Second Chances Ch. 06byharemgirl©
There were two days between Naomi's meeting with Liam and the Saturday dance. During those days, Naomi thought of little other than what she would say when she saw Aidan again. She was full of hope, full of dread, full of fear. Still, she had made up her mind to get everything out in the open, once and for all.
She was still terrified that Aidan would marry her and then regret it later. If that happened, she would bear the pain when the time came. What she couldn't bear was the thought that her refusal to marry him was making Aidan unhappy.
Naomi prepared carefully for the dance. She pressed her favorite dress of mauve satin with small cap sleeves that sat just off her shoulders. The rounded neckline was cut low in both the front and back, showing off her long slender neck and lovely shoulder blades. The dress was cinched tightly at her waist, and the full skirt was trimmed with yards of delicate French lace. The color complemented her ivory complexion, bringing a blush of pink to her cheeks. She dressed her hair into a sedate knot at her crown, but left tiny ringlets to dance coyly around her ears.
Liam arrived promptly at six o'clock, and when he saw her, he released a slow whistle of approval. His grin was boyish when he met her eye.
"You look ravishing, Mrs. Tisdale. I have no doubt you are going to knock Aidan's senses for a loop."
Naomi laughed with pleasure. "Thank you, Mr. McKenzie. You look quite handsome yourself."
Liam was dressed in his Sunday best, a somber blue coat and slacks, a crisp white shirt, and a tie. He wore a pair of black, polished boots and a black hat.
"I bet all the girls at the dance will be sick with jealousy when they see you with me at the dance," Naomi said with a grin. She let him help her with her wool shawl, and she pulled her cabin door closed.
"Don't you worry about them, Mrs. Tisdale," Liam said, as he helped her onto the seat of his wagon. He jumped up to join her, and they started toward town. "If I were you, I would be concerned about Aidan. He's not going to take kindly to me poaching on his preserves." He faced her with a wink. "I'm not worried for myself, I can outrun him. But I don't know about you. Are you sure you are up to handling his temper? I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end when Aidan gets really mad."
Naomi swallowed hard. She had never seen Aidan get really mad, and she felt the first twinges of uncertainty about their plan. She took a deep breath and gave Liam a shaky smile.
"I'm willing to risk it. Besides, Aidan probably deserves to be mad at me. I haven't been totally honest with him, but I'm going to remedy that tonight. Provided I can get him to talk to me, that is. He may not want to have anything to do with me after the way I've hurt him."
Liam smiled and gave her a nod of approval before turning back to the horses. "Oh, I don't doubt for a second that he'll talk to you. When he sees you in that dress, he's going to want to keep every other man from talking to you."
Aidan and Brian rode their horses to the dance. Aidan hadn't wanted to attend, but Brian and Liam had cajoled and nagged him until he had reluctantly agreed. He knew they wouldn't give him a moment's peace unless he went to the dance. He didn't plan to stay long. The thought of being surrounded by flirting, simpering young ladies, all intent on snaring him as their husband, made his gut clench with dread. He would put in a brief appearance and then slip off to his home, leaving his brothers to enjoy the remainder of the night.
There wasn't much chance of Aidan finding any enjoyment in this night or any other. He couldn't get his mind off of Naomi. Ever since she had visited him, even his bedroom had ceased to be a haven. Every time he entered it, he was assailed by visions of her, naked and wanton, whimpering in his arms, begging him to take her. He had cursed himself for a fool at least a thousand times. Maybe he was wrong to have ended things with her. Perhaps he should take whatever she offered him and be happy to get it. At least then, he would have her some of the time. But the thought of making love to her, always wondering whether she truly loved him or was just using him to appease her loneliness, was too painful for him to accept.
The sound of Brian whistling a cheerful tune brought Aidan's attention back to the present. He eyed his brother speculatively, wondering yet again why he was behaving strangely. Both Brian and Liam were up to something, but Aidan didn't know what. He had seen them earlier in the evening with their heads together, whispering to each other. When he had appeared, they acted as if nothing was going on, but he knew better. Then, Liam had left early, to pick up his date for the dance.
Aidan's brow furrowed as he faced Brian. "You seem awfully cheerful."
Brian shrugged. "I was just thinking about Liam. He's a lucky devil, taking the prettiest girl in town to the dance. I guess you and I will have to settle for the leftovers."
