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    Preshea’s head popped back up. She pressed her mouth against Gavin’s ear. In front of his valet! Gavin blushed a little, although the situation was entirely of his own making.

    She whispered, “We can test out the beard. Perhaps if I am standing, it will not prickle quite so much?”

    “Thank you, Mawkins, that will be all.”

    “Sir.” Mawkins left promptly. He was grinning like a madman.

    Gavin lifted her and rolled so she rested atop him. Her full length pressed along his. “Love, is it?”

    “Aye.” She mocked his accent and then added, “And?” Her voice almost trembled.

    He could have teased her more, but he never would be the kind of man to let a lady suffer. Especially not this one. “Silly lass. ’Course I love you. Wouldna dare not to.” He liked knowing she could kill him. There was probably something wrong with that, but since her ability wasn’t going away, he’d rather enjoy it than not. He didn’t tell her, though. A surprise for later.

    “I’ve given over assassinations for the time being.”

    “Suit yourself.” He began shifting her up his body, licking down to her breasts and stomach. She tastes like peaches, too.

    “Although I might have agreed to train a friend. We will have to return to London occasionally.”

    “If we must.” He delved lower, and her voice stuttered as her breathing altered. Then he realized what she’d just said. He lifted her back down to sit on his chest. “Train? Train who?”

    “Miss Pagril.”

    “What!”

    “She’ll need it more than most.”

    “She’s only a wee lass.”

    “Exactly.”

    “Weel.” He paused to consider. He supposed it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the young miss had some skill in sneaking about. “I see your point. But could we leave Miss Pagril out of matters for the moment?” His tone was plaintive.

    She laughed, wriggled off him, and jumped out of bed, pulling the long, filmy gown over her head.

    “Come along, then. I believe there was mention of testing the efficaciousness of kneeling, beards, and tongues.”

    She was perfect, and she was waiting for him. So, Gavin went and knelt, presenting the beard and the tongue in equal measure for her assessment.

    Preshea was very exacting, and she did get prickled. Later, much later, he did go find a cooling cloth. At which point she said sleepily that she didn’t mind. And wondered if she would like Scotland.

    Gavin told her she would love it. For Scotland, being both ruthless and beautiful, appreciated both in others.

    She gave a tiny sigh and curled against him. “I do love you. It’s a most peculiar sensation. Not unlike the beard. A great deal of pleasure is to be had, but I know it will likely hurt in the end.”

    “Look at it from my perspective,” he teased.

    “I did. That’s why I stayed away so long. Then I decided it was unfair. I wasn’t allowing you your choice.”

    “Wise lass. I intend to be particularly good at loving you.”

    And he was.

    And Preshea learned to be quite good at loving him, in due time.

    And Gavin never again forgot to shave of an evening.

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