more likened to a boulder—astounded her to silence.
She hadn’t been carried since childhood, and even then not often. Her parents hadn’t believed in coddling, had insisted their children endure stoically whatever hardships came their way.
If this was spoiling, sweet mercy, she could too easily become accustomed to the spoiling.
Darian didn’t even breathe hard going up the stairs. Amazing. But more astounding was the scent she caught when he turned to head down the passageway.
Mingled with the scents of horse and leather and wool was an aroma that made her nose twitch. Not floral or herbal. Not sweet, but not sour. The dark, dusky scent hinted of something wild and dangerous. Of power and vigor.
How odd his unique aroma, now intense in her nose and memory, didn’t set her stomach to churning as pungent scents sometimes did when she was in the grip of a headache.
Darian paused while Maura opened the bedchamber door and Emma shifted to whisper in his ear.
“Pray put me down. I give you my oath I will not fall.” He turned his head slightly, his intriguing hazel eyes narrowing.
“I do not like the look of your eyes. They shine strangely.”
Shine strangely? What might that mean? If her eyes had ever shone strangely on a headache’s onset, no one had mentioned it.
“Like pools of still, clear water.”
Pools of still, clear water were her enemy and she didn’t like the comparison.
“My eyes are brown. The water should be muddy.” He shook his head. “Clear and sharp, their color brilliant and shiny, as if you can see things no one else can.”
The observation veered too close to the truth for comfort. She turned her face into his shoulder to hide her eyes, so he could see no more, guess too much.
“Darian, you may put her down now.” Maura’s voice drifted into Emma’s hearing from some far-off place. “While you help her into bed, I will brew a potion of feverfew and willow bark.”
Emma knew whatever potion Maura brewed wouldn’t ease the pain, but she wasn’t about to stop Maura from leaving the bedchamber.
Darian slowly crossed the floor. Emma felt more than saw Maura rush out the door.
For the first time in her life, she was alone in a bed-chamber with a man, one she knew would become her lover. A wave of intense longing and need washed through her, her vision of him as clear as the day he’d first come to her.
Would he make love to her today? Now?
He halted by the bedside. “You are still in great pain?” His voice was low and husky. If she told him no, he might well climb into the bed with her. But the dull throb at the base of her skull warned her to resist the temptation, no matter that she tingled all over. She dare not trust the headache to go away anytime soon, not to flare into pain so agonizing it hurt to lay her head on a bolster.
“Not so great. You will recall I told you that you need not carry me.”
“So you said.” Her senses reeled when he unexpectedly kissed her forehead, his warm, full lips so soothing she nearly moaned aloud with pleasure. “No idea what brought on the headache?”
She knew exactly, but couldn’t tell him, so answered with the shrug of a shoulder, wishing he would kiss her again.
“Perhaps rest and the potion will cure you quickly.” “Perhaps.”
Except right now she wasn’t interested in any potion. With brazenness she hadn’t known herself capable of, Emma unclasped her hands from around his neck and cupped the sides of his face. “Some cures cannot be found in a brew of herbs.”
Then Darian’s eyes changed color, darkening with what could only be desire. So clearly did she see his want of her that she trembled.
The corner of his mouth quirked upward just before he granted her wish and kissed her again.
Oh, mercy, his lips were warm, and the pressure of his mouth wonderful. And just when those delightful tingles sparked with renewed fervor and her hopes of a bed partner began to rise,