Second Chances Ch. 05byharemgirl©
When Brian returned from town with a load of lumber, Aidan was waiting at the barn. He didn't even wait for him to come to a complete stop before he questioned him.
"How was she?"
Brian raised his brows as he pulled the wagon to a stop and set the brake. He eyed his brother, stalling for time as he weighed what he should tell him.
"Who, Mrs. Tisdale?" he asked as he hopped down.
Aidan shot him a glare. "Of course, Naomi! Who else would I be inquiring about?"
Brian shrugged, turning to untie the ropes securing his load. "She seemed alright. She said to tell you not to worry about her anymore, that she could look after herself."
"Damned, stubborn woman," Aidan ground out. He drew in a sharp breath and let it out on a sigh. "Did she say anything else? Did she ask about me?"
Brian eyed him warily. "No, she just thanked me for stopping by."
Aidan thought about that for a moment. He had been hoping that Naomi missed him as much as he missed her, but apparently, she was getting along fine without him.
"I'll see you at supper," he muttered, stalking off toward the river.
Liam walked up in time to see Aidan walking away. "What's up with him?"
Brian gave him a frown and shook his head. "He was asking about Mrs. Tisdale."
"Well?" Liam prompted with a look of interest. "What was she like?"
"She's the prettiest little filly I've seen for a long time. She would be perfect for Aidan. You should have seen her face when I first drove up. She came running out of the house, thinking I was Aidan. When she saw I wasn't, her smile just withered and died."
"Hmmm," said Liam. "Sounds like she's got it as bad as Aidan does. Do you think they are going to get back together?"
"Anything can be worked out, it's just a question of time and the desire to make it happen," Brian said.
"You sound like Mama," Liam laughed. "She always used to tell us that."
Brian shot him a grin. "And she's right. Now give me a hand getting this lumber unloaded."
Four more agonizing days passed, during which Naomi grew more and more unhappy. It was torture knowing that Aidan was just down the road, but she couldn't see him. She tried to stay busy, doing all the chores around her small farm just the way Aidan had taught her. While the steady work kept her occupied, it did nothing to distract her thoughts.
She had determined to let Aidan go and move on with her life, but by the eighth lonely night in her bed, that plan was looking more and more unappealing. She had to see him. Reaching a decision, she was filled with impatience. She hopped out of bed and ran to her pile of clothes, rifling through the garments recklessly until she found the ones she sought. She donned the man's clothes she had worn the first day of her arrival and pulled on a pair of serviceable boots. She grabbed a coat and headed out the door.
A full moon cast just enough light to see by as she followed the path through the trees. By the moon's position in the sky, she determined it to be just past midnight. She walked as quickly as she could, careful not to stumble. It seemed to take forever, but she finally spotted Liam's cabin. She took a moment to admire the view.
The McKenzie farm was much larger and better organized than hers. A large, attractive cabin stood among a stand of trees, facing the river. There was a massive barn, a smoke house, and multiple corrals to house animals. She focused on the cabin, wondering how she was going to find Liam's room. For the first time, she considered the rashness of her actions. It would be awfully embarrassing if she ended up waking Liam's brothers.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked to the cabin and peered through the front window. There were no signs of life, so she groped her way to the back of the house. A small band of light shone through a lone window, and she crept up to peer inside. Her heart pounded in relief and excitement, as she spied Liam lying in bed. He was lying with his hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling. A lone candle on his bedside table shed light over his naked chest. A crisp white sheet was gathered at his waist, covering his lower half. He was the most beautiful sight Naomi had ever seen.
She scratched at the window, and Aidan jerked upright in the bed. He scowled as he wrapped the sheet around his waist and came to the window. He raised the panel and peered at her, mute with surprise.
"Hello Aidan," she whispered.
Her silky voice snapped him out of his momentary trance, and he scowled at her. "What the hell are you doing here?" he asked in a harsh whisper.
"I had to see you," she said. "Can I come in?"
He stared at her for only a moment longer before releasing a deep sigh. He reached for her and lifted her through the window, shutting the window silently behind her.
"Now what is so important that it couldn't wait until tomorrow?" he asked, turning to face her.
