“Watch me.” Lachlan 's silken voice stirred her from her reverie. She opened her eyes and saw that he was getting ready to undress. He moved with deliberate slowness. Unbuttoning his white linen shirt, he revealed more of his perfectly muscled chest. She couldn't keep her eyes from the waistband of his pants, wanting, yet not wanting him to remove them.
He caught her eye and smiled. Dropping his shirt to the floor, he moved his hands to his jeans. Slowly, he slid them over his hips, and his huge shaft sprang free. He was fully erect.
Terror spiraled along Brianna's spine, but she also felt a strong desire to reach out and stroke him. She had never thought of a man's organ as beautiful before, but his was a work of art, longer and thicker than any she had ever seen. She seriously doubted she could take all of it inside her.
“Do I please you?”
Brianna coughed lightly to clear her throat. “Yes.” What was the point of hiding her desire? She'd agreed to do whatever he asked. He would soon know just how pleasing she found him when he felt how wet and ready she was.
He laughed softly and stepped into the tub.
“Are you reading my thoughts again?”
“No.” His voice was sharp. “Once I have given my word, you can expect me to honor it.” He settled in the water, and in a calmer voice said, “I don't need to read your thoughts. Your lust for me shows plainly on your face.”
“You are certainly pleased with yourself,” she said, angry at his arrogance and unnerved that he could read her so easily. Even if he honored his promise to stay out of her head, could she hide any of her feelings from him? She clenched her fists against the urge to leap from the tub and run.
He swept her hair back from her face and ran his fingers along her cheek, tilting her chin so she looked directly into his eyes. “I am pleased that you desire me. I meant what I said. Our coupling will bring you as much pleasure as it does me.”
She let his seductive voice roll over her, calming her fears. If she were truly to honor their bargain, she would have to let herself be seduced or the tension in her body would tear her apart.
He picked up a washcloth, lathered it with lavender-scented soap, and asked Brianna to lean back so he could wash the front of her body. As she tilted her head back against the rim of the tub, he began to rub her skin, using big, circular motions. The cloth felt like velvet against her skin.
Nothing he did was overtly sexual, yet with each touch, she felt more heat moving to the center of her body, and she fell deeper under his sexual spell. Maybe he had not truly used magic to seduce her, but she was caught in his web nonetheless. She knew that at that moment, she would, in fact, do anything he wanted, as long as she could have him.
He asked her to turn around so her back was to him and continued to wash her, lulling her into submission. It was all so innocent. Yet, each touch stirred her, teasing her, making her long for him to drop the cloth and touch her with his hands.
“Your dragonfly is beautiful. What made you choose that design?”
“I don't really know.” She tried not to sound as nervous as she felt. Her tattoo was something she did not like to discuss. She'd dreamed about it and had simply known she had to have it. How did one explain such a thing without sounding crazy? Of course, she'd just seen blue fire shoot out from Lachlan 's hand so she probably didn't have to worry about that with him. Still, she was reluctant to explain her motivation. “I've always liked dragonflies.”
“Surely there is more to it than that.”
“No,” she snapped, immediately regretting her tone. “I'm sorry I ... I'm a bit nervous.”
“Of course; we'll discuss it later.”
When he finished with her back, he soaped the cloth once again and brought his arms around her body, so he could wash between her legs. When his bare arms touched her skin, she jumped as if he'd burned her. She felt so hot, so needy. When the cloth touched her, she moaned, her desire having reached such a pitch that a few strokes would have brought her release. But he gave her only the gentlest of cleanings, as if he was intentionally stretching out her need.
He withdrew his hands and rinsed the cloth. “Your turn.”
“What?” she replied, unable to comprehend anything beyond her raging need.
“Your turn to wash me.”
“Do as I say.” His tone was not angry, but it was firm. She knew she must obey, but she was uncertain if she could concentrate.
He handed her another cloth and a different soap. This one smelled earthy, like leather and honeysuckle.
She'd never explored a man's body the way she explored Lachlan 's as she bathed him. He was perfectly proportioned, and she felt like she could look at him all day. She longed to wash him with her bare hands, but when she put the cloth down and ran the soap across her fingers, he said, “You will have a chance to touch me later. Wash me as I washed you.”
