Silver-screen action heroine, Lauren Cole, has one more film to make before she’s free from her producer ex-husband, a smothering role, and a life she wants to leave behind. There’s only one thing she wants from that life: the antique sword her husband promised her in the divorce. So she steals it. Holding the weapon for the first time, she unleashes a magic that rivals Tinsel Town special effects—and makes her wonder if she has truly lost her mind.
In 1747, Aiden Forsyth stormed a gypsy camp and fell captive to a powerful curse that has held him within the sword for more than two centuries. Lauren’s touch releases him, but his liberation has limits. Corporeal only during the night, he remains bound by a dark and dangerous magic in the light of day—complicating his vow to protect the woman who holds the key to his ultimate freedom.
So the sexy warrior who haunts her days and inflames her nights must stay intimately close, especially after they learn that the madman trying to kill Lauren has ties to the very curse that has entrapped Aiden’s soul…
Every muscle in Aiden’s body tightened, as if he’d been pressed between hot, iron anvils. Pain erupted in his skull and for the first time in centuries, Aiden Forsyth remembered what it felt like to face death. He lifted his chin, determined to face his demise straight on, but a slice of fiery steel burned across his middle and he doubled over. He waited, panting, expecting to feel the ooze of bloody heat from his disemboweled innards, but the sensation never came. Instead, he dropped onto a soft, leathery surface.
He’d fallen. But where?
He opened his eyes, but he could see nothing but shadows and a dim blue light. The odors that assailed his nostrils were instantly familiar, and yet, completely foreign. He smelled no blood, but the distinctive salty sweetness of sweat and the cold sharpness of forged steel. And woman. Oh, yes, the unmistakable scent of warm, clean skin and musky desire raked through his senses and brought him to full consciousness.
Where was he?
The floor he laid on was soft and scuffed. Above him, he spied the source of the odd blue gleam, but wondered how stars could be contained within four walls. Though the corners of the room were muted by shadows, he knew he was closed in. Captured. Contained. And yet, more free than he’d felt in hundreds of years.
Cautiously, he moved his arms and saw that he hadn’t been cut open. He bore no injuries that he could see. The more he moved, the more his blood pumped through his body. With a great breath, he inhaled every bit of air he could take into his lungs. The sensation was marvelous. Was he free? Finally? After all these years?
He spotted the woman just a few steps away. Her cascade of flaxen hair draped across her face, then fell in a soft veil over her generous breasts, which rose and fell with weak, but steady breaths. She’d collapsed against the wall, the sword that had been his prison lying across her leg, the pummel nestled between her thighs.
At once aroused and shocked, Aiden crawled to her, his hand hovering above the handle, above her skin. He’d been trapped inside the weapon for centuries. If he touched it, would he end up back inside?
But touching her? She was worth the risk. Familiar and powerful lust spiked through him and he couldn’t resist brushing aside her hair and curving the golden strands behind her ear. Her cheeks were flushed. Despite the blue light above her, her skin was pink with exertion. And he remembered.
She’d wielded a sword like no woman he’d ever seen, though he’d sensed more than seen her prowess with the weapon. Now more than ever, he craved her. Winning her could be the greatest victory of his sorry, sordid existence.
“Lauren.” Her name croaked from his lips, his tongue and teeth unused for so long.
She stirred, but didn’t wake. The sword slid off her body and almost instantly, her eyelashes fluttered.
He smiled, remembering the turquoise blueness of her eyes. Since the first time he’d become aware of her in the dusty Dresden shop, he’d longed to possess her. Years had passed since she’d coaxed her lover into purchasing the sword and when Aiden had finally become aware of her presence again, she could not hold him. Encased in glass out of her reach, even as he’d known somehow that only her touch would release him. How many times had she pressed her fingertips against the barrier between them, clearly wanting him with as much passion as he wanted her? Each instance had caused a surge in his awareness, a spike in the torture that was his prison.
Aiden glanced down at his hands. Scars cut burrows in the flesh around his knuckles. A few from early duels. Some from training. Some from battle. All from the time, centuries ago, when he’d been alive. Was he now truly free of Lord Rogan’s gypsy curse?
With effort, he stood, shifting his weight from side to side to regain his balance. His breeches and shirt retained the dampness from his night ride all those years ago. He tore off his waistcoat, desperate to remove the restraint of the snug material across his chest. If not for the presence of the woman who’d kept him clinging to consciousness for the past few years, he would have stripped his body bare and run out immediately into the daylight. Were they still in her house above the ocean or were they now somewhere else?
A doorknob was just above her head. He glanced around, but between the clutter of crates and machinery in the room and the deceptively mirrored walls on one side, he saw no other exit.
Frowning, he dropped to his knees beside her. Even unconscious, with her lips slightly parted, her skin gleamed with life. The ebb and flow of her breathing, marked by the gentle swell of her breasts, made his mouth water, not only because of the obvious fullness of her flesh, but because of what she was. Who she was. A living, breathing woman. A woman who could touch him. A woman who had touched him. A woman who would touch him more intimately, if he had his way.
And it had been so very long since Aiden had had his way.
He drew his finger over her cheek, causing a moan to escape her lips. The sound resonated through him, tugging hard from his heart to his groin.
“Lauren, love. Time to awaken.”
Her mewl told him she was resisting, or else, was having trouble finding consciousness again. He had no idea why she’d collapsed but no doubt Rogan’s black magic was to blame.
Shifting onto his knees, he cupped her cheek and spoke to her in an insistent tone. “Lauren, open your eyes.”
Her lashes fluttered and she groaned. The sound tore through Aiden. Was she in pain? “Lauren?” he barked.
She instantly reacted, flattening her back against the wall and wrapping her hand around the sword’s handle. He backed away and before he could counter her attack, she had the tip of the blade leveled against his chest.
“Who are you?”
He raised his hands in capitulation. He could disarm her, but he did not want their first interaction to be violent. “I am Aiden Forsyth, my lady.”
She squinted her eyes. “Who? Are you an actor?”
“Absolutely not,” he said, shocked by her assumption. Men of his station did not take to the stage, though he’d seen a fair amount of lively productions in his day. “I loved an actress once, though, if this makes any difference. Breathtaking creature. Threw me over for the son of a duke.”
Her gaze bore into him, but she did not speak. Then she made a quick scan of the room, all the time holding the blade steady. When she looked at him directly again, her eyes lingered, but not in any way he’d describe as flirtatious or coy. She was measuring him as a man would measure any opponent who’d dropped the proverbial gauntlet.
“You’re on the set,” she said calmly. “But you’re not one of the crew.”
She pressed the tip of the sword against his shirt and the bite on his skin raised his ire. He fought to remain still. Cheeky wench, this one.
“I am neither sailor nor actor, madam. I’m a soldier, albeit one from a different time.”
With practiced skill, she slid her legs beneath her and using the door behind her as leverage, stretched to her feet. The blade, buoyed against the ties of his shirt, hardly wavered. Clearly, Lauren Cole was not unskilled with weaponry and that knowledge added another layer of excitement to their interaction. He’d wanted her, longed for her, for years and now she was driving him entirely mad with lust even as she threatened to run him through.
“You’re a soldier? What…are you a consultant on the film?”
“I know not what you mean. I am not from this time, my lady. I was, until moments ago, trapped within the sword you are now holding against me.”
Confusion flitted across her keen blue eyes and gave him the advantage he needed. He snatched her wrist, twisted, pulled and shifted his weight until she was not only disarmed, the sword tossed into a shadowed corner. She lay beneath him, her arms pinned on either side of her head and her body flush against his.
The sensation of woman—the feel, the scent, the sound—nearly undid him. His cock tightened and blood rushed downward, leaving his brain deliciously befuddled with need. How long had he fantasized about this very woman, in this very position? Well, not exactly this position.
“Let go of me!”
He groaned. “If only t’were that easy.”
She narrowed her gaze until twin slits of sapphire burned into him. “It’s not hard,” she said, flicking a glance downward, as if she were talking about his private part. “You just shift to the side before I make you sorry you ever touched me.”
“Actually, my lady, ‘twas you who touched me. Had you not, I would not be here, but captured still inside that infernal sword.”
She struggled, but Aiden outweighed her and easily kept her in check. He rather enjoyed the way her hips and groin writhed beneath him. His behavior was wholly ungentlemanlike, but he was too aroused, too alive to care.
He’d free her momentarily. Once he was certain she’d listen. For as much as he’d always craved his freedom, one glance around this room had assured him that this world was entirely unlike the one he’d come from. Even the way she spoke testified to a drastic change in time and place. Aiden had no idea where he was, how he’d gotten here or if any of his brothers had suffered the same fate as he, but he intended to find out at first opportunity. And chances were, he’d need her help to proceed.
Unfortunately, she didn’t seem the least cooperative. She raised her head and in a whirl of movement, slammed her forehead hard against his. Dazed, he had no defense when she shoved hard against one shoulder and rolled him off her body.
When he’d regained clear vision, he found her standing, legs balanced on bouncing feet, arms curved, hands open, eyes wide and focused. She was ready for battle.
He rolled over onto his back and tried to contain his laughter.
“Stand down, my lady. I am not here to hurt you.”
“As you could if you wanted to, you thug,” she said, kicking out with her foot. Her heel connected with his knee and he yelped.
She moved to repeat the painful strike, but he reacted quickly, grabbing her foot and yanking upward so that her momentum sent her flying onto her curvaceous backside. She landed with a thud, but before he could offer an apology for his unthinking reaction, she arched her back, kicked up both legs and landed upright, back in the fighting stance.
Air rushed into his gaping mouth.
She quirked a grin. “Thought all my moves were special effects and stunt doubles, did you?”
Aiden drew himself to full height. A good row was an excellent way to work through the pent-up need. But having the woman who’d fueled his carnal desires as his opponent? He thought he might explode for the lascivious beauty of it.