Naomi didn't waste any time on words. She threw herself into his arms and kissed him soundly on the mouth. For a brief moment, Aidan held his arms away from her, trying to resist her appeal, but he gave up with a growl and clasped her against him. It felt so good to be in his arms again, that Naomi released a moan of sheer pleasure.
"Shhh," Aidan cautioned her. "Brian sleeps in the next room."
Nodding that she understood, Naomi stretched up to kiss him again, pressing her body as close to his as possible. Aidan sank onto the edge of the bed, pulling her onto his lap. He worked at her buttons, kissing her all the while. He brushed her coat and shirt off her shoulders, and Naomi lifted her breast up to his searching mouth, eager for his touch. He suckled hard on the tender flesh, and she bit her lip to stifle another moan.
Aidan kissed his way up her neck to her mouth, using his knowing fingers to taunt her nipple. "Marry me, Naomi."
Naomi shuddered as he squeezed hard, causing her to arch her back for more. "You know I can't. You'll find someone else to marry, but please be mine until you do."
Aidan growled low in his throat. His hands firmed around her waist and he lifted her to the floor, standing up in front of her. He met her stare, and his eyes glowed with fire before he turned aside. He lit a lantern, casting a brighter glow over the room, then turned back to face her.
He quickly dispensed with her clothing and sat her naked on the side of his bed, urging her back onto her elbows and pressing her knees wide. Kneeling before her, he looped her thighs over his shoulders and kissed her pussy, plunging his tongue deep inside her. It was all Naomi could do to squelch her surprised scream. She threaded her fingers in his hair and clung to him, floating in a sea of delight. Through cracked eyelids, she noticed a large standing mirror behind Aidan. She saw a reflection of his naked back, as he worshipped at her core. The combined light of the candle and the lantern cast a warm yellow glow over them, highlighting every detail. The sight was enthralling, and she stared with wide eyes as he pandered to her senses.
He lavished her with love, caressing her with increasingly intimate strokes of his tongue and fingers until she was on the verge of euphoria. Then, inexplicably, he backed off, hardly touching her with the softness of his strokes. When she whimpered softly, he ignored her and kept up with his featherlight kisses. As soon as Naomi had gathered some composure, he assaulted her again with another barrage of sensations, pushing her once more to the brink before backing off. The torture continued, with Naomi growing increasingly desperate for release. Each time, he was ruthless in his retreat, denying her the prize she sought.
After what seemed like eons, he rose. Without saying a word, he lifted her and took her place, sitting on the edge of the bed. He grasped her waist and lifted her onto his lap with her back to his chest. He arranged her so that she was sitting on her knees, straddling his thighs. He grasped her jaw and directed her gaze to the mirror. Her eyes widened at the sight of their reflection.
She sat naked and exposed, perched with her knees wide apart and her shining pussy lips peaking out from beneath her hair. He watched her from over her shoulder, gauging her reaction. Catching and holding her gaze, he leaned near her ear and whispered in a husky, seductive voice, laced with sweet temptation.
"Are you telling me, Naomi, that I should kiss another woman the way I have just kissed you?"
Naomi's eyes widened further, and she gasped. "No," she whispered, a look of horror on her face.
"Then marry me, Naomi."
"Aidan, you know I can't," she whispered.
He reached up and cupped both her breasts in his strong hands. "Don't take your eyes off the mirror," he commanded her softly.
She watched, transfixed as he worshipped her breasts. His darkly tanned hands contrasted sharply with the ivory perfection of her skin. He squeezed and twisted her pink, swollen nipples, exerting just the right amount of pressure to send jolts of stark desire into her loins. When she forgot and closed her eyes in ecstasy, he squeezed extra hard, causing her eyes to pop open on a gasp.
"I said not to take your eyes off the mirror," he growled.
He suckled her neck, sending shivers of delight down her spine. Naomi could feel her juices dribbling onto his legs, and she wiggled her hips, trying to gain some friction. Instead, she inadvertently pressed her bottom tight against his throbbing cock, and she gasped again from the sheer heat of it. Aidan snared her gaze, refusing to let her look away. He pressed his erection in between the globes of her bottom and thrust several times, lewdly reminding her of her wanton position as he continued to squeeze her aching nipples until they were throbbing and sore. Then, he leaned close to whisper in her ear once more, still holding her gaze.
