He slung the pack over his shoulder and slung an arm around my waist. It wasn't that far to our cottage, but there was plenty of time on the way to tell him about my encounter with William.
“I'd tell him if there was need,” Niall said.
“I told him that.” The two of them had been friends once. They'd drifted apart long before last year, but Niall couldn't help regretting that loss even after what William had done to him. “I think he wants to believe it, but he's afraid to,” I said. “None of the others will tell him how she is, not even his own friends.”
“He could have asked me. He knows where I am.”
This was hurting Niall, dragging up more than the recent past. I changed the subject. “At least you're home at a reasonable hour. I've supper waiting, but it's a casserole; it'll keep while you have a shower.”
“Good.” He ran a hand through his hair, grimacing a little. “I could do with getting clean.”
If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought he only loved me for my very large hot water tank and indifference to the bills. “Get on with you, then.” I opened our front door, then held out a hand to him. “Do you want me to lay your skin out to air?”
“Thanks.” He handed me the pack and went straight up the stairs to the bathroom. I locked the door behind us, then followed him. He was in the shower by the time I'd got up the stairs, so I went to the spare room and pulled out the clothes horse. Then I pulled the skin out of its pack and shook it out over the horse, carefully arranging it, smoothing the folds, savouring the texture of the short fur against my hand.
This told me how much Niall loved me, how much he trusted
me, that he would hand me his skin without hesitation. Without this skin he could not change shape, could not shift between two worlds. Would be trapped on land forever. To let any human handle it, after it had been stolen once …
Oh, yes, his fishermen friends had been thinking about his future when they'd asked me to take him in; they'd seen the advantages a wealthy lover might bring a stranded silkie. But they'd also been thinking that we would suit one another, that it would be no bad thing to indulge in a little matchmaking for both our sakes, and they'd been right. We'd both been lonely and despairing of ever finding the right person, and then we'd found each other, and so some good had come out of William's deed in the end.
I made certain that there were no creases left in the skin, and left it there. I'd already laid out clean clothes for Niall before I'd gone down to the harbour, and the dinner would look after itself, so there was nothing left to do but wait for him to finish his shower.
I knocked on the bathroom door and went in. He'd already finished washing his hair, by the looks of it; now he was having a nice, relaxing soak, simply enjoying the hot water cascading down his body. “Glad to be back in civilisation?” I asked.
He grinned at me through the steam. “Lovely hot water? Oh, yes.”
God, but he was gorgeous. A handsome face, with a ready and sweet smile. Slim body, but powerful muscles. Part of the time he was a fisherman, doing heavy labour on the boats; part of the time he was a wild animal, to a casual glance at least, swimming in the open sea. Though he did less of that these days when he wasn't working with Malcolm, driving the fish into the nets. He preferred to spend most of his free time with me nowadays. And glad I was of it, not just for the sex, but for the companionship. It was good to have him around the house, someone else of erratic working hours and an understanding that the work happened when it must, someone who allowed me the space to do my work without interruption, but gave me the comfort of company. Mind, the sex certainly wasn't bad either.
In fact, sex was what I wanted right now. I rather regretted not dragging him straight into the bedroom, but I knew the shower wasn't just to get clean. It was to ease muscles that might be a little stiff after a long day's work, and to relax his mind as well, mark the division between work and home.
One part of him was getting more rather than less stiff under my scrutiny, and the grin was getting rather more lecherous. “Should I have saved the shower for later?” he asked.
“I was just thinking that myself.”
He switched off the water and stepped out of the shower. I was ready and waiting with a big fluffy towel held out for him, another of the little luxuries he appreciated about a landside life. As soon as he'd wrapped himself up in it, I went for the cupboard and the packet of condoms.
“Right this second, or can it wait until I'm dry?”
“I'll dry the most important bit.” I grabbed a handful of towel and wrapped it around his cock, squeezing and then rubbing the cloth up and down. It was an odd sensation against my palm, the thick, soft cloth against my skin and then his hard cock underneath the softness.
“Ah!” He grabbed me and kissed me. It didn't do much for my concentration, but I kept rubbing him with the towel. It was a very fluffy towel, so I wasn't worried about doing him some damage. If anything, it probably wasn't quite enough stimulation for him.
Of course, there was one way to fix that. I wriggled free of his hug and went down on my knees in front of him. Carefully, because the bath mat wasn't that thick and I didn't want to bruise my knees even if I was in a hurry. I pulled away the towel and tore open the condom packet. His cock was dry now, and no wonder, so it was easy enough to roll the condom neatly onto him. Then I leaned forward and took a good, hot, hard mouthful.
I'd missed him, even with it being a short overnight trip. I'd mostly missed the warm body in bed next to mine and the companionship and him just being
there, but I'd missed this as well. Him being hard and hot for me, wanting me, wanting my mouth on his cock. I could feel his hands on the back of my head, could tell that he was straining, holding back the urge to just grab and shove. I wanted him wanting me that badly.