His entire body was on edge, a bowstring pulled taut and ready to snap. This lust he felt was making him think things he never should, not about an innocent girl and certainly not the daughter of his employer. Keeping focused on his mission was imperative, but it was damned difficult with her standing there looking at him with drowsy eyes and parted lips.
“I rather like spending time in the garden,” she said after a long silence.
“And I rather like talking to you, Mr. Emory. I know I shouldn’t think of you as such, but I do think of you as a friend. For some reason, I can tell you things I cannot tell anyone else. How many people would have laughed when I told them I wished for someone to die?”
He let out a low chuckle. “I just…I don’t want you to…”
“I don’t want a friend,” he said finally, praying she knew what he truly meant. He didn’t want the sort of friend he dreamed of kissing, who kept him up at night thinking about how she would feel beneath him. Whose body enticed him and made him wish he was the sort of man who could take advantage of a simple country girl.
“Oh,” she said in a small voice.
“We are from two different stations, you and I. It is important that we, both of us, understand that.” He felt a prick of guilt for saying that, but it was a reminder to him, as well, and was nothing but the truth. For some reason, that made her smile.
“Mr. Emory, you are being silly. We are of the same class. If anything, your background is likely far better than my own.”
“You shouldn’t spend so much time alone with a man,” he said desperately. “What if someone were to notice? They might think things they oughtn’t.”
She let out a small laugh, but then her cheeks flushed, and he wondered, dumbfounded, if such thoughts had never entered her head. Perhaps he’d been wrong about the way she’d looked at him; perhaps his own lust had muddled his brain so much he was imagining she felt the same way. “No one would think such things,” she said, sounding slightly baffled that he would have suggested anyone would.
“I believe you would be surprised what people would think.”
Her eyes grew wide. “Has someone said something? One of the staff?”
“No,” he said, quickly. “Nothing like that.”
“There, it’s settled. I will continue to garden and entertain you with my stories and you shall pretend not to listen and pretend you wish me to go away.”
“But I really do wish you to go away,” he said, then immediately regretted his words when he saw her face. “Only because I wish you to stay.” Damn.
He prayed she didn’t realize what he’d meant.
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