6 - Breaking the News

2K 194 22

Ayla sprinted out of the keep and straight into Reuben's waiting arms. In a delectably unladylike move, she wrapped her legs around his armored waist and pressed her lips against his with every ounce of passion they had missed in the past couple of months.

"I thought you weren't coming back," she whispered between kisses, not seeming to care about the small audience they had gathered.

He set her on the ground and wiped her tears away with his thumb. He kissed her again, this time slower and more deliberately. His kisses traveled across her cheek and to her ear, where he mumbled against her skin, "I'll always come back. Where else am I going to find a woman like you?" Her skin heated up under his lips. Twelve years of marriage hadn't done a thing to cool the passion. "Fye thinks you're pregnant again."

"Fye? Fye!" Ayla tried to step back from him, but Reuben's arms held her fast. "Let me go!"

"Never." He leaned in to kiss her again. He could ask her again later if she was pregnant. Oh, speaking of little brats... He released Ayla so he could greet his other female admirers. "Arabella," he said, smiling at his oldest daughter, an eleven-year-old who was too beautiful for her own good. They were all too beautiful. Ayla should have made uglier children.

Arabella hugged him with one arm because her other arm held Alys, Reuben and Ayla's one-year-old daughter. "Missed you, father," Arabella said. She seemed...not happy to see him? Hmm. Had he done something wrong? Maybe she had seen him threatening to torture the little boy who had been making eyes at her lately.

"I missed you, too," he said as he kissed the top of her head and took Alys from her.

"Ba!" Alys exclaimed.

"Yes, certainly," Reuben said. "You'll be cursing quite well in no time. And Kaylin, how are you?" he asked of his middle daughter, the six-year-old. She sported a bruise on one of her cheeks. "Tell me who did that to you, and I'll hang up upside down by his little toes."

"I fell!" she said and laughed as if nothing could be more amusing. She raced into his waiting arm, and he scooped her up so he had Alys in one arm and Kaylin in the other. "I fell, and guess what? Guess what?"

"What? I'm dying to know."

"I got owies on my hands? See? There, and there."

"No. They're not big enough. You'll never get a decent scar if you—"

"Reuben!" Ayla's voice cut him off.

"We'll talk about this later," Reuben said as he set Kaylin down and turned to face the fiery sapphire eyes of his wife. "What? If she gets a few good scars, she might be ugly enough that no man will want her. Hey. There's an idea for Fye." He looked at Fye, who stood watching him with his family with this expression on her face... the same expression all the men under his command pretended not to be capable of making whenever Reuben was with his girls. But he knew. They thought it was "cute," and it did nothing good whatsoever for his reputation. "Scars," Reuben said. "A couple of them on your face, and we—"

"What happened?" Ayla asked, worrying sparkling in her precious eyes. "Captain Linhart got back just yesterday, and he said..."

Well, he would have to tell her sooner or later. "We're not going to war," Reuben said.

"Oh, thank God!"

"God had nothing to do with it. And don't sound so relieved. I was hoping for a nice bloody battle. Let's go inside and I'll tell you all the boring details if you insist."

"Can I come?" Kaylin asked.

"You'll hear all about it after your mother is done yelling at me. Take Alys. I'll come play with you later."

The Robber Knight's ProtegeRead this story for FREE!