She shouldn't--she should not--want to be kissed by the man who had abducted her at sword-point. No eighteenth-century lady should admit to wanting to be pressed up against a man's body, especially one as rock hard as his. An image of his face, with its high cheekbones, straight nose and chiseled jaw, flitted through her traitorous mind. Sensual lips, far too full to be ignored; long, dark hair that curled against the collar of his white shirt; and mesmerizing eyes, golden with flecks of brown, all reminded her of the huge wolf that stalked her father's forests, often bringing down a fleet-of-foot doe.
Kaitlin tugged at the silken scarves that bound her wrists to the four-poster bed, holding her captive. Her ears strained for the sound of human movement, but all she could hear was the creaking of the wooden hull as the ship pitched in heavy seas and plunged into deep troughs. They must be in the treacherous waters of the Inner Hebrides, judging from the violent rolling of the frigate. Where was he taking her and why? Who was the handsome stranger anyway?
She stopped struggling for a moment and closed her eyes. Her mother had been right. If she had not insisted on accompanying her father on his diplomatic mission to Alclud, she would be safe at home now in Gwynedd. But Kaitlin didn't like playing things safe. Four rowdy, older brothers hardly left her a coddled female. Her soul was as wild as the rugged terrain of Wales. How many times had she been warned that ladies did not go riding astride and certainly not with only a minimal bodyguard. But had she listened?
Still, her riding along the coast of the Highlands on a bright summer day didn't account for the band of brigands who had appeared suddenly from behind boulders and subdued her guards. Before she knew what was happening, she was pulled off her horse by a tall, powerfully built warrior and tossed lightly on his horse as though she were a pile of feathers. When he vaulted up behind her and put his arms around her, pulling her body back against his, she realized this man was solid muscle all over. And hard. Something very, very solid pressed against her backside, invading the crack between her buttocks. In all her twenty years, she'd not known a man could feel like that. The horse's rocking canter did nothing to alleviate the pressure; it only made it worse--first breaking the contact and then having that slamming against her again. By the time they'd slipped and slid down the cliffs to where the frigate was moored, the area between her thighs was moist and tingling with an aching need. Just what that need was, she wasn't sure.
The door creaked and Kaitlin's eyes flew open. His huge frame filled the doorway. Silently, she watched as he approached and sat down on the edge of the bed, close enough for her to inhale the scent of him. Sea salt mixed with a heady spice and leather. Mmmm.
"Who are you?" she asked, hoping her voice didn't shake.
"Adair MacDouglas," he answered and curled a strand of her blonde hair around his finger. "Ye're verra pretty."
Kaitlin inhaled sharply. The man's deep Scottish burr sounded like the throaty rumbling growl of the legendary wolf. She'd heard it once, right after the wolf finished feasting on a small boar. She wondered briefly if she was to be this man's prey. She was totally at his mercy with her hands tied. The thought of his sensual mouth pressed against hers, his strong hands and supple fingers stroking her, pressing her breasts against his chest made her tremble. I'm his captive, remember? Ah, yes, the naughty voice inside her head said. Look at his body. What could he do to you that would be bad?
She looked up to find he was watching her with an amused look on his face. Damn. Oh, Lord. Mama told her not to swear. Too late. He couldn't read her mind, could he?
"Why have you abducted me? You don't even know who I am!"
He arched a dark brow. "Ye're Lady Kaitlin Coltan, come with your father and brother to visit the laird of Alclud."
So he did know who she was. "If it's ransom you're wanting, why have we put out to sea?" she asked. "My father would be willing to pay you."
"Ah, lass, it's not money that I'm wantin'."
For a moment he was silent, and then that beautiful burr purred again. "Two nights ago, my wee sister, barely come a woman, was raped and left for dead near the laird's keep."
She frowned. "I'm sorry. What does that have to do with me?"
He leveled those golden, predatory eyes on her. "'Twas your brother and his friends who did the foul deed."
Kaitlin gasped. Her brother, Broderick, had a wild streak in him, but surely he wasn't capable of that. All her brothers were a bit untamed, but she'd never known any of them to deliberately harm a young girl. In fact, they kept her far too protected from any handsome swains who might pay court. "I'm so sorry for your sister. But Broderick wouldn't... You must be mistaken."
Adair shook his head. "Greer hasna spoken a word since it happened, but she pointed him out to me and she doona lie."
That silken voice could make an angel weep. And this man was her captor? Somehow, she had yet to be frightened of him. "What happened to your sister is unforgivable, but why not bring it to my father's attention and let the matter be settled in front of the lord?"
"The damage has been done," Adair said with a grim look. "And 'tis a mute lass's finger against a laird's son. I think my way is better."
"Aye. Your father and brother will find out how it feels to have their only daughter and sister dishonored."
Kaitlin stared at him. Did he mean to deflower her and take her maidenhead? Would it hurt or would he be gentle? If he wanted revenge, he'd probably not be gentle. But she'd caught one of her brothers taking a serving wench's breast in his mouth, and the maid's reaction had been to squeal in pleasure. The thought of Adair's sensual lips covering one of her nipples and suckling it made her tingle in both fear and anticipation. "Are you planning to rape me then?"
He moved closer until she could feel his body heat. He gently stroked the side of her cheek with his finger. She sighed instinctively and the corner of his mouth quirked up in a lopsided smile, making him even more appealing.
"I don't rape women, lass." He bent his head and brushed his lips lightly against hers. "Although I think ye may be wantin' a good bedding. Tell me, are ye a virgin still?"
How dare he think she was not? Landed gentry did not just allow their daughters to get tumbled in haystacks. And this is different? Her inner voice sounded amused. Yes! I'm tied and quite helpless... A strange pulsation began between her thighs. Her lips pursed in a pout. "Of course I am."
"Ah, good." He straightened and brushed a silken strand of hair from her face. "Ye'll bring a good price then."
She stared at him as he walked to the door. "Price? What do you mean?"
Adair turned and for a moment she thought she saw pity in his glance, but it was quickly replaced with a determined look.
"Aye, lass. My ship trades your Welsh wool for eastern spices and silks. There is an elderly sultan--Ali Stafa in Constantinople--who has been asking for a blonde woman to add to his harem for years. I doona believe in human trafficking, so I've declined. Until now. I intend to use the gold I'm paid for ye to pay for my sister's dowry. Since she's been ruined, the price will be high for a man to accept her. Mayhap when yer father realizes what ye've been forced to become, justice will be served."
With that, he turned and walked out.