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Publisher: Amber Quill Press

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Genre: Paranormal Romance

Ebook ISBN#: 1-59279-324-X

Paperback ISBN#:  1-59279-807-1

Pages:  474

“If yer ready to take a bath now, the others are gone,” Darian declared, silently slipping up behind her.

Cheyenne nearly jumped out of her skin. She whipped around, ready to give him a verbal what-for when she suddenly found herself staring at the most glorious sight she’d ever laid eyes on. An involuntary shudder passed through her body as his image filled her vision, becoming the only tangible object occupying her conscious mind.

The sun was beginning to set, radiating an orange glow to the world around her. Its long rays stretched across the ground, seemingly gripping with all their might as though unwilling to let go of the day. And Darian was standing directly in their path, illuminated in a brilliant, ocherous haze.

Flaming shards from the dying sunlight cast highlights through his thick hair. The evening wind spirited the amber tresses, gently blowing them around his head and making them come to life in a splendid, flaming aura. He truly looked like a fiery Greek God.

His wide chest seemed even wider with dark shadows lengthening across its expanse. Cheyenne imagined how wonderful it might feel to run her hands along the chiseled contours of his torso, touching and caressing every inch, exploring and memorizing every crevice. She gulped when her eyes met his.

May God help me.

Her mouth opened to speak and her lips moved in some semblance of speech, but sound escaped her. All that came out was a long breath that left her lips in a gentle, whispered sigh. Never had the sight of a human torso affected her the way his did.

As though irritated by her ridiculous daze, Darian shoved a crude bar of soap and dingy cloth at her, instantly breaking the spell. “Here.” His tone had an air of impatience.

Cheyenne fumbled to regain her composure. She blinked repeatedly, trying to conceal the raging desire that likely burned in their depths. “I was waiting for you to leave,” she snapped.

Darian shrugged, as though pretending not to see her appreciative stare. “Suit yerself, but I’ve no intention of leavin’. If yer nae gonna use this…” He motioned to the soap and rag. “I will.”

He walked past her and set the supplies on a nearby rock. Then he proceeded to take off his dusty boots. He was just reaching for the leather stays on his pants when Cheyenne interrupted him.

“I’m not taking a bath in the same…pond as you.” Her voice rose an octave in alarm. “I don’t trust you with your clothes on, let alone with them off. So when you’re finished, you can leave and then I’ll—”

“When I get done, the others will be returnin’. If ya want to get cleaned up, do it now.”

With that, he yanked down his pants, ignoring her astonished gasp. Then he kicked them aside and proudly stood naked before her, with all his glorious bulging muscles, powerful limbs, and fiery hair. As though he felt no shame in his indecent action, he placed his hands on his hips in a stance of arrogance and gave her an impish grin.

“Oh! Jeez!” Cheyenne quickly turned away, her face burning with embarrassment. She couldn’t believe he’d just done that. He’d…exposed himself to her.

What a pervert!

Of course, he was rather appealing. Even though she hadn’t really seen a whole lot of naked men in her life—unless you counted her male patients, many of which had been beyond what one might consider their virile years—he seemed to be generously endowed. Actually, he was quite frightening.

My God! What am I thinking? I shouldn’t be dwelling on him or his…parts. I should be planning a means of escape. Trying to look anywhere but back at him, she contemplated the open range behind them.

Wouldn’t now be a good opportunity? She noticed Gavin was nowhere in sight. Darian would have to re-dress before coming after her, giving her a few extra moments’ head start.

Instead of reminiscing about his manhood, I should be running!

The thought was tempting. But where would she go? The forest was crawling with his henchmen. And she’d never be able to outrun him on foot, head start or not.

I’m trapped.

Cheyenne’s fists knotted into furious balls. “Why’d you do that?” she demanded, angry at God for putting her there, angry at Darian for being so damned good-looking, and even angrier at herself for noticing.

“That wasn’t very—”

“Are ya sayin’ ya didn’t enjoy it?” he returned snidely.

She grit her teeth. The defiant part of her wanted to tell him to go to hell, but she wouldn’t allow him the satisfaction of knowing he was right. Obviously, he was totally full of himself.

Well, she’d be damned if she were going to let him know how much the sight of his body had affected her. Conceited, arrogant, egotistical…there isn’t a name vile enough to describe him! She’d have to make one up later, when he wasn’t standing so close and looking so damned incredibly tempting.

Cheyenne glanced down at her pathetic and shapeless clothing. The hem of her shift barely peeked out from beneath Darian’s monstrous shirt. I do look like a rag-a-muffin and really needed a bath.  She jumped when a loud splash resounded behind her.

She wasn’t sure how long she could handle being around this man. He made her feel as if every nerve was on edge. She would no doubt come unglued if he shocked her any more than he already had.

Cheyenne was sure there were many surprises to come. Darian was unlike any man she’d ever met. Or, I dare say, ever will again.

“If I promise nae to look, will ya come in?” His deep voice was tinged with a silken purr.

Cheyenne hesitantly turned around, afraid he’d be standing in the shallows, totally revealed to her. She was little disappointed when he wasn’t. Chiding herself once again for such irrational thoughts, she decided being clean was preferable to smelly.

“You have to turn around until I get in. And go over there.” She pointed to a rock laden spot in the middle of the massive pool. “If you come near me, I swear I’ll scream.”

Cheyenne snorted as she realized the irony of her claim. Like that would make a difference. He wasn’t stupid. If she screamed, then all his fellow barbarians would come running to watch him do whatever he was going to do to her. She might as well take a chance and pray he was gentleman enough to keep his word.

“Auria, auria.” Darian held his hands up in mock surrender. He waded over to the spot she’d pointed out and stood patiently with his back toward her while she undressed.

All right my ass. Cheyenne quickly pulled the chemise and shirt over her head. I don’t trust you one bit, Lord Darian of Castle Andreas. Not one little bit!

She silently slipped into the water, cringing as her feet sunk into the muddy bed. “Oh yuck.” The soft mire squished between her toes.

The bottom was deeper than expected. Within a few yards, the surface rose to just under her chin. “Ok, I’m in. But you stay over there!”

Darian turned to face her, a mischievous grin contorting his handsome features. “Well, ya see,” he began, slowly moving in her direction. “This poses a problem.”

Cheyenne stiffly held her ground. Panic began settling in her limbs and she felt an almost overwhelming urge to bolt. “Darian, I’m warning you. If you come any closer, I’m going to scream.”

“I dinna think ya want to do that. If ya scream, the others will come runnin’, an’ yer quite naked. I’m sure they willna mind, but I really hate to share.”

He was only a few feet away from her now, and steadily closing in. The cool water lapped at his ribs as he advanced. “Besides, I have this.” He held up the soap.

Cheyenne’s breath escaped in one big, relieved whoosh. Keeping one arm and hand protectively draped across her breasts, she cautiously held out the other for the soap. She knew it was only a matter of time before he tired of toying with her and this little game turned serious.

Perhaps when they got to Havenwort, he’d lose interest. She just prayed she could keep her own wits about her long enough to put him off until then. She hadn’t been very successful thus far. Seemed all he had to do was give her one smoldering look and she was ready to jump into his arms.

Grinning broadly, Darian placed the bar in her waiting palm. “See, that wasn’t so bad. Was it? I haven’t ravished ya.” Cheyenne bristled at his sarcasm. Although she wasn’t normally a violent person, once again, she had to resist the urge to smack the irritating sneer off his face.

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