~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

Nathan’s admiration for his wife grew by leaps and bounds with every passing hour.  She hadn’t complained once during their two days of travel and had only asked to stop two or three times each day.  Each time she had taken a short walk to ease her aching muscles then climbed back into the carriage and urged them onward.  He had ordered a hot bath for her at each of the inns they had stayed at; feeling rewarded each time by the sigh that escaped Kristin’s lips as she lowered her tired body into the hot water.

 

Kristin was propped against a mound of pillows and her eyes were closed but Nathan knew that she wasn’t asleep.  He reached out and grabbed her hand, his thumb running over the pad of her palm.

 

“I’ll order you another bath tonight.”

 

“That would be nice.  It would be even nicer if you would join me in the tub.”

 

“You are exhausted from traveling.  I don’t expect you to bounce up and down in this carriage all day and then…”

 

“Bounce up and down on you all night?”  His own blush at Kristin’s words caught Nathan off guard.

 

“Well… yes.  I’m not that unfeeling.”

 

“I’m not unfeeling either.  In fact, I would very much like to feel…” Kristin reached out and stroked the placard of Nathan’s trousers.  She grinned smugly at his immediate response.

 

“Behave yourself, minx.” Nathan captured her hand and lifted it to his mouth.  “In a few more hours we will be at the inn and you can feel whatever you like.”

 

“Now,” Kristin demanded as she leaned forward, her free hand replacing the one that Nathan had moved.

 

Nathan glanced around the interior of the coach.  “Here?”

 

“You can pull the curtains if you wish but I doubt anyone could see in.” Nimble fingers quickly freed the straining buttons.

 

“It won’t be easy for you.  We are a bit cramped in here.” Kristin could see and feel that Nathan was warming to the idea.

 

“Be innovative, husband.”  Nathan’s breath caught in his throat as Kristin’s hands left him half exposed and reached around her back.  Moments later the neckline of her dress sagged and fell.

 

Nathan clawed at the ties holding the window curtains back, his eyes never leaving his wife.  Kristin slid the bodice of her dress down to her waist then grabbed the ends of the ribbon on her chemise and twirled them enticingly.

 

“Yes?”  She asked.

 

“God, yes!”  He answered, practically panting.

 

The ribbon slowly began to move, the bow growing smaller as inch by inch the ribbon was slowly pulled outward.  By the time that the bow was completely undone Nathan was on his knees in front of her.

 

Kristin gasped and filled her hands with Nathan’s hair as he pulled a heavy nipple into the warm cavity of his mouth.  His tongue slid across the thin silk covering, teasing it into a tight peak while his hand covered the other mound and coaxed it in the same manner.

 

“Do you like that?” Nathan murmured into her flesh as he continued to work the nub.

 

“You know I do…” Kristin’s head fell back as she pushed her chest forward even more.

 

“Tell me if you are uncomfortable.”

 

“Of course I am uncomfortable, dammit!  I need you!”

 

Nathan could hear the depth of her want in her voice.  His hand slowly dragged the silk lower, the fabric dragging heavily over her breasts as he worked it loose.

 

Nathan grabbed a handful of russet muslin and bunched it in his hand as he pulled her skirt up slowly.  On his second grab the single petticoat beneath the skirt started the same journey.  Within seconds she was bared to his touch.

 

A quick brush of her mound let Nathan know that Kristin hadn’t been exaggerating about her need.  He quickly teased her lower lips apart and slid a finger into her wet channel then drew it up to coat her swollen clit.

 

Kristin’s fingers curled into Nathan’s strong shoulders, her nails biting into his skin as he continued to manipulate her sensitive flesh; mouth at her breasts, hands teasing the core of her femininity.  She peaked quickly, her breath growing shallow as her muscles tensed around Nathan’s probing fingers.  He recognized the signs and released his hold on her breast to cover her mouth and capture her scream as she climaxed.

 

Nathan held Kristin tightly as her body shuddered in completion, his hands stroking her hair and back.  When she was finally still, he ran a hand to cup her cheek and lifted her face.

 

“Better?”

 

“Some… but I still want you.” 

 

“Kristin… The baby…”

 

“Is fine.”

 

“But what if the carriage stops?”

 

“Then I’ll pull my dress up very quickly.”

 

Nathan glanced around the carriage clearly considering the logistics of the situation the nodded his head.  “Hold on.”

 

He moved back to his seat, sliding as far into the back cushions as he could then propped his feet on the edge of the seat between Kristin’s legs and crooked his finger at her.  Kristin smiled as she grasped the edge of her dress and leaned forward.  Nathan grabbed her sides beneath her arms and lifted her across the open space onto his lap.

 

“Is that okay?”

 

Kristin dug her knees into the cushions and wiggled closer.  “Much nicer.”

 

Nathan lifted his knees and planted his feet solidly against the opposite seat.  “Leverage,” he told Kristin with a gleam in his eye as she worked her hands between their hips.  She rose up on her knees.

 

“Lift.”

 

Once Nathan’s bottom cleared the seat Kristin tugged his trousers down his hips until his erection sprang into her hands.

 

“That is much better.”  Kristin slowly lowered herself back into Nathan’s lap, her body stretching to accept his length as she impaled herself.  Nathan’s hands fell to her knees and slid up her thighs beneath the layers of clothing to hold her hips.

 

“At your leisure, my love.”

 

There was nothing leisurely about her movements.  Kristin rode her husband lustily, her body demanding a response from his.  He gave it gladly, hips pistoning up to meet hers with every rise and fall. 

 

Nathan felt his juices rising and knew that he couldn’t hold back much longer.  He felt the familiar clench of Kristin’s inner muscles as she fell back, supported by his knees and hands.  Her breasts rose as her back arched and he bent to taste, the pull of his mouth against the sensitive nipple the catalyst that pushed her completely over.


Ripples of pleasure were still coursing through Kristin’s body when Nathan took over, his hips driving up into her clinging dampness as their stomachs bumped together.  The baby took up the movement; kicking back at his father each time that Nathan made contact.

 

“Hold on, princess.  Just a few more seconds…”

 

The left wheels of the carriage hit a large rut in the road, adding momentum to Kristin’s downward push and Nathan’s upward stroke.  Kristin screamed as the pressure sent her spiraling away again.  Nathan’s moans added to her cries as he spent himself within her, unable to hold back any longer.

 

Nathan slumped back against the seat taking Kristin with him, his arms still wrapped around her tightly.  As he came down to earth he felt her shoulders heaving beneath his hands.

 

“Kristin!  Are you all right?  Did we hurt the baby?  Talk to me, sweetheart?”

 

Kristin raised her head and Nathan was stunned to see that she was trying to contain her giggles but not succeeding very well.  “Kris?”

 

Kristin raised her hand over her mouth until she could control her chuckles.  “I was just… thinking…”

 

“What were you thinking, my love?”

 

“I am so glad that Raleigh and Bess aren’t in the carriage with us.”

 

The corners of Nathan’s mouth began to turn as his amusement at the idea rose with hers.  “I don’t know… they might have enjoyed the show.”

