Rhys watched as Caden selected clothes from one of the trunks, lit the second lamp, and then stepped behind the curtain in the corner of the cabin to clean up and change. While he changed, Rhys rubbed the lingering soreness from his leg and walked around the cabin, grateful that the sharp, searing pain from the day before had faded into something manageable.
It shocked him that Caden had yet to ask about his limp or even make a comment regarding it. Rhys was sure it would happen sooner rather than later. He vowed not to be caught off guard by it and to swiftly put Caden in his place when it came, though a part of him really wished that Caden would just get it over with. It was too easy to be lulled into a false sense of contentment by Caden’s obedience and fear; in fact, it angered Rhys a little that Caden’s obedience seemed to come without resistance to any of Rhys’ commands. He’d expected more of a fight from Caden to establish who would be the dominant one in their relationship; that Caden seemed to have no wish to fight just made Rhys want to push to see what he could do to change that.
Rhys thought back to the comment he’d made about Caden’s father the night before and Caden’s silent acceptance of it and soft explanation. It was quite clear that insulting his family would not provoke Caden, nor did it seem like Rhys’ own temper could get a rise out of him. So then, what would? Was there anything that Caden cared about enough to fight with him over?
Rhys glanced at the screen blocking his view of the corner where Caden was changing, and his hands itched to pull it down. He wanted to see everything his husband had to offer. He wanted to grab him and haul him close, to feel all that muscle against him and see if that wouldn’t get Caden to struggle, if only just a little. Did he have it in him to be a wild and passionate lover, or would he lie in the bed and passively allow Rhys to do whatever he pleased to him?
Though the thought of that was enough to bring several ideas to Rhys’ mind that were not really what he wanted at all. He wanted someone with spirit, someone he could bend but not break. Rhys thought about the way Caden had remained kneeling in the center of the bed, head down, when Rhys had made the comment about throwing him overboard. It seemed to Rhys that Caden was already broken. It was a shame, but then, when had he ever gotten what he’d truly wanted?
Rhys let out a frustrated sigh and shoved his fingers through his hair, pushing the strands back. He was hungry, and Caden seemed to be taking forever just to get ready, and damn it all....
Just when Rhys had been about to bellow out an order for Caden to hurry the hell up, Caden stepped out with his long hair tied back, emphasizing his mismatched eyes even more than normal. He wore dark brown pants and a loose-fitting tan shirt, along with a pair of well-worn brown boots, all of which nicely set off his deeply tanned skin. Rhys noted the way Caden had rolled up the sleeves of the shirt so that the ends were stretched tight across his biceps, making him look more like a sailor or a blacksmith than a lord’s son. It made Rhys suddenly remember the question he’d been waking Caden to ask.
“Your hands, how did you get all of those scars?” Rhys asked him, unable to pull his eyes away from his husband. Right now he wasn’t even sure if he cared if Caden lay still beneath him. He just wanted him.
Caden looked down at his hands. “Hunting, trapping, skinning the animals, chopping wood, climbing trees, and messing about in the forge when the old blacksmith had a moment to teach me a thing or two. I never liked to be inside.”
“I guess not,” Rhys agreed as he approached Caden and reached out, grabbing one of his hands. Brutes and Titus both let out low growls that were quickly silenced by Caden with orders for the hounds to sit and stay while Rhys inspected his hand closer.
Caden just looked even more dejected. “I’m sorry if the scars offend you.”
“That’s it!” Rhys exploded, having had just about enough. He pushed Caden against the wall of the cabin and pinned him there so he could glare down into his eyes. Caden glared right back, a flash of anger in his eyes so brilliant that Rhys braced himself for a fight, but none came. The spark faded, leaving Caden’s eyes blank and calm again.
Rhys snarled at that, angered even more. “If you make one more comment about your looks, actions, or appearance offending me in any way I am going to show you what happens when I truly am offended. Do you think I would want some soft, pathetic little lordling with ladies hands and a whining, simpering disposition?”
“I... I don’t know,” Caden admitted.
“Well then let me clear it up for you,” Rhys growled, having seen the spark that had flared up in Caden’s eyes and wanting it back. “I do not!”
When Caden began to lower his head, Rhys shook him, hard, and Caden’s head jerked back up, eyes flashing with anger again. Rhys saw his hands clench into fists and gripped him tighter.
“You want to hit me, don’t you?”
Caden’s jaw clenched, and Rhys could hear his teeth grate together. “Go ahead, admit it. You’re angry right now. You don’t like this, do you?”
Caden made a low, rumbling sound, but didn’t say a word.
“Words,” Rhys reminded, leaning in closer.
“No,” Caden hissed, tensing even as Rhys gripped his arms tighter.
Before Caden could blink, Rhys closed the last of the distance between them and took possession of Caden’s lips with a rough, bruising kiss. Rhys pulled back, heart pounding, upset and frustrated that Caden hadn’t responded.
“Goddammit, don’t tell me you didn’t feel anything from that kiss!” Rhys demanded, but before he could say anything more, Caden gripped Rhys’ shirt and reversed their positions, slamming Rhys against the cabin wall and kissing him with enthusiasm, even if the kiss lacked skill.
By the time Caden broke the kiss and stepped back, both of them were panting wildly, eyes darkened with lust.
“So you do have fire,” Rhys gasped, watching as several emotions flickered in rapid succession across Caden’s face.
“I promised my father I would not do anything to dishonor him or the vows I would be making to you. One of those vows was to obey. Don’t mistake obedience for cowardice, Rhys. I am not a coward, but I prefer not to fight if I don’t have to. You’re in charge, you have made that clear. I will do my best to follow the rules you’ve given me,” Caden breathlessly declared before releasing Rhys and backing away. Without another word, he turned, the hounds on his heels as he headed for the door to the cabin.
Rhys’ jaw dropped, and it took him a moment to fully comprehend Caden’s words. Surprised and excited, he was curious to see what other reactions he could provoke from Caden. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Caden paused and turned to look at Rhys. His husband looked disheveled and more than a little bit unsettled. “To the galley to eat. That is what you woke me for, isn’t it?”