Read A Hero's Bargain Online

Authors: Forrest, Rayne

A Hero's Bargain (8 page)

Chapter 11

 

Saba let
go of it all. All the worry about the village. All the fear for the future of
the Ramalho. Her concerns over what her friends would think of her behavior.
Her fear of what being with a man would be like. Well, most of that fear. What
lingered set her alight with the most curious anticipation.

Ryder
offered so much more than she’d realized at first.

His
fingers closed around hers, warm and sure, as he pulled her to him. She was
suddenly skin-to-skin with him, thighs touching, his swollen manhood captured between
their bodies, nestling in the thick, soft down that covered her most secret
place. He cupped the back of her head, gently massaging her scalp as he backed
her slowly to the bed.

The backs
of her knees bumped against the frame. Abruptly, Saba plopped down on the edge
of the mattress and found herself staring directly at his aroused penis. Without
conscious thought, she wrapped her fingers around his shaft. The skin was so
silky soft to be so stretched, to contain such a hard core. She ran curious fingertips
along his length. A pearly drop of his seed appeared. She ran her finger across
the drop then tasted it. It wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, but now she understood
some of the women’s talk about using their mouths to pleasure a man. Ryder dropped
to the bed beside her, staring.

“Was that
wrong?”

He licked
his lips and slowly shook his head. He stretched out on the bed and patted the
spot beside him. Her heart threatened to beat its way out of her chest. She
eased back on the bed and into his arms.

“Nothing
you want to do is wrong, Saba. Nothing we do is wrong. But if you don’t like
something, or you’re not sure about it, tell me. Will you do that?”

She
nodded, agreeing to something she wasn’t so sure about. What if she did
something he didn’t like? Looking into his gleaming eyes, the more she thought
about that, the more she suspected him not liking anything she did would not be
a problem. He cupped her breast, his fingertips teasing at her taut nipple and
she ceased thinking of everything else.

His
fingers played gently over the swell of her breast, stroking the outside, then
underneath. She moved closer to his luring warmth. His arms tightened around
her, soothing her yet exciting her with the strength of his embrace. The narrow
ray of late afternoon sunlight that sneaked its way through a crack at the edge
of the shutter gave the room a feeling of silent isolation. There was only them
to know what happened in the bed. She grew bold and raised her lips to his. His
mouth tasted of the ale.

He returned
her tentative kiss, moving his mouth on hers in gentle instruction. He pulled
away and whispered to her, “Give me more, Saba.”

More?
She pressed her
lips back to his and touched her tongue to his. He responded in kind then
rolled her beneath him. She cried out into his mouth as his body covered hers.
His hips thrust to hers and she went liquid with the sudden aching, pounding
that welled up inside her, swamping her with its strength. Ryder moved against
her again, his rigid maleness gliding on the welcome her body sent down to him.

Saba
pushed at his chest, needing to breathe, needing a moment to let the ache
between her legs ease. He grunted but did not release her. Ryder’s lips
traveled down her neck, licking and nipping, sending jolts of electricity deep
into her belly. His mouth closed over her tingling nipple, suckling. The
throbbing drumbeat at her center grew painfully demanding. She clutched at him,
needing him to do something to help her.

His hand
cupped her heat. One long finger slipped into her wet folds, seeking. There was
the sudden pressure of his thumb, the quick dip of his fingers inside her. The
world spiraled down to where he touched her, pulsing and drawing in upon itself
until she knew nothing else. There was a brief moment where she ceased
awareness then she took a sudden wonderful lurch upward into starry darkness.
Waves and waves of undreamed bliss washed through her, unrelenting until she
suddenly dropped back into herself. She sucked in a great lungful of much
needed air.

Ryder was
tense, half sprawled across her. She slid her hand down his damp back, feeling
his bunched muscles. His mouth was fever hot as it claimed hers. His hips
pumped slowly against her side. Instinctively she knew this was how he would
move inside her. Her mouth went dry as he rose up over her, his eyes gone black
in a face drawn tight with arousal.

