The perfect wife, p.29
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       The Perfect Wife, p.29
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           Lynsay Sands
Page 29

  Avelynpatted David'sshoulder,then bent to scoop upSamsonand urged the boy to hurry towardthegateinto the bailey. Theyhad taken several stepsinside the gate when she thought of the guards on the wall. SurelyifDiamandahad pushed the stone blockoff, the man stationed along that section of wall would have shouted or at least seen her. She turned to look towardwhere the guardusually stood, onlyto find it empty. it wasn't until she slid her gaze along thewallthat she spotted aman mounting the stairs to thewall. As she watched, he walked back to his postand took uphis position.

  "Good afternoon, my lady. You look lovelytoday. "

  Avelyn glanced around, a blush coming to her cheeks as she nodded at the two soldiers approaching.

  "Aye, lovely," the second soldiersaid astheypassed.

  Avelyn wasshaking her head with bewildermentat the sudden penchanteveryone seemed to havefor complimenting her,when sheheard the first soldier say, "Lovely was my compliment. Could you notcome up with your own?"

  "LordPaen said compliment her, hedid notsay we had tobecreativeabout it,"

  the second man pointed outwitha shrug. "Besides, what should I have said? 'Pretty pig, my lady?'Once you've tolda woman she islovely,there is little else tosayto her. "

  Avelyn turnedslowly towatch themen walk awayas thefirstsoldier shook his head and said, "If that iswhat you think,'tis nowonder you have such troublewith women. "

  The men obviously had no idea they'd been speaking loud enough to be overheard. Avelyn turned a thoughtful glance to her husband's squire. "David?"

  "Aye, my lady?"

  "Did Paen tellthe soldiers to compliment me?"

  "Aye, my lady. " David nodded. "Hesaidyou needed steam building dueto your nastyprick cousins and their years of damned evil insults and we wereall to aid in. . . er. . . preparing thedamage. "

  Avelyn bit her lip to hold backa chuckle. She suspected he meantesteembuilding andrepairing thedamage, buthe had certainly remembered Paen's curses.

  Shaking her head, sheurged Davidtocontinueacross the bailey,but her thoughts were on what she'd just learned. Avelyn had been the recipient of countless compliments of late, andfound herself bothuncomfortable and embarrassed by it all, tothe point thatshe'd started to avoid the men. Nowsheunderstoodwhy she wasgettingso manycompliments: because Paenhad told them to. She wantedto cry. Herhusband had cared enough to tryto repair thedamagedoneby her'nasty prick cousins. ' The more she learned about her husband, the more she loved him. Avelyn stopped walking as she realizedwhat had just gone through her head. Love? Paen? Certainly she had the dutiful lovethat a wifewas supposed to have for herhusband - that was as itshould be - but she didn't low love him. . . did she? "There you are. "

  Avelyn pulled backfrom her thoughts and smiledat the manin questionas Paen appeared before them.

  "David, go inside and polish my mail at the trestle table," heordered. "Do notgo anywhere without checking with Lady Helenfirst. "

  "Aye, my lord. "

  Avelyn raised her eyebrowsas theboy hurried off.

  "LadyHelenagreed tokeep aneye onhim while wearegone," Paen announced, taking her arm and turning her around toleadher back the way she'dcome. She still heldSamson in her other arm.

  "Whilewe are gone where,husband?" Avelyn asked, glancingcuriouslyat the sack and the folded fur he carried.

  "Tohave our lunch," he said, and her eyes widened.

  "Our lunch?Do you mean a picnic? We are having a picnic?"she askedwith excited pleasure.

  "Aye," Paengrunted, but shecouldn't help noticingheappeared embarrassedto admit it. Avelyn supposedthatmeant this wasanother of the suggestionshis mother hadmade while shewas here. Lady Gervillehad toldher all about Paen's explaining thatthe rump patting and the handingover of an apple had beenhis ways of praising her. His motherhadfeared thatAvelyn might have taken offense at this "praise"and had hoped toprevent or repair it byexplaining his actions. Lady Gerville had also told her that she'd given Paen alternate waysto praise herand had suggested he also spend more time with her at pursuits such aschess and walks and so on. Avelynhad appreciated the suggestions this last week as she'd enjoyed her husband's company.

  For somereason,she hadn't minded thatthechessgames atnight andthe walks duringthe day were at LadyGerville's suggestion. Paenwanted to praise her and did followthe advicetospend time with her. That waswhatmattered.

  Paen led her out of the bailey and into the woods, following a path he appearedto know. It wasn'tlongbeforethey came to a clearing with a small brook running through it.

