Home » , , , , , , » Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 (Scottish Werewolf Shifter Romance) by Mac Flynn

Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 (Scottish Werewolf Shifter Romance) by Mac Flynn

I was but eighteen winters when I was stolen from my life and taken to that far-off Scottish highland. It was there I met my lord, love, and mate.

But I am ahead of my story. My first seventeen winters were as harsh as any in those days. I was born and grew up in the lower streets of London where the cobblestones were nearly as ancient as Rome and the houses slightly less so. My parents both died of the plague when I 
Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 (Scottish Werewolf Shifter Romance)
Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 (Scottish Werewolf Shifter Romance) by Mac Flynn

was young, and I was left alone in the world to fend for myself. The Black Death left a great hole to fill in some quarters so I was apprenticed early to a seamstress. She taught me some very valuable lessons, not least of which that cruelty can come at the hands of woman and man alike.

By my fifteenth year I had abandoned her strong, uncaring hand and found myself in the employ of a tailor who was less cruel and who paid me for my services better than she. My salary covered my expenses in one of the most squalid houses in all of London. I shared the single room with two other young women who also worked in shops. Our alliance was only through necessity, and each of us lived our own lives separate from one another but for that single drab room.

I was still employed in the tailor shop when my eighteenth birthday came and passed. The occasion was marked by none except myself, but that was my life. My only regret was that I had not yet found a companion, a husband, who might take me from my drudgery and give me a better life.

Little did I realize how abruptly my wish would come true.

The evening of my wish was like any other. The last of the grimy sun faded an hour thence and the street lamps outside were lit by the spry lamp lighters with their long sticks. The tailor shop was small, but two rooms downstairs, and the upper floor occupied by the tailor and his family.

“There you are, Mrs. Moore,” Mr. Maher, the tailor, spoke up as he handed over a boxed package to the large, middle-aged woman. “I am sure you will be the bell of the New Year’s Ball.”

Mrs. Moore looked down her long, peaked nose at the box in her hands. “We shall see. The last dress you made for me had a stitch off in the shoulder.”

Her eyes flickered to me as I sat in my corner in the back room toiling away at a shirt for a gentleman. I am sure she blamed me for the mistake, but little did she know the tailor himself had personally sewed her last dress. It was I who had sewed the one now in her hands.

“And I assure you that mistake will never happen again,” he promised.

“Indeed, or I shall expect my money returned,” she huffed.

Mr. Maher smiled and skirted around the counter in front of the back room entrance. “Of course, Mrs. Moore, of course,” he replied as he led Mrs. Moore to the door and opened it for her. “Come again any time for a repair and we will welcome you with open arms.”

A cool wintry wind swept into the shop. Mrs. Moore shivered and wrapped her fine cool coat closer to herself. “I will expect it,” she snapped as she stepped outside.

“And a merry Christmas and happy New Year to you!” Mr. Maher called after her.

Mrs. Moore didn’t reply, but neither did he give her much chance. He shut the door and turned to me with a scowl etched onto his lips. Mr. Maher marched up to the desk and slammed his receipt book closed.

“A fine woman that is,” he spat.

Here was the true Maher, a man little in love with his choice of occupation but with no way to escape his fate. He shoved the receipt book beneath the counter and pocketed the money from the till.

“That is work enough, Abigail,” he called to me. “You had best be off to home.”

“Yes, sir,” I answered as I set down my needle and the shirt. The work was half finished. In another few days it would be a fine silk shirt.

Mr. Maher eyed me in a strange fashion as I wrapped my robust figure in my slim cloak. I was not slim by any means, but my limited means meant I was not fat. I could only say I was large-boned and not particularly ugly, but nor was I handsome.

Mr. Maher cleared his throat. “Business will be slow for a few days until after New Years,” he warned me. That day was a fortnight into December. “I think I shan’t need you for three weeks hence.”

My eyes widened. “For so long?” I gasped.

He sighed and shook his head. “It can’t be helped. Some are behind on their payments, and others have put off their orders until the new year. All that is left to do is the shirt, and I can finish that myself.”

This was very dire news for me. My weekly salary barely covered my expenses, and now I would be three weeks without even that meager sum. Still, there was no use arguing the point. I would have to make do some way.

I pursed my lips. “I see. . .” I murmured.

“It is only three weeks,” he reminded me. Mr. Maher dug into his pocket and removed a few coins. He pressed them into my hand as he led me o the doorway. “Here is a little to help you. It isn’t much, but-”

I pushed the money against his chest. “You needn’t give me any money, Mr. Maher. I’ll get by,” I insisted.

He smiled and shook his head. “It isn’t given, but earned. You have finished enough of the shirt that I feel you have done all the work, and for that I will pay you. Please take it.”

I returned his smile and grasped the money against my chest as I stepped backwards into the cool, dark street. “Thank you, and God bless.”

Mr. Maher bowed his head. “God bless, and have a merry holidays.”

I turned away from the tiny shop and Mr. Maher shut the door behind me. I looked down at the few coins in my hand and sighed. They would not cover my rent, but they would help alleviate my suffering with a bit of food.

I pocketed the coins and moved down the street. The small tailor shop was set on a narrow side street that curved in both directions. I directed my steps to the right and hurried down the dark, lonely street. A soft snow fell from the gray sky and blanketed the world in a clean cloth. My footprints behind me were all that marred the white beauty. I shivered and wrapped my thin cloak closer to my body. Though I worked for a tailor I wore a thin, ragged old dress that was hardly fit for church.

I stepped onto a busier street where throngs of people walked to and fro on their way home for supper. Many ignored me as I paused beside a lamp post. A few handsomes whisked by filled with well-to-do businessmen in their white wigs and silk breeches. I heard their laughter as the wheels of their fast handsomes kicked up mud. A wheel flew past close beside where I stood, and a thin wave of dirty water splashed onto my cloak. I looked down at the muddy damage and whipped my head up to scowl at the careless driver.

That was when I noticed a strange carriage. The body of the vehicle was normal enough with a door on either side and a box on the front. A single black horse pulled the carriage, and a driver cloaked completely in black sat atop the box. I could not see his face for his head was well wrapped in a scarf.

The strange part about the carriage was the four lamps that hung on the four corners of the body. They were shaped like table lamps with the bottom and top as rounded chambers, and they gave out paltry light. The bottom chamber held the candle, and the top held a glass orb from which a perfume of sorts poured out the narrow top. The horse sauntered down the street and allowed the perfume to waft over both sides of the road.

I caught a whiff of the scent and found it pleasing. It was the scent of a cedar forest on a hot summer day when one was grateful for a soft breeze. Such an image was most peculiar for me for I had hardly any idea of the smell of a cedar tree, nor had I ever set foot in a forest except the one of stone and man that surrounded me even then. The carriage rolled down the street and I took in another whiff of the heavenly scent.

It was then that a maddening thought entered my mind. I had to follow the carriage. I could not lose sight nor scent of the vehicle. The carriage rounded a corner at the far end of the street. Heedless of my actions, I followed its trail onward to my fate.


I rushed down the street and turned the corner in time to see the carriage turn down one of the myriad of small streets like that occupied by the tailor shop. The maddening scent led me to the head of the street where I paused. The carriage rolled down a shadowed, meandering road of dark shops and few street lamps.