“I will
take you now, Saba. Tell me if you don’t want it.”

She
couldn’t speak. Surely he wouldn’t stop now. Surely.

“Will
that happen to me again?” Her voice sounded deep and breathless in her ears. He
tried to smile.

“I can’t
promise I can last that long, but later—I promise you. Yes.”

Later?
She didn’t know
what he meant and she wasn’t going to ask. She nodded, trusting that she’d
discover what he was saying.

He moved
over her, settling in the cradle of her hips. His knees nudged hers open. She
felt vulnerable, exposed then she couldn’t think any longer. His maleness
probed at her, seeking the place where her body would yield to his hardness. He
kissed her again, his tongue thrusting into her mouth, stealing her desire to
breathe. Her flesh suddenly gave way to his.

She
bucked against him, surprised at the sensation of being penetrated. She tried
to close her thighs. He grasped one leg behind her knee, opening her further.
Her plea for him to wait was drowned in his kiss. He thrust into her, seating
himself deeply.

Saba
struggled against the unexpected burning pain of his possession. His hands were
gentle as they brushed the tears from her face. His lips kissed her eyes.

“Easy,
Saba. Be still, angel. The discomfort will be gone in a moment. Shhh.”

She
sucked in a deep breath.
Discomfort is
it?
She smacked her fist into his ribs. And she knew where they were sore,
too. He hissed.

“You’re
hurting me!” She drew back to pummel him again. He caught her wrist.

“I’m
sorry. Just be still. It will ease. Please trust me.”

She
squirmed and inadvertently raised her hips, crying out sharply as her movements
drove him deeper inside her. He pumped into her, then withdrew almost all the
way from her, and thrust into her again. She froze, breathless. The pain was
forgotten.

“Ryder.”
She jerked her hips up to his, wanting the incredible friction again.

“Easy,
angel. I’m trying to be easy.”

Her legs
lifted to lock around his waist. He groaned, a low deep sound of intense
pleasure. She murmured his name again. He heard.

He
gathered her into his arms and flexed his hips, gliding into her heat. She
wrapped her arms around his neck and gave herself over to the power in his
body.

Ryder
drove into her, over and over, lengthening his thrusts as her body spoke to
his. A spark reignited in her core. He suddenly slammed into her, his hips
jerking tightly to hers. A wet, scalding heat flooded into her woman’s sheath.
His seed.

He hung
above her for long moments, his body pulsing within hers. She let her legs drop
from his waist, sorry it was over. Ryder eased his weight down onto her, full
length, and went limp as a dead man. He groaned in her ear, a low, shivery
sound that spoke of complete male satisfaction.

She
buried her fingers in his long, damp hair. His lips brushed her hair, just
above her ear. Her eyes flooded with tears at the gesture.

No wonder
everyone was so obsessed with coupling.

To hold a
man like this was not as she thought it to be. She’d expected that once it was
over, a man’s interest would wane, his thoughts returning to those matters men
deemed important. It was not what she sensed in Ryder.

Her
traitorous heart sought more than the logic of her mind told her she would
have, swelling with tenderness for the man so content in her arms. To hold him
when his strength had been abandoned in favor of gentleness called to something
so ancient, so primitive, in her that it stole her breath. Women for untold generations
had offered up this moment to men. In return they received the future, given in
a man’s seed.

Here in
this moment, when a man was able to forget worry, to forget pain, to forget
uncertainty and seek solace without pride, there was a peace she’d never
expected. It was a shared moment bare of everything that interfered with two
hearts seeking their match. It was comfort offered and comfort given. Freely.

Saba
wanted a lifetime of these moments and she would never have them because Ryder
would not stay with her. She knew it as surely as she knew the seasons. He was
not of this world and he would leave her to search for a way to return to his
home.

