Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Tempest Revisited - Chapter Sixteen


Their joy was overwhelming. But it was tempered by a solemn moment.
Edwin is dead, Cassia. He was killed in the siege.
Neither of them quite knew what to say to the other about it. They spoke quietly about him for a time, each expressing their regret about the loss.
But they could not deny their feelings for one another for long.
The wind was changing. There was a hint of rain in the air. But neither of them was willing to leave the other’s arms. They wanted to remain as they were. But Guy had no wish for them to be caught in a sudden shower. Reluctantly he pulled back in her arms. Taking her hand in his, he kissed each delicate finger, and together they slowly walked back to where he had left his horse. Occasionally they paused, turning to one another to share a passionate embrace and a kiss, both still overwhelmed by the joy of their reunion.
After they reached his horse, when he lifted her in the saddle and rose up behind her, she turned to him. In her shining dark eyes, he saw the love he had so desperately longed to know again. And he saw her concern. His heart swelled at the tenderness she expressed when she touched his face. Matilda had mentioned the darkness under his eyes and the length and unruliness of his dark hair. But until Cassia mentioned them, and was troubled by what she saw, he had hardly given such matters a thought.
“Oh Guy, you have suffered so. I can see it. It breaks my heart to think what you have been through. I have worried for you every day.”
He brought a finger to her lips to shush her…then replaced it with a sweet kiss. He leaned his forehead against hers, his words gentle and soothing.
“We will not speak of those things now. We are together again, and that is all that matters.”
“But there has been no one to care for you. And I know your way when left to your own devices.”
“You are mistaken, beloved. For there has indeed been one to care for me.”
Her eyebrow lifted in curiosity. “Pray, who have you been with?”
He smiled at the look in her eyes. She had missed him, and she had worried for him. But he could see the hint of jealousy growing in her – and he was quick to quell it.
“Your Matilda has taken me under her wing. Apparantly, I am quite useless without a DeWarren lady to look after me.”
His senses reeled at the sight of her lovely smile. Lord, he had missed it so!
“Matilda is with you?” she asked, delighted. And he nodded.
“She is. And she is waiting at the manor. We should make haste and meet her, do you not think?”
A happy tear ran down her cheek. She buried her head in his chest, holding him tightly in her arms. He leaned down, placing a sweet kiss in her hair, taking in the soothing fragrance of her. Then, he gave his horse the spur, holding her in his arms as they rode back towards the manor.
Just before the house came into view, Guy pulled at the reins of his horse. From his arms, Cassia looked up at him, puzzled.
“Why have you stopped?”
He slid down to the ground, though he still retained her hand. He looked up at her with a little smile.
“I do not think your brother would look favorably upon me if I returned with you in my arms.” He kissed her hand, letting his lips press against her skin for a long moment. Then, taking hold of the reins, he led his horse up the long graveled drive.
Almost at the moment they arrived, they were surrounded by several members of the household, many of whom came running towards them only to stop half-way, seeing Cassia upon Guy’s dark horse and unsure of what to make of it. It was Rosalyn who at last came forward, though she stopped just short of coming directly to Guy himself.
“Cassia, thank heavens. We have been looking everywhere for you. Your Aunt, especially. Are you well?”
Cassia smiled as Guy helped her down. “I am quite well, I assure you.” She glanced at Guy, who smiled at her in return. Then, as he handed his horse off to a groom, Rosalyn took her by the hand and pulled her close, walking with her towards the front steps.
“Dearest, you seem a different person. What has happened?”
Cassia’s eyes sparkled with joy. “Oh Rosalyn, it is a miracle. My true love has returned to me.” She gripped the hands of her sister-in-law, whose eyes grew wide with disbelief as she looked between the two of them.
“This? This man is the one you have been longing for?”
“Yes, he is.”
Rosalyn shook her head, stunned. “How can this be?”
“It is a gift from God. A blessing such as I never thought to have.”
“Are you quite certain of him? He seems so…”
Cassia grinned. “I know he appears quite dark and fearsome. But there is another side to him. A wonderful, loving side to him.”
