Read The Gallows Bride Online

Authors: Rebecca King

Tags: #romance, #thriller, #literature, #suspense, #adventure, #intrigue, #mysteries, #romanticsuspense, #historicalromance, #general mysteries, #regencyromance, #romanticmysteries

The Gallows Bride (22 page)

Jemima
felt a tiny thrill of feminine pleasure at his suggestion, which
was quickly followed by uncertainty. She had never been completely
naked before anyone before, and she wasn’t certain she liked the
idea of being revealing everything to Peter so
blatantly.

She was
so busy contemplating the wisdom of his suggestion when the cooler
air of the room swept over her bare chest. Her brows shot skyward
and she quickly looked down as her dress pooled at her feet. Any
protest she was going to voice was locked in her throat as Peter
drew her over to the small tub.

He
stepped in and encouraged her to stand in the tub in front of him,
where they sat down together. It all happened so quickly, so
naturally, that Jemima still wasn’t sure whether it was a good
idea, even while she was sitting with Peter’s legs on either side
of her while her back was being tickled by his chest
hair.

Soon the
warmth of the water began to chase away the chill and ease her
aching limbs. She stifled a yawn as Peter began to wash her hair,
cupping water in his palms and soaking her hair with warm bath
water before soaping it. She had never had anyone other than Eliza
help wash her hair before. It felt strange to have a man carry out
such a personal task: strange, but right.


Arch your back,” Peter ordered softly, almost groaning aloud
when Jemima did just that. The sight of the lush mounds of her
breasts protruding from the silken water was the most erotic thing
he had ever seen. The teasing glide of her hair in the water as it
floated over his rigid length built the flames of desire building
within him. He knew he must look a sight, still half covered in mud
and boot polish, his face and body covered in darkening bruises,
but Jemima hadn’t shown any revulsion toward him. He rinsed her
hair repeatedly until all the suds had been removed.

Placing
his large hands beneath her arms, he slid her back against him,
making no attempt to hide the growing length resting against her
back. He knew she could feel it, and could see for himself the
evidence of her own desire.

Gently
cupping her breasts which were jutting out of the water, Peter
tenderly caressed the silky flesh, moaning as it slipped and
slithered beneath his fingers. His fingers caught and held the
tight nubbins of dark flesh practically begging for attention.
Jemima’s soft moan caught his ears, as she tipped her head back
against his shoulder, lost to everything but the sensual torment
his clever fingers were creating within her.

Jemima
wondered how he was going to manage it, and lay heavily against him
as his hands moulded her breasts over and over, before slowly
dipping beneath the water. She gasped, and clung to his knees when
his hands eased her legs apart, drawing them higher and higher
until the hot water touched the inner flesh of her femininity as
her legs were draped over the side of the tub, rendering her
helpless to the relentless searching of his fingers.


Peter,” she moaned, turning her head toward him only for her
lips to be caught by his, the hot spear of his tongue delving deep
into her mouth at the same time as one long finger sought and found
her heat. He swallowed her cry of surprise and continued to probe,
demanding her total surrender.

Reassured that he wasn’t going to allow her to slip beneath
the water, Jemima released her hold on his thigh and lifted her arm
upwards to slide a hand behind his head. It was the only hold she
could get on him, and Peter immediately took advantage by palming
the upturned breast, tweaking the aching peak. It was more than her
battered senses could stand, and all too soon Jemima felt her body
tighten at the delicious sensations he created inside.

She
wrenched her mouth from his and cried out when the pleasure
continued to build. Her hips arched beneath his questing fingers,
demanding his possession, drawing him to give her the release she
so desperately craved. The room receded to a white-hot haze of
passion, as her stomach coiled tighter and tighter as her hips
bucked and writhed beneath his hand.

Peter
grasped a fistful of her hair and eased her head around so he could
capture her lips with his. He slid her tight against his aching
erection, moaning as the soft flesh of her buttocks captured his
length. One finger, then two laid claim to the place his rigid
shaft ached to be, making her scream beneath his lips as she
shattered. Her spasms had no sooner started to fade than his
fingers began to probe again. Jemima gasped as the sensations began
to build once more. She was stunned; amazed that he could draw so
much out of her with so little effort, while taking so little for
himself.