Aidan's frown grew deeper, realizing he didn't know which girl Liam was escorting. "Who is Liam taking to the dance?"
Brian didn't meet his gaze. "He said he was taking Mrs. Tisdale. Seems she was happy to be getting out of the house. Must get pretty lonely living there by herself."
Aidan drew his horse to an abrupt stop and eyed Brian. "He's taking Naomi?" When Brian nodded, Aidan's expression turned black. "And you knew about this?" Again, Brian gave him a hesitant nod. "Hell fire and damnation! I can't believe it. I never would have figured my own brothers for a couple of back-stabbers."
"Hey, wait just a minute," Brian protested, struggling to keep a grin from his face. "We thought it was over between you and Mrs. Tisdale. Liam and I didn't see any reason why one of us shouldn't try our luck with her. After all, she is a very beautiful woman. It seems like a shame for her to be so isolated. I see no reason at all why Liam and I shouldn't visit her from time to time, as long as we're discreet of course."
Aidan released a snarl of rage as he grabbed Brian by his lapels and jerked him forward until their noses were mere inches apart. "You'll stay away from Naomi if you know what's good for you, is that understood?"
"Okay, okay," Brian said, nodding his head. "I understand, but you might want to explain it to Liam. He was really looking forward to his date tonight. He said he didn't know whether he would be home tonight and not to worry if we didn't see him until breakfast."
The look on Aidan's face was priceless. He released Brian with a shove and kicked his horse into a gallop. Brian sat stunned for only a second before going in hot pursuit. It was promising to be an exciting evening.
The dance was in full swing. Liam had introduced Naomi to a countless number of friendly farmers and their families. Most of them greeted her warmly, although it didn't escape Naomi's notice that she received several less-than-friendly glances from pretty young ladies. It was obvious that Liam McKenzie was a hot commodity in the area.
A small band had set up in one corner of the large barn. Lanterns had been hung from the rafters, and most members of the crowd danced and laughed to the sound of twin fiddles, a guitar, harmonica, washboard and spoons. The mood was lively and carefree as Liam whirled her through one dance after another. Naomi laughed and danced, but she kept a watchful eye on the door, hoping Aidan would appear soon.
Finally, she spotted him. He was scanning the room intently, obviously looking for someone. When he spotted her, he headed straight toward her, zigzagging through the crowd with a feral gleam in his eye. Naomi leaned close to Liam, and her voice came out as a nervous squeak.
"He's here! He's coming straight toward us."
Liam looked over her shoulder and spotted his brother. It was all he could do not to laugh at the look on his face. "Uh oh. We've really done it now. He looks as mad as a wet hen."
Aidan appeared by their side, bestowing a hard glare on each of them in turn. "Liam, Mrs. Tisdale." He gave them a mocking bow. "Do you mind if I cut in?"
The tone of his voice made it clear that he didn't care whether they minded or not, he was going to do so. Liam shrugged and stepped back, directing Naomi into Aidan's arms.
"Be my guest," Liam said. He gave Naomi a wink. "I'll get us some punch."
Aidan pulled her against him, and his muscles were as rigid as stone as he held her close for a slow dance that was just starting. Naomi swallowed hard and gave him her best attempt at a brave smile.
"Hello Aidan," she said softly. "How have you been?"
Aidan scowled at her. "Don't pretend like you care. I was a lot better before I realized how quickly you intended to replace me. Of all the men you could have chosen as your next lover, did you have to pick my brother?"
Naomi gasped. "Aidan, it's not like that at all. I only attended the dance so that I could see you."
Aidan grunted, refusing to look at her. "I find that difficult to believe. You know where I live. You could have come to see me anytime you wanted."
Naomi stroked his shoulder, trying to soften his mood. "You made it clear you didn't want to see me anymore, Aidan."
He muttered a curse under his breath. He leaned close so others couldn't hear as he growled in her ear. "I never said that. I said I didn't want to keep sneaking around with you. But if you insist on finding someone to warm your bed, that someone will be me and not my brother or any other man."
Naomi heaved a sigh of frustration. "We're back to that. I think we had better get out of here so that we can talk. I came here to talk with you. Do you think we could find somewhere a bit more private?"