There was much skepticism in Rosalyn’s expression…and concern. “I would be quite fearful of such a man.” She looked over at Guy, examining him as he talked to the groom. For several moments she studied him…and then she sighed, a more optimistic light coming to her eyes.
“He is quite handsome…in a rakish sort of way.” She turned her eyes to Cassia, and smiled sweetly. “And he seems to have brought out such light in you. I wish you every happiness, dear sister.”
They embraced…just as Stephen came thundering up the walk, his white charger scattering gravel as it skidded to a stop. Leaping to the ground, he seemed quite upset as he approached his sister.
“Cassia! Good God! You had the entire household in an uproar!”
She lowered her head slightly, but she could not fully hide her smile. “I am sorry, brother. But I have returned. And I am very well, as you can see…”
As Guy walked up to stand beside her, a voice came from within, and her heart leapt with joy at the sound of Matilda’s familiar tones – as bold as ever.
“There is no need for shouting, oh mighty baron. Our dear Cassia is unharmed, and from the looks of things, she is happy. What more could you hope for?”
Smiling, Cassia hurried to Matilda’s outstretched arms and embraced her, feeling like a giddy child. Such happiness was surrounding them all. She looked over at Guy, seeing how his eyes were full of tenderness and warmth. She could not help but return his loving glance…even knowing that Stephen was eyeing them both as if he were a shepherd, she were a favorite lamb…and Guy was the wolf, lurking nearby.
“Gisborne,” he said, “I should like to speak to you alone. Come to the hall.”
At his command, his forceful tone, the smile fell from Cassia’s expression. She took a small, worrisome step towards him.
“This is not your concern, Cassia.” His tone was firm, unbending. There would be no arguing with his authority. He turned to Matilda, probably sending that she would object as well. “Nor is it your concern, dear aunt. This a matter between men.” Taking Cassia by the shoulders, his voice remained firm, but softened. “Go with Rosalyn and dress for supper. I shall see you when we dine."
As the maid fastened the laces at the back of her dress, Cassia frowned deeply. In the looking glass she stared at the reflection of Rosalyn and Matilda, who were seated near the fireplace. Cassia sighed, looking to the both of them for reassurance.
“What do you suppose they are speaking of?”
Rosalyn shrugged. “I cannot tell you, dearest. The business of men is not for us to concern ourselves with. Whatever comes of their conversation, we must accept it.”
Matilda snorted. “Stephen is a bully, as he has always been.” Rising to her feet, she gave a weary sigh. “Forgive an old woman, but I must rest. If I can find my way around this monster of a house.” She came to Cassia and kissed the top of her head. Then she departed, and Cassia and Rosalyn were left alone. Rosalyn tried to shine a better light on the words she had spoken.
“I am certain your brother will take your feelings into consideration. He loves you very much, and family is of utmost importance to him.”
The encouragement was of little consolation. Thinking of those long ago days in England, when her father and brother had talked so passionately about King Richard and the cause, she was fearful. Guy of Gisborne and William Briwere had been the topic of many conversations, and always with such hatred and disgust. Now, Guy was downstairs with a man who held a deep-rooted loathing and mistrust of him, and if Stephen chose to be rid of him, there was little that could be done about it. It wasn’t just the matter of Stephen being a baron…outranking Guy, and in truth, able to command him. The simple fact was that Guy was under Stephen’s roof, and as master of the home, he had absolute say in who remained and who did not. If he chose to send Guy away there was little she could do to change his mind.
But Stephen does not know us, she thought. We will do what we must to be together, even if we must defy my brother’s authority.

She knew that Guy must have been thinking along those same lines. He would do whatever it took to be with her…he had proven that many times over. And if the worst should happen, she would sacrifice her newfound family and status to follow him.
Her only hope was that it would not come to that. They both deserved a happy, peaceful life without fear of judgment or repercussions. Now, they had only to await Stephen’s decision…for it was his decision that would ultimately decide the path that lay ahead for them.

