Trailing Home Ch. 13byharemgirl©
Over the next several weeks, Selena settled into life on the McKenzie farm with joyous ease. She developed close relationships with her in-laws, and her fondness for all of them increased with each passing day. Liam took her to visit her sister who lived about a half-day's drive from their farm. Selena was thrilled to be reunited with her sister and was pleased to see firsthand that Diana was so happy with her own husband that their two young sons.
It was nice for both sisters to be close enough that they would be able to visit whenever they wanted. Selena's days were filled with the tasks of being a farmer's wife, and she found contentment as she settled into the routine of chores. It was no hardship for her. She had been raised on a farm, and she knew the life well. Indeed, it was a welcome relief after the rigorous hardships of their journey.
With winter quickly approaching, there were numerous preparations to be made. Liam and his brothers harvested the crops, and sold their various products for a sizable profit. They turned fertilizer into the fields and prepared them to lay dormant for the next season's plantings. The women canned countless jars of vegetables and fruits and hung other vegetables and spices to dry in the root cellar. The men butchered several hogs and cattle, and the women carefully smoked their meat and packed it in salt.
Liam knew how to sugar cure the hams, and he prepared several for each of their families. Selena dipped dozens of candles by hand, while Liam chopped firewood and piled it high to last through the long winter months. Every member of the McKenzie clan worked hard to ensure the work was done so the family would be kept comfortable and well-fed over the next several months. By mid November, most of their tasks had been completed, and they were nearly prepared for winter.
Their neighbors were even busier during those same weeks. The Boyds and Robertses were occupied with building cabins for their families and winter shelters for their livestock. The Roberts family was lucky to have Hank, Matthew, Adam and Peter, all able bodied and hard workers. Their cabin progressed quickly. Gerald was not so lucky, being the only male in his family. He had to hire some men to help him, but luckily he could afford to do so. Liam and his brothers volunteered their help whenever they weren't too busy with their own chores. With the combination of hired and volunteer help, the Boyd home was also nearing completion.
Each Sunday, Selena would see her friends in church, and she was eager to exchange news with Marcia, Susan and Cassie. Susan and Peter announced their engagement, and Susan told her with excitement how they were planning a June wedding for the following summer. Everyone was overjoyed for the young couple, with the exception of Natasha. It was clear that Natasha was annoyed that her younger sister had gotten engaged before she had.
Being new to the area, Natasha drew the interest of every eligible young man in the district, with her striking beauty. She flirted with all of them, but she didn't seem inclined to settle on any one man in particular. Instead, she seemed to prefer having them all panting at her skirts like a pack of love-sick puppies. Selena listened with a sympathetic ear as Marcia told her of her growing anxiety concerning her eldest daughter.
"I simply don't know what to do with her," Marcia said with an exasperated sigh. "Ever since we arrived here, she's become more and more unruly. She behaves much too forwardly with the young men she meets, and she doesn't seem to care what folks think about her. She seems to enjoy leading her suitors on a merry chase, and I've begun to worry some of them are going to come to blows over her. I've tried to reason with her, I've tried scolding her, but she won't listen to a word I say. She throws one temper tantrum after another whenever she doesn't get her way. Gerald and I are at our wits end."
Selena bit her tongue to keep from suggesting a sound thrashing. After all, it wasn't her place to tell Marcia how to raise her daughter. Instead, Selena gave Marcia a hug.
"I'm sure everything will work out. Now that Susan is getting married, surely Natasha won't be far behind in choosing a young man for herself."
"I hope you're right," Marcia replied. Her expression brightened as a different thought occurred to her. "You and Liam will be coming to our barn-raising next Saturday won't you?"
"You know we wouldn't miss it. All the McKenzies will be there, and Liam says these things always bring out the entire community to help."
Sure enough, the following Saturday, the McKenzies pulled up at Gerald and Marcia's place early in the morning. They were among the first to arrive, but they were soon followed by a crowd of other neighbors from the surrounding area. The weather was fine, with the sun just beginning to dawn in a nearly cloudless sky. The men set to work, building a large barn while the women congregated beneath the nearby trees to exchange news and set out a feast.