 

“NATHAN BRIDGER!” Kristin swatted at Nathan’s chest.  “You are incorrigible!”

 

“One of my many charms.  Don’t worry.  I’m sure that no one heard you scream except the driver and he will keep his mouth shut.”

 

“The driver?” Kristin glanced at the top of the coach.  “Surely not… He couldn’t have heard… could he?”

 

At that moment the carriage began to slow.

 

“Bloody hell!” Kristin began to yank frantically at the neckline of her gown, succeeding only in getting it even more tangled with her chemise.

 

“Let me.” Nathan calmly separated the two garments and pulled them up one at a time, securing each carefully.  As the carriage rolled to a stop Nathan lifted Kristin from his lap, his lips catching the whimper that emerged from Kristin as he slipped from her body.  They could hear Bess and Raleigh talking, their voices moving closer.

 

“Your trousers!” Kristin hissed as she smoothed her skirts.  Nathan quickly tucked his now flaccid manhood back inside his pants and hastily fastened the buttons, swearing lowly as he realized that the front of the garment was soaked with his and Kristin’s juices.  He grabbed his coat from the corner and draped it over his lap just as the carriage door swung open.

 

Raleigh thrust his face into the interior.  “Bess thought that Kristin could do with a bit of a walk.  She doesn’t want her ankles swelling from too much sitting.”

 

Nathan made to stand but Kristin beat him to it, her eyes dropping pointedly to his lap.  “That is a good idea.”

 

Raleigh handed Kristin out of the carriage while Nathan turned away in the seat and carefully slipped his coat on.  He exited the coach to find Bess staring pointedly at him, her arms folded across her more than ample bosom as she sniffed the air.  Although she didn’t say a word Nathan could tell that Bess knew exactly what had happened in the carriage and that he was in for a whale of a lecture.

 

“At least she isn’t sitting the entire time,” Nathan said then took off at a run as Bess took a menacing step toward him with her hand raised.

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

It was late afternoon when the two carriages pulled up in front of the house on Kristin’s Cornwall estate.  The house was not as overly grandiose as some of the other estates they’d passed on their way through the coastal area, but it was bigger than his island home.

 

The carriage came to a stop and Nathan glanced down at his wife, sleeping soundly in his lap, her face buried in his neck; her hand clenched tight in the silk of his shirt.  He smiled as she suddenly sighed and nestled closer.

 

Moments later, the carriage door opened and the driver appeared in the entrance.  “We’ve arrived, Captain.”

 

“Thank you, Peters,” Nathan said then gently shook the woman in his arms.  “Kris… sweetheart…”

 

“Mmm…” Kristin murmured against his throat.

 

“We’re here,” he told her.  “You need to wake up so I can get us out of the carriage.”

 

“Nnnooo, dnwntoo… comfy…”

 

Nathan smiled.  “I know you are,” he said quietly.  “And in a few more minutes, you will be even more comfortable in a nice big bed.  So I need for you to wrap your arms around my neck and hold on.  Can you do that for me?”

 

“Mmmkay…” Kristin muttered and slowly slipped her arms around his neck, the action allowing her to press her face closer to his neck.

 

“Are you ready, Nathan?” 

 

Nathan looked up to see Raleigh peering into the carriage.  “Has the step been brought out?”

 

“Yes.  The footman just placed it.”

 

“Then yes, I’m ready,” Nathan said as he shifted his arms beneath Kristin and held her to him.  “Hang on, sweetheart.”  Her arms tightened around him in response as he slowly moved towards the door of the carriage.  “That’s it…”

 

It took a little maneuvering, and Raleigh’s hands on his back and elbows to steady him, but within a couple of minutes, Nathan was standing outside the carriage, Kristin still cradled in his arms sound asleep.  He looked up to see an elderly woman in a gray dress with a full white apron standing before him, her eyebrows raised and knitted together. 

 

“Hello,” Nathan smiled.

 

“Good afternoon, sir,” the woman replied.  “You must be the new husband.”

 

“I am indeed,” Nathan said.

 

“Is the countess all right?”

 

“Yes.  She’s just sleeping.  The trip has been very tiring for her,” Nathan told the woman.  “So if you would be so kind as to show me to our bedchamber, Mrs…?”

 

“Peterson, sir.  Violet Peterson.”

 

“Captain Peterson’s wife?”

 

“Yes, sir.”  Violet nodded then turned.  “If you will follow me.”

 

“Of course,” Nathan nodded and followed the elderly woman up the stairs, through the large double doors and into the front hall.  “Very nice,” he said as he looked around, smiling at what he could see were obviously his wife’s special touches here and there.

 

“The countess’ bed chamber is this way, sir,” Violet said and gestured toward the grand staircase before them.

 

Nathan carefully shifted Kristin in his arms as he slowly ascended the staircase behind Mrs. Peterson then followed her down a long hallway.

 

“This would be the mistress’ room, sir,” Violet told him as she opened the door and indicated that he should enter.

 

“Thank you,” Nathan replied softly and carried Kristin over to the bed and gently laid her down.

 

“Nnnooosta…” Kristin murmured as she tightened her arms around Nathan’s neck.

 

“Ssh…” Nathan whispered then carefully extracted himself from her embrace.  He reached for the extra blanket at the end of the bed and drew it up over her.

 

Violet watched as the gray-haired man, her mistress’ new husband, after covering her with the blanket, leaned over the countess and brushed the softest of kisses to her cheek.  “Rest now, my love… I will join you shortly,” she heard him whisper.

 

“Mmmkay…” Kristin sighed and snuggled into the pillow.  “…rry…”

 

“I will,” Nathan told her then feathered his lips against her cheek once again before straightening up and turning to face Mrs. Peterson. 

 

Violet smiled inwardly at the obvious love this man had for the countess then shook herself out of her thoughts when she realized the man had moved to stand before her.  “Is there something I can do for you, Mister…?”

 

“Bridger, ma’am.  Captain Nathan Bridger.”

 

“Captain Bridger,” Violet smiled and nodded then looked at him expectantly.

 

“She’s going to need to rest for a few hours,” Nathan said as he glanced back at his sleeping wife.  “And she will no doubt be wanting both a hot bath and some food when she wakes up.”

 

“I will see that dinner is waiting for her,” Violet said.

 

Nathan smiled.  “Good.  You might want to make sure your cook has some lemon curd around, Kristin has been eating it with everything right now.”

 

“Lemon curd?  Why on earth would she be eating that?  Especially with everything?”  The old woman asked.

 

“You’ve obviously… no, I don’t suppose you would have…”

 

“What?”

 

“Kristin is carrying our child,” Nathan told her then grinned as the housekeeper’s eyes grew wide and she looked past him to his wife who was curled up beneath the blanket.

 

“She is!?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Oh my!”  Violet’s face broke out in a huge smile.  “I didn’t even notice… I didn’t… oh, that is wonderful news!”

 

Nathan chuckled.  “We are very happy at the prospect.”

