Being the Maid Ch. 07byGoldeniangel©
A creature of habit, Bridget woke in the morning at her usual time, feeling very sore after her exertions from the day before. Outside she could hear the movements that told her Garrett was up and moving. She didn't hear anyone else though, which must mean that he had left the Princess in the other tent. Suddenly she felt a bit more cheerful, even though she shouldn't be feeling any such thing in these kinds of circumstances.
Sliding out of Patrick's bedroll, she quietly put on her clothes and went outside to help Garrett with the morning's preparations. He looked at her but didn't say anything as she joined him, moving about the campsite. They had done this enough times now that it was almost like a dance, both of them knowing exactly what the other person was going to be doing next and making sure that they stayed out of each other's way. It was going to be a beautiful morning, she could tell, and she didn't even mind that her body ached a bit. Moving around helped work out some of her muscles.
Suddenly Garrett grabbed her arm and she jumped, yelping a bit with the surprise of it. Looking up at him with big eyes she was surprised to see him glaring at her neck. Despite his firm grip on her arm, his fingers were gentle as the brushed over her neck, and she winced, surprised as the small touch caused a bit of pain.
"What is it?" she asked.
"You don't know?" The look he was giving her was so strange and unsettling. Bridget bit down on her lower lip and shook her head. She wasn't afraid of him exactly, but there was something darkly intense about his eyes, as if he was holding back a great deal of anger and she didn't know why. "He bit you."
"He what?" Shocked, she reached up and felt the spot... it was quite tender and the memory of Patrick's mouth biting down on her in just this spot as she'd climaxed came rushing back to her. Heat filled her cheeks and she looked away from Garrett, feeling suddenly exposed and ashamed. "Did he break skin?"
"No," he said, quietly, moving her hand away so that he could lean in and inspect it closer. "It's just bruised. You'll be fine."
"Thank you for the information," Bridget snapped, suddenly angry at him as she jerked her arm away. Easy for him to say she'd be fine, there was nothing about this situation that made her feel fine. Nothing at all. It was times like this that she had to remind herself that he truly didn't care! "It would be a shame if your toy was damaged."
Glaring up at him she found him glaring back at her, his face looking like a thundercloud.
"Lover's quarrel?" Patrick's sardonic tones slid across them, cutting her to the quick. Lovers? Her and Garrett? Perhaps in the physical sense, but she didn't have a choice. And even if she did... well... okay, well she didn't know what she would do, but seeing as he was a lawbreaker and a rogue she would refuse him. Maybe if he wasn't a bandit but... no, stupid to think on what ifs. Bridget looked away as Garrett scoffed.
"Hardly," he drawled, but there was something in his voice that she couldn't quite determine the meaning of. As if he was shaken by Patrick's sudden appearance as well. "I was just wondering how her night fared and how accommodating she might be this morning."
Accommodating? For him? She'd stab him with the vegetable knife, right now, given half a chance. But... her thoughts twisted. That's not what they had been talking about. He'd been inspecting the bite mark that Patrick had given her. Which was the act - his care for her wound or his indifference to her now?
"There's always the Princess if you'd like to be serviced," Patrick said with a smirk, coming over to the fire and getting his breakfast.
"She's more than used up after last night," Garrett replied dryly. Then he too sat down to breakfast, directly across from Patrick, almost as if they were facing off. A strange kind of tension seemed to be filling the little clearing. Uncomfortable, Bridget quietly got her own food and sat down to eat. If Garrett did want pleasuring she knew she would be expected to provide it, but she was starving and confused by his conflicting words and actions. "I think she'll appreciate you more now though."
"Gave her quite a ride did you?"
"You have no idea."
The word "ride" seemed to stab Bridget directly in the gut, even though it wasn't Garrett who had said it. Because that's what she had done for him, ridden him when he'd requested. That's what she was to him, what the Princess had been to him last night. It was obvious that she was going to have to remind herself of this quite constantly; apparently she craved a friend, which wasn't at all surprising, but she couldn't let her weakness lull her into making Garrett into something that he wasn't. That was only going to lead to disappointment and heartbreak.
