Moira watched her family disappear into the distance, the only home she'd ever known nothing more than a dollhouse on the horizon. The tall man beside her hadn't given her much of an option about leaving. She'd found herself bundled into his limo before she could blink.
Of course, she'd still been reeling from the incredible kiss he'd placed on her lips just moments before she found herself in the vehicle and on her way. Something within her had responded to the stranger, something that kept her from fighting his Claim on her.
What was up with that?
Moira never went with the flow. She always followed her own path. She was a leader, not a follower, and damn proud of it. So why had she followed like a meek little lamb while this man bundled her up and drove away?
Why did it bother her so much that they'd left Jaden Blackthorn behind?
She turned to the stunning blond sitting next to her. His charcoal gray suit was much darker than the silver gray of his eyes. His blond hair was slightly longer than was fashionable, brushing the tops of his shoulders. His lips were full and pink, calling her for another taste. With the way his body filled out that suit she bet he was massive everywhere. He had the face of an angel and the body of a warrior. Despite the suit he managed to trip every he-man fantasy she'd ever had, and then some.
"Do you know who I am?"
She rolled her eyes. She might be just this side of blond but she was far from the stereotype. "Duncan Malmayne, new lord of Clan Malmayne. You're a five-hundred-year-old Sidhe who is blood bonded to Jaden Blackthorn, the vampire who kidnapped Ruby. Your sister was a psychotic bitch and your father--"
The cool tone of voice told her nothing. Did he grieve his father, or was he glad that the man who'd allowed his daughter to deal out so much grief and pain was dead?
"I'm sorry." She wasn't, but it seemed like the right thing to say.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Didn't I just answer that question?" She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
His lips twitched. "Redheads. I'd forgotten about that temper."
Her eyes narrowed. He was beginning to piss her off. "Strawberry blonde."
He tugged on one red-gold curl. "More strawberry than blonde." He tipped her chin up. "I'm yours, and you're mine."
She could feel her eyes go wide at the silver sparks dancing in his eyes. "Wait. What?"
"You know what I'm talking about. You tasted it when we kissed."
Oh, crap. "That's not possible. I don't have enough Sidhe blood to recognize or Claim a true bond."
She blinked. Or did she?
The children of Sean Dunne each had unique abilities their half-Sidhe, half-Leprechaun blood granted them. Leo, for all that his powers tended toward his Sidhe half, had still managed to claim land in the leprechaun way. He'd used the leprechaun's bond with the earth to find and rescue his true bond, Ruby, but the bond was weak and his powers over the land miniscule.
Shane, a true half-blood, could summon whatever his imagination could conjure up so long as the materials it was made out of were "of the earth", a concept he'd tried and failed to explain to her. He couldn't make a plastic water bottle, but he could make silk shirts. Unfortunately, using the ability exhausted him beyond belief. The more intricate the item, the more tired he became.
As for herself, Moira took after her father the most. She would count herself almost pure leprechaun. Her bond to the earth was strong. She could hear the trees whisper to one another, feel the grass grow beneath her feet. The earth itself told her things in her dreams, things that would send her father into a tizzy if he knew about them. She hadn't ever planned on leaving the Dunne farm; the land called to her the same way it did to her father. She couldn't imagine living in a big city, surrounded by concrete and glass. She needed dirt beneath her feet and green, growing things. She hoped Duncan understood that or they'd have problems from the get-go.
"You know I'm right, Moira."
She blew her bangs out of her eyes. Yes, he was right, and it was her mother's fault. Aileen Joloun Dunne was pure blooded Sidhe, and aristocratic. It was possible that Moira could tap into that part of her heritage unconsciously, know her true bond when she tasted him. Maybe even Claim him and Bind him with the Vows, though she had to ask herself if it would be as strong a bond.
Besides, who knew she'd find her mate so young? By Sidhe standards she was still a child at only fifty years old. Sidhe weren't considered adults until they reached the age of one hundred years. She eyed the man next to her, feeling anything but childish. Then again, by leprechaun standards I'm a grown woman.
She had to admit, Duncan Malmayne tasted damn good. She licked her lips, remembering when his mouth had descended on hers. She'd stood there in her father's yard, watching Jaden by the limo, his long, dark hair dancing on the evening breeze. She'd been strangely eager to see him again, to know that the mental voice he'd used to soothe her fears and calm her mind had been the true man. The vampire who'd kidnapped Ruby and forced Moira to fight to defend her had turned out to be their greatest ally in the Malmayne house. The thought of seeing him again had her twitchy, restless. She needed to see him, to see for herself that the terrible wound Jeremy West had inflicted on him had in fact healed. She'd felt the piercing of the stake through Jaden's back, had known that he would have died if Jeremy's aim had been truer. The blood on her own back had terrified her parents, but Moira knew that she'd suffered along with the vampire, if only mildly in comparison.
Then he was there, his dark eyes dancing, and she'd known beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was fine.
They'd arranged to meet with the new Malmayne lord at night due to the vampire's susceptibility to sunlight, a courtesy that hadn't gone unnoticed by Jaden. Jaden had looked pleased to see her, a gleam in his dark eyes that seemed directed solely at her. His Native American heritage was obvious in his dark hair and bronzed skin, skin that hadn't faded in the years since he'd been turned. Her belly had turned in lazy circles, her breath coming faster. Somehow she'd just known the vampire had come solely to claim her. The affection that had poured out of him for her had eased her fears about the other man in the limo, the newly minted lord of the Malmayne clan and her mother's ex-fiance. Despite Leo's reassurances that the new head of the Malmayne clan had not come to claim blood debt, she still felt that his entrance into their lives would change things forever.
Duncan had stepped out of the limo and proceeded to prove her right.
"Perhaps we should test the theory. See if what I believe is true." Duncan tipped up her face with a smile.
She blinked, the memory of Jaden's face when Duncan had descended on her fading from her mind. The vampire had looked stunned, even...hurt? But then Duncan's face had blocked out the night, the startled joy in his face making her heart race. He'd kissed her, and nothing else had mattered.
Not her family. Not even the defeat of the Malmaynes who had done their best to destroy the Dunnes. Only the presence of Jaden had continued to tickle her senses.
Just the thought of him still did.
She stomped out the shiver of unease at the thought of the vampire. She was almost positive Duncan was her true bond. She shouldn't be entertaining thoughts of the seductive vampire. She licked his lips and could almost taste him again. "Maybe we should."
Duncan bent to her, his lips touching hers with reverence. She smiled against his mouth, waiting for the Sidhe lord to take what he so obviously believed was his.
He played with her mouth, teasing little sips that left her wanting more. By the time he parted her lips she was dying for a real taste. He dipped inside, offering her the spicy taste of a Sidhe, and she took it and demanded more.
He gave it to her. He hauled her into his arms and devoured her. His taste exploded on her tongue, drove through her with a shaft of need, of want that left her writhing on the leather seat.
Oh, yeah. He's the One. She no longer had any doubts.
Duncan Malmayne was meant to be hers.
So why did her thoughts instantly return to the vampire they'd left behind? Some small part of her knew he suffered agony, but she didn't know why. If it was a physical pain she would have ordered Duncan to turn the limo around and damn the consequences.
But something had hurt Jaden's heart before he shut her out of their weak blood bond. Was it the knowledge that Duncan had found his true bond and begun to Claim her? Was he jealous that he'd have to share his bond brother's affections?
She didn't know. She just hoped whatever had caused Jaden grief he would get over it, and soon. She didn't like the thought of him suffering. Not one little bit.