With Rosalyn and Matilda at her side, Cassia came into the hall. Stephen was in his place at the head of the table, waiting for the approaching servant to bring him the hand-washing bowl. Cassia knew it was not her place to make demands of the master of the house, but she could not help herself. She tried to sound calm as she took her seat, but there was a fear in her voice that she could not mask.
“Where is Sir Guy?”
Stephen looked up from drying his hands, his expression unreadable. It was a long, tense moment before he answered.
“I sent him upstairs to make himself ready. If he is to dine with us, I will not have him seated at my table looking quite so much like a vagabond.”
Cassia let out the breath she’d been holding, but still she was nervous. Stephen had consented to letting Guy have a place at the table. But as to whether or not he would remain beyond the meal, it was not yet clear. She started to ask. But her attention was caught by a new presence in the room. All heads turned to look. And there stood Guy. Her breath caught at his transformation.
His hair was clean and trimmed short…his face freshly shaven. But it was his clothing that made him seem like a different man. Gone was the somber black that he had always preferred. In its place he wore a tunic of a rich burgundy tone, with an undershirt of deep golden color beneath it. Doeskin breeches showed off his long, muscular legs. Cassia could not help staring at him as he walked, her heart beating fast at the sight of his gorgeous and manly presence. Matilda leaned over to her, whispering.
“If you do not take him for your own, I think I may.”
Stephen rose to his feet to address those around him.
“Wife. Sister. And dear Aunt. I would like to introduce you to my new steward.”
Several times during the meal, Cassia had to clamp down hard on the wish to leap from her chair with joy. She wanted to hug Matilda and Rosalyn. She wanted to throw her arms around Stephen and kiss his cheek, to express all the love and gratitude she suddenly felt for him. But mostly she wanted to run to Guy’s arms, to celebrate the happiness she felt flowing all through her. She longed to feel his embrace…to share the warmth and passion of their kisses. But she knew full well that the smallest impropriety was not welcome at the dining table. Stephen seemed to emphasize his desire for decorum by directing the women to entertain themselves while he spoke business matters with Guy.
Cassia knew that the job of a steward was, essentially, little more than a servant’s position. Stephen had probably given Guy the job with the intention of pressing him under his thumb. But if Guy willingly accepted such a status, so then would she. If it meant he would stay, she cared not what his place was in the household pecking order.
Stephen had one steward already in residence. But Wentworth was an elderly man, and the burden of his duties was becoming quite a lot in his old age. The job would now be divided in two, with Wentworth overseeing the household staff and activities, and Guy managing the local tenants. The manor was more than five hundred acres large, with twenty-three families living and working on it. During the meal the two men discussed the job, with Stephen explaining to Guy about the amounts of land he would be overseeing…how many tenants, how much rent they paid, when to collect, and so on. It seemed more of a business meeting rather than a supper conversation, but Cassia was content to at least see them speaking to one another in a civilized manner.
 During the meal, during the rare moment that Stephen’s eye was focused elsewhere, Cassia found Guy looking at her. His smile was slight, his looks very brief, for he knew as well as she did that he had to comport himself properly, for his position as a steward would certainly be given a probationary period. But his glances said all that he could not express in words…and those blue-grey eyes were dark with longing. It had been far too long since they had truly had time alone. Those moments at the seaside, when they had held each other so desperately, had been moments of deep emotion. There had been little of the physical cravings they had always had for one another. But now that fears were banished, and happiness was at last within their reach, she could see in his eyes that he wanted her back in the most primal way…and she was not ashamed to admit that she wanted him just as much.
When the meal was done, and they all rose to their feet to depart, Cassia secretly hoped to follow Guy from the room. But Stephen bid her to stay.
“Sir Guy. Rosalyn, and Aunt Matilda. I would like to speak to Cassia alone.”
Rosalyn nodded. “I must go up and bid goodnight to the children.” Matilda followed, both of them taking their leave, and Guy followed a few moments later.
“I believe I shall take in a stroll around the grounds before retiring.”
