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Authors: Donna Clayton

Tags: #Romance, #General, #Contemporary, #Fiction

Bound by Honor (13 page)

BOOK: Bound by Honor
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Finally, the passion raging through them became overwhelming, and his luscious mouth covered hers at the same instant as he slid himself into her.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

Jenna awoke with a deep sigh of contentment. She stretched out under the tangle of sheets, loving the feel of the soft, rumpled cotton against her naked skin.

Sunlight streamed through the window, and she smiled. It was going to be a beautiful day.

Rolling over, she experienced a slight pang of disappointment to find that Gage wasn't in the bed next to her. But she thought it was sweet of him to slip away to his work without disturbing her. Although, she wouldn't have minded being disturbed . . . not if it meant more delicious love-making. She grinned. No, she wouldn't have minded that at all!

She relaxed into the pillow, letting her mind drift back. When Gage had first entered her, she'd been seized with a pain that had been sharp enough to widen her eyes. Gage had gone completely still, the passion on his face transforming to surprise as he'd realized that he was her first lover.

For a fraction of a second, she'd feared that the moment was ruined. But she'd reached up, caressed his cheek with
her
palm and crooned that this was what she wanted. She wanted to surrender her virginity to him. Desire had fogged his black eyes and his lovemaking turned excruciatingly gentle until he had her frantic with need. Her first orgasm had been awesome, as was her second. Jenna grinned wickedly even now in the light of day.

She sat up and listened. The house was quiet, which meant Lily was still asleep. Jenna bounded from bed and raced to her room. She pulled on a fresh pair of panties, a pair of denim shorts and a pink T-shirt. Then she slipped her feet into a pair of canvas sneakers.

In a flash, she'd made a small pot of coffee and was soon carrying two mugs out to the stable.

She found Gage busily brushing one of the horses.

The animal snorted when she entered the stable, and Gage murmured soothingly in its ear. The scent of fresh hay permeated the air.

"Good morning," she called from just inside the door. "Is it okay to come in?"

Gage nodded, but didn't stop attending to the pinto. Jenna couldn't help but notice how Gage's biceps bunched as he ran the
bristly brush over the horse's spotted flank.

Having learned over the weeks that it was dangerous to approach the rear of a horse, Jenna eased herself toward the pinto's head and waited for Gage to come to her. When he didn't right away, disappointment made her frown.

"I brought you some coffee."

"Don't want any, thanks."

The crease between her eyes deepened. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing's wrong." He didn't look at her, but focused his brush strokes on the pinto's rear leg.

In his bent position his hair fell over his shoulders in a black drape. Instantly, Jenna was back in Gage's bed, his hair teasing her flesh like a gossamer curtain. She blinked to dispel the memory and twisted to set the mugs down on a nearby railing.

"Of course, something's wrong. I'm not an idiot. Look at me, Gage.
Talk
to me."

He straightened then, his hand lowering to his side. Clear annoyance flashed in his dark eyes.

When he didn't speak, she said, "This isn't how you greet someone with whom you've just —" she felt the need to choose her words carefully "— been intimate."

Confusion scrambled her thoughts. She'd
come
out
here
expecting .
. .
what?
A
warm
embrace? A seductive kiss?

Yes,
dammit!
That was exactly what she'd expected. Having been met with his glaring indifference was baffling.

"So you think sex is going to change everything between us."

It wasn't a question, but a statement. And although she was still uncertain about what he was trying to imply — what it was that had him so apathetic — she didn't like his tone at all.

He stalked past her and hung the brush on a hook on the wall with more force than was necessary. "It changes nothing." He gazed off, raking his fingers through his hair. "Who the hell am I kidding? It changes everything."

Jenna wanted to reach out to him. He was close enough that she could feel the warmth of his body, smell the clean, warm scent of him, but some quiet voice deep inside told her it would be unwise to touch him. He wasn't indifferent about what had happened between them; he was cross.

He stepped around her, clicked his tongue and the horse started for the door. As the animal passed, Gage swatted its flank and said, "Go," and the pinto trotted out
into the
sunny
paddock.

Keeping her tone as calm as possible,
Jenna asked, "Why are you angry with me this morning?"

"I'm not angry with you." He walked several steps away from her, then turned to face her. "I'm angry with myself." Strain made his features go taut.

"But why?"

"I'm a cheat," he said. "And a thief. I stole your virginity."

Without hesitation, she softly replied, "You can't steal what was freely given."

Simple logic, however, wasn't enough to cool his irritation. Suddenly, it seemed as if he had more energy than he could contain. He paced two steps in one direction, then two steps back. "I've spent the past year feeling cheated. And now —" he raised his palm and slapped it against his chest "—
I'm
the cheater."

Jenna knew his blurted statement was important, but before she could put the pieces together, he continued his rant.

"The Great Spirit stole my family. Left me here alone." He averted his gaze to the far wall. "And this woman is thrust into my life. A woman who not only kept me from finding the release meant for me the day of that damned storm, but who forced her way into my home. Into my
life. Who seduced me with her fl
ashing eyes. Her gorgeous
body. I'm only human. I'm just a man."

He talked about her as if she were someone else. Some third party they were discussing. But they weren't talking about someone else. It was
her!

Gage seemed to refuse to meet her gaze. And after all the things he'd said, that infuriated her. If he intended to blame her for the state of his life, the least he could do was look at her.

