A big welcome to Lisa Dawn Wadler as part of her blog tour with Book Unleashed for The Draig’s Wife from Soul Mate Publishing.
but there are many reasons to marry him.
Genre: Historical Romance, Scottish Romance, Medieval Romance, Time Travel
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2017
Setup: #3 When all were afraid Declan would die from fever, Emma signed a marriage contract with him to provide safety for his young daughter, Mary. Now that he is once again healthy, Declan has to marry for real before sunset to keep his title and lands. He is attempting to sway Emma into remaining his wife, despite harsh words spoken and a lack of courtship.
Declan pulled back his shoulders and, with his head high, shifted his gaze to Cortland. “I wish to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”
Stunned to feel Cortland stiffen, she had no idea why Declan would make such a big deal about pretense. “I already agreed to keep this sham of a marriage going.” Seriously. What’s the big deal?
“The time for games has past. I need you to be my wife in all ways.” Every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention with Declan’s pronouncement.
Cortland mumbled a curse into her hair. “While I happily claim Emma as my daughter and will do so as long as I draw breath, she is nay one I can or will command. You need to convince her. Then you will need to convince me that you are worthy of her.”
Rising from her perch on his lap, Emma stared down at Cortland. The moment of a quickie divorce had slid into something rolling out of control. “What exactly are we talking about?” She asked the question, afraid she already knew the answer.
“Simply stated daughter-of-my-heart, the laird needs a true wife. Nothing short of a real marriage will keep these lands safe. The question is whether you are willing.”
“No,” Emma blurted out. There was nothing to truly ponder. Flirting and drunk nights were one thing; a real marriage crossed all barriers even after a sleepless night wondering who Declan would marry, a night she had blamed on wanting to be with Mary only.
Declan sighed wearily. “Cortland, would you please leave? I wish to speak with Emma alone.”
Pale blue eyes fixed on her. “Again, the choice is yours. I can stay or wait outside the door.” Cortland made his offer and then turned to glare at Declan.
“You can go,” Emma said. “This won’t take long.” Cortland rose and kissed her cheek. She missed whatever it was he said to Declan, her mind too busy wondering what had happened to the morning she had planned. With little grace, she fell into the chair Cortland had vacated.
Hearing the door close, Emma turned and stared at Declan as his gaze locked on hers. “The answer is still no.”
“You have nay given me a chance to speak, wife,” Declan said softly. Reaching out to take her hand, he asked, “Is the thought so terrible?”
A calloused thumb traced her knuckles, and with the simple movement, she felt her pulse beat in her neck. Disgusted by her immediate reaction, she pulled her hand away. Despite her dancing hormones, she knew their marriage was no longer a simple matter of Mary’s safety. “I signed the contract to protect Mary. This is something completely different.”
“Aye, ‘tis something different,” Declan agreed. “I have two choices this day: marry you or one of the lasses in the village. The fate of my people rests with my being wed by nightfall.”
“This isn’t my responsibility.”
Declan stared at her at denial. He leaned over the table and cupped her cheek in his hand. “I bear the responsibility but would have you as my wife.”
For just a moment, she was lost in the green gaze of his eyes and the gentleness of his touch, but she could also feel the ploy. “We can barely hold a conversation without arguing. I think I am simply in the right place at the right time.” While not completely true, over the last few days they had had plenty of non-argumentative conversations, but she knew she was convenient.
Declan released her face and laughed. “And what magic needed to happen for you to be in this place? You and I should have never met. I am centuries dead before you are even born. The fates have brought you to me.”
Emma shook her head at the ridiculous notion. “Save the sweet talk for the girl from the village. I know exactly what you need to make a real marriage. All you want is someone to bleed on your sheets. I may be stuck here in this time, but I am not here to be your sacrifice.”
He eyed her speculatively. “I was prepared to believe your claims, the ones you spoke in my bed last week. Tell me, wife, are you untouched?”
Emma scowled at him for daring to bring up the drunken night that haunted her dreams and more waking moments than she would ever admit. Again, she tried to remember exactly how that had had happened. The answer was brutal and embarrassing. A day of fear and pain, a night of too much alcohol, and a man whose kisses had been perfection. She refused to even think about his hands that knew exactly how and where to touch her.
“We can erase the regret,” Declan whispered as if he could read her mind, which was filled with images of his hands and mouth on her skin.
Hoping she only gasped from shock, she stared at the man who wore a confident grin, as if he knew she replayed the events of that night. Too bad I also remember the way he treated me when he believed Merrick’s lies. I need to be with someone who trusts me.
“What you need is a means to an end. That’s not how I plan on getting married.” Emma rose and, without a glance back, walked to the door. Knowing Declan followed, she added, “Marriage is supposed to mean something, not life and death for a clan. I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”
Her body stiffened when Declan closed in from behind and wrapped his arms around her waist. A soft and gentle voice spoke against her ear. “It could mean something between us, you ken this as do I. You understand me as few do, and see both sides of me. You stand with no fear to face the laird, and I think you enjoy my company when my duties are put aside for the day.” With a soft kiss to her hair, he said, “So marry both of us, the man and the laird.”
“The fact that you think of yourself as two separate people is not helping.” She could feel his lips upturn against her hair. Reaching down, she tried to unwrap Declan’s arms. She couldn’t think with his body pressed against her. In a flash, she had a bit more understanding of how she had wound up in his bed. Her skin tingled and craved his touch even as her mind fought the innate attraction.
