In the heat of battle, a powerful Scottish laird takes a mysterious woman captive...
His Powerful Desire
When Aidan MacKetryck finds a flaxen-haired maid caught in the crosshairs of battle, he quickly saves her from certain death. But while Aidan expects gratitude, he is sorely disappointed--for the fiery lass makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him...
Her Dangerous Secret
Juliana D'Aubenville is in hiding from those who want her entire family to perish. Despite her attraction to the strikingly handsome Aidan, Juliana knows she must escape before her identity is revealed. The trouble is, Aidan refuses to let her go...
Their Forbidden Love
With each moment Aidan and Juliana are together, their desire becomes more enticing--and harder to resist. But just as Aidan tries to lay claim to Juliana once and for all, their darkest secrets are finally revealed--putting both their love and their lives in terrible danger...
"Filled with magic and a love so deep it takes my breath away." --Romance Reader at Heart on Once Upon a Knight
"Sizzling sexual tension and great repartee." --Romantic Times
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October 04, 2011
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Excerpt from Knight Everlasting by Jackie Ivie
The shout came through the ground?swell of mist, became a blurred man, and then more of them. They were running . . . directly at her. "Hide!"
Juliana dropped her apron, scattering berries at her feet. The thumping of horses' hooves penetrated the remnants of fog next. And then the first indistinct outline of a mounted man appeared. Armed and charging . . . with drawn sword.
The first runner reached her, swooped, and without even breaking stride, tossed her up and over his shoulder, as if she weren't the size and heft of a grown woman paralyzed in place. Not much on her moved. He had her legs locked with an arm, her belly atop his shoulder, her arms dangling use?lessly, and everything else on her upper body slamming against his back.
A backward glance showed her man to be one of the strongest or most agile, since he was outdistancing the others, and then losing them in the fog.
Juliana dropped her head and wrapped her arms about his lower back. The man carrying sensed her new position, for he increased his pace, making the upside?down view of forest meld into a blur, while her arms expanded and contracted with the filling and emptying of air from his chest. There was nothing else she could do. Agonized cries and shrieks filled the opacity all about them, mingling with thud?ding noises and crashing sounds of what might be branches, but could be bodies just as easily. And through all the sounds of pounding hooves, ringing steel, and bloodcurdling cries was the heart?pounding overhang of fear.
Juliana swallowed and her ears popped. Fear was always about and risked, especially in a predawn forest. The vil?lagers believed the devil haunted these woods, spawning gremlins and goblins and banshees. The man carrying her could be one of the devil's demons. He could also be a clans?man from a Northern clan: barbaric, primitive, illiterate, and unclean. It was possible. His sett was an unfamiliar plaid . . . black and red with a gray?cast smaller stripe.
It didn't truly matter to Juliana. She'd have clung anyway. There was something these Scots feared more: the Sassenach scourge that was King Edward II and his soldiers. King Edward had already defeated and quashed the Welsh clans back when she was a child. Now he wanted the same of Scotland. Juliana hadn't known how King Edward warred and hadn't cared. Until now.
She'd just begun to grasp her luck when her man jumped a fallen log, bouncing her viciously with the motion, and then he leapt over another one. Sounds of pursuit were every?where . . . getting close, fading. Louder. Farther. A shout came from the spot to their left. Leaves and branches reached out, slapping them with dew. The man ran on, dodging things that rarely slowed his stride, feinting to one side as she swayed the exact span over the other.
Then, without warning, he launched forward, going air?borne more than a body length before reaching and rolling over a fallen log, pulling her up and over his shoulder with the roll, and bringing the back of his feile breacan with her, since that was what she grabbed. He had her smashed against him with the tumble and then he had her slammed onto her back. The impact took all her air, before it worsened with his body weight landing atop her, locking her arms and legs in place.
Black and red plaid settled over them, covering every?thing. But when that didn't prove sufficient to him, Juliana got hammered with the hard humps of his chest muscles as he burrowed with both hands, digging them into the rotting leaves and tree mash beneath the log. The back of her thigh met a rock, her knee a root, her buttocks settled onto what was probably damp ground, her shoulder hit another rock, and all the while she was getting flattened with his weight.
Then he stilled completely, halting even his breath, al?though the heavy pounding of his heart made up the differ?ence. Juliana tried sucking for air. She tried moving her arms to lift him. She was going to suffocate, held beneath a High?land devil and not one person would ever know of it. Heave off!
She tipped her chin and mouthed the words at him since he wouldn't move, and then everything went ice?cold with shock and fear. A sword tip spliced through the area directly between their noses, glinting wickedly as it nicked the log beside her cheek before being pulled back out. Eyes as wide as hers bored into her, and for a moment she didn't think her heart would continue beating. He seemed to have the same issue, as not one pulse beat sounded anywhere from either one of them. And then it got harder to bear as every bit of him that was pressed to her went rigid and tense, making him even thicker and heavier. She knew why. He was preparing for the next jab of the sword . . . and what it might hit.
A thump of the wood echoed through her forehead, show?ing the soldier had moved farther up the log. Then there was another thump, even farther away and more dull?sounding. And then . . . nothing.
