My sensual historical romance, 'Flavia's Secret' is only 99c from Bookstrand - and is offered there at an 83% discount until Feb 14th. Set against the backdrop of the ancient Roman Empire, it could be your perfect Valentine's Day read!
'Flavia's Secret', which takes place in ancient Roman Britain. Flavia and Marcus are at a special, secret bathing place in Aquae Sulis (Ancient Roman Bath) ...
‘Marcus, our clothes,’ she said, in almost a whisper, as he touched her waist and then her breast through the clinging wet linen.
‘We will change at home. Tell Hadrian and the others we were caught in a local storm.’ Marcus was already caught. More than the finest painting he had ever seen or hoped to produce, more than the most evocative of scents or music, Flavia stirred him, but at present it was his own earthier desire that was the problem. If she touched him at all, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to hold back.
‘Is this a dream?’ she murmured, capturing his mood exactly as she rested her head against his shoulder, giving in a moment to temptation, Marcus guessed. ‘Dreams can be dangerous.’
‘Not this one,’ Marcus reassured. He was determined it wouldn’t be. She was locked in his arms, standing with him in the middle of this amazing pool, with the steam from the waters releasing the perfume of the enclosing rosemary and lavender bushes. Their own private, secret bathing place.
‘I have wanted to do this for so long,’ he said, drawing off her belt, feeling her gown billowing around his legs.
‘Did you bathe Drusilla?’
Her face was burrowed against his chest, so Marcus couldn’t see her expression. ‘Little Aurelia used to join me in the barracks bath house in Germania,’ he answered truthfully. ‘She and the other youngsters used to play games in the baths.’
‘No more talk.’ Marcus raised her chin with his thumb and kissed her, tumbling her clothes off with swift, sure hands. I have you now, little water goddess, and in your own element, he thought, his voice abandoned in the heat of the moment. She made his very skin crackle.
He wanted her to revel in every instant. The desire to honor and promote her enjoyment helped Marcus to control his own aching need as he gathered her back to himself with undisguised delight.
She had her eyes tightly closed again and he scooped water and lightly washed her face, smiling as her lips quivered and almost kissed his fingers. He sensed the conflict within her between pleasure and propriety and longed to prove to her what a sexy little creature she was, but he did not want her to feel ashamed afterwards by anything they did.
He stopped her hand as he felt her fingers on his belt. ‘Next time you can bathe me,’ he said, with a lightness he did not feel. He found her caresses far too erotic. ‘That is a promise.’
Her throaty giggle almost drove him over the edge. He felt her stand on top-toe and then, using the water itself as an added support, bounce lightly off her toes to snatch a kiss as light as the beat of a moth’s wing from his mouth.
‘Flavia!’ He lowered his head and kissed her back. The provoking wench was playing with fire.
‘We have no bathing oil,’ he said, keeping to the practical. ‘But I am sure we will manage.’
It was easy to begin with her hair, which fascinated him, and hard, too, when he really wanted to share so much more with her than bathing. But they were learning each other, he sensed, and he wanted her to trust him. That mattered above everything.
He released her plait, hearing her muttered apology that she was wearing none of the combs he had bought her and responding with a hand-ruffle of her loosened hair, saying, ‘Those are probably gone with the fire, but I will buy you more.’
‘I will buy my own,’ she shot back instantly. ‘From my wages.’
‘Well said!’ Marcus grunted, teasing her in return by tickling her under her arms until Flavia was giggling and thrashing against him, water splashing everywhere.
‘Stop, stop!’ she cried, almost hiccupping with laughter.
He spun her round, the water making her virtually weightless, and tucked an arm around her waist. ‘Now for your back,’ he said.
He stroked the water over her, gently kneading the muscles on either side of her spine, hearing her breath quicken each time his hand approached her waist. Thinking about the faint sprinkling of freckles by her right shoulder blade and how taut and fine her skin was, he washed her arms. She seemed to shimmer in his arms, the rising steam wreathing her face so that she almost appeared to be wearing a veil made of mist.
Torn between passion and a strange sense of mystery, Marcus again reminded himself what he was supposed to be doing. Although he had not yet touched certain areas, he could not resist kissing the back of her freshly-bathed neck.
‘And your legs.’
With her damp head pillowed against his middle ribs, he lifted her quickly so that her feet flipped off the pool bottom. He caught her right leg and brought it closer to the surface, the warm water adding a further dimension of sensation as he ran his hand slowly over her sleek calf and thigh. He was equally scrupulous in his attention to her left leg.
‘And the rest.’
Flavia shivered as he turned her round to face him, his legs threading through hers. She felt increasingly strange in this soft, mobile, warm medium of water, and not only because she was an indifferent swimmer.
‘Marcus.’ She tried to think of the words to express concern and found she had forgotten them. She was rapidly forgetting any sense of decorum. The secret pool itself added to her confusion, the scents of its lavender and rosemary bushes perfuming the air and its steam condensing and sparkling on Marcus’ long black eyelashes, dampening the ends of his tough, dark brown hair.
‘Close your eyes a moment,’ he said.
To show her trust in him, she did so, feeling the water rise and fall in a subtle lingering embrace against her breasts. Everything here was voluptuous; she could imagine losing track of time and place.
‘You can open them now,’ Marcus said against her ear.
He was naked—his tunic, belt and loin cloth mere shadows on the bottom of the pool. ‘I will fetch them up later.’ He smiled. ‘With your own.’
‘Oh!’ Flavia had forgotten that her gown and under-tunic languished under this flood of gently swirling, gray-green water. Above the water, his upper torso glistened in the spray and sun, the harsh contours of his face softened by the rising steam.
And by love, perhaps? Flavia hoped it was love, although when she recalled her jealous question about his bathing habits with his wife she was ashamed.
She gasped afresh as he took her hand and laid it against the middle of his chest. She could feel his strongly beating heart, the pulse increasing as her fingers moved, almost of her own volition, touching his bronzed skin below and above the water. She found herself smiling at her own exploration.
He touched her in return. Gathering water and allowing it to run through his fingers, he bathed her breasts and her trim, flat stomach. The water trickled between her breasts like the gentlest and warmest of rain-showers as his hand followed, defining every curve.
‘Marcus!’ She felt to be splitting in two between shock and delight. She twisted in his arms, shy and at the same time proud, because he made her feel beautiful, desirable.
To read more, please see my 'Flavia's Secret' - now only 99c at Bookstrand.
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Best wishes, Lindsay Townsend