A RECKLESS REDEMPTION EXCERPT (Rated R!)
Come wash me, lass.” Maxwell's rich, deep voice hypnotized Bryn, and she scooted to the edge of the bed with no hesitation.
This was not proceeding at all how she’d imagined. While she’d waited, she had stripped to her winter chemise, debating whether a village whore would be waiting entirely nude. Probably. But common sense had won out. The heat from the fire hadn’t permeated the room yet.
Based on her woefully limited knowledge, she’d assumed he would settle himself between her legs, stick his thing inside her, and be done with it. He probably wouldn’t bother to divest her of her underthings anyway.
Instead, he had removed every stitch of his clothing while she watched, torn between maidenly embarrassment and womanly marvel. She was fairly certain that Maxwell Drake in his natural state had ruined her forever.
She couldn’t imagine any man matching his physical perfection. His hairy limbs and large feet hanging over the side of the tub did funny things to her stomach, flipping it like a potato cake. The curly black hair over the planes of his chest, leading like an arrow to his groin, made her body heat and pulse in unrecognizable ways.
The play of muscles across his shoulders and back when he’d stretched had forced her gasp of pure feminine appreciation. And when his breeches dropped to his ankles, his long, hard thing had her clutching the sheet to her chest in protective instinct, yet she couldn’t look away. Her body thrummed with so many conflicting emotions she couldn’t discern whether fear, trepidation, or fascination would emerge victorious.
It was easier not to think but to follow his commands. She’d come this far and refused to allow fear to drive her away. Refused to let Mary and Dugan win.
Closer now, she studied his face in the wavering firelight. He had aged like a fine Scotch whisky. Crinkled lines radiated from his hazel eyes, golden flecks glowing like embers. Did kindness lurk in their depths? She couldn’t say.
A straight, prominent blade of a nose hinted at his aristocratic heritage even if it had been on the wrong side of the bed. His full bottom lip offset the sternness of his features, and her fingers twitched, desperate to discover if it was as soft and smooth as it looked. Thick black hair—like many a Scotsman—clumped in waves around his tanned face. He was as handsome as he’d been at twenty but in a more rugged, worldly, masculine way.
Rolling the sleeves of her chemise up to her elbows, she moved behind him, breaking their intense study of one another. “I’ll wash your back and hair first.” She tried to sound as if she washed men on a daily basis, but she worried her breathy voice screamed virgin.
Maxwell levered himself forward and rested his arms along the sides of the tub, exposing ridges of muscles across his shoulders and back. Timidly at first, she ran the soaped cloth over his back, keeping her touch light. Without his eyes on her, she relaxed and sent her bare hand skimming up his flank. His skin jumped in her fingertips’ wake.
She kneaded his shoulders, a visible tension dissipating the longer she worked the hard muscles. His purring exhale grew her confidence. An untutored virgin she might be, but she discovered pleasure in touching him, pleasing him.
An echo of something from her youth—a wild courage—welled in her belly. She dropped the cloth and delved her fingers into his soft black hair, massaging his scalp and tracing his ears. Her attention wrung a rumbling moan from deep in his chest, and his eyelids dropped to catlike slits. Shimmery tendrils of desire bloomed.
* * * * *
The lass tilted his head back and rinsed the soap from his hair. Dazed and dreamy, he laid his head on the warm tin edge of the tub. Having never had a woman, except perhaps his mother, wash him, he hadn’t known what to expect. It certainly wasn’t this tender, arousing care. She knelt beside the tub and ran a cloth-covered hand and a bare one over his chest lightly. Too lightly. His lungs filled with air, pushing into her touch.
The flickering fire turned her chemise diaphanous. Wet splotches from her work dotted the primly ruffled bodice. It clung to her skin, offering teasing glimpses of the high mounds of her breasts and peaked nipples. She was slim, but the fabric had pulled taut, exposing the womanly curve of waist and hip. Anticipation to see the long length of leg that had flashed him on her walk to the tub smoldered.
She roved her hands over his chest, seemingly in no hurry, and stopped to circle his nipples. He swallowed a groan of pleasure, even though his errant cock lifting out of the water was proof enough he enjoyed her attention.
Her unusual red-gold hair swung around her face like a multicolored, silken curtain. It had been cut to hang at her shoulders, thick and straight. She tucked a swath behind her ear before moving to his other side to wash his arm and hand.
A pair of extraordinarily large brown eyes, thickly fringed, dominated her oval face. Her nose was too thin, her mouth too full, and her chin too sharp, but taken together there was a distinctive attractive symmetry. Perhaps not a beauty by London standards, he thought her unusually lovely and especially liked the impish sprinkle of freckles across her nose. She possessed an otherworldly quality that would be right at home in Queen Mab’s court.
His lips curved up in a small smile. His overindulgence of Scots whisky inspired the uncharacteristically whimsical, poetic musings, no doubt.
She traced his bottom lip with a trembling forefinger. The intimate, sweet gesture unsettled him. Confusion wiped his smile away. She snatched her hand away and fisted it between her breasts, wetting her chemise further. He wanted to pull it back to his mouth to kiss and caress each finger in apology.
