Arabella raced into the house, her main concern was Ethan. Passing the Marquis’ rooms for her own, she quickly shed the ball gown but left the undergarments on, and throwing on her robe, she grabbed her medical satchel. She opened the dressing closet door and took the back way to his room.
Ethan sat on edge of the bed. His trousers were unbuttoned, the shirt, jacket and waistcoat had been hung across the chair. His movements so sluggish at taking his shoes off, she figured Malik must have assisted in the earlier part.
“I can’t seem to get them off,” he muttered as she pulled the dress shoe off and then peeled the stocking down, throwing it to the side.
His voice sounded strained. A fast glance showed her the hard news. The pupils were constricted and his skin was pale. Fever.
“Ethan,” she called as his eyes began to shut. Panic flooded into her. “Ethan!”
“Um?” he murmured.
“I need to get these pants off of you.”
“Oh honey, so glad—”
She went to the table and prepared a glass of willow bark.
“No, keep that vile stuff away from me,” he bellowed, grimacing at the sight.
“Ethan,” she coaxed softly. “It will ease the pain.”
“I do not wish to take any more laudanum.”
“Shhh,” she continued. “It’s not.”
He swallowed a sip and fell back onto the pillows. “Yes, Ari.” But even as he whispered it, his eyes shut.
She looked at his wounds carefully. The gash on his side was warm. The one on his thigh swollen and warm. He stood too long and she did wonder how he had managed to do so. He presented himself as the relaxed, seductive nobleman, not a wounded victim of a severe beating.
She reached for the bed sheet and pulled it up to cover him but stopped. With no one present to catch her, she couldn’t help but admire his body once more.
As her view dropped to his groin, she saw the jagged scar within inches of his cock. A nasty mark not made by a whip but a knife. She tilted her head, trying to get a better view of it when there was a movement. His cock twitched. The veined aroused appendage had not diminished. A flush of heat washed through her and she quickly glanced at him to see if he was watching her. Relaxing when she found his eyes still shut and his breathing even, she couldn’t help but return to hardened member. In all the years of being with her father, she had never seen a man’s appendage in this state. It looked too large to go where it needed to be for copulation, but it somehow did. She shivered. The vein on the side pulsed and the entire organ flinched. She pulled her head back, surprised. It was like it had a life of its own.
One more glance up at Ethan’s face, and Arabella discovered his hooded gaze. Heat pooled in her lower stomach and she shifted slightly. His smoldering gaze burned right into her. Her breasts tingled, her nipples reacting to the abrasive cotton of her chemise. Every fiber of her tensed, begging release of this torment of which he was the cure.
“You scared me,” she said quickly and dropped the sheet over him.
His jaw flicked as the sheet touched him. Then, he gave her a crooked grin. She could see his eyes better and the pupils were no longer constricted.
“Curious?” He graveled. His voice hit a nerve in her, causing her body to hum with excitement.
“I needed to check on your wounds,” she answered, tucking the sheet down.
“Be careful, sweeting,” he cautioned when she was at his waist.
She glanced at his groin and saw the sheet tented over it. “Oh, dear, yes,” came her rapid reply.
“Your medical knowledge is somewhat lacking in that area,” he murmured with a seductive tone. “Would you like to learn, Ari?” The question was heavy, weighted with innuendos and her hands fluttered around the mattress, avoiding him.
“I believe this isn’t a proper issue for discussion, my lord.”
He laughed. “That is one of the many reasons why my ladies do so well,” he declared. “They are no longer fraught with inhibition. Would you like to be free of such restraints, Ari?”
She swallowed. The room was getting too warm and smelled of him–of a virile man. She took a step back.
“You have many scars, my lord.” It was easier to retreat to a neutral discussion. “I’m interested to hear why.”
The topic instantly deflated him, peaking her curiosity that much more. His heated gaze cooled instantly.
“They are old, that is sufficient.”
“But they bother you,” she cajoled.
His eyes turned cold and flat. “They go back to Arabia.” His hardened gaze locked onto her. “When I was a slave.”
She furrowed her brows. “How does a nobleman, like yourself, become a slave?”
He exhaled loudly and his mouth thinned. “It’s a long story.”
Arabella seized on the chance and promptly sat in the chair next to the bed.
Ethan stared into blank space. Slavery. Oh yes, it was very possible to be a nobleman and snared in the trap of slavery. His sexual desire fled at the topic. But perhaps, it might make his role as a male courtesan now not such as damning offense if she knew.