Before I Sleep: excerpt

It is Friday evening and I have had two gin and tonics. I am working on a new project, with new characters, which means I can look back on my finished Settlement books fondly. Let me share an excerpt for you. I miss having such well-developed characters, I’ll say that; working with new, unknown quantities just isn’t the same.

He went to the stable, to settle the stock for the night, while I brewed a pot of valerian tea and put on my new linen nightgown. When he came back he drank a cup down, then stumbled around the cabin putting things right for the evening before he went to sleep.

His eyes were half-closed when he finished. With fumbling fingers he unbuttoned his shirt and fly. His clothes fell onto the floor.

Comfortable and emotionally drained, I smiled at his form in the dampened firelight. The diffuse orange glow caressed his creases and veins, stood out along his swelling pectoral muscles, and caught the furry ruffs on his forearms and chest.

My memory of his bulky muscle, his Old World muscle, seemed like feathers compared to what he was now: carved of stone. Or petrified wood. Or hammered of wrought iron. His old bulk had been friendly. Every ounce of him was fearsome, now. Cowed fearsomeness. The bear had been tamed. Temporarily.

He climbed into bed beside me. I tried to draw his face to mine for a kiss, but with an encore of the wicked half-smile, he rolled me away from him so that he could pull my tender rear close to his hips. It hurt.

“Alex?”

“Hm?”

“We’re even now, but don’t you dare make a habit of it either.”

“Mmph.”

“Alex?”

“Hm?”

“I might ask you to do it again.”

He answered me with the long, deep breaths of sleep.

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