Normally when I think of emotion in my stories, I automatically think of love. Of desire and even lust. Step back into the 1870s Texas, where a woman can be forced to marry a man she’s only just met and what she must be feeling the first night she’s alone with him. In Sarah’s case, she’s sure not feeling love or lust. She’s afraid…
Her husband—how long before she got used to that phrase?—raised one dark eyebrow. “I asked if you were done eatin’ and were ready to retire for the night.”
Retire. To their room. Their room. Their bed.
“You don’t need to be afraid of me, Miss Sarah. I ain’t never forced myself on a woman.”
…a sweet, believable ménage story with the perfect balance of plot, emotion, and steamy sex. ~ Lisa Watts, Fresh Fiction
His lips pressed together, he pushed his chair back and stood, holding out his hand to her. “The more you think about it, the worse it’ll be in your head.”
She placed her hand in his, wondering if he’d be repulsed by her calluses once she took her gloves off. The lady at the next table over with her fine linen dress with its lace bodice probably didn’t have work-worn hands from shoveling out the barn, or hauling buckets of water not only for cooking and bathing but for the animals day in and day out. Neither did the other woman two tables over, the one with the blond ringlets and fancy bonnet with ostrich feathers who’d outright ogled Jackson when they were being shown to their table.
Jackson tucked her arm beneath his and leaned down to her, whispering, “You’re prettier than either of them.”
Reverend Glass would have chided her for sinning when a flush of both embarrassment and pride warmed her cheeks.
The walk up the stairs to their room went too fast. Too soon she was standing in front of the single big bed. He’d want her to undress and get into it. What if she didn’t please him? She didn’t know what a man expected when it came to satisfying them in the bedroom. Oh Mama, why didn’t you tell me what I needed to know about these things?
Behind her, Jackson flipped shut the latch on the door, locking them in.
Was this how prisoners felt when they were locked in their cells for the first time? Her breath burning in her chest, Sarah wet her lips. What if he wanted her to do some of the things Jed had whispered? She tugged off her gloves and laid them beside her brush on the dressing table. Like her ring, they’d once been her mother’s and bore the signs of age and use. Conscious of him watching her, she fiddled with the ribbons of her bonnet.
“You look scared to death. Do you really think I’ll be that mean to you?” Jackson took the bonnet from her and set it over her gloves.
“I’m f-fine.” Her words might have held more weight if she hadn’t stuttered.
“Nice try, but I ain’t buying what you’re tryin’ to sell.” He picked up her hands and chaffed them between his large palms. “Take a nice deep breath for me, will ya?”
Honor and obey. She sucked in a lungful and immediately regretted having that slice of peach pie for dessert. Her knees lost any sense of direction and wobbled beneath her, and the light from the kerosene lantern dimmed.
“Whoa. Stay with me, Sarah.” He lifted her as if she weighed nothing and laid her on the bed. His face wavered at the edge of her vision, his eyes dark and concerned.
“Damned corsets. You can barely breathe, can you?” he growled. He bent his head and set to work on her stays like a man intent on solving a puzzle. Once he freed the last hook, she drew in the first deep breath she’d been able to take the entire day.
“Better?” The corset landed on top of her valise with a thud.
“Yes, thank you.” But she grabbed the edges of her bodice together and wrapped her arms over her chest almost as tightly as the corset had squeezed her.
His lips pursed together into a hard line. “Whatever you’re thinking is going to happen is probably a hell—beggin’ your pardon—heck of a lot worse in your head than it will be in fact.”
He was right. Something inside her quivered. Not in fear, but with an awareness she’d never known before. Her body softened, wanting to trust him, to rest against him and let him protect her. Her hands twitched, wanting to touch his shoulders, to play with the thin furring of hair on his chest and feel the strength of his muscles rippling in the dim light.
She took another deep breath. “All right. Let’s get this over with.” She stood up and grabbed the hem of her chemise.
“Now hang on a second.” He captured her hands. It was the first time she’d seen him smile, she realized, and it changed his whole face. With that deep dimple in his left cheek, and the way his eyes sparkled, he looked like a little boy who planned to put a frog in her bed. “Let’s get this over with? As much as a man likes to know a woman’s willing, I’d rather not think of lying in our marital bed bein’ a chore.”
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