The Dark Highlander

Page 19


He snorted and motioned her to sit down. ’Twas evident the lass was obsessed with antiquities and curious as the day was long. Her fingers actually curled absently whenever she looked at the Codex, as if she was aching to touch it.

He’d like to see her aching to touch him like that. Worldly women all but pushed him into bed. He’d never seduced an innocent before. He sensed she would resist. … The thought both amused and aroused him.

Huffily, she plunked down on the sofa opposite him, folded her arms and stared at him across piles of texts and notebooks on the marble coffee table between them. Lush lips pursed, one foot tapping.

One wee, bare delicate foot, with shell-pink toenails. Slender ankles peeking from his rolled-up sweats. Clad in one of his linen shirts, the sleeves pushed up to the elbows, which was also where the shoulders dropped to on her delicate frame, her hair mussed about her face, she was a vision. The fickle March sun had decided to shine for the moment, like as not, he thought, just so it could spill in the wall of windows behind her, and kiss her curly coppery-blond tresses.

Tresses he’d like to feel spilling over his thighs. While those lush pink lips …

“Eat your breakfast,” he growled, turning back to the text.

She narrowed her eyes. “I already did. I’m going to lose my job, you know.”

“What?”

“My job. I’m going to get fired if I don’t show up for work. And then how will I live? I mean, assuming you really mean it about letting me go.”

She gave him another haughty glare, then glanced toward the door for the dozenth time, and he knew she was wondering if she could make it to it before he stopped her. He wasn’t worried. Even if she made it out the door, she’d never make it onto the elevator in time. He knew also that earlier, she’d stood behind him, her gaze drifting betwixt a heavy lamp and the back of his skull. She hadn’t tried to bash him with it, wise lass. Mayhap she’d seen his tense readiness, mayhap she’d decided his skull was too thick.

He inhaled deeply and released it slowly. If he didn’t get her out of the room soon, he was going to leap the table betwixt them, pin her to the sofa, and have his way with her. And though he fully intended to, he needed to finish the Midhe Codex first. Discipline was a crucial part of controlling the evil within him. The first portion of the day was for work, the evening for seduction, the wee hours for more work. He’d been living that way for many moons. ’Twas imperative he keep things neatly compartmentalized, for he could too easily become a man consumed by indulging whatever momentary need or whim struck him. Only by rigidly maintaining his routines, never deviating, did he prove to himself that he was indeed in control.

The Draghar, he brooded. This was the third mention of them he’d encountered. The peculiar phrasing did seem to encompass his actions. The man from the mounts … the bridge that cheats death. But who or what were the Draghar? Were they mayhap some faction of the legendary Tuatha Dé Danaan? Would they return from their mythic hidden places to hunt him now that he’d broken his oath and violated The Compact?

The deeper he dug into tomes that neither he nor Drustan had previously spared a thought for, the more he realized that his clan had forgotten, even abandoned, much of their ancient history. The Keltar library was vast, and in his thirty-three years he’d scarce made a dent in it. There were texts no Keltar had bothered with for centuries, mayhap millennia. There was too much lore for a man to absorb in a single lifetime, and verily, there’d been no need to. Over the aeons, they’d grown careless and content, looking forward not behind. He supposed it was man’s way to relinquish the past, to live in the now, unless suddenly the ancient past became critical.

Had they not forgotten so much, he might never have stood in the circle of stones, assuring himself there was no evil in the in-between awaiting him should he use the stones for personal motive. He might never have half-convinced himself that the Tuatha Dé Danaan, a vague race spoken of in vaguer terms, were but a myth, a fae-tale woven to prevent a Keltar from misusing his power. Not that he’d believed he had been abusing it. He’d not thought of his actions as serving personal motives. Well, not entirely, for was love not the greatest and most noble purpose of all?

She was havering away again.

How best to make her give him some peace?

A predatory smile curved his lips.

He looked up. Raised his eyes from the text and looked at her, deliberately letting all that he was thinking about doing to her—which was everything—show on his face, blaze in his gaze.

She sucked in a soft breath.

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