Trailing Home Ch. 03byharemgirl©
The remainder of the day passed without incident. Selena took a nap in the afternoon, more from boredom than from a need to rest. She awoke late in the evening, and was surprised to see Liam sitting on the foot of the bed, scribbling in a small notebook. She rose on one elbow and rubbed a bent finger over her eyes, frowning slightly.
"What time is it?" she asked, her voice still husky from sleep.
Liam smiled at her. He liked the way she looked when her hair was mussed. "It's almost eight o'clock."
"Eight o'clock?" she asked. She had slept for over three hours. "Why did you let me sleep so long? Did you have dinner?"
He merely shrugged. "Not yet. I figured you were tired, so I asked the cook to save us a tray. I preferred to dine with you."
Selena stood up, brushing her skirts down and running a hand over her hair. She turned away, self-conscious of how she must look. "The cook must think I'm terribly lazy."
Liam gave a warm chuckle and laid his book aside as he rose to stand just behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. His self control was sorely strained by the sight of her, looking so tempting.
"I doubt it, Selena. The crew is aware that we are newlyweds, so he probably thinks that fulfilling your wifely duties has left you more tired than usual." As he said the words, he traced the side of her neck with his fingers. She was warm and soft beneath his hand, and he felt his erection growing steadily harder.
Tiny shivers of excitement rippled through her, and when she spoke, Selena's voice came out as a breathless whisper. "Well, we should go and eat. You must be starving."
"Yes, I am," he murmured.
He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him as his lips began to explore the area beneath her ear. Sensing no resistance, he grew bolder and one hand slid up to cup her breast. He squeezed the tender flesh, drawing a sigh from Selena, and Liam growled with satisfaction when her nipple hardened beneath his questing hand.
When she turned her head to look at him from over her shoulder, he claimed her parted lips. The kiss was like setting sparks to dry tinder. Without really thinking, he began to unfasten the tiny buttons of her bodice, and he was surprised by the clumsiness of his fingers. He had undressed a fair number of women, but he had never been quite so anxious to accomplish the task. He finally managed to open her dress to the waist, and he reached inside the neckline of her chemise to cup her naked breast in his palm, marveling at the smooth perfection of it.
Selena gasped and drew back from the kiss to gaze up at him with wide eyes. Her entire awareness was riveted on his lean fingers that intimately massaged her. His gaze once again captured hers as he rolled her nipple between his thumb and fingers. Desire flared in the pit of her belly, and she arched her back, pressing her breast more firmly into his hand.
Liam felt his self control slip another notch, and he was suddenly desperate to view his wife without the benefit of her clothes. He devoured her lips once more, using the kiss and his fingers to distract her from his purpose as he slipped the dress off her shoulders and down her arms. She didn't protest as he pushed it off her hips and let it slither to the floor.
Breaking the kiss, Liam grasped her by the shoulders and turned her to face him, waiting until her eyes fluttered open to meet his. He was aching to have her, but he wouldn't proceed if she wasn't willing. He had to know before he went any further, or he might not be able to stop.
"I want you," he murmured, stealing her breath with the boldness of his gaze as it roamed over her meagerly clad breasts.
Selena could only manage a whisper. "What about our agreement? If we consummate the vows, there's no going back. Is that what you want?"
Liam was having a hard time concentrating on her words, watching in fascination as he ran a thumb over one pouting nipple and saw it harden into a tight bud. He gave her an honest answer.
"All I know is that I want you, and I can't see any way I'll be able to resist you for the next several months. You're desirable enough to tempt a veritable saint." His eyes pleaded with her to put him out of his misery.
"And that saint would be you I suppose?" she asked with a teasing smile and one raised eyebrow.
Liam released a tense laugh. "I'm no saint, Selena. I'm just a man, with a man's needs and desires." He claimed her mouth again, his lips soft and persuasive on hers as he tasted her.
Selena's thoughts were a confused jumble, and she wished that she had more time to make a rational decision. Her parents had shared a love that was strong and lasting. Selena wanted nothing less for herself, and she thought that there was the potential for that kind of love to grow between her and Liam. However, she didn't know the best way to encourage love to blossom.
