He carried her off in full view of the gossip-mongering biddies posted by the windows like sentries. She'd started protesting before they got out of the little oasis but it did no good. It still did no good when she renewed her efforts after spotting the biddies jaws drop before they ran towards the biddie brood forming at the best viewing post at a speed that belied their advancing years.
The first time she'd protested, Brand just grunted. When she did it again as they passed the windows, he said that she hadn't seemed to mind Beau carrying her off so she'd best not say a word or he'd toss her down right here and have his way with her. The threat didn't seem idle since he'd slowed to a snail's pace as they passed the onlookers. She shut up and tried to look like something hurt. Once or twice she wiggled her ankle and grimaced. 'Twasn't much, but it seemed her best defense, given the circumstances.
They were in the middle of the window view when he paused at their host's gaudy waterfall fountain and propped one foot on a bench to free one of his hands. He passed her his handkerchief. It didn't seem the time to protest when he asked her to wet it in the fountain. She handed it back to him without saying a word, which was good because she'd have ended up with a mouthful of wet fabric. He rubbed her lips a little too hard at first but when she flinched, he lightened his touch to a gentle but firm stroke that covered every inch and crevice of her lips along with all the nearby skin. It would've been exciting if she weren't turning pinker by the second from recalling all the watching eyes. Okay, it was exciting anyway but that just meant she was perverse.
"Did he put his tongue in your mouth?" As he asked the question Brand tapped the wet cloth against the corner of her lips like he knocked at a door.
For an intelligent lady, she nearly did a very stupid thing. She almost told the truth. Her head half moved in a nod of yes before she switched to a negative headshake.
His eyes narrowed. "He did, didn't he? The bloody bastard." He tilted back her chin. "Open up," he said, with his index finger wrapped and ready and poised at the corner of her mouth.
She shook her head no but apparently, she wasn't a good liar.
His cloth wrapped finger tapped again, but this time when she shook her head no and sealed her lips tighter, he ignored her and shoved the very tip inside. She realized it was shaking. Then he spoke and his voice shook too. "Every trace. I need to erase every trace. I can't bear the thought of another man touching you, kissing you. Any other man. Even - especially -"
He sputtered to a stop and took a deep breath. And her foolish heart broke all over again. It shattered into tiny pieces that melted when he started crooning phrases.
"Can't stand... mine...God, am I... don't want to hurt... mine.. all mine."
Now she took a deep breath as she reached out and put her hand over his heart and said his name. Just his name. She said it around the finger but he understood, and he stopped. Then he shivered and withdrew his index finger to look into her eyes, seizing her world. So she assured him, saying, "It didn't matter. No other man has ever mattered. Only you've ever touched my heart."
His eyes still held hers as he bent towards her, his eyes focused on her lips. The world faded, sweeping away time, place and reality. Nothing existed but the two of them and this perfect moment in time. She could only purse her lips and lift her face as he whispered for her to open for him. Her pursed lips trembled but she could deny him nothing now, here in this world built for two. She opened her mouth, so close to his that he fed her his breath. Then a butterfly flew just behind him and her eyes followed the beautiful creature to the window. To one of the windows. To one of the wall of windows lined with faces pressing against the glass.
Dear sweet duck, what was she doing?
Want to find out what happens next? Are you on pins and needles to see how Brand and Adria's story ends? Part 3 of The Duke of Eden will be available at Amazon soon for only .99 cents. The full book will be available at Amazon a wee bit later, and after a little uploading/distribution time, it'll be out and about everywhere. If you want to be amongst the first to know when Part 3 is published, keep an eye on the Quackingalone web site. We'll post a notice when we're going to press and a link when it's published. If you want to leave an opinion or give feedback on the story, feel free to leave a comment and I'll be sure to HOLLA back at you.
Mary Anne Graham