Another
would not do, not now. Not even Tyree, a man she respected but did not love.
This stranger in her arms, who was truly no longer a stranger to her, was the
one she wanted beside her. She would have to convince him there was no way to
leave this world, and after that, to stay with her people. The old legends
teased at her memory. Surely there was something in them that would help her.

“What’s
wrong, angel?” His voice was low and soft in her ear, as his lips brushed her
hair again. He shifted his weight up onto his elbows and looked at her, concern
evident in his eyes. “Did I hurt you too much?”

The
memory of the fleeting pain as he took her was already gone. She shook her
head. “No. I can’t even remember it now.”

His
fingertips caressed her cheek. “You don’t need to be brave for me, Saba. I know
I hurt you. If it’s any consolation, it probably won’t ever cause you pain
again.”

“I’m not
being brave. I would tell you if you caused me pain.” She ran her toes along
his calf. He started to move off her. She flipped her leg over his buttocks. He
smiled at her, a little sadly, she thought.

“I’ve got
to move, angel. My spine is on fire.”

She released
him immediately. He groaned as he slid from her to lie face down on the bed.
She rolled toward him and carefully ran her hand over his back. He grunted but
did not flinch.

“You
should relax.”

He
started to shake. Panic welled up in her.

“What’s
wrong!”

Ryder
rolled onto his side, facing her, and grinning. His strong hand traveled across
the swell of her hip. “I can’t remember the last time I was this relaxed.”

“But your
back…” She was confused, but maybe he’d intended that.

“As soon
as I moved and stretched just that little bit the sensation went away.” He
leaned forward and kissed her lightly. “It’s a strange feeling, Saba. I can
only describe it as intense heat and tell the healer that every time I
experience it, it’s weaker and weaker.”

The
healer in her was glad to learn his symptoms were abating. An errant thought
crossed her mind.
Surely he would not
have. Would he?

“Ryder,
did you use some of your own treatments on yourself?”

The
playful glint left his eyes. Her heart sank, knowing he considered whether or
not to be truthful with her. It showed plainly on his face, tarnishing the joy
of being with him.

He
stroked his thumb across her lips. “Yes. When I first knew I was in trouble I
injected myself with a broad-spectrum anti-venom.” His lips thinned into a grim
line. “I don’t know how much I got, but it wasn’t enough.”

Saba
trembled with relief that he’d chosen to tell her the truth. He must have
thought she was chilled, and reached for the blanket, pulling it over them. She
nestled closer to him, a thousand questions rattling around inside her head,
but there was only one she had to ask tonight. The one that plagued her more
than all the rest together.

“When the
errol
is destroyed, will you leave here?”

His
emotional withdrawal from her was so swift and thorough, Saba flinched. Ryder
hadn’t moved, or even blinked at her questions, yet she
felt
him sever
the connection they’d shared. Emptiness welled up inside her. His voice was
rough, and bitter.

“And go
where, angel? Home? I need a ship to get home and I’m betting there’s not one
fucking ship on this whole godforsaken planet.” He rolled away from her to sit
on the edge of the bed. “I’ve got nowhere to go, Saba. I liked my life but it’s
gone and I’m stuck here. I’ll have to make a place for myself, like it or not.”

He rose
to stand by the cooling hearth. The room was still in twilight gloom. From
outside came the sound of a woman calling her children to come in for the
evening meal. Beyond that was the dull thud of iron on wood as someone worked
preparing fuel for the villagers’ fires. There was soft cooing overhead as
songbirds settled for the night in the thick thatching of the roof.

Saba
watched him stand there, unmoving, until she could be still no longer. She
whispered his name into the darkness.

“Ryder?”

He took a
deep breath and gusted out a ragged sigh. His voice, too, was a whisper in the
darkness.

Other books
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal
The King's Mistress by Emma Campion
Megan 3 by Mary Hooper
Merv by Merv Griffin
Paramour by Gerald Petievich
Stonehenge a New Understanding by Mike Parker Pearson
Wesley by Bailey Bradford
The Fullness of Quiet by Natasha Orme