  "Oh, this is lovely,"Avelyn exclaimed, peeringaround as heset down thebagand began to lay outthe fur. "How didyou know this washere?"

  "Icameout yesterday on horseback and looked for a suitablespot. "

  "And this spot isso nearby," Avelyn murmured, but her heart was squeezing at the factthathe'dlookedfor anice spot for them. Lady Gervillemay have suggested thepicnic,but Paenhad put careand trouble into finding a nice placeto have it. It gave her hope that he was perhaps coming to care forher, at least a little.

  "Sit," Paenordered oncethe fur was spread out.

  Avelyn sat, a small smile playingabouther lips, then set Samsonon the fur. The piglet immediatelyset out on an exploration of the clearing. She watchedhim for a bit, but wasn'treally concerned that he would gofar. He never wandered too far from her unlesshe waswanting to be chased. Had Davidnot set outafter himtoday, Samson wouldhave stopped and come backonhis own.

  Paenshook his head withamusement. "I shouldhave had David take the little pest, but I did not notice you had him. "

  Avelyn's eyebrows rose. "It is hard to believe youdid not notice I was carrying him, my lord. "

  Paen grimaced. "I was distracted. "

  "By what,mylord husband?" she asked.

  "Iwas considering whetherI had forgottenanything,"he said.

  Avelyn smiled at theadmission. Not that Paen noticed, he was busy digging food out of the sackandsetting it on the blanket. His face was a pictureof concentration as he worked, and she felt her heartswell as she watchedhim. How she didlove this man. Yes,she did. He mightsay little, but his actions spoke loud and clear. Paen put care into things that matteredto him - his castle, his horse. . . and her. The factthat he hadtaken great carein findingtheperfect spot for their picnic was only onein a list of examples. Hehad takenon the choreof chatelain at Rumsfeld becausehe'd thought she wasunhappy in not having a home ofher own to run. He had ordered his men to praise her tohelp raise her esteem. He hadstartedplaying chess withher and taking her forwalks, purely because hismothersuggested it would makeher happier. .

  Beneath his gruffexterior, Paen was agood man. A caring man whom she loved, andwho she was beginning to hope might care forhera bit.

  Paen raised his head andopened hismouth to speak,then froze as he caught the expression on herface. He satlike that for a minute, thenclosedhismouth, licked his lips and said, "You lookall soft and glowing rightnow. "

  "Do I, my lord?"Avelyn asked softly.

  "Aye. You looklovely. "

  She smiled and admittedsoftly, "You makemefeel lovelywhen you look at me like that. "

  "Like what?" Paen asked,beginningtoscowl.

  Avelyngrinned at the defensiveactionand said,"LikeI amadelicious dessert you wouldlike to gobble up. "

  "Iwould. "He began to lean toward her.

  "You would what, my lord?" Avelyn asked breathily.

  "I would liketo gobble youup," he admitted. Thenhis mouthcovered hers. His lips were allthat touched her, brushing softly back and forth and feather-light.

  Avelyn's eyes driftedclosed andshe sat still for a moment, but thenfound her lips drifting apartandherbodyleaningforwardof its ownaccord. She wanted morethan his teasingkisses. She wanted a proper kiss,shewantedto touch him, she wanted himtotouch her.

  But the further Avelynleaned forward, the further Paen pulled back, forcing the kiss to remaina light brushing of mouths.

  Just when Avelyn thought he would drive herma
d with his teasing, she felt his tongue slip out to drift across her open lips. The intimate caress madehermoan,and her own tongue slidout until the tipof hers touchedhis. Paenimmediately slanted his head and pressed forward sothathis tongue couldthrust fullyinto her mouth.

  Avelyn gaspedandkissedhimback. She raisedherhands to slip themaround his shoulders, but Paencaught them in his own and held on. It seemedhe was intenton drivinghermad, she thought witha touch offrustration; thenhe suddenlybroke the kiss and satback.

  "Take off your dress," he orderedhuskily.

  Startled at the request, Avelyn blinked. Her mind struggled briefly, shyness battling with excitement;thenshe shifted to her knees, only to hesitate.

  "Please," Paen added. His gaze was hungry, hisexpression solemn.

  Avelyn took a deep breath andslowly stood. A moment passed asshegathered hercourageandthenshe bent to catchthe hem of her gown and draw itup overher head. Avelyn immediately had a terrible urgeto hide behind the gown, butshe made herself release it to droptothe furs. It wasa decisionshe began to regret when Paen simply sat staring ather, his eyessliding over every inchof her exposedbody. Just as Avelyn reached thepoint whereshe decided shecouldstand it no more and must grab upher gown, Paen shifted tohis knees andleaned forward to brushthe tip of his thumb acrossoneerect nipple.

