Avelyn bither lip and swallowed at the tingle the action caused. He thenleaned closerstilluntil he could takethe tightbud delicately between histeeth. Her heart immediately jumped in herchest. It jumpedagainwhen shefelt histongueflick over the tip in his mouth. Then he suddenly cupped one hand beneath her breast to hold it andbegan to suckle eagerly, his tonguerepeatedly flickingthe end ashe did.
Avelyn moanedand slid one handinto his hair, herringersholding onto the silky strands. He continued tolaveat first one breast, then theother, until Avelyn was trembling in his arms;then hebeganto ease down onhis knees so that he was trailing kissesdown across thedancing flesh ofherbelly.
"Husband?" Avelyngasped as hecontinued lower, his kisses shifting tothe side anddrifting overthe sensitive flesh that coveredherhip. His teethgrazed andnipped as he went, andAvelyn found herself unable tostandstill under the torment. She twisted her h*ps inhis hands,almost writhing against hisquesting mouth.
When Paen caughther ankles andforcedher toshift her stance sothat herfeet werefurther apart, Avelyn realized shewas breathing inshort, shallow pants. It only gotworse as his lipsburned a trail to the inside of her thigh. Avelyn was now holding herbreath, terrified herlegswould give out at any moment, leaving herto collapse atophim. As if awareof her weakness, Paen slid his handsto her hips,his fingers cupping herbehind and holding her up ashe pressed kisses higher and higher up her thigh.
Avelyn did her best to remain on her feet, but even with his support her legs gave out when he pressed akissto the very center of her. She collapsed with a gasped cry, andPaen caught her, easing herto her back onthe fur. He thenknelt between herlegs, nudged her legs further apart and ducked his head to presshis mouth toher again.
Avelyn caught at the furs and twisted her head, her mind awhirl with a combination ofexcitement, desireand the need to touch him. She wanted to please himtoo, and had wanted to eachtimehe’d bedded her, but Avelyn had no idea how todo so. This time,the need was almost unbearable,but his hands werepinningher thighs downas he used his lips, teethand tongue to pleasure her. Paen continuedto do sountilshe screamed out and bucked beneath him.
For a moment afterward, Avelynwas too dazedto move; then she becameaware thatPaen had sat backonhis haunchestolifthis tunic off overhis head.
When hethenstoodand reached for the waist of his braes, Avelyn shifted toher knees,taking thesame positionhe’dtakenbefore her earlier. Her voicewas husky. "I wanttoplease youtoo. "
Paen hesitated, bent to strip out of hisbraes, thenstraightened so thatshe found herselfstaringathismanhood. Avelyn hesitated. He was hardand erect and right before her face, but she wasn’t sure what to do.
WhenPaen did not instruct her, she decidedshemightas well try whathehad done toher and leaned forwardto press akissto his hip. Shetrailedkissesto his thigh and then finally braved pressing a kiss to his staff. Avelyn found herself surprised at how soft and velvety theskin felt over the hard shaft. She pressed another kissto the shaft,then ran her lips lightly along it to the tip, whereshelaved himwithhertongue. After that,she wasn’t sure what else to do.
"Takeit in your mouth," Paen growled, soundingpained. Sheglancedup at his face with aconcern that only grew whenshe saw howhis facewas now scrunched upin what looked to be agony.
"Am Idoing this wrong?" sheaskeduncertainly.
Paen shook his head,thengasped when shetook him in her mouth. Hisheadwent back and he stood rockstill as she moved hermouth uncertainly overhim,then raised her hand and wrappedit around his manhood. Holding him in asimilar fashion to how he’dheld her breast, she suckledon him until he suddenly pulled awayand kneltbefore her.
Avelyn peered at him uncertainly. "WasI doing it – "
Her question died abruptly when his mouth covered hers. The kiss was so passionate, she thought perhaps she hadn’t done it wrong after all; then Paen was bearing her down onto her back on the furs.
Avelyn wrappedherarms around hisshoulders and parted for him, expectinghim to enter her at once,buthe didn’t,he just pressed himself against herashis lips claimed hers. Paenkissedherdeeply, his tonguethrusting, then turned hislips toone ear,lavingthatas well and sending shivers throughher.
Moaning, Avelyn turned her head and caught his lips with hers, kissing him passionatelyas she shifted against him, silently pleading with himto fill her. Muchto herrelief, Paenresponded to the request, thrusting into herwith a hard, deep stroke thatdrew a low groan from her throat. He then began to rideher, drawing moan after moan, gasp after gasp, as she writhed and shiftedbeneath him.
Her nails duginto his backtourge him on as her tongue wrestledwithhis.