"Are you telling me, Naomi, that I should touch another woman the way I'm touching you?"
Naomi whimpered and shook her head in mute denial.
"Then marry me, Naomi."
She bit her lip to suppress a moan of sheer frustration. "I can't," she whispered softly.
Aidan released her breasts and slid his hands down to her pussy. She watched with a mixture of trepidation and fascination as he spread her shining lips wide apart and stroked the delicate pink inner flesh with his fingers. She was dripping with moisture, and he made a show of gathering her juices and spreading them around, smearing some in her thick patch of hair and out to her inner thighs. His wicked fingers came back, spearing into her to gather more juice and spreading it over her aching clit. He circled the tiny nub, teasing and taunting it, giving it an occasional squeeze, until Naomi was once more on the verge of satisfaction. Then he withdrew his hands, placing them on her waist.
He waited for her to meet his eyes in the mirror. Hers were full of urgent appeal. He raised one brow as he looked at her.
"Are you telling me, Naomi, that you want me to make another woman feel as desperate for my cock as you feel right now?"
Naomi was trembling with need, and tears trailed down her face as she shook her head. "No, I don't want you to do any of these things with another woman," she whispered. "Only with me."
"Then marry me, Naomi."
"I can't," she whispered. Her voice was full of despair.
Aidan growled once more and gripped her waist. He lifted her and plunged into her, stretching her to the point of pain as he brought her down roughly onto his cock. She gasped and clutched his arms for support. She hung on for dear life as he lifted her again and again, only to bring her crashing back down on his erection. She could barely breathe. He timed his thrusts so that he built her tension to the breaking point, then he lifted her off his cock and set her back down in her original position on his lap. Naomi sobbed with frustration.
"Marry me, Naomi."
She dropped her head in defeat and began to sob in earnest. Aidan had meant to be merciless, not stopping in his torture until he had gained her agreement, but he couldn't see her like this. He had given it his best effort, poured his heart and soul into persuading her, and still she had refused him. He lifted her and turned to set her on hands and knees on the bed. He gripped her hips and thrust into her, quickly taking her the short distance to fulfillment. She clenched him with her inner muscles and buried her face in the blankets to muffle her cries of pleasure as he poured himself inside her. He shuddered as her muscles milked him, coaxing every drop of his seed deep inside her.
She collapsed onto the bed, and although he wanted to join her, he remained standing, panting from his exertion. When she came back to earth, she opened her eyes and saw him staring down at her with an inscrutable expression on his face. She sat up and grasped his hand.
"What is it, Aidan?"
He gave her a sad smile and touched her cheek briefly. "Nothing, my love. Come, get dressed and I will take you home."
He slipped on his breeches and shirt and helped her button her clothes, saying nothing. They slipped out of the house undetected, and Aidan led her to the barn. He slipped a bridle on his horse and led him quietly out into the moonlight. Aidan lifted her astride the horse and jumped up behind her, pulling her back against his firm chest and encircling her with his strong arms. They rode silently through the forest, reaching her home in only a few minutes.
He lifted her down and walked her to her door. The silence wore on Naomi's nerves, and she turned to face him, spreading her hands over his chest as she stepped close.
"When will I see you again, Aidan?"
He met her eye briefly before releasing a deep sigh and looking up at the moon. Several moments of silence stretched out between them. Just when she thought he wasn't going to answer her at all, he lifted her hand and kissed the backs of her fingers. His eyes were soulful and sad as he delved into hers.
"I love you, Naomi. With all my heart, I worship you. I would give anything to spend the rest of my life with you, as husband and wife. But..."
His voice cracked, and he stopped to take a deep breath. Naomi's heart thumped against her ribs as she waited for him to continue. When he finally did, his voice was low and husky, and she had to strain to hear the words as he forced them out.
"I can't keep going on as we were before. It's not enough for me to steal a few hours with you now and then. It's too painful, loving you as I do but not being able to have you."
Naomi shook her head and grasped his hands. "You can have me, Aidan. You could even move in with me if you want. I don't care what anyone else thinks about our relationship. I'm not ashamed. I love you and want to be with you."