  Avelyn bither lip and swallowed at the tingle the action caused. He thenleaned closerstilluntil he could takethe tightbud delicately between histeeth. Her heart immediately jumped in herchest. It jumpedagainwhen shefelt histongueflick over the tip in his mouth. Then he suddenly cupped one hand beneath her breast to hold it andbegan to suckle eagerly, his tonguerepeatedly flickingthe end ashe did.

  Avelyn moanedand slid one handinto his hair, herringersholding onto the silky strands. He continued tolaveat first one breast, then theother, until Avelyn was trembling in his arms;then hebeganto ease down onhis knees so that he was trailing kissesdown across thedancing flesh ofherbelly.

  "Husband?" Avelyngasped as hecontinued lower, his kisses shifting tothe side anddrifting overthe sensitive flesh that coveredherhip. His teethgrazed andnipped as he went, andAvelyn found herself unable tostandstill under the torment. She twisted her hips inhis hands,almost writhing against hisquesting mouth.

  When Paen caughther ankles andforcedher toshift her stance sothat herfeet werefurther apart, Avelyn realized shewas breathing inshort, shallow pants. It only gotworse as his lipsburned a trail to the inside of her thigh. Avelyn was now holding herbreath, terrified herlegswould give out at any moment, leaving herto collapse atophim. As if awareof her weakness, Paen slid his handsto her hips,his fingers cupping herbehind and holding her up ashe pressed kisses higher and higher up her thigh.

  Avelyn did her best to remain on her feet, but even with his support her legs gave out when he pressed akissto the very center of her. She collapsed with a gasped cry, andPaen caught her, easing herto her back onthe fur. He thenknelt between herlegs, nudged her legs further apart and ducked his head to presshis mouth toher again.

  Avelyn caught at the furs and twisted her head, her mind awhirl with a combination ofexcitement, desireand the need to touch him. She wanted to please himtoo, and had wanted to eachtimehe'd bedded her, but Avelyn had no idea how todo so. This time,the need was almost unbearable,but his hands werepinningher thighs downas he used his lips, teethand tongue to pleasure her. Paen continuedto do sountilshe screamed out and bucked beneath him.

  For a moment afterward, Avelynwas too dazedto move; then she becameaware thatPaen had sat backonhis haunchestolifthis tunic off overhis head.

  When hethenstoodand reached for the waist of his braes, Avelyn shifted toher knees,taking thesame positionhe'dtakenbefore her earlier. Her voicewas husky. "I wanttoplease youtoo. "

  Paen hesitated, bent to strip out of hisbraes, thenstraightened so thatshe found herselfstaringathismanhood. Avelyn hesitated. He was hardand erect and right before her face, but she wasn't sure what to do.

  WhenPaen did not instruct her, she decidedshemightas well try whathehad done toher and leaned forwardto press akissto his hip. Shetrailedkissesto his thigh and then finally braved pressing a kiss to his staff. Avelyn found herself surprised at how soft and velvety theskin felt over the hard shaft. She pressed another kissto the shaft,then ran her lips lightly along it to the tip, whereshelaved himwithhertongue. After that,she wasn't sure what else to do.

  "Takeit in your mouth," Paen growled, soundingpained. Sheglancedup at his face with aconcern that only grew whenshe saw howhis facewas now scrunched upin what looked to be agony.

  "Am Idoing this wrong?" sheaskeduncertainly.

  Paen shook his head,thengasped when shetook him in her mouth. Hisheadwent back and he stood rockstill as she moved hermouth uncertainly overhim,then raised her hand and wrappedit around his manhood. Holding him in asimilar fashion to how he'dheld her breast, she suckledon him until he suddenly pulled awayand kneltbefore her.

  Avelyn peered at him uncertainly. "WasI doing it - "

  Her question died abruptly when his mouth covered hers. The kiss was so passionate, she thought perhaps she hadn't done it wrong after all; then Paen was bearing her down onto her back on the furs.

  Avelyn wrappedherarms around hisshoulders and parted for him, expectinghim to enter her at once,buthe didn't,he just pressed himself against herashis lips claimed hers. Paenkissedherdeeply, his tonguethrusting, then turned hislips toone ear,lavingthatas well and sending shivers throughher.

  Moaning, Avelyn turned her head and caught his lips with hers, kissing him passionatelyas she shifted against him, silently pleading with himto fill her. Muchto herrelief, Paenresponded to the request, thrusting into herwith a hard, deep stroke thatdrew a low groan from her throat. He then began to rideher, drawing moan after moan, gasp after gasp, as she writhed and shiftedbeneath him.
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