When he tore hismouth from hers, Avelyn pressed herface against his shoulder andalternatelysucked andnipped attheflesh there as the tensionescalated through her whole body. It felt as if something hadbeen drawn as tight as a bow insideher andshe waspositive that if itwerepulled any tighter itwouldsurely break. Andthen suddenly it did, and she bucked beneath him, screaming as her body squeezed around him with each pulseof pleasure. Avelyn was hardlyaware of it when Paen thrust intoheronelast time and criedout his ownpleasure.
Avelyn openedher eyesand staredwith confusion at theman’s chest she lay on… untilshe recalled how their picnic had turned out. Theyhadn’t touched the food, she remembered, and asmile curved her lips. Thensherealized she hadn’t a clue astohow she’d ended up on Paen’schest. The lastthing she recalledwas Paen resting half on topof her asthey both waited torecover theirbreath. She must have fallenasleep. And Paen had obviously shifted off of her, then draped her over himself, allwithoutwaking her.
Avelyn raised her head and peered shyly at her husband. As amazing as it seemed,shealways felt a little self-conscious after what theydid. She hadstood there completely nak*dbefore him not long ago,but now wassuddenlyshy.
He smiledsleepilyat her expression. "Areyou hungry?"
Avelyn blinked,surprised both by the question and by the fact that she was indeedhungry. Nodding,sheslid off tosit onthe fur and reachedfor her gown, eagertocover up nowthatshe wasnolonger distracted by passion ordesire.
Paen sat up beside her and began to dressas well, thenmoved tothe foodhe’d removed from the sack. Miraculously, they had managed not to crush any of it, which Avelyn wasgratefulfor. She really was terriblyhungry.
Theyate insilence at first;thenAvelyn asked how the wall was coming. Sheknew Paen had workedthe men hard on the wall untilhefelt it was safe to bring herto Rumsfeld, but he’d taken many of themen off theproject once they’d arrivedhere sothey could work on other tasks. Only himselfand a handful of menwere leftto continueworking on theremainingsmall holes and unstable bits of the wall.
Paen told her it was coming along well,which really said nothing at all, she thought. What she really wanted to know was if it was possible thatthe boulder couldhavefallen on its own. She really didn’t wishto believeDiamanda was trying toharm her.
After another silence, duringwhich Avelynwonderedhow toget the information she wantedwithoutgiving anythingaway,she finally simply asked.
"The section of walltothe right of the front gates?"
"Isit safe?" she asked,then said, "I mean,arethere any parts there you stillneed towork on?"
"The innerparapet needs to be replaced in places, but the outer parapet is sound. "
"There arenoloose stones that mightfall outor anything?"Avelyn asked.
Something abouther tone madehim pause and peer at her. "There should not be,"he said slowly. "Whyare youasking, wife?"
She dropped her gaze and shrugged, turningher attention to Samson as the piglet returnedto the blanket and dropped to sit beside her now thatthey had stopped movingabout and had brought out the food. Avelyn set several slices ofapple and a plum ontheground bySamson, but hewasn’t interested and merely nosed the fruit before taking himselfoff to explore somemore.
"Why are you asking, wife?"
She lifted her gaze, but hesitated. Avelyn wasn’t concernedthat he would blame David and refuse to allow him to spend time with her and Samson. Shejust didn’t want to bringup Diamanda until she herself knew ifthe girl had been involved.
Avelyn supposed she couldtell him about the stone block falling without mentioning Diamanda.
"Wife, what happened?"he asked. "Ihad noticed that the sleeve ofyourgown is torn and your shoulder bruised beneath. "
She glanced towardher arm andsighed. Avelyn hadn’t noticed eitherthe tear or the bruise after the incident,she’d beentoostunned anddistracted at thesight of Diamanda. Though shehad been aware of a vaguetwinge ofpain if she movedher arm a certainway.
"One ofthestones fellout of the wall and nearlyhit Davidand me on our way back from the village," she finallyadmitted.
"Another accident,"Paenmuttered andsat back, his face pale and his mouth tight.
Avelyn shifted, feeling suddenly guilty. She wassurePaen must thinkher a plague of accidents.
"When wereturn, Iwantyou to show me where you were when the stone fell. "
Avelynnodded. The pleasantfeel to the outing had suddenly disappeared,and she was sorryto see it go. Paen must have felt it too, for after a fewmoments of silence,he sighed and begantopack things away.
"Get yourpigandwe shallheadback. "
Avelyn rose silently and went tocollect Samson from where hewas nosing in the bushes. When sheturned back,Paen was standing staringat her. He started across the fur, thensomething went wrong. Avelyn squeezed Samson in surpriseas Paen suddenlyseemed to stumble; then his foot slid out from beneathhim and he crashed forward, hitting his head on a log.
