He told of the responsibility of being king that he had always lived with, how he had rarely been able to please old Feilan or his father.
“You worried that you weren’t pleasing Thal?” Jura gasped. “But he talked of you as if you were a god. The son my mother gave him was nothing to him. He taunted Geralt with you.”
“But he sent instructions to Feilan that I was to do more and more. When I was sixteen and I thought Feilan and I were going hunting, instead, four Lanconians attacked me at once. We fought for hours while Feilan stood and watched.”
“You did not kill them or they you?”
Rowan grimaced. “I realized later that they toyed with me, one protecting the other. I cut a few of them but they merely bruised me. Merely, ha!” he said. “I limped for weeks after that, and I was so angry at Feilan that I could barely speak to him. He was a hard, loveless old man.”
“But he praised you to Thal,” Jura said. “Thal always held you up as an example to Geralt.”
“Who now hates me.”
“With reason. He is a Lanconian prince while you are—” She stopped because Rowan jammed a large piece of bread into her mouth.
“One night, Jura,” he said, with the eyes of a lost puppy begging to be taken home. “One night of peace, please.”
She could not help laughing as she bit off half the bread then, on impulse, put the other half in his mouth. “All right,” she said, smiling, “you may be king tonight, but tomorrow you must prove to me that you are fit to rule.”
“Fit to rule,” he said, and his eyes darkened. “I will show you who is fit to rule.” He began crawling toward her on his hands and knees like some great predatory animal.
Jura started to laugh, but then his loincloth “accidentally” came unfastened and he left no doubt as to his intentions. Jura’s mouth was suddenly dry and this time there was no fear. When she flung the tunic from her body and opened her arms to him, she saw the momentary surprise on his face, but she did not understand it. She had not been raised to be coy, to cover her true feelings with pretense and playacting. She wanted him as much as he wanted her and she did not pretend otherwise.
After his first shock, Rowan smiled happily at her eagerness. There was no reason to go slowly this time, and his passion for Jura was raging. He had looked at those bare legs of hers for two whole hours and he had thought of nothing but mounting her again, but he had been cautious, for an Englishwoman, at least the ones he had known, liked to pretend virginity with each coupling.
But Jura was Lanconian, not English, and she said what she thought, acted upon what she believed, and went after what she wanted. He need never worry about her deceiving him. She would tell him to his face that she believed him right or wrong.
After their first coupling, which he had stupidly bungled, he was afraid she would never want to bed him again, but it looked as if she were about to change her mind, he thought with some smugness.
“Here, my eager darling, let me teach you a few tricks,” he said, smiling at her. He picked her up and set her down on his manhood and smiled with pleasure at the look of surprise then grateful pleasure on her face. At least here was one area where she was not calling him a fool. Here was one place where he had all the knowledge and she had none.
Within seconds, Jura changed his mind on that. She was strong and clever and lusty and creative in ways Rowan had never dreamed possible. His encounters with women had not been frequent, as old Feilan had believed war training was more important than bed training, and, too often, Rowan’s encounters had been with jaded women who wanted to say they had been to bed with the handsome prince. They had forced Rowan to do all the work.
“Jura,” he whispered as his hands stroked her long, hard thighs as she moved up and down on top of him. He thought he might die from the ecstasy she was causing him.
Suddenly, he could stand no more, and never breaking contact, he threw her to her back on the carpets and finished with a few deep, desperate strokes, finishing with deep shudders that seemed to come from within his soul. He held Jura so tightly she cried aloud.
“You are breaking me,” she said, struggling to make him loosen his grip.
He chuckled. “I will bend you to fit into my pocket and I will take you out only when you are the Jura-by-the-water.”
“I am always that Jura,” she said, fitting her body close to his.
He gave a jaw-popping yawn. “Perhaps you are used to sleeping on the floor but I am for the bed.” He picked Jura up as if she were a child, ignoring the protest she began, but soon stopped, and took her to bed. He pulled her into his arms, drew a cover over them, and was instantly asleep.
Not so Jura. Her mind and body were too full of new sensations to sleep. When Rowan’s breath was deep and his body relaxed in sleep, Jura eased from the bed, picked up his tunic from the floor, drew it over her head, and left the tent.
The night air was cool on her face and bare legs, and she turned her face to the moon. Smiling, she hugged her arms about her body. At last, she was truly no longer a maiden. This is what she had felt the day she had first met Rowan after she had been swimming. And this was what she had never felt with Daire, she thought. If only
she could feel with Rowan the safety and serenity that Daire made her feel.
A cool wind blew across her, making her shiver, and she went back into the tent. In the candlelight she looked at Rowan sleeping as bonelessly as a baby, one palm upward trustingly. She must have made a noise, for he stirred, his hands reaching out for something. Me, she thought with a smile, then blew out the candles and climbed into bed with him.
She woke with something tickling her nose. She jumped when she opened her eyes to see Rowan bending over her brushing a piece of her own hair against her nose. For a moment she was startled at the sight of this man in her bed, and when she remembered, she blushed.
Rowan smiled knowingly. “Good morning, wife,” he said, and kissed her softly. “And what entertainment do you have planned for me today? I’ll wager you’ll not outdo yesterday with your velvet dress and leading me to this den of earthly pleasures. Had I known you’d react so to Brita, I would have seen that she attended our wedding.”
Jura was not used to being teased. “I did not plan this,” she said indignantly. “Your sister said I should try to look like an Englishwoman in order to…to…” She gave him a weak smile.