If she refused Liam, would he be angry with her and possibly harden his heart against her? If she accepted him, would he resent her after the fact and blame her for trapping him into an unwanted marriage? It really came down to a leap of faith. If she took the next step, she had to trust that physical intimacy would lead to a deeper emotional bond between them.
Taking a deep breath for courage, Selena drew back from the kiss and met Liam's eyes. She reached up and untied the dainty ribbon that closed the neckline of her chemise and released the tiny buttons. She hesitated for a long moment before slipping the straps off her shoulders. Selena noticed that Liam's breath caught when the fabric hung suspended over her nipples before slipping free to reveal her breasts. She felt devoured by the hunger in his hazel eyes, but she stood before him without cringing. Only her pantalets impeded his roaming gaze, and taking her bottom lip between her teeth, Selena released the drawstring at her waist, allowing them to drop to the floor.
Liam's breath came out on a sigh. She was even more beautiful than he had imagined. The interior of the cabin was dim, with only one lantern casting some light, but her creamy skin glowed. Her breasts were full and firm, with delicate pink nipples perched at their tips that pouted and begged for his touch. Her stomach was flat and her waist was impossibly tiny before it flared into well-curved hips. Her bottom was smooth perfection, the globes sensuously full for one so slender, and her legs were long and wonderfully shaped. His eyes traversed their length and returned to settle on the triangular thatch of black hair at their apex. When he met her gaze again, raw desire smoldered in the depths of his eyes.
He gently pulled her against him once more and bent to savor her lips. Selena was keenly aware of her nakedness, having never exposed herself willingly to a man's gaze, and her skin tingled where it brushed against his cotton shirt and rough breeches. She felt tiny and fragile in his arms, but the contrast of her softness and his hardness thrilled her rather than frightening her. She wound her arms around his neck and returned his kiss eagerly, trusting that he wouldn't hurt her.
Her response ignited Liam's senses, and he devoured her soft lips, exploring them thoroughly before moving on to the delicate line of her jaw. His mouth traced the graceful column of her neck and nibbled on her shoulder then ventured further to her bosom. Selena sighed when his fingers returned to fondle her breast and she watched through half closed lids as he cupped the fullness and took her nipple into his mouth. The heat of his tongue rasping her breast was shockingly delightful. That heat was converted into molten hot desire that coursed through her to settle in the pit of her belly. She clutched his head against her and arched her back in a wordless plea for him to continue the caress.
Hot blood pounded through his cock, and Liam lifted her and laid her on the bed. He quickly removed his shirt, boots and socks before joining her on the mattress. Propping on one elbow, he skimmed his fingers almost reverently over her breast, feeling a primitive satisfaction when he circled the nipple that was still erect and wet from his kisses.
"You're beautiful," he breathed.
"So are you," Selena whispered. She tentatively traced the width of his shoulders and ran her fingers through the crinkly hairs on his chest before meeting his eyes. "Are you sure this is what you want? Just yesterday you said you didn't want to be stuck with me for a wife."
Embarrassed by how quickly he had changed his mind, Liam kissed her to avoid giving an answer. He trailed his strong fingers over her body, pausing to explore each luscious curve. As his kisses became more demanding, so did his fingers, and Selena was soon writhing beside him on the bed. When Liam reached her pussy, he groaned with delight.
Selena was swollen, throbbing and extremely wet. Her womanly scent wafted up to him as he stroked her softness. He was gratified when she opened her thighs wide, tilting her hips up to welcome his hand. His cock throbbed painfully, and he desperately wanted to plunge deep inside her.
While Selena loved the things Liam was doing to her body, she was also aware of a niggling voice in the back of her mind. Liam still hadn't answered her question, and she couldn't fully relax. She used her arms to brace against his chest and insisted that he meet her eye.
"Liam, please answer me. Once we do this, our marriage will become permanent. Are you sure you want that? Do you really want to have me as your wife?"
In his impatience to have her, Liam said the first thing that came to mind. "Yes I want you. Since we were forced to marry, we may as well enjoy each other. I wasn't planning to take a wife, but since the deed is done..."
