Read A Hero's Bargain Online

Authors: Rayne Forrest

A Hero's Bargain (11 page)

Chapter 14

 

The warm
water was wonderfully soothing. A slight, gentle current swirled through the
pool keeping the water from getting too cloudy. Ryder’s aching back and shoulder
muscles relaxed as Saba lathered his hair. Gods, he wanted to feel those hands
washing him all over.

Her
fingers were magical on his scalp, pulling his soul toward a peace he’d feared
forgotten in the panic that had gripped him as Death hovered over his bed. He’d
come far too close to learning once and for all if the afterlife really existed.

The
experience held a dreamlike quality as if he’d been off somewhere watching
himself struggle to survive. Or maybe it was a memory not quite in focus with
huge chunks of it missing. All he was sure of was it had happened, none of it
had been pleasant, and he didn’t really regret having pieces of it gone from
his mind. Except when it came to Saba. He wanted to remember everything about
her.

Somewhere
in the unrelenting fog of memory an angel had taken his hand and assured him
that he wouldn’t die. Then the angel had stepped between him and Death—and been
victorious.

Ryder ran
his hands up the back of her trembling thighs. She’d trembled in his arms not
so very long ago. The memory of her beneath him burned worse than the fires of
hell he’d walked so close beside. He drew her closer as she lathered his hair,
gently suckling one peaked nipple. He held her tighter as her knees almost buckled.

“Saba,
you are so beautiful.” And she was. A fiery water sprite, shiny wet and glowing
bright in the reflected firelight. Did they even have stories of such creatures
on this world? Would he find tales of both woodland nymphs that had secret
forest glens, and great hunters who wheeled through the night skies with
faithful companions at their heels?

She urged
him to lean back and dip his hair into the water so she could rinse the suds
away. He cupped her bottom and teased at her from behind. Her thighs parted for
him. Her fingers trailed sparks across this shoulders.

Lust
seized him. Pure, greedy lust. It snaked its way through his belly, demanding
he do its bidding, that he seize the life he’d almost lost. He reached for what
little control he had to work with at this moment. It wasn’t going to be
enough.

His cock
was so hard it hurt. That was a baffling state of affairs considering he’d
already gotten off twice in the last few hours. What was in that stuff she made
him drink? Ryder cupped her gently then carefully slipped a finger inside her,
teasing her. Testing her. She pulsed into his hand, a small needful cry welling
out of her.

Gods,
he’d worry about her being sore tomorrow, in the daylight, when they both could
think. It would have to be tomorrow. He couldn’t think of anything now but
being inside her again.

He rose
up out of the water in a mist of cascading droplets, scooping her into his arms
and throwing them both down on the large, flat slab of rock between the pool
and the fire pit. She clung to him, a small breathy ‘yes’ on her lips.

Thank all
the gods it was yes. He was in the clutches of something more powerful than any
man, or woman. The need to merge and cast his seed, to ensure life, gripped him
with an iron fist.

He opened
her thighs with his own, spreading her, laying her open and vulnerable to him.
Her arms were around his neck, holding him with fierce strength. As he lowered
his mouth to hers, he had no intention of backing away. She arched up to him,
meeting him. His rigid manhood slipped across her damp flesh. Her tongue found
his, warring and mating in the dance he’d taught her. Her legs rose. He thrust
into her welcoming heat.

Ryder
shuddered violently at the intense pleasure of her soft body taking his steel.
From the depths of his being he dredged up some small measure of control and
flexed his hips to hers. She sighed sweetly into his mouth.

The
urgency rose up within him but he pushed it down. Giving in to it again
wouldn’t coax that low, breathy moan out of her. Only his gentleness would make
her give that up to him. He rocked into her, an unhurried, arcing push of pelvis
to pelvis.

“Ryder.”
His name was a whisper on her lips. He gathered her into his arms and began a
slow, easy ride. She went liquid around him and everything outside of her
faded, vanishing like the smoke of the small fire, funneled away, unseen.

