Nikos, our hero, is determined to stay faithful to the woman he left behind in the Imperial capital, even if she never actually said yes to his proposal. Jaenna, the escaped slave he's taken in, is equally determined to show her gratitude in the only way she knows how.
He sank down into the warm tub and admitted the temperature, while not as steaming hot as in a bath house in Poldar, was perfect for a hot day in Thelana.
And that he was lucky to have a bath house at all. It wasn’t common in Thelana, and with so little rain this spring, he was lucky to have water to bathe in, let alone even this old-fashioned plumbing. And it certainly wasn’t something you found on the Peshtari front. There, he’d been lucky to have two heartbeats to splash the dirt off his face and the blood off his hands.
If he looked at it that way, his simple bath house looked quite luxurious. And Valaria’s goat’s milk soap was as good as any he’d encountered, anywhere. Certainly he aspired to better, but for the moment, this was more than acceptable.
With that in mind, Nikos sighed contentedly and ducked his head under the water, using his fingers to loosen the dust and sweat.
He popped back up, tossed the wet hair out of his eyes--and found himself staring at Jaenna.
Who was naked, and looked just as good that way as he’d imagined.
Her big, dark nipples begged to be touched. Her legs seemed to go on forever, but they didn’t. They soared up to round, voluptuous hips, the kind a man could hold onto forever. And between those long legs?
Between her legs she was bare, not a hair to be seen.
If he’d thought about it, he’d have said it would make a grown woman look like a little girl who’d blundered into his bath time and was gawking at naked Lord Nikos before she squealed an apology and ran off. Definitely a joy-killer.
Instead, it was delicious, revealing dark rose, pouting sex lips that certainly weren’t a girl’s. Definitely a woman’s, and an aroused woman’s at that, puffy and slick-looking, as if she’d been having erotic thoughts. Her clit peeked out between them.
It was all he could do not to jump out of the tub so he would press his face there and lick and suckle until she screamed.
No…she was clearly offering an invitation, but that would still be a little abrupt. A civilized man at least said hello first, even during the festivals, when you were expected to have sex with anyone who caught your fancy.
“Master would like his back washed?” the Kulchu woman said, her voice deferential and cautious, but throaty, promising untold delights in addition to the simple pleasure of having his back scrubbed.
Those delights would have to remain untold, he informed himself sternly, for all sorts of good reasons. That didn’t mean, though, that he couldn’t enjoy the more innocent pleasure of having a bath-servant for once.
He was a grown man. He could control himself, at least until Jaenna was gone and he could let his own hands and imagination do what he couldn’t, in good conscience, let Jaenna do.
“Please. That would be lovely,” he said. He leaned forward, exposing more of his back. “The soap’s…over there.”
She’d just climbed into the tub with him. Her legs brushed his as she settled down near him. “If Master would turn?” she said, putting one hand on his shoulder. Her breasts brushed his back.
“Nikos…” he said, hoping he wasn’t squeaking like a boy getting his first taste of female flesh and doubting he was ready for it. “Call me Nikos.”
“Lord Nikos,” she said in that sultry voice, automatically adding the title he was likely as not to forget. “That is proper? I am sorry, Lord Nikos. It will take time for me to learn all the proper forms of address.” She’d switched into Kulchu, except for Lord, but he understood, and nodded.
“No need to be formal here. Everyone is equal in the bath house,” he joked, watching her dark eyes to see if she understood.
From the solemn nod and tiny frown, he thought not. It looked more like she was filing it away as a gem of wisdom, to be reflected upon like the Litany of Sun and Grain.
He almost said something. But then she started to wash him, and the words sprang away like startled goats.
She wasn’t washing as much as massaging, and not so much massaging as caressing. Her hands left trails of cool fire behind them.
And when she started kissing along the line of his shoulder, he froze, torn between desire and panic.
Nikos thought he knew his own body and responses well, thought he knew what he liked. He’d started attending the festivals at age fourteen, after getting the best lessons the local priestess could give in how to please a woman, and had been kissing and cuddling and messing around with any girl who’d let him for a year or better before that. Since that age, he’d been “lucky with the ladies,” as Dela had put it. But apparently, his experience had been limited in some important ways.
He hadn’t realized his back and shoulders were so sensitive to a woman’s touch.
Hadn’t realized how little nips from a woman’s teeth, along those strong, tense muscles, would resonate through his whole body, filling him with need.
He’d known, though, that his ears were sensitive when a woman kissed them, and that the sound of a woman whispering “Please let me please you,” went straight to his already straining cock.
Why did she have to have such a beautiful, sultry voice, a voice that sounded like she was as desperate for him as he was for her?
He should push her away, should be strong. This was a bad idea in so many ways.
Her arms snaked around his chest and she leaned into him, pressing the length of her torso against his back and hips. Vulva. Breasts. Everything in between.
He felt like a green boy at his first Spring Festival, too overwhelmed by the prospect of making love to actually breathe or think. He forced a deep breath, tried to remember all the reasons it was a bad idea to let her continue: her vulnerability, his pride, and of course Sarakia.
Her fingers unerringly began to circle his nipples in a gentle, insistent caress.
Seven hells, she’d found one of his great weaknesses. His nipples sprang to life under a touch as surely as any woman’s he’d ever been with, and suddenly the daemon in his cock was taking over his thinking.
Nikos desperately tried to form an image of Sarakia, silk-clad and spice-scented and reading aloud Oralian’s latest satire to a roomful of admiring friends, but the image wouldn’t hold up against the more immediate one of bare breasts and long legs and long, tangled dark hair, let alone against the exquisite sensations Jaenna’s skilled hands and hot mouth were evoking.
Must stop her. This wasn’t right. He couldn’t have said why it wasn’t right because his mind was too lost in sensation, but he remembered he’d determined to keep Jaenna at arm’s length for both their sakes.
He forced his hands to move, planning to grab Jaenna’s wrists and move her hands away.
When one small, work-hard hand snaked from nipple to cock, he knew he was doomed. A man could only resist so much.