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Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising Positions(9)

By:Selena Kitt

"Enough, Darrow." Raife snarled at his brother, moving to draw the sword  at his side. "Unless ye want another hole in yer belly."

"What would ye care?" Kirstin snapped. "Ye don't want Sibyl anymore-do ye?"

"Kirstin..." Raife said her name through gritted teeth, looking at the  chuckling Darrow, not at her. "Do'na make me cut off that sharp tongue  of yers."

"Enough." Donal spoke, his voice clear and definitive. He turned to  Kirstin, taking her by the elbow, putting his hand at the small of her  back, and steering her toward the door. "Come wit' me."

As soon as they were in the hallway and Donal had closed the door behind  them, Kirstin hissed at him, "That man's insufferable! How can ye sit  by and watch 'im treat 'er that way? He's actin' like-"

"Aye, he is." Donal put a finger to her lips to keep them from moving  anymore, and the motion startled Kirstin. Her breath stopped, and for a  moment, so did her heart. Those slate-blue eyes of his pinned her in  place and she stilled, listening to him. "But he's in pain. He feels  betrayed, and e'en if he realizes she did'na love m'brother-and I can  attest to the fact that she mos' definitely did'na-his pride's hurt.  Give 'im time. He'll come 'round."

She nodded, not saying anything, feeling the press of his finger against  her mouth, suddenly aware of how close they were standing in the  hallway with no one around. There were distant sounds of people, and the  low rumble of Darrow and Raife talking behind the closed door, but she  swore the beating of her own heart was much louder than any of that.

Donal didn't say anything either, but his gaze moved down from her eyes  to focus on her lips, where his finger was tracing their outline, so  lightly she felt as if a butterfly was kissing her. She shivered,  feeling something thick and hot pumping through her veins, forcing blood  into places that throbbed in sweet, swollen torture.

She heard him draw a sharp breath in when her tongue peeked nervously  between her lips for a moment, and then Donal took a step back, his hand  moving to the door knob.

"I'm sorry," she murmured, and she was, but not because of what she'd  said. She was sorry that he'd moved away, instead of toward her. She was  sorry she hadn't bridged the distance herself.

He cleared his throat. "Ye mus' be hungry."

You have no idea.

"Aye." She nodded, agreeing, although it wasn't her stomach that was growling.

"The kitchens're downstairs, through t'great hall," he told her,  pointing to the staircase he'd brought her up. "Moira'll be feedin'  Sibyl and Laina. She'll be happy t'feed ye, too."

"Smooth as silk," Kirstin murmured, giving him a bemused smile. "Ye're a true politician, aren't ye?"

Donal chuckled, shaking his head.

"Open yer mouth," he directed, putting a thumb against her chin to try to get her to comply.

"What?" She smiled, waving him away. "Why?"

"I jus' wanted t'see fer m'self if that tongue's as sharp as it feels."

"Oh fer heaven's sake..." She couldn't help laughing, but she also  couldn't help feeling a little bad about what she'd said. "I did'na  mean-"

"Och, lass, I understand." He smiled, too, and that good-natured warmth  had returned to his eyes "Ye show a great deal of love fer yer pack, and  e'en more spirit in defendin' it. Tis a fine and lovely thing. As are  ye."         



"Smooth as silk..." she said again, feeling the warmth of his words filling her all the way to her toes.

"Trust me when I tell ye, I've been doin' e'erythin' I can t'help pave  t'way fer a reunion     a'tween Sibyl and Raife." He rolled his eyes at  the closed door. "I intend t'see't happen a'fore the wulvers leave."

"Ye mean-ye don't wanna marry 'er yerself?" The words escaped her mouth  before she could even think and she felt her cheeks redden when he  looked at her, nonplussed.

"Marry Sibyl?" He blinked in surprise at the thought, then he chuckled.  "And risk me head being divided from me shoulders by that half-beast in  there?"

"Oh, so that's all that's stopping ye?" Kirstin asked, arms crossed, eyes narrowing, as she turned to go.

