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The warrior and the widow… Egan MacBain has finally claimed the woman he's always loved—yet once lost to another man… Glenda Mackay hadn't bargained on the wild yearning to fulfill his wicked promise of the love—and the child—she aches for in the depths
of her soul.

 

 

 

His Wicked Promise

September 2000 · Avon Books
ISBN 0-3880-80587-1


medieval romance

The main characters of HIS WICKED PROMISE, Egan and Glenda, first appear in HIS WICKED WAYS. Egan is the best friend of Cameron from WAYS, and Glenda is the widow of Cameron's brother.

I really hadn't planned on writing a spin-off of HIS WICKED WAYS, but both Egan and Glenda were such tortured characters that I just couldn't leave them dangling. I just HAD to give them a happy ending. I'd actually finished writing HIS WICKED WAYS and proposed the idea of a spin-off to my editor, who liked the idea. I had to go back and do some fine-tuning to set up Egan and Glenda's story.

So, HIS WICKED PROMISE is Book #2 in a mini-series. First in the series is HIS WICKED WAYS. It's my third book set in Scotland.

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His Wicked PromiseShaggy black brows arose. "Is there something you would like to discuss with me?"

"Aye, there is." His invitation was just what she needed, yet somehow the words she sought eluded her.

"Then do not be reticent. We've known each other for years now. There should be no secrets between us."

"And indeed 'twould seem there are none." At last she drew upon some wellspring of courage inside her. "I must know, Egan. That morning at the loch. You--you saw me, didn't you?"

"The loch? I know not what you mean." He chose to deliberately misunderstand. Even as he regarded her with a decided gleam in his eyes, she fixed him with a glare.

"I think you do. You saw me" --she floundered-- "you saw me . . . "

"Naked?"

"Oh, God." She looked away. The breath she drew was deep and ragged. "You did, didn't you?"

Her dismay made the veriest smile curl his lips. "What if I did? Is that so terrible?"

Her eyes swung back to him. "You said you did not!"

"Nay." His tone was smooth. "I told you I had only just arrived." His eyes snared hers. "Would that I could see you so again," he said softly.

Glenda felt her face grow hot. "Do not say such things!"

"Why not?"

"Because it is wrong."

"Why is it wrong?" His smile vanished. "You are free," he pointed out. "So am I."

"I am not free. I am . . . " She stopped short.

"A widow," he finished for her. "You are no longer married, Glenda."

"Oh, but I am. I am wed in my heart as surely as the day I left here a bride. And that is all that matters." If she was deliberately cruel, she couldn't help it. Whatever it was that was happening between them, it must end!

Only now it was his turn to be deliberately cruel. "Is it? I find I am curious, Glenda. You and Niall were wed for many years, and now that he is gone, surely the nights are endless. Do you not feel very alone?"

Glenda started. What was this? How could he know the heartache she felt without Niall? The way the nights stretched long and lonely and empty--especially those nights since Daniel's wedding. For the space of a heartbeat, it was as if he delved deep inside her mind, her very heart.

She drew herself up to her full height. "What would you know of it? You are not married."

"Nay, I am not. But that does not mean I will never wed. That does not mean I don't harbor the same desires as other men."

medieval romanceGlenda's chin came up. "Aye, I know about men's desire," she said stiffly. "I know about your desires. Indeed, we have known each other for many years. And in those years, you've hardly led a celibate life, have you?" She tapped a finger against her lips and pretended to consider. "Ah, I have it! I believe Anna was the first I knew of. Then there was Mary, and Louise--she was madly in love with you, you know. Ah, and the most recent . . . Patsy. You were with her the night of Daniel's wedding, were you not?"

Egan's teeth came together hard. He stared at her, wondering how the devil he was supposed to respond. He disliked knowing that she was aware he'd been with other women. God's teeth, but it made no sense that he should feel guilty! He owed her no loyalty. He owed her nothing, for she had been another man's wife.

Not his.

Nay, he'd not been celibate. But if he had not, it was because he'd had to find a way to somehow forget about her--if only for a time! But he couldn't tell her that! Instead he said only, "I am not a monk, nor did I ever pretend to be."

The sound she made low in her throat made it abundantly clear she quite agreed. With a swirl of her skirts, she whirled and started toward the oaken door.

Egan was already there, planted squarely before her. "Do not be so hasty, lass. It occurs to me perhaps we should settle this."

Glenda looked from him to the door. "What are you doing, Egan?"

"Ah, I think you know very well what I'm doing." Softly, deliberately, he said, "There is much between us. Perhaps we should tend to it here and now."

Panic wedged deep in her breast. "There is nothing between us." Her gaze flitted away. Her voice sounded nothing at all like her own. She had to force the words past the dryness in her throat. "I feel nothing for you, Egan, save what I have ever felt these many years."

