Page 13 of Merry Miss

And other matters needed addressing—more pressing matters.

Delia cleared her throat. She needed to know what sleeping arrangements he had in mind. Perhaps the maid who’d delivered the food would send up a blanket she could use to sleep on the floor.

“More wine?” He lifted the carafe.

The wine had warmed her insides. Or perhaps that warm feeling was due to the appreciative look in her companion's gaze. Either way, after having felt frozen for most of the day, she welcomed it. “Yes, please.”

He filled her glass and then his own. “You braided your hair.”

Delia wasn’t sure how to respond to his comment. She’d been horrified when she’d looked in the mirror after he’d returned to the taproom. Never in her life had she felt so naked. “I—”

“It’s stunning. Glorious, really.” His voice heated her insides even more. He sounded intrigued—aroused.

Was that only her imagination?

She would thank him for the compliment, but it wasn’t an appropriate compliment. No one ever used the wordsstunningorgloriousin reference to anything about her. His comment had her staring down at the long braid draping over her shoulder and almost to her lap.

She’d hidden it since she was twelve. She slid her fingertips up the strands of the rope, which was still slightly damp from washing.

“It’s just brown.” Her voice caught. Out of embarrassment?

“Brown, yes, but if you look closely, you will see dark strands that are almost black—and reds that are the color of a brilliant sunset.” He pushed their plates aside and took hold of the braid below where she clutched it. “And these lighter strands.”

Mesmerized, Delia stared at his fingers as he stroked the smooth weave.

“These are like strands of gold—spun honey.”

Delia had no idea how much time passed before her brain could function normally again. She inhaled. “I had thought you must be a man of business—a solicitor or perhaps even an investigator of sorts. But now I know I was wrong.”

He remained silent, still stroking her braid with the pad of his thumb.

“You most certainly must be a poet—a great writer of fiction.” Because she would not believe he was fascinated with her hair like that. “Or perhaps an actor.”

He shook his head. “Not fiction. And not acting.”

Holding his gaze, heat swirled around her insides. His pupils were large, and she could barely distinguish between them and his almost black irises.

“You don’t have to say that.”

He watched her over the wine goblet. “I know.”

Delia couldn’t help staring at his lips, glossy from the wine. Growing up, her sister Rachel had regaled her with endless descriptions of kisses she’d bestowed to various gentlemen. Delia had paid close attention, believing that she herself would never experience it.

Going into service as a companion to an elderly countess had all but sealed her chaste fate.

What would it feel like if Jack were to kiss her?

Would it heighten her regrets as she grew into her spinsterhood? Or would she be happy for such a memory?

Would she even like it?

She would like it. She was quite sure she would like it.

“What thoughts are dancing in that pretty little head of yours?” He tugged at the braid, reminding her that they were still connected in this oddly intimate way.

Darkness had fallen outside, leaving the two of them sitting in only the light from the fire and a few tapers.

Was the room growing smaller? It had certainly grown warmer.


Tags: Annabelle Anders Historical
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