My concern for my safety should have been my first priority, but the scent demanded I follow. There could be no denying the smell, and I plunged headlong into the shadowed street. My feet echoed the clack of the horse’s hooves as the animal quickened its speed. The carriage reached the end of the road and turned to the left. I rushed to the corner and paused beside the building to catch my breath and a whiff of the scent. The new, wider street was filled with stables and liveries that occupied both sides of the street. Their doors were shut, but I caught a whiff of their animal stench.

The carriage I sought turned into an open stable and the doors were shut behind it. I cried out and rushed forward. The scent could not be lost. A smaller servant’s door was set into one of the larger stable doors, and I banged on that.

“Sir! Sir!” I yelled. I was not oblivious to my strange behavior, but I could not control the desperation I felt to smell that glorious scent. “Please!”

I heard a latch unlock and I hurriedly stepped back when the door swung open. A severe-looking woman of middle age stood in the doorway. Her hair was pulled back in a severe bun and her lips were pursed tightly together.

“Yes?” she snapped at me.

“Please,” I gasped. “I saw a carriage drive in here and-” She held up her hand and a smile slipped onto her prim lips.

“Say no more. Please step inside,” she offered.

The woman stepped aside and allowed me entrance. I slipped inside and found myself in a simple stable. The carriage which I sought stood at the back wall. The horse was unhitched and the driver held its bridle in his hands as he stared at me. His face was uncovered and I found he was a man of the same age as the woman.

“Is she-?” he asked her.

The woman set her hand against the small of my back and nodded. “I believe so. Put the horse away and fetch the incense burners from the carriage.”

The strange lamps were incense burners. Their flames were extinguished, but I still smelled a faint whiff of the delicious scent. The woman and I watched the man fetch them from all four sides. In the quiet of the stables with these strangers I realized how awkward my position must have been to them.

“I feel I must apologize for my madness at the door,” I told the woman. “I’m not sure what came over me.”

She shook her head. “Do not fret. It is the same for all of them.”

I furrowed my brow. “‘All of them?’” I repeated.

The man retrieved the last of the four burners and strolled over to us. The woman grabbed the closest in his grasp and held the opening towards me.

“Is this the scent you desire?” she asked me.

I blinked at her. “How did you know I followed a scent?”

Her smile faltered and she shoved the burner closer to me. “Is it?”

I frowned and pushed away the burner. “No, it is not, but what do you mean by this? How did you know I followed the scent?”

She traded the burner in her hand for another and held it towards me as she had done with the first. “What of this one?” she questioned me.

I stepped back away from the pair and shook my head. “I know not why you have brought me here, but I wish to leave.”

The woman pursed her lips and traded another burner. She closed the distance between us and held out the burner to me.

“What of this one?” she persisted.

I opened my mouth, but my nose was caught by the familiar scent of cedar forest. My anger ebbed away and my body relaxed. The woman smiled and clutched the top and bottom of the burner in her hands.

“The laird will be pleased to hear of this,” she commented. She glanced over her shoulder at the man and jerked her head towards me. “Set her to sleep and we will contact his man.”

The man nodded and handed the woman the burners. He pulled out a handkerchief from one pocket and stepped towards me. The faint scent of the cedar forest was not powerful enough to overcome the sudden fear that rode swiftly on the wings of self-preservation. My only thought was to flee.

“Stay back!” I shouted.

“Now ‘old still, miss, and this’ll be over in a jiffy,” he assured me.

The man lunged at me, but I evaded his clumsy hands and slipped around him. The woman clutched the burners to her chest and stumbled back. I grasped her shoulders and flung her into the man as he turned to try to capture me. The pair collided into each other in a mess of burners and limbs. Several of the burners crashed to the packed dirt floor and shattered.

The woman flew onto her knees before the burners and caught up some small, burnt object like a thick strand of string. She whipped her head up to the man who stumbled to his feet.

“You clumsy idiot! Get her!” she snapped.

I raced to the door, flung open the entrance, and hurried outside. The snow fell in great clumps of white that stuck to me as I turned my head left and right. There was no one else on the street, but all was not lost. I knew my way through these maze of roads, so I rushed down the road back the way I had come. The man’s lumbering footsteps followed mine and the thick, deep snow beneath my feet slowed me down.

He caught me some dozen yards from the stable. One of his long arms wrapped around my middle and pinned my arms to my sides. The other shoved the cloth into my face. A sharp, detestable smell emanated from the cloth and I thrashed in his grip to escape the scent. He held me tight, though, and in a few moments my head began to spin. The world around me also spun, and I felt myself slip into a deep sleep.


I couldn’t tell you how long I slept, but when I awoke it was to the jarring movements of a fast carriage. My heavy eyes reluctantly opened and I found myself in an elegant carriage with cushioned, opposing seats. The windows were covered in thick black drapes so none could see in nor out, and the jarring motion of the carriage spoke of a quick speed.

I occupied the rear-most seat while a gentleman with a fine cut of clothes sat opposite me. He sported a neatly trimmed beard, clean clothes, and bright eyes that showed no ordinary cunning.

He bowed his head. “Good evening,” he greeted me. I sat up, but the world spun around and I clutched my head. He stretched out his hand to me. “Careful, my lady. The scent still has its hold over your head and will remain for some time,” he warned me.

“Where am I?” I murmured.

“On the road to Scotland some seventy-five miles north of London,” he informed me.

Such a statement jarred me from my hazy mind. I started and blinked at him.

“Scotland? Do you jest?” I challenged him.

He smiled and shook his head. “No, my lady, though I can understand your confusion. You see, Fate has decided another path for you then the one in which you believed you would remain.”

I clutched the strap close at hand as we bumped hurriedly over the uneven dirt roads and scowled at him. “I wish to be returned to London,” I demanded.

He again shook his head. “I cannot oblige your request, my lady. My laird insists on the pleasure of your company.”

“I do not care what your lord insists. You have kidnapped me, and I wish to be returned,” I insisted.

“Perhaps some food will ease your mind,” he suggested. “We shall soon be stopped at an inn for the night.”

“Food will not change my mind,” I warned him.

“Then perhaps an explanation over a light meal, and a long night of rest will ease your mind,” he returned.

The carriage slowed and the man rolled up one of the thick drapes. The window revealed a small, dreary village covered in a mix of filthy snow and mud. The houses were little more than huts and they stood crowded together close to the road. The inn was an exception and was built of huge timbers dragged from the forests some ten miles off in the westward distance. There were two floors and many of the windows were lit with welcoming candles. A stable stood off to the left and the doors were open to welcome our carriage and horses.

The carriage stopped, and a livery servant stepped around from the rear of the carriage and dropped the step. The man alighted first and turned to offer me his hand. I sat perfectly still and continued to glare at him.

“You may stay in the carriage all night if you wish, but it will be rather cold and the livery servants have been instructed not to let you out of their sight,” he informed me.

I pursed my lips, but stood and alighted-without the use of his hand-from the carriage. The large front door of the inn opened and a man of great girth hurried out with more speed than I would have guessed him possible. He opened his arms and smiled at the stranger who rode with me.

“Mr. McKenna, what a pleasant surprise it was to receive news of your coming!” the man greeted the stranger. The innkeeper grasped the man’s hand and gave it a strong shake. “I hope business in London was pleasant.”

“Quite pleasant, Mr. Meriwether,” the stranger, McKenna, replied.

The innkeeper looked past McKenna and at me. His eyes widened. “And who is this lovely creature with you?”

“A friend who is sorely in need of a warm fire and good food,” McKenna answered.