Heartbreak? Where had that thought come from?
It was actually a relief when Samuel came out of the other tent, as brash as always although looking a bit more disheveled than usual, to distract from the strange tension and Bridget's stranger thoughts. Even better, he seemed to require no early morning relief from her. Neither did Blaine when he appeared, dragging the Princess along with him.
All in all, despite the churning emotions that assaulted her whenever she looked at or thought of Garrett, it was one of her better mornings.
Something was happening. The men were standing together, but they'd never seemed more apart. Tension radiated from the group like heat from a lamp, warning the women not to get too close. For the first time Bridget would have been able to have a word with the Princess if she'd desired, but she no longer did. Instead she snuck glances at the men, ignoring the other woman who was sitting at the fire and eating, moving somewhat gingerly. Bridget refused to wonder how Garrett might have used her. It wasn't any of her business and she didn't care, she told herself furiously. Concentrating on trying to hear what the men were saying was distracting enough.
For some reason Samuel seemed almost jolly while Garrett was looking murderous. The expression on Patrick's handsome face could almost be called a smirk. Blaine was looking on with his usual indifference, but the tension in his shoulders said that he wasn't completely immune to the dynamics of the group. The more they talked, the darker the look on Garrett's face became and the louder his and Patrick's voices were raised until the words became more distinct.
"I should go!"
"You aren't needed and you will do as I say."
Samuel clapped Garrett on the back, laughing as the other man growled and shrugged his hand off. "At least you'll be with the women." The tone in his voice was almost derogatory, as if he was saying that guarding women was all Garrett was good for. Bridget held her breath, trying not to show that she was listening to them as Garrett made a movement towards Samuel before Blaine caught his arm and pulled him back.
"You are the one who found the nobleman and got the information for the timetable," Blaine said, speaking loudly and quickly as if to override either of the other men from speaking and taunting Garrett further. "You'll still get your share of the booty."
The very air around Garrett seemed to thrum with contained violence, none of which dissipated at Blaine's words, and Bridget had the sudden impression that Garrett didn't care about the treasure. He cared about something else, cared about it deeply. For a moment she thought that there would be a fight, right then and then, but then Garrett looked up at the sky and took in a deep breathe. Even from twenty feet away she could see his broad chest rise and then fall, the anger leaking out of him as if Blaine's words had had an effect on him.
"Fine," he said harshly. And then their voices dropped again as they moved closer to each other to continue their discussion.
It was only when he walked away from them afterwards and she caught a glimpse of his face that she realized he had not at all been appeased by Blaine's words. The violent rage was gone from his movements, but she could see it in his face and eyes. When he turned his head to answer a question from Samuel, she saw it literally melt away from his features. Fear quivered through her. Garrett was a much better actor than she'd ever realized. If she hadn't seen his face before he turned to talk to Samuel, she would never have known how good he was.
And he was hiding something. But what?
Unfortunately she wasn't given much time to think before Samuel and Blaine were on their hoses and off into the woods, and Patrick was sauntering back towards the camp fire, a smirk on his face.
"Hmmm... so many varied delights to choose from," he leered, his eyes sliding over her and the Princess. "What am I in the mood for today?" Then his eyes darted to Garrett and Bridget realized that Patrick was waiting for his reaction. Wanting to see if Garrett would show a preference.
But the other man wasn't looking at them at all, he was still staring off in the direction Samuel and Blaine had gone, one fist clenched by his side as if he was holding himself in place by sheer force of will. Part of her relaxed, relieved that he wasn't showing any preference to the Princess after his time with her, and another part of her felt a little hurt that he wasn't paying her any attention at all. Of course, that was just because she didn't want Patrick's attentions again. She'd choose Garrett over Patrick without any hesitation. The bandit leader frightened her, and wondering what he would do to her if Garrett wasn't providing her with some protection frightened her even more.
It was infuriating to be beholden to him at all, but vastly preferable to the alternative.