She met
him thrust for thrust, slowly, then with increasing intensity. Her thighs
quivered as they gripped his hips. He nuzzled at her ear.

“Say it,
angel. Tell me.”

Saba sank
her teeth into his shoulder. He jerked into her, surprised at the small, sharp
pain. She started nipping her way up his neck. He moved hard into her and was rewarded
by her legs shifting up to wrap around his ribs. He still wanted to hear her
say the words. He licked her ear. She bucked against him.

“What do
you want, Saba? Tell me.”

“Don’t
stop!”

His balls
tightened. Stopping wasn’t an option. It hadn’t been since the moment he’d
plunged into her.

“I
won’t.” And he wouldn’t. He wanted release but he’d not fall without her ever
again unless it was at her request and for her pleasure. He lengthened his
strokes. She moaned. The sound ripped an echo from him.

“Saba.
What do you need?” He kissed his way down her jaw line then claimed her mouth.
She met him eagerly, parting her lips, and letting him plunder. She suddenly
clawed at him. Her back arched.

“Reach
for it, angel. Tell me.” He slammed into her. “Tell me.”

Her body
rippled around his shaft. His cock swelled even more, aching to give her its
gift.

“Ryder!”
The surprise in her voice about undid him. She gasped then stiffened. She was
coming. His body answered hers. He gave her all he could, driving into her with
bruising force. She met him stroke for stroke.

Her
pleasure ripped through his control. He slammed into her with selfish abandon.
But maybe not so selfish.

“Ryder,
don’t stop!” He rose up and slammed into her again. She screamed. His own
climax overtook him, hurtling him into dark bliss. He was helpless as it
battered him with blow after blow of sweet sensation as her soft flesh welcomed
him, yielded all to him. He flooded into her in seemingly endless pulses of
devastating pleasure.

The world
around him slowly refocused. The stars dancing behind his eyelids faded. He
eased his weight down onto her and buried his face in the softness of her hair.
Did
that damn nasty brew she forced him to drink have a sexual stimulant
in it? If it did, he wanted another cup.

“Oh,
gods,” he moaned. Even breathing was taking a lot of energy. She hugged him
with her arms and legs. Awareness of the soreness of his ribs returned.

His ribs
could just ache. He wasn’t about to ask her to release him. Ever. Ryder
mustered enough energy to kiss his way along her cheek to her lips. She sighed
his name into his mouth. His cock actually twitched in response. What spell had
she cast on him?

Not that
he was going to complain.

She
caressed down his back and flanks. She sighed again and eased her legs from
around him. He shifted his weight onto his elbows and looked at her. Her eyes
opened. Saba smiled up at him.

You
must have done that right, old boy.

Ryder
matched her smile. She toyed with a lock of his damp hair.

“We
didn’t get much of a bath.”

He shook
his head. “No, we didn’t. Does that mean you want to hop back into the water?”

She
nodded. “Kiss me again, Ryder.”

He was
more than happy to comply and kissed her, a soft meeting of their lips that
held promise and passion, and an understanding of each other that surprised
him.

He kissed
her nose then carefully withdrew from her. She stretched like a cat when his
weight was off her, rolling onto her stomach. He patted her very attractive
rump.

“I’m
going in,” he warned and fell off the edge into the pool. The water sloshed
onto the rock. She was more dignified with her reentry, easing into the warm
water with barely a splash.

She
handed him an
eola
leaf and told him to scrub.

“What?
You’re not going to do my back, angel?”

“Just
wash, Ryder. We’ve been here far too long. The smoke from the chimney is
visible. Others may be waiting.”

He’d not
thought about that, or much of anything but her, and it was to her that his
thoughts went now. He had a few questions while they scrubbed.

“Tell me
the truth, angel. Everyone is going to know we’ve been together. Are you all
right with that?”

“It’s my
right to take lovers as I choose. I’ve not agreed to partner with anyone.”

“Including
Tyree?”
And including me, should I ask you?

“Especially
Tyree. He is headman of this village. He is responsible for my safety. That is
all. He has no say in the company I keep.”