The sound of her man's renewed heartbeat was loud through where her cheek was pressed against his neck. Relief washed through her, sending such bliss it made her giddy. Or maybe it was the odd grouping of dots dancing through the air be?tween them. Juliana watched as the dots combined to a gray shade that meshed with the dark material about them, before it grew larger, sucking at her . . . taking her down to oblivion with it. The man shifted, pushing his legs and groin into hers. Juliana barely felt it. Then his upper arms hardened against her head. She didn't realize it was to pull up from her until he did it, granting her air with the gap.
Nothing had ever felt so sweet!
He shushed her with a huff of breath that barely trembled with sound. Juliana didn't comply. She couldn't help it. He didn't give much space and she filled it with gasps that pushed her chest and belly into his over and over, making a harsh sigh of sound in their enclosure. He did the hush sound again, and this time tightened the arms beside her head more.
If it killed her, she wouldn't give them up! Juliana swal?lowed and held each small breath before easing it out, until they were calm and silent. Her reward was a slight lift of his mouth at one side, drawing her eye. It wasn't a far move to look from his mouth at the rest of him, and that was when everything changed. Shifted. Warped. Spun. She'd been taught to fear the Highland clans. Fear them and run from them. They meant trouble. Spawned by the Norsemen and weaned at a witch's teat, everyone knew to avoid them. But nobody had warned her of locking gazes with one of them. Juliana's bottom lip dropped open. She couldn't stop it.
This Highlander had to be the handsomest man birthed, or the lack of air had altered her vision. Handsomeness like his wasn't possible. It also wasn't fair. Or just. Or right. And she had no preparation! Thick dark hair fell forward all about him since he hadn't tied it back, or he'd lost his tie in the chase. He had dark eyes of an indecipherable shade, thick lashes, and all of that was graced by a face that lasses had probably sighed over long before she did.
Right then. And without one bit of forewarning.
Juliana's heart decided to curse her as well when it stumbled, restarting with a thud that sent heat to each cheek, and there was nothing to temper or hide it. She didn't know where her wits had gone. Each ragged beat of her heart accompanied a jolt of movement from her own body. Right against him. It was instinctive and involuntary. And horrible. All of it was being observed, noted, and evaluated. She could tell. One dark brow lifted, the smile moved to encompass his entire mouth, and then it got worse, as the heavy bulk of his loins tickled into volume and heft against her.
Juliana's eyes got even wider. Soldiers had to be still about hunting them, clansmen were probably being captured or worse, and this man was showing every sign that he desired that? Now?
Juliana sent the command to her eyes to narrow, to show him the disdain and disgust she felt. It didn't work. Nothing seemed to. Every bit of her body was tingling and alert where it pressed against him. Her stance was vile and did worse things to him. Juliana felt him enlarge and harden further, going to a size that forced her legs apart before settling between her skirt?covered thighs.
Nothing on her worked as it should. Nothing. She didn't know a near?death experience heightened things to such an extent it took one's will away at the same time. She'd never felt so vibrant, aware, and ready and primed. Primed . . .
The exact description flit through her mind. She did feel primed . . . and with that came willing, pliant, desirous . . . and lax. And wicked. She was alive with them. Each breath was pushing them together, especially since his breathing tempo had quickened to match hers. There wasn't any way to avoid him. Or move from him. Or do anything other than ex?perience what he was doing to her. There couldn't be much worse.
Then, she knew exactly what was worse as his slight smile faded, replaced by a pout of kissable shape, while the wealth of eyelashes dipped, covering his eyes. He tipped his head. Juliana had a bare instant of time before receiving his lips against hers. She used her moment to turn her head, barely avoiding this kind of trouble. It was instinct, self?preservation, and fear. And it was massive. Shaking was overtaking her as he nuzzled what had to be his lips against her cheek and then along her jaw. Rivulets of goose bumps went everywhere, leaving his touch to trill along her shoulders, creep over her scalp and to her toes, before flowing back and finding a center at each breast tip. Those offending bits pushed right into his chest, making things even more unfair. She already knew how sturdy he felt . . . especially shirtless, and without most of his sett since it was atop them. Every caress gave her more to experience of the sweat?dampened, overheated, and thick feel of him, and it combined with a sensation that slith?ered right from where her nipples were squashed against him down to the bottom of her belly . . . and then even lower than that. Unbidden wantonness joined the feeling of liquid heat that slid together all the way to where her loins were jammed against the rock?hard flesh of his lower belly.
She almost wished she'd fainted.
Then her body gave a nearly imperceptible upward move?ment, thrusting her pelvic area against him. It was completely against her volition. And will. And experience. Nothing was fair. She didn't even know where her cloak had gone to, and the linen of her shift left little to mute any of it. The touch of what had to be a tongue grazed her chin next, earning him a quick thrust with that against his mouth. And that brought her right back into eye contact with him.
He looked as surprised by her movement as she was, but for differing reasons. She was amazed something on her body had actually obeyed while his was probably due to any lass declining his favors. She still couldn't tell his eye shade. That was all well and good. She didn't want to know anything more about him. And she definitely didn't need further de?scription of him. Or further demonstration of what he could do to her. And with her.
