Laird of Ballanclaire

Laird of Ballanclaire by Jackie Ivie Page A

Book: Laird of Ballanclaire by Jackie Ivie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jackie Ivie
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
Constant?”
    She moved her eyes from his belly to his face. Even in the dim light she could see that he was looking right at her.
    “Brown. You’ve seen it,” she replied.
    “You always wear a mob-cap affair. If I’ve seen it, I’ve lost recollection. Refresh my memory. Describe it for me.”
    “I just did. It’s brown.”
    “But what sort of brown? Light brown? Dark brown? Medium brown? Does it contain reddish highlights? Strands of gold? Darker auburn? What?”
    “Oh . . . dark brown, I guess.” She moved her gaze back to where she’d scraped at him. The area looked pinkish, but hadn’t bloodied.
    “Dark brown? And here I thought you a romantic. So . . . what else is it, besides dark brown? Is it curly? Straight? Thick? Thin? Stringy? Which?”
    “Um . . . wavy. My father calls it unruly, whenever he notices me. It never stays in a braid long.”
    “When your father notices you? Does that mean what it sounds like?”
    “I was his seventh disappointment. He never speaks to any of the others. I am the exception, I guess.”
    “Why are you so lucky?”
    She reached for the tub of lard resting beside her hip and got three fingers full of the stuff. “I help him with the chores, remember? I required instruction more than once. I wasn’t the best student at the time.”
    “That better na’ mean what I think it means, either,” he replied.
    “What?”
    “He dinna’ beat you, did he?”
    “I required the strap more than once. I probably deserved it. I didn’t want to do heavy field work. I didn’t want to till soil. I didn’t want to grow great muscles like I have.” She ran her hands along his left side as she spoke, from the thick cording of muscle at his waist to his armpit, thinly spreading the grease. That way she wouldn’t have to dip more. She could tell he sucked in a breath and then held it. She felt the motion under her fingertips and where her forehead rested against him.
    “You are not shaving me there,” he said, letting the air back out when she moved her hands from him and wiped at the feathers with her cloth.
    She giggled. Men care about hair even there?
    “And you’re to cease that, too.”
    “What?”
    “Your laughter. You can cease laughing at me. I’m na’ immune. Nae man’s fond of being laughed at. You ken?”
    “It bothers you?”
    Constant wasn’t following their words. She was considering the tar glued all along his supple-looking side.
    “Aye.”
    “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
    “The hell you dinna’.”
    He said it so softly, she thought she might have heard wrong. She nearly giggled again.
    “Are all men so vain?”
    “Vain? What? I am na’ vain. I’ve rarely been so insulted. Vain. Me.”
    The arms holding him aloft wavered slightly. She wouldn’t have time to get this tar off before he collapsed.
    “A girl laughs at you and you get all stiff and offended. I call that vanity. If you suffer vanity, then you are vain. Simple.”
    His arms trembled, then stilled. “If I’m stiff anywhere, Constant, love, it’s because I’m a failure at self-control at the moment. It most certainly is na’ because I am vain. Trust me.”
    “If I were a man . . . and I looked like you . . .” She ran her hand along the tar she was going to scrape off next. Her voice lowered as she spoke. “I would be vain. Very much so.”
    He started shaking again. Since she had her head wedged against his abdomen, she felt every tremor.
    “You need to move out, Constant. I am coming down. Now.” The words came through what sounded like clenched teeth.
    She scooted out, and a moment later he was again stretched out on the straw, his head resting on the log as he considered her.
    “Your Thomas fellow is an ass. A full-fledged, mule-headed ass. I vow, when I’ve regained my strength and movement, I am going to search him out and knock it into his thick skull, too.”
    Constant gaped.
    “And I will need more covering afore you take one more touch anywhere on me. Anywhere.

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