He gave a slight bow, and his eye caught Cassia’s for a moment before he also departed. His look was quite meaningful, and it did not escape her attention…or Stephen’s. Once Guy had quit the room, he turned to Cassia with a stern expression.
“You will conduct yourself properly if he remains. Will you not?”
She turned to look at him…and she found her temper rising. Though she maintained her composure, she could not keep the edge from her voice.
“I am not a child, Stephen. And I know quite well how to conduct myself, thank you.”
“Do not strike such a tone, Cassia. I am only acting as our father would have. And now that he is gone, it is my duty as your brother to see that you are looked after.”
She folded her arms, defiant. “I have looked after myself for a very long time. I am quite aware of my place as a lady and as the sister of a baron. You need not fear that I will shame you in some way. But I am a fully grown woman, and if I am to show you proper respect, then you shall do the same for me.”
He looked quite stunned by her declaration. She wondered if he would rave and bluster in some way, declaring his power over his home and all who lived under it. But he did not. Instead he folded his arms as his brow furrowed, and he turned his back on her to stare out the window. She took it as a sign of consent, however reluctant it might have been.
“Good night, brother,” she declared. Then she slipped from the room…and went in search of Guy.
He could hear the gentle whisper of her voice.
“Guy? Are you out here?”
It made the corner of his mouth rise. He wanted to call out to her, to hasten her to his arms which had longed for her all these months. But instead he remained still, seated on the little stone bench in the alcove. It was a perfect setting for a romantic rendezvous, particularly on a night such as this, when the light from the moon was not so full, but just bright enough to allow the eyes to see. The garden path was a long and winding walk lined with jasmine, roses, and all other manner of scented delights. Along the walk were occasional alcoves for sitting, and at one such spot that was a good distance from the gate, he had taken a seat to wait for her, knowing that it would not be long before she found him. He heard the rustle of her dress as she neared…the soft fall of her footsteps. Moving his booted foot out a space, he waited…and was rewarded when her toe caught and she stumbled, falling across his outstretched arm just as he had planned. Moving her so that her face was looking up at him, he smirked at her, his eyes full of fire.
“Well now, this seems quite familiar. But I pray it turns out better than before.”
She gave a little giggle, and he pulled her close against him, leaning back with her into the privacy of the alcove. Her arms came up to wind around his neck, and his first impulse was to kiss her senseless…to recapture every moment of love they had lost these last months. But such was his desire to know the joy of her, particularly her enchanting smile and the sound of her laughter, that he could not resist taking just a moment to tease her.
“As I recall, the last time I caught a woman this way, it ended with her wishing a pox on me.”
She giggled again…a sound of such delight and love that it fired along every nerve he had. He loved her so very much, but there was something especially tantalizing about her when she was happy in this way. Meeting his forehead with hers, he thrilled at the softness of her voice.
“There will be no such curses this time.”
He drew her close to kiss her. But she placed her two soft hands against his cheeks, looking into his eyes. And hers were shining with tears.
“Oh Guy,” she said. “I have missed you so.”
He could keep himself from it no longer. Their lips met, and she needed no encouragement in opening up for him, letting him drink in her sweet taste. Lord, it had been so long since they had been this way, and he wanted to be fierce in his love for her…to ravish her mouth with fire hot kisses and loosen her clothing so he could brazenly touch her. But somewhere in the haze of desire, he chose not to rush. They had all the time in the world now, and he wanted to linger in every heated moment. He broke from her lips, chuckling at the little sound of protest she made…and then he smiled wickedly when the sound turned again to contentment, caused by the soft exploration his lips were making along her neck and shoulders.
“I have missed this,” she whispered. “I have missed you…so very much.”
She arched her neck, baring the column of her throat to him, and his burning lips pressed the smoothness of her skin as he murmured softly.
“I have thought of nothing but you. Every moment, every day. My heart and soul have been in such torment.”
