She held tightly to his hand all the way home to Durham Manor. A short ride of ten minutes, the journey seemed to take ten years. But snuggled against Jack’s chest, Emma listened to his heart beat and the pace resounded with her own yearning. To make love to him, to be loved by him for just one night seemed so impossible days ago that she had feared to make this last request in her offer. But he had agreed and now he seemed as eager as she.
Do not delude yourself, Emma. Men love rarely. That was her mother’s warning.
Emma fought back the dour words, so daunting to her fortitude. But you do not wish for love from him. Only the deflowering.
She squirmed in her seat. Be honest, Emma, don’t you want more?
“You are sad. Why?” Jack lifted her chin. “If you have second thoughts on this, I can—”
“No!” She tried in vain to smile at him. “I was thinking of people who have nothing to do with us.”
Jack’s silver eyes seemed to look straight through her. “Who?”
“She has to do with you. So tell me.”
“She has a jaded view of men. Thinks none worthy of her. Thinks few can honor a woman’s affections.”
“Do you believe her?”
Emma examined his earnest features, so intent on her. “I always thought her a little…extreme.”
“Parents often appear that way.”
“They do. After a while, it becomes imperative to rid yourself of their notions.”
He hooted. “How true. I’ll tell you about my father sometime. His notions are notoriously odd.”
“I have heard.”
“Really? I wonder that they did not deter you from approaching me,” he said with distaste for the subject.
“They were, I am ashamed to say, the very reasons that I did,” she admitted, felt her cheeks flush with color and turned her face toward the coachman who pulled open the door and let down the steps. “I think of you differently now.”He cupped her face with one hand and led her to look at him. “Do you, darling? How encouraging,” he whispered as he bent and kissed her slowly, his mouth blessing hers time and time again and creating a craving for more. “Come,” he said breathlessly as the barouche rolled to a stop and he broke away. Quickly, he stepped out, offered his hand and led her up the broad stone steps.