Reynard watched, captivated, as Rianna slowly opened her eyes. A deep crimson flush stealing into her cheeks as the whirlwind of passion receded from her gaze. He saw a hint of the emotions she must be feeling flash through her delicate features—shock, dismay, and finally anger. Without warning, she pulled back and slapped him full across the face. The blow so hard his head twisted to one side.
And then she was jerking out of his loose embrace as if to escape.
Growling, he grabbed her arm in a steel grip, yanking her back to him.
"I may have deserved that, demoiselle, for taking such liberties as kissing you, but do not even think that you are going to get away from me so easily," he hissed.
And then all was calm.
Reynard rose, attempting to mask the lust and anger boiling in his veins with indifference. He tightened his grip in warning, mashing flesh and bone, causing her delicate knuckles to turn white. She gasped in pain, her eyes widening in shock and fear as she began to tremble.
He instantly loosened his hold, but refused to let go. Turning away from her, he dragged Rianna behind him to where Strum stood stock motionless, waiting for his master’s further command. Reynard was appalled at himself for harming her. But her slapping him in the face, the rejection of the passion they had just shared, cut through him like a knife, and sent fury careening out of control to clash with the lust already pounding through his veins. That she could so easily disregard the fact she had helped him escape the castle and the baron’s wrath, though he’d not asked her. Or the amorous kisses they had shared when she’d merely thought him an escaped prisoner. But what stabbed deeper than he would ever admit, was her forgetfulness--she did not recognise him. Nor did she recall the oath which had bound them together for the last seven years. It only served to remind him why he had not dallied with such women in recent times, not since Maggie’s death.
Taking hold of the horse’s reins, he guided his captive and mount into the now empty clearing. Without giving her a chance to run, he swung Rianna up into the saddle, mounting behind her. His arm around her waist, he pulled her hard against his chest, leaving the maiden no choice but to lean against him. Taking the reins in his free hand, he clucked at Sturm, digging his spurs in the charger’s flanks. The warhorse sprang forward, directed toward the left path and Tove River.
A long moment of silence passed as they made their way through the heavy brush dotting the winding path. Rianna sat still as stone in his hard embrace, seemingly trying to keep her back from touching his chest.
"Where are we going?" she suddenly asked, so softly he might have imagined it.
"To the river," he responded sharply, coldly.
He felt a shiver run down her spine as her back became more rigid.
Reynard stared down at her golden head, aware he was playing the fool for even caring he’d frightened her again. Anger still rolled through his veins from her rejection of his kiss, his touch. But then he should have stayed the hell away from her.
Had not the death of one woman been enough to teach him?
Reynard thought he’d learned his lesson well. But apparently he had not learned well enough, for he’d wanted her, and she had rejected him. Gritting his teeth against the fury rising within, he swallowed down the anger. One thing was certain, he would keep the madness from controlling him, no matter how alluring this maiden might be. Nor would he ever touch or kiss her again...
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