She arched a single dark brow. “Welcome me home, my lord,” she said, and then, with a smile that flashed as wicked as the diabhal himself, she surprised him—shocked him, really—by rising up on her toes, wrapping an arm around his neck and tugging his head down to hers to kiss him.
Bloody hell, Margot kissed him. That was as surprising as her sudden appearance. And it was not a chaste kiss, either, which was the only sort of kiss he’d known from his young bride, timid and prudish, who’d left him three years ago. This was a full-bodied kiss, one that bore the markings of maturity, with succulent lips, a playful little tongue, and teeth that grazed his bottom lip. And then she slipped back down to her toes and smiled at him, her green eyes shining with the light of the torches that lit the hall.
It was effective. A wee bit of Arran’s anger began to turn to desire as he took her in. She looked the same—a bit more robust—but this wasn’t the bride who had fled Balhaire in tears. Arran roughly pushed the hood of her cloak from her head. Her hair was rich auburn, and he touched the curling wisps around her face. He ignored the feathered arch of her brow as he unfastened the clasp of her cloak. It swung open, revealing the tight fit of her traveling gown, the creamy swell of her breasts above the gold brocade of her stomacher. He noticed something else, too—the emerald necklace he’d given her on the occasion of their wedding glimmered in the hollow of her throat. She looked ravishing. Seductive. She was a fine meal for a man to savor one bite at a time.
But she was grossly mistaken if she thought he would be dining at her table.
“It would seem my purse has found you often enough,” he said, admiring the quality of her silk gown. “And you look to be in excellent health.”
“Thank you,” she said politely, and lifted her chin slightly. “And you look…” She paused as she took another look at his disheveled self. “The same.” One corner of her mouth tipped up in a wry smile.
Her scent made him heady, and a flash of memories flooded his brain. Of her naked in his bed. Of her long legs wrapped around his, of her perfumed hair, of her young, plump breasts in his hands.
She was aware of his thoughts—he could see it spark in her eyes. “Might I trouble you for supper? I’m famished. I’d forgotten how few inns there are in the Highlands.”
Arran was slightly inebriated and a wee bit shocked…but not so much that he would allow his wife to swan into his castle after three bloody years and ask to be served without any explanation at all. He meant to demand an answer from her, but every Mackenzie ear was trained on them. “Music!” he bellowed.
Someone picked up a flute and began to play, and Arran caught Margot’s wrist and pulled her closer. He spoke low so others couldn’t hear. “You come to Balhaire, unannounced, after leaving like you did, and you are so insolent as to ask for supper?”
Her eyes narrowed slightly, just as they had the first night he’d ever laid eyes on her. “Will you refuse to feed the men who have seen your wife safely returned to you?”
“Are you returned to me?” he scoffed.
“As I recall, you were forever impressing on me that the Scots are well known for their hospitality.”
“Donna think to tell me what I ought to do, madam. Answer me—why are you here?”
“Oh, Arran,” she said, and smiled suddenly. “Isn’t it obvious? Because I’ve missed you. Because I’ve come to my senses. Because I want to try our marriage again, of course. Why else would I have taken such a hard road to reach you?”
He watched her lush mouth move, heard the words she said, and shook his head. “Why else? I have my suspicions, aye?” he said to her mouth. “Murder. Bedlam. To slit my throat in the night, then.”
“Oh no!” she said gravely. “That would be too foul, all that blood. You can’t really believe it’s impossible that I would have a change of heart,” she said. “After all, you’re not unlikable in your own way.”
She was teasing him now? His fury surged. Arran couldn’t begin to guess what game she was playing, but she would not win. He slid his arm around her back and yanked her into his body, holding her firmly. He pressed his palm against the side of her head, his thumb brushing her cheek. “Will you no’ admit the truth, then?”