Authors: Kinley MacGregor
n the black of night, Draven made his way up the winding stairs that led to his bower. More weary than ever before, he felt the familiar burning in his knee of a wound he would just as soon forget.
All he wanted was peace, solitude, a place where no one would disturb him. A place where he could forget the world and the world could forget him.
He pushed open the door.
Draven took a single step into his room, then froze.
Emily sat in a large, gilded tub. She had piled her long golden hair atop her head, and several tendrils of it curled becomingly about her creamy shoulders.
The light from a dozen beeswax candles glistened against bare, milk-white skin. And his mouth watered for a taste of it.
Unaware of his presence, she lifted one supple arm up and lathered a cloth with soap. He could hear her humming a soft, lilting tune as she drew the cloth slowly over her arm, leaving a trail of suds.
His body instantly attuned, he watched as she tilted her head to the side and stroked the flesh of her neck with her long, shapely fingers. He bit his lip as he imagined what that skin would taste like should he take it between his teeth and tease it with his tongue.
His breathing ragged, he couldn't tear his gaze from her as she started to lather her wet breasts with gentle, massaging strokes. Her fingers splayed over the tender mounds, teasing the taut nipples, covering them with more suds and making his groin hotter and harder than it had ever been before.
Draven couldn't stand it. Unconsciously, he moved toward her.
The tip of his sword scraped against the doorframe, alerting her to his presence.
Looking up, Emily gasped as she jumped to cover herself with her hands, sending water over the edge of the tub and spilling it across the floor.
Their eyes met and locked, and a slow smile spread across her face as she boldly unwrapped her arms from around her bare breasts, gifting him with the magnificent image of her wide-eyed and naked.
Then, to his utter amazement, she rose from the water like a seductive nymph, completely unabashed by her nudity.
He couldn't move as he feasted on the sight of her creamy body glistening like wet silk in the candlelight.
His mouth dry, he trailed his gaze from the top of her head to her sculpted breasts and then to the smallness of her waist. But what captured his gaze most were the damp, dark blond curls at the juncture of her thighs. Curls that beckoned him with the promise of wet, sleek heat welcoming him into the realms of paradise.
By all the saints, she was the loveliest creature on earth to him.
“I've been waiting for you, milord,” she said as her face softened.
Draven couldn't speak.
She stepped over the edge of the tub and approached him with the slow seductive walk of a practiced courtesan.
Mesmerized, he still didn't move. Not even when she stopped before him and reached up to touch his face. Chills erupted through him, and he allowed her to tilt his head down as she rose on her tiptoes to meet his lips.
She pressed her breasts flat against his armor as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
Encircling her wet, bare body with his arms, he took possession of her mouth and ravished it fully. Draven moaned as he tasted the pure honey of her breath, her tongue. The scent of honeysuckle filled his head and he closed his eyes, reveling in the sound of her welcoming sigh as he ran his hands over her hips to cup her buttocks and press her closer to him.
Somehow, he found his armor in a puddle at his feet and he stood completely naked before her as she ran her hands over his chest.
Draven kissed a circle around her, from her lips to her neck to her shoulders. He came up behind her, running his hands over her taut breasts as she arched her back against his chest. He buried his lips against the nape of her neck as she hissed in pleasure.
“I want you, Draven,” she whispered, her voice driving his throbbing body to new heights of need.
Brazenly, she took his hands and placed them again on her breasts. “Do with me as you will.”
Leaning his head back, he gave his battle cry as he moved his hands from her breasts down her arms and to her hands. He laced his fingers with hers, then placed her hands against the wall in front of her.
Aye, he would have his way with her this night. Damn his oath and damn his past. For one moment, he would know what it was like to feel as if he belonged. As if he could have all he desired.
Her hair came tumbling down in a wealth of curls. He buried his face in her tresses and just inhaled the essence of her. Emily reached up over her head and buried her hand in his hair. “I love you, milord,” she whispered, and for some reason he couldn't fathom, her words didn't terrify him.
She turned then, to face him, and took his lips with her own. Her hands explored his body boldly, hotly, as she rubbed herself against him, raising his desire to a ravenous need.
“You taste so sweet,” she whispered, leaving his lips and nibbling a trail along his jaw to his neck.
Draven sucked his breath in sharply between his teeth as she suckled the flesh of his neck. Then she moved lower. Down his chest, to his abdomen, his navel, and when she took him into her mouth, he thought he might very well die where he stood.
Only he didn't. Instead, he buried his hand in her hair and trembled as shivers of pleasure erupted through his entire body. Her lips and tongue teased him unmercifully with white-hot ecstasy. And just when he was sure he could take no more, she pulled away and rose slowly to her feet.
She took his hand into hers and led it to the sweet nectar between her thighs where she was hot and wet and ready for him. “Come inside, my sweet, where it is warm and inviting,” she whispered.
Trembling from the invitation, Draven didn't hesitate. He braced her against the wall and drove himself inside her, up to the hilt. She moaned in his ear as she rose up onto her tiptoes, then lowered herself down upon his shaft.
It was heaven. Pure, blessed heaven. The likes of which he'd never thought to have.
He shook all over from it.
“Aye, Draven, aye,” she moaned insistently as she gently milked his body with her own.
“Emily,” he said at last, enjoying the feel of her name on his lips as he pulled himself back ever so slightly, then plunged himself deep inside her again.
“Milord,” she said again even more insistently than before.
“Emily,” he sighed.
Draven came awake with a start as someone grabbed him by the shoulder. His first instinct to lay low his attacker, he barely caught himself before he yielded to that protective urge.
He blinked twice as he looked up into exotic, bright green eyes set in a puzzled face. The same catlike eyes he'd just been dreaming of.