As she stroked his back, she noticed he had a raven tattoo placed exactly where her dragonfly was. The style was so similar, one would think the same artist had drawn them, but that was impossible. She had drawn her own from the memory of her dream.
“Why did you choose a raven?” she asked, too curious not to inquire.
“It is the symbol of my family, part of our crest,” he answered, but she could feel the muscles of his back tense. What was it about the tattoos?
When she'd finished bathing him, Lachlan dried her and sent her to lie down on the bed. The heat of the bath and the sexual stimulation had lulled her until her legs felt like jelly. She had to grab the doorframe to keep from stumbling. She tried to summon a healthy measure of fear, but her body was too saturated with need to feel anything else.
When she finally reached the tall, four-poster bed, she used the old-fashioned steps to help herself climb up. Pulling back the covers, she sank into the satiny sheets, relishing the feel of the fabric against her skin.
Lachlan approached her, carrying a glass partially filled with green liquid.
“W-what is that?” she asked, nervous once again.
“A potion to make sure we do not produce any children tonight.”
Brianna was mortified that she had not considered the question of birth control, yet she also feared his “potion” could cause her far greater harm than pregnancy. “What's in it?”
Lachlan smiled. “Herbs, spices, and magic.” He answered as if magic were as commonplace as nutmeg or parsley.
Brianna still hesitated to take the glass.
“I have no desire to poison you, and I do not need drugs to control you. Your instincts know it is true, even if your mind does not.”
He was right. Her heart told her Lachlan meant her no harm. She couldn't explain how she knew, but on some level far below her conscious mind, her body recognized him. When she let herself relax, her body responded to him, forming a deeper connection than she'd ever experienced with another person. The connection scared her but she could not deny that it existed.
Once she drained the glass, he pulled the covers all the way off the bed. “Lie on your back, and stretch your hands above your head.”
Brianna saw that he held pieces of thin, silky rope. She thought she knew what they were for, but in an effort to stall him, she asked, “What are you doing?”
“I am going to tie your hands.”
“No, please, I --”
“Brianna, I will not hurt you, but I do demand that you surrender to me.”
This was not at all what she had anticipated when he'd bargained for her body. She'd expected him to simply satisfy his needs, not toy with her, enflame her, make her want to obey him. If he'd simply taken her when he brought her upstairs, she could have fought the connection that sizzled between them, but every moment she spent with him, every touch their bodies shared, brought her into deeper awareness of him and the unnaturally strong desire he invoked in her.
And now, when he spoke, commanding her to give far more than her body, part of her longed for such a surrender. It would be so easy to let go of herself and sink into the thrall of his seductive voice.
He watched her while she reluctantly reached for the thin slats in the headboard. The desire to resist and the desire to honor her word warred inside her. When she'd complied with his request, he used the ropes to bind her wrists, carefully wrapping the silk so the iron would not chafe her.
Taking hold of her ankles, he stretched her feet out and tied them to the posts at the foot of the bed. Then, he tied a long piece of silk fabric around her head like a blindfold. She whimpered softly but did not protest.
“If anything I do truly hurts you, you must tell me. I seek only to heighten your pleasure by taking away your ability to anticipate or resist.”
His voice radiated like a low purr, and heat throbbed throughout her entire body. She wanted him desperately. Didn't he feel this urgency? If so, how could he stand to wait?
What was wrong with her? She should be terrified. Lachlan was rumored to be a monster. He had her tied up, and no one knew where she was. But while she was wary and unsure what he would do next, she was not truly afraid. She believed him when he said he would not harm her. Yet how innocent could he be if this was the price he asked for helping her?
She felt a tickling touch, like fingers barely grazing her skin. She didn't think it was his hands, since she didn't feel the warmth from his skin. The teasing touch traveled along her neck and across her chest. It circled her breasts and then concentrated on her already hardened nipples. She bit back a moan as she arched up, trying to deepen the contact.
Then the touch left her breasts, moved across her belly and settled between her outstretched legs. “Please,” she cried, lifting herself to the tendrils that teased her. “Please, I need more.”
She heard his soft laughter, and the light touch was replaced by the warmth of his hands. His fingers delved inside her while his thumb worked at the center of her need, but as she felt herself nearing the edge, he stopped. She nearly screamed in frustration.