Claire’s still bruised from the thrashing when she allows Jamie back into bed.
He’s trying to be so very careful with her, touching her as though he hadn't actually planned on their flesh meeting in any meaningful way. When it hurts, due to exhaustion, saddle-soreness, and what he inflicted on her, he comforts her with breath-stealing kisses that turn aches into tingles and reduce her bones to honey.
He also almost always prevents himself from instinctively squeezing her bottom; it's as though his hands sense that her rear is on fire and have jerked back out of self-preservation.
Despite how good it is, one of the only reasons she let him into bed was because of the vow he made, that he wouldn’t ever raise his hand to her again in “rebellion or anger.”
Because she trusts him, trusts what the man who had been a virgin on his wedding night said about there being room in their marriage for secrets but not for lies, she trusts herself with him now.
But she hopes he doesn’t notice that when he accidentally grips her bottom on a hard thrust, her gasps are not all of pain. They are initially, but the pain quickly becomes the type of pleasure that makes her heart rise in her throat and drives out thoughts of past future present, leaving only Jamie, from the tips of her curling toes to the last nerve-ending on her scalp.
Yes, it would be best if he didn't realize, at least not yet. Because if he asks whether she is in any way deriving satisfaction from the stripes he left on her bottom, she won’t feel she can lie to him.
It is, after all, still too soon, and their connection too raw, for her to slyly or shyly point out that the vow he made will only result in him being skewered by that dirk if he raises his hand to her in “rebellion,” or “anger.” Unless she’s very much mistaken, he’ll still be able to raise his hand to her for both of their pleasure. Just not until they've worked out a few rules. And not any time soon.