Excerpt: Captive Rose

Excerpt: Captive Rose

Book Two: Captive Brides

Leila had never been this close to a man.

She could feel the warmth of his powerful body emanating through his clothes. Her nostrils flared at the scent of him…sweat and sandalwood. She did not pull away, in that spellbinding moment drawn to his heat, his smell, as inexplicably as a moth to a searing flame.

She met his eyes, seeing in those stunning cerulean depths a will as strong and determined as her own. Becoming flustered, she dropped her gaze to his mouth, watching as he moistened his lips with his tongue. Unconsciously she licked her own lips, then glanced back at his eyes as his mouth curved into the smallest of smiles. She saw a flash of humor and something else, something that sent shivers down her spine. It made her want to slap him. Hard.

But before she could, he tossed her onto the mattress. “Cover yourself.”

As Guy walked to the foot of the bed, Leila grabbed the satin spread and angrily tucked it around herself, bringing the embroidered edge up under her chin.

“Listen well, my lady,” he began in a low voice, staring into her defiant gaze. “I am no murderer. I would like to think it is the drugs speaking through your lips, but I am beginning to believe I have been misled. As I already told you, your mother claimed you wanted desperately to leave Damascus and the marriage that had been arranged for you. From your vicious display of temper, it seems that this is not the case.”

“No, it is not!” Leila declared vehemently. “And I can assure you that the drugs have sufficiently worn off so that I know this is not a nightmare, though I wish it was one! If my mother did help you, and I can’t imagine why she would have—” Leila paused, recalling like a flash Eve’s lingering melancholy, and then just as quickly brushed it off. But before she could finish, Guy broke in, his tone harsh.

“Your mother said it was your birthright that you should have a home and family in your true country, to quote her exactly. Perhaps that explains Lady Eve’s motives.”

Stunned, Leila remained silent as everything suddenly became clear in her mind. Terribly clear.

It was the marriage. It had to be. Her mother did not want her to wed Jamal.  That would account for Eve’s unhappiness during the past weeks, the haunted look in her eyes, her hesitation in sharing news of the wedding date, her tears. And now it accounted for Leila finding herself in this dreadful predicament. Well, she would not stand for it!

“Whatever my mother’s motives, she was in error,” Leila stated coldly. “I have no desire whatsoever to go to England with you or anybody else, and I certainly have no wish to allow a brother I have never known to decide my fate. Why would I possibly want to leave the country of my birth for your barbaric land? Damascus is my home. I have been very happy there. Jamal Al-Aziz is to be my husband. I demand you release me at once so I might return—”

“Your desires, wishes, and demands are of no concern to me,” Guy said with little emotion. “It is to your mother’s I have sworn.”

“What do you mean?” Leila asked, feeling apprehension at the grim set of his jaw.

“I made a vow to Lady Eve that I would see you safely to England and your brother, Roger Gervais, and so I will.”

“No,” Leila breathed, her heart beginning to race. “This cannot be happening…”

“My oath is sacred. It cannot be undone. If, when we reach England, your brother grants that you may return to Syria, then so be it. That decision is not for me to make.”

“No!” Leila cried. “You do this against my will. You are kidnapping me!”

Guy shrugged dispassionately. “Call it what you like, my lady. Tomorrow we sail for France, the first leg of our journey. I have bought you some new clothes. I will bring them to you later when you have calmed down.” His gaze fell to her beautiful breasts, for the coverlet had fallen into her lap. His desire to caress her smooth flesh was overwhelming, and he decided it was best he leave. “You certainly can’t travel like that. It will be hard enough protecting you from the shipboard rabble without you displaying yourself for all to see.”

Leila glanced down at her sheer bodice and then back at him, feeling her cheeks grow red with fury.

“For the last time, I tell you I won’t go with you—”

“And for the last time, my lady,” Guy said as he strode to the door, looking at her over his broad shoulder, “I say you will!”