Emily stood above him, fully clothed. And this was not his room where the dream had taken place. This was the old orchard behind the donjon.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
“Aye,” he said hoarsely, shifting his body to keep her from seeing the hardness of him that jutted out like a ten-foot maypole.
He didn't know what annoyed him most, being interrupted from his dream or being caught in the midst of some adolescent fantasy, the likes of which he'd not had since he
How could his dreams have betrayed him so?
And worse, in a castle full of people, why did it have to be Emily who awakened him?
Could he possibly be any more embarrassed?
Nay, not even if it were the pope himself who had awakened him.
“Are you certain all is well?” she asked again. “Your face is terribly flushed.” She reached out to touch his forehead.
For an instant, Draven didn't move. He craved her touch so much that he was frozen.
Until his sense finally took hold of him. Jumping to his feet, he put a safe distance between them because if she were to touch him right then while the heat of the dream still tortured him, he might very well succumb to his body and take her where she stood.
“I am fine,” he insisted, thanking all that was holy for his long supertunic that hid his embarrassing condition from her casual glance.
“Are you sure your wound isn't infected?”
Draven ground his teeth at the reminder of what had happened that morning. First he'd let her distract him to the point of being hit, and nowâ¦
What the devil was wrong with him? He'd always been in full charge of himself.
Emily stooped in front of him and retrieved the book he had been reading before he fell asleep. The low scoop of her dress was such that she unknowingly gifted him with the sight of the deep valley between her breasts, and the luscious mouthwatering mounds. His breath caught in his throat at the creaminess of her skin.
And his damned body grew even stiffer!
Cursing under his breath, he tried to distract himself by looking at a crooked piece of masonry falling off the wall behind her, and the sow trotting loose from its pen.
It didn't help. Not even a bit.
“Peter Abelard?” she asked, her soft voice entrancing him so much that he inadvertently met her curious gaze.
What was it about them that enthralled him so? They were a deep, earthy green and shone with some inner light or spirit he couldn't name.
And suddenly those eyes grew puzzled.
Mentally kicking himself, he responded to her question with the first stupid comment that came to his mind. “You find it strange I read a monk's writing?”
Because right then with the sun glinting in the highlights of her golden hair, monkish thoughts were the furthest thing from his mind.
“I find it strange you read at all.”
“I would remark the same of you, milady,” he said gruffly, taking the book from her hand. “I wasn't aware Hugh bothered to tutor his daughters.”
“I could say the same of Harold.” Emily bit her lip as soon as the words were out of her mouth and she saw the anger that lit his eyes.
She hadn't meant to offend him. “That is to sayâ”
“I understand what you said, milady,” he said in a stiff, formal tone.
This was not how she meant for the encounter to go. But then she hadn't expected him to be so irritable. Especially given the tenderness in his voice when he spoke her name as she struggled to wake him.
Whatever was the matter with him?
Seeking to rectify whatever insult she had inadvertently given, she explained her unusual education to him. “My father thought it wise that we learn to read in order to make sure our steward never swindled his money. He always felt that a literate woman was a helpful one.”
A bitterness darkened his eyes. “And my father believed that so long as the steward feared for his life, he wouldn't dare cheat his lord, literate or not.”
That was in keeping with what she had always heard of the lords of Ravenswood. Their cold brutality had become legendary long ago.
And yet she couldn't imagine the vivacious Denys in fear of his life. In fact, he seemed most content in his official capacity.
“Is that more of your morbid humor?” she asked, remembering what Simon had told her about Draven.
His face didn't change at all. “You'll find I have no sense of humor. At least none of which I'm aware.”
Emily paused. She had no idea where to go from that. So rather than taste any more of her foot, she deftly changed the subject. “I actually came to find you so that I could thank you for what you did.”
“For what I did?”
“The castle,” she said, taking a step toward him. “It was more than Iâ” Her voice broke off as she looked up into his eyes. Up close they weren't the frigid blue she had first noted, but were in fact a strange mixture of blues.
Never had she seen eyes quite like them. They reminded her of a stained glass window. Why, there was even a fleck of red in his left eye just below the pupil.
His gaze sharpened on her just the way Theodore's always did right before he attempted a kiss.
Emily stood completely still, both anxious and afraid that he might try it.
Lord Draven was so large compared to her, and no one had ever considered her slight of form. Indeed, her father hardly had an inch on her height, but she barely reached Lord Draven's shoulders.
The soft wind caressed the dark locks of his hair. His gaze dropped to her lips, and she saw the raw hunger in his eyes. In that moment, she wanted to feel his lips on hers, to taste the essence of this man.
Breathless, she licked her lips in expectation of his kiss.
His head dipped ever so slightly and his lips parted.
Just when she was certain he would kiss her, he straightened abruptly. “I must be going,” he said tartly, placing his book beneath his arm.
Annoyed by his dismissal, she watched him step around her and head toward the keep.
Emily put her hands on her hips and watched him walk away. “This is not going to be easy,” she muttered beneath her breath.
How could she make him fall in love with her if he refused to stay near her?
Discouraged but not daunted, she headed back to the keep.
She had only come around it when Draven's squire almost ran her over.
“Beg pardon, milady,” he said. “I must prepare His Lordship's horse.”
Emily frowned as the lad dashed to the stable. Her consternation doubled as she entered the hall and overheard two knights speaking.
“I thought we weren't headed to Lincoln for another fortnight?”
“Seems Ravenswood changed his mind.”
The other knight growled low in his throat. “I grow weary of this travel. We just returned from London.”
“Were I you,” the other knight said with a note of warning in his voice, “I'd not speak so loudly lest
hear you. Otherwise, you'll be pulling watch for the next two months.”
They continued their conversation as they walked past her and out the main door.