 

Violet patted her hands on her thighs.  “Oh yes… I will go right now and make sure Cook has some lemon curd for the countess…”

 

“And her bath…”

 

“Ah yes!  I won’t forget to prepare that for her as well.”

 

“I am assuming the bath is behind that door there,” Nathan gestured to the door behind him and to the right.

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Very good,” Nathan nodded.  “I better make sure Bess and Raleigh are settling in all right… and then I think I too will take a short nap before dinner.”

 

“I will have the bed in your room turned down, sir.”  Violet said as she turned and moved to step out of the room.

 

“That won’t be necessary, Mrs. Peterson.”  Nathan told the woman, not surprised when she stopped and turned back to face him.  What did surprise him however was the knowing, and if he didn’t know better, approving smile on Violet’s face.

 

“Very good, sir.”  Violet said.  “What time shall I have the countess’ bath ready?”

 

“In three hours,” Nathan answered.  “If I let her sleep any longer than that…”

 

Violet held up her hand.  “Say no more, Captain.  I understand completely.”

 

Nathan smiled as he pulled the door shut behind him.  “Can you point me in the direction of Mister and Mrs. Young’s room?”

 

“Down the hall, fourth door on your left,” Violet pointed in the opposite direction.

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Peterson.”

 

“You’re welcome, sir.”

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

The gentle squeezing on her left breast woke Kristin from the satisfying dream she was having about making love to her husband to find Nathan wrapped around her from behind; one hand locked securely around her breast, the other laying protectively over her gravid stomach.

 

She could tell by his steady, deep breathing that he was still asleep then smiled when she felt him thrust his hips against her, his arousal obvious, even in his sleep, and felt an answering need pool in the center of her being.  ‘Lord…’ Kristin thought.  ‘Will I ever get enough of this man?  I am almost seven months pregnant for heaven’s sake…’

 

Nathan moaned her name into her hair and pressed his erection hard against her backside, his hand on her breast squeezing the full mound tighter.

 

Her smile grew, as did her arousal.  ‘No… I don’t think I will ever get enough of him.’

 

Kristin circled her rear against him, pleased when Nathan moaned her name again and buried his face deeper into her hair.

 

“Nathan…” she called his name softly as she reached back and laid her hand on his hip.  “Nathan…”

 

“Mmm…” Nathan murmured as he shifted closer and simultaneously pulled her back against him.  “Avancnap?”

 

“Yes,” Kristin replied.  “I’ve especially enjoyed the waking up part.”

 

Nathan chuckled as she rubbed her backside against him.  “Me too…” he said as he shifted away from her and gently pulled Kristin so that she was lying on her back then leaned over her.  “I enjoy all the things we do when we are in bed together.”

 

Kristin smiled as a faint blush touched her cheeks.  “As do I,” she said and reached up to cup his cheek.  “And it feels like you’re up…” Kristin rubbed her thigh against his arousal,  “to doing one of those things now.”

 

“With you… I am always up for it, my love.”  Nathan said then lowered his mouth to hers in a loving kiss that quickly grew into a passionate exchange.

 

“Mmm…” Kristin sighed happily against his lips as the kiss ended then slipped her hand down to cup him through his pants.

 

Nathan groaned and buried his face in her shoulder as she stroked him.  “Kris…” his voice was nothing more than a strangled whisper.

 

“Yes?”  Kristin asked as she began to slowly work the buttons on the placard until she’d freed his straining member.  She wrapped her hand around him and resumed her stroking of his hard length.

 

Nathan lifted his head and looked at her through smoldering blue eyes.  “Do you want to be on top again?”

 

Kristin grinned, pushed on his shoulders until he rolled onto his back then moved so that she was straddling him.  “What do you think?”

 

Nathan returned her grin as he splayed his hands over her belly and smoothed her chemise against the large swell.  “I think I am really liking this aspect of your pregnancy.”

 

“Which part?”  Kristin asked as she undulated against him, a coy smile gracing her lips at his low moan.

 

“The ‘can’t seem to get enough phase,’” Nathan answered.  “It’s almost as if your sex drive has doubled in the last month or so.”

 

Kristin laughed.  “It does feel that way, doesn’t it?”

 

Nathan nodded.

 

“I have a question for you though.”

 

“What’s that?”  Nathan asked as he moved his hands to her hips and began to gather up her chemise.

 

“When did you remove my dress?”

 

“When I returned from checking on Raleigh and Bess, and making sure all our luggage had been brought in.”

 

“And I didn’t wake…”

 

“You were quite out of it,” Nathan told her as he pushed the chemise up over her breasts.  “And I am quite good at getting you out of your clothes.”

 

Kristin laughed as she pulled her chemise the rest of the way off and tossed it off the bed.  “Yes you are!”  She leaned over him, her belly resting against his as she slid her hands up his chest.  “And we need to get you completely out of yours…”

 

Understanding immediately what she was alluding to, Nathan shifted beneath her and together; they managed to remove his britches and push them to the floor with her chemise.

 

Kristin rose up on her knees and reached between them to once again take hold of his shaft.  In a move that shocked Nathan, she drew the head of his member up and down along her sex, coating him with her juices.

 

“Oh… god… Kris…” Nathan groaned and unconsciously thrust into her hand.  “Sweetheart… please…”

 

“What do you want, Nathan?”  Kristin asked in a husky voice as she continued to tease them both. 

 

“You…” Nathan answered as he reached out to grip her thighs.  “I want to taste you… want to be inside you…”

 

Kristin smiled and Nathan groaned when she suddenly released him.

 

“Kris?”

 

“Trust me…” she told him then moaned.  “Trust me…”

 

Nathan glanced down to see what she was doing but her gravid stomach hid her from view.  “What are you… oh…” he moaned as she took him in hand and once again began to stroke him through her folds.  “Kris…”

 

“Patience…” Kristin told him as she shifted and brought the head of his member to her waiting entrance.

 

“I…” She laid her fingers against his lips and Nathan moaned, as the scent of her arousal suddenly grew stronger.

 

Kristin watched his eyes grow wide with understanding then gasped as he grasped her wrist and sucked her fingers deep into the hot cavern of his mouth; his tongue licking and sucking her juices from the slender digits.

 

As Nathan worked her fingers in and out of his mouth, Kristin slowly began to impale herself on his rigid shaft.  “Mmm… oh… Nath…”

 

Nathan moaned around her fingers as he felt her slick heat surround him; fitting him like a glove.  He gazed up at her, remembering the first time he’d seen her like this… hair tousled, lips swollen and her skin flushed with arousal.  The only difference now was the swell of her stomach where their child rested.  Nathan felt like his heart would burst with all the emotion he felt and slowly drew her fingers out of his mouth.

 

“I love you…”

 

Kristin smiled down at him.  “I love you too, my rogue,” she echoed as she began to move on him.  “I love you so much…”

 

Nathan smiled and slid his hands to her hips, guiding her movements as she set a quick but satisfying pace.  It wasn’t long before Kristin was grinding herself against him with each downward thrust of her hips.  “That’s it, Kris…” he encouraged her, sensing her release was close.  “Come for me, sweetheart.”