She watched as Patrick shrugged and walked over to the Princess, cupping his hand under her chin and forcing her to look up at him. Rather than her usual glare, the Princess looked wary, almost cowed. Apparently she was no longer as sure of her position as she had been before yesterday. That and the unrelenting passions of three men must have made her very sore.
"Did you miss me Princess?" Patrick asked, his smile cruel. Bridget looked away, not wanting to watch the interaction between them, although she couldn't stop herself from hearing.
"I'm too sore for your games," the Princess replied, a little bit of her old haughtiness back in her voice. Feigning interest in a hole that was wearing into the top layer of her skirt, Bridget barely managed to keep herself from shaking her head. Apparently she hadn't learned enough, that or she truly had no idea how she sounded.
"Then we'll both enjoy them more, won't we?"
There was a shriek and then a low moan and Bridget couldn't stop herself from looking over to see Patrick carrying the Princess off over his shoulder. Relief flooded her, even though she wasn't truly surprised. The allure of bedding a Princess had to be much higher than that of a maid. She had a feeling that part of her appeal was Patrick's impression that she meant something to Garrett, but he didn't seem to want to go beyond the strictures that Garrett had laid down when it came to her treatment. And right now it was obvious that Garrett was far more interested in robbing the nobleman's house than in having anything to do with her.
For some reason she didn't feel very relieved about that, even though she knew she should.
"Garrett," said Patrick, his voice full of warning as he paused at the entrance to his tent. "Do not let your little maid escape because you are distracted." Then he disappeared inside the tent. The Princess let out a loud cry and then it sounded like something was pushed into her mouth, stifling the noise.
Bridget looked up to see Garrett staring at her as if he'd never seen her before; his dark eyes were blank and his expression looked somehow both haunted and angry. For lack of better things to do, she watched him as he turned his face away from her and then began to pace back and forth, occasionally glancing towards the woods and occasionally back at her. If she didn't know better, she'd think he was planning his own escape. After a few minutes she had to stop watching him because he was making her feel anxious with all his movements and the darting glances.
Looking at the woods on the opposite side of the camp, she studied the trees with their green leaves and the sunlight trickling through, wondering if Patrick was truly worried that Garrett was so distracted he might let her escape. Truthfully she didn't see why Patrick needed someone here to guard the women. Or why he'd chosen Garrett when the other man was the closest thing to a second in command. Although, perhaps he worried that Garrett's natural tendency towards leadership was having an effect on Samuel and Blaine. If Garrett was setting himself up as a rival, then perhaps Patrick wanted to keep Garrett close to himself rather than giving him more time to influence the others.
Watching the men was fascinating enough in and of itself, but she also knew that studying these divisions between the men could only help her. After all, she had heard the soldiers at home talk often enough about the importance of unity. If the men were busy with their own arguments and disagreements, then they'd be paying even less attention to her. And it was obvious that Patrick wasn't at all worried about her attempting escape; he'd seen her fear over the Princess' punishment and had taken her submissive compliance exactly the way she'd wanted him to.
Of all of them, only Garrett seemed to sometimes see the real her. Maybe that's because he was good at acting too.
"Bridget, come into the tent," Garrett snapped out harshly, making her jump as his voice rang out through the clearing. Loud enough that it interrupted Patrick's masculine moans coming from the other tent. Without looking to see if she followed his order, Garrett strode into the empty tent, obviously expecting that she would follow.
Fury boiled up in her and she stood, striding forth and ready to give him a piece of her mind. She had done nothing to deserve that angry tone in his voice! A sudden realization hit her, almost like a blow to her stomach and all the air in her lungs wooshed out. She was angry at Garrett. Truly angry and more than willing to snap back at him, something that she would never do with any of the other men. In fact, she'd talked to Garrett in ways that she'd never do with the other men already, snapping back at him, taking her anger out on him. Because, deep down, on some level she trusted him. Trusted that he wouldn't hurt her, that he wouldn't punish her for her words or actions, trusted him with some of the emotions that she kept hidden from the others.
And he hadn't taken advantage of that once.
