Colleen really hadn’t wanted to force Grant to leave his own room. She knew the impact that would have—the fact he might lose face with his people. On the other hand, she had to take drastic measures to show she was in charge if she was going to live here for so long.
Thankfully, before she had found Grant that morning, she had overheard two of his men discussing the fact that he had given her the White Room. They couldn’t believe he would do such a thing. They’d mentioned the location, and when she had time and could check it out without anyone being the wiser, she would. Though she was just as clueless as earlier as to what made the room unappealing. Then she heard Darby, who she suspected was Grant’s manservant of sorts, giving Grant an earful about that woman in his chamber.
Grant had really brought all of this upon himself. If she made him do this, maybe he’d cool his heels a bit and see that she was not the enemy and that she could change the arrangements in a few days to accommodate them both. Besides, if he was all hot alpha, his people wouldn’t say anything to his face about the room changes. Maybe behind his back, but not be up-front. He could handle it. She assumed he’d suddenly find a more suitable chamber than the one he had planned for her to use that they probably believed was haunted. She couldn’t imagine what else could be wrong with it.
Before she left the study, Darby blocked her exit.
“Pardon the interruption, my laird,” Darby said over her head, preventing her from leaving, “but Laird Borthwick is here to see the lady.”
That gave her a little thrill of expectation. Archibald Borthwick had been waiting for a friend to arrive at the airport, but he’d been delayed several hours and Archibald had started a conversation with her, welcoming her to Scotland with such friendliness that she had admired him for it. She hadn’t expected him to see her so soon, or here like this without calling first. He’d offered to buy her lunch and to drive her from the airport to Farraige Castle, but she’d already rented a car and was dying to see her castle and what Grant intended to do when she arrived. But what a pleasant surprise to see Laird Borthwick now, and a welcome break from dealing with Grant.
“Borthwick is here, is he?” Grant started to leave the study in a gruff manner, acting as though he intended to throw the man out.
Intent on stopping him, Colleen quickly seized his arm. His hot, hard, bare, muscular arm.
Their gazes instantly collided. The astonished look he gave her amused her. She was certain no one grabbed him and stayed him like that. She was used to stopping her cousins in such a manner if she felt the need. She hadn’t thought anything of it. Just a natural reaction on her part.
Grant wasn’t anything like her cousins. He wasn’t a beta. He was a warrior from a long line of warriors. And he looked at her like he wasn’t sure what to do with her. Thrash her or…well, thrash her.
“I’ll speak with him,” she said to Darby as if Grant had no business making such a decision. Which he didn’t.
Darby looked from her to Grant’s arm, and she quickly released Grant, the contact making her think of manhandling him for other reasons. Like wrestling him to the ground in play, except she was not thinking in terms of playing—really. Why her thoughts turned so wicked when she was with him, or…not with him, she wasn’t sure. Maybe it was because he wore that sexy kilt again. Bare legs and feet this time and, of course, the bare chest, though his skin was now clean of oil. That made her think of how much she’d love to oil him down again—until he spoke and got her mind back on track where it needed to be.
“He is not one to trifle with,” Grant said, barely suppressing a growl and not believing the lass was interested in meeting with the man.
When Colleen had seized his arm to stop him from confronting Borthwick and tossing him off the premises, Grant immediately saw a flicker of a smile on Darby’s lips. The man was the most serious of wolves. He rarely smiled, though he was a happy sort. He just didn’t wear his expressions for all to see. So when the lass grabbed Grant, he was surprised to see Darby’s reaction. But no more so than Grant himself was shocked at the lass’s action.
He should have been angry with her, but instead, her touch made him think of more carnal pursuits. He’d never had a woman treat him in such a manner. He instantly had the notion of throwing her over his shoulder and marching up the stairs to his bedchamber, where he would have no interruptions while they continued to iron out the details of her stay. Thinking of tossing her on his bed brought to mind how he’d been with her in that same bed earlier.
Which is why he’d left the bed so quickly. No sane, naked man could sleep with an appealing, nude she-wolf and not want to do much more than just sleep.
“Your family and mine have always been at odds with those of the Borthwick wolf pack,” Grant informed her. Didn’t she know anything about her family’s history?
“Well, maybe it’s time to bury the hatchet,” she said, sounding like that would be an easy task.
“Over my dead body,” Grant said.
She frowned at Grant, as if she hadn’t expected him to be so vehemently opposed. “I’ll see him.”
And with that, Colleen brushed her breasts—her heavenly, very appealing breasts covered in the softest sweater—against his naked chest as she squeezed by him and Darby. She left the study as Darby gave Grant a raised-brow look, as if inquiring what Grant intended to do about the out-of-control American she-wolf.
Damned if Grant knew. He hadn’t won one battle with her yet. He and Darby quickly left the study to catch up to the lass.
In the front entryway to the castle stood both Enrick and Lachlan, arms folded across their chests, not allowing Archibald Borthwick to go any farther. Normally, they would have taken a visitor to the sitting room to wait for an audience with Grant.
As much as they all hated the man, they wouldn’t let him go anywhere until Grant said so. Unfortunately, the lass was the one who would have the final say this time.