 

“Nathan… oh please…” Kristin moaned as she rode him hard.  “I…” she gasped and threw her head back as his hand slipped between them; his fingers making electric contact with her clit.  “Oh yes… Nathan…”

 

“Come, Kris…” Nathan coaxed her as he bent his legs to support her back and began to thrust his hips up inside her while his fingers continued to dance and circle over her clitoris.  “Let go… come…”

 

“Na… Na… NATHAN!”  Kristin suddenly screamed his name as the sensations coiling in her centre exploded over her in white-hot flames.  “Oh… yes…” she panted as she continued to rock on him.

 

Nathan watched in delight as Kristin was consumed by her release and with a few more thrusts, he joined her; his orgasm washing over him in steady waves as his seed flew from his body to splash against her womb.  “Kris… tin…”

 

Kristin moaned at the warm flood of Nathan’s juices and braced herself on her hands as she looked down at him; enjoying the look of utter bliss on his face as he continued to shudder beneath her.

 

“Oh… my lady…” Nathan whispered and gazed up at her as his body finally stilled, the intense feelings of his release continuing to roll over him.

 

“My rogue…” Kristin whispered back and as much as she didn’t want to, she moved to shift off of him.  His hands on her hips stopped her.  “Nathan?”

 

“I’m not ready to leave you yet,” Nathan told her.

 

“And I’m not ready for you to leave me,” Kristin replied.  “However…”

 

“Your legs…” Nathan said and laid his hands on her thighs.

 

“Yes…” Kristin nodded and looked almost sad.

 

“It’s all right, sweetheart,” Nathan told her as he slid his hands up to her waist.  “Ready?”

 

“Not really…” she replied then with a small nod, Kristin rose up on her knees; soft whimpers sounding from each of them as he slipped out of her body.  With his hands guiding her, Kristin settled on her side next to him.

 

Once she was comfortable, Nathan rolled over and shifted closer until they were belly to belly.  He smiled as he reached out to cup her cheek.  “You know… as much as I am enjoying seeing you pregnant… and I am enjoying it,” he stroked his thumb over her bottom lip,  “I will be very glad when the princess is born so that I will be able to hold you closer again… feel your chest pressed against mine…”

 

Kristin laughed softly.

 

“Are you up for a bath?”

 

“That would be wonderful,” Kristin replied.

 

At that moment, there was a soft knock on the bedroom door.  Nathan pulled his hand away from her cheek in a gentle caress and rolled out of the bed.  He snagged his britches off the floor and quickly pulled them on, did up the buttons then opened the door a few inches.

 

“Yes?”

 

“The countess’ bath is all ready… just as you requested, Captain.”

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Peterson,” Nathan smiled at her.

 

“You’re welcome,” the housekeeper replied.  “I will have dinner waiting for you when you’re finished.”

 

“Thank you again,” Nathan said then with a nod to the older woman, he shut the bedroom door.

 

“What was that all about?”  Kristin asked as Nathan moved across the room.

 

“That was Mrs. Peterson,” Nathan answered as he opened the door to the bathroom and stepped inside.

 

“And what did she want?”  Kristin called out to him.

 

Several moments later, Nathan walked back out and headed towards the bed with a smile on his face.  “She was letting me know that your bath was ready,” he said as he stopped at the side of the bed.  “Are you ready?”

 

Kristin returned his smile.  “Oh yes.”

 

“Good,” Nathan grinned as he leaned over and scooped her up into his arms.

 

“Nathan…” she gave him a curious look.

 

“Humour me,” Nathan said as he carried her across the room.  “I like holding you in my arms.”

 

“If I must…” Kristin sighed dramatically as she pressed a kiss to his cheek.

 

Nathan chuckled as he stepped into the bathroom and brought her over the bathtub that sat in the middle of the small room.  He dipped slightly so she could test the water with her toes.  “Okay?”

 

“Perfect.”

 

“Easy then…” Nathan said as he gently lowered her legs into the water then supported her as she eased down into the tub.  “Now… don’t get too comfortable just yet,” he told her.

 

“Why… oh!”  A brilliant smile lit Kristin’s face as she watched him release the buttons on his britches. 

 

“Like what you see?”  Nathan asked, standing unashamedly naked before her and watching as she let her eyes drift over his body.

 

“Oh yes,” Kristin nodded and licked her lips as she let her eyes rake his nude frame once again.  “I do indeed.”

 

Nathan grinned.  “Scoot up, my lady,” he told her then stepped into the tub and sank down behind her, his legs stretching out on either side of her.

 

“Mmm… this is much better,” Kristin settled back against his chest and released a happy sigh as his hands slipped around to splay over her gravid belly.  “It has been too long since we’ve shared a bath.”

 

“Yes it has,” Nathan murmured against her temple.  “I promise you… we won’t go so long between sharing baths again.”

 

“Good,” Kristin replied as she lifted one of his hands from her stomach and pressed a kiss to his knuckles then entwined her fingers with his and laid it back on her belly.

 

They fell into a comfortable silence as they soaked, neither one needing to speak; instead they communicated with their bodies.  A gentle stroke of his knee with her hand; a playful touch of her feet with his… a whisper of his lips against her cheek.

 

“You realize,” Kristin said in a throaty voice as her hands slipped down to caress his hair-roughened thighs.  “That if we stay in here too much longer… we’re going to look like a couple of prunes.”

 

“Mmhmm…” Nathan murmured as he cupped his hands in the water, lifted them and let the water trickle through his fingers onto her breasts.  He peered over her shoulder to watch as the cool air in the room kissed the wet tips, causing them to harden.

 

“Nathan…” Kristin gasped as he repeated the action and her nipples tightened even more.  “I’m serious.”

 

“I know,” Nathan replied and dropped a kiss to her shoulder then reached out beside them to grab the bar of soap out of the holder.  He worked up a good lather and dropped the soap into the water as he ran his soapy hands over her belly.

 

“So… want to tell me what’s been on your mind, sailor?”  Kristin asked him as he cupped her breasts in his slick hands and gently spread the lather around the tender mounds.

 

“What makes you think there is something on my mind?”  Nathan asked as he once more fished for the soap.

 

“Nathan…”

 

He smiled at the slight note of exasperation in her voice as he finally located the bar of soap, which had floated between her legs.  He lifted it from the water, letting his fingers caress her thighs as he did.  “I’ve been contemplating,” Nathan began as he lathered up his hands,  “penning a note to my father…”

 

“To tell him about the baby?”

 

“Yes,” Nathan nodded as he dropped his foamy hands to her thighs.  “Thanks to Janet, he is already aware of our marriage…” he paused and slid his hands down along her inner thighs, smiling at the soft moan that issued from his wife’s lips.  “And while I really couldn’t give a damn whether he knows or not…”

 

“He is your father…”

 

“He is my father,” Nathan echoed as he continued to massage her thighs.  “But he’s not the easiest person to deal with.”

 

“I think the letter is a good idea,” Kristin said.  “He should be told of the happy news.”

