‘You don’t want to marry. You said as much in the carriage. Even if you were looking for a wife, it shouldn’t be me. You have ambitions that go beyond yoking yourself to a fallen woman and her illegitimate child.’
‘Shouldn’t be you?’ Preston echoed, his anger starting to rise. He hated hearing Beatrice talk about herself like that. He said the next words without thinking. ‘You sound like my father.’
‘Your father is a smart man,’ Beatrice said quietly but Preston didn’t miss the hurt in her eyes, hurt put there by his words.
‘My father isn’t always right. He doesn’t always know what is best.’ They were far from the house. It was unlikely anyone would see them at this distance. He put a finger to her lips, watching the pulse flicker at her neck. ‘Tell me the truth, Bea. Do you think about the kiss?’ Her eyes drifted away, betraying her answer without words.
He nodded. ‘I thought so. I do, too. I wonder…’
‘No, Preston. You of all people can’t wonder.’ Bea was adamant. She tried to step away, to back up, but he’d planned his manoeuvre carefully and her back came up against the hard bark of a tree.
He advanced until he could feel the heat of her body through her clothes as his lips hovered over hers, his words coming low and fast as he staked his claim, his knuckles skimming the soft curve of her jaw. ‘I want to kiss you again, Bea. I want to feel the way I felt in that inn room, the way I felt on the road with you: alive, happy, centred. And I think you want that, too, even if we don’t know where that leads. If you tell me I’m wrong, I’ll stop.’
In the end, the kiss was her decision. She opened her mouth and licked her lips as she reached up on tiptoes and whispered, ‘Don’t stop, Preston.’ She let his mouth cover hers, let herself give over to the kiss, let her mouth open, her tongue roam, her body curve into his. He understood in her mind this was allowed because it had to be the last time. For her to think of it any other way was to court madness.
Copyright ©2017 Bronwyn Scott