Aidan stopped dancing and searched her face, finding only honesty in her blue eyes. "You want to talk?" Seeing her nod, he narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Talking isn't going to change things between us."
"You haven't heard what I have to say. I've been doing a lot of thinking about us, about our relationship, and I think that its time for me to be honest with you."
Her answer intrigued him, and Aidan scanned her face for a moment longer before taking her hand firmly in his. "Come on. I'm taking you home."
They threaded their way through the crowd to where Liam and Brian stood talking. Their expressions were wary as they watched him approach. Aidan stepped to Liam, leaning close enough that Liam had to take a step backward as Aidan gave him a hard stare.
"I'm taking Naomi home. You can take my horse. Don't be surprised if you don't see me before breakfast." Seeing Liam's eyes widen slightly, Aidan raised a challenging brow. "Have you got any problems with that?"
Liam grinned and shook his head. "None at all."
"Good," Aidan said firmly.
Without another word, he led Naomi out to his wagon and lifted her onto the seat. Taking up the reins, he urged the horses toward home and set them to their fastest pace. Naomi sat beside him, praying that she could find the right words to make things right between them.
Neither of them spoke on the short drive home. Aidan's curiosity was only one of the emotions he was experiencing. It was overshadowed by suppressed anger and jealousy. Seeing Naomi in Liam's arms had clarified one point in his mind. There was no way in hell he could walk away from her. Even if she would never love him like she loved her dead husband, Aidan would kill before he would let any other man take his place as Naomi's lover.
When they reached her home, Aidan hopped to the ground and reached to help Naomi. He set her to the ground and kept his hands on her waist.
"I intend to stay the night," he stated baldly. Seeing no objection from her, he nodded. "You go inside while I unhitch the horses and get them settled."
Naomi nodded her acceptance and went into the cabin. She paced restlessly, waiting for him to return. She finally decided to change out of her dress, and by the time Aidan came through the door, she was dressed in her cotton nightgown, sitting on the bed. He eyed her speculatively, throwing the bolt in place and shrugging out of his coat. He undressed methodically, removing his tie, shirt, boots and socks beneath her watchful gaze. Finally, he removed his breeches before sitting on the side of the bed.
Aidan met her eyes squarely. "Alright Naomi, I'm all ears. What did you want to talk to me about?"
Naomi took a deep breath and plunged in head first. "I can never have children. I'm barren." She waited for Aidan to say something, but he simply narrowed his eyes as he studied her, so she went on nervously. "Don't you understand? That's why I refused to marry you. I knew that you would want children. It wouldn't be fair to let you marry me, knowing that someday you would grow to resent me because I could never give you a family. I couldn't bear the thought that after a few years of marriage, you would regret choosing me as your wife."
Several minutes of strained silence ticked by. Naomi grew increasingly uneasy as she watched the muscles beginning to flex in Aidan's cheek. He said nothing, merely staring at her thoughtfully as his face grew progressively angrier.
"Aidan, say something please," she whispered.
When he spoke, his voice was deathly calm. "This is the secret you've been hiding from me?"
"I tried to tell you once before, remember?"
His scowl grew even blacker. "You mean the time you let me believe that you couldn't stomach the idea of me fathering your child?"
Naomi shook her head in denial. "I never said that, Aidan. You misinterpreted what I said. You jumped to that conclusion."
"But you knew I misunderstood and you let me go on believing it, believing that you wouldn't marry me because you were still in love with your dead husband." He watched as she nodded her head shamefully. "You let me spend the past several weeks in hell rather than to have the courage to tell me the truth."
"I was trying to do what was best for you, Aidan. I thought that if I let you go, you would find someone else to make you happy. I didn't want you to see me as less than a woman because I can't bear children."
Aidan stared at her for another few moments before he growled low in his throat. He grasped her wrist in an iron grip and pulled her across the bed, laying her face down over his knees. Naomi's eyes widened with alarm as he placed a firm arm over her waist and flipped the back of her nightgown up to her shoulders, exposing her naked bottom.
"Aidan, what are you doing?" she squeaked.
"I'm giving you a spanking, just like you deserve," he said calmly.