"And what is that? I confess, I'm eager to hear."

His directness took her by surprise. From somewhere she summoned the courage to meet his gaze anew. "I--I admired you," she stated without thinking.

His eyes began to gleam. "Ah. So you admired me."

Oh, how dare he appear so pleased! "Not in that way!"

"In what way then?" He remained undaunted.

Not so with Glenda. "You--you are a man of honor. A man of pride and respect, of strength and valor. I-I admired that," she said breathlessly. "Indeed, I still do."

"And that is all?"

Her pulse skidded. In truth, she'd revealed far more than she'd meant to. "Aye," she said unsteadily, somehow managing to sound more desperate than forceful. "What more did you expect?"

He did not answer, not directly. "This journey," he said softly. "The two of us alone" --he shook his head-- "'tis not the same as before, Glenda."

There was that in his tone which made her heart begin to hammer . . . that . . . and the way he looked at her.

"I know not what you mean." Her mouth was so dry she could barely speak.

His Wicked Promise"And I think you do. I know you fight it, lass. Indeed, I have fought it, too."

Damn him, she thought. Damn him! He was so sure of himself, while she felt scattered to the winds of a storm. Nor could she meet his eyes. The air was suddenly close and heated and intense. He was so intense. Her gaze slipped to his mouth . . . ah, dangerous territory, that! Her regard finally settled on the bronzed column of his throat.

"You are wrong, Egan. There is nothing between us." She despised herself, for now her denial was even weaker than before.

He stepped close, so close her breasts brushed the front of his tunic. "Of a sudden you are reluctant to look me in the eye," he observed. "Indeed, if that is true, then look me in the eye and tell me so."

Egan saw the way she swallowed, sensed her struggle as she finally lifted her gaze. And as their eyes tangled, he saw the leap of fear, heard the labor of her breath, felt the rise and fall of her breasts . . . and knew her anxious panic.

Dear God, was he elated? Or as terrified as she was?

For Egan had just discovered that she could not tell him, would not tell him . . . for it was not true. He'd wondered if she felt what he did, and now he knew. Oh, she could talk of honor and respect and admiration, but he was not fooled. She'd not be so skittish if there was nothing, as she claimed so righteously.

It was too soon. Deep in his soul, he knew it. But if he could not have her lips, he would at least have this. He raised a hand, intending to trace the delicate line of her mouth, just for an instant.

Her lashes fell, hiding from him what he craved so desperately. She turned her head away in the heartbeat before he would have touched her.

"Do not, Egan. I beg of you, do not."

Her voice was so low he had to strain to catch the words. Her plea hung between them, like stale smoke in the air.

Egan's hand dropped slowly to his side. He stared at her, while she stared into the shadows across the room. Time stretched into eternity. Neither of them moved.

It was Glenda who broke the tense, ringing silence. "I'll see that there is food ready when you leave in the morn."

His jaw tensed. "I'll not be leaving."

Her eyes flashed to his. "I beg your pardon?"

"I'll not be leaving in the morn," he reiterated coolly.

A moment's hesitation. Though spite was not his way, a part of him relished her uncertainty.

"What," she said faintly. "The next day then?"

"Nay. Not then or the day after, or even the day after that."

His coolness rekindled her fire. "Explain yourself, if you please."

His Wicked Promise"Certainly. Cameron charged me with your care--with your protection--and I will see to it."

"There is no need."

"There is every need, since I was--"

"Aye, I know! Charged with my care! But I now discharge you of that obligation."

"My obligation was to Cameron, not you, Glenda. Even were it not so, I have an obligation to myself to see that you are safe."

"I am quite safe, and I am hardly alone. I have Bernard and Milburn, and Nessa and Jeannine."

"Nonetheless, I am staying."

Her mouth opened and closed. Egan was not about to back down, and perhaps she knew it. Still, it seemed she would have the last word.

"One night, Egan. You may stay this one night, and that is all."

She swept past him with nary a glance, the set of her small shoulders stiff with proud defiance. Egan waited until the echo of her footsteps had faded, then finally moved to close the door.

Did she truly think he would leave her in this place, such as it was? Why, the very idea was laughable!

I have Bernard and Milburn, and Nessa and Jeannine.

Egan shook his head in amazement. Did she really believe those four would insure her safety? A woman who was half crippled and another who was daft! A man who was half-blind and deaf and would not hear if an entire army crashed through the gates--and another who apparently was as fond of bathing in his ale as drinking it!

And did she truly think there was nothing between them?

He could not help but shake his head in disbelief. We shall see, sweet lady, he thought to himself. We shall see.


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