At The Laird's Command (Sword and Thistle Book 3)

At The Laird's Command (Sword and Thistle Book 3) by Laurel Adams Read Free Book Online

Book: At The Laird's Command (Sword and Thistle Book 3) by Laurel Adams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurel Adams
stop me from doing. These beautiful pearls were meant to grace your lovely neck. Show me, lass. I want to see you in them.”
    It was a command, a sweet command, and so I dared to scoop the strand out of the box and loop them around my neck, luxuriating in the strangely silky feel of them on my bare skin. There was an eroticism to this and he must have felt it too, because a dark heat banked in his eyes, burning like a coal. “Happy birthday, my sweet.”
    I lifted my gaze to his. “But how—how did you know it was my birthday?”
    “Your sister has a rather vexing habit of speaking before she is spoken to. Of addressing her betters without permission. And doing so in passing with scarcely a curtsey as if she were a man, instead of a modest girl. But in this case, she managed to get word to me that it was your birthday and I am grateful to her for that. For such a day is truly worth celebrating.”
    I love you , I thought. I love you so desperately.  
    But how would I ever dare speak the words aloud? Ours was not that sort of arrangement. The love I read about in poetry books was never the kind that would be mine. The laird had said to me once that he might love me, and feared he might never tire of me. That was likely the most a girl like me could hope for. It was more important to me that he said I belonged to him. And that he would defend and protect what belonged to him.
    That would have to be enough.
    “I want you to wear these pearls always,” he said, when I came back to the bed, and he trailed the string of them over my breasts in a way that made my nipples tighten and peak into pink nubs.
    “Always?” I asked, not wanting to speak. Wanting only to feel as he teased me with the pearls. But fearing not to ask. “Won’t your kin take offense to my wearing what belonged to your family?”
    “Ian, you mean?”
    “I daresay Ian Macrae is not a man to notice a woman’s jewelry. I speak mostly of his sisters and his mother, Lady Fiona.”
    The laird gave a sudden bark of laughter. “Oh, so then you have crossed paths with my aunt, the dragon, have you?”
    Inwardly, I cringed at the memory of every time the woman or her high born daughters turned in the corridor so as not to meet my eyes lest she be stained with my sin. “I shouldn’t like to antagonize her.”
    “Fiona is an old prune,” the laird said. “I don’t care if you antagonize her.”
    I smiled, but thinly, because it was in my nature to care what people thought of me. I had once been such a good girl, and I didn’t take easy to shamelessness.  
    “Lass, I have never seen a woman so troubled by the idea of wearing a beautiful strand of pearls before. Why aren’t you happier at the idea?”
    “It is only…at a time like this, when everyone in the castle is coming together in common purpose and under such privations, for me to wear pearls…and for the clan to know that you gave them to me…”
    My laird slowly let the pearls slip through his fingers, then brought his hand to my cheek. Brushing me there with the pad of his thumb, he stared into my eyes with an intensity I’d never seen before. “Like a wise counselor, you are thinking of my standing with the clan.”
    “I’m sorry,” I said, feeling the flush on my cheeks at what he must see as an overstep. “I have no place to advise you.”
    “Don’t apologize, lass. You have touched me deeper than you know. And there is something I must make clear to you. Something I should have said before now. Whatever I might say in the heat of passion—when I am thinking only of your body—I know that I have in you a woman of uncommon grace and wisdom. Which is why you are worthy of my mother’s pearls, and which is why you may wear them when and if you see fit.”
    A woman of uncommon grace and wisdom.
    I couldn’t think of anything kinder that a man could say to a woman.
    He thought I was worthy of his mother’s pearls, and because I wanted him to be right, I decided that I must find

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