He brought his hand down with a loud smack, igniting a stinging fire in Naomi's bottom. She squealed and thrashed, but he held her down, landing an equally hard blow on the opposite cheek. He settled into a steady rhythm, ignoring her cries and pleas as he meted out justice until her entire bottom was red and hot. Naomi finally stopped fighting, realizing that she couldn't escape from his firm grip. She cried quietly, yelping each time his hand connected with her backside. When she didn't think she could stand it a moment longer, he stopped.
Aidan rubbed her sore bottom with soothing strokes, listening to her soft cries and admiring her red bottom. He smiled grimly as he held her across his knees. That had felt good. It was just the relief he had needed. Now, he would be able to reason with her. He waited until she had calmed somewhat before he questioned her.
"Naomi, all this time, you've been thinking that you knew what's best for me better than I do. You've been making decisions on my behalf instead of letting me make my own decisions, is that right?"
Naomi bit her lip, wishing she could see his face. She couldn't tell what he was thinking from his calm voice. She took a deep breath and answered in a shaky voice.
"I didn't want you to stop loving me. I thought you would be happier with a woman who could give you children."
"You didn't answer my question," he said, still soothing her bottom with calm strokes of his hand. "Have you been keeping me from making my own decisions because you thought you knew what was best for me?"
"Yes," she whispered.
She jumped when he landed another slap on her burning bottom. He resumed his punishment, not stopping until Naomi was helplessly squirming and tensing her bottom, trying to ease the fiery pain. Once again, he resumed his calming strokes, allowing her time to catch her breath before he continued.
"From now on, I'll make my own decisions. Is that clear?"
"Yes," she cried, nodding her head to signal her agreement.
She tried to rise, but he firmed his arm around her waist, holding her still on his lap. He continued to knead her bottom as the moments stretched out and Naomi's tension mounted. When he spoke again, she jumped.
"Is it also true that you have been comparing me to your dead husband? Did you assume I would react in the same way as him when I found out you couldn't have any children?"
Naomi squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to reply to his question. She had a sinking feeling in her stomach. Aidan slapped her hard on the bottom, making her jerk and squeal.
"Answer me, Naomi," he commanded calmly.
"Yes," she gasped.
He resumed spanking her, striking her even harder than before. By the time he stopped, it felt like molten lava had been poured over her bottom, and Naomi's face was streaked with tears. Once again, he soothed her, caressing her softly with his calloused hand as she cried. When he spoke, Aidan's voice was gentle but firm, full of conviction.
"Don't ever make that mistake again. I am not your dead husband. I am your soon-to-be second husband, and I will always love you just the way you are, children or no children. Is that clear?"
Naomi nodded vigorously. Her heart was pounding with excitement. Her bottom hurt like crazy, but the feeling of his firm hand massaging her bruised posterior was sheer bliss. She could feel his erection, hard and hot and throbbing, poking against her belly. Naomi bit her lip as she felt her juices seeping out to flow down her inner thighs, and she squeezed her legs together, hoping he wouldn't notice.
"When you knew I misunderstood you about why you wouldn't marry me, do you think it was fair to let me go on believing a lie?"
Naomi moaned and shook her head, squeezing her eyes tightly shut as she braced for another spanking. Aidan surprised her when he spoke again instead.
"Do you know that by letting me believe a lie, you have just put me through weeks of torment, when I nearly went insane without you?"
"I didn't mean to hurt you, Aidan," she whispered miserably.
Instead of answering, Aidan set her bottom on fire once more. By the time he finished, his hand was beginning to hurt, and Naomi was limp across his lap. Her legs had fallen slightly apart from her struggles, and he could see her pussy, swollen and dripping with sweet fluid.
"I have one more question for you, Naomi." He smiled when he felt her tense. "Did it ever occur to you, for even a single second, that the reason you never got pregnant before was because of your husband and not because of you?"
Naomi's face burned with embarrassment as she realized that it hadn't. Everyone, including Nathan, had made her feel like their failure to conceive had been her fault. She must be defective if she couldn't have babies. The possibility that Nathan might not have been able to father children had never crossed her mind.
"No," she whispered, awed by the thought.
"I didn't think so," Aidan said calmly.
He continued stroking her bottom, and one long finger slid lightly over her dripping slit, causing her to gasp. He grinned, still holding her down as he repeated the stealthy caress. Naomi moaned softly, spreading her thighs to give him better access. Aidan slipped two fingers inside her and probed her slick heat. His grin widened when she began pumping her hips in time to his thrusts.