Selena froze for a brief moment before she gave a small cry and shoved against him. She scrambled away and hopped off the bed to clutch her gown protectively in front of her. "Get out!" When he made no move to comply but lay staring at her with his mouth open, she stamped her foot in fury. "Get out so I can have some privacy to get dressed!"
"Selena, wait a minute. I didn't mean . . ."
"I know exactly what you meant." Selena's voice trembled with anger and hurt as she glared at him. "You were planning on amusing yourself with me since there's no one better around. You obviously think I'm just some cheap little strumpet you can use whenever you like. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush."
Liam's own anger was building, helped in large part by his frustration, and he stood up to place his hands on his hips as he scowled at her. "Now wait a damn minute. I'm willing to make a commitment, to be a true husband to you."
"Well excuse me for not having a lot of faith in your commitments, since they seem to change from day to day. Just yesterday, you were committed to not consummating our vows!"
"Why you little tease," Liam growled, taking a step closer to tower over her. "You never intended to go through with this. You just wanted to see my reaction. You flaunt yourself in front of me, doing your best to get my blood heated, and then you criticize me for having the desires of a normal man."
Selena gasped with indignation, and poked a finger repeatedly into his chest to emphasize her words. "I'm not the one who started this. You always manage to blame me for things that aren't my fault."
"Oh I don't think you have been blamed for nearly enough," Liam hissed as he bent to retrieve his shirt from the floor. "I was doing just fine until you came along. Since I met you, I haven't had a moment's peace."
"Oooh! I have no idea what made me think you were a decent, trustworthy man. I couldn't have found a more obnoxious, bad-mannered, selfish person to travel with if I had gone to the farthest corners of the earth!" Selena was grateful he had finally finished buttoning his shirt. His naked chest had been much too disconcerting.
"It feels like I've already traveled to the farthest corner of the earth with you," Liam ground out as he donned his socks and yanked his boots on. "By the time we get to Oregon, it will surely seem as if I've been to the farthest corners of hell with you."
Selena would have turned her back on him in a huff, but she wasn't inclined to expose her bare backside. Instead, she pinned him with a heated glare. "Then you should be grateful that I've just prevented you from having to spend the rest of your life with me in hell. Now get out!"
Liam slammed the door so hard the walls shook, and heedless of who might be watching, he stalked down the hall. His wife was the most infuriating woman he had ever had the misfortune to meet. His wife! The words were bitter gall. He must be some kind of fool to have landed in this mess.
The steamship was much too small to provide enough distance between him and Selena, and he soon found he had reached the end of his tether at the back of the boat. As he stared out into the darkness, his aggravation coiled and knotted in the pit of his belly. He hadn't experienced this kind of sexual frustration since he had been a blushing schoolboy. As the night aged an hour and then another, his resolve hardened into granite. He wouldn't give her the satisfaction of leading him around by the nose. If the temptation became too great, he would just have to look elsewhere for relief, but there would be a blizzard in Hades before he would try to bed his wife again!
He returned to the cabin, intent on giving Selena a piece of his mind, but when he opened the door and stalked inside, he nearly tripped over her. She had made a pallet on the floor and was lying on her side, fast asleep. He ground his teeth to keep from yelling at her and closed the door with a loud click. His boots landed in a corner where he kicked them and his shirt was flung onto the floor as he undressed for bed, making no attempt to be quiet. Giving her no heed, he stripped off the last of his clothes and turned off the lantern before plopping onto the bed, causing the small frame to creak in protest. He tossed and turned, finally facing the wall and punching the small pillow into a ball beneath his head.
Selena lay still, hoping he would think she was asleep, as she silently seethed. The inconsiderate oaf could rot before she would show him one bit of tenderness. The only feeling that rivaled her fury was the deep wound to her pride. When she thought about how she had almost given herself to him, she felt like she would shrivel up and die of shame. Well, so much for a deeper emotion growing between them! The only emotion she felt for him in that moment was supreme disgust. She wasn't some plaything, available to appease him whenever he felt an itch! She was a lady, someone to be cherished and loved, not a harlot, and starting tomorrow, she would see to it that he understood that!