Ryder
winced mentally. She really didn’t know a lot about men when it came to their
interest in women. Or a particular woman. Tyree had plenty of interest in her.
She surely wasn’t that blind.

“Angel,
he’s going to have plenty to say about me.” Ryder ducked under the water before
she could respond. He opened his eyes in the clear water and grabbed her ankle.
She was suddenly under the water staring at him with an exasperated expression
on her blurred face. They surfaced together sending waves crashing and water
splashing along the sides of the pool.

“We’re
clean. We should go.” Her tone said she’d brook no argument from him. He wasn’t
about to give her one.

“We
should. I’m about to starve, angel. Are you going to feed me?”

“Perhaps.”
She climbed out of the pool and reached for a piece of the toweling. He hopped
out and pulled it from her and started to dry her. She resisted for a moment
then gave him one of those little catlike smiles females were capable of.

Yeah, men
were predictable when it came to some things, he had to admit. She turned for
him to dry her back. He’d rather have kept on ‘drying’ her breasts but she’d
obviously had enough of that—for now.

“What are
my chances of getting a big, thick steak?” His mouth watered just thinking
about it. His stomach rumbled. She looked over her shoulder at him, grinning.

“It’s
possible, although the size may not be to your liking. We’ll ask Hezetta if
there are any left from the last hunt.”

“Really?
Do you dry the meat from hunts?”

“No. We
bring in snow from the high mountain and place it deep in this cave where it
does not melt. The meat is packed there and will keep for many weeks if handled
in this manner. Of course, some of the men are kept busy bringing in snow, but
because they get the best cuts, they do not mind overmuch. In the warmer
months, we hunt small game that can be cooked at once.”

Ryder
nodded. Maybe some day he’d tell her how easy it was to freeze food where he
came from. Maybe not. Life here was harder, and the knowledge survival was
easier on those far-off points of light in the night sky wouldn’t make it less
difficult.

They
finished dressing in silence. His exertions were catching up with him. He
weighed how badly he needed a meal against how much he needed sleep. Saba
watched him with the eyes of a healer, quietly observant, missing nothing.

Hezetta
had pulled a heavy curtain across the entrance to her hut, ensuring her privacy
from anyone who might be leaving the bathing chamber. Saba called to her softly
and she appeared, her dark eyes sparkling with mischief. Ryder hoped she didn’t
say anything to embarrass Saba.

Saba
inquired about meat and Hezetta opened a small crock and pulled out two small
partially thawed chunks of meat. She wrapped them quickly and handed them to
Saba.

“I was
going to prepare these tomorrow. You take them. I’ll go get more.” Her hands
closed over Saba’s. She looked Ryder up and down and shook her head.

Just what
she meant by that he didn’t know and wasn’t going to ask. He held out his hands
for the bundle Saba was holding. She hesitated but gave it to him.

Saba
thanked Hezetta for the meat and for graciously allowing them time in the pool.
Ryder shivered as they stepped out into the cooler night air. He shifted the
bundle and draped his arm around Saba, pulling her closer to keep her warm.

The
central yard of the village was quiet. Some small animal trundled across the
open expanse unconcerned over their approach. Its attitude suggested it was a
pet, well accustomed to people. Saba ignored it, so Ryder felt safe in following
her lead.

A few
huts were already dark inside. A few more windows showed only the flickering
light of the hearth or maybe a candle. Only a handful of people sat outside
their doors enjoying the evening and chatting with neighbors.

That
these were a peaceful people showed everywhere Ryder looked. They’d saved his
life, and then welcomed him. What was so different about the
errol
that
the creature had not been welcomed? He had to find the answer to that question
before he could formulate a plan to deal with the creature.

Other books

Real Challenge (Atlanta #2) by Kemmie Michaels
Rush of Insanity by Eden Summers
The Wild One by Taylor, Theodora
Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert
Black Cats and Evil Eyes by Chloe Rhodes
The Savage King by Michelle M. Pillow
Dying for the Highlife by Dave Stanton