 

“You realize… if I do this,” Nathan told her.  “That the old man will most likely descend on us around Christmas with the rest of our family.”

 

“Yes, I know,” Kristin nodded then paused.  “Send your father the note, my love.”

 

Nathan pressed a kiss to her temple.  “I will.”

 

“Good,” Kristin said as she laid her head back on his shoulder.

 

“Thank you,” Nathan whispered against her ear.

 

“You’re welcome,” Kristin replied then tilted her head so that she could meet his eyes.  “When Mrs. Peterson came to the door to tell you about the bath, did she mention anything about dinner?”

 

Nathan laughed.  “Yes… dinner will be waiting for us when we’re finished with our bath.”

 

“Oh good…” Kristin grinned then reached for the soap in his hands.  “Because Junior is telling me that he is ready for some food.”

 

“Is that why he’s kicking?”  Nathan asked.

 

“Yes,” Kristin answered.

 

“Well then…” Nathan grasped her hands and together they worked up a lather.  “Let’s finish up here then go feed my girls.”

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

“There is the Carruthers shipyard,” Kristin swept her hand in a grand gesture at the large cove below the cliff she and Nathan were perched on.  “Not quite as grand as Bridger shipping I’m sure but I’ve worked very hard to keep it successful.”

 

Nathan stared at the hive of activity, the sound of hammers ringing through the air as not one but two ships were in the process of being built.  “I can see from here that you have good workers.  You must have an excellent manager as well, for the yard to continue running while you were gone.”

 

Kristin nodded.  “John is excellent… but he is getting on in years.  I am going to have to make some decisions soon.  I know he would like to retire but I need to find someone to train with him to take his place.”

 

“I don’t want to assume to tell you how to run your business because you have obviously done so very well but…” Nathan hesitated.  “I could make a suggestion.”

 

“I’d be glad to hear your suggestion and I welcome any input that you choose to give.”

 

“What about Ben?  He knows sailing and ships and since he married Katie he has ties to England and to these men.  I’m not going to be sailing as much so I won’t need him for my crew.  Perhaps we could combine our business interests in some way… my ships could use your yard to dock in England.”

 

“That could work.” Kristin said excitedly.  “Ben could train with John and watch over your transports as well.  He and Katie could have one of the estate cottages or even build a home of their own.  Perhaps Tim O’Neill might be interested as well.  He would be closer to his family here… oh, I shouldn’t take your entire crew.”

 

Nathan laughed.  “I think it is an excellent idea.  I can place most of my men on other ships but Tim has potential beyond being a common sailor.  Tim could act as liaison between the businesses and our island, travel back and forth to wherever we happen to be.  We can talk to him on the return trip.”

 

“Let’s go down, shall we?”

 

Nathan’s eyes grew large as he eyed the thirty-foot drop to the cove.  “Go down?  How?”

 

“There is a path, just over there.” Kristin pointed.

 

“You can’t walk that!”

 

“Of course I can, down at least.  Harry will take the cart down and drive us back up.”  She nodded to the young boy sitting on the driver’s bench, son of one of her estate workers.

 

“Why don’t you ride down as well?”

 

Kristin smiled indulgently at her husband’s protectiveness.  “I would prefer to walk,” she answered firmly.

 

Nathan caught the tone in Kristin’s voice and quietly gave up.  “As long as you promise to ride back up.”

 

“Wait until we get to the bottom and then bring the cart down,” Kristin told Harry.

 

Nathan kept a firm hold on Kristin as they slowly descended the gently sloping path.  They were about halfway down when they were spotted by one of the workers and a cry went up.  By the time they had reached the bottom they were swarmed by members of Kristin’s crew.

 

“Oh, Lady, we was so afraid when them pirates took you.”

 

“Praise God that you came back alive.”

 

“Thank you, sir, for rescuing our lady.”

 

The same phrases were repeated over and over by the men as Nathan and Kristin worked their way through the crowd to the large building that held supplies and John Peterson’s office.  The old man was waiting at the door.

 

John held out his arms and Kristin moved into his embrace.  She felt his tears at her temple and shed a few of her own before pulling back.

 

“I was so happy when I heard that you were safe… that you had come back to us.  I thought…”

 

“It’s all right, John.  I am all right.  I wasn’t harmed in any way.  Being kidnapped turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me because it brought me Nathan.”

 

John turned to the man unobtrusively a few steps behind Kristin and stuck out his hand.  “How do you do, sir?  I am very pleased to meet…” Peterson’s voice faded away as he stared at Nathan, recognition flaring in his eyes.  “YOU!”

 

“John, let’s go in your office.” Kristin pushed against the man but he didn’t move.  Peterson’s fingers balled into his palms as he stared at Nathan, his eyes ablaze with hate.

 

Nathan took a step forward and John’s hand came up.

 

“JOHN!  Your office, NOW!”  The tone of Kristin’s voice left little room for argument.  Peterson realized that he had made his employer very angry and he stepped back, pushing the door of the building open.  Nathan and Kristin followed him inside and through to his office.

 

“You bastard!” John’s voice dripped venom as he turned on Nathan once the entrance had been secured.  “You took advantage of her, used her then forced her to marry you to get her money.”

 

Nathan looked at him aghast.  “You’ve worked for Kristin all this time and you actually believe that anyone could take advantage of her or force her to do something against her will?”

 

Kristin stepped between the two men.  “Stop it!  Both of you.  John, sit down and listen.”

 

Instead of going to his chair Peterson leaned back against the desk, arms folded.  “I’m listening.”

 

“I love him, John.  It’s that simple.”

 

“You love him… the Blue Rogue… the damned pirate that attacked us, kidnapped you and left your crew to die on that island.  I don’t believe it.”

 

“You don’t know Nathan.  You don’t know why he did what he did.  If you understood his motives…”

 

“There isn’t any explanation for murder.”

 

“And who exactly has Nathan murdered?” Kristin asked.  “Did any of the crew die?” 

 

“Kris…” Nathan started but shut up immediately when Kristin glared at him.

 

“I’ve heard the stories about all the sailors the Rogue killed.”

 

“Whom did you hear them from?  Where did they originate?  From officers who had escaped his clutches?  Isn’t it strange that so many officers managed to escape?  Think about it, John.”

 

Peterson thought a moment.  “He still left us for dead.”

 

“With an island full of supplies and all of the tools you needed to make the Spirit seaworthy again.”

 

Nathan came up behind Kristin and laid his hand gently on her upper arms.  “Your captain deserves an explanation, my love, and it is my place to give it to him.  Once he knows then he has to follow his conscience.”

 

“But…” Kristin protested mildly as she turned her head back to look at Nathan.  He smiled and rubbed his lips across her forehead then turned back to Peterson.

 

“Yes, Captain Peterson.  I am the Blue Rogue… or rather I was the Blue Rogue.  But I think that you may have already suspected that.”

 

“I was curious.” John admitted grudgingly.  “That ship… I thought that she was the one that came for us but your crew said that she belonged to the lady’s new husband and they had a note from Lady Westphalen in her own writing so I hoped I was wrong.”

