The fast-fading moonlight poured over her small form. Coira dropped the fur cloak to her feet, leaving only the pale gray of her wool gown and plaid wrap. She removed the wrap. It fell, a dull shadow against the pool of fur at her ankles.
He spoke within her mind. “Coira, what are you doing?”
Coira didn’t respond but turned to face him, the fabric shuffling and twisting in the snow. She stood a distance away, but he could see the steel and determination in her gaze. He could also see the flagon of whisky clutched loosely in her hand.
He went to step forward but she shook her head. “I needed time alone. Is that too much to ask?”
William watched her newfound magic ignite, glow around her─a silver haze the color of mist and moonlight. He didn’t move but waited. “’Tis not so much to ask for, if we were not at war.”
“We are not at war, William! Are we?” Her gaze shifted, covered the sky, the land, and his face in one sweep.
Damn Ferchar for giving her that whisky. What had he hoped to accomplish? William held his ground. His words were as wrought with double meaning as hers. “We are not at war, lass. Not quite yet.”
She sipped again from the whisky. “Go to hell. Leave me be.”
But she didn’t turn away.
William decided upon logic. “You’re nearly bluttered, Coira.”
“And what of it?” She took another sip of the whisky and wiped her mouth with her sleeve, making a wide swipe with her arm. “Do I not deserve to be after all of this? After you!”
He moved with a lightning speed born of magic until he stood in front her. “You deserve a hundred flagons of whisky, if ’tis your desire after all of this, but not now.”
Head tilted back, she narrowed her eyes at him. “But now is now, is it not, William? Now is a mere day before we might die. Before war. Why do you push me away? No. Don’t answer that; you’ve your reasons, I’m sure. Perhaps you don’t want to become more attached to me before I die. Or you die!”
No more. William stopped the endless stream of words with his mouth. He pushed hard against her lips, hoping she would fight him so that he could let her know she had no choice. That he had no choice. But she didn’t. Her hands came up, encased his face, and sweetly deepened the exchange.
He’d been strong until this point. Well in control of his emotions. The urgency of her soft lips snapped his determination in half, made a mockery of his good intentions. He’d endured the horrible need and want night after night as she had, but knew Adlin was right. His final decision─if it came to it─must be for his clan, not her.
Her small hands found their way beneath his cloak, up under his tunic and stroked each muscle. She whispered, urged, pleaded. Her body quivered against his. Sharply reminded him of how she shook upon release, completion. What if she died? What if he did? William needed to feel her sleek heat once more. Groaning, he pulled Coira closer, lifted her, and walked forward until her back pressed against the flat surface of the boulder.
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