Chapter One

Ian McCown sat, gazing out the mammoth windows in the study of his home. His mind should be on the account ledgers on his desk laid out before him.

The man saw none of the stylish beauty of the lavish gardens stretching out, with the
glorious profusion of color, acre upon acre, continuing to the very edge of the large lake
upon which Ian used to spend his summers as a boy.

He was no longer a boy. His thoughts were that of a man. Very much so.

He should have taken her that night on the beach! To hell with propriety, to hell with her brother, to hell with HER! DAMN THE WOMAN!

Why could he not get her out of his mind? Ian ran an impatient hand through the dark locks of his unruly hair. His mother was already complaining about how 'disruptive' his look had become. His appearance was the last thing on his mind these days, to be truthful.

His thoughts returned full force to the previous subject, even though he had attempted, once again, to concentrate on his work.

'Take her?' the man muttered irritably, grimacing his doubt at that statement, shifting about anxiously in the plush leather of his office chair. He would not have to 'take' her. He could have convinced her to his way of thinking. What man could not.

Hell..she was a bloody virgin.

What had he been thinking?

If he had trusted his instincts and had the little bitch, he would not be in the situation
he now found himself in.

He could have moved on- like before... always, as before.

No woman was worth all this... insanity.

He ran his hand through his dark thick hair yet again, in an agitated manner, his mood certainly
no better for his ramblings.

Ian looked at the ledger, seeing the numbers but not able to concentrate on them...
She had fantastic breasts.

He had wanted desperately to touch them.. to suckle them..
He would wager they would have tasted sweet... sweet and warm and...


He felt his cock lengthen with longing, closing his eyes for a long beat, willing the sensation aside.

He was more disciplined than this!

He commanded himself to focus on the work he had to accomplish this day, and for a spell, he accomplished his goal, breathing easier, settling into the task with a relish.

Amber... they were... amber.

He had been able to glimpse the very beginning of the dark circles surrounding her nipples that night at the Inn, as she lay next to him in bed.

The pert little bud had strained so enticingly against the fabric of her dress. His hand
had itched to reach.. touch..fondle..

God—why had he not lifted her skirts? He could almost feel the hot, wet cavern as he
moved inch by inch into her. He would have been patient... ever so gentle.

He would not have hurt her. There was nothing inside of him that wished her harm.

Ian's mood dropped drastically.

The bitch!

He wanted to kill her! To strangle her with his bare hands! He groaned lowly, sighing mentally.

He had to stop this. He had to stop thinking about her!

He had to get his life back to the way it was.. before...

Before he had met her.

He must halt this ridiculous obsession.

The man dropped his head into his hands, palms flat against his eye sockets. A slight
thud pounded behind the surface. He rubbed methodically, soothing the dull ache.

He dreamed of her last night.. again. Erotic, sensual...disturbing dreams. Dreams from
which he awoke, a fine sheen of perspiration over his entire body, his loins aching with
unfulfilled.. need.

Watching her ride that bloody horse.

He had never had a woman that way. The thought never having entered his mind.. until..
What would it be like? Out in the open, where anyone might happen upon them. To be
one with nature, astride a powerful beast, Katlyn sitting astride his thighs.

Ian closed his eyes and wiped the back of his hand across his upper lip. Was it hot in

Would she entertain such a notion? What decent woman would? What decent man would ask it?
Still, the thought of doing it to her, of "doing" her, period. Made his mouth water
and his heart pound and his blood heat.

He had had women before. Many women. More beautiful, sophisticated ones.

What the hell was wrong with him?

"What the hell has you so out-of-sorts these days? You are impossible to be around." Michael McCown addressed his brother, shaking Ian from his reverie.

Unlike the younger two siblings, Michael did not fear Ian's wrath.

"You have not been yourself since you returned from the Fahey place last week...if there is a problem...let me hear it. I am capable of listening, you know."

Ian stiffened, but remained silent. Damn it, his brother had been watching him, obviously. He had forgotten anyone else was in the room.

"Did something happen to upset you?" Michael was not going to allow this drop, clearly. "You might as well tell me. You will not leave this room until you do..not still standing, at least."

Ian lifted wary eyes to his older brother. "Do you want these figures by today or not?"

"What I want." Michael placed large hands on trim hips. "is for you to tell me what has you in such a pissy mood. Now..tell me." He softened. "You know you want to do so. You might even need to do so."

Ian did. God, he needed another perspective on the matter, but he was a private soul...a very private man.

"I do not judge you, Ian. I never have, nor will. If I can help..if only by listening, then..." Michael spread his hands expressively. "I am here."

