The perfect wife, p.16
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Perfect Wife, p.16
Download  in MP3 audio

           Lynsay Sands
Page 16

 

  She'd walked perhaps a hundred feet when she nearly knocked someone over.

  Herrelief at finding somebody lastedaboutas longas it took for her to realize who she'dnearly knockedover andwhat he'd been doing at the time. The manpresently cursingat the interruption was LordGerville. Her father-in-lawhad obviously come out to tend to the samematter asshe, and hadmorethan just the situation inhand at the moment.

  "Oh!" Avelyn whirled away from him. She even started back along the path, desperate togive him privacy. However, she hadn't gonefar when she realized he was her only hope of returningtocamp before the day wasout. Avelyn paused.

  Shedid wonder ifshe shouldn't explain whyshe wasn'tcontinuing forwardto give him more privacy, but before shecould decide what to say, hefinished his business and stomped up next to her.

  "Sorry if I gave you a start, girl," he said gruffly. "Ithought Iwasthe onlyone awake orI would have gone furtherfrom camp to tendtomatters. "

  Since she'd beenwalkingfor a good halfhour, Avelyn couldn't imagine how much farther fromcamp he could have gone. However, she didn't say as much, but merely offered him a smile and hoped theshadows cast bythetrees were hiding just how red and embarrassed she was.

  "Ismyhusbandnot yetup?"she asked hopefullyas she fell into step with him.

  "He was still asleep whenI left camp,but. . . " Hepaused as theyboth became aware of the sound of someonecrashing quicklythrough the woods. Shaking his head, Lord Gerville finished, "ButI would guess that is him coming now. "

  "Avelyn!" Paen stumbled out onthepath directly aheadof themand cameto an abrupt halt.

  "There you are! I feared you had got yourselflostin the woods. Did I nottell you not to wanderoff by yourself?"

  "I - " Avelynbegan, but snapped her mouth closed as heused one stump to urge her backinthe direction he'd come. They'd barely taken adozensteps whenthey brokeout of the trees and into the clearing.

  "Why,Iwasn't far from campat all," she said with amazement as the sounds of talk and activity washed overher.

  "You were lost,"Paen accused, and Avelyn grimaced. She really needed to think before she spoke.

  "Perhaps a little, yes," sheadmitted. "But then Ifound your father, and everything was fine. Besides, I did not go to the riverside, I merelywished to attend to. . . er. . . other things," she finished vaguely, thenadded, "Rather urgent other things which you did not take me to attend to yestereve when we stopped forthe night. "

  "You did not ask me totake youto attend tothese personal needs," Paen said shortly, soundingannoyed ather tone of voice. "And I know you did not goto the riverside. Weare notcampedneara river today. "

  "Wearen't?" Avelyn asked with surprise. "Then how shall we clean up today?"

  "We won't," heansweredbluntly. "But hopefully, weshallarriveatHargroveby evening and may cleanupthere. "

  "Oh. " She frowned over that. Shetrulydidn't care forthe gritty, dusty feelthat travelingcaused and hadlooked foward to bathinginthe river. Onthe other hand, she supposedafter yesterday's debacleit mightbe safertobathe at Hargrove.

  Sighing,Avelyn turned away andstarted toward her tent, only tobe drawnup short by her husband's stump on her shoulder.

  "Wife?"

  "Aye?"she asked warily,turningback to face him.

  "If you need to drain the. . . er. . . use the garderobe," Paen corrected himself quickly,"in future you need onlyask me. I cannotread yourmind on such matters. "

  "Oh. " She blinked as his words sankin. He couldn't read hermind. Of course he couldn't, yet she'd expected him to somehow know that she needed to relieve herself. While she'd been thinking he mustrealizeshe would haveneed toattendto thematter, hehad probably been thinking she wouldmention it if she did. Sighing, she nodded, "Aye, husband. "

  Paen nodded, apparently satisfied, then turned and hesitated in front of hisfather.

  "I am goingfor awalk in thewoods. "

  Avelyn was justfrowning over the slightly strained voice heused to make the announcement, when his father used the sametone to say,"I shall join you, son. "

  She watched them walk away, then shook herhead with bewilderment andturned to makeher way to the tentto start packing. Her husband wouldwish to leave as soonas everyone had broken their fast. Besides, it would help her to stayawake.

  Avelyn was already startingtofeel tired. The day aheadwas going to be a long one, but she thought if she keptup a line ofchatterwith her husband,the ridewould be less boring and shecould perhaps stay awake.

  Chapter Ten

  "My lady. "

  Avelyn glanced up and smiled at the slender, dark-haired boy rushing across camp toward her. David Hargrove,Paen's new squire, wastenyears old,but tall for his age. He was alsovery slimand hadthe face of an angel. Thelad would break hearts when he was older.