"Husband?" Avelyn rushed forward, anxiety clawingather stomach. Hewasn’t moving.
"Paen?" Dropping Samsonas she reachedher husband’sside, Avelyn managed withsome effort to turn Paen onto his back. She peered athis pale face. Hewas out cold,and there was acut on his foreheadwhere he’d hit it on the log. Alarge lump was alreadyforming beneath it.
A little frantic now, Avelyn bent her head and pressed her ear to his chest, relaxing only alittle when she heard the steady beat ofhis heart.
Sighing, she sat back andglanced around the clearing,unsurewhat todo. Head woundswerea trickything, and there was no telling how long herhusband would be out. Hisheadwould be terribly sore when he woke up… but whenhe woke up was the issue. Paen could be out for moments or hours or… Avelyn peered around the clearing and the trees that enclosed it. She had no desireto stay the night there alone with herhusband unconscious and unable to defendhimself. While he’d had his men riding patrolto make theirpresenceknown, and seemed tothink thatwould scare offthe reavers, she wasn’twilling torisk his life on it.
Unfortunately, Avelyn also wasn’t willingto leavehim while she went for help.
They hadn’t walked that far,but a lot could happenin the shorttimeit took her to get tothe castle and backwith help. That was one lessonAvelyn had learned well since her marriage. Ithad only takena momentforher to be knockedinto the hole in the floor, and ithadtakenless than that for the stone toplunge from the wallabove her.
Anythingcould happen to Paen while shesoughthelp. No,she would not leavehim alone while she went to fetch help… which meant, she supposed, thatshe would have to take him to help.
Avelyn’s brother had alwaysaccused herofbeingoveroptimistic, but optimist though shewas,evenshe hadto admitthat it was unlikely that she’d be able to get herhusbandto the castle – orevenfar enough outof the woods for the menon the wall to noticethem. She could not possibly carry him, anddragging him byhis arms or legs through thedirt and grass wasn’tlikelyto do himmuch good. Then her gaze dropped to thefur helay on, and Avelynhadan idea.
Calling Samson over, she gottoherfeetandconsidered the furandherhusband’s position on it and decided it might work. Sherolledhim into the fur. Pickingup the bagof leftovers he’d collected, sheset them on the fur beside herhusband, pausing when shesaw the squashed bitsofappleand plumon the fur. Avelyndistinctly recalled setting itout for Samson. She also recalled the piglet’slackof interest. She should have thrown the bits of foodinto thewoods or returned themto the bag, but she’d thoughtlesslyleft them lyingthere. Apparently, theywere whathad sent Paen crashing to the ground.
This was all her fault,Avelyn realized guiltrly, then pushed the guilt aside and bent to pick up the endsof thefur. Taking one cornerineach hand, she stepped back andtugged experimentally, releasinga sign ofrelief when the fur slid alongthegrass carpet with abitof effort.
Aye, she could do this,Avelyn told herself. She turnedher backto the fur,then switched her hold and began topull. The spot Paen had found for them hadn’t seemed far into thewoods on theway out. It seemed much furtheraway on the return journey. Avelyn didn’t give up, however, and eventually managed to get them out of the woods.
Avelyn pausedonce past the trees andwaved towardthegate, but hadno idea if themen could see her. She couldn’t make out any figures on the wall. Sighing, she turned toglance at Paen, a faintsmile curving her lips whenshesawthat Samson haddecidedtohitch a ride on Paen’schest.
Shaking her headat the picture, Avelyn took upthecorners of the fur againand continued forward. Shehadn’tgone much further when several horses rodeout of the castle gates, hurryingtoward them.
Exhaustedby her efforts, Avelynkept her explanations to aminimum assheand Paen were both takenup on horseback to rideback to the keep. David metthem in thebailey. The boyhad run halfway to the gates,but turned andbegan torun back tothe keep steps when he saw the party ride in. The squirewas smart enough notto ask questions, but simply hurriedalong at Avelyn’s side as she directed the mento take her husband up to theirroom.
DiamandaandLady Helen rosefrom wherethey satby the coldhearth in the hall and hurried forward as theyentered. Waving their questionsaway, Avelyn led the menupstairs,openingthe chamberdoor forthem to carryhiminside.
"My lady!" Runilda rushed acrossthe roomas they entered, concern on her face.
"Hefelland hit hishead, Runilda. Fetch my medicinals,"sheordered brusquely, then added,"And my needle and thread. His head has yet tostopbleeding, and I fear he may need stitches. "
"How did he fall?" Diamanda asked with a frown, having heard Avelyn’s explanation to Runilda asshe’dfollowed the men into the room.