Mr. Meriwether stepped aside and swept his arm towards the open door. “Of course, Mr. McKenna, of course. How foolish of me to keep you out in the cold like this. Come inside and I shall have soup brought to you at once.”

“And we wish for a corner table,” McKenna added as we were led towards the door.

“Of course, Mr. McKenna, whatever you need,” Mr. Meriwether Assured him.

We stepped into the warm of the great room that occupied most of the front of the building. The open beams over our heads were blackened by countless fires in the large hearth on the opposite wall and to the left of the door. Thick wooden tables stood around the room, but we were led to the far corner where stood a table and benches that created a booth.

I would have attempted escape, but two of the livery servants followed us inside and did not leave our sides until we were seated. A serving woman brought dishes and glasses filled with soup and the best wine the inn could offer. All the while our host stood by ever-smiling at us.

“Is there anything else you will be wanting?” Mr. Meriwether asked us.

“Only two adjoining rooms prepared for us and some solitude,” McKenna replied.

Our host bowed his head. “Of course, and if you should need anything further-”

“We will summon you,” McKenna promised.

Mr. Meriwether left us and my companion picked up his glass. A smile graced his lips as he watched our host wobble away.

“A charming enough fellow, and you won’t find better food in all the inns of London,” he assured me.

“I would we rather be in one of those than here,” I snapped at him.

He sighed and set his glass on the table. “You are most persistent, my lady.”

“I am nothing of yours, and do not wish to be,” I countered.

McKenna swirled the contents of his glass and his eyes watched the wine spin in circles. “What if I were to tell you you are destined to be the bride of a great laird?”

I furrowed my brow. “I would call you mad.”

He stopped his swirling and chuckled. “Then think me mad, for that is the life Fate has granted you.”

I stood and his eyes flickered up to follow me like those of a hawk on its prey. “First you kidnap me and then you mock me with your words. I will have no more of this and will holler for our host should you choose not to release me.”

A dark shadow passed over his brow and he slowly stood to his feet. “I must warn you that your word does not hold weight here, my lady, and you will find no friendly quarter here.”

I bunched my hands into fists and raised my voice so my words bounced off the old beams. “Stop calling me that!” I ordered him.

My cry brought our host from the rear rooms. He hurried over to us and looked from McKenna to me and back. “Is there some trouble with the food?” he asked us.

I whirled around to face him and startled him so he stumbled backwards. “I will be blunt and tell you that this scoundrel-” I raised my arm and pointed a finger at McKenna, “-has kidnapped me and intends to carry me to his master as an unwilling bride.”

Meriwether blinked at me before he turned to McKenna. “Mr. McKenna, what does this mean?”

McKenna smiled. “It means we have supped enough and must retire. The lady is obviously tired from the long journey.” He stepped towards me to grasp my shoulders, but I slipped out of his reach.

“I am no such thing, and I will not be consoled until I am returned to my home in London!” I insisted.

“Mr. Meriwether, would you please help me restrain the young woman before she hurts herself?” McKenna pleaded. “She is obviously not well.”

I glared at him. “I am perfectly in my mind and-” My arguing was interrupted when McKenna made another grab at me.

I slipped away from him as before, but Meriwether now played the game and I could not escape them both. Meriwether grabbed my arms and held me still as McKenna pulled a handkerchief from his vest pocket.

“Forgive me, my lady, but this must be done,” he insisted.

“Let me go! Let me hrm-” Any further words were stifled by the cloth.

The familiar repugnant odor filled my nostrils, and in a minute I again knew nothing.


My awakening was not as before. I awoke many times, but never enough to be sensible of where I was. McKenna was always there, though, and I recall being fed spoonfuls of soup at various stops. After the feeding the cloth was again placed over my face, and I knew nothing until the next stop. Time sped past my sleeping self and the next I fully awoke was an early evening.

There was the familiar bounce of the carriage, but what jarred me from my induced slumber was rather the slowing of the horses. My eyes fluttered open as the road smoothed. McKenna sat opposite me.

“Good evening again,” he greeted me. I shifted in my seat and tried to slide away, but I hadn’t the strength to move but an inch. “I fear you gave me little choice but to incapacitate you,” he commented.

“Monster. . .” I murmured.

He bowed his head. “I accept the reproach, but might we set aside our past arguments and look out the windows?”

“What does that matter to me?” I choked out.

He opened all the windows and gestured to the landscape which we passed. “Because we are home.”

I followed his hand and gazed out the window. The landscape was an elegant mix of wilderness and man’s triumph over nature. The carriage traveled down a gray graveled driveway with a prim edging. Beyond the edging was a lawn whitened by deep snow, and trees graced the lawn in long, neat rows.

Past the lawn and over the fields, however, was a wilderness of forest. The tall, thin pine-wood trees were closely planted together, and wild shrubs and grass grew at their bases. A few trails led into the depths of the trees, and over the canopy I glimpsed tall, snow-peaked mountains. The forest led up the slopes and stopped just short of the crowns. The same view could be had out the opposite carriage window.

I was greeted with the sight of a majestic castle of stone before us. Its shape was rectangular with battlements perched on the top and each of the four corners was rounded with circular towers. The center of the castle was occupied by a large courtyard that I could barely glimpse from the road. Narrow windows dotted the towers, but the rest of the walls of the castle were covered in larger windows that were draped with curtains. A pair of stairs of fine white stone that were positioned at the front and opposite each other led up to the front doors. To the left of the castle was a large, peaked stable of newer antiquity but no less use of stone in its walls.

The carriage rolled up to the stairs on the right and stopped so that the right door faced the stairs. The livery servant opened the door and McKenna stepped out. He leaned in and helped me out. I was as weak as a lamb and could not manage a fight. He set me on the snow-covered gravel just as the doors opened.

A man in elegant dress but with a rough coat of wool stepped out. He was handsome with his dark brown hair and piercing brown eyes. I guessed his age at just shy of thirty, and his bearing hinted at much riding. His stride was confident and his step quick as he moved to join us at the bottom of the stairs. We stopped before him and he perused my haggled appearance before he looked to McKenna.

“Is this she?” he asked the man.

McKenna bowed his head. “She is, my laird.”

I tried to pull my arm free of McKenna’s grip, but he held tight. Still, I glared at the proud, handsome man who stood before me.

“If you are the lord who ordered my kidnapping then I am nothing to you,” I told him.

A smile graced his beautiful lips, and for the first time I noticed a distinct scent come from his person. It was the same scent from the incense burner.

“I see she makes up in spirit what she lacks in dress,” he commented.

“She was rather unwilling to follow, so we hadn’t time to stop for a change of clothes, my laird,” McKenna spoke up.

The lord raised his hand but continued to study me with a strange twinkle in his eyes. “I am much pleased with this choice. Bring her inside.”

The man stepped aside for us to pass up the stairs. McKenna tried to pull me forward, but I twisted my arm that lay in his grasp and managed to break free. I turned and raced down the gravel driveway. My chance at freedom was fleeting, however, as a strong hand wrapped itself around my arm. I turned and thrashed in the hold of the lord, but his grip was unbreakable.

“I can see what you mean, McKenna,” the lord commented. “She is certainly a handful.”

“Let me go! Let go!” I demanded.

“As you wish,” he replied. He released me so suddenly that I was caught off balance and fell backwards onto the snowy ground. The lord stood over me and chuckled. “You look the part of a fine snow angel,” he teased.