 

“You weren’t.  Kristin and I were married at my home in the islands five months ago.”

 

Peterson’s eyes fell to Kristin’s heavy belly but he had the good manners not to comment.

 

“I’ll try to keep this brief.  The persona of the Blue Rogue was born six years ago when my son died on a British naval vessel after having been taken from his own ship by a press gang.  I tried to save Robert but I didn’t find him in time.  Instead the Rogue started attacking ships, building a reputation as a bloodthirsty pirate.  When I came upon one of his majesty’s ships I met little resistance.  I boarded, spoke with the men and took those that had been pressed into service onto my ship if they wanted to come.  I also took several officers from each ship to witness the staged deaths of each of these men.”

 

“Very clever.  Then the gangs wouldn’t come looking for the blokes,” John’s eye held just a gleam of admiration.  “They wouldn’t be named as deserters.”

 

“The officers were allowed to escape and the boys we rescued were either returned home or given a bit of money and a new start.  This continued for a year or more then my wife died and the Rogue went into hiding.”

 

“I heard that he was working in the Orient.”

 

“A rumor some of my men planted to throw suspicion away.”

 

“Why did the Rogue return?”

 

“Even though officially the practice of impressment has been discontinued with the end of the war, my godson was taken from an American ship.  I went in search of Will, determined to succeed this time.  The design of the Spirit is similar to the reports we had of the ship that took Will.  We had intelligence that the ship might be in that particular area and my lookout made a mistake.  I couldn’t risk you warning my target so we shipwrecked you, damaging the ship just enough to delay you but not leave you stranded indefinitely.”

 

“You took the countess.”

 

“I didn’t know how badly she was hurt.  I couldn’t leave her on the island with all of you so I took Kristin and Katie on board my ship.”

 

John’s eyes darted to Kristin’s belly again.

 

“Nathan was a gentleman, John.  He didn’t force me into any kind of relationship.  We spent time together and gradually I came to realize that there was more to the man than the pirate façade.  We fell in love and once Nathan had rescued his godson we returned to his home and married.  We didn’t know about the child then.”

 

John’s shoulders slumped and he seemed to age before Kristin’s eyes.  “So you are telling me that the dread pirate rogue is actually a law abiding upstanding citizen?  He isn’t a thief or a murderer?”

 

“No, John.  Nathan is my husband and the father of my child.  The Blue Rogue is dead, killed by the British navy if you listen to rumour.  Can’t we leave him there?”

 

“He attacked British ships.  I just don’t know if I can let that go.”

“John…” Kristin waved aside Nathan’s murmured protest.  “There is a bit more to the story that you should know.  There was another pirate who attacked Nathan’s ship and took me away.  Nathan wouldn’t let me go alone.  He rescued me from that pirate and then sent me back to England to protect me while he hunted the bastard down.”

 

“Why did he think the pirate would chase you?  For ransom?  They may have been in on it together.”

 

“The pirate was obsessed with me, John.  He was plagued with… fantasies about a woman he had seen in a small portrait… the miniature of me that Oliver carried in his watch.  I found the watch and I found James’ signet ring.  It was Oliver’s ship, John.”

 

Nathan watched as John’s mouth slowly dropped open and his shoulders began to shake.  Kristin moved to embrace the old man loosely.

 

“He won’t ever bother me again, John.  Nathan found Zellar’s hideout and went after him.  A joint Anglo-American naval tribunal tried Zellar, found him guilty and hanged him for piracy and desertion.”

 

John lifted his head to stare at Nathan.  “He swung?  You saw this yourself?”

 

Nathan shook his head.  “I didn’t.  I was unconscious from a saber wound that Zellar managed to inflict.  But people that I would trust with my life… with the lives of my wife and child… they saw him swing.”

 

John broke from Kristin and moved to stare out the small window toward the sea.  After a few minutes silence he nodded his head sharply and turned toward the couple.  “Captain Bridger, I believe you said… I am very happy to meet you, sir.”  John offered his hand to Nathan.   “May I offer my congratulations on your marriage?  I am sure you are anxious to inspect the repairs that we’ve completed on your ship and see your crew so if you would follow me…”

 

“I don’t understand.” Nathan whispered as Kristin slipped her hand through his arm and they moved slowly after Peterson.  “He was ready to turn me in and now… is he still going to or was he putting on a show.”

 

“John won’t turn you in, Nathan, not now.  Do you remember when I told you about Oliver and James’ death?  That I knew what had happened because a single crew member managed to escape and bring me back the news?”

 

“That crewman…”

 

“Was John Peterson.”

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

“We are definitely going to need some chairs with better padding,” Kristin muttered as she tried to make herself comfortable on the small chair behind Nathan’s desk.  She dropped her chin to her hands as she listened to Nathan and John drone on about the repairs that had been made to the ship.  She had to hand it to John; when he gave up his anger at Nathan he did so completely and without looking back.  The two men were talking as if they had been mates for years.

 

Kristin grimaced as the baby landed a solid kick against her lower abdomen.  Nathan turned to her immediately, sensing her discomfort before the sharp gasp had a chance to escape her lips.  He cut off his conversation with John and moved to her side instantly, dropping to his knees to rest a hand on her belly.

 

“Are you okay, my love?”

 

Kristin’s teeth were biting into her lower lip as the sharp kicks continued, the child seeming to flail all of his limbs at once.

 

She nodded.  “Your child is practicing his ballroom moves… OUCH!”

 

Nathan smoothed both hands over her gravid abdomen; fingers splayed wide as he bent over and began talking in a low voice.  “You need to play a little more carefully, princess.  You are hurting your mama.”  His fingertips massaged gently.  “Kicking is okay because we know that you are cooped up in there and the space is only getting smaller but be a bit more gentle.  Can you do that for your mama and your daddy?”

 

Kristin smiled as the pressure inside her abdomen lessened.  “Thank you, my love.”  The couple shared a loving look, so caught up in each other that they didn’t notice Peterson staring at them.

 

“She’s settled down now.” Kristin finally whispered.  With a nod Nathan rose and turned back to find John watching with a bemused look on his weathered face. 

 

“So it’s a girl is it?”

 

“Nathan certainly seems to think so.” Kristin laughed as she grasped Nathan’s arm and levered up.  “Before we set sail we need to have a few items of furniture brought from the house.”

 

“When would you like to sail?” John asked.  “Your note wasn’t specific but I’ve had everything made as ready as possible so final preparations shouldn’t take too long.”

 

“We need to get underway as soon as possible.  My wife is determined that our child be born in a warmer climate.”

 

“So you will be away for quite some time?”

 

“For several months at least… maybe until the summer.  Is that going to be a problem?”

 

“No…” John hesitated. “I just… you know that the wife and I have been talking about cutting back on the work, spending more time with the grandchildren.  You’ve been so generous with me that we can afford to retire but neither Violet or I want to leave you in an awkward position…”

 

Kristin smiled.  “I appreciate that John but you and Violet deserve this time.  You’ve given so much of yourselves to Cynthia and I over the last twenty years.  If you want to leave now we would certainly understand but if you were willing to wait a bit longer…”

 

“Mrs. Peterson and I are here for you as long as you need us.”

