you on the pier and from the looks of it he's brought a whole retinue with him."
Sierran rolled his eyes. "That's all the hell I need," he grumbled. "Is he the only member of my family
"As far as I could tell. I got a glimpse of that fancy sloop of his docked at our pier but didn't see no one
else loitering about it."
"All right," Sierran said, raking a hand through his hair and wincing at the pull of the cuts on his chest.
"He'll make a beeline over the gangplank as soon as it's dropped. Keep his ass on deck. I don't need him
down here bothering my lady."
Vargas nodded. "Aye, sir."
Being as quiet as he could, Sierran went back into the cabin and started looking for a shirt. He was
loathe to put it on over his wounds but to meet Vaughn not properly dressed was to invite a lecture he
didn't want to get.
"What are you doing, milord?" Celeste asked, sitting up. She was stretching, her arms crooked to either
side of her head, and the sheet fell away to display her lush breasts.
Sierran drew in a sharp breath at that lovely sight. She was so easy with her budding sexuality,
completely uninhibited and that was something he found fascinating.
"I'm looking for a shirt," he said at last.
Celeste frowned. "Why?" she asked, tossing the sheet aside and climbing out of the bunk, her long legs
looking as smooth as freshly whipped cream. "Don't you think that would hurt?"
He had to shake his head to clear it of the carnal images those shapely limbs had conjured in his mind.
"I…uh…I can't go around bare-chested, my love," he told her.
"I suppose not," she said, sighing. She dragged the sheet from the bed and wrapped herself up in it. "It
is a might cold." She pursed her lips. "Where is the…?"
He pointed to the screen on the far side of the cabin. "There's a close stool," he said.
Celeste smiled at him then came over to stand in front of him. "Good morning, husband," she said and
stood on her tiptoes to give him a chaste kiss on the lips.
The kiss was short—almost perfunctory—but the look in Celeste's eye sent shudders of desire rippling
through the warrior. He just stood there watching her disappear behind the screen and had to mentally
thump himself on the head to remember what he'd been doing before she had climbed out of his bed.
"Shirt," he said. "I was looking for a shirt."
He was struggling to put on the cotton shirt when Celeste came up behind him. She had pulled on only
her chemise and he could see her bare toes peaking out from beneath the muslin hem. "Here, let me help,
dearling," she said.
Sierran blinked at her use of the word as she held the shirt for him to slip his other arm into the sleeve.
No one had ever called him any form of endearment—not even his own parents—and it rocked him to
his very foundation. Though the pain in his back multiplied a thousand times as the material touched the
whip marks, he barely felt it for his heart was surging with feelings so completely outside his experience
he couldn't even thank her for her help.
"I'll button it," she said, coming around in front of him and putting her hands to the shirt to pull it carefully
closed over his chest. Although she didn't look up at him, he sensed the frown on her face.
"I'm all right, milady," he said.
She glanced up at him. "Yes but covering these wounds with this scratchy cloth must to be agony for
you. I would just as soon you not attempt putting a coat on over this shirt."
He had to stop himself from shrugging—knowing that would make the hurt worse. "Whatever you think
Carefully buttoning the shirt front, she told him he was not to try tucking it into his pants, either.
"Aye, milady," he agreed, feeling lightheaded with the affection he was feeling for her that was growing in
leaps and bounds. It was so far beyond his realm of familiarity for someone to give a care about his
comfort he could feel tears building behind his eyes.
"How far is it to your home?" she asked.