“I would rather be the Devil to you,” I snapped.

“I would have that if you would be so hot in my bed chambers,” he returned.

I blushed at his brazen words. “You. . .you monster!” I gasped.

“But one who will not hurt you,” he swore. He leaned down and held his hand out to me. “Will you behave now or will you catch your death of cold?” he asked me.

I spat into his hand. “I would rather die,” I snapped.

His smile never faded from his lips as he shook his head. “I am afraid I cannot allow a beautiful flower such as yourself to wither, and as the old saying goes, ‘tis easier to ask for forgiveness than to plead for permission.’”

The lord stooped down and swept me into his arms. I rolled into his warm chest and pressed my hands against him. The heat from his body and the overwhelming scent of his cedar-tree scent was intoxicating. I felt myself fall into a warm blanket of comfort that only the sound of his voice broke.

“Tell the kitchen staff to ready the food. Their new mistress is here and is no doubt hungry,” the lord commanded McKenna.

McKenna bowed and entered the castle through a set of wooden doors set into the front of the wide stairs. The lord turned his attention to me, and the smile on his lips vexed me. I renewed my thrashing.

“Let me down!” I ordered him.

He chuckled and climbed the snow-covered stairs without missing a step. “Not until we have your care-worn feet on firmer, and warmer, ground, my lady.”

“I am no lady to you!” I snapped.

He outright laughed at my proclamation. “No, I should warrant not, but a diamond may be rough on the outside that is beautiful on the inside.”

“Nor am I a diamond! I am a human, and have no right to be treated in such a way as this!” I protested.

“Then I shall treat you as my guest,” he suggested as we stepped through the open doors at the landing that graced the top of the stairs.

The doors were shut behind us by two well-dressed servants in bright red uniforms. He set me down and I stumbled away from him. I opened my mouth to submit more protests to his unwilling ears, but my words stuck in my throat as I looked at the grandeur around me.

The room in which we stood was a large hall filled with elegantly painted, full portraits and thick, wide tapestries. The floor beneath my feet was of polished stone and was well-carpeted with thick rugs. The rock walls were whitewashed to a clean white and many small objects of antiquity such as weapons hung beside the tapestries and portraits. There were two arched doorways on either side side of the hall, and a wide, tall stone staircase graced the rear wall. A balcony twenty feet above me traveled around all four sides of the room and had a passage on either side that traveled into the upper depths of the castle.

The awe-inducing sense of wealth struck me dumb. I turned in a circle and gaped at the wonders around me. The lord stepped up to within two feet of me, but did not try to attack me as he’d done before. A servant took his coat and he stood attired in his fine silk blouse and dark pants.

“Do you like it?” he wondered.

I gathered my wits about me and cleared my throat. “It is no matter. I will not remain here,” I insisted.

“Then be my guest for a while,” he pleaded. He swept his hand towards the rear door to his left and my right. “An early supper has been prepared, and there is a room ready for you upstairs.”

I shook my head. “I have no desire to partake any further of your ‘hospitality’ and only wish to go home.”

He dropped his arm and shook his head. “That cannot be done. A storm has been sighted and it would not be wise to travel in such wintry conditions.”

“Do you expect me to believe you after you have kidnapped me?” I challenged him.

The lord turned away from me and walked over to the door. One of the servants still stood on hand, and at a glance from the lord the colorful man opened the door. The lord stepped outside and gestured to the west.

“See for yourself,” he returned.

I saw this as another chance to leave, or at least have my worst suspicions of this terrible man confirmed, so I walked over to him. We both stood on the broad landing, and we were allowed a clear view of the western skies above the trees. The sun set in that direction, but you could not tell it from the large, black clouds that rose above the craggy mountains. Beneath them was a blanket of gray fog that dropped over the forest and swiftly approached us.

“McKenna was not a breath too early in bringing you here. That will overtake us within the hour,” the lord commented.

I rallied my spirits and scoffed. “Tis but a storm. It shan’t last long,” I argued.

The lord studied my face for a moment before he spoke. “The highlands are a very different place from your London. Weather that lasts but a day along the Thames clings to these old forests for a month,” he warned me.

I frowned. “And this is for a month?” I guessed.

He shook his head. “No, but though the storm lasts a night the roads are the worse for it for a week.”

“Then I am to be a prisoner here for a week?” I asked him.

The lord pursed his lips. “The storm may not last so long, but if at the end of the storm you still believe so then I will return you to London, and with just compensation for your troubles.”

“You swear to keep your word?” I questioned him.

He bowed his head. “On my family’s honor.”

I furrowed my brow and looked away from him. “Then show me this fine supper of which you boast and then please take me to my room,” I ordered him.

The lord smiled and offered me his arm. “Then may I have the honor of escorting you, my lady?”

I forsook his arm and instead wrapped my arms around my chilled self. “You may merely lead me there,” I replied.

His smile did not waver, though he did bow his head. “As you wish.”


The lord led me inside and through the open doors that stood on the rear left in the entrance hall. The doors led into a large dining hall that stretched to the far wall that abutted the courtyard. Large windows gave me my first good glimpse of the yard, and I saw it was an open space surrounded on three sides where the snow was trampled by many feet. The side opposite the front of the house was empty, and I glimpsed some tall bushes across the lawn.

The center of the room was occupied by the long, thick oak table, and its chairs numbered two dozen and four. There was a great hearth in the center of the left wall, and a warm fire crackled in its belly. Two plates with glasses were set at the end of the table closest to the entrance, and opposite where we stood was a small entrance door where servants came and went. The lord led me over to the table and pulled out the chair on the right of that which stood at the head.

I hesitated and eyed him with suspicion.

“Though you believe that I am not one, may I at least play the part of a gentleman?” he pleaded.

I pursed my lips, but took a seat in the chair and he pushed me close to the table. Something out of the corner of my eyes caught my attention, and I looked to my right. There was nothing but the lit hearth at the end of the room, but I swore I had seen something of a different, white, color flicker in that direction.

The lord took his seat at the head of the table and two servants entered. One carried a jug of wine, and another held a platter of various meats. The platter was set between us with a two-pronged fork for easy picking, and the wine was poured into our glasses. The lord’s eyes flickered to them, and they bowed and exited. We were left alone with only the crackling fire to break the silence between us.

The lord grasped his glass and studied me for a moment. “McKenna had written to me of your looks, but I fear he has been most unkind to you,” he commented.

“I care not for his opinion of me,” I retorted.

The lord chuckled. “No, I suppose you do not, though I wonder at your general opinion of lairds.”

I lifted my head and glared at him. “If they are all as you are then I believe them all to be pigs.”

He leaned back in his chair and his humor did not leave him. “Perhaps our poor start is due to your not knowing me better, nor I even your name. What is it?”

“Since I shall be gone in a week than is should be of little concern to you,” I replied.

“But if we are to be acquaintances, even for a short time, I should wish to call you something,” he persisted.

I took the fork in hand and skewered a large piece of meat. “Then call me what you would,” I absently suggested.

“What of ‘Beloved?’” he put forth.

The fork in my hand froze halfway to my plate and I looked to him with a scowl. “I would say not.”

He chuckled. “Then if you wish to call me anything other than Beloved I must know your name.”

The piece of meat reached my plate and I scowled at the food. “Abigail. . .” I murmured.

“Pardon?” he asked me.

I sighed and lifted my head so our eyes met. “My name is Abigail, and I would have you use only that name.”

