The macgregor groom, p.24
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       The MacGregor Groom, p.24

         Part #8 of The MacGregors series by Nora Roberts
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  she did. Violence was a new and unstable emotion rushing through her. “I’ve never hit anyone in my life, but boy, I could. I wonder how it would feel. Damn it, don’t touch me,” she warned when she sensed him moving in her direction. “Or I’ll find out how it feels.”

  Since he’d only heard her use the mildest oaths a handful of times since he’d met her, it became clear just how angry she was. “Naomi—”

  She whirled back before he could get another word out. “You must think I’m a moron.”

  “Of course I don’t. I only—”

  “A poor, pitiful excuse for a female who can’t trust her own mind, her own heart.” She stalked around the room, her movements as stormy as her eyes. “I suppose the only way I’d know if I loved you was to have wild sex with a dozen other men first. Or two dozen? What number did you have in mind?”

  “I don’t want you having sex with anyone!”

  “Oh, that’s right. It’s not about sex. Well, let me get something to write on and you can explain to me exactly how many romantic dinners, late night dates, drives in the country or whatever I’m to have before I can be considered competent enough to decide what to think and feel.”

  She’d actually opened her briefcase and taken out a pad before his temper frayed the rest of the way. “Okay, that’s it. That’s enough.” He snatched the pad out of her hand, heaved it. “I don’t give a damn what’s fair to you or what isn’t. I’m not spending the next six months waiting until you’ve had your little fling.”

  “Six months. Was that the cutoff? You certainly had it all worked out, didn’t you?” Joy was bubbling up along with the fury. The combination made her feel dizzy. And it made her feel powerful. “Well, maybe I’ll see you in April then.”

  She started for the door, intending to fling it wide. And ended up with her back against it and Ian’s furious face close to hers.

  She’d done that, she thought with a rush of wonder and delight as they glared at each other. She’d made him so angry he was snarling. She’d made him love her until he was all but incoherent with it.

  As clumsy as she was, she realized. How perfectly wonderful.

  And she’d done it by doing nothing more than being who she was.

  “I said forget it.” He grasped her hand. “You can just forget all of it. I’m not living without you. Not for six months, not for six damn hours. You’re going to marry me, and if you figure out later it moved along a little too fast for you, that’ll be your hard luck.”

  “All right, fine.”

  “And you might as well pack your things right now, because—”

  His mouth opened and closed, giving her the first glimpse of what it was like to completely stun Ian MacGregor. It was, she decided, a marvelous feeling.

  “All right, fine?” he managed.

  “Yes.” Riding on the new crest of power, she grabbed him by the lapels. “You idiot.” And pulled his mouth down to hers.

  He reeled with the impact, snatching her up, holding her hard against him so their hearts beat strongly, one against the other. “Just recently, the correct affectionate family term is pinhead.”

  “Pinhead,” she murmured, delirious with love. “I’m so angry with you.” Her mouth raced over his face, came back to cling to his.

  “I know. I can tell.” He chewed restlessly on her top lip. “Go on and stay mad for a while. I deserve it.”


  “I love you, Naomi.” He caught her face in his hands, drew back so she could see his eyes. “I love you.”

  She closed her eyes, wallowing in the warm flood of emotions that streamed through her. Then opening them, looked into his and smiled. “Say it again. Just like that, would you?”

  He kissed her first—her brow, her cheeks, her lips. “I love you, Naomi. It’s not just the way you look—though God, you look good. It’s the way you are. It’s everything you are. I started falling the minute I saw you, and I haven’t stopped yet.”

  “So did I, in exactly the same way, for exactly the same reasons. Oh, Ian, I’ve been so unhappy without you.”

  “Maybe it’ll help to know I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since you left.”

  “It does.” Her lips curved when he laughed. “I hope you suffered. And I’ll remind you of how much you suffered the next time you try to decide what’s best for me.”

  He combed his fingers through her hair. “I’m what’s best for you.”

  “Yes.” She rested her head on his shoulder, wondering why she’d ever questioned how perfectly it would fit there. “Yes, and as it happens, I’m what’s best for you. I want our life together, Ian.”

  “Let’s go home then, and get started on it.”

  From the Private Memoirs


  Daniel Duncan MacGregor

  They say as a man grows old his memories of years past stay clear as crystal while those of last week fade into the fog.

  I still remember, like yesterday, the first time I saw my Anna. Oh, I remember that cool, disinterested look she gave me. Hah. Didn’t stay disinterested for long, now did she? I was a young man then, full of piss and vinegar. A big strapping man from Scotland at a fancy society dance where I’d gone hunting for a woman to take to wife.

  And there was Anna, in her pretty blue dress. She was mine from the first minute—though it took some time to convince her of it.

  I remember that night as if it just happened. The lights, the music, the colors. I remember the scent in the air when I brought Anna here to this cliffside where I would build the house we’d live in. And I remember the feel of the earth in my hands when I planted a young sapling to celebrate the birth of my first son. So they’re right in that. The memory of an old man is long.

  But I remember last week just as clear, so what the hell do they know?

  My grandson took him a wife last week. And I can tell you the scents in the air of the church, the colors of the light that streamed through the windows, the full rich sound of the music that swelled when little Naomi stood at the back in her glittering white gown, with a bit of MacGregor tartan showing and the MacGregor veil covering her shining black hair.

  Brides glow. They say that as well. And so she did. It’s love that brings that shining beauty to a woman’s face. And one more in love I’ve yet to see.

  And Ian, handsome as a prince as he waited for her. They don’t say a man glows, but perhaps they should. I can’t think of another word for the look on his face as he watched her walk to him.

  And not being such a pinhead after all, what did he do? He took her hand and the other as well, and as the music died off, and before the priest could open his mouth to start the business of it, Ian said, “I love you, Naomi,” his voice as clear and strong as the bells that rang after the deed was done.

  And if there was a dry eye in the whole of the church at that moment, well, it wasn’t Daniel MacGregor’s.

  It’s been a good year for the family. With three weddings and a baby. I’ve done my best, and my best is better than most. Now the year’s nearly done. I’ll watch the snow fall awhile, and sit with Anna by the fire and listen to the wind howl at the windows.

  And if I do a bit of planning, a bit of plotting while I sit with my feet up and a glass of whiskey in my hand, what’s wrong with that?

  There’s another year coming, after all. And I’ve more grandchildren yet.

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