Excerpt: Wild Angel
Book One: The O’Byrne Brides
“Where is he?”
“Taig O’Nolan, woman!”
“Why, in the hall with you…isn’t he?”
Ronan’s fierce relief was short-lived as fury swept him. “No! He never returned!”
Triona gasped as Ronan was beside the bed in two strides. Suddenly she was wrenched from beneath the covers to her knees, Ronan’s fingers biting cruelly into her arms.
“I said the O’Nolan never returned,” he repeated, his voice ominously low. “You will tell me what happened from the moment you left the hall, Triona.” He gave her a rude shake. “Do you hear me?”
“Something did or the O’Nolan would have come back to the hall. Did he try to kiss you? Is that what happened? He tried to kiss you and you somehow retaliated, knocked him over the head, kicked him, punched him—”
“Why do you care if he kissed me?” Triona demanded, growing furious at his rough handling. “That’s what you would have wanted him to do, isn’t it?”
“I could not care a whit if he did, I just want to know what happened afterward—”
“Damn you, O’Byrne! I’ve never been kissed so obviously that didn’t happen, or I’m sure I would have known about it!”
Her outburst hung in the air as the room fell silent, Ronan’s eyes narrowing in disbelief.
“You’ve never been kissed?”
The huskiness of his voice sent shivers spiraling from her stomach to her toes. Suddenly acutely aware of how closely he held her, his silvery eyes blazing into hers, Triona found she had only a bare whisper of voice to answer.
His lips came down upon hers before she could pull away, Ronan’s arms enveloping her so tightly that she feared for a fleeting moment she might be crushed. But her fear disappeared when his mouth began moving over hers, slowly at first as if sampling the taste of her, savoring the warmth of her, the feel of her…then more hungrily as if he liked very much what he’d found and meant to devour her.
And she was certain she was being devoured when his tongue suddenly swept deep into her mouth, one hand plunging through her hair to tilt back her head while the other drew her that much closer…so close she could feel his heartbeat thundering against her breast. Or was it hers to match the blood pounding in her ears?
Within an instant, the sound had grown to a deafening roar, her fingers clutching wildly at his tunic as a raging heat suddenly engulfed her from head to toe. Yet no sooner had her tongue begun to spar with his in a thrilling dance that sent her senses spinning and her insides melting then she heard him groan, his body tensing.
“By God, woman, if you’d been kissed before you would have saved me a lot of trouble.”
Triona’s eyes shot open as Ronan lifted his head away from hers though he still held her tightly around the waist…as if reluctant to let her go. But when he spoke again his voice was no longer husky.
“I’d wager if you’d known how much you would like a man’s touch, you would have married long ago.”
She slapped him across the face almost before she was aware she’d raised her hand. Her body trembled in outrage and chagrin that she could have so wantonly lost all control of herself.
“Is that the kind of retaliation you meant, O’Byrne? A blow? Or perhaps something harsher?”
He dodged to the side before her doubled fist could slam into his stomach, catching her as she almost toppled forward from the bed. In the next moment, her arms were pinned painfully behind her back, his face only inches from her own.
“You will tell me what happened to the O’Nolan…”
“I don’t know!” Triona cried, tears smarting her eyes from how fiercely he held her. “When I saw him last he was walking back to the hall with Aud!”
“Aud? You set your maid to do your devious bidding?”
“Of course not! He seemed to have taken a liking to her after he told me he didn’t want to marry me.”
Ronan released her so suddenly that she fell back onto the mattress, almost landing on Maeve who screeched and jumped to the floor. Conn had long since risen to his feet, his big brown eyes looking uncertainly from Ronan to Triona as he began to whine.
“Now you’ve upset everybody!” she blurted, tears to her dismay tumbling down her cheeks. “Why don’t you just leave—”
“Not until I find out why you’ve concocted such a lie.”
“It’s no lie! Find the O’Nolan and ask him! He told me that he wasn’t going to stand in your way…that he could see plainly that you wanted me for yourself. I tried to tell him he was wrong…and he even said that you’ve long told him you’ve no time for a wife—”
“Aye, and I meant it,” Ronan cut in, more deeply stung by Triona’s tears than he’d ever admit. “I don’t want you. I don’t want anybody! The only thing I want is vengeance…vengeance and if God is merciful, some peace.”
He stopped as his throat tightened, realizing he had given voice to things never before said. Without another word he headed for the door, not surprised when Triona shouted after him, her voice strangely ragged, “I don’t want you either, O’Byrne! You’re the last man I’d ever think to wed!”
“You will wed, Triona. That I promise.” Ronan swallowed hard against long pent-up emotion that threatened to overcome him as he faced her from the doorway. “And rest assured, it won’t be me. When I convince the O’Nolan of that, you’ll be journeying to Carlow as his bride.”
He ducked out, slamming the door behind him just as a pillow came hurtling through the air.