"So you feel that this is all my fault?" Her volume tipped upward and slight sarcasm laced the question. "You feel that I'm responsible for the fact that we made love last night?"

"We didn't make love," he countered. "We had sex."

Humiliation made her face flame red-hot. She wanted to shout at him. She wanted to rail and scream. But she didn't. She was too mortified to speak.

Why should it bother her how he chose to describe what had happened between them? It shouldn't. It wasn't as if she'd expected last night to transform their empty vows or change their meaningless marriage into something real.

She swallowed, but her throat was so dry that the action actually hurt. The overwhelming shame
his
curt, tactless
opinion
of their intimacy caused her was significant.

No man could trigger this kind of indignity, this kind of pain unless she felt something for him. Something deep. Something significant.

Jenna shoved the notion from her mind. Now was
not
the time for her to evaluate her feelings for Gage Dalton.

"What we experienced last night," she snapped, "was beautiful. And I refuse to allow you to cheapen that. Okay, so you don't agree that we made love." She shrugged. "So you want to call it sex. Fine. But whatever name you choose to put to it doesn't change the fact that it was wonderful."

Regret etched into the hard planes of his handsome face, and that only stirred her fury all the more.

"I can't believe," she barreled ahead, full steam, "that you're still bitter that I saved your lousy neck. That I kept you from driving into that flood on Reservation Road. How stupid can you be?"

Whatever remorse might have flitted through him vanished as her insult evidently took hold. His eyes narrowed in what she took to be a warning, but she didn't even consider heeding it.

"Have you stopped for one minute
to
think "-" she tilted her head slightly "
that it wasn't me who saved you that day? But that it was Kit-tan-it-to'wet? That the Great Spirit had a plan that you never imagined?"

His fury was back on full throttle. He didn't have to say anything for her to know it. She could
feel
it.

Before he could respond, she said, "Relief from grief doesn't have to mean the end of one's life, Gage. But it
would
mean the end of life as you know it. Relief could come in the form of a new life — a
new
love."

Embarrassment flashed through her when she saw his jaw tick. Pressing her palm to her chest, she rushed to clarify, "Not necessarily me. That's not what I'm suggesting. But the Great One could bring you a woman to love, Gage. A woman who could make all the hurt and grief disappear. If you could just open yourself up to the idea and let it happen."

For a long moment, silence reverberated off the walls of the stable. Oh, there was sound — birdsong coming from the trees outside, the soft snorts and occasional whinny of the horses that remained in their stalls. But the silence between the two of them was deafening.

Finally, Gage said, "My heart is too frozen to feel love."

Frustration made Jenna clench her teeth. "I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you don't even have a heart."

She felt so hurt and so angry that she found it difficult to take a breath. Apparently, he'd succeeded in reining in his emotions. He stood there looking arrogant and unmoved. How could he be so unresponsive when he'd hurt her with words that had been as sharp as a well honed ax?

She'd done her best to make him understand that life had much to offer. Love. Joy. Hope. A future. But he refused to see it.

Oh, she realized that he was blinded by the guilt he wore like a heavy wool coat. That he was left in the land of the living while his wife and daughter had died.

It seemed that his grief was so high he couldn't climb over it, and so wide he couldn't see around it. If he wanted to live the remainder of his days alone and lonely, who was she to tell him he couldn't?

"I'm leaving," she announced. "I'm packing up our things. Lily and I will be gone before the day is over."

She turned and walked toward the door.

"But you can't go."

Jenna turned, her brows raised. "Oh?"

"Have you forgotten about the Council?
You
can't take Lily
off
Broken Bow.
Not
without their permission, anyway."

Right now, she didn't want
anyone
telling her what she could or couldn't do.

"Just let them try to stop me." She turned back toward the doorway and took a single step . . . and that was all the time it took for her to remember. Hoo'ma. Chee'pai. The rest of the Elders. The entire reservation of Lenape who were striving to preserve the treasure that was their heritage.

How could she disrespect their efforts by walking away with Lily when they truly felt the baby was part of their family?

She couldn't.

Her shoulders rounded in defeat and she reached up to smooth her fingers across her forehead, marveling that she'd actually succeeded in making this complicated and messy situation more complicated and messy.

She turned to Gage and sighed. Subdued now, she said, "I'll request a meeting with the Council. But rest assured, I won't be under your roof come nightfall."

 

Jenna spooned oatmeal into Lily's mouth, swiped the baby's chin with a napkin
and
then
looked across the table at Arlene. "Thanks
for letting
us
stay
with you last
night,"
she
told her friend
.

They were eating breakfast at Hannah's restaurant just down the street from Arlene's house. Having barged in on Arlene yesterday afternoon, Jenna had invited her to breakfast at the diner with the hope of offering the woman a small treat as a show of appreciation for her generous hospitality.

There had been another reason Jenna wanted to go out to eat. As a diversion for Lily. It seemed the toddler was feeling out of sorts. Jenna feared it was because she was missing Gage. Lily and Gage had developed a surprisingly close bond over the past weeks. The baby seemed to sense when he was about to come in from the stable for the evening, and Lily's bedtime ritual included a hug and a kiss from Gage. She'd had trouble falling asleep last night and had awoken several times during the night. Jenna felt badly that yet another person was being yanked out of Lily's life, but for the life of her she didn't know how it could be helped.

"It's no problem," Arlene said. "You know that. You and Lily are welcome to stay for as long as you need."

BOOK: Bound by Honor
13.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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