Enough,” Peter growled in her ear, abruptly withdrawing his
fingers.

Jemima
gasped and was about to protest when he dragged her legs off the
sides of the bath and slid an arm under her knees. She hung on to
the side of the tub while he slid her around until she faced him.
She didn’t object as he lowered her legs over the side of the bath
again and drew her hips toward him. Her eyes popped wide as she
felt him probe her. She gasped as she was swiftly impaled. Peter’s
legs, bent at the knee, behind her gave her the support she needed
to prevent her sliding about.


Sweet Jesus,” Peter gasped, holding her hips as he rocked her
against him. He opened one eye and caught sight of her bared
breasts, the dark tips peeking out from beneath a foamy mound of
bubbles. With a moan he thrust hard into her, driving her toward
her own release. Her keening cry, together with the rhythmic
tightening around him, was all it took, and within seconds he
followed her over the edge, his own hoarse shout echoing through
the silence of the room as he spent himself inside her.


I can’t believe we just did that,” Jemima gasped, refusing to
consider the inelegant way she was now lying. Completely open to
him, there wasn’t a part of her he couldn’t see. She wasn’t sure if
the colour in her cheeks was the result of the warm water, sensual
completion or embarrassment at her brazenness. She knew she should
feel embarrassed, and took some comfort in knowing that Peter was
as naked as she was.

Peter
grinned at her, and waited for his heartbeat to slow and his legs
to gain some strength before lifting her off him and easing her
further down the tub. Quickly rising to his feet, he was aware of
her curious glance at his manhood and fought a smile, as he helped
her to her feet and escorted her to bed. The sight of her
milky-white skin bathed in the soft glow of candlelight stirred him
again, and he clenched his teeth.


I’m starving,” Jemima murmured, watching as he collected the
trays and deposited them on tables he drew closer to the bed. She
began to eat as he settled down beside her and helped himself to
the vast array of foods the innkeeper had sent them.

Jemima
was just finishing the last of her bread when Peter dropped some
pie. It landed squarely on her stomach. She jumped and
instinctively went to wipe it off, only for her hand to be captured
by Peter’s larger one. His warning look was all he gave her before
his head dipped and he relieved her of all traces of the pie. He
shot her an amused wink, and ‘accidentally’ dropped another piece
of pie, this time on her breast. Her eyes widened and she watched
his head dip toward her again.


Oh my,” she gasped several moments later.

With
that, she lay back and allowed him to feast.

 

CHAPTER
NINE

They
were on the outskirts of Padstow far too soon - as far as Jemima
was concerned. She closed the door to the small room they had taken
in the tavern nestled beside the stream in the small hamlet of
Little Petherick, and watched Hugo and Peter rearrange two chairs
beside the bed.

Peter
had become increasingly tense as they approached their destination.
His face was almost forbidding as he scoured the area around them
for a threat. He had kept the horse at a steady trot for the last
few miles, not wanting to leave them a sitting target if any of
Scraggan’s men saw them.

Jemima
wanted the old, teasing Peter back, and missed the easygoing
camaraderie they had shared at the beginning of the journey. Last
night, instead of making love, he had lain beside her so tense and
thoughtful that Jemima had been forced to ask if she had done
something to offend him. She was perturbed by the distant, hardened
look in his eyes even as he had reassured her that everything was
fine.

As the
silence had grown along with the tension, he had eventually
confessed that he would be very glad when the next day was over. He
had then drawn her into his arms, but despite their physical
closeness, the distance between them could have been a hundred
miles.

She had
woken just after dawn, so tired and listless she may as well not
have bothered to go to bed. It didn’t surprise her to see Peter
already up and dressed.

She eyed
the men warily and moved to sit on the edge of the bed, waiting as
Hugo collected another high-backed chair from the window, and
another rickety chair from beside the table.