Neither of them slept well that night, and they were both keenly aware of the other one tossing and turning. Exhaustion finally won out, and they succumbed to its effects. Selena was the first to wake the next morning, and she grimaced from the aches and pains that resulted from sleeping on the floor. She wished she hadn't been so adamant about taking turns on the hard surface. It would have served Liam right to give up his bed, the scoundrel! She folded up the blanket that she had slept in and laid it neatly on the shelf. The first rays of the rising sun were shining through the small window, casting a deep rose hue across the bed and its occupant.
Selena eyed him with contempt as he slept, but she reluctantly had to admire her husband's fine looks. His faced looked almost boyish in repose, and there was a thick growth of stubble starting along his jaw. He lay on his back with one arm flung over his head and the other draped across his thigh. The blanket covered him to the waist, but one calf and foot had been thrown from underneath the cloth. Selena took advantage of his slumber to look more closely at him.
She started at his foot that was visible, admiring the masculine grace of the appendage before her eyes skimmed up his strong calf covered with tawny hair. Her view ended at the knee, where the blanket hindered her, but she could make out the clear outline of his thighs, and she knew them to be well-formed by the way his breeches fit him. When her eyes moved to the bulge of his manhood beneath the blanket, Selena's cheeks burned, and she quickly moved her gaze upward. She was fascinated by the line of hair that trailed up from his waist to eventually join with the other springy hairs on his chest. She remembered the feeling of those hairs against her naked breasts, and she blushed even more. She couldn't help but admire the rippling muscles of his torso and arms, and she followed the sinews out to the tips of his lean fingers.
His dark tan and well-developed frame suggested that he was accustomed to a life of activity and hard work. His hands, while beautiful to her, had calluses from his labors, and Selena knew he wasn't lazy. Although she was loath to admit it, she thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen, but she would die before letting him know it.
She took special care to dress silently. Liam had seen quite enough of her nakedness, and Selena was determined not to give him any more glimpses. She slipped her pantalets on under her nightgown and turned her back to the bed to drop the gown and don her chemise. She hurriedly fastened the garment before stepping into her dress and buttoning up the front. She cast frequent glances over her shoulder to ensure that Liam wasn't spying on her, but he remained deeply asleep and facing toward the wall.
When she was once again fully clothed, she unbraided her hair and brushed it quickly into some semblance of order. She didn't bother with braiding it again, but instead wound it into a soft knot at her crown and secured the ends with the handful of pins she had. Without the benefit of a mirror, she had to assume that she looked presentable. Finally, she slipped on her stockings and scooped up her shoes before she tiptoed out of the cabin and closed the door behind her without a sound.
Liam smiled in his sleep, enjoying his dream. Selena was there, naked and willing in his arms, and he was anxious to enjoy all she was offering him. He admired the creamy perfection of her skin as he nibbled at her throat and caressed her hip. She gave him a sultry smile and rubbed her breasts against his chest as she whispered a bold invitation in his ear. Liam groaned with pleasure and the sound woke him abruptly. He scowled fiercely down at his throbbing erection as if that part of his anatomy were a separate entity, and he judged it to be a traitor to his cause. He ground his teeth in frustration and tossed a glare at the floor, but Selena was gone.
"Damn!" he swore violently, scrambling up from the bed.
He quickly located her blanket folded neatly on the shelf and her suitcase still in its spot, so she couldn't have gone far. Frowning at his own stupidity, he remembered that there was nowhere for her to go even if she had wanted to. With that realization, he calmed somewhat and quickly washed and dressed, still anxious to know where she had gone.
"What is the little minx up to now?" he muttered as he yanked on his boots.
The ship wasn't that large, and he set out to look for Selena. However, he had searched both decks and was beginning to wonder whether he had somehow missed her when he heard her voice. It was coming from a small lounge near the back of the ship, and he could tell she was talking with someone. Not wanting to intrude, he approached the doorway and leaned against the outside wall as he stopped to listen. Who was she talking to?
"That's a good idea, Hank. I'll have to keep that suggestion in mind," she was saying.
Liam instantly bristled at the thought that Selena was on a first name basis with another man. And what was she simpering about? She sounded like one of those brainless twits that liked to flirt with him, pretending to be helpless and always needing advice.