On second thought, though unadorned in the strictest sense, his prisoner in no way lacked for decoration. Nature had gifted her. Even under the caked mud, her face showed the promise of comeliness. Fine bones called her pretty. Her cheeks, smooth and rounded, and set high under a slanted eye socket, gave her countenance a wild foreign look...a mysterious, exotic look.

To think she had tried to outrun him!

And she had almost succeeded.

The crafty lass possessed the light-footed nimbleness of a feral cat. Still, the uneven ground had tripped her up, and she stumbled to hands and knees, her nicely round bottom elevated in the air.

At that exact moment, his attention had stirred. Undaunted, his fey quarry had risen, and he had risen too, his loins unexpectedly hardening.

He hardly believed his eyes when she had gotten up and literally heaved herself into the water. Strength. Bold determination. Reckless valor. The will to survive. The lass possessed the essential attributes of a warrior.

And none of the qualities he admired in a woman.

Yet, shamefully, waves of heat suffused his body. And for the first time in his life, fever won out over self-discipline, lust triumphed over principles, control gave way to desire, and seemingly of their own volition, his fingers caressed her cheek, his thumb moving over her full, pink, lush, moist mouth.

"Mmm," his prisoner murmured in her sleep. The tip of her tongue delicately met his finger pad. "Oh, aye."

He raised a brow. "You like that, do you?"

Eyes closed, she smiled.

What else does she like?

Sage blinked in consternation. Of a sudden, his long-held celibacy felt like a caul wrapped tight around his burgeoning manhood. His body's response was unsolicited, unwelcome, and completely unwarranted, considering the size of the baggage causing the ache, for after measuring her from hair-rail to mud-encrusted boots, he pronounced the journey long and uninspiring, a trip that covered extraordinarily flat terrain. Why, Her Muddiness was arrow narrow, as straight up and down as a lad.

With the exception of her round derriere, an interesting bump in an otherwise uninspired landscape, and one he already noted.

Holding his breath, lest he inhale too much of her low-tide perfume, Sage settled the forbidden fruit away from his caged urgency.

"Wake up," he commanded.

The dameisele moaned. The dameisele groaned. The dameisele did not awaken.

Sage shifted in the saddle. Not exactly a squirm, but close. Gritting his teeth against the fiery surge of lust, he gave her a firm, no-nonsense shake. "Awaken, I say!"

"Do you rape me now or later?"

Her voice! Soft and throaty. A carnal timbre best suited to the bedchamber. Easy to imagine her calling out to a lover from a tussled bed of wolf pelts, her pale skin bared save for a rosy blush of pleasure, as she found her release.

And her hair! When loosened, the wealth would most certainly fall past her slim hips to fan her bottom. A round, fetching bottom to be sure, despite her lad's narrowness. Ahem.

In his mind's eye, he saw her glide downward onto the furs and sink to her knees, then to her belly, ere hiking herself up onto all fours. Like a tame deer, she raised her hips for him. High. Nay, higher! All the way up, little doe! Until her soft, round buttocks cradled the hard lance of his cock.

She would whisper to him then, the intimate phrases of lovers. Honeyed coupling words. Provocative mating words. Ribald and passionate poetry used to persuade, used to entice, used not for the benefit of seducing that corrupt boil LaTourne but...but...him. Geoffrey de Sage.

Why her?

Why now?