He smiled and bowed his head. “As you wish, Abigail. Now that we are-”

“Wait a moment,” I interrupted as I studied the unknown lord. “You have not properly introduced yourself.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I see. McKenna did not have a chance to tell you.”

I scowled and stabbed the meat with my knife. “He did not give me a choice in the matter. I was drugged by a strange smell on a cloth and knew very little until we arrived here.”

The lord sighed and bowed his head. “I must apologize for that necessity, but I am sure if McKenna thought it necessary it was-”

“Necessary!” I yelled as I jumped to my feet. I ripped the knife from the meat and pounded the butt of the utensil against the table. “You think it necessary to kidnap me from my life for your own amusement?”

He shook his head. “This was not for any amusement, but for the benefit of both of us.”

I glared at him. “What benefit could there be for me to have my life ripped from me so violently?”

“The chance at a better one here at Castle Moray,” he revealed.

“And I suppose you are the lord here,” I retorted.

He stood and his tall height dwarfed my own by a head. The man crossed his arm over his chest and bowed to me. “My name is Kenneth Moray, Laird of Moray.”

I leaned back and studied the man. He was certainly handsome enough to warrant the title. “I care not of what lordship you own,” I returned.

Lord Moray raised his head and a crooked smile slipped onto his lips. “Not even to what ladyship you might aspire?”

I frowned. “You mock me with your words. No lord would marry a woman whom they kidnapped, and certainly not one from the lower streets of London.”

Lord Moray chuckled and resumed his seat. He gestured to my former chair. “Please be seated, and I will tell you what has brought our lives together.”

I reluctantly took up my chair, but the knife I set in my lap. The light through the windows dimmed to nothing as the clouds overtook the skies above the castle, and the room was cast in deep shadow but for a single candelabra on the table and the flickering flames in the hearth.

The lord took a drink of wine and set the glass on the table. When he spoke his voice was soft and calm.

“For you our meeting has been sudden, but I have waited for you for much of my life,” he revealed.

I stiffened. “Have you followed me-” He held up a hand.

“You misunderstand me,” he insisted. “I did not know exactly who you were, only that you existed in the world. You see, my-well, shall we say people have a very unusual custom. We have but one bride in the whole of the world, one Intended, who is perfectly suited for us. All others are either inferior or a complete mismatch.”

“And you think me this bride?” I guessed.

He chuckled. “I know it is you, or at least the confirmation was sent to me by the pair whom I employed to find you.”

I scowled. “The man and woman who kidnapped me.”

He nodded. “The same. You followed their carriage, and they deduced to which client you belonged. I was that client.”

“Then you bewitched me!” I accused him.

He held up a hand. “I did nothing but call you to me through my scent.”

I jumped to my feet and brandished the knife. “Sorcery! I will hear no more of this blasphemy! Allow me to leave at once!” I insisted.

He stood and positioned himself between the door and me. “My people are thought to be cursed, but we have no dealings with the Devil,” he argued.

My eyes flickered from left to right. Escape lay through the servant’s door or the main entrance. Neither was open. The darkness of the young night demanded I would need the candles, as well, and some outstanding luck to escape the grounds. Still, I hoped.

“I will believe nothing you say, sorcerer! Let me go on my way with a fast horse at once!” I demanded.

He held out his hand to me and a strange, yellow glow illuminated his eyes. They shone brightly in the dim light of the long, dark room. His voice was clear but low, and a familiar scent wafted from his person.

“Would you leave your mate?” he asked me.

The scent slipped into my nose and my eyes widened as the familiar smell of cedar trees revealed itself to me. “Your scent. . .” I whispered as I lowered the knife. “What is this scent?”

“It is my own scent, a part of me no one else in the whole world can mimic,” he told me.

“Why did I follow it to the stables? What mastery has it over me? Is it bewitched?” I accused him.

The lord chuckled and shook his head. “Nothing so magical, I assure you. The scent is merely one very pleasing to you and to which you find yourself attracted. Nothing more is needed for two soul mates to find one another.”

“We are nothing to reach other,” I argued.

He stretched out his hand to me. “But we are. The scent proves as much,” he insisted.

“A smell proves nothing but that it is pleasant or unpleasant to the senses,” I counter.

“But surely your inner nature tells you your mind is wrong,” he persisted.

Lord Moray took a step towards me. I shook my head of the scent for a moment and stumbled back. I raised the knife, but my anger and fear were gone. There was no desire to use the weapon on this strange man. He stopped and stretched out his hand to me again.

“Please, my Beloved,” he pleaded. “Trust me.”

His words should have weighed their weight in air, but I found myself seduced by the sincerity in his tone. I lowered the knife and studied the man.

“Finish your story,” I commanded him.

He smiled and gestured to the table. “Will you not-”

“No. I wish for you to finish what you have to say to me,” I insisted.

He dropped his hand and sighed. “When one of my people is fortunate enough to find their Intended then they have found their life mate. The union strengthens both parties in every sense of the word, and they live together for the rest of their days.”

“And I am to be your ‘life mate?’” I surmised.

“Yes, because you react so affectionately to my scent,” he replied.

“You have spoken of benefits, but what consequences would this new life force upon me?” I wondered.

His face fell and he again gestured to the table. “Perhaps that should be left until after supper.”

“No. I will have my answers now, or you shall provide me with a carriage to take me as far as could be traveled ahead of the storm,” I demanded.

Lord Moray sighed and dropped his hands to his sides. “My people, as I have referred to them, are rather unusual.”

“So I have heard of the Scottish,” I commented.

He shook his head. “I do not refer to that heritage, but the one that encompasses us both within its grasp. I speak of the gift, and curse, of being a werewolf.”

I furrowed my brow. “Of what do you speak?”

“A werewolf is a man, or woman, who is capable of transforming their body into that of a wolf,” he explained.

I took a step back and tightened my grip on the knife, though I did not raise the weapon. “You are mad,” I told him.

A sad smile slipped onto his lips. “Sometimes I wish that was so, but I know I am not. If you do not believe me than I will show you.” He half-turned away from me, but paused when he noticed I did not follow. “That is, if you wish to have all your answers this moment.”

I frowned, but straightened and dropped my arm which held the knife to my side.

“I will go with you.”


He smiled and bowed his head. “Very good, but first let us attire ourselves in warmer clothes.” He moved to the door, but I did not follow.

“Where are we to go?” I asked him.

Lord Moray paused at the entrance and turned to me. “Do not fear that I mean for us to brave the storm outside. We will remain indoors.”

I frowned. “But the attire-”

“We are to go to the dungeons beneath the castle,” he explained.

I felt the color drain from my face and my grip on the knife tightened. I stepped away from him and shook my head. “If that is where you mean to take me then I will not follow you.”

“Would you have us continue our fruitless conversation, or would you rather have your answers?” he returned.

“I would have my answers where I might better judge a route of escape,” I retorted.

Lord Moray sighed and moved to the side of the door where hung a rope. He pulled the rope, and in a moment a male servant appeared. The man was old, of an age around sixty, and most of his gray hair had fallen out long before I was born. He wore a neat suit with a trim vest and pants, and trained his eyes on the floor.

“Fetch me a pistol,” he commanded the man. The servant bowed and left.

My heart quickened and I pointed my knife at the man. “If you mean to kill me then I will damage you before I die,” I warned him.

