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Diversionary Tactics

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It only happened because Amanda was looking for a distraction and Methos was ignoring her.

“Where do you think he is?” she asked. She paced once more along the line of windows on the east wall and then over to the larger window on the south wall before looping back around to the front door. “He should have called by now.”

“It's too soon, Amanda,” Methos answered, wearily. “Would you please find something to do? You're making it hard to concentrate, and this book is difficult enough to read, as it is.” He was tucked into the bend of the L-shaped sofa that dominated the room, hunched over a book that he'd pulled out of a pocket of his coat within seconds of MacLeod heading out on his latest fool's errand.

“I don't know how you can concentrate at all.” Amanda threw her hands up in exasperation and peeped out the front window one more time. The grass in the empty yard that lay on the other side waved under a soft breeze that had already erased the footprints Mac had left. Pulling the curtain back into place, she crossed the room to see what was so damned interesting about the book that Methos insisted on focusing on it instead of her.

It was a novel. A thick novel, yes, but clearly not a literary classic. It had big print and atrocious formatting. Two, no three typos, jumped out at her on a glance. “What're you reading?”

“One of my students loaned it to me.” Methos flipped the book closed long enough for her to get a glimpse of a red cover with swirls of yellow bisecting it. “It's apparently the latest book fad, and my student swore that I can't possibly understand any of their reference points without reading it.” He sighed and opened back up to his page. “At least it's a quick read.”

Amanda pulled back, not interested in reading over his shoulder after counting no fewer than six places on one page alone where a character breathlessly proclaimed something.

Methos had had his hair cut recently, she noted. The hairline in the back was still sharp, his neck freshly shaved. Right at the edge of the hairline she glimpsed the white divot of a small scar. She touched it, just as her eye found another in the juncture of his neck and shoulder. She'd never noticed scars on him before, not that she'd ever been looking. Idly, she traced a line between the scars. “Did you have smallpox?” she asked. She hadn't seen smallpox scars in so long that she'd forgotten how common they used to be.

He shrugged, a gesture meant to dislodge her touch as much as to provide an answer. “How should I know? It would've happened before my first death.”

That's right. He couldn't remember his mortal life. She'd managed to avoid smallpox, herself, though only in exchange for one of the other virulent plagues that had swept through the pre-modern-medicine world.

Not to be deterred, she sought out another small mark behind his ear. The skin on the back of his neck boasted a tan, probably from all the time he spent similarly hunched over reading in the sunlight. This close, the smattering of scars stood out against that canvas, enticing her to draw her finger between them. “You have a very nice neck,” she murmured.

“It keeps my head attached to my body,” Methos answered. His tone was oddly tight, and Amanda found herself momentarily taken aback before she figured out what she was hearing.

She grinned and leaned closer to breathe a stream of air down the ridges of his spine. He shivered, and she caught a glimpse of his grasp tightening on the book. Well, well. All that reading had to be tough on the body. It was certainly tough on his posture. She stepped back for a moment, assessing her next move, then settled her hands on his shoulders and dug her thumbs into the knots of muscle at the top of his shoulder blades. In her experience, no one ever turned down a free neck rub. Methos was no exception.

His head dropped forward and he let out a low groan. “Amanda?” he asked, no doubt questioning her sudden generosity. In all the years they'd known each other, she'd never given him a massage before.

“Relax, darling.” She dug in harder, pressing the pads of her thumbs deep into the tissue until she could feel him starting to give in to her suggestion. Then she shifted the position of her hands until her fingers encircled the very fine neck. Her hands spanned it as if they'd been made the right size to do so.

He tensed, and she again felt that shudder run through him. “What are you doing?” The vibrations of his vocal cords sent a pleasant buzz back through her. He hadn't tried to stop her yet, which hopefully meant that he didn't want to. Even sitting below her with the barrier of the couch back between them, she knew he wasn't defenseless.

“You also have a very sensitive neck,” she pointed out.

His shoulders rose and fell with his shortened breaths. “Have you met any of our kind who don't?”

Honestly, she'd never given it any thought. Sex was sex, and in the moment she went with what her partner responded to, without seeking out any patterns between them. Comparing partners was one of those mistakes that a woman would always regret. She tightened her grip fractionally and let the edges of her fingernails dig into his skin. “Really? I wonder why that is?”

“Amanda?” He pulled away, letting the book drop before he turned in the seat to look at her. “What are you doing?”

“Unless I'm mistaken, I'm turning you on,” she answered, letting her eyes widen as if she was completely innocent of the very thing she'd just confessed to.

His eyelids dropped closed and he drew a deep breath before answering, “Clearly. Why?”

“You said I should find something to do...”

“So your solution was to seduce me,” Methos concluded. “Are you sure that's wise?”

“Do you have a better idea?”

Methos pointed at the book that had landed page down on the floor, the spine clearly cracked. “I was reading.”

“Oh, honey. I can guarantee that any time spent with me will be much better than that drivel.” The neckline of Methos' sweater dipped below the ridges of his collarbone, casting inviting shadows that might hide another scar. Amanda reached across him and traced along that ridge until her fingers looped back around to where they'd started. Methos' body tensed and he grabbed at the leather cushions. “What do you say?”

His head canted forward, baring the expanse of his nape. A roll of his shoulders loosened and re-stretched the skin, and Amanda observed her fingers idly tracing criss-crosses over the creases as if independent of her consciousness.

"MacLeod should be gone for awhile," he mused.

"Definitely," Amanda agreed, still tracing.

"And I can read that book later." His voice was getting shakier.

Softer, she concurred, "If you must."

"I'm only agreeing to this so you'll stop annoying me."

Amanda smiled; there was nothing like a successful seduction to make a girl feel powerful, and to stave off boredom. "Naturally." Bending down, she dropped a kiss right on top of the first scar she'd seen.

With a groan, Methos wrapped a sword-strengthened arm around her and pulled her over the couch. She shrieked and landed on him, feeling the early success of her ministrations pressing against her. Yes, this was going to be a much better use of their waiting time. If she'd learned anything through the years, it was that every opportunity for excitement was worth pursuing.