"I was told at a very early age not to follow strange men into the forest alone."

"You think me strange, lass?" He turned back and made his way to her side.

"You're still a stranger...to me anyway." A small smile met the corner of his lips as he stepped farther into her personal space. She had a strong urge to step away, but she held her feet firmly in place and looked up into his smiling eyes. "What is so amusing?"

"I was debating how I might remove my title of stranger from that busy mind of yours. Obviously my talent with the sword and my desire to keep you safe isn't enough."

He had her there. "Y-you could be keeping others away so you can have me to yourself."

Simon sucked in his bottom lip and stared hers. A ripple of unexpected, raw desire coursed up her spine.

"Well now...that is a thought worth exploring." He reached out and slid his hand around her waist and lowered his lips a breath away from hers.

She could have pulled away, he wasn't holding her hostage, but she didn't move.

"'Tis difficult to call a man a stranger after a kiss," he whispered. "What say you, lass?"

He took her silence as a yes and sealed her lips with his. As warmth crept up her spine and her eyes fluttered shut, Helen leaned into his arms. If this is a stranger, God help me when we become aquainted.

The End