Highland Champion

Highland Champion by Hannah Howell

Book: Highland Champion by Hannah Howell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hannah Howell
kittens, and impulsively kissed his cheek before hurrying away again.
    Liam looked down at the two small animals that could each sit comfortably in the palm of his hand. The little white one stared at him with big blue eyes, while the silver gray one looked all around. It, too, had odd eyes, the iris encircled with a ring of color similar to his own eyes. If he were of a superstitious turn, these two would certainly send a chill through him. At the moment, however, he could almost kiss them. Maybe fate was giving him a little help in winning back Keira’s regard and trust.
    When Keira returned, he gave her back the kittens and made his way toward the burn, intending to linger in his ablutions long enough to give her a little privacy. His leg ached, but despite waking in the night with a cramp that had nearly made him bellow out in pain, he felt he had not damaged it. He had a few other aches as well, ones that strongly reminded him of the fact that he had not ridden a horse in a month and had done little long, hard riding for a long time before that.
    “Och, aye, I will make her a fine champion,” he grumbled as he finally made his way back to camp. He was in the middle of lecturing himself about how well he was healing and that he would soon be strong enough to help her when he walked by the kittens. They were greedily devouring something out of one of the bowls, and he peeked around their bent heads to see what Keira had found to feed them. Liam’s eyes widened when he realized the cats were eating the cold mutton he had packed for himself.
    “Ye gave them our mutton?” he asked as Keira walked up to stand at his side.
    “They were hungry, and I didnae think they would like oatmeal,” she replied.
    “I prefer mutton to oatmeal, too.”
    “Aye, I suspicion ye do, but ye are a big, strong mon who can do without for a wee while.”
    He frowned at her, but she paid him no heed. Liam watched her take the empty bowl away to clean and then pack it. When he looked back at the kittens, they were busy washing their paws and faces.
    “Aye, I am nay surprised ye enjoyed that. ’Twas the tenderest mutton I have e’er tasted.”
    “It certainly was tender,” Keira said when she returned to collect the kittens. “’Tis why I gave it to them. They are barely weaned, I think, and cannae eat tough meat.”
    Following her to the horses she had readied for them, Liam watched her settle the kittens into a well-padded saddle pack. “Have ye already named them?”
    “Aye—Thunder and Lightning.”
    “Verra grand names for two wee balls of fur.” Liam slowly moved toward her until he had her neatly caught between him and the horse. “Now, I have agreed to let ye take these wee beasties with us and didnae yowl too loudly when they ate my mutton. I think I deserve a wee reward for all of this forbearance I have shown.”
    “I said thank ye.”
    “Mere words. Easily said and oftimes not meant.”
    Keira knew he intended to kiss her. She should stomp hard on his feet and push him away, but she stood still when he placed his hands against her horse on either side of her. Although she was still fighting a burning jealousy over his past, a voice in her head asked why she should deny herself a little taste of what the man handed out so freely. She could still taste the kiss he had given her, and it definitely tasted like more. Keira decided the only one she would hurt by accepting a little of the delight he could give her was herself, and that was a foolish concern. Even if he had never kissed her, it would still hurt to leave him.
    She looked into his eyes and noticed that they were more blue than green again. It was sign of his desire, she realized, and she felt her blood warm in response. It might just be a man’s base hunger, the sort stirred by nearly any woman in reach, but she was still moved by it. No other man had ever looked at her in such a way. Keira cocked one brow in a silent question and challenge.
    Liam nearly

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