The Fire's Center

Free The Fire's Center by Shannon Farrell

Book: The Fire's Center by Shannon Farrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shannon Farrell
dining room.
    "There’s a crowd of hunters in there celebrating a kill, so I think we will be much better off in here," Lucien explained as he led her into the intimate parlor and held her chair for her.
    Throughout the sumptuous meal Riona talked excitedly to Lucien about all she had read of the fevers mentioned in the book.
    Even Lucien himself had thought the tome to be as dry as dust, but when he saw Riona’s enthusiasm, he found himself enjoying using her as a sounding board for his ideas.
    And as they spoke, not for the first time he began to think what an excellent doctor she would make. She had all the powers of observation, in fact far more than the average young doctor just coming out of his training.
    Absorbed in their stimulating conversation, the evening flew by rapidly, until the clock in the parlour struck midnight, and Lucien looked up at the serving maid, who was sheepishly stifling a yawn.
    "My goodness, I had no idea it was so late! I’m sorry to have kept you from your bed," Lucien apologized to the girl.
      Lucien wrapped the shawl around Riona’s shoulders, and with one arm around her waist escorted her up the stairs.
    "Well, I’ve had a wonderful evening. Thank you." She smiled up at him at the entrance to her chamber door.
    "One more thing before we go to bed. The lice solution, I’m afraid."
    Lucien went to his room to fetch his small phial, and as he did so Riona gathered up a couple of towels, and threw one around her shoulders.
    "I’m afraid it puts a bit of a damper on the evening," he apologized with a lopsided grin.
    "No, no, Lucien, you’re quite right. It's better to be safe than sorry. Here, I’ll do you first. I think my hair will take a bit longer."
      Lucien banked up the fire in the hearth, and then sat down beside it. She did as he had done that morning, and massaged the lotion all over his scalp, marvelling at the thick lushness of his hair, before coming through it gently with the fine-toothed comb.
    As she worked, Riona enjoyed being able to gaze her fill at his handsome face without him noticing.
    Lucien sat back with a sigh, enjoying her ministrations, though in truth he couldn’t imagine anything less romantic. But still, the contact of her fingers sent shivers down his spine.
    "Your turn," he said at length, when he was sure his mane was well and truly combed.
    Riona relaxed in the chair as Lucien’s warm strong hands rubbed her head all over, and then he combed her hair. She began to drift off to sleep, in fact, until suddenly she heard him say, as though from miles away, "There, you’re all finished."
    "I must have dozed off," she apologize with a blush.
    "It’s late. Go to bed as soon as you bolt this door, and I’ll have breakfast sent up to us here, if I may," Lucien offered as he stroked her hair gently while she walked him out.
    "That will be fine," she said easily, accepting his arm around her as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
    Good night, then, Riona."
    Lucien smiled, and unthinkingly stooped to peck her on the cheek before closing the door behind him.
    Riona, though surprised, was not completely stunned. She had felt them growing closer in the short time they had known each other. She could tell he was a man not easily given to affectionate gestures, but that was not to say that he didn’t have that aspect in his personality, just no one he could express it with.
    Since she herself had come from a very demonstrative family, Riona didn’t think it was a sign of any danger to come. He had been a complete gentleman in the time they had spent with one another. Nay, he had even tried to shield her from any unpleasantness. And the last thing she wished was to cause a scene or be stiff and unnatural with him.
    Riona wanted to be Lucien’s friend. More would be unthinkable, of course, with her being poor and of a lower class than he. But she knew

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