Eve turned left and right trying to get her bearings. The door to the stairway and down to the Great Hall was here, she had only to find it to find Sebastian. Counting her steps back, she gazed at the next door as though trying to divine if it was the one. Turning the knob, she pushed it open.
‘Of all the ways I planned to lay claim to my rightful inheritance,’ the deep voice said with a tinge of Highland burr, ‘I never thought it would be by your visit, Milady in Green.’
Without thought, her hand touched the emeralds at her neck as she shook her head. Eve spun around to find a ruggedly handsome man staring at her. Auburn highlights gleamed in the light from the fire next to him. As tall as Sebastian, but much more muscular, she thought of a warrior she’d seen in a movie set in the medieval Highlands.
But, this was the third time someone thought her some kind of vision or omen or ghost. The cool air chilling her bare skin made her aware she was truly alive, though perhaps having a dream. When he tilted his head in greeting and rose from the chair, the heat and the intensity in his gaze made her take a step back.
‘I do not understand,’ she said, glancing for the door through which she’d entered. ‘I was only trying to find for the Great Hall.’
‘Ah,’ he whispered, taking her hand and lifting it to his lips, ‘you have nothing to fear from me, Lady. Even if you appeared at my side before my cousin in the Great Hall, he, they would deny my claim to the title and castle Meryngham and all the noble Daubenay wealth.’
Eve searched her memories of the Daubenay family’s history and could not remember any Scottish claimants in the records she’d studied. But this man was very clearly Scottish.
‘Who are you?’ she finally asked, watching as he lifted his deep green gaze first to the emeralds nestled around her neck and then to her face.
‘I am Dougal MacKinnon of Glen Ayre,’ he said, now touching his mouth to the back of her hand. The heat of just that touch travelled up her body and made her body react with a sensual tremble. ‘The rightful heir to Meryngham.’
Eve pulled away, rubbing her hands on her now-chilled arms. ‘A Scot as heir to Meryngham?’ She shook her head and frowned. ‘What claim do you have?’
Dougal walked to the bed, the very large bed she had not noticed until now, and picked a length of plaid from it. He shook it out as he approached and then tossed it around her, gathering the edges in front. The warmth of it, and the warmth that pulsed through her at his nearness, spread until the deep chill left her. She thought him done, but he placed his hands on her shoulders and began rubbing her arms.
‘The best of all claims—that of blood. My father was heir before his death and I stood to inherit it as his son.’
‘And you did not?’ she asked. There were very few reasons why a male heir would not inherit, the most common being—
‘Aye, a bastard they say I am.’ It explained much, but not all. Curious, Eve stepped out of his grasp and waited for him to decry that status. But he did not. ‘My father visited his northern properties and fell in love with my mother. He knew his family would not accept her, but he claimed her in the old, Highland tradition. Handfasting made me legitimate.’ His voice grew rough then, anger infusing it with a somehow more-appealing deepness in tone. ‘No matter what these Sassenach dogs say.’
When he rose to his full height and crossed his arms over his wide, strong chest, she knew she did not want to be this man’s enemy. It was the fleeting expression of pain in his green eyes that made her heart want. . . to help him and more. Was he truly the heir? If she accompanied him to the Great Hall, would her presence confirm his claim? Could it be that easy?
‘Come,’ he said, stepping closer and offering his hand to her. ‘Shall we give it a try?’ Was he a mind-reader, too?
The warmth of his hand drew her in and the heat in his mouth as it touched, no, claimed hers offered her a strong invitation to remain here with him. Her heart already believed him and wanted to help him right the wrong dealt to him. . . .
But dare she?
Eve lifted her face from his and pulled from the possessive embrace to meet his gaze. She did not know what was going on here and now, but somewhere Sebastian waited for her. She took a step and then another back towards the door. He recognized her action, but did not try to stop her by force. He used his words instead.
‘The Lady in Green comes twice to those who do not deserve her, but a third time only to the man who can claim her heart and soul. Come back to me,’ he whispered, holding out that tempting hand once more to her. ‘Come back, Milady.’
‘Eve,’ she said. ‘My name is Eve.’ It mattered somehow to her that he know she was not some kind of legend, but a woman of flesh and blood, heart and soul.
‘Oh, aye, Eve,’ he said as a wicked, inviting smile lifted the edge of the mouth she’d just kissed. ‘Come back to me, Eve.’
Eve turned and raced to the door, out of breath from the complete surrender her body and soul were urging. Lifting the latch on the heavy, wooden door, she tugged it open and stumbled into the corridor. The door slammed behind her, leaving her. . . .
Ah....Eve discovered a sexy Scottish Highlander behind the door this time. What about you -- would you stay with Dougal MacKinnon or try to return to Sebastian? A difficult decision to make. . . Stop back tomorrow to find out Eve's next step in her journey through time!