Wearing black dress pants and a pin-striped shirt, Archibald appeared to be on a date. Not to mention that his blond hair looked recently cut, and—Grant rubbed his own whiskery chin—he’d had a fresh shave. To Grant’s consternation, Archibald’s gray eyes focused first on Colleen, as if she was leading the pack. Archibald was careful not to look her over like a hungry wolf, or he would have gotten a fist in the jaw—Grant’s fist.
The woman might be giving Grant a bountiful amount of grief, but she was his landlord and he would protect her at all costs from the avaricious advances of a wolf who was only interested in the properties she held. Even if she didn’t think she needed his protection.
Archibald’s gaze shifted to take in Grant’s appearance, including the fact he wore nothing but his kilt, his face was unshaven, and his hair was a bit unkempt. Even his brothers smiled at Grant’s current disheveled look. They, on the other hand, were both dressed in jeans and sweaters, freshly shaved, and much more presentable. Damn it to hell.
“May we speak in the gardens?” Archibald asked, smirking at Grant but then holding Colleen’s gaze, his smile brightening. “Alone?”
Grant could not believe this. What was Borthwick up to? Not that he didn’t have a good idea. How did he know about her coming here so soon? The lass could not fall under the Highlander’s seductive charms.
“Of course. If someone would point the way,” she said.
“Darby will take you there.” Grant nearly choked on the words and then gave his faithful valet a nod.
When the pompous Borthwick left with Colleen, Enrick said, “She is not what I expected.”
“After speaking with Ian’s brother Duncan about his American mate and hearing what Ian has gone through with his, she is just what I thought she’d be like. Their brother Cearnach is too newly mated and wouldn’t reveal all the trouble he’s had with his mate. But I’m certain it was considerable if we can judge her based on the others.” Grant grunted. “What is Borthwick about?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Enrick said, looking cross. “He is intent on wooing the lass. Just think, if he succeeds and ends up mating her, what will happen then?”
“I will kill him first,” Grant said.
“Aye. But if you don’t, you can see how, as her mate, he could end up taking charge of the castle. What if he lived here and began giving us orders?”
“I would kill him,” Grant repeated.
“Aye. But if you couldn’t, you know what he would be like. If he mated her, he’d install his own family in all the key positions. They could make life miserable for us. And we have no place else to call home,” Enrick said.
“Aye,” Lachlan said. “Which means you have to win her over first. Don’t you see?”
Grant wasn’t about to play some game with the lass. Not that he wasn’t interested in her in a purely physical way—how could any wolf not be? And he couldn’t help but admire her for her feistiness. But that wasn’t the role he was meant to play. She would return to America, sooner rather than later, and he had to get things back on their regular schedule.
“Unless you want me to try my hand at it,” Lachlan offered in as sincere a way as possible, though Grant swore he heard a hint of humor in his brother’s tone of voice.
He shook his head at his youngest brother and walked into the kitchen to see what was transpiring between the lass and Archibald before they disappeared into the gardens. His brothers joined him and they peered out the window. Colleen smiled sweetly and promptly dismissed Darby. He didn’t look happy and quickly glanced back at the keep as if checking whether Grant watched and approved. Grant did not approve, but the woman was not in need of a chaperone, as much as he wanted to ensure she had one with the likes of Archibald on the prowl.
Darby stood at the entrance of the gardens, looking perplexed.
A low mist cloaked the area in a film of white, and Colleen and Archibald laughed as they entered the gardens and disappeared from the brothers’ view.
“You are suggesting I act in a romantic way toward the lass?” Grant had no intention of tricking the she-wolf into believing he was interested in her as a mate prospect. He certainly couldn’t do it for a year.
“You’re not seeing anyone else at the moment, which would be your only obstacle. And I assume the lass is not with anyone, either. You might even find you like her,” Enrick said. “She’s good-natured as far as not getting upset about our charade yesterday. You don’t have to really mate her, just act attracted enough that she gives up the notion of being fascinated with anyone else.”
“It’s either that or Borthwick attempts to make some inroads with her, and if he does, we’re in trouble. By the way, what will you do about the sleeping arrangements?” Lachlan asked. “I understand she was in your bed already. Sounds like a start to me.”
Grant figured he might as well be up front with his brothers. They’d know what went on soon enough. “She has decided she wants to stay in the lady’s chamber.”
The brothers first looked a little surprised, then both grinned at him.
In absolute exasperation, Grant let out his breath. “She wants me to sleep elsewhere.”
Neither of his brothers said anything as that bit of information sank in, and then they had the audacity to laugh!
When they saw Grant’s deadly serious expression, Enrick said, “Seriously? I thought you were sharing the chambers with the lass.” He shook his head. “All the more reason to get in her good graces. Where will you sleep? Surely you don’t mean to oust anyone out of their own rooms.”
“I don’t. I’d never do that to any of our people.”
“I suspect someone might offer for you to take his chamber,” Lachlan said.
“And have to sleep in the White Room instead?” Grant shook his head.
The brothers laughed again.
“You won’t sleep in the White Room, will you?” Lachlan asked.
“Until the spare connecting chambers on the third floor are painted, I will,” Grant said.
How could his plans have been so disrupted by one little American lass, when he thought he had this well under control?