 

“A young man will be arriving in a few days… Katherine Hitchcock’s new husband.”

 

“One of your lot?”  John asked Nathan.

 

“The one who dragged Katie kicking and screaming from below deck and contributed to Kristin’s mishap.”

 

“My mishap?” Kristin’s eyes flared at her husband but when she saw the gleam of amusement in his eye she backed down.  “Later…” she told him quietly with narrowed eyes then continued speaking with Peterson.

 

“Ben has a good head for business and we trust him so Nathan and I thought that perhaps you might be willing to take him on as a trainee… teach him about the business.  That way you would be free to retire if you chose to do so or to take more time off.”

 

“I have a rather extensive transport business and we could do with a base here.  Ben would oversee that aspect of my business as well.”

 

John lifted his hand and stroked his chin.  “He’s a trustworthy lad, you say?”

 

“I want you to understand that this is in no way an attempt to replace you.  You are in charge here as long as you want to be.  I just want you to feel like you can take time off when you want to.”

 

“If the two of you think so highly of the boy I will give him a chance.  But if he doesn’t prove himself… out he goes.”

 

“Agreed.” Nathan answered and shook John’s hand once again.  “Ben and Katie should be arriving in a week or two.  They will be staying up at the house until they decide whether they want to stay in one of the cottages or build their own home but he understands that when it comes to the shipyard your word is law.”

 

“Ooh…” Kristin bent as her hands clutched her belly.  “That didn’t last long.”

 

Nathan’s hand joined hers.  “She is getting stubborn as she grows.”

 

“Hello…” came a call from the deck.  “Is anyone hungry?”

 

Violet Peterson appeared at the door with a large hamper and Kristin broke into a grin.  “That’s it!  She’s hungry!  She sensed that you were coming with lunch!  I hope that you brought lemon curd.”

 

“I have a lovely pot of it just for you, milady.”

 

“Why don’t we spread the food out here in the office?  We can have a nice little picnic and be protected from the wind as well.” Nathan offered.

 

“That sounds wonderful.” Kristin replied, anxious to get her fingers into the jar of curd.  “The two of you are joining us, of course.”

 

After initial declining the invitation the Peterson’s gave in to Nathan and Kristin’s pleas and they settled down on a blanket on the floor of Nathan’s office to dine on bread and cheese with ham and sausage… and lemon curd.

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

“So the princess has settled down for her afternoon nap?” Nathan asked as he and Kristin strolled along the rocky shoreline that led away from the main yard.

 

“Mmhmm… I guess she was trying to tell me that she wanted something to eat.  I swear sometimes it feels like this baby has eight limbs instead of four.  I don’t know how she manages to poke me in so many places at once.”

 

“I can’t believe that in a few more months we are going to have a tiny little baby to love.  Well… that she will be here.  I already love her… almost as much as I love her mama.”

 

“I feel the same way… about our baby and her papa.”  Kristin tilted her lips up to Nathan’s for a sweet kiss.  “And in a few days we will be headed for home.”

 

Nathan’s brow furrowed.  “I want you to spend as much of that time resting as you possibly can.  We are going to do everything we can to make you comfortable on the seaQuest but it won’t be the same as being here in your fine home.  Even my island home will seem small and rustic compared to your homes.”

 

“Our island home will be wonderful because we will be in it together… with our baby… with all of our children.”

 

“We’ll have to spend some time in Boston.  I have extremely efficient managers for the business there but I do need to check on it occasionally.”

 

“Then we will go to Boston.  You realize that our baby will have made two major sea voyages before being born?  Our princess had better be a good traveler.”

 

“How could she not be with the two of us as parents?”  Nathan paused and pulled Kristin into his arms.  “I love you, my wife.”  He bent to capture her lips, his tongue delving deep into her warmth to tangle with hers.

 

A sudden spray of cold water falling over them quickly dampened their ardor.

 

“What the hell?” Nathan swore as he pulled back and scanned the water.  “My God… I don’t believe it!”

 

“What?” Kristin turned in his arms.  Her laughter joined Nathan’s as they stood and stared at the dolphin in the water, mouth open and head bobbing up and down as if he was laughing at them.

 

“Darwin?  How did you get here?  This is too far north for you.” Nathan waded into the water, mindless of the cold, to rub his friend’s melon.

 

The dolphin chattered away aimlessly and Nathan nodded a time or two as if he understood every click and whistle.

 

“Having Darwin show up is great!  I can send a message to Scott with him so the Wayfarer will arrive that much sooner.”

 

“But how will Darwin know how to find the Wayfarer?”

 

Nathan shrugged.  “How did he know to find us here?  I can’t explain it.  I just know that when I am thinking about him… when I need him, he always turns up.”  He turned back to the dolphin and rubbed his snout again.  “You stay around here, Darwin.  Tomorrow I’ll bring you a message.”

 

Darwin nodded then turned and swam away, pausing only to lift his tail up and splash it down one more time.

 

“Nathan, come out of the water!” Kristin demanded as the spray rained over her once more, reminding her of the frigid temperature.  “You’ll catch cold.”

 

“Sailors are made of hearty stock.” He told her as he tramped through the rippling water.

 

Kristin eyed the wet fabric clinging to his hips and thighs.  “But they can still catch fevers.  We need to get you back to the house so that you can warm up.”

 

Nathan waggled his eyebrows at her.  “Only if you promise to help.”

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

“Are you sure?  This is the last chance you have to change your mind.”

 

“I am sure.  It is time for us to return home.” Kristin answered her husband with no trace of hesitation in her voice.

 

“All the last minute details taken care of?”

 

“I’ve posted notes to everyone including one advising Ben and Katie of his new status here.  Father is making arrangements for my man of business to continue paying the salaries of the staff.  I’ve had a comfortable chair installed in our cabin. We are packed and our luggage has been loaded.  What have I forgotten?”

 

“I can’t think of a thing.” Nathan smiled at his wife then turned to the people standing a few feet behind them.  “She’s ready to go.”

 

Raleigh nodded and Bess grinned.  “It’s about time.  Your family is gonna be expanding before long no matter where you are.”

 

“Hush, old woman.” Raleigh took Bess by the arm and guided her up the gangplank.

 

That left the Petersons.  Kristin moved into Violet’s outstretched arms.  “You take care, child.  And come home to us soon.  We look forward to meeting this baby.”

 

Kristin nodded and brushed away a tear then moved to embrace John.  When they parted he and Nathan shook hands vigorously.

 

“If you have any problems, any problems at all, you may act with both my and Kristin’s full authority.  Ben should be here within the week.  Don’t hesitate to work the boy.  He may have a cocky attitude sometimes but beneath he has a heart of gold and he is a good worker.”

 

Peterson nodded.  “You take care of your wife, Captain.  She is very precious to us.”

 

With one last smile to the elderly couple, Nathan and Kristin turned and boarded the ship.