He chuckled as he tightened his hold on her. “I want you to remain my wife. The marriage being made valid and public is only the beginning. My uncle will nay leave and accept defeat. For this reason, I need a wife who is sharp-witted and able to see what I miss. That you are also proven in battle and able to keep Mary safe is no small matter. My wife needs to be more than willing flesh in my bed.” Declan paused long enough to rub his nose against her hair. “Though I do want you in my bed.”
Emma gasped as Declan pressed against her and the evidence of his arousal poked against the small of her back. Attempting to squirm away and failing miserably, she finally stilled. “Considering you have had more women than I have ever met in your bed, this is hardly flattering.” Intending an insult, Emma loathed that jealousy and hurt implied in her too soft tone.
“Dinna take to heart words spoken in fever and anger. While I have been with many, you are the only one who has ever been in my bed. That has great meaning.” Emma shivered as he kissed below her ear. “I would have you in my bed, wife.”
She uttered “no,” and Declan laughed. “Our false marriage must be real. Here I stand begging you to bed me, the cruel fate of too many husbands.”
Despite the situation, Emma laughed briefly and remembered too well everything else he had said. “We both know I am not what you want in bed so don’t try to make me believe I am anything more than convenient.”
His head leaned against hers, and she felt his sigh brush against her hair. “Those were but words spoken in a jealous rage. If you recall, there was only desire in my eyes when your bare skin filled my sights and the silk of your skin met my hands.”
Silently cursing the involuntary shiver than coursed through her, Emma attempted to deny it all. “That was too much whiskey.”
Tightening his hold, Declan’s breath tickled her ear. “I am happy to prove you wrong should you agree to wed me. For a lifetime of nights, I will prove my desire for you.”
Her body was far too relaxed in Declan’s hold. Plus, the quick “no” was taking far too long. As one of his hands meandered from her hip to her waist, Emma cursed the way her breathing sped up. The fact that his had also increased bothered her. Seeking a quick exit, Emma said, “Fine, you want me in bed. That’s just not enough for me.”
She could hear the smugness in his voice that whispered against her head. “I am a wealthy laird. Anything you wish will be made yours.”
Insulted beyond belief, Emma threw her elbow into his side and broke free from the hold. Pushing him away, she turned to glare at him. “I could care less about your money. You just proved why I shouldn’t marry you. Our values don’t even come close to matching.”
With an apologetic shrug, Declan said, “Forgive me. I have little experience with women who dinna seek reward, but you ken this.” His lips twitched while one eyebrow cocked up, a look that screamed hopeful to her. “Tell me what marriage means to you.”
Emma scowled at the man who waited patiently for an answer. “Honestly, it shouldn’t be that complicated. Marriage is supposed to be about love, family, shared goals, and dreams.” Surprised to see Declan’s gaze twinkle in delight, she added, “And it’s about commitment, and I don’t think that’s one of your strengths.”
His eyes searched her face for what she assumed was any sign of deception. She took a futile step back as he closed the distance between them. “I agree with what you want. A shared vision and family we already share in wee Mary. I think we could find a path that suits us both and forms a strong bond.” Declan tilted his head to the side and ran a solitary finger down her cheek, leaving her skin crackling in its wake. “I would nay lie to you with whispered words of love, but I do carry strong affection for you, along with respect. There has never been a woman since my mother I have respected. You think I will seek other women, and you are wrong.” Declan turned her body to face the enormous bed. “If I end each day with you in my bed, I will nay want for another.” He turned her back to face him, the motion and his adamant tone leaving her dizzy. “I dinna want some lass from the village with no spirit. I happen to enjoy arguing with you and the fire that burns in your eyes. So you have no doubts, I will confess the laird also desires you above all.”
Emma smacked the arms that held her lightly. “Neither one of you is funny.”
After giving her a teasing wink, his arms tightened around her back and forced her chest against his. Her hands landed against his solid chest as she squeaked in surprise. With his soft breath tickling her lips, he said, “Marry me this day, wife.”
“No” apparently did not work with the man. Emma attempted a different avenue of retreat. “I don’t know the first thing about running a keep and taking care of a clan. You need someone who can do that. We both know I wouldn’t last five minutes alone in this time.”
“For someone so strong and able, you give voice to foolish doubt. For days, you have been handling the matters within these walls. Meggie boasts of your cunning and skill in all the tasks you have touched. Besides, you will nay be alone, you will be with me.”
Emma closed her eyes with the sincerity in his voice and hated that he had touched on her worst fear—being alone. She made no effort to pull away or protest when his lips kissed her forehead, as if he knew how exposed she felt. Damn you, Declan, for knowing that and for baiting me with it.
“Marry me this day because a small part of you wants me or you would have left long ago. Marry me, and neither one of us will ever be alone again. Be my wife in all ways.”
If she had opened her eyes, she would have seen it coming, the kiss that should have been avoided at all costs. Instead, warm lips brushed against hers and momentarily banished fears aside and replaced them with promise.
“Marry me,” Declan whispered against her lips that still waited for more soft persuasion.
Other Books by Lisa Dawn Wadler
– Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
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About Lisa Dawn Wadler