Shaken by her revelations, Bridget stumbled into the tent to find Garrett laying on his back in the center of it, shirtless. He paid no attention to her entrance but continued staring up at the top of the tent, one arm flung out to the side, the other bent at the elbow to tuck his hand under the back of his head. The slightly dimmed light cast shadows across his ribbed abdomen and the ridges of his chest, the dark sprinkling of hair looking soft and enticing across his chest and down his belly. Even on his back Garrett appeared almost dangerous, too strongly muscled to be anything but threatening. She glanced down at the front of his breeches and wasn't sure whether she was relieved or disappointed that the large bulge at the front didn't indicate any arousal on his part.
"Strip," he said, not looking at her, his tone much more mild than it had been outside. It almost sounded like a request rather than an order. As she shimmied out of her garments he continued to stare at the top of the tent. Only when she was completely naked did he move his gaze, his eyes roaming over her with appreciation. Under that lustful stare her nipples puckered, despite herself, and she had to lick suddenly dry lips as the bulge in his pants began to lengthen. "Come here."
Reaching with his out-flung arm, Garrett pulled her down to him, but not in the position she expected. Instead she found herself resting her head on his upper arm, her back to him as he turned and pressed against her naked back, his legs curving against her buttocks. The stiff ridge of his arousal rubbed between her soft mounds as he situated himself, curving his free arm around her body and pulling her back against him so that they were fitted together like a wooden joint. The hair on his body tickled the soft skin of her back and she squirmed a little, as much as she could, although he didn't give her much space to, trapping her by pressing his forearm against her stomach, his hand reaching up to cup one breast.
Heat pulsed through her as he idly massaged the soft mound, her nipple rubbing sensuously against the palm of his hand. She could feel his breath on the back of her neck as he used his face to move her hair out of his way, pressing his lips against her shoulder blade. A quiver of lust went through her and she fought to keep from showing her reaction to him.
When she spoke she could feel his lips moving against her skin.
"Do you have a large family, Bridget?" His voice was very soft, not like he was whispering, but just that he was speaking so low that if she hadn't been pressed right up against him she wouldn't have been able to hear him.
"No, just one older brother," she said, instinctively keeping her voice as low as his, puzzled by the question. Had he brought her into the tent and stripped her down only to ask about her family?
"Were your parents sad to see you leave with the Princess for England?"
Bridget shook her head, confused by his apparent desire to converse. Her body felt like it was humming, every inch attuned to his touch, and yet she knew she should be glad that he wasn't taking his pleasure in her. What on earth did she want? If he took her then she'd be angry, but now she felt a burning need for him between her legs.
"They were proud that I had been chosen. And they knew that I'd always wanted to travel."
Fingers stroked through her hair, almost idly, as he curved his arm beneath her head, making it fall back against his chest.
"A little adventurer, are you?" He chuckled and she could feel the vibrations through his body and hers. This kind of easy going intimacy and conversation was dangerous to her, it was all too easy to forget who and where they were again.
"What are you doing?" she asked, her voice both plaintive and breathy, as conflicted as her emotions. The hand in her hair stilled.
Somehow, his voice went even lower and she strained to hear him.
"One day I will be able to explain that to you. For now, you must trust me."
Trust him? She wanted to laugh, but all she could do was tremble, because she already knew that she did. Hadn't she just realized that before entering the tent? With the other men she always felt a mixture of revulsion and arousal, with Garrett the revulsion was sadly lacking. So was her resistance. It was enough to make a woman weep. His fingers began stroking through her hair again. Sighing, she gave up the fight and felt the tension flow from her body, nuzzling her head into his arm and relaxing into his caress. Part of her wished that he would do something with her breast other than hold it, but for now she sank into the illusion of the safety and warmth of his body.
"I have a half-brother and a half-sister," he said, his voice raising just a tad. Still low enough that anyone even a foot away wouldn't be able to make out his words, but she no longer needed to strain to hear him. "Both younger. I used to have an older half-brother." His voice turned wistful, almost dreamy. She almost asked him how he could have half-siblings that were both older and younger than him, but it was truly none of her business. After all, he had already told her that he'd grown up in a whore-house. Why hadn't he mentioned his siblings before?