Juliana managed to hold his gaze for more than eight heartbeats, each one gaining in volume as she counted. Then she dropped her eyes to his chin. He had a perfectly sculpted jaw that matched the rest of him. If he'd grown a beard like every other Scot, she wouldn't have to be looking at every facet of a lower face and lush full lips that were still pursed slightly. Nor would she be suffering the reaction of it. Her body gave the horrid pulsing motion again, shoving all of her against all of him. Involuntarily. Horribly.
"Jesu'." He breathed it, although she was saying a curse word very like it in her mind in tandem with him. He'd also lifted his head, denting the tent of plaid atop them and making their enclosure lighten the moment he did.
"Heave--" Juliana whispered back.
"Hush!" he interrupted her with a hiss of sound. Every?thing on him went taut and rigid and heavy again as he held himself immobile.
His downward glance didn't have anything but fear in it, regardless of how dark his eyes still appeared. And then he scrunched them closed and started praying. Whispering the words. She knew then why. Their hiding spot was lighter because the foliage atop them had slid away when he'd moved. He'd given away their position.
Juliana was watching when he finished. Something was different when he opened his eyes and she couldn't quite figure it. His body was also relaxing, getting heavier as it did. She locked gazes with him again, pulsed against him, and hoped she didn't die of the embarrassment rather than a Sassenach sword.
"Aidan." He whispered it.
He dipped his head slightly and repeated it. Slower. Draw?ing her eye to his lips with the way he split it into two words. "Ai . . . dan."
"Aidan," Juliana repeated.
He smiled, stealing her voice while her throat closed off, and if she didn't look elsewhere, she was going to be back in the same trouble she'd just avoided. She settled on moving to the fabric beyond his head. "What?" she asked.
"Aidan MacKetryck. Aidan Niall MacKetryck. 'Tis my name." "Oh," Juliana replied. She'd been right. He was a High?lander from Clan MacKetryck. She played the name through her mind. She'd heard of them, but didn't know much more than that.
He blew a sigh over her, gaining her attention back. She didn't need to know how that felt either!
"Is that all?" he asked.
"Aye," she answered.
He must have finished maneuvering himself back into place atop her, because she was supporting a massive amount of his brawn and volume, and other things she wasn't going to acknowledge. She watched the plaid material fan back out with his movement.
"What if I want to hear . . . more?" He'd added a slight bit of voice to his whisper, making the last word a deep throb of sound.
"The soldiers . . ." She didn't know what the rest of her sentence would be as it just trailed off, taking her wits with it.
He huffed what was probably amusement. "They've gone."
Juliana narrowed her eyes and moved her glance back to him, settling on the spot between his eyebrows. It was safer. "How do you know?" He adjusted a shoulder up and then back against her, moving her shift with it. "I gave our position away. I still have my head. Simple." "Then, heave off."
He wasn't just smiling this time. It had to be a grin if the way his eyebrows lifted was an indication. She didn't dare check. With his visage and what happened to her every time she looked, it was safer this way. "Na' yet."
She flitted her eyes to his, cursed the impulse in the same instant, and did her best to ignore how her heart stumbled. "Why not?" she tried to command, but it sounded more like a plea. She decided the roof of plaid atop his head was safer and moved her eyes there again.
"I deserve a reward," he said finally.
"Reward? You near got me killed," Juliana replied.
"Oh nae. I just rescued you," he countered.
"Near got me killed. Along with you," she replied.
He shook his head, dragging locks of hair along her face. Juliana had to close her eyes for a moment while she forced the horrid tingling sensation down.
"I saved you. Along with me."
He was waiting until she opened her eyes and looked at him again. It was getting slightly easier to ignore the reaction to him, including the way his belly shoved against her with every breath, the length of him weighing her down, as well as how all of her tingled with the prolonged contact. His argumentative nature made it a bit easier, but not by much. "Do you always argue?" she asked.
His lips twisted as if considering it. Then he shook his head. And then he grinned. She'd been right. It was devastat?ing. Her vision flew back to the plaid.
"Nae need, lass. I always win."
The words were said close to skin if his breath was any in?dication. And then she knew how close he was as a quick jerk of her head had his lips hovering above her nose rather than her mouth, where he'd aimed. "Not this again." She sighed, and if she could get her hands freed from where he'd pinioned them at her side, she'd be putting up more of a struggle than simply moving her head side to side in denial.
"Why na'?" He'd lifted from her enough to ask it and watch her while she answered at the same time. It was too much of an impact and she was exactly certain that he knew it.
"You haven't . . . asked." The words limped out. Juliana was breathless. She hoped it wasn't apparent in her voice, al?though it was probably visual everywhere else. This Aidan fellow knew very well the effect he had on her. He probably had it on every lass. He was used to wielding it. All of which was clear and apparent, and making her squirm with what she hoped was embarrassment.
"Verra well. I'm asking." His voice dropped, as did his head. Juliana managed a gasp before he had his nose lined up against hers and was running it up and down, and tickling the tip of her lip with the slight growth of whiskers on his upper lip each time.