They erected tables out of planks and barrels and covered them with tablecloths before loading them down with food. The women had brought roasted hams, chickens and lambs along with salads and breads of every description. Dozens of pies, cakes and cobblers were unwrapped, along with jugs of iced lemonade and tea.
While the other women worked diligently and tried to stay out of the men's way, Selena noticed Natasha lingering near where the men were working. She was decked out in a stunning low-cut dress that looked more suitable for a ball than a barn-raising, and she was chatting and flirting shamelessly with the hardworking men. Selena realized as she watched that Natasha was standing close enough to several of the men to allow them an unhindered view into her bodice, and being men, they were inclined to take advantage of the view.
Marcia was uncomfortable with her daughter's behavior and drew her to one side to reprimand her discreetly. However, Natasha shrugged off her mother's rebuke and did as she pleased. Marcia tried her best to keep Natasha occupied so she would stay out of the men's way, but Natasha kept going back to sashay past the worksite, drawing many a lustful glance. Selena noticed her trying to catch Liam's eye, but he paid her no notice at all, as he focused on his labors.
By noon, the men had already built a sturdy wooden floor and raised four framed sides on the barn. They joined them at the corners and across the top, they erected strong rafters. When they were satisfied the structure was stable enough, they broke for lunch, and bestowed hearty compliments on their women while they devoured the delicious foods. As usual, Liam indulged in several sweet treats to finish his meal.
Selena smiled fondly at him as she watched him polish off a piece of cherry pie with obvious relish. She leaned close to whisper in his ear. "You'd better be careful, eating so many sweets. I don't want a fat husband."
Liam gave her a lazy grin and nuzzled her ear as he responded in a purring growl. "If I get fat, it will be your fault. You're the tastiest little tart I've ever had."
Selena gasped in outrage. "Tart is it now? Humph." She thrust her nose into the air, but the twinkle in her eyes belied any real offense.
The rest of the afternoon, the men worked to nail planks onto the frame and affix a tin roof on top. By sunset, they had nearly finished building a large, solid barn that would stand for several generations. Gerald had only to add a few finishing touches, and he would be able to accomplish that long before the coldest winter months arrived.
The men cleaned themselves up, wiping their sweating arms, chests and backs before donning fresh shirts. The women set out another meal that was joyously shared by all. They lit lanterns and hung them from the rafters of the newly built barn, and several men brought out musical instruments. The late evening air was chilly, but few felt it as they crowded into the barn to dance and celebrate.
Knowing that Selena loved to dance, Liam partnered her for several songs. Many of the local men cast admiring glances at Selena, but they knew she was married, and they kept their distance. Natasha had no such qualms, for she soon appeared beside Liam, and she ignored Selena entirely as she hugged his arm to her breast.
"Oh Liam, would you dance with me?"
"No thank you, Natasha," Liam growled, pulling his arm loose from her grasp. "Go find someone else. I'm dancing with Selena."
Natasha was undaunted. "But Liam, you haven't danced with anyone but Selena the entire night. What will people think?"
Selena had had enough of the other woman's shenanigans, and she raised a brow at her adversary while putting her arms around Liam's waist, clearly staking her claim. "They will probably think the truth - that I'm such a demanding wife that Liam doesn't have enough energy leftover to pursue any other women." She leaned against Liam's chest, allowing her bodice to gap away from her breasts as they were pressed upwards. When she saw his gaze drop to her bosom, she gave him a sultry smile. "Isn't that right, husband?"
Liam tightened his arms around her and didn't look at all displeased by her statement or her actions. Instead, he made a show of ogling her bosom and gave her a lazy grin. "That's right, wife. You've kept me so busy trying to satisfy your appetites, that I'm plum tuckered out."
Witnessing their exchange, Natasha fairly trembled with rage. She wasn't used to having to settle for second best, and it rankled her that she couldn't seem to gain the upper hand where Selena was concerned. "What a disgusting display! You're making a spectacle of yourselves."
Selena gave her a haughty frown but was careful to keep her voice low so others wouldn't overhear. "Not nearly as much as you did when you stripped naked to try and seduce my husband!"
Natasha's mouth dropped open for one shocked moment before she snapped it closed. She drew herself up and shot a venomous glare at Selena before stalking off into the crowd.