Ian looked at the ledger before him then, sat the work aside. He wondered if he should voice his fears.

He debated for a long beat then blurted out... "I want something I cannot have. It is that simple." He finally found the nerve to speak.

"And...that complicated?" Michael knew his brother. "Who is it that says you cannot 'have' it?" he demanded.

"I say..." Ian snapped.

"What is it you want?" Michael was afraid he already knew, if his expression was any criteria by which to judge.

"A...woman." Ian confirmed his brother's hypothesis, feeling the weight of Michael's displeasure.

"She is married?"

"Nay." Ian answered listlessly.

"Spoken for?"

Ian lifted his gaze. "And, if she were?"

Michael thought before he answered. "Should not be too much trouble to...dissuade her suitor, I should not think."

"He is my friend..or rather, her 'brother' is my friend." Ian arose, stalking to the bar. "Her family is my concern. I...I like them. I wish their respect."

"Fahey." Michael nodded slowly, then scowled, a thought striking him. "My God!...the witch?!"

Ian shifted disgusted eyes.

"Well, I realize she is no witch..but..I am correct? It is Charles' sister that has caught your interest?"

Ian fell silent, broodingly so. Hearing the words aloud somehow made them more reprehensible.

"What of Glynnis? She is a very beautiful woman, Ian."

"Katlyn is beautiful." Ian flared unintentionally, not wishing to think upon yet another female, especially his 'Intended.'

Michael lifted his hands in the Universal sign of 'peace'. "If you say so, brother."

"I say so!" the younger man was angry for the slight suggested.

"Well..." Michael tested his brother's resolve further, just because..he could. "She has nice tits, it's true."

Ian threw the glass of whiskey with all his fury behind the gesture. "Why the bloody hell are you looking at her tits?!

Michael chuckled. "My have it bad, son..and now look, you have broken one of mother's set, she will have your ass."

"Get fucked." Ian suggested caustically.

"It appears, that is what you need, not will have it but you bed this female, hum? Will that make you feel better, then?" Michael asked soothingly.

Ian calmed his temper as best he could, still scathing from the remark Michael had offered concerning Katlyn's..assets. He returned to his brooding, happy to do so.

"How does the lady feel about you?" Michael needed the particulars.

"The way I left..she probably wishes to cut my nuts off and serve them to me on a platter."

"I like her already, still...cannot have that." Michael smiled. "You will need your nuts later on, I suspect."

"Amusing." Ian paced about the room restlessly. "Thank you for your help."

"The problem is as follows, if I understand the want this your bed..but, she is neither of our station or acceptable to mother as a prospective bride." Michael leaned on the edge of the mantel, watching Ian carefully as he spoke. "Nor to society as a whole."

"Fuck 'society!" Ian waved the issue aside.

"Yes, well..everyone seems to be getting 'fucked' today, except, the true problem is, convincing mother. She will convince society when the need arises."

"The 'problem' is..her brothers and her mother, plus the fact," Ian had tried to solve the 'problem' in his mind for days now. "We live in two separate worlds. I cannot live in hers' because of my responsibility to the family here and she will not live in mine."

"Have you asked her?"

"She is needed there. She is the only person available to attend to the villager's ailments." Ian replied.

"Then we provide another, easily solved." Michael 'solved' the problem.

"She loves her home. She would wither and die here..she is not exactly a 'people person', one might say."

"Could you live there?" the other man wanted to know.

"I have responsibilities, Michael." Ian snapped. "I cannot just leave them. What do you or the others know of the business?"

Michael rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "You have me there."

Ian reverted to his sour mood, pouring another drink.

"Are those in scarce supply?" his brother motioned to the glass.

Ian sighed, pouring Michael a seasoned whiskey, crossing to hand it over.

Michael smiled happily. "Still, we cannot have you sacrificing your happiness for the rest of us."

"Happiness," Ian scoffed. "She would most likely, murder me in my bed in less than a year, knowing her."

Michael grinned. "You are certain you like this woman, however."

"Nay, I do not 'like' her...I merely 'want' her."

"Really?" Michael mused. "You have 'wanted' others. You have not reacted like this." It was pointed out.

"I told you 'why'." Ian sighed heavily.

"Aye, you have told me."

"Do not make more of it than it is, Michael. I will get over it. I need some time, that is all." Ian sounded more certain than he felt.

"I hope that to be true, brother, I truly do." Michael finished his drink, sitting the glass aside. "Because if your mood does not improve soon. ' I' will murder you in your bed."