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Page 119

Daniel stopped to kiss Violet several times as he led her down the stairs and to the large bedroom in the Cameron family wing. Locking the door behind them, Daniel pushed Violet step by step toward the bed, unbuttoning her clothes as they went. Violet, laughing, unbuttoned his.

Halfway across the rug, Violet was out of her bodice, Daniel, his coat and waistcoat. At the dressing table, Daniel’s collar and shirt came off as did Violet’s corset, lovingly unlaced by Daniel’s strong hands. At the chaise at the foot of the bed, it was Daniel’s socks and shoes and Violet’s petticoats.

When they reached the bed, Daniel lifted Violet into his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. He kissed her as he held her, hands firm on her back, then he laid her on the mattress and divested her of drawers and ruffled camisole. Off came his kilt then, landing in a pool of plaid on the floor.

Daniel, unclothed. Lamplight touched his bronzed skin, tanned from the sun, except where his kilt would shield him—there he was Scottish fair.

Violet loved looking at him. His arms were corded with muscle, his chest broad, the inked design of the dragon cutting across his forearm.

He looked her over in return, and Violet flushed with excitement. Daniel’s scrutiny of her bare body wasn’t debasement. This was intimacy, love, need.

Daniel gazed at her with slow desire, his eyes the color of whiskey in the darkness. He moved his gaze from her legs to the join of her thighs, up over her waist to the rise of her br**sts. He lingered there for a time before his gaze rested on her face, the love in his eyes intoxicating.

Daniel climbed onto the bed, but instead of coming over her, he stretched out beside Violet, running his hand across her belly. His c**k lay hot against Violet’s side, but Daniel didn’t hurry. As much as she knew he wanted her, Daniel was taking his time.

Slow goodness. Violet held her breath, uncertain she could wait for slow goodness tonight.

Daniel’s hand dipped between her legs, drawing from her a moan of delight. He kissed her, his mouth opening hers, while he let his fingers dance. Heat spiraled Violet upward, erasing all thought, all worries, everything but Daniel and the feeling of him touching her.

Violet caught his shoulders in her strong grip, pulling him to her. “Now,” she said hurriedly. “Please. Now.”

Daniel smiled, his wickedness returning. “My pleasure, love.”

His smile died as he moved over her. With one thrust, Daniel was inside her, and Violet rose over the top, any lingering terror chased away by a darker wildness.

Violet let herself be carried by the wave, Daniel there to hold her. He let her fly free, but at the same time he grounded her, keeping her safe.

“I love you!” Violet shouted it, no longer fearing the words. She was his, and he hers. Together. For now. For always.

“I love you, Vi, my sweetest Violet.” Daniel’s words came fast, breathy, his body rocking against hers. The joining was fierce, Daniel bracing himself as he thrust into her again and again.

They perspired in the warm room, the fires stoked high so the bridal couple would not grow cold. Violet ran her hands over Daniel’s body, welcoming him, loving him inside her. Daniel’s eyes widened as his end came, the sparkling depths holding the love of ages.

Violet gathered that to her as she gathered Daniel into her arms. They fell together to the bed, spent. In love. Trusting. Daniel would never hurt her.

The beauty of that streaked through her, and told Violet she was home at last.

“Ready, love?” Daniel watched Violet as she grabbed hold of the balloon’s basket, her eyes lighting with anticipation. “All right then.” Daniel called down to the men who held the massive bubble of the balloon as it strained for freedom. “Let her go!”

The men released ropes, sandbags dropped away, and the balloon rose. The cool Scottish air grew colder, the wind from the mountains and the sea beyond it catching them.

Daniel put his arm around his wife as they went higher and higher. The small farms became square patches in the rugged country of the Highlands, and tree-covered hills spread before them. Far away was the misty gray blue of the northern sea.

Violet took in every bit of it, the delight on her face beautiful.

“As promised,” Daniel said. “Ballooning over northern Scotland. Nothing else comes close to being more stunning.”

Violet’s expression was one of delight and sheer joy. No more fear, no more dread.

“You like it?” Daniel asked her, knowing the answer.

“It’s marvelous.” Violet turned away from him, tipping the basket, but she laughed and caught the ropes to steady herself. “You’re right. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

“Next to you,” Daniel said, meaning it.

Violet laughed again as she spun around. The Highlands floated quietly beneath them, the balloon rising ever higher.

“How do you feel?” he asked her.

“Free.” Violet flashed a smile that made Daniel’s life worth living. “Effortless. In love with you.” Another smile, this one warm and serious. “I saved this up to tell you now—we’re going to have a baby.”

Daniel stopped. The wind sighed around them, the roar of the modified wind machine breaking the silence.

Then a wave of pure happiness hit him, a new kind of happiness, one Daniel had never known before. “Are we?”

“Yes.” Violet touched his hand. “Thank you.”

A child. A wee one. First it would be an adorable baby, then a child like Stuart and Gavina, then a lad or lass to grow into a tall young man or woman, the pride of the family.

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