The Sheikh's Impetuous Love-Slave(8)

By: Marguerite Kaye

‘Take off your clothes.’

One thing to imagine, quite another thing to actually do. Juliette clutched at her tattered robe. A blush stained her cheeks. ‘Non!’

But it was no use. His hands were already dealing competently with the few remaining fastenings of her practical cotton gown. The shoulder seams gave way as he eased it over her body. The skirt crumpled to the floor. Her corsets followed. Clad only in her chemise and pantaloons, Juliette panicked. She had never looked at herself naked in a mirror before. She wasn’t sure she relished the thought of her body, reflected endlessly in those mirrors. ‘No, please, I….’

If he gave himself time to think, he would stop, so he refused to think, because for one of the few times in his life, Khalid was giving rein to his own desires. He took the worn linen between his hands and ripped the chemise from neckline to hem. The shift fell to the floor of the bathing chamber. Juliette clutched her hands over her breasts. Shocked at his own actions, Khalid simply stared at her. She was beautiful. Voluptuous, with a slim waist and perfect breasts, the nipples dark against her creamy flesh. Her hips were pleasingly rounded, her legs, in the strange-looking undergarment, delightfully shaped. He pictured them wrapped around him, and blood rushed to his groin.

It was only when he made to cut the ties of her last remaining piece of clothing that he realized how forceful—unnecessarily forceful—his actions might seem, and halted abruptly. He did not want her to be afraid of him. That was the last thing he wanted.

Wrapping his arms around her, he stroked her hair back from her brow. ‘You know I will not harm you.’ She was trembling. Of course she was trembling. How foolish he had been, thinking to break her by force of will. How foolish he had been to forget that behind that defiant demeanour lay an innocent. There were other ways, much more pleasant ways, to tame her. Khalid stroked the knotted line of her spine, holding her firmly to him. Her skin was icy cold. He stroked her back, the delicate wings of her shoulder blades, the flaring curve of her bottom, nestling her closer so that the heat from his body warmed her, until she stopped shaking. Then he tugged her pantaloons free and picked her up, placing her gently into the warm, soothing waters of the sunken bath.

Chapter 3

Juliette closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on the blissfully soothing water, the delightfully heady scents. After a month spent bound and filthy in cramped conditions, the bath should have been a luxurious pleasure, but it was no use—she couldn’t relax. She couldn’t help being aware of Khalid’s presence, his almost tangible potency. The abrupt change in him, from prince to man, from commanding to gentling, had broken down the last of her resistance. His plain blue tunic was damp from the bath waters. It clung to him like a second skin as he rolled up his sleeves, lavishly soaped an enormous sponge and simply dropped into the bath beside her, pulled her to her feet, and began to put the sponge to use.

He started at her shoulders, her neck, her back. She closed her eyes and tried to pretend it was happening to someone else, some other Juliette, but the gentle sweep of the soap-filled sponge over her skin, the brush of his fingers, the swish of his soaking tunic, the soft fall of his breath, conspired to make her aware, incredibly aware, of his proximity. His scent was delicious, clean and spicy and warm. Male, distinctively male.

‘What are you doing?’ To her chagrin, her voice sounded every bit as breathless as she felt.

Khalid laughed, a throaty chuckle which made her toes curl. ‘I told you. Preparing you. You have beautiful curves, Juliette. You should not be ashamed of them.’

He turned her round, prising her hands from her breasts, tracing the contours of them, running the sponge down the valley between them. The gentle abrasion made her nipples tingle. She felt them pucker and harden.

‘Belle,’ Khalid whispered.

No one had ever called her beautiful before. But then no man had ever seen her naked before.

‘Très belle,’ Khalid said, as if he had read her mind. ‘See what you do to me.’ He pulled her against him, allowing the hard length of his erection to nestle against the gentle curve of her bottom.

It was ridiculous to be so gratified, so excited by his response, but she was. He thought her beautiful, and for now, she chose to believe him. Inside her, warmth spread, as if she were a rock heated by some internal sun. The sponge stroked and soaped. Down into the dip of her waist. Round to the base of her spine, the slope of her bottom. His breath was sharper, faster. Her own, too, became more rapid.

Down, over her bottom, before sliding round between her legs, the shockingly intimate touch making her gasp, causing a frisson of pleasure. Juliette bit her lip, but a small moan escaped her. She blushed deeply, feeling foolish. Risking a glance, she saw fierce concentration on Khalid’s face, his eyes dark and smouldering. His chest, under the clinging silk of his tunic, rose and fell sharply. The soapy sponge dipped between her legs. Another frisson, and a resultant tightening inside her, like a winepress being slowly, inexorably turned, releasing the heady juice of her passion.

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