Who are they for?” She had no sooner asked the question than
there was a soft knock at the door. She turned around just as
Edward poked his head around the door, a rueful look on his face as
he stood back and waved Eliza in before him.


Eliza!” Jemima cried, delighted at the sight of her slightly
dishevelled sister. They hugged for several long moments before
Peter’s gentle cough forced her to release her hold.

She
reluctantly stood back to allow Peter to hug Eliza, before greeting
Edward with a bear hug and a lot of back-slapping.


You made it!” The relief in his voice was palpable, and was
proof that his worry wasn’t just for Jemima and Hugo, but for
Edward and Eliza too. Jemima’s heart flipped at the strain he must
feel carrying such a heavy burden, and she was consumed by guilt
for dragging him into her problems once again.


All right, let’s settle down and I’ll bring everyone up to
date now we are all here,” Hugo suggested, having greeted the new
arrivals. He had placed the two trays of food the maids had
recently delivered on a small wooden table, and suggested everyone
eat while they talked.

Outside,
dark storm clouds were roiling threateningly and it had already
started to grow dark. Jemima lit several candles, sighing with
relief when the dark shadows were lifted by their gentle flicker.
She was busy positioning the last candle and didn’t notice the slow
shake of Peter’s head to stop Eliza’s query. The room was overly
bright, given there was still some daylight outside, but clearly it
was too dark for Jemima’s peace of mind.

Hugo,
having seen what she had been subjected to in the condemned cell,
remained quiet. He could fully understand her need not to be in the
dark again, and shared a sympathetic glance with Peter, his lips
twisting in regret.

Eliza
frowned and studied her sister in concern for several minutes but
wisely remained quiet. Although she was delighted that Jemima had
clearly been eating properly, undoubtedly under Peter’s tender
instruction, there was a tension in her. The shadows in her eyes
matched the solemnity on her face as she returned to them and took
a seat beside her on the bed. Eliza wanted some time alone to talk
properly to her sister and learn how she had fared throughout the
journey, alone with Peter.

She sat
back and watched the couple, a sense of unease settling over her at
the distance between them, which they made little attempt to hide.
With a sigh, she made a mental note to get her sister alone at the
earliest opportunity to find out what was going on. Peter clearly
adored her, so something had happened to create a rift. If the
distress on Jemima’s face was anything to go by, she was as
heartbroken as he was.

Eliza
watched as Hugo eased back in his chair, waiting for everyone to
finish.


We need to go through what is going to happen tomorrow,” Hugo
began when everyone was listening.

Although
he was still hesitant to tell them too many details about the
activities of the Star Elite, he knew that if any of them had any
chance of getting out of Padstow alive, then it was imperative they
all understood just how much danger they would be in, and not only
from Scraggan.


Jemima, Peter; we will leave here about two in the morning
and walk to Padstow. On foot, we can keep to the fields and away
from roads and prying eyes. We will be in Padstow in about an hour.
Eliza -” he looked first at Edward, then Eliza, his gaze solemn,
“you and Edward will need to leave about three o’clock in the
morning, and will also walk, directly to Harriett Ponsonby’s. You
should get there just after four o’clock. Dawn here is about four
thirty to five o’clock, so you need to be at Harriett’s and out of
sight before first light gives you away.”

He
turned almost stern eyes on Jemima. “You need to go back to your
home and retrieve the papers from your father’s hiding place. Then
you need to high tail it over to Harriett’s. Don’t take a direct
route, and stay out of sight.”

His eyes met and held Peter’s. “By the time you need to be in
Padstow, the smuggler’s will still be moving their cargo up from
the caves, unfortunately, so for God’s sake be careful. Although
they don’t use the main roads, they are really close to Jemima’s
house and if you look carefully you may be able to see their lights
in the bay. Don’t, ever, light any candles. Nobody must know you
are there.” His eyes turned almost feral as he stared at Jemima,
then Peter. “If you are seen, by anyone, you
must
head toward Tintagel. Don’t
come back here, and don’t under any circumstances try to meet up
with Eliza.”

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