One of his hands began slowly raising the hem of her dress, gathering the long material up until he found her bare knee. He heard her intake of breath at his touch, and he covered her mouth with his to absorb the sweet sound of delight that she made. Slowly his hand was traveling up, moving along the silkiness of her thigh. It came to rest on her hip…and then, ever so slowly, he moved his fingers across the top of her leg, his touch oh so slight as it moved to the sensitive skin of her inner thigh. She gasped against his mouth, encouraging his touch. Her hands were in his hair, telling him without words just how eager she was for him.
“Lady Cassia!”
The sound of a servant calling. At the sudden interruption, Cassia let out a little curse of frustration. Guy removed his hand, dropping her skirt back to its proper place, knowing they would have to part to avoid discovery. But he couldn’t force himself to let her go completely. His arms wound around her and he buried his nose in her hair, breathing in her sweet lavender scent as he recalled another heated moment that had been so rudely disrupted. He muttered his frustration in her ear.
“Blasted hell! History has a damned inconvenient way of repeating itself.”
The servant called out again, and they both knew they had to part before they were found. Even as she extracted herself from his arms, he received several more of her tender kisses, which he returned in kind. She spoke softly between presses of her lips to his.
“Delay for a few moments. It would not be wise to have us both emerging from the garden at the same time.”
 A mischievous light shined in his eyes. “I shall need several moments delay to recover my senses.”
Realizing what he insinuated, she grinned…and leaned to whisper in his ear. “Wicked man.” Then she clutched his face, kissing him hard and hot on the lips. “I shall find you again soon.”
He smirked up at her. “I shall be all anticipation.”
She smiled, scurrying away, leaving him to wait for the right moment to emerge from their hiding place…and aching for the moment when she would return to him.


Coming out of the gate, she hurried up the steps leading to the graveled walk. Then she slowed her steps, assuming a more dignified air…just as a maid came into view.
“Oh, Lady Cassia. The master was looking for you. He was quite worried…”
“There is no need for concern. I stepped out for a breath of fresh air, but now I shall retire to bed. Good night.”
The maid curtseyed and Cassia turned up the walk into the house…where she found Stephen waiting just inside the front vestibule. Leaning on his arm against the doorframe, he eyed her suspiciously, but she only looked at him in the most innocent way.
“Did I ever tell you that the outdoor privy seat is freezing cold?”
His expression suddenly changed from suspicion to shock. “What?”
“The stone is positively freezing on my hind quarters.”
He looked utterly revolted at her statement. “Good God, Cassia! Could you be more uncouth and unladylike? Lord above!” He turned away from her in obvious disgust…and it made her smirk, silently congratulating herself for her quick thinking. Not that it had been so difficult. Men could be so simple-minded at times. She sighed and hurried up the stairs to her room.


The house was falling into silence as it was shut down for the night. In Cassia’s room, she stood still as her lady-maid helped her out of her gown. Celeste was a kindly young woman, and entirely devoted to her new mistress. But Cassia still found it awkward to have a personal attendant. It was but one of many adjustments she was making in her new life, and she was not entirely sure she liked it. But at least she had a familiar face to look at now. Looking over at Matilda, she smiled.
“I am so happy to have you here.”
Matilda, who was occupied with knitting, looked up and smiled back.
“Your Sir Guy is quite a persuasive fellow. And in his way, very charming.”
Cassia gave a little laugh. “He has his moments. I am glad you have found something of his worthiness.” Her smile lessened then. She lowered her eyes. “I only wish that Stephen could see it for himself.”
Nothing was said for a few minutes as Celeste helped her into a sleeveless nightdress. It was a pretty garment made of white linen, with white silk ribbon ties and gold-colored embroidery around the skirt hem. It was soft, as well. Not at all like the rough material of the shifts she had always worn to bed. A heated thought came to her mind.

If Guy could see me in this…

A flush of heat warmed her face as she neared the bed. If she had her way, he would see the nightdress, and so much more. And it would be soon.
A tiny grin formed in the corner of her mouth. And it was not unnoticed.
“I see that look, my girl.”
Embarrassed, Cassia tried to mask it. “What look?”