"Och! No, lass." Donal caught her around the waist, whirling her toward  him, and she found herself pressed fully against his big, solid frame.  The hilt of his sword dug into the soft flesh of her belly and his hands  pressed against her lower back, keeping her close. "Mayhaps, yesterday,  if King Henry'd offered the woman t'me, and she hadn't already been  claimed by the insufferable wulver in there, I would've accepted..."

"Would ye?" she challenged, feeling a slow fire heating her chest at the  thought. For some reason, thinking about any other woman with this man  filled her with such a rage it made her tremble. She didn't understand  it, and she wondered if her own confusion showed on her face, because  Donal looked at her with such warmth and sympathy, it made her legs  weak.

"Mayhaps yesterday," Donal said softly. "But not today."

Kirstin swallowed. "What changed between yesterday and today?"

"I met a beautiful wulver woman wit' a big heart an'a sharp tongue."

"Oh..." Kirstin felt like she couldn't breathe.

"I want ye t'get some food in yer belly," he told her. "And I'll have  Moira find ye s'more clothes-a good pair'a boots fer walkin' and  ridin'."

"I'll be fine," she assured him, but his arms tightened around her in protest.

"I'd like t'take ye ridin' on the morrow, Kirstin," he said. "I'd like to show ye somethin', if'n ye let me."

"Oh..." She hesitated. She barely knew him-and this was a man, not a  wulver. She knew well enough from Sibyl that it wasn't proper for a  Scotswoman or Englishwoman to be alone with any man-but she remembered  the ride in from the forest on the back of his horse, and couldn't  resist.

"I'll understand if ye wanna stay 'ere and nurse the ailin' Darrow, but..." His gaze moved to the closed door, then back to her.

"Nuh." She shook her head, seeing the disappointment in his eyes,  feeling it in her gut, and she was quick to dispel it. "I mean, aye.  Aye, I'll go wit' ye."

"Good." A smile lit up his features. "And we'll talk more about what we  can do, t'bring those two together. Because somethin' needs doin'."

"Aye, that it does," she agreed, scowling at Raife as if she could see him through the door.

"I'm glad ye came." Donal turned her chin back to look at him, and the  look in his eyes, so full of emotion, turned her knees to jelly. But he  had her, held against him. She wasn't going anywhere. His gaze moved  down to her mouth, and his head inclined, and for one breathless moment,  she thought for sure he was going to press his lips to hers.

"Sir, I came fer the dishes." Behind them, the voice was small and  unsure and Donal let Kirstin go, whirling around. "Moira sent me."

Kirstin looked at the little kitchen maid who had somehow snuck up  behind Donal. She was a small blonde with big, round blue eyes and a gap  between her teeth. She stood, looking between the two of them, curious.

"Go 'head." Donal waved her into the room so she could retrieve Darrow's supper dishes.

"Ye were sayin'?" Kirstin prompted him, but the moment was gone. Kirstin  could still feel the steel heat of his body against hers, even though  they now stood a doorway apart. "Somethin' about bein' glad I was  'ere...?"

"Aye." He cleared his throat as the maid hurried out with the dishes on a  tray. "I know ye'll be a great help t'Sibyl and Laina."         



"Gayle." He smiled down at the maid as she scuttled by him. "Will ye  take Lady Kirstin down to the kitchens so she may join 'er kin?"

"I'm not a lady," Kirstin protested before Gayle's eyes even fell to  study Kirstin's plaid-and lack of footwear. Or any other adornment.

"Her kin?" Gayle's eyes widened then and she took a step back. "She's a wulver, then?"

"Aye, but I promise, she will'na bite ye," Donal assured the maid, giving Kirstin a pointed look.

The blonde, Gayle, didn't look so confident.

"I'll see ye on the morrow," Donal called after her and Kirstin smiled  back at him as she followed the maid down the hall. He watched them head  down the stairs before going back into Darrow's room.

As Donal had promised, Sibyl and Laina were in the kitchen, being fussed  over by a stout old woman who kept bringing more food to the table.  Gayle deposited the dishes and was quickly off again, giving them all a  long, fearful, sidelong glance as she slipped through the door.

"Ye look pale," Kirstin observed, putting a cool hand against Sibyl's cheek. "How long's it been since she's eaten anything?"