First, Keely had to get rid of her breeches so she could sit down without destroying the chair with muddy water. Then they could focus on her jerkin and the arrow.
“I need you to pull my breeches down,” she prompted. “I can’t do it with one hand. The leather is soaked, and they were already too tight. They’re Alanna’s.”
Tor glanced down at her breeches and then immediately looked away and took a small step back. Damn. He really was honorable. Keely lifted a heavy woolen blanket off the bed and wrapped it over her shoulders to hang down to her knees. She never asked for help. Not unless there was absolutely no other choice, and right now there was no other choice. “I need your help, Tor. I don’t ask often, so make the most of it.”
“Are you sure I’m the best person?” he asked slowly.
No. She was not at all sure. The last man she’d been even partially naked in front of was Niall. And that was ten years ago. But she was too exhausted and too cold to stay as she was, and her shoulder was on fire, her fingers tingling with waves of burning pins and needles. She couldn’t do it alone. “Yes. I’m sure.”
He nodded, once, and then knelt in front of her and helped her out of her boots. She balanced herself on his shoulder with her good hand, and he tucked his thumbs into the waistband of her breeches and tugged.
It was hard work, the tight, wet leather clinging to her cold skin, and she had to shimmy her body to help him pull the breeches down. They stuck, and he grunted as he shifted his thumbs and tried again.
Bard. She wasn’t at all sleepy now. Even with the relentless ache in her shoulder, she was acutely aware of his big hands, the heat of his fingers where they ran down her legs, how close he was to her body.
The breeches suddenly came away, and she stepped out of them, one foot at a time. He stood and lifted the sodden leather away to dry beside the fire, returning as she sank into the comfortable armchair.
“What about your jerkin?” he asked slowly.
There was only one solution. “Cut it off.”
Tor watched her for a moment but then nodded. “Okay.” He pulled out a lethal-looking dagger and began slicing through the laces while she held the blanket swathed around her body and over her chest.
It was a strange kind of dance. Trying to hold the blanket out of the way but at the same time cover herself. All while keeping her injured shoulder still. She was deeply, intensely aware of the closeness between them. Of how big he was, and yet how carefully—tenderly almost—he was helping her.
If he hadn’t been so close, she might have thought he was unaffected. His face was stoic, completely shuttered, and he hadn’t said a word since he’d taken out his knife. But she could see his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. Could feel the way his breath picked up. And she knew that he was as aware of her as she was of him.