The numbing sensation spread up her tired arms, forcing a decision.
    She couldn’t kill him. Even were they fated to be bitter enemies, to hate each other into eternity, she needed him somewhere out there to do just that. He needed her too. His dark gaze penetrated deep, almost to her soul, telling her all she needed to know.
    Krayne would never truly harm her.
    He would never take her life.
    Of that she was certain.
    Watching her tip the blade point into the ground and angle the hilt toward him, Krayne felt every bit the arrogant bastard he’d been accused of. He’d been driven by anger, not the urge to gloat, but still he’d known the lass never stood a chance of handling a broadsword. He made a silent vow there and then: I’ll fashion a weapon she can master and, by God, I’ll teach her ta use it even if I have ta ride out ta Spedlin ta do so.
    He crossed the distance and spread his fingers over her hand as he reached for his sword. As he moved in to the fresh scent of her skin, he couldn’t stop the promises whispering in his blood: mine. All mine.
    Amber went still as the heat from his hand seemed to seep into her skin. The thought of resistance was too enormous to contemplate. He brought his head down with one last step toward her, the movement deliberately slow, and a thread of excitement trembled along her spine. His scent infused her. His sun-bronzed body, corded with muscle and brimming with potency, was a lodestone to her desire.
    Her hands went out, her fingertips pressed to his chest as he came closer and closer. Her lips parted to receive him. At the last possible moment he swept past and pressed his cheek to hers.
    “Ye’ll not spread yer legs fer another man until I’m done with ye,” he whispered fiercely.
    The spell broke.
    Amber jerked her hand free and stood back on shaky legs. Something burned in the recessed shadows of his gaze. Desire? Possession? Madness? Anger fuelled the devastation coiling in her belly like a white-hot snake. She curled her fists, lest the urge to strike him overwhelmed her. “How dare you?”
    “How dare I?” He sheathed his sword with measured slowness. When he spoke, there was an emptiness to his tone. “Tell me, did ye cry out in disgust or pleasure when Red John rammed himself inta—” He cut off as her flat palm struck his cheek.
    Amber kept her eyes on him. She was glad she’d slapped him and wouldn’t cower at his retaliation. He did nothing. She could read nothing from his blank gaze. “Why don’t you ask him?” she bit out, wishing she had the power to hurt this man.
    “Aye, I will.” With that, Krayne turned away to fetch his horse. “I shall enjoy picking the answers from his entrails as I gut the man fer incompetence.”
    Amber’s stomach heaved.
    “Come.” He mounted and walked his horse over to her. “I’ve dallied overlong.”
    Guilt stuck her feet to the ground. Poor Red John had suffered enough at her hands. She lifted her gaze to his. “Leave him be. Red John has naught to tell you.”
    Krayne bent low to grab her chin. “We’ll see.” He held her a moment, then pushed her away.
    “Do not harm him, I beg of you.”
    A scowl blackened his brow. “He touched ye.”
    The simple condemnation flustered her. Red John had failed in his duty, allowed himself to be distracted by lust, and for that fault Krayne would…what? Surely not kill the man?
    “I stole his clothes and horse and pride, and gave him naught in return. If anyone should be punished, ’tis me. Red John has already paid dearly.”
    “He told me ye seduced him,” Krayne said calmly.
    Amber worried her lower lip with small white teeth. Dear Lord, was there nothing Red John hadn’t shared with his laird? “The suggestion of seduction is almost as powerful as the act itself. I convinced him to cool his ardour with a swim in the river lest he be too eager and—”
    “Naked?” Krayne bit out. God help him, he could no longer maintain this indifference and he

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