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Marek was familiar with strategizing warfare and solving problems, but he had never known a precedent for what just happened. Augusta seemed to believe the woman's story, but he wasn't so sure it was true.
Travel through time was impossible. So he told himself. But how did that explain this woman and her insistence on what had been outside the front door? How did that explain her clothing that was like nothing he'd ever seen before? No stranger to a woman's body, he did like the way it molded to her curves, the soft white, clingy covering over her breasts accentuating her attributes in a way that was almost more desirable than if she'd been naked.
Mmm ... almost. He rolled his eyes. Well, obviously, naked would be better.
Strange blue cloth tightly sheathed her long legs all the way down to her ankles. The big white, puffy things on her feet looked clumsy and ungainly, but she was able to move around silently.
He decided to watch her carefully, which was certainly no hardship. Her face was fine-boned--soft, pink, round apple cheeks, and a determined, pointed chin. Her eyes, the bluest eyes he'd ever seen, were at times pale with uncertainty, then bright with fascination at her surroundings. Spellbound, he watched. Something caused her breasts to be thrust out under her coverings, and a man would have to be blind to miss the hard nipples so visible. His fingers flexed, craving to touch them. He could almost feel their velvety softness on his lips.
Augusta had taken control of Janney Forrester, had invited her into the peristyle. Before showing her around, she took Janney to a bedroom and urged her to change into a tunic and stola. No one else inthe villa had seen her yet, and until they figured out what was going on, it would be better if the servants didn't suspect anything odd. He'd sent for Gaius, his friend and mentor, Augusta's husband. Gaius would help sort this mess out.
As the woman wandered around the peristyle after Augusta left to see to the evening meal, he stood guard. Legs solidly planted, arms crossed over his chest, he scowled. She was not going to leave his sight. If he had to perform his self-imposed guard duty, a beautiful woman was a pleasant change from scruffy enemy Celts.
Occasionally, she would glance over her shoulder to see where he stood and throw him a wary look. Then, at times, she seemed to forget his presence and peered at carvings, benches, and the fountain with a near reverence, even tracing patterns of curves and hollows with her fingertips.
His face flamed, his jaw dropping open in surprise. He'd bedded a lot of women during his long years in the army, and he'd never been embarrassed before. But the sensuous drag of her fingers along the ridges of carved flowers felt like she had placed her hand on his hip and traced across his tightly clenching stomach muscles.
He froze and gaped idiotically when she encountered the cool, smooth marble statue of a nude Hermes, one hand on its hip, a knee cocked forward. Her gaze rose to the top. When her gaze lowered to Hermes' middle, she squinted, bit her lower lip, and stared at the God's larger-than-life phallus. He squirmed awkwardly, shifting his feet on the gravel pathway.
At the sound, she turned, looked directly at him, and flushed brightly. Their eyes locked. Gods, what was happening to him? He couldn't breathe with wanting to grab this woman and prove to her that he was every bit as impressive as the statue.
She bit her lower lip.
Marek suddenly realized he wanted to bite her lower lip. To suck on it.
"Umm," she murmured, lost in his eyes.
And her upper lip...
Like a bolt of lightning, carnal heat ripped through his belly, and he gasped as if in pain. He turned on his heel and stomped off. Slamming the door to his bedroom, he stood in the center of the room, aghast.
Good Gods! I'm insane.
Marek Benin Verus had never run from a woman in his life. And he hadn't this time, either. But what had he done? Shaking. He was shaking.
Stop! He ordered himself to think. Cut off the emotions and think. Yes, he wanted the woman. Naturally he did. What sane man wouldn't want her? That innocent face surrounded by all that curly, yellow hair, and the body of a goddess. He hated that he was completely unnerved by her. This was a first for him. Women were a means to assuaging physical desires, but this one...
He knew her. Oh, not her name, nor specifically her face. She'd been in his dreams, though. Since his breakdown, he'd awakened many mornings hot and agitated, wondering what was wrong with him. It wasn't unusual to awaken aroused, but remnants of the fantasy of a bright presence touching his body, the voice a mere gentle hum filtering through his brain, stayed with him even after he woke. The shock of the dream becoming reality staggered him. Why had this woman invaded his dreams? What plan did the Gods have? Because without a doubt, she'd been brought to him by the Gods. The question was why?
Humph. Do the reasons matter? The woman has been sent to me. I will have her. The omen is too strong to dismiss.
The yellow-haired woman was a gift to him from the Gods.