Stolen By the Scottish Rogue – Madison Faye

She belongs to another man. …I don’t care. I watch her walk along the shore towards the docks, and beyond that, the leisure yacht she’ll be married on, and my jaw clenches. My muscles tense, blood rushing through my veins as the anger simmers just under the surface. Her lily-white dress blows effortlessly in the sea breeze, whipping gently around her, swirling like mist. Today is Ailith Pembrose’s wedding day. I’m not the groom, but if we’re being honest, that isn’t actually a concern of mine. Not as my eyes lock, not as my heart beats a little faster just watching her. Not when my cock swells thick as steel under my kilt. No, I’m not the groom today, but that isn’t going to stop me. Her being betrothed to another doesn’t slow me as I start to walk, one foot in front of the other, ready to do what I know I must. I’d say I planned for this, but, that’s not true at all. I’m not a planner, just a man of action. And today, there will be action. Today, Ailith will be mine.

When I first laid eyes on her those weeks before at my good friend Hamish’s wedding, it was like the world stopped moving for a moment. It was like a stillness came over me, my entire soul locking on to her as everything else faded to nothing. My finding her was like a storm cloud racing over the horizon. And today, I’m about to crash right into her shore. I saw her. I wanted her. And I knew she’d be mine. I knew I’d launch a thousand ships for her. I knew I’d give up my titles, and my lands. I’d start a war.

I’d go back to war in the Holy Lands—a place I swore I’d never go back to—for her. I knew I’d move Heaven and storm Hell for Ailith. And now, my mind has been made up, consequences be damned. She belongs to another man, and I do. Not. Care. I wouldn’t care if her husband-to-be was the second coming Himself. I wouldn’t care if it was King Richard she was promised to, or a saint. Or the fiercest warrior to have ever lived. None of them would stop me from claiming her.

But as it happens, Lord Carlson, her betrothed, i s not the man for her, and I know she knows it too. Lord Carlson is a cruel, merciless, and vile man. I’m no prince, but I’m three times the man he is on a bad day. And like I said, it wouldn’t matter if she were marrying a King or a god. …I’d still be taking her today. I shouldn’t even be here today. I most certainly wasn’t invited. And this “plan” if you can even call my delusional spur-of-the-moment decision of action, is a plan that could get me killed. But I’ve faced far worse. I know its reckless.

I know it might even be wrong, even if Lord Carlson is a vile shell of a man. I know this could very well start a war. And I. Do. Not. Care. Because when it comes to Ailith Pembrose, nothing else matters. She will be mine. She’ll be my bride. She’ll be my everything, if I have to die trying.

But first, it’s time. I move with purpose—jaw set, hands clenched to fists, and my eyes locked onto my prize as she boards the yacht along with her friends. She belongs to another man? My eyes narrow as the grim smile spreads over my face. No, she doesn’t. Not anymore. No, she’s been mine since the moment I laid eyes on her. And today—right now, actually—I’ll be taking what’s mine. C H A P T E R 2 A IL ITH The boat sways gently under my feet, and I take a steady breath, calming my nerves. No, it’s not the ocean swell that has my nerves in knots. “Well, you look gorgeous.

” I arch a brow at Catriona in the mirror we’re standing in front of. Around us, white flowers and garland are strung around the cabin suite of the yacht—my friends’ doing in an effort to make this day remotely pleasant for me, and a gesture I’m certainly thankful for, even if it doesn’t help much. It’s like putting a ribbon on a pig, as my grandmother used to say. The flowers are lovely. The dress is gorgeous. And having my friends here is doing more to keep me from breaking down than I can even put into words. …But it doesn’t change what’s happening here today. I take another breath, trying to force a smile to my face as I look at myself in the mirror. I’ve swallowed this pill already, now it’s just time to go through with it. No, my nerves aren’t just the normal “wedding jitters,” as my mother kept saying as she waved off my protests and concerns.

It’s that I’m about to marry a troll of a man. Lord Carlson is a business associate of my fathers. Which is basically all the information anyone might need to guess how it is I came to be betrothed to him. But aside from that, and from being three times my age, Lord Carlson is also a vile, wicked man. It’s common knowledge that he enjoys beating on his household staff. And when he’s not beating them, he’s forcing himself on the female help, and fathering bastards with them. That’s my soon-to-be husband. …Yuck. Behind me, Catriona and Rhona busy themselves smoothing out the train of my gown and fixing the wreath of flowers set atop my dark brown hair. Una presses a flagon of wine into my hands.

“Ails, marriage is…” She trails off, frowning, her mouth moving like she’s still looking for words she can’t find as she tucks her red hair behind her ear. She looks up, her lips twisting. “Sorry,” she mumbles. I smile wryly. “It’s fine, Una. It is what it is.” We can’t all be as lucky as Una. Of the four of us, myself and Rhona are in arranged marriage situations to men we don’t know or even like. Una was, but two weeks ago when she met Lord Hamish Ballentyne, the man she was to marry, on their very wedding day, something incredible happened: they fell madly and instantly in love. So, I know she wants to give me some words to help me get through this, but it’s not the same thing.

Her husband, Hamish, is everything Lord Carlson is not. He’s handsome beyond belief, and kind, and powerful, and strong. And he worships Una. …That sort of marriage is not in my future. “Well, we could always just steal this boat and sail away,” Cat says mater-of-factly. I turn, grinning at her as I take a sip of my wine “We certainly could.” Rhona rolls her eyes. “Of course, none of us know how to sail.” Cat shrugs. “How hard can it be?” I laugh, grinning at my friends.

