The Scholar (Emerson Pass Historicals 3) - Page 90

As much as I’d have loved to consummate the marriage, I knew instinctually that I must give her time. Sleeping next to me in bed after a time would come to seem normal. As trust grew, I hoped we could become intimate in the traditional sense. Until then, I would wait.

I turned off one of the bedside lamps to make the room darker. Night had fallen, but I’d closed the curtains anyway. The house creaked as it settled. Fiona and Cymbeline, tired from dancing and laughing all evening, had retired at least an hour ago. I’d heard their soft voices speaking to each other as I’d passed by the doorway with Louisa holding my hand. The little girls shared the room across the hallway and had been forced to go up for bed before the party was finished. Papa and Mama had gone upstairs before us as well.

She came out finally. Her hair was down, hanging below her shoulders and shiny in the dim light. A robe made of a lacy material more than hinted at what was underneath the fabric. Be strong, I told myself. This is a test of your commitment.

She halted near the doorway. Even f

rom feet away, I could see she shook with fear.

“What do I do now?” Louisa asked.

“Are you tired?”

“A little. It was a long day.”

“Indeed.” I walked over to the bed. The maid had already folded the sheets and comforter down and fluffed the pillows. “Would you like to join me?” I took off my slippers and pulled back the covers to slide into bed.

She remained on the other side of the room. Her fingers clutched the collar of her robe. “I could sleep on the window seat instead.”

“If anyone is sleeping anywhere other than this bed, it’s me,” I said. “But this is a big bed. I’ll stay on my side.”

“You will?”

“I promised you that we wouldn’t do anything you weren’t comfortable with. I won’t go back on such a promise.”

She shuffled across the rug to the bed. “Would you turn off the lamp, please?”

I did as she asked. The room darkened to black. I heard her shrugging out of her robe and tossing it somewhere on the bed. “I can’t see,” she whispered, then giggled.

“Feel for the covers and pull them back.” I smiled in the dark.

The mattress moved as she slid in between the sheets. I sensed the heat of her body even though we were a good half foot apart.

My eyes adjusted to the darkness. A sliver of light shone in the crack between the door and floor, allowing me to make out the shapes of the furniture and my wife. She was on her back with the covers pulled up to her neck.

“Did you enjoy the day?” I asked softly.

“More than I thought I would. I enjoyed the toasts. The dinner was delicious. And that cake—my goodness.”

“Lizzie and Mrs. Wu outdid themselves.”


Would hearing her say my name ever stop making my heart flutter? “Yes?”

“Is this the part where you’re supposed to kiss me?”

“I believe so.”

She chuckled and I felt her warm, sweet breath on my neck. “Good.”

I scooted an inch toward her. “May I kiss you, Mrs. Barnes?”

“Yes, please.”

I started with just her hair, playing with a strand. “So soft.” I kissed her, basking in the warmth of her skin as she wrapped her arm around my neck. The curve of her hip made me almost dizzy with desire. I would keep my head, I told myself. Patience and consideration were the keys to winning all of her.

When I pulled away, she touched my face with trembling fingers. “I feel something strange. Like an itch that I’m not supposed to scratch. Is that normal? Am I feeling what a wife should?”

Tags: Tess Thompson Emerson Pass Historicals Historical
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