The Chieftain

Chapter 23


Someone fetched Ilysa after the fight, and now Connor had to endure the torture of her hands on his bare skin.
"Why are these arrow wounds taking so damned long to heal?" Connor asked.
He gritted his teeth as Ilysa's fingers drifted down his chest in feather-light touches. This was far worse than the times she had dressed his wounds after they first arrived at Trotternish. Back then, he could convince himself that the nearness of a woman - any woman - would have stirred him. Now there was no escaping that his desire was for Ilysa alone.
He had kissed her, and that had changed everything.
"The arrows went deep, and ye keep re-opening the wounds." Ilysa clicked her tongue in disapproval. "You're not careful at all."
She leaned over him, and her red-gold braid fell over her shoulder like an invitation. Though her bodice exposed nothing, his memory of the tops of her breasts in a low-cut gown was vivid.
"I heard you and Lachlan gave quite a display." She brushed the top of his thigh with her fingertips, taking his breath away. "I hope impressing the men was worth splitting open this wound on your leg."
"Lachlan got in a good hit there with the side of his sword," Connor said in a strained voice. In an attempt to divert himself, he added, "I'm thinking of making him my captain."
Ilysa withdrew her hands, and he felt their absence like a missing tooth.
"What, ye don't agree with my choice?" Connor asked. "Lachlan is the best warrior I have, and the men respect him."
"I'm sure you're right," she said, but her tone was uncertain. "But something troubles Lachlan, and I wish I knew what it was."
Connor forgot Lachlan - and everything else - when she rested one hand on his hip while she used the other to spread her lily-scented salve over the wound high on his thigh. He held his folded shirt over his throbbing erection. When Ilysa tied the bandage, her hand was so close to his cock that sweat broke out on his forehead. He closed his eyes before she caught him looking at her like a starving animal. But as soon as he closed them, his imagination took him in dark, erotic directions.
Connor snapped his eyes open, and there she was, her lovely face just inches from his. He remembered the softness of her lips, and he hungered to taste them again. It would be so easy to encircle her tiny waist, lift her onto his lap, and ravish her mouth.
"Almost finished," she said, sounding a bit breathless.
Is she thinking of those kisses, too? He envied the man who would be her next husband. Ilysa had a kind heart, a soothing presence - though Connor was not finding it soothing at the moment - and a calm, competent manner.
His gaze traveled over her as she turned to retrieve another rolled strip of linen from her basket, and he wondered what she was like in bed. When Ilysa took off her clothes and gave up control, was she the kind of lover who drove a man wild?
Connor swallowed. Aye, he suspected she was.
When Ilysa leaned across him to wrap the linen around his chest, her breast grazed his arm. Though it was barely a touch, they both drew in a sharp breath. Their eyes locked, and heat flared between them hot enough to set the room ablaze.
Ilysa's lips parted, and Connor could not see or think of anything else. He gave in to the inexorable pull drawing him closer. Cupping her face, he felt her breath on his lips before he kissed her softly. Ilysa dropped the cloth she was holding and gave a sigh. That was all the encouragement he needed.
He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her with a wild, passionate abandon. Somewhere in the back of his head, the sensible, dutiful part of him was telling him this was a huge mistake. But it felt so right. Ilysa felt right. She was perfect. Extraordinary.
She spread her fingers into his hair at the back of his neck and pressed herself against him. From her sighs and moans as she returned his fevered kisses, she wanted him, too. Though she looked young, she had been married. She must know what she was doing to him and where this was leading. Still, a twinge of guilt made him hesitate and start to pull back. Ilysa sensed it and wrapped her arms more tightly around his neck.
"Please, Connor." Her voice was breathless. "Just this once."
When she pressed her lips against his neck, he shivered with the force of his desire. Aye. Just this once. He could not turn away, not when she was kissing him like this.
He stood, lifting her up with him. She was as light as a child, but she was all woman when she wrapped her legs around his waist. He felt the damp heat of her desire against his throbbing cock as he gripped her buttocks, and he was certain he would die if he could not have her.
"I want ye so much," he said between frantic kisses as he carried her to the bed. "I've never wanted anyone like this."
He set her on the edge of his bed and groaned when he finally cupped her breasts. They were small and high and perfect in his hands, just as he knew they would be. As he kissed her neck, she leaned back on her arms and let her head fall back. With her skirts pushed up and her legs wrapped around his waist, the thin layer of his trews was all that was between him and heaven.
His heart raced as he ran his hands under her skirts, along her silky thighs. Aye, he would have her. Right now, right here, like this. The words pounded in his head: Now, now, now.
And still, he made himself stop to ask her the question.
"Are ye certain ye want this?" His heart beat wildly, and his breathing was ragged as he waited for her answer.
"I do." As she slid her arms around his neck and leaned forward to kiss him, she said, "More than anything."