A Steamy Bath...
“I need a bath and a shave.” Magnus held Arbella's hands up to his mouth and kissed her fingertips. “And I would think ye’d be happy for the pleasure of a warm bath, would ye not?”
Arbella swallowed, not sure if she trusted herself enough to speak yet.
Magnus pressed a hot, entirely too quick, kiss to her lips before leaving the room. She could only stand there, trying to explore what had just happened between them. Trying to understand the sensations whipping through her body, the turmoil in her mind. Magnus made her feel things, showed her things, she didn’t think were possible. He was opening up her eyes to a whole new world. A world of pleasure, desire, and more importantly a world where a man was strong yet sensitive to a woman’s needs. He was showing her by his actions that he was not a barbarian. She smiled a little at this knowledge. As much as he wanted to pretend he was a hardened warrior, no hard-hearted man would caress her the way he did. A barbarian would not care that she had a bath, or that her hands trembled when they entered his courtyard.
Magnus was a big, soft-hearted, man, even if he tried to hide it. She’d found out his secret.
When her husband returned several minutes later, he was followed by two servants carrying a large wooden tub—large enough for Magnus to fit in, and a half dozen others carrying buckets of steaming water, linens and balls of soap.
They set down the tub, lining it with one of the linen towels, then dumped in the water. They left and returned with more buckets until the tub was half full. Steam curled into the air from its depths. Oh, how she wanted to sink into that tub, to scrub away the dirt from her travels.
She startled as the door shut on the last servant. Her gaze was drawn, with alarm, to Magnus as he started to undress.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Taking a bath.”
“I will come back.” She scurried toward the door.
“I dinna plan on taking my bath alone, Arbella.”
“What?” she gasped.
Her mother had assisted the baron with his bath, would she be expected to do the same? Her heart raced, her palms grew damp.
“Ye dinna want to bathe?”
Her back was still to him, the door and escape only inches away. From behind, she heard the slosh of water. He was in the tub. If she turned around, she’d see the breadth of his naked shoulders, his chest wet from the water… The visions she created in her own mind had her wayward nipples hardening once more.
She pressed her lips together and then forced herself to speak. “I do want to take a bath, but I had thought to take a bath…alone.”
“Ah. But ’tis more fun to take a bath together.”
She gulped, afraid the sound echoed off the walls.
Magnus chuckled behind her. “Turn around, lass.”
Arbella turned in a slow circle, her eyes wide, her throat constricted.
Even the visions she’d imagined in her mind did no justice to the vision of her very nude husband soaking in the massive tub. He was glorious. Perfection sent from the devil to tempt her into wickedness.
He grinned at her, roguish and sensual. “Well?”
“I cannot take a bath with you.”
“Suit yourself. Will ye at least wash my back?”
“What?” she whispered. He wanted her to touch him? To stroke soapy fingers over his taut flesh?
“Come now, dinna be shy with me.”
She stepped forward, curiosity getting the better of her. She wanted to wash his back. To touch him. To breathe in his intoxicating scent.
His smile was inviting and his eyes followed her as she came closer.
Arbella rolled up the sleeves of her gown and knelt behind him.
He handed her the soap and a small linen square. “Here.” His voice was gravelly, like he was holding back something in his throat.
She dipped the linen in the water and lathered the soap onto it, then she stroked the cloth over his shoulders. Magnus sighed and sat forward, allowing her greater space to wash him.
“That feels wonderful, lass,” he mumbled.
She nodded, even though he couldn’t see her. It did feel wonderful. She rinsed the cloth then wiped off his lathered flesh with water.
“All finished,” she said, annoyed at the quiver in her voice.
“But ye haven’t done the front.”
The front… The wicked side of her wanted desperately to do the front. The part of her that wanted to remain chaste and return to England resisted.
“I cannot do the front. ’Twouldn’t be decent.”
“My sweet, we are beyond decent already.”
He was right. Her face burned with the memory of his mouth on her bare flesh. Besides, it was only a bath. It couldn’t hurt to wash his chest… But she would not wash that part of him.
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She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…
Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her she fears she's more in danger of losing herself.
The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.
BOOK TWO: The Highlander's Conquest -- out now!
BOOK THREE: The Highlander's Lady -- Releasing 12/15!