  As he rushedtoward her, David stumbledover a rock andcrashedto the ground.

  Avelyn had toforce herselfnot to leap toher feet and run to seeifhe was all right.

  Paenwas watching from the other side of camp, shaking his head at the child's clumsiness, and she knew he wouldn't approve of her hurrying to the boy. She'd learnedthat the day beforewhen they'd arrivedatHargroveto collectthe ladand he'd tumbled down the stairs to land in a heap at their feet. Avelyn had started forward to help the boy then, butPaen had raisedone arm beforeher toholdher back, then shook his head when she peeredat him.

  Ashe hadthen, Davidquicklyscrambled back to his feet and continued on as if nothinghadhappened. Hisgrin was backin place by the time he stopped before her.

  "His Lordshipsaysyou cango toprepare thetent forthe night, my lady. The menhave it up, and the chests and furs are inside. "

  "Thank you, David," Avelyn murmured,unable to resist returning his grin.

  Nodding, he turned to hurry back to Paen's side, then paused suddenly and whirled backas Avelyn got to her feet. "Oh, and he said he would take youdownto theriver towashup once he isfinishedoverseeing. . . overseeing. . . er. . . whenhe is done whatever he is doing," the boy finished, obviously having forgotten what exactly his lord had said.

  "Thank you, David," Avelyn repeated.

  The boy nodded and turned away, managing to make itall thewayback to Paen's side without fallingagain.

  Shaking her head, Avelyn continued on tothetent. The lad was enthusiasticand cheerful, and clumsy ascouldbe, but Avelyn suspected the clumsiness was simply due to nervousness. Once hesettledin, she wassure muchof his awkwardness would vanish.

  There wasn't reallymuch todo inside the tent. Themen had piledthe furs in the corner as usual, and Runilda was putting linens and another fur on as Avelyn entered. That was pretty much allthere was to arrangingthe tent,other than to set the candle on the chest in preparation of lighting it when the last of the sunlight disappeared.

  Thanking Runilda for herefforts, Avelyn nodded when her maid asked if she might gohelp Sely. The maids werebecomingfriends. Once alone, Avelynmoved to the chest to retrieve the tunic and braesshe was making for Paen. Avelynwasn't sure how long Paen would be, but she was so close to finishing the tunic, she couldn't resist getting in even a few moments' work on it. First she wanted to recheck the seams on thebraes and besuretheywereperfect.

  Avelyn would have finished the tunic the night before except that Paen had surprised herby joining her in bed at Hargrove. Actually,if she were to be honest with herself, she probably wouldn't have gotten it finished last night. She'd been struggling to stay awake andsew whenher husbandhad entered theroom. Staying up all night, then forcing herself to remain awake all day in thesaddle had lefther feeling limp and exhausted by thetimethey'd arrived atHargrove to collectDavid.

  They'd arrived atHargrove just after the eveningmeal, were welcomedwarmlyby Lord and Lady Hargroveand were served a quick meal while theirrooms and baths wereprepared for them. Avelyn had been soexhausted by then,she had nearlyfallen asleepin herfood. Once finished eating, she'dbeen gratefulto escapeabovestairs tobathe.

 
Avelyn didn't think she'd ever before enjoyed a bath thatmuch. She'd soaked in thescented water for muchlongerthan shenormally would have, blissfully washing away the grimeof two days' travel. Afterward, she'd dried her hairby the fire before settling in the comfortable bed with her sewing. She'd found herself nodding over the work,her eyes continually blinking closed and trying tostaythat way. It was almost a relief when Paen had entered the room ten minutes later with his squire on his heels.

  Theboy hadsmiled at her, but Paen hadmerely grunted something of a greeting in her general direction, then walked to the tub wherethe boy helped him undress.

  Avelyn hadgaped at his muscular, naked back until he'd settled into the tub.

  Finally able to think again once mostof that nude flesh had beenhiddenby the sides of the tub, she'd balledup her sewing andtuckedit under the bed. She'd lain down andpulled the linens up, planning onpretendingto sleep until Paenfinishedhis bath and leftthe room. Then she would go backto work on his tunic. However,she'd barely closedher eyes when the pretendingbecame reality.

  Avelyn had slept deep and hard and woken up to find Paen inbed next toher. He hadn'tleft the room tosleep below with his men. He'd spent thenightnotinches away fromher. . . and she'd slept through thismost auspicious occasion.

  Avelyn sighedover hersewing. Ifhe hadn't come to theirroom to bathe and she hadn't fallenasleep, shewouldhavefinished his tuniclastnight and presenteditto himthis morning. Instead, she got the first full night's sleep she'd had since the start of thisjourney, but the tunic wasunfinished.