With her eyes hidden by her lashes, she retreated to the end of the tub and ran the soapy cloth up and down his good leg. The one still strongly muscled. He jerked his foot out of her hands, chuckling softly at the tickling sensation. She tossed her hair back, and her simple smile scythed into his chest. He pressed the heel of his hand hard on his breastbone to stem a startling shot of longing that resonated in the hollowness.
His bad leg was next, and he flinched at the touch of her fingertips on the red, puckered scar. A musket ball had ripped through his lower thigh, permanently marring his leg. He walked with a limp, but at least he walked. The physician had been inclined to cut it off. Thank God, Maxwell had been conscious enough to stop the man and his saw.
“Does it hurt?” the lass whispered.
“Fiercely in the cold,” he whispered back, gauging her reaction.
Not bothered in the least, she massaged the area, and he had never felt anything so blessedly comforting. The constant throbbing ache abated. He ran fingertips across her high cheekbone, wanting to return a measure of the pleasure she bestowed. She pressed into his hand, meeting his eyes.
“Thank you for easing my pain.”
She cleared her throat. “Are you all clean, sir?”
A laugh rumbled from his throat. “Not quite, lassie. There’s one area that feels terribly neglected. And it’s been trying to get your attention the whole while.” He shifted his hips, his cock breaching the water.
Her molten brown eyes were wide, and her lips parted slightly as she stared. He couldn’t remember ever being so hard and needy. A simple washing from a village whore had left him undone.
He’d lain with more beautiful women, women with more bountiful bosoms, women who knew how to make a man beg. But something about this lass beguiled him. Something about her warmed him from the inside out until he burned for the soothing touch of her hands. Something illogical and unexplainable.
She took up the cloth once more and leaned over the tub, the front of her chemise outlining the curve of her breasts. Unable to wait a moment longer, Maxwell tugged the end of the pink ribbon at her neck, unfurling it. The edges of her chemise fell open, affording him an excellent view of her bobbing breasts.
They weren’t large but full and tipped with small, peaked nipples. Quite lovely indeed. The skin of her chest pinkened, the color shading up her neck and into her cheeks. Was it from the exposure of her breasts or the innocent caresses along his inner thighs? She acted afraid of his cock. Whatever the reason, her blushes moved him.
* * * * *
Dismay trembled Bryn’s hands. She hadn’t expected to have to know what in the devil to do with his thing. What did he want? Delaying the inevitable, she cleaned his inner thighs—very, very thoroughly. The appendage reared out of the water, demanding her notice. What if she hurt him or did something wrong? Finally, holding on to a deep breath, she rubbed the cloth over him, her touch light.
Maxwell threw his head back and arched his hips farther out of the water, startling her hand away. Black hair curled at the base, and a pair of heavy bollocks, rivaling even old man Pearson’s wolfhound, hung between his legs. With his eyes squeezed shut, he tugged the cloth from her numbed fingers and dropped it into the water to sink to the bottom. Then he forced her hand to curl around the hard shaft. Covering her hand with his, he taught her exactly what she needed to know.
The rhythm was natural and instinctive. His hand left hers to delve into the top of her chemise. He squeezed one of her breasts and brushed his fingers over her nipple. A moan escaped her throat. Her hand on him stilled, distracted by the tingles spiraling from her breast. Pressing her knees together only marginally eased the growing, restless ache between her legs.
His hips bucked as a reminder to keep stroking. She moved her hand faster to match her quickened breaths and heartbeat, enjoying the unexpected hard-soft feel of him. What were his bollocks like? Natural curiosity overcame the fear of doing something wrong. She dipped her other hand into the water and grazed the heavy sac.
“Christ, lassie,” he said with a pained growl.
She snatched her hand away. “I hurt you.”
“No,” he said with force but continued in a softer voice, “Don’t stop, please. You can play there while you stroke… but gently, gently.”
She did just that, very gently. His head lolled over the tub’s edge, the tendons of his neck stretched taut. Warmth flared in her chest. The power she wielded was new and intoxicating.
Desperate to see another of his fleeting smiles, she stared at his mouth. He snaked his hand inside her bodice once again and raised his head, drawing her gaze to his. His fingertips worked magic on her nipple. As if her gasp was the signal, he thrust his hips up hard, spilling a thick, slick fluid over her hand. She stroked until he collapsed down into the water, motionless.
His sudden surge out of the water rocked her back on her heels, and she braced herself on the wooden floor, her wet hands slippery. Water sluiced down his body, and he shook his head like a hound, droplets flying.
She dropped her focus to the wound on his leg. “Is that all? Are we… finished?”
“Not nearly, lass.”
He hauled her upright, gripped either edge of her chemise, and jerked, rending the fabric. It fell down her arms to pile around her feet. Stupefied to be standing suddenly naked, she forgot her role as whore and attempted to cover her breasts and mound with her arms and hands.
He dried with a square of linen, his gaze traveling the length of her body. She would have liked to do the same to him, but his big body set off a maidenly fear. He was several inches taller, and with his broad shoulders and deep chest, she felt dwarfed and vulnerable.
“You ruined my chemise,” she said, unable to tolerate his silent inspection.
“I paid enough for the privilege.” His tone was dark and ratcheted her nerves higher. “Go lie on the bed.”
The bed was a foreign, unknown land, and now the moment was upon her, indecision held her in limbo.
(I found this photo long after I wrote the scene, and I realize it's the wrong time period, but it captured the moment very well, don't you think?)