Selena shuddered lightly and hugged Liam more tightly, laying her cheek against his chest. "She always manages to ruin my good mood. Why can't she get it through her stubborn head that you're married?"
"I don't know, sweetheart, but I always remember that I'm married." He tipped her chin up so he could meet her eyes. "You don't have to worry about her seducing me, because I'm too in love with you to even think about another woman." Seeing that his words had brought a small smile back to Selena's face, he tapped the tip of her nose with his finger. "Now come on, sweetheart. Let's don't let her spoil our fun. This is my dance, I believe."
Throughout the rest of the evening, Selena noticed Natasha literally throwing herself at the men who were present, as if to reassure herself that she could have any man she wanted. Natasha didn't seem to mind in the least that she was earning a scandalous reputation. As she became increasingly bold in encouraging the men's attentions, they responded in kind by taking increasing liberties. Selena notices that several young men were inclined to use the crowd for cover and touch Natasha more boldly than they would any decent young lady, and Natasha laughingly encouraged their lewd attentions. Gerald and Marcia were too busy entertaining their guests to notice their daughter's shameful behavior, but many other people did notice, and they frowned disapprovingly at Natasha.
As long as Natasha stayed away from Liam, Selena didn't much care what Natasha did, although she hated to see Marcia and Gerald hurt by their daughter's actions. Thrusting the other woman from her thoughts, Selena danced and laughed, completely charming her husband. Liam was swinging her around in a lively jig when she laughingly pleaded for a rest.
"Oh Liam," Selena said, fanning her flushed cheeks, "I need some fresh air. I'm feeling a little light headed."
"Of course, my sweet. Let's take a walk." Liam retrieved her shawl and draped it over her shoulders before leading her through the crowd and out into the night. They strolled arm in arm until they were a short distance from the barn. They were the only ones outside. Everyone else was inside the barn, and they could hear the music and laughter filtering out through the open doors. The air was cold enough to make their breath come out in foggy puffs.
"Are you feeling better?" Liam asked softly.
"Yes, much better. I think it was just too hot and stuffy in there, and I'm not used to all that dancing."
Liam stopped beneath a large tree and leaned against the trunk as he pulled Selena back against him. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rubbed a palm suggestively over her belly as he smiled at her from over her shoulder.
"Are the heat and the dancing the only things making you feel faint, or is there something else you would like to tell me?"
Selena stiffened against him and went completely still as her shocked eyes locked with his smiling ones. She turned in his arms to lean against him, and her face was etched with wondrous curiosity. "How did you know?" she breathed.
Liam chuckled warmly as he cupped her cheek in his palm. "I'm not a complete dolt, sweetheart. Though we have only been married a few months, I'm starting to catch on to this whole monthly thing. It hasn't escaped my notice that you haven't had one for nearly two months. Plus," he said with a mischievous grin, "with the regularity that I've been plowing your field, it only makes sense that a seed was going to take root sometime."
Even in the dark, Liam noted her blush, and he chuckled again. The sound was full of masculine pride. His voice dropped to a husky murmur as he traced the backs of his fingers over the peaks of her breasts, smiling when she gasped.
"And then, there are these. They've been a bit different lately – heavier, firmer, even more tantalizing, absolutely irresistible." As he said the last, Liam turned his hand over to cup her breast in his palm, kneading boldly then lightly squeezing her nipple between his fingers.
"Liam!" Selena cast a furtive glance around, but she felt reassured when she didn't see anyone besides them outside. Still, she felt obligated to protest. "Someone might see us."
"Do you want me to stop?" Liam said with a grin, never pausing in his ministrations.
"No," she moaned, helplessly needing his touch.
Her answer had come much too readily, and Liam laughed again, his caresses becoming even more insistent. Selena's eyes dropped partially closed as she leaned further into his embrace and moaned softly. It was a struggle to focus her thoughts when his hand was playing so knowingly on her breast.
"I've been meaning to tell you, but . . ." she broke off the statement as Liam's hand slipped inside the neckline of her bodice and chemise to cup her breast more intimately, skin against naked skin.