  She supposedit didn't mattermuch. Shewould finishit in an hour or so andthen be able to present it to him. At least he would be able to arrive home looking splendid, as the son ofthelordof the manner should look, insteadof asifhe'd just escaped a fire.

  "Avelyn!"Diamanda rushed into the tent, thenpaused abruptly at the sight ofher sewing.

  "Aye?" Avelyn asked, but Diamanda was staring at the tunic in her lap with amazement.

  "Why,you are nearlydone,"she said withsurprise and came forwardto look at it. " Tislovely. You are very goodat stitches. I can never seem to keep my seams straight,"she admitted wryly, then frowned. "But, again, itis too dark in here for you tobe doing such delicate work. "

  Avelyn glanced aroundto note with surprise that while she hadworked,the sun hadcontinued itsdownwardjourney.

  "Goodness,you will ruinyoureyes like this," Diamanda remonstrated, movingto collectthe candleoff the chestand carry it over to set onthe ground next to the stack of furs. Avelyn was surprised to see thatit waslit. Runilda must have once again slipped in andattended toitwithout hernoticing. She wasveryfortunate in having the girl for hermaid. Runilda didnot just dowhat wasexpected, butsawto those littleextras that made her indispensable.

  "There, that is better," Diamanda announced with a pleased smile as she straightened. "At least we need not fear you shall go blind on us. " She patted Avelyn's shoulder affectionately before leaving.

  Avelyn stared after her,realizing that the girlhad beenso distracted by concern forher eyesthat she'd forgottento askor tell her whatever she'd come intothetent for. Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to her sewing, her mind ponderingwhatit mighthave been.

  Momentslater, anexasperated Paenducked throughtheflap, muttering under his breath about silly, feather-brained girls. Avelyn quickly hid the tunic behind her back.

  She offeredan enquiring smile as her husband straightened.

  "Diamanda wasto tellyou I can take youdownto the rivernow, if you like," he announced, then frownedas he spotted the candle on theground so close to the furs. "Ye'll start a firesetting thecandle there, wife. "

  "I - " Avelyn closed her mouth onthe explanation that it hadn't been her, but Diamanda whohad put itthere. She wasn'tthe sort to tattle. Besides, she hadn't protested the girl's actions.

  "Blow it out,grab whatever you need and come along," Paen said, apparently decidingtolet the mattergo, then turned and ducked out of the tent.

  Letting out a little breath of relief,Avelyn blew the candle out as shegot up,then collecteda wide swath of linen from the chest and hurried afterhim. "Icannot hear you. " Paen started to turn towardheras she bathed inthe river.

  Avelyn immediately responded,"I donot know what to say. "

  Paen stoppedturningand relaxeda little. This was the firsttime he'd taken herto bathe in a river since her near-drowning. Oncehere, he'd at first said he would not turn his back onher, explaining he did not wish another incident like that. However, when her shouldershad slumped andshe'd said she wouldbe fine without bathing that night,Paen had relented. It. seemed his wife was still shy. But he would not let her shyness deny her theopportunity tobathe after a long day in thesaddle. He'd agreed to keep hisback turned so longas she continuedto talk so that he knew she was well. At first, she'dsimply told him whatshe was doing: "I am notin the water yet;I am stillundressing," she'dannounced the moment hisback was turned. "Shall I just tellyou when Iam going to go in,or - ?"

  "Aye," Paenhad said abruptly, not wishing a blow-by-blow ofher stripping. His imagination was filling his mind with imagesenough on its own, and it wassheer torture. His wifewas clumsy, accident prone, weak and apparently not very hearty, but she was alsoa sexy little bundle. It was torture enough to have her riding before himduringthe day - hoursin the saddle with her bottom pressedup against him,her outer thighspressed against his inner, the bottoms of her breastsbrushing against the top of the arm he kept around her waist while they rode.

  Paen hadspent agood deal of the last threedays trying tokeep from shifting in thesaddle to grind againsther, orraising his armto rub over herbreasts. Withher handling the reins, he'd had little else to dobut fantasize. Inthose fantasieshis hands werehealedandbusy - undoingandtugging the clothof her gown off her shoulders so that hernakedbreasts spilled out into his waitinghands, then squeezing and kneading thesoft round flesh, gently pinching each nipple. In his mind, he was kissing and nibblingher neckas he fondled her breasts, hersoft, excited murmurs and panting breath music tohis ears as heletone hand dropdown over her gently rounded stomach to slide betweenher legs, teasing her tosuch a level ofexcitement thatshe worked herself around to face him on the horse,thenworked him freeof his braes and managed - with hishelp - -to raise, then lower herself on his staff, which she rode evenas they rodehis horse.
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll