The Earl of Dart had no use for Christmas so buried himself chopping firewood at his gamekeepers cottage. Seeing a vision coming thru the blowing snow he first thought he'd died and went to heaven, but more likely she was just another damsel looking to ensnare him in a parson's mousetrap. Well, she'd find out he wasn't about to succumb to her feminine wiles, but then again, maybe she really didn't know who he was. On the other hand wouldn't he be surprised to learn who she was as well? *** Ms. Young writes a lovely tale of two people fate was kind enough to bring together on a snowy Christmas Eve. Well done and a sweetly sensual tale to take the chill off a cold and snowy night.†
What would it have been like to kiss him, had she lost the game? His body had been hard against her back when she crashed into him like some awkward green girl, his hold firm, strong, yet incredibly gentle. A little flutter, full of wicked pleasure pulsed deep inside. Her body ignited. She'd felt a stir of feminine excitement before, but never with such undeniable force.†
Prickles skittered down her spine. What on earth was wrong with her? Was it knowing this might be her last chance to attract a man making her feel so wanton? She ought to be ashamed of herself. In haste, she undid the ribbon at her neck, unhooked the fastenings and let the gown fall to her feet. After a quick wash, she unlaced her stays, pulled her nightrail over her head and leaped into bed. His bed.†
She turned on her side. Inhaled the scent of bay and an earthy scent she couldn't name that teased her senses. Essence of Gerrard? She rolled on her back and stared at the flame-shadowed ceiling. Somewhere up there he slept. She strained to hear his promised snores, or footsteps on the ladder. Dash it, she'd forgotten to load the rifle.†
She slid out of bed, shivering at the wind's chilly fingers reaching through every nook and cranny. She loaded the gun beside the candle in the window. The click of the lock seemed to echo around the room. She held her breath. Had he heard? Would her lack of trust cause him more pain than she already sensed in those deep dark eyes?†
On the table sat the remains of their game, her discarded hand face up, his face down. Imagine. He'd held nothing but low cards and not one of the high trumps had been played. Her teeth gripped her lip painfully. Why look? She'd won.†
Fingers trembling, she flipped his cards. †
Ace of hearts, King of hearts, Knave of hearts. She stared, numb, disbelieving. He'd won. Fair and square.
Blood pounded in her temples. She daggered a glance at the ceiling, imagined tearing him limb from limb. The shadows in those fathomless eyes had been the fear he might have to kiss her, not pain.
†He owed her a kiss.