Loki (The Highland Clan Book 1)(7)

By: Keira Montclair

“Mama, I have just arrived. I do not think Bella’s sire has changed his mind.”

“Oh, but Loki, I think Bella missed you terribly. I do believe you make a lovely pair. But you do not?”

“Her sire believes I am not good enough for his daughter. There is no point in pursuing the lass.”

“Loki, can you truly dismiss your feelings so easily? I know in my heart how you feel about her, and I know she reciprocates your feelings. Why not marry her and start a family? You’ll make such a wonderful father. Uncle Alex would speak to her father on your behalf. As laird of the clan, Uncle Alex can force the marriage if you truly wish it.”

Loki did not know how to answer her. “I’ve actually decided to work with Uncle Logan for the Scottish crown. I’ve come home to tell you my decision, then we’ll be leaving again. I think I’ll head out to the lists to speak to Da. Do you need anything?”

Celestina’s face fell. “Nay, go as you wish.” She stood up to embrace her son again.

The door opened and Arabella entered carrying a trencher of stew for Loki. “Lady Madeline instructed me to bring this for you, Loki.”

Celestina hurried over to the door. “I’ll just go check on the lassies.”

Once she left, silence echoed throughout the tower chamber. He did not doubt that his mother had intended to leave him alone with Bella.

“Is there aught else I could get ye?” Arabella lifted her chin to stare off over Loki’s head, her pinched lips telling him exactly what she thought of him at the moment.

Loki sighed as he stared at her luscious pink lips and soft curves. True, Bella was a wee thing, but it did not stop her from having beautiful rounded hips and an enticing pair of breasts that was presently level with his eyes. Hellfire, what he loved most about her was her feistiness. Never shy, she let everyone know her feelings, including her feelings about him.

Aye, he’d promised himself that he would give up on her—on them—after his failure, but that was akin to asking a Highlander not to carry his sword. He rubbed his hands on her saucy hips, then grabbed her by the waist and plopped her onto his lap. Her scent set him afire in a way that no other lass could do. “Och, my Belle,” he whispered close to her ear. “It has been a long time. Both the scent and sight of you reminds me of how I’ve missed you.”

She feigned disinterest and shoved against his chest. “Leave off, you brute. You left me.”

Loki could tell her efforts were minimal, so he cupped her cheeks to force her gaze to meet his. “Do you truly wish me to leave off, or would you rather I kiss you senseless, lass?”

Bella threw her head back and giggled, then wrapped her arms around him. “Loki, why must you work for the crown? Stay here on Grant land. I missed you so.”

Loki’s mouth descended on hers and she leaned close to him, moaning that sweet sound he so loved to hear. He angled his lips over hers, parting her mouth to tease her with his tongue. When she responded, he groaned and tugged her closer, deepening the kiss and threading his hands through her hair. When he ended the kiss, he leaned his head against her forehead and whispered, “You’re mine, my Bella. We belong together.”

Bella fussed with her skirts and mumbled, “‘Tis no use, Loki. My sire would never allow us to marry. No matter how I reason with him, he stays the same, saying my mother insisted I marry someone born into the Grant clan. He wants me to help Morna get ready for her marriage. You know how I feel, do you not?”

“Aye, I know you love me, lass, as I love you.” She’d snagged his attention with that comment. “What? And exactly what does he expect you to do to help Morna?”

“I do not know, nor do I care.” She rubbed her hands up and down his arm, squeezing his biceps.

Loki tugged on her hair, lifting the fine strands that had escaped her plait. “Is your hair golden or red? Sometimes I cannot tell. It seems to depend on the light.”

She shoved at his hands, forcing him to release her hair and bring his gaze back to hers. “Why can we not marry as we wish? Is that not what you wish?”

The failure of his recent venture found its way back to the forefront of his mind. “Aye,” Loki sighed. “Say no more. I know I will never be good enough for your father. I’ll leave you be. My thanks for the meal.”

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