Fiona would sooner risk the wrath of a legendary beast than submit to the brigands who chase her to the walls of Burgis Keep. There, she finds herself under the protection of the most unlikely guardian. When the rumors of a vampire stalking the halls of the crumbling castle prove true, will she have the courage to discover the truth of the curse? The Beast of Burgis Keep likes his privacy. Cursed by the gods seven hundred years ago, Alasdair is almost a vampire, but fights his ever present hunger with each breath. Until Fiona Buchanan stumbles into his castle. She calls to him like no other woman has, and he is lost when confronted with her subtle beauty and ever-present charm. A legend exists which speaks of a way free of his bloody curse, but is Alasdair capable of trusting Fiona enough to find the path to love?
He turned at the sound of his name on Fiona's sweet lips and cringed. Awash with sunlight, her skin glowed radiant. How he longed to touch her, to feel the human warmth one more time.
"Go back to sleep."
"I'm no' tired." She sat up and held the coverlet to her chest with one hand. With the other, she wiped the sleep from her eyes.
To induce her sleep, he must touch her. Yet, he could not when she lay so swathed in the deadly sunlight. He cursed the Fates and the goddess under his breath. "Try. Ye still need rest."
"Will ye stay with me?" Still half asleep, she reclined on the bed. The coverlet fell away, exposing her creamy shoulder and part of one breast.
"I can no'." She had no idea what a tempting image she presented. She couldn't possibly understand what she did to him, and how cruel the longing he felt for her.
Innocent and unaware, she pouted at his words. "Why no'?"
"'Tis no matter. Ye must sleep. And I must go. Now."
"Where do ye go in the day?"
"Why do sleep in the day? 'Tis silly." A smile curved the corners of her lips.
"Aye. I must leave now, Fi. Good morrow, lass."
Despite his need to leave, and quickly, he found himself halting at the urgent sound of her voice, as if she tied a leash to his heart. His eyes left her for a moment to track the progression of the sun. Only a few, very small inches separated him from certain death. Yet, he could not pull himself away.
More fully awake now, Fiona studied him. He shifted under the heady sensation of her gaze. She blinked against the light. The same light which bore through his eyes like fire. After a moment, she stood, wrapped neck to ankles in one of his plaids. She looked like a colorful Greek goddess, her hair tangling around her face and shoulders. Blushing, from her lack of dress more than likely, even though she covered herself exceptionally well, she scurried to him and smiled.
"My thanks, Lord Alasdair. For yer kindness."
Standing on her tiptoes, she stretched to place a gentle kiss on his cheek. Her lips burned him, seared through him like steel fresh from a forge. She stared at him and traced his lips with her eyes. Transfixed, he pulled her to his chest. Hesitating only long enough to call himself a fool, he kissed her.