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

Nathan smiled at the image before him; a beautiful woman with long auburn curls standing in the bow of the boat as it cut swiftly through the harbour; enjoying the salty breeze blowing around her.  She stood there for long moments, her waist length hair blowing around her face and shoulders in a fiery cloud, enjoying the warmth of the sun beating down on her.

 

‘What am I doing up here?’  He thought to himself then glanced around.  “Shan!”

 

Shan turned around at the call of his name.  “Yes, Captain?”

 

“Would you mind taking the wheel?”

 

“Sir?”

 

“Take the wheel… steer the seaQuest out of the harbour for me if you would.”

 

“But I… that is something you usually prefer to do that yourself.”

 

“I know it is,” Nathan said with a grin as he glanced toward the bow of the ship.  “However in this case… there is something I would prefer to do more.”

 

William Shan followed his captain’s gaze and smiled.  “I understand, sir, and I would be happy to take the seaQuest out for you.”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Shan,” Bridger gave his young crewman a smile.  “I appreciate it.”

 

“Not a problem, sir.”  Shan nodded then watched as his captain quickly made his way to the bow of the ship and the woman standing there.

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

Kristin smiled as she sensed her husband approach then sighed happily when she felt his arms slide around her waist and pull her back against his chest.

 

“Mmm… I was wondering when you were going to join me,” she told him in a soft voice as she covered his hands with hers.

 

“I was watching you…”

 

“I know.  I could feel your eyes on me.”

 

Nathan smiled against her temple.  “My eyes are always on you… I love to look at you, to watch you.  You are the most beautiful… most sensual woman I have ever known…”

 

Kristin blushed and flexed her fingers above his on her belly.  “Not right now I’m not.”

 

“Oh yes… right now too.  Especially right now,” Nathan said and caressed the swell of her abdomen where their child was cocooned.  “I have told you before, never doubt that seeing you heavy with our child is very attractive to me.”

 

Kristin chuckled and shook her head.  “You have taken leave of your senses, Captain Bridger…”

 

“I took leave of my senses the moment I set foot on the Spirit all those months ago,” Nathan told her.  “And came face to face with you… your sable eyes flashing with indignation… I love how you stood up to me.”

 

“I was so afraid that you would see how terrified I was…” Kristin admitted.

 

“I didn’t realize it then… but I wanted nothing more than to sweep you up into my arms, carry you back to my ship… to my cabin and make mad passionate love to you.”

 

“You did… it took us a few weeks to get to the mad passionate love part… but you certainly did do that.”

 

Nathan chuckled and rested his chin on her shoulder as he began to move his hands over her belly.  “How is the princess doing?  No sea sickness?”

 

“Our son is doing very well,” Kristin answered with a smile.  “No sea sickness at all.  I think he’s going to be a sailor like his father.”

 

“Or like her mother,” Nathan smiled.  “For you are every bit as much a sailor as I am, my love.”

 

Kristin laid her head back on his shoulder and relaxed deeper into his embrace as the boat glided free of the harbour and entered open sea.  They watched as a pod of dolphins swam ahead of the seaQuest; the sleek silver forms diving in and out of the waves.

 

“Look…” Nathan pointed ahead of them.  “See that one there…”

 

“Yes.”

 

“That’s Darwin.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“I just do.”

 

Kristin smiled and closed her eyes, enjoying the mist spraying on her face.  “Mmm…” she moaned softly when she felt Nathan’s lips move against her neck, his tongue darting out to flick against her salty skin.

 

“I love the taste of the sea on your skin,” Nathan murmured as he continued to kiss and lick her throat.

 

“Nathan…”

 

“I also love the smell of the sea on you…” Nathan told her as he kissed his way up to her earlobe,  “it’s a very intoxicating combination.  It assaults my senses like no other scent ever has or ever will again…”

 

“…Nath…”

 

“I remember that first day… you were chained to my bed,” his lips moved to the sensitive spot just behind her ear.  “I wanted you then… the moment I walked into my cabin and saw you… my body wound itself so tight…”

 

“You were angry…”

 

“I was aroused… I may not have realized it… brushed it aside as merely being anger… but I was aroused,” Nathan said as he pulled her earlobe into his mouth.  “And it scared the hell out of me.”

 

“It did?”  Kristin asked in surprise.

 

“Yes…”

 

“Why?”

 

Nathan’s voice was almost a whisper as he answered.  “It scared me because… I had never reacted that way to a woman before.  The desire I felt for you overwhelmed me beyond anything I had ever felt.”

 

“I… I felt the same way,” Kristin admitted.  “I had never… those feelings, that delicious ache… it was all so new…”

 

Nathan smiled as he remembered Kristin’s unschooled, uninhibited responses to his touch.  “I remember…” he said as he slid his hands up to cup her breasts; gently massaging the generous mounds for several moments before he returned his hands to her gravid stomach.  “I remember.”

 

“I know I have said this before,” Kristin said as she once again entwined her fingers with his,  “But I am so thankful… that you boarded my ship that day…”

 

“So am I, my love… so am I,” Nathan replied as he rested his head against hers, his chin propped up on her shoulder.  “There are no words that can express how happy you have made me… how grateful I am to have you as a part of my life.  Eight months ago, I was alone… once again angry at the world… and now…” he pulled her back against him.  “Now my life is fuller than it has ever been.”

 

“I have you… my beautiful, intelligent wife whom I love more than life itself.  And together we’ve created this little one,” he flexed his fingers against her belly.  “We have a teenage son of whom I am already so proud of… although if he keeps interrupting us…”

 

“Nathan!”

 

Nathan chuckled.  “And then there is Cynthia… my new daughter.  As beautiful as her mother and just as smart, who with her marriage to Will… has brought Janet and Bill even deeper into our family, cemented those familial bonds that were already in my heart… and in yours… I…” he shook his head, unable to continue.

 

“We truly have been blessed,” Kristin said.

 

“Yes we have.”

 

They let their gazes drift out over the never-ending ocean stretching before them as they fell into yet another comfortable silence.  The cool ocean breeze blew over them and Kristin snuggled deeper into Nathan’s embrace.

 

“Would you like to go below?”

 

“Not yet…” Kristin shook her head.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yes.  If that is all right with you.”

 

Nathan nodded against her shoulder.  “Whatever my lady wants…”

 

Kristin smiled and tilted her head back to look at him.  “And what is my pirate’s pleasure?”

 

“You,” Nathan answered as he brushed his lips over hers.  “Only and always you…”

  

~The End

 

~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

 

Notes: 

 

Excerpts of story Lucas reads is from “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift.

 

‘Good bye, Fare thee well’ by Zawisza Czarny.

 

Nathan and Kristin’s wedding ceremony taken/paraphrased from “The Anglican Book of Common Prayer” found here: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/compraym.html

 

Did you catch it?  Kris is pregnant with twins.

 

‘A Wayward Trance’ by Peter J. Billing

 

‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ & ‘Love’ by Coleridge.

 

‘She walks in Beauty’ by Byron

 

  ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~

 

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