"I can't, Naomi." He met her eye and shook his head gently. "I just can't."
Naomi's eyes filled with tears, and they flowed down her cheeks. "Are you punishing me because I won't agree to marry you?"
Aidan laughed bitterly, looking once more at the moon shining overhead as he released a sigh of regret. "Naomi, I can't change who I am anymore than you can. It's hard enough for me to accept that we have to end this. Please don't make it any harder for me. If you don't want me as your husband, just let me go."
The hardest thing Naomi had ever done was to pull back from his arms. She gave him one last look and entered her cabin, not looking behind her as she shut the door. She listened as he mounted his horse and rode away, plodding slowly toward his home.
For the next two weeks, Naomi endured a personal hell. It was far worse than when her parents had died, worse even than when Nathan had died. The loneliness she felt this time was self-imposed and bone-deep. She was so tempted to go to Aidan and beg him to take her back. She thought about accepting his proposal. Even the risk of him rejecting her once he knew she would never bear him any children wouldn't be any more painful than what she was already experiencing.
What stopped her was the knowledge that he probably wouldn't reject her. He would look into her eyes and tell her it didn't matter, that he still wanted her as his wife. Then, as the years went by, she would see resentment growing in his beautiful brown eyes. Like Nathan, he would never blame her in so many words, but sooner or later, he would wish he had married someone else, someone who could give him children. The fear of being Aidan's wife and slowly watching his love for her die was enough to keep her from going to him.
After two long weeks, Naomi was running out of supplies. She dreaded going into town. She didn't want to meet new people and have them ask her lots of questions, but neither could she sit at home and starve. The barrel of vegetables that Aidan had brought her was empty, and she needed flour and coffee. She would have to go.
She dressed carefully, selecting a gown of light blue with darker blue flowers printed on it. The scooped bodice lovingly conformed to her bosom and waist, and a white silk insert rose to button snugly at her neck. She had a matching bonnet, and when she was fully dressed, she nodded at her reflection. She looked like the very image of a proper young widow.
She saddled her horse and adjusted her skirts to preserve her modesty once she was mounted. The town was a few miles away, and when she arrived, she scanned the signs for the general store. Locating the store, she dismounted and tied her horse outside.
It wasn't as bad as she had anticipated. The owner greeted her warmly, and he and his wife were politely curious about her, but they didn't pry overly much. She bought the required items, and the shopkeeper helped her to arrange them on her horse. She thanked him, and he returned to the warm interior of his store.
Naomi was about to mount her horse for the return ride home when she spied Aidan. He was standing on the opposite side of the street, about a block away, and he was deep in conversation with a beautiful young woman. Even from a distance, Naomi could see her flirting shamelessly with him, stroking his arm and smiling up at him. She was dressed in an emerald green dress, cut low across her breasts to show a generous amount of cleavage.
Naomi's heart constricted as she watched him talking and laughing. He was facing partially away from her, but she could tell by his body language that he was anything but disinterested in his feminine companion. Several times, he leaned close to peer into her bodice, and she giggled and stroked his chest. It was positively indecent!
Tears of pain and rage welled in Naomi's eyes. She was about to turn away when the other woman brushed a kiss on Aidan's cheek and walked away, leaving him to grin at her swaying hips. Naomi's control snapped, and she marched toward him, barely able to see where she was going through her streaming tears. When she reached him, she yanked his arm around to face her and pummeled his chest with her fists.
"You cad! I can't believe I thought for even an instant that you truly loved me!" Her sobs were growing ever more hysterical as she beat against his chest, furious that her blows were not having much effect on him. "I'm so glad I didn't fall for your lies. Thank heavens I didn't marry you!"
He grabbed her arms to keep her from inflicting any more damage and held her slightly away from him. "Well, ma'am, I'm guessing that you must be Mrs. Tisdale."
The sound of his voice, slightly different from the one she expected to hear made Naomi freeze in her tracks. She gasped and finally looked at his face, close-up. His features were nearly identical, but even through her tears, she could tell that this man was a stranger to her.
"You're not Aidan," she accused with a frown.
He grinned and released her arms. "That's a fact, ma'am. I'm his younger brother, Liam McKenzie."