Would everything be an argument with her? At least Francesca had taken orders with good grace. "Your arms will feel better after the heat of a bath. Now take off your clothes."
Even though he wanted to watch, he turned his back to her and faced the window. The gray light of winter was rapidly fading. Soon it would be dark.
And he would bed her in the dark. A mixed blessing. She wouldn't be able to see his ugly face, and he wouldn't be able to see her body. For a skinny woman, she had quite an arousing body.
"I can bathe with them on."
As if he hadn't seen plenty of her already. Good thing he never had visitors. Anyone could have happened along and seen her like that. Young Bill could have seen her like that. His hand clenched into a fist. "If I hang your things now, they'll dry by morning."
She'd learned the phrase already.
When she gasped, he looked over his shoulder. She was struggling out of the shift, no doubt hurting her sore arms. At least she was facing away from him, so she didn't see him watch as the damp shift fell to the floor.
Her shoulders were broader than he'd expected, her skin pale and pink in the fading sun, but her back and shoulder blades were far too bony. Even if she filled out some, she'd still be thin. Thinner than he liked a woman to be.
But when she bent to tug off her drawers, his breath caught. Mother of God, her backside was perfect. Her narrow waist, so slender, emphasized the flare of her hips, the wonderful, round curves of the pale globes of her ass. His mouth went dry and his cock twitched.
Someday, if she allowed it, if she liked bed sport, if ... someday, if he was the luckiest man alive, he'd take her from behind. He'd put her on her hands and knees, yes, and kneel behind her. Somehow there would be enough light to see ... and he'd hold onto those wide hips and look down at that glorious ass as he fucked her. Her yellow blonde hair would stream down her slender back and over her shoulders as she moved with him ... and she'd bury her face in the mattress, trying to muffle her cries of pleasure ‑‑
She moved slightly, shifting to one side, and he quickly turned his head away so she wouldn't see him looking at her. Did other men think such lustful thoughts about their own wives? He'd never know. Even if he had friends to ask, he could never raise such a personal subject. He'd heard men brag about their conquests, but never about their wives.
She gasped and drew short, panting breaths. She must be sliding into the hot water, but he imagined her making those sounds beneath him.
Enough. He turned and saw only her head over the edge of the tub. Somehow she'd managed to twist up her hair and tuck her knees under her chin. Her shoulders were underwater. Good. The heat would soothe her sore muscles.
He picked up her discarded clothes and hung them on a spare end of the clothesline. He had to get out of here. Outside. The cold air would settle his cock. He'd go find Bill, help him with that rotten tree. And hear more about how smart and desirable Bill found his wife-to-be. Damn. Well, at least she'd be decently clothed when he got back. She'd better be.
He shrugged into his coat. When he opened the door, she called his name softly. He closed it again. "Yes?"
"Please, will you give me soap?"
Her English wasn't terrible at all. With simple sentences, she did just fine.
He kept his gaze on her face as he brought her the tin of soap and a washcloth. Lord, her face was as red as boiled beets. Maybe she was a virgin after all.
Or maybe it was the sight of him that made her blush. The thought of an ugly man like him seeing her naked.
She reached out for the soap and winced.
"Don't use your arms."
He shrugged out of his coat, then dragged a chair over and sat behind the tub, so he could stare down at her bosom without her seeing. "I'll wash you."
She looked up at him, mouth agape, and covered her breasts with crossed arms. "You can't."
"You're no use to me crippled. I'll help you now, so you can work tomorrow." And so I can fuck you tonight