He did not reply, but his eyes narrowed. The servant returned with the pistol and a box of bullets. The lord loaded a single shot into the small, ivory-gripped weapon, and waved away the servant. When we were again alone he grabbed the barrel of the gun and held out the grip in my direction.

“Will this serve to assuage your worries?” he asked me.

I blinked at him. “You. . .you mean to give me the pistol?” I wondered.

He gave a nod. “I do. If a knife is inadequate protection than surely a pistol will provide you with more comfort.”

I frowned, but crept towards him one foot at a time. He stretched his arm, and at two feet I stopped and snatched the pistol from his grip. The weapon gave easily, and I fumbled with the grip for a moment before I turned the barrel towards him.

“Now you will release me and return me to my home,” I demanded.

He sighed and pulled the rope. The servant reappeared.

“My coat, and a warm cloak for the lady,” he ordered the servant. The servant did as was bidden and left us. I glanced between the servant and the lord, and frowned.

“Did you not hear me?” I questioned him. “I wish to-”

“-be taken home. Aye, I heard you,” he assured me. The servant returned with the lord’s furry coat and a green cloak with an interior woolen lining. The lord attired himself in the cloak with the servant’s help, and the old man moved over to me. He grasped the top ends of the cloak and held the cloak out for me.

“If you would turn around, my lady,” the servant requested.

“And allow you to steal the pistol? Not likely,” I retorted.

Lord Moray chuckled. “You will not find a more honest fellow than in Swain,” he assured me.

Swain smiled and held the cloak closer to me. “If you would, my lady. Your own cloak does not suit your pretty cheeks.”

I pursed my lips, but lowered the pistol. “Very well, but remember that I still hold a knife,” I warned him.

Swain bowed his head. “Aye, my lady.”

I turned and in a moment the cloak was draped around my shoulders. Swain clasped the top corners together in front of me with a shiny clasp and stepped back. I looked down at myself and noticed the glistening clasp. The metal was gold and held a scene of a stag hunt on its face. The details were so fine that I could see the hairs between the antlers of the beast. I brushed my fingers against the engraving and wondered at the smooth feel of the scene.

“If you would follow me, and keep the pistol close at hand,” Lord Moray broke my reverie.

I turned and saw that Swain was gone and the lord stood beside the open doors. He swept his hand towards the entrance and smiled at me.

“Ladies first,” he offered.

I frowned and shook my head. “You know the way. I am a stranger in your home,” I reminded him.

“Perhaps not for long, but I will agree to the temporary neglect of custom,” he agreed.

Lord Moray led me into the entrance hall and we turned into the west wing. The walls were as white as the snow that fell on the grounds, and as clean as the window panes that granted us a view of the coming storm. A wind blew past and picked up the soft flakes. There was no rest for the snow as the flakes tumbled through the air and rolled across the ground. The dark skies changed from gray to black, and the day changed to night, yet I felt little draft through the old windows. Oil lamps hung at intervals on the wall to our right and warded off the coming darkness.

Our footsteps echoed down the long hall, but they were not alone. Many servants, dressed as Swain or chamber maids in their neat dresses, were in attendance. They stepped to the side and bowed their heads to us as we passed.

The lord led me to the end of the passage. The hall turned to the right and stopped some fifty yards further on. The doors that lay on the either side of the hall were not as the others. They were thicker and made of some ancient oak. The walls, though white and clean, were of rough boards mixed with plaster that had been inexpertly applied. A chill emanated from the doors and I wrapped the cloak closer to myself.

“This is the oldest portion of the castle,” he explained to me.

“Then the dungeon is not of your own design?” I guessed.

He chuckled. “Only if I were to be of an age that rivaled Methuselah. But come.”

We traveled to the end of the hall where a door stood out from the others. It was of rough oak and very wide as though made for two to pass at one time. An unlit torch hung in a wire frame at head-height beside the door. The lord took the torch and lit it with a match from his pockets.

“Watch your step,” he advised me.

He swung open the door and revealed a winding stone staircase. The stone walls were smoothed and damp, and dust covered all but the center of the staircase. The width of the staircase itself was only three feet and the curve was so severe that one couldn’t see ahead of one self after only a half dozen steps. There were no windows so the darkness permeated every crevice and corner.

The lord stepped into the cramped area and moved down a few steps, but I hesitated at the top. His flickering torch cast tall shadows over the walls that danced with the flames. In such a dark space my mind conjured up devils and demons that lay in wait for me. No pistol in the whole world save one blessed by a priest could save me from such monsters, and I had little faith the weapon I held was so holy.

The lord turned to me. “Do you fear the darkness more than you despise your ignorance?” he challenged me.

I frowned and steadied myself. “I merely wished for more steps between us,” I defended myself.

A crooked smile slid onto his lips. “I see. I apologize for my mistake.”

He turned away from me and proceeded down the stairs. I tightened my grip on the pistol and reluctantly followed him into the bowels of his castle.

I pressed my hands against the damp wall to steady myself as the stairs wound down deep into the earth. Every step had alternating layers of dust and moss, and each footfall was a danger. The lord moved down them at a slow pace, and yet I found trouble keeping up with him.

My demand to keep my distance was ultimately my undoing as the light from the torch invariably constantly turned the corner and cast me in near-total darkness. At some two dozen steps into the stairs my hands slipped off the slick wall. All my weight relied on the firmness of the wall, and when that vanished so did my footing. My foot missed its step and I let out a cry as I tumbled forward into the abyss. The pistol and knife fell from my hands and clattered down the stairs as I tried to catch myself. There would be nothing to obstruct my fall save for the endless bottom, wherever that lay.

The light flew back to me and a strong arm caught me around my shoulders. I looked up into the bright light of the torch and the worried eyes of the lord.

“Are you unhurt?” he asked me.

I nodded my head. “I-I believe so,” I stuttered. I straightened and pressed my hands against his furry cloak. It was then I realized my predicament and swept my eyes over the uneven floor. “The pistol!” I yelped.

He chuckled. “I did tell you to watch your step,” he teased.

I whipped my head to him and glared at the man. I tried to push away from him, but he tightened his powerful grip on my shoulders.

“I would suggest you not be hasty along these steps or you will find yourself once more in my arms,” he warned me. I stopped struggling and he eased me from his grasp. “As for the pistol and knife, they have merely gone ahead of us. See?” He held the torch higher and the shining grip of the pistol reflected the glow of the light. It lay a mere half-curve ahead of us. “Your weapon, my lady.”

I moved carefully down the stairs and snatched the pistol. The knife was nowhere to be seen as he caught up to me. I swung around and pointed the weapon at him.

“Keep your distance,” I ordered him.

He chuckled. “Then you must go ahead of me,” he pointed out.

I scowled at him, but his comment was true. He needed to pass me, so I reluctantly stepped aside. The lord brushed past me and we proceeded down the stairs


They continued another five dozen steps before our feet finally touched flat ground. I stepped off the bottom step and found the lord stood at a five-foot distance from me against a slime-covered wall. A single, narrow hall ran to my left and right and totaled a hundred feet. The ceiling was so low I that my fingers could have brushed the wooden beams that kept back the countless tons of dirt over our heads. Holding cells with crude black bars graced the wall from which emerged the stairs. They were carved from the stone and earth, and were smaller than a cheap tenement room. Unlit torches were placed in metal holders between the dark cells.

I took in a deep breath and choked. The air was heavy with damp and mold accumulated over hundreds of years. The stagnation clogged my lungs, and forced me to cover my nose and mouth. The lord looked around us and pursed his lips.

