Raven handed it to her, bundled in a bag he’d found in the bath house. “My thanks, Samantha.”
“When you’re ready, I can show you to your room.”
“Thank you.” He finished dressing with Samantha watching his every move.
She led him to a cozy room, the bed comfortable. The only thing missing was a lovely companion, but Raven made no move in that direction. He could tell that Samantha wasn’t the type of woman to casually warm his bed. He’d known doxies and whores aplenty, to recognize the difference. Though she wasn’t a lady of refinement, she was surely ladylike.
“Your clothing will be brought back after midday tomorrow, if that suits.”
“That suits well. I have these fine garments from Myra.”
“And me. I did the embroidery on your shirt.”
Raven touched the neat stitches, admiring them. “You do fine work, Miss Sam.”
“Thank you, Mr. Willoughby.”
“You are most welcome.”
“I’ll bid you goodnight, then.”
“Goodnight.” He couldn’t resist kissing her work worn hand.
Samantha blushed and scurried off. Raven closed the door, dropping the latch in place. Stripping to his under garments, he turned down the lamp and went to bed. It had been a long time since he’d slept so comfortably. Letting his guard down, he drifted off.
Movement in the room, woke him. Lying still, he listened as someone walked about. His eyesight, that of a night predator, saw the form easily, picking out details. Dressed in black britches and shirt, a dark cap pulled low over hair and brow, the intruder searched his bag with stealth born of long practice. Attention fully on the bag of Raven’s belongings, no notice was spared for the man himself.
Keeping his breathing deep and regular, Raven slid silently to the floor. Creeping up behind the thief, he grasped from behind, pulling the tall, lean body against his.
“I know I didn’t invite you in for a visit,” he murmured, his voice low and lethal. “So, if you’d put my things back, I won’t have to kill you.”
The thief trembled from head to foot. Raven’s fangs descended, slipping from his gums to touch his lower lip. Fear smelled delicious on this one, spicy, hot—female.
“I can do more than just kill you, lass. Or hadn’t you thought that through?”
“I’ll scream,” she whispered.
“Please, do that. How will you explain your presence, and interesting manner of dress?”
She opened her mouth, inhaling deeply, but his teeth raked softly on the skin of her throat. She shuddered, for a different reason entirely.
“What made you think I’d be an easy mark? Hm? Or do you visit all the rooms, hoping for chance?”
“Only the wealthy take these rooms,” she replied tersely. “I saw in the tap room, you had a full purse.”
“And you thought I’d wish to part with it? I’m flattered. Put it back. All of it. Or death will be the kindest thing you face.”
“You won’t kill me. Place like this, someone would hear.”
“No one said it would be here that I killed you. Back. All of it.” He released her enough for her to empty her pockets. A swift frisking assured him she had put it all back—except….”
“The locket too.”
“Sentimental?” she handed it to him.
“Something like that.” He snatched it from her, embracing her once more. “Don’t even think about it,” he cautioned as she tried to reach for his things.
Changing tactics, she turned to face him, her hands busy on his body, enticing and exciting him. His painful grip on her questing fingers, convinced her to stop.
“I’m not so easily distracted by your charms—nor as enamored by your scent—to fall for that. You don’t interest me.”
“Your manliness betrays you, milord.” She tried to wiggle free.
“If a man is touched there, expect a response in kind. But I have no passion for you. However, if you persist, I will relieve myself, to your dismay.”
“Are you poxed? Deformed?”
Raven’s deep throated chuckle was his only reply. The thief quit struggling.
“If you leave, with none of my possessions, I won’t call the Watch. Should you still be here come daylight, or you take my things, I’ll find you and you will pay. I don’t think you’ll much like the form of my retribution.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Like calls to like—we are predators, and must stick together.”
She eased away, unbelieving. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me, leave. I have a limit to my forbearance. You’ve reached it.”
The thief eased toward the window. Raven opened it for her, giving her a hand out.
©2021 Dellani Oakes