"Why didn't you, sweetheart?" His voice was a deep hypnotic rumble as he bent to nuzzle beneath her ear, his other hand drifting downward to knead the globes of her bottom. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
It was hard to concentrate on his question when Selena realized Liam was unbuttoning her bodice. She watched his fingers at work and answered in a breathless voice she hardly recognized as her own.
"I was, um...I was going to, but..."
Selena released another moan as Liam pulled the fabric down to bare her meagerly clad breasts. Her nipples were already straining against the fabric of her thin chemise. He bent his head and through the silk, he feasted on her nipple, using his tongue to rasp the pebbled hardness with the soft fabric that was stretched over it. The pleasurable moments stretched out until, hearing her breath growing increasingly ragged, Liam smiled to himself and moved to her other breast.
"You were saying," he teased.
The contrast of the cold night air flowing over one wet nipple while his hot mouth paid homage to the other was a heady combination. Selena fought valiantly against the distraction so she could answer his question.
"Oh yes, I, um...I was...oh my."
Liam suckled sharply, and Selena's knees would have buckled beneath her if he hadn't been holding her firmly against him with one hand clasped on her bottom. He gave a wicked chuckle and finally relented, planting a fond kiss between her breasts before straightening. He pulled her against his chest, using his body heat to warm her chilled nipples as he grinned down at her in the dim moonlight that filtered through the tree branches.
"You were about to explain why you haven't told me you're carrying my child," he reminded her.
Selena blinked several times to bring her thoughts into some semblance of order and then gave a sheepish shrug, catching her bottom lip between her teeth. "Well, it's just that I didn't want you to worry. After what happened last time..." her voice trailed off once more, and she looked down at her hands lying on Liam's chest.
Liam curled one hand behind her nape, pulling her head down onto his chest as he dropped a kiss on the top of her hair. He took a deep breath, inhaling her scent and releasing it on a sigh.
"Sweetheart, I can't tell you I won't worry, because I always will, where you're concerned. However, after everything we've been through together, I've come to realize that we can't control everything. We just have to have faith that things will work out the way they should. That being said..." he lifted her chin until she met his eyes. His face was stern, but there was a definite twinkle in his eyes, and the corners of his lips twitched. "I will expect you to take better care of yourself from now on. Now that we are home, I want you to eat healthy meals and get a lot more rest."
Selena grinned up at him. "In that case, maybe you'd better take me to bed."
"Demanding wife," Liam teased. "You just can't get enough of me can you?"
Selena traced his lips with her finger. "You told Natasha you were 'plum tuckered out'. Are you sure you have the energy? I wouldn't want you to exhaust yourself."
Liam still had a hand on her bottom, and he pulled her hips firmly against him. She could feel his arousal even through the layers of her skirt. "Does that answer your question, madam? I'm willing to sacrifice myself for your pleasure. After all, since you're pregnant, it's my job to satisfy your cravings, so I'm willing to stay with you in bed for as long as it takes."
Selena giggled with delight. "Whatever you think is best, husband. Although, I must warn you, I don't think you'll ever completely satisfy my craving for your touch."
"Now there's a tempting thought. Let's go collect the rest of our gang and go home." Liam gave her one more kiss, brief but full of promise before holding her away with a sigh. He quickly did up her buttons, but Selena noticed his hands were not as steady as before. "Come on. I'm anxious to get you home and explore your cravings in greater detail." Selena giggled and took his arm as they walked back to the barn.
"I'll just wait outside while you find the others," Selena murmured. "I don't want to go back in there. It's too stuffy. Will you say my goodbyes to Marcia and Gerald?"
"Of course. I won't be long." Liam squeezed her hand and went back into the barn.
Selena watched him until he disappeared from sight and then leaned against the outside wall of the barn and released a dreamy sigh. She had only been waiting a few moments when she heard muffled moans and grunts coming from one of the wagons parked nearby. No sooner had she identified which wagon the noises were coming from, than the rocking motion stopped, and she saw a young man emerge from beneath the canvass covering the bed of the wagon. She didn't recognize him, and she could only surmise he must be a neighbor from farther afield. Selena shrank back into the shadows as she watched him button his breeches and tuck in his shirt. He didn't cast a second look back at the wagon as he swaggered back into the barn wearing a cocky, self-satisfied smirk on his face, obviously pleased with the conquest he had made.