?”
“Yes, I am.”
Prim averted her face to hide her burning cheeks, her attention aimed away from the stable as they passed by, just in case Major Dennehy stepped out.
Heather linked their arms, and they returned to the drawing room in time to hear another toast to the blissfully happy couple. Prim observed Violet and the duke very carefully now, noting how his gaze rarely left her face, or how he would lean closer to hear her when she spoke. And her sister hung on his every word, adoring him with her eyes. An odd ache built in Prim’s chest, and she deliberately turned her thoughts to Peverel.
What do people see when they look at the two of us?
There was an air around Violet and duke, warm and vibrant, and their love was nearly blinding in its intensity. Prim pictured herself with her fiancé, but the image in her head felt neither warm nor vibrant. Her own thoughts about Peverel inspired nothing inside her, at least, nothing like what Violet exuded, for example—or the inferno that had taken over Prim’s body while witnessing water slip over the major’s bare skin.
Her body flashed hot and then cold. She stepped back from the crowd, her hands shaking as she wrung them together and searched for some champagne to calm her nerves. She grabbed a glass from the refreshment table and tucked herself into an alcove, where no one could easily spot her, but where she could still see the happy couple. She gulped down her drink, her frantic thoughts calming as the effects of the alcohol overtook her.
She understood now what Heather had seen.
There was passion and desire between Violet and her husband. It was the physical expression of their love. Prim thought that if these emotions were elements, love would be air, and passion would be fire. After all, fire was bold and impossible to ignore. Air was invisible, impossible to grasp on to, but it was always there. All she needed to do was draw out Peverel’s passion, and then their calm, peaceful, and breezy relationship would magically transform itself into a wildfire.
All Prim had to do was be as bold as Violet, and show her fiancé her own passionate side.
“I want that,” she whispered to herself.
An image of a shirtless Lachy suddenly flashed in her mind. No, she told herself and pushed the image away. Peverel wanted to marry her, and it was Peverel who had danced with her and rained attention on her these past two years. He had a charming smile and effortless wit.
Prim swore right then that when she returned to London, she would show him that they didn’t need to be so cool and reserved with each other. Sometimes a little heat was called for in a relationship.
After all, they would be married by the end of the season.
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