NB: Excerpts do contain SPOILERS.
“Jamie and Lord John”
He’d been quite resigned to dying. Had expected it from the moment that he’d blurted out, “I have had carnal knowledge of your wife.” The only question in his mind had been whether Fraser would shoot him, stab him, or eviscerate him with his bare hands.
To have the injured husband regard him calmly, and say merely, “Oh? Why?” was not merely unexpected, but…infamous. Absolutely infamous.
“Why?” John Grey repeated, incredulous. “Did you say ‘Why’?”
“I did. And I should appreciate an answer.”
Now that Grey had both eyes open, he could see that Fraser’s outward calm was not quite so impervious as he’d first supposed. There was a pulse beating in Fraser’s temple, and he’d shifted his weight a little, like a man might do in the vicinity of a tavern brawl, not quite ready to commit violence, but readying himself to meet it. Perversely, Grey found this sight steadying.
“What do you bloody mean, ‘why’?” he said, suddenly irritated. “And why aren’t you fucking dead?”
“I often wonder that myself,” Fraser replied politely. “I take it ye thought I was?”
“Yes, and so did your wife! Do you have the faintest idea what the knowledge of your death did to her?”
The dark blue eyes narrowed just a trifle.
“Are ye implying that the news of my death deranged her to such an extent that she lost her reason and took ye to her bed by force? Because,” he went on, neatly cutting off Grey’s heated reply, “unless I’ve been seriously misled regarding your own nature, it would take substantial force to compel ye to any such action. Or am I wrong?”
The eyes stayed narrow. Grey stared back at them. Then he closed his eyes briefly and rubbed both hands hard over his face, like a man waking from nightmare. He dropped his hands and opened his eyes again.
“You are not misled,” he said, through clenched teeth. “And you are wrong.”
Fraser’s ruddy eyebrows shot up–in genuine astonishment, he thought.
“Ye went to her because—from desire?” His voice rose, too. “And she let ye? I dinna believe it.”
The color was creeping up Fraser’s tanned neck, vivid as a climbing rose. Grey had seen that happen before, and decided recklessly that the best–the only–defense was to lose his own temper first. It was a relief.
“We thought you were dead, you bloody arsehole!” he said, furious. “Both of us! Dead! And we–we–took too much to drink one night–very much too much…we spoke of you…and… Damn you, neither one of us was making love to the other–we were fucking you!”
Fraser’s face went abruptly blank and his jaw dropped. Grey enjoyed one split-second of satisfaction at the sight, before a massive fist came up hard beneath his ribs and he hurtled backward, staggered a few steps further, and fell. He lay in the leaves, completely winded, mouth opening and closing like an automaton’s.
All right, then, he thought dimly. Bare hands it is.
The hands wrapped themselves in his shirt and jerked him to his feet. He managed to stand, and a wisp of air seeped into his lungs. Fraser’s face was an inch from his. Fraser was in fact so close that he couldn’t see the man’s expression–only a close-up view of two bloodshot blue eyes, both of them berserk. That was enough. He felt quite calm now. It wouldn’t take long.
“You tell me exactly what happened, ye filthy wee pervert,” Fraser whispered, his breath hot on Grey’s face and smelling of ale. He shook Grey slightly. “Every word. Every motion. Everything.”
Grey got just enough breath to answer.
“No,” he said definitely. “Go ahead and kill me.”