Jason returned to the wreckage. How carefully he studied the mess, moving from one side to the other, peering underneath, rocking different pieces to discover where they were caught. So methodical. If he were not a slave, she might suspect him of being an engineer. He wedged the end of his blade into a crevice and leaned against the handle. A large piece of metal snapped out of the tangle. With the force of the release, he lost his footing and stumbled against the conveyance.
He hissed and grabbed his forearm with one hand as he straightened.
"You are injured."
"It's nothing." Blood leaked from between his fingers, staining his sleeve.
"Speak truth," she commanded.
"It's just a scratch," he said through clenched teeth. He bent and picked up his threshing blade, still holding his forearm in a tight grip.
"Show me." She stepped closer.
He lifted his hand and pushed up his sleeve. Blood ran from a long cut on his forearm. "You use the incorrect word. This is not a scratch. This is a wound."
She looked around. Darnal had not returned. She would have to tend his wound herself. Or order Eldin to do so.
There he was, filling a hole in the road, the boy standing beside him. "Eldin!"
Eldin rushed up to her, head bowed.
"Pry the remainder of this wreckage from underneath the conveyance." She turned to Jason. "Come with me," she commanded.
He gave her a wary look, but did not step toward her.
He had not the sense of a small child. "Your wound was made by farm equipment, filthy with dirt. If allowed to fester, then..." She made a chopping gesture across her own arm.
He said nothing, but his eyes widened in understanding. She took a step toward the conveyance, and he dropped his blade and quietly followed her.
She led him into the small back chamber that served as her sleeping quarters when she traveled by conveyance. Sparse, but she needed only the pallet and the cleansing station.
She took him to the cleansing station. "Remove your shirt."
He peeled the shirt off in one swift movement. By the gods, his chest was magnificent. Broad and golden, with only a smattering of hair. Her hand itched to touch him.
And why resist? His wound must be tended.
"Your hand," she ordered, reaching out for him. He put his hand in hers. So hot. Her own hand jerked. She'd heard that Earthers had a higher body temperature, but had never felt one's flesh.
He frowned. "If touching me offends you, just give me a dressing. I'll do it myself."
"No," she said, gripping his hand more firmly.
She drew his arm over the cleansing station. His hands were large. Large enough to easily cover her breasts as she rode him. Oh, it had been too long since she had taken a man, to cause her such visions.
She held his arm steady until the sonic shower had removed the blood and dirt from his wound. The cut was deep and long, almost the length of his forearm. She found a film bandage in the cabinet and smoothed it over the injury. Even through the shielding film, his heat radiated against her hand. She willed her fingers to release his arm.
He flexed his hand, twisted his forearm against the resisting bandage. "I've never seen a bandage like this."
No doubt slaves were given few necessities. "It will dissolve as your wound heals."
He said nothing, merely stared into her eyes.
"Do you intend disrespect?" she asked.
"I don't understand."
"You look into my eyes. Not even servants of my own race behave so."
His head bowed, eyes lowered properly. A smile graced his lips. "It seems more disrespectful to stare at your breasts."
No man had ever spoken to her like this. She should be angry. But the heat that suffused her was not anger. Not at all.
His smile was purely carnal when he lifted his gaze to her face. He wanted her. And no man should be punished for wanting a woman. Not when the woman wanted him in return.
She stepped closer. Her hand lifted as though drawn to him. She pressed her palm over his heart. By the gods, his flesh was hot.
He drew back slightly, but not enough to dislodge her hand. "Don't," he said huskily.
"Because I haven't even seen a woman in months."
She moved closer, until her body brushed lightly against his groin. Yes, his member was hardened. "And now that you see one, your reaction is natural."
He closed his eyes, but said nothing. Probably thanking the gods for his good fortune this day.
As was she. There was something about this Earther. Perhaps the startling amber of his eyes, or the fall of deep black hair against his shoulders, or the heat of his chest. No, it was simply this blatant pride of his, as though he was her equal. As though being a slave did not make him less of a man.
Such a man deserved a respite from field labor. Just as she deserved a respite from the labors of government. Her position would not fall if she spent a few moments in pleasure.
She brushed against him again, and felt his hardness move. Her privates tingled, warm with arousal. Yes. She would take him. They were both in need.
"You shall pleasure me," she said. The words sounded harsh, sharpened by her need.
He raised one eyebrow. "How graciously you command me."
Yet he was not unwilling. She ignored his comment and drew him into her arms. His scent was musky and warm, like the forest on a still, damp day. He was so tall that she had to tilt her head back to see into his eyes. She reached up to kiss him, closing her eyes in anticipation.