Putting down her knitting, Matilda waved the maid away. Waiting until Celeste had gone around the corner into the next room, she turned to Cassia with a knowing look.
“You think to go to him tonight.”
For a moment she thought to deny it. But she and Matilda knew each other too well for that. Rising from the bed, she took to walking slowly before the fire.
“Oh, Matilda. I have missed him so very much. Now that he is restored to me, I cannot bear to be apart from him. Especially at night.”
“Judging from his behavior during our journey,” said Matilda, “He suffers from a similar ailment of the heart.”
With a smile, Cassia came to her aunt and knelt on the floor at her feet. They held hands, and Matilda placed a palm to her cheek.
“He loves you quite madly, you know. You cannot know how badly he pined for you all along the way. And I imagine he is waiting for you at this very moment, fully prepared to come and fetch you if you do not arrive soon.”
They laughed softly together, like two young girls conspiring. Matilda’s voice was tender with understanding.
“Be cautious in your journey to him. There is likely to be a nightwatchman about, eager to catch a wayward young lass who is seeking her lover.”
Rising up, Cassia embraced her and kissed her cheek. Matilda hugged her back, and she stood, gathering her knitting.
“I am off to sleep, dearest. If I can sleep in this cavern of a bed they have put me in.” At the doorway to her room, which was right next to Cassia’s, she turned to her with a cheeky expression.
“I trust that you will sleep very well indeed.”
With a grin, Cassia turned away as Matilda left. She sat on the edge of her bed, waiting for the right moment to come.
After a fair amount of time had passed…the fire had burned down to embers as she had waited…she rose to her feet, unable to delay a moment longer. Going to the door she cracked it open, peeking into the hall. All was quiet and darkness. Carefully closing her chamber door behind her, she slinked down the corridor, silent as a cat, feeling her way along the wall, moving carefully past the stairway. The guest quarters were on the other side of the house, some distance away from the family chambers. She was not quite sure what room was his, but it would not be too difficult to find. He was the only guest in residence at the moment, and though there were several rooms to choose from, she was certain he would leave her some clue. Looking down the corridor, she strained her eyes…and was just able to see a light underneath a door. She smiled, knowing she had found the right place. She tiptoed to the door, taking a deep breath as she paused at the threshold. She lifted the latch…and slipped quietly in.

The room was quiet and empty. Or so it seemed. A candle was burning in a wall sconce, casting the room in a dim light. Easing her way forward, she looked for him, whispering his name.
“Guy, where are you?”
The flame of the candle was suddenly snuffed out. The room became pitch black. Turning, her eyes momentarily unable to see in the dark, she felt a shiver of excitement – the sound of his deep voice making her tremble with anticipation.
“Did the little lamb wander from the safety of the fold and lose her way?”
Her eyes were adjusting. She could see him now, her vision aided by the pale moonlight outside the window. In a moment she was being held in his firm embrace, their faces so close to one another. Her words fell soft near his ear.
“The lamb did not get lost. She escaped when the shepherd closed his eyes to rest.”
He chuckled – a sensuous rumble. “Did she expect to wander into the den of a wolf?”
She whispered in reply. “She sought him out...and with much eagerness, I might add. Now please kiss me, Guy. I have waited long enough.”
He obeyed instantly, his mouth hotly tasting hers. His hands pulled at the ribbons on the front of her nightgown. When it was gaped open, one of his hands crept in to caress her, his fingers circling the soft skin of her breast. His other hand went around her waist to the small of her back, pressing firmly there to encourage the little movements she was making with her hips. Moving her shoulders so that her sleeves fell, leaving her more exposed to him, she arched her back and thrust her breast against the warmth of his palm. When his lips moved down to that hardened peak, his tongue expertly teasing it along with his fingers, she whimpered and clutched his head against her. When his mouth moved upwards, seeking her kiss again, she turned her head so that her lips were on his ear. Knowing what it did to him, she took gentle nips of the skin, loving the harsh sound of pleasure that he made. It became a growl of sorts as he tugged the nightgown down, making it fall to the floor, and she gasped in delight when he scooped her up.
