Or so my husband said to me when he read this. I don’t know; I guess we’ll find out, once my editors see it. <g>
Helwater, the Lake District
It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off in his hand. If he could find it. The thought passed through his sleep-mazed mind like one of the small, icy drafts that darted through the loft, making him open his eyes.
He could find it now; had waked with his fist wrapped round it and desire shuddering and twitching over his skin like a cloud of midges. The dream was wrapped just as tightly round his mind, but he knew it would fray in seconds, shredded by the snores and farts of the other grooms. He needed her, needed to spill himself with the feel of her touch still on him.
Hanks stirred in his sleep, chuckled loudly, said something incoherent, and fell back into the void, murmuring, “Bugger, bugger, bugger…”
Jamie said something similar under his breath in the Gaelic, and flung back his blanket. Damn the cold.
He made his way down the ladder into the half-warm, horse-smelling fug of the barn, nearly falling in his haste, ignoring a splinter in his bare foot. Here? He hesitated in the dark, still urgent. The horses wouldn’t care, but if they noticed him, they’d make enough noise, perhaps, to wake the others.
Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted, grunting and whickering. Overhead, a murmured “‘ugger” drifted down, accompanied by the sound of someone turning over and pulling the blanket up round his ears, defying reality.
Claire was still with him, vivid in his mind, solid in his hands. He could imagine that he smelled her hair in the scent of fresh hay. The memory of her mouth, those sharp white teeth …he rubbed his nipple, hard and itching beneath his shirt, and swallowed.
His eyes were long accustomed to the dark; he found the vacant loose-box at the end of the row and leaned against its boards, cock already in his fist, body and mind yearning for his wife.
He’d have made it last if he could, but he was fearful lest the dream go altogether and he surged into the memory, groaning. His knees gave way in the aftermath and he slid slowly down the boards of the box into the loose piled hay, shirt rucked round his thighs and his heart pounding like a kettle drum.