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Tracey Amey

He felt a gentle, slow pull and his shirt was free. Skye stood directly in front of him, rooted to the ground, silent and staring. Her eyes skimmed over his body, halting on his many scars, souvenirs from the War. His skin prickled under her scrutiny. He was a wreck. He knew it, lived with it. But someone else, someone who knew him before the war, to see how damaged he was? He wasn’t ready for that.

He clamped his teeth together and swallowed the bitterness in his mouth. He willed her gaze to meet his. “Something wrong?”

“No,” she protested, too quickly. Her hands clenched the folds of his shirt tightly. A faint pink colored her cheek and she lowered her eyes. “No. I, uh—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

Realization caught him off guard like a shot of cheap whiskey. She was blushing. Lady Skye St. Vir hadn’t been put off by his scars at all. She had been staring at something else altogether.

His jaw relaxed; he grinned widely. To be fair, bashfulness wasn’t the usual reaction he got when he took his clothes off in front of a woman, but Skye was no jaded barmaid from the docks. “You’ve never seen a man with his shirt off?”

Her head snapped up. “Of course I have.”

“Your brother doesn’t count.”

She held his gaze and met his teasing with a cool expression. The pink in her cheeks faded. She didn’t assume a maidenly countenance and cast her glance away. Not Skye. Her eyes held a brazen challenge. Apparently, she’d taken his earlier words about fear and defiance to heart.

His eyes locked on hers and his own smile faded. Damn if her expression didn’t stir a part of him to make its own bold stand in response.

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