Welcome to another First Kiss Friday! Today’s guest is Cathy MacRae and her first kiss scene from The Highlander’s Crusader Bride. Happy reading and enjoy!
Excerpt: Doomed to a marriage of expedience, Arbela and Caelen have sought their separate ways since their wedding night. But as they learn to live in each other’s presence, an unintended passion grows.
Caelen stepped closer. “There is one thing, however, that ye dinnae accuse me of, and I apologize for being so remiss.”
“Oh? What is that?” Arbela wracked her brain to remember, unwilling to give him the upper hand.
His fingertips barely grazing her chin, he tilted her face up to his.
“I admit to wanting to kiss ye,” he murmured.
His lips moved softly against hers, questioning, seeking. Arbela drew a shallow breath, all her lungs would hold, and pressed upward on her toes as sparks raced through her body. Though she’d tried to forget, told herself it was futile to dwell on their wedding night, she could not deny the pleasure of his touch.
Caelen’s hands clasped her waist, pulled her close. His lips slanted hungrily, a faint growl low in his throat. Arbela slid her hands between them, palms against his chest. Caelen broke the kiss, but would not let her pull away.
“Where does this take us?” she murmured, relishing the feel of his arms about her despite her misgivings.
“I believe ’tis a grand thing for a husband to love his wife,” he offered.
Arbela leaned back. “Are ye prepared for where this could lead?” she asked.
“I believe I am aware of how this works,” he commented wryly.
Arbela shook her head. “We pledged a marriage in name only. One in which I am free to act and dress as I please. One in which I have your protection, but not your regard. Your authority, but not your presence.”
Caelen winced. “Arbela, I will admit when I first met ye, I thought ye were an arrogant young woman who was much doted upon by her da. Yer clothes were outlandish, and ye flaunted a king’s ransom of jewels about yer neck with scarcely a thought to their worth. Ye were outspoken and no one gainsaid ye.”
“’Tis a wonder ye married me,” Arbela quipped, trying desperately to cover her disappointment at the picture he painted.
“Listen well, Arbela,” he said. “Since I have come to know ye, I understand ye arenae arrogant, ye are confident. Ye dinnae lie and ye admit when ye cannae do something. Yer da dotes on ye, but because he is proud of ye, not because he cannae handle ye any other way. The clothes ye wear are part of who ye are. I confess I can sometimes scarcely take my eyes off ye.” He laughed softly and shook his head. “And though ye are outspoken, ye are honest, kind, and use yer words to inspire, not destroy. I would never knowingly do anything to change ye. I am hardly worthy of ye, and yet I ask ye to give us a chance to know each other.”
Arbela laid a hand gently on his arm. “Ye are an honorable man, Caelen. Of that I have no doubt. I will not cause ye grief or shame. However, I am not certain a change of rules at this late date is in my best interest.”
Born in the Holy Lands only a few years after the Third Crusade, half-Armenian, half-Scot Arbela MacLean is a true daughter of the desert, beautiful and untamed. Trained to be a warrior to avoid her gentle mother’s fate, Arbela has honed her skills with Turkish bow and arrow, sword and throwing darts—and dreads the day her father choses a man for her to marry.
After more than thirty years in the Holy Land, Donal MacLean, Baron of Batroun, is recalled to Scotland, the last son available to take up leadership of clan MacLean. He brings with him knights, treasure, trade—and a daughter of marriageable age.
Caelen MacKern, known as the Bull of the Highlands, is cynical about women. His first marriage formed an alliance, and he did not grieve when his spoiled, immature bride passed away. He has agreed to marry again—against his better judgement—for the men, means and coin to recover from a devastating pestilence that all but wiped out his clan.
More than a little resentful at finding himself forced to remarry, Caelen’s proposal to Donal MacLean’s headstrong daughter nevertheless piques her interest. Each will receive what they want most from life—the ability to live as they please without interference from a meddling spouse. But their marriage of indifference will soon change to one of passion that neither Arbela nor Caelen could have predicted.
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Cathy MacRae lives on the sunny side of the Arbuckle Mountains where she and her husband read, write, and tend the garden—with the help of the dogs, of course.
You can visit with her on Facebook, or read her blogs and learn about her books at www.cathymacraeauthor.com. Drop her a line—she loves to hear from readers!
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DD MacRae enjoys bringing history to life. Research is one of the best things about writing a story! And with more than 35 years of martial arts training, DD also brings believable, breath-taking action to the tales.
You can connect with DD through www.cathymacraeauthor.com. It’s always exciting to hear from readers!