Sample Saturday: "In The Eye of The Beholder" edition:
I looked down at my gloved hands, twisting in my lap. “I kissed him before they took him away, Erik. That was the last touch of a man’s lips that I felt, still warm because he hadn’t been gone for long. After that, my cousin Francois sold the house in Baincthun. He sold my jewels and my books. He sold everything but Josephine and my clothes. He made me come with him and his riding troupe, because my father had appointed him as my guardian unless and until I married. He still controls the income from the allowance my father left me; I see none of it.”
I looked up at him. “That is all.”
“Claire, I have known only one woman’s kiss, and that one was quite ... reluctant. If what I ask of you now is refused, I will understand. Please, Claire. I want you to feel a man’s kiss again.”
With that, he lowered his mouth to mine. His lips were warm and gentle, but I could not imagine why I was surprised. Had I expected such beautiful lips to feel hard and cruel? I could not say. I slipped one gloved hand behind his neck, caressing the occiput of his skull, and returned the kiss with an ardor that surprised me. At last I broke away.
“How long, Claire? How long has it been since he died?” His voice was raspy with desire.
“A little over a year,” I replied.
“Then perhaps,” Erik whispered, his breath warm against my ear, “It is time to shed your veil of mourning and kiss me again.”
As I turned my face up toward him, his gloved hand caressing my jaw, the carriage rumbled to a halt and the driver called out. “Mademoiselle, we’ve arrived at the modiste’s.”
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