Beguiled by Her Betrayer(3)By: Louise Allen
He moved his head restlessly when she took the water away, but he did not open his eyes. Now to get him cooler and covered up. She could start work on his arm once she had put some food under Father’s nose.
‘You, monsieur,’ Cleo said in French as she shook out a sheet and dropped it into a bucket of water, ‘are a thorough nuisance. Believe me, if my fairy godmother flew down and offered me whatever I wanted, another man to look after would be the lowest on my list of desirable objects.’ She pulled the linen out and draped it dripping over the distractingly naked body. ‘There. That’s better.’ For me, at least.
* * *
It was his favourite fantasy, the one that came when he was half-asleep, the comfortable, yet arousing, one about being married to his perfect woman. There was the rustle of skirts, the soft pad of feet, the occasional faint waft of some feminine perfume as she moved about the room close by. Soon he would wake up and she would come to his bed and smile at him, her blue eyes warm and loving, her face—he could picture it very clearly—sweet, with neat little features and a soft, pink mouth.
‘Caroline.’ He would hold out his arms and she would unpin her long blonde curls and begin to undress with an innocent coquettishness that made him hard and aching before they even touched.
When she came to him, her curvaceous body would fit against his big frame as though she had been made for him. ‘Oh, Quin,’ she would murmur and run her hands over his chest, lower, lower...
The smell of roasting meat distracted him. What were the staff doing to allow kitchen odours to penetrate to his bedchamber? He was the ambassador, damn it. His dream wife’s fingers stroked down, exploring. Her blonde ringlets, unaccountably wet, fell on to his chest as she pulled him back from that distraction with impetuous little kisses that dotted his face. His body reacted predictably, hardening, his balls tightened, lifted. Soon he would enter her, love her, caress her into ecstasy. And afterwards they would talk, rationally and intelligently. They would be interested in each other’s thoughts, respectful of the other’s opinions. It would be peaceful, harmonious...
‘Hell and damnation!’ It was a woman all right, but that was all that meshed with his dream. A string of idiomatic expressions in Arabic confirmed that the speaker was no lady.
Quin realised he was conscious, in pain, devilishly thirsty and decidedly confused. ‘Wha...?’ he croaked. His blasted eyes would hardly open but, mercifully, a cup was pressed to his lips.
‘Slowly,’ a voice chided in French. The same woman’s voice, clear, crisp, definitely unseductive. Definitely unsympathetic. The water was removed.
‘Merci,’ Quin managed to say and squinted up through sore lids. And definitely not my fantasy woman, he thought, some shred of humour emerging amidst the general misery. Tall, slender, brown haired, she regarded him down a long, straight, imperious nose with an air of tightly controlled impatience. Intelligent, certainly. Cuddly, sweet and pliant...no. ‘More?’ he added, hopefully. ‘Er...encore?’ He needed to keep his mouth shut except for drinking until his brain stopped boiling.
‘No more water for a few minutes. It is dangerous when you have become so thirsty. You are not French.’
So, he must start thinking after all. ‘Would you believe, American?’ he offered.
‘Really?’ It seemed she would. Her brows lifted in surprise, but she did not reject the idea. The Americans were allies of France, of course.
‘It is a long time since I saw Boston,’ Quin conceded. A long time since he had visited his cousins in the Lincolnshire port of that name, that was. He was sent forth to die for his country from time to time, that went with the territory, but he preferred not to lie for it, if he could help it. Usually a little misdirection was sufficient. His lids drooped closed, then cracked open again as he became aware of his body as more than something painful and hot.
‘Who took my clothes off?’ He was naked under wet cloth that ran from collarbone to toes.
‘I did,’ his reluctant nurse stated crisply. ‘Oh, really,’ she added as his fingers tightened reflexively over the upper edge of the sheet. ‘There is no need to blush, I am a widow. I can assure you that one man is much as another to me.’
Quin unclenched his teeth. Damn it, he was not blushing. ‘But I can assure you, madam, that one woman is not much as another to me.’
‘You would prefer that I left you to die? I was not making comparisons, so you need not be alarmed.’ Now she was amused, although she did not smile. There was something about the way her eyes crinkled at the corner, the ghost of a dimple in her cheek. Then it was gone as her gaze swept over his shrouded form. He was going to blush in a moment. ‘That sheet is drying out. I had best replace it before I deal with your arm.’