“Thank you, you guys. For being here.” Cat scowls. “Are you really brushing off my escape plan so easily?” I sigh. “Okay, we teach ourselves to sail in the next five minutes, and then we go… where, exactly?” Cat arches a brow at Una. “Her castle. Hamish would be fine housing some fugitives, wouldn’t he?” I roll my eyes. Besides the fact that Lord Ballentyne is a guest at the very wedding that’s about to happen on the very dock we’re moored to, I’m quite sure letting a runaway bride stay at his castle would be out of the question. Even if I am one of his wife’s best friends. The lords of the highlands have a brittle truce these days, and even if Lord Carlson is a vile man, allowing the bride who ran from him to stay at his castle would almost certainly mean war for Una’s husband.

“Hey Cat?” I smile as I take my friend’s hands. “Let’s just get this over with, okay?” She scowls, but slowly, she nods. “Do you want a minute or two alone?” I turn to Rhona and nod. “Yeah, if it would be okay.” “Whatever you need,” Una says with a smile, squeezing my arm before she and the other two turn for the door. When it’s closed, I sigh the strong front I’ve been trying to put forward crumbling around me. I turn back to the mirror, and when my gaze meets my own eyes, I tremble as the thoughts I’ve been trying to hold back come swirling and rushing through my head. And no, they’re not thoughts about the imminent wedding. They’re certainly not thoughts about Lord Carlson. …They’re thoughts about him.

The wicked one. The gorgeous tempting devil himself. Lord Malcolm McAuley. I want to shake my head free of these thoughts of him, but I can’t. I’ve been trying to for two weeks, and I know I just can’t. Not after that kiss. It was wicked, and wrong. And I’ve felt like a sinner bound for the pits of Hell ever since. But I just can’t stop thinking about it. Or him.

I take a deep, shaky breath, holding my gaze in the mirror. I’m marrying Lord Carlson. “I’m marrying Lord Carlson,” I mutter out loud, as if that may force me to accept this with a little more gravity. It won’t be good, but I can make it… less bad, I suppose? It’s a life, and it is what it is. And who knows? Maybe with his interest in screwing his maids and cooks, Lord Carlson won’t have time to do so with me. I shiver, blanching at the thought I’ve done my hardest not to dwell on since I was told about this marriage—the idea of Lord Carlson taking my virginity. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to force down the queasiness. Just get through today. I take another breath, centering myself and just letting myself feel the gentle swaying of the boat. The way the water laps the sides.

The way it moves so seamless through the— I freeze. The boat isn’t just swaying, it’s moving. My heart jumps into my throat as I whirl, running for the door and bolting up the stairs to the main deck. I tumble out onto the main deck, my eyes wild and wide as I turn to see the dock festooned with white flowers and garlands fading away. Oh God…. I can see Una, Cat, and Rhona screaming and jumping up and down, along with guards, and my father, and Lord Carlson. But the boat keeps moving, sailing swiftly away from the dock. I panic, whirling, my breath catching. Am I adrift? How in the world is the boat moving so fast? The deck pitches as the boat hits a swell, and I gasp, swaying on my unsteady legs and blindly grasping at air. “You might want to hold on to something, princess.

” I shriek at the sound of the voice behind me, jumping out of my skin as I whirl to see— My heart jumps into my throat. It’s him. Standing above me on the captain’s deck overlooking the main deck, holding the wheel and smirking at me as the wind tussles his perfect hair and the sunlight glints off is wicked eyes and gorgeous smile, is none other than him. Malcolm. My jaw drops, my head spinning as I whirl. The boat pitches again, and I gasp as I reach out to grab ahold of one of the rigging ropes. My eyes dart back to him, narrowing. “What are you doing here!?” He grins wickedly, and it’s that look that sends dangerous thoughts through my head and temptation through my veins. Just like I did before, when he… when he… I swallow. When he tempted me.

“What am I doing?” he shrugs, flashing me that smug, roguish smile of his. “Sailing.” “This is Lord Carlson’s boat!” “Indeed, it is, and a fine boat it is.” He sighs, turning to gaze out over the water dramatically. “Too bad I’m reasonably sure he can’t sail.” “He—” I sputter, staring at him. “Are you stealing it?” Malcolm turns back to me, grinning that gorgeous, tempting smile of his that sends heat through places in me it really shouldn’t. Those piercing blue eyes blaze into me, that dark, tussled hair blowing wild around his perfect face and chiseled jaw. “Stealing it?” He shrugs. “Perhaps.

Or perhaps there’s something else I’m stealing, and the boat is just part of the deal.” Those eyes burn into me, and I flush. Instantly, memories of that stolen kiss come rushing through me, and my skin tingles as I shudder. “Turn around.” Malcolm grins. “No thank you.” “Turn this boat around this instant!” He chuckles, shaking his head as we just keep sailing away from the dock. “You… you scoundrel!” I storm up the three short steps to the captain’s deck and rush at him. My fist swings at him, but he catches it easily, chuckling. I gasp as he whirls me effortlessly, spinning me and tugging me against his muscular chest as one arm wraps around me, pinning me to him.

“Why you…! Let go of me!” Something wicked shivers through me—excitement and forbidden heat blazing across my body as I twist and writhe against this huge, muscled, gorgeous, and forbidden man. “Let—” “You’re not marrying Lord Carlson,” Malcolm growls lowly into my ear, making me gasp as that deep, honeyed baritone voice rumbles through me.

.

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