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Terri Brisbin
The Highlander's Stolen Touch

The Highlander's Stolen Touch
Terri Brisbin

HER FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER… Ciara Robertson has loved formidable Highlander Tavis MacLerie all her life. She watched, broken-hearted, while he married and lost another. Now, finally of marriageable age, Ciara throws her heart at his feet… Tavis knows that innocent Ciara thinks she’s in love with him – but she deserves better.Painful experience has proved that he’s a far better warrior than husband, and he’s determined never to marry again. Her dreams shattered, Ciara accepts another man’s hand. Ordered to take Ciara to her husband-to-be, Tavis is tormented – and tempted – every step of the way…

Praise forTerri Brisbin:

THE MERCENARY’S BRIDE ‘Brisbin’s latest Knights of Brittany book is just as thrilling and passionate as the rest. Brisbin excels at immersing readers in history and bringing her characters to life.’ —RT Book Reviews

THE CONQUEROR’S LADY ‘Riveting with its rich narrative, pulsing sexual tension and chilling suspense. It’s a tale of a man of passion, action and heat, and the innocent beauty who conquers him body and soul.’ —RT Book Reviews

SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER ‘Rich in historical detail, laced with the perfect amount of passion, Ms Brisbin continually delivers highly satisfying romances. Don’t miss it.’ —Romance Reviews Today

TAMING THE HIGHLANDER ‘TAMING THE HIGHLANDER is a lively, frolicking tale of life in the Highlands; truly a must-read.’ —Historical Romance Writers

THE MAID OF LORNE ‘With her usual superb sense of characterisation and exceptional gift for creating sizzling sexual chemistry, Brisbin fashions a splendidly satisfying medieval historical.’ —Booklist

There was an instant when he knew he should stop and simply return her to the house, when he knew they should talk more in the cool light of the morn. But that moment passed by so quickly it did not hinder his next action at all. Tavis pulled her back into his arms, tilted her head with his hand and leaned his mouth to hers.

He kissed her, and all his good intentions to show simple compassion were tossed asunder at the first touch of his mouth on hers.

He kissed her with all the longing in his body and heart. He kissed her with the respect and liking he felt for her. He kissed her for all the wanting and knowing he could never have her. He kissed her.

Not as a beginning, as her husband-to-be had, but as an ending—because her place, her life, would be here and not with him.

About the Author

TERRI BRISBIN is wife to one, mother of three, and dental hygienist to hundreds when not living the life of a glamorous romance author. She was born, raised, and is still living in the southern New Jersey suburbs. Terri’s love of history led her to write time-travel romances and historical romances set in Scotland and England.

Readers are invited to visit her website for more information at www.terribrisbin.com, or contact her at PO Box 41, Berlin, NJ 08009-0041, USA.

Previous novels by the same author:

THE DUMONT BRIDE

LOVE AT FIRST STEP

(short story in The Christmas Visit) THE NORMAN’S BRIDE THE COUNTESS BRIDE THE EARL’S SECRET TAMING THE HIGHLANDER SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE (short story in One Candlelit Christmas) THE MAID OF LORNE THE CONQUEROR’S LADY* THE MERCENARY’S BRIDE* HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER*

Did you know that some of these novelsare also available as eBooks?Visit www.millsandboon.co.uk

and in Mills & Boon

HistoricalUndone!eBooks:

A NIGHT FOR HER PLEASURE*

*The Knights of Brittany

And in Mills & BoonWHAT THE DUCHESS WANTS(part ofRoyal Weddings Through the Ages)

The Highlander’s Stolen Touch

Terri Brisbin

www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk)

This book is dedicated to my editor, Anna Boatman, for all of her guidance, advice, and gentle prodding in making this story the lovely romance it is now! Thanks, Anna.

Prologue

‘She has to die.’

Ciara whispered it to her nearest and dearest friend, knowing her secret wish was safe with her. The terrible words branded her as a person of the most horrible kind. Nine years of age and already beyond redemption. She sighed, knowing it was true.

The young woman, the current object of their observation, saw nothing but the man waiting for her at the door to the chapel. She looked neither left nor right, making Ciara hate her even more. The only thing worse was that he gazed back at her with the same intensity. Her own heart hurt then, understanding that she was witnessing love.

‘Should we trip her?’ Elizabeth whispered back. Ever her stalwart friend, she would see this through with Ciara.

The puddle of mud to one side of the path was appealing, but Ciara shook her head. From the way Tavis gazed at Saraid, he would look at her the same way even if she was covered in the slime and muck. Ciara’s breath caught at the strength and clarity of the feelings between Tavis and his soon-to-be wife. Later, when someone asked her what love was, she would describe it as just that—the expression Ciara could see in Tavis’s eyes when he looked at his bride.

‘Nay,’ she whispered, turning away as tears filled her eyes. ‘Leave her be.’

Elizabeth looked from her to the couple, now walking together into the chapel, and sighed. ‘What will you do, then?’

Ciara shrugged and did not answer right away. The doors to the chapel remained open and, if she’d cared to watch, she could have seen the whole ceremony as Tavis and Saraid promised to love and cherish each other for life. But she walked away and sought out her favourite thinking place, leaving her friend behind to sigh and watch the wedding she could not.

* * *

Hours later, Ciara realised that there was not much she could do about this—she could not kill Saraid and even wishing her ill made Ciara’s stomach hurt. So, after considering her choices for most of the afternoon, Ciara accepted that there was only one thing she could do about this.

She could wait for her chance to love Tavis and to gain his love.

She could wait.

And so she did.

In spite of his marriage, Tavis still welcomed her company and their unusual friendship continued. As she gained in years and in knowledge, she was present many times when Tavis would report to her stepfather, the clan’s Peacemaker, after carrying out some task for him. Tavis walked her back to her family’s cottage after one such journey and Ciara tried to show what she’d learned only that week.

‘Cogito, ergo sum,’ she said with confidence. Latin was one of the languages she loved and she was, as her tutor had told her parents, quite proficient in it. She waited for Tavis to react, but he simply laughed and shrugged.

‘I do not ken Latin,’ Tavis said. ‘Unlike you, I have only the Gàidhlig and some Scots. Oh, and a bit of the English.’ From his tone, she did not think him insulted by her knowledge or embarrassed by his lack of it.

‘I could teach you some of the words,’ she offered. ‘Or to read.’ She was his friend and she wanted to help him however she could. Even now at ten-and-three years, she could at least do that for him.

‘There are other ways you should be spending your time, lass,’ he said, winking at her as he spoke.

Her mother had been speaking, or rather complaining, to him again. She sighed and looked away. Most likely bemoaning that she did not take her needlework as seriously as she did her study of languages or numbers or … well, not seriously at all.

‘I hate needlework,’ she said, crossing her arms over her chest and lifting her chin. Surely he would not take her mother’s side of it?
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