The Bride Gift
Genre: Historical Romance (Medieval)
Heat Level: Sizzling
It’s 1153 in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.
Determined to control her own destiny, willful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But, when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior, Guy of Helston, is everything Helena swore she would never marry: a man who lives by the sword, like the man who murdered her sister.
This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.
Against a backdrop of vengeance, war and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything.
Slowly, Helena turned and approached her husband.
His large body barely fit in the wooden tub. He sat with his knees almost to his ears. A slight frown creased his dark brows.
Helena dipped her hand in the soft soap they kept for bathing; more jasmine. She rubbed it between her fingers to create lather. When they next made soap she would need to produce something less feminine for Guy.
From this position, his head was almost on a level with her breasts. A feeling akin to excitement fluttered through her belly.
He watched her face as she leaned forward to soap his head, working it through his cropped hair. The bristly ends tickled her palm.
She reached for a bucket of rinsing water. He closed his eyes as soap and bubbles streamed down the strong planes of his cheeks. Droplets clung to his lashes. They were almost ridiculously long and so incongruous with the rest of him. Probably the only part of him that could be called soft.
He dropped his head forward onto his knees so she could finish rinsing.
Guy presented the broad expanse of his back, and she laid her hands across the sun-darkened skin. He was warm under her fingers and beneath the smooth skin, his muscles bunched slightly as she spread the soap. This might be bearable. When she rubbed her fingers on either side of his spine, he made a soft purr of enjoyment.
Her pulse jumped.
"Soft hands," he said.
Her fingers traced a long, puckered scar running beneath his shoulder blade and disappearing around his side.
"A lance man with poor aim," he murmured.
The skin on his back was firm, but marked by the scars of a lifetime spent wielding a sword. "It appears you really do fight," she commented lightly.
For some reason those accumulated injuries and the pain they had caused angered her as well as rendered her sorry for his suffering. Helena steeled her resolve. It was just these sorts of wounds that made him perfect for her purpose.
She lathered soap across his shoulders and down the thick, corded muscle of each arm. Her belly reacted with another odd little quiver as her fingers slid across his skin like oil poured from a vial.
Guy raised his eyes to her face. A slumberous warmth made them glow nearly silver.
Her breath quickened in her chest as if she had been running; her hands tingled where they touched him.
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