“I apologize for bringing you down here, but the cells will be useful,” he promised.

I frowned. “Useful for whom?”

“For you, as you will not be the occupant,” he assured me.

I furrowed my brow. “Then you will-”

“Follow me and I will show you truth,” he replied.

The lord proceeded down the right-hand portion of the hall, and I followed this strange man to the last cell. He inserted the torch into an empty holder and took a ring of keys from a peg on the wall opposite the cells. The lord turned to me and held them out to me.

“If you would lock me inside the final cell,” he requested.

I took the ring and glanced between him and the keys. “But why?” I asked him.

“You will know in due time,” he replied.

I frowned. “You promised that I would know now,” I reminded him.

He shook his head and a sly smile slipped onto his lovely lips. “All I can say at the present is if you release me too soon you will find it most-well, perhaps most pleasant. Now please lock me inside,” he instructed.

The lord passed by me and stepped into the open cell. He turned to me and shut the door behind himself. I fumbled with the keys for a moment and tried half their number before I found the key which fit the lock. The door was secured, and I stepped back. He shrugged off his coat and set it on the ground against the far wall before he turned to me.

“Whatever you do do not utter a sound nor make any sudden movements. The beast desires you, and should he notice you then I won’t be able to control him,” he warned me.

I twisted my face into a quizzical expression. “‘The beast?’” I repeated.

The lord grasped the bars and closed his eyes. His teeth clenched together and he bowed his head. I opened my mouth, but my words struck in my throat when I glimpsed a change come over him. His clothes stretched and tore as fur broke through the skin over his entire body. The bars he grasped groaned as his prodigious strength crushed them beneath his fingers. The fingers stretched and thickened into sharp claws. His ears stretched up and back into sharp points, and his hair spilled over his back like a dark mane. He grew taller by half a foot and all but part of his ruined trousers fell in tatters to the ground. His shoes tore apart to reveal long feet where half the foot was angled upward off the ground so he stood only on his toes.

His face lengthened into a long snout that was filled with sharp teeth. He raised his head and his eyes opened to reveal orbs of harvest gold. I gasped and stumbled back. The weight of the pistol in my hand reminded me I was not defenseless, and I raised my arm and pointed the barrel at the monster. The monster curled back its lips and snarled at me.

Then it paused. An indecipherable emotion swept through its eyes. The beast leaned its snout through the bars and sniffed the air. Its eyes widened and it reached out for me. I screamed and stumbled back against the wall. The monster withdrew its arm and shook the bars of the cell. They quaked with its strength, but did not break. The monster growled at them and jumped at the lock. It pawed at it a few moments before it admitted defeat and returned its attention to me.

I trembled from boot to head, and had I fired the pistol the shot would have been wildly off. The monster grasped the bars again and caught my eyes with its own. Those deep, golden orbs stared unblinkingly at me, and all of a sudden I smelt a familiar scent.

It was the scent of the incense burner.

The scent calmed my nerves and soothed my terrified mind. A sense of warmth and security washed over me. It was as though I had found sanctuary after a long chase. My body stopped trembling and I lowered the pistol. The beast’s eyes flickered to the lock of the cell door.

It was as though I was under a spell, but one so wonderful that all thought of escape was pushed from my mind. I shuddered as a deliciously warm heat surfaced inside me. The beast’s nostrils flared and it rattled the stubborn bars. I understood what it desired, and my body desired the same.

I dropped the pistol to the floor and moved over to the cell door. The monster stepped back to the rear of the cell as unlocked the door and stepped inside. My chest heaved as I walked over to the beast. The monster studied my face for a moment before it reached up and cupped one of my cheeks in its clawed hand. The warmth of its fingers evoked in me a deep ache that longed to be satiated. I had never before known sexual desire, and now I knew it with the strength of a lover.

The beast unclasped my cloak and pushed the cloak from my shoulders. The thick cloth dropped atop the fur coat and created a small bed. The creature slid its hands down my sides and its sharp claws cut away my dress. Slits opened and revealed my bare, trembling flesh. I trembled from the anticipation of his touch against my flesh. His long snout reverted back to a human-like face. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine.

I groaned into the kiss. He wrapped his arms around me and pressed me against him. Our warm bodies created a wonderful friction that heightened the ache inside me. We broke our kiss and both of us panted. His heated gaze seared me to my soul, and my desire tugged at me to accept this monster as my lover, my master. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes as I reveled in the warmth that engulfed my body.

The monster leaned down and pressed soft, teasing kisses along my exposed neck. His hands cut my dress to the collar and he brushed away my dress as he had my cloak. Only my thin, white undergarments remained, but they were spare enough to reveal my heaving, swollen breasts. His warm, hot lips traveled down and kissed the tops. I gasped and clutched his head in my hands. He pressed me closer to him and licked and nipped at my trembling, sensitive mounds.

His hands cut away at my undergarments with greater speed and soon the remainder of my clothes fell away. I stood before him naked, and he pulled me to arm’s length to allow himself a full look. My thick body trembled beneath his heated gaze and I tried to cover myself. He growled and pulled my hands off me. I gasped and blushed as he studied every inch of me. His lips curled back in a feral grin that increased the ache inside me.

He laid me down atop my ruined garments and his coat, and sat back to tear himself free of his last shred of clothes. His thick, pulsing member bespoke his need for me and the heat inside me erupted into demanding desire. It was an ache that needed to be fulfilled ere I be swallowed by the maddening lust. I whimpered and squirmed atop the fur cloak.

The beast covered me with his body and his hands touched every part of me. He worshiped me and teased me with his gentle caresses and sweet lips. I grasped his shoulders and moaned. The scent of him so close to me left me delirious with need. All my thoughts focused only on him and his wonderful hands and lips. I wanted nothing more than for him to initiate me into the lustful rites of passionate lovers, to hold me close and ravish and dominate me.

“My God,” I groaned.

He growled and raised himself on his arms to study my face. I parted my legs, and arched my back and pushed my breasts towards him. My lover positioned himself between my legs and pushed himself into me. His manhood stretched my wet walls and filled me with lust. He wrapped his arms around me and started our dance at an aching slow pace. His thrusts were long and deep, but they did not satisfy me. My body demanded to be taken swiftly. I needed to be dominated, to have a mate who would quell the beast that arose inside me. Any less and he would be unworthy of me.

“Faster,” I demanded as I squirmed beneath him. I leaned forward and nipped at one of his pointed ears. My words were a warm whisper across his cheek, a teasing plea that thrilled us both. “Take me. Dominate me,” I insisted. “Make me yours and keep me.”

He grunted and pushed faster into me. I cried out and grasped his shoulders as feelings of ecstasy washed over me. My body trembled with a pleasure that threatened to devour me, and I reveled in the thought of such an outcome. I ached for a release that would consume my body and soul, and I knew that only this monster, this beast of a man, could grant me such pleasure.

He thrust hard and deep inside me until our union was all I knew. We were one, body and soul, and I wanted nothing more than for us to remain as such. After a lifetime of celibacy and church attendance, I found that heaven was lust with a man who was not a man.

My lover penetrated me faster and faster. The torch lit over our sweat-soaked bodies and our joined forms gleamed in the dim light. My cries of joy filled the dark cell with a joy it had never known. I wrapped my arms around my fur-covered lover and pressed my breasts against his hard muscles. My pert nubs rubbed against him and caused a friction inside me that fulfilled my lustful wish for release at the hands of such a beast.