She held tightly to him as they settled on the bed. They shared a wild ravishment of a kiss, but it was not enough. The rough feeling of his clothes against her bare flesh was exhilarating, but she wanted to know the hot smoothness of his skin. Pushing at his shoulders, taking the moment to catch a breath, she was demanding of him.
“Remove these wretched garments.”
She heard him laugh, but he quickly obeyed, and she watched with a fierce sense of impatience as he undressed. Judging by the sound of his labored breathing when he spoke, he was just as mad with eagerness.
“Have you no fear of your brother? He may cast us both out if he discovers us.”
He was moving much too slowly for her liking. His boots and breeches had been shed, and his tunic, but the shirt was still impeding everything. She grasped the hem, helping him to pull it over his head as she answered boldly.
“My brother is not my keeper. I am a grown woman. I have been engaged, married, widowed, and engaged again. I hardly think he has the right to judge what I can and cannot do.”
At last the barriers were gone. Falling back, taking his weight against her, she wanted no words. But still he spoke, parting from her lips for a moment.
“You would defy him, for me?”
Her impatience was nearing its limit, but she managed an answer.
“For you, I would defy all things.”
Kissing him, savoring the taste of him, feeling him – she wanted all of it at once. But damn him, he wanted to converse, it seemed.
“You are an incredible woman, Cassia. A beautiful, wicked woman…and I find such wickedness extremely delightful.”
Taking his face firmly in her hands, she cursed him in frustration.
“Damn you, Guy of Gisborne! Cease with your talking! That is not what I want at this moment!”
Again he laughed, but at last he silenced himself and opened his mouth against hers. She clutched at his head, whimpering. His hands were everywhere, roaming over every bit of skin, and her nails ran sharp down his back. Her fingers clenched the firm muscles of his backside…and finally he was there, as one with her, buried deep. She sucked in a sharp breath at the feel of him, rigid and throbbing within her body. She fought the urge to weep with joy. Good God, it had been too long! Then he was moving, hard and fast, surging relentlessly as she clamped her inner muscles around him. Both of them were moaning, panting heavily with their exertions. Their mouths opened eagerly together, hot and hungry…and trying to stifle the ecstatic sounds escaping them. When they broke from kissing it was only for moments, just long enough to gather breath. As they rushed to those last frantic moments they ground their mouths together once again, shattering as one, absorbing one another’s explosive cries of fulfillment.
Several quiet moments passed, their breathing hectic, their hearts pounding. Covered in a sheen of perspiration, arms and legs tangled, their bodies were fused together…and neither was willing or able to move. Guy’s voice was ragged when it softly broke the silence.
“Wild, insatiable little woman. You might have brought the entire household awake with such noise.”
Narrowing her eyes, she gave his arm a pinch. He lifted his head from the crook of her shoulder to look at her, his expression one of mock hurt, his breathing still fast. But the corner of his mouth went up crookedly.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
She tried to look angry with him, and she whispered furiously.
 “You fiend! If the entire household heard me, it was entirely your fault!”
He replied with one of his enticing smirks, taking her lips in a soft, lingering kiss. Holding to him as he rolled to his back, she nuzzled her cheek against his breast as she settled against him. She sighed with contentment.
“Oh, what you do to me, Guy of Gisborne. You make a ravenous wanton of me.”
She felt his hands tenderly stroking up and down her back. She softly moaned at the wonderful feeling of his touch.
“A wanton indeed,” he replied, the sound of amusement and pleasure in his voice. “I am thrilled to have such a shameless woman to share my bed.”
Smiling, she rose up to be nose to nose with him. “I find no shame in expressing my love for you. And if there is a place in hell reserved for me because of it, then I go gladly.”
They put their heads together, smiling and laughing. Settling into the comfort of an embrace, they shared sweet and gentle kisses for a time. But it soon became clear that their exuberant love-making had sapped their energy. Reluctantly, they gave in to their weariness, still holding to one another as they fell asleep.

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