Orgasm swept over my trembling form. I was awash in wonderful, penetrating desire that clung to me like a warm blanket on a cold day. My lover continued his lustful thrusts into me and lengthened my bliss until I knew nothing else but him. He thrust twice more beyond that, stiffened, and collapsed beside me.

We lay there for a moment with the only noises being our panting. He reached out and wrapped his arms around me to pull me close to his warm body. The drafty cell lost its lustful allure as my feral desire faded from my body. My strength also faded and my eyes grew heavy. I lay my head against his furry chest and sighed. One of his hands petted my hair, and his gravelly, soothing voice whispered to me from the growing darkness.

“Rest, Beloved.”

And I did.

A note from Mac

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Continue the adventure

Now that you’ve finished the book, feel free to check out my website for the rest of the exciting series. Here’s also a little sneak-peek at the next book:

* * *

Lord of Moray #2:

My sleep was deep and undisturbed, and my dreams were filled with wonderful scents and pleasurable feelings. The dreams were driven away at the sound of curtains being drawn. A dim light swept over me, and I willed my heavy eyes to open.

I lay in a large chamber with a hearth and four-post bed. The floor and walls were of worn cobblestone, and a large, thick oak door stood opposite where I lay on the bed. A dresser, small table, and its two chairs finished off the decor. Behind me was a wall with two tall, wide, pane windows made of thick glass. One was drawn and weak light spread into the room, and I watched a woman of fifty walk around the foot of the bed towards the window with the curtains still closed. She opened them and turned to me.

Contrary to her age, the woman had few wrinkles on her face, though her hands were gnarled by a lifetime of rough work. She stood a bit shorter than me, and studied with me dark eyes. Her gray hair was tucked into a tight bun behind and atop her head, and she wore a neat black dress that hugged her plump frame. I imagined this would be me in several decades were I to live that long.

“Good morning, my lady. I hope you slept well,” she greeted me as she bowed to me.

My memories of the last few days returned to me, what I had of them, and my heart quickened. Flashes of claws on cloth returned to me. I wrapped my fingers around my neck and shuddered.

“T-the lord. He. . .he truly is a monster, isn’t he?” I stuttered.

A ghost of a smile slipped onto her lips. “That would depend on how you view of monsters, my lady,” she returned.

“He. . .he changes into a wolf, does he not?” I persisted.

She gave a nod. “He does, my lady.”

My eyes widened, and my lips trembled so that my words hardly escaped them. “Y-you know of this?”

“I do, my lady,” she confirmed.

Thoughts of escape flew into my mind. I flung aside the covers, and a cool draft forced me to glance down at myself. I wore a thick white nightgown that stretched down to my ankles.

“My clothes! Where are my clothes?” I questioned her.

“I am afraid they were too soiled and torn to survive their cleaning,” she told me.

I slid off the high bed, but my legs wobbled beneath me. They would not support my weight, so I stumbled to the foot of the bed and grasped one of the posts. The woman reached out her arms as though to help me, but when I flinched away from her she stopped and pulled her arms back.

“Please find me some clothes,” I pleaded with her.

“So that you may escape?” she guessed.

“So that I may free myself from his hold over me,” I corrected her.

She closed her eyes and shook her head as she sighed. “I am afraid I can’t allow that, my lady. I have been given strict instructions not to let you leave before the storm is finished,” she revealed.

“The storm?” I repeated.

“Aye, my lady,” she replied.

She stepped back and turned to the windows. I noticed there was a thin line that showed the window was separated into two panels. A clasp in the center held them together. The woman slipped off the clasp and opened the two panels. A flurry of snow swept inside. She turned to me and gestured to the outside.

I clasped the front of my nightgown and stepped forward. The view through the window was of a white world, and told me the chambers lay on the second floor of the home. A thick layer of snow a half a foot deep lay about the ground, and more continued to fall from the sky. The storm Lord Moray had predicted had arrived. The roads were all but impassible, even on horseback.

“The storm will not abate for at least this day,” she warned me.

I felt a sinking feeling deep in my stomach and the color drained from my face. I staggered back to the bed and sat on the edge. My eyes settled on the floor and I wrapped my arms around myself.

“God protect me. . .” I whispered.

The woman closed the windows and walked over to take a seat beside me. She set her hands on my shoulders and leaned forward.

“God helps those who help themselves,” she whispered to me. I raised my head and saw that a small smile graced her lips. “If He has brought you to this place then it must be for a reason. You must make the best of His will and find the goodness in your life.”

I furrowed my brow and shook my head. “I don’t understand how you can speak of God when your master is what he is.”

She chuckled. “I have known the master since he was a boy. There is no more monster in him than in any other laird, and less than in most. You must search for the goodness that lies inside him, and then you will know what it means to be his mate, and he yours.”

I grasped my head in my hands and shook my head. “Mate? God? Men who are wolves? Can I truly be living in such a life? Is this not all a dream?”

She squeezed my shoulders and leaned close to me. Her words were as soft as a down pillow, and brought with them some comfort that eased the tension inside me.

“I can see you are not in full strength. Perhaps some food would do you good,” she suggested. She stood and walked over to the dresser where she pulled open one of the drawers. “Breakfast has passed, but there is some food left which we might have Cook warm for you.”

I dropped my arms to my sides and looked down at myself. “But how can I be seen in such attire?” I pointed out.

The woman turned to me and pulled out a lumpy package wrapped in soft paper. She moved to stand in front of me and held out the package to me. “This may not fit perfectly, but the seamstress will make the necessary alterations.”

I took the package and recognized the paper as that used by tailors. Two strings intersected and were tied together to hold the paper shut. I undid the knot, and the paper and string fell away to reveal a simple but elegant gray dress. The fabric was soft and shimmering, and its surface glistened like starlight. My eyes widened and I allowed myself to brush my fingers over the fabric. Mr. Maher had never had such wonderful fabric ordered by a customer, and the silver buttons on the front were worth more than a year’s salary for me.

I looked up at the smiling woman who stood before me and blinked at her. “This. . .this is for me?” I asked her.

She gave a nod. “Aye. A gift from your mate for his ruining your own clothes.”

I stood and held the shoulders of the dress so the fabric spilled down. The dress suited my height, or near to it, and would be a little tight on the front but was otherwise about my size. I hugged the wonderful gift against my bosom and closed my eyes to keep the tears from falling down my cheeks. Never before had I been given such a beautiful gift.

“I. . .I-” I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked to the woman. “Please tell your lord that I am grateful.”

She bowed her head. “I will, but first let us attire you and fetch you some breakfast.” She stepped towards me, but I held up my hand.

“Wait a moment. I don’t believe we have even introduced ourselves,” I pointed out.

The woman blinked at me before her smile widened and her eyes softened. She bowed to me. “I am Mrs. Greer, the housekeeper and servant to you.”

I shook my head. “I am only a seamstress, and haven’t earned a servant.”

Mrs. Greer chuckled and took the dress from me. “Nonetheless you have one in me. Now, I would dearly love to hear your name, my lady.”

I sighed and curtsied to her. “My name is Abigail Glenn.”

Mrs. Greer bowed to me. “Well met, Lady Abigail,” she greeted me.

“Please, call me Abby,” I pleaded. “I wouldn’t know to answer to such a title.”

She smiled and bowed her head. “As you wish, Abby. Now let us attire you and I will lead you to breakfast.”


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