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Amelia went inside. The room was cast in obsidian shadows by a single candle burning on her dressing room table. The air was laced with the scent of mulberries. She grew warm. Her heart beat faster. Her defenses cracked.
"Anton?" she whispered.
He stepped out of the darkness behind her, placing his hands on her upper arms, pressing his chest against her back. His lips brushed against her ear, sending a shockwave through her. "You look wonderful tonight, Amelia."
She dared to close her eyes and enjoy his embrace. "Anton."
"Yes, it's me."
Warm feelings of longing stirred within her, only to be quickly doused by the sting of anger at his sudden departure. She stepped out of their embrace and spun to glare at him. "How dare you."
He backed away, confusion pooling in his unusual eyes. "I thought--"
"You thought what?"
"That you'd want to see me."
"It's been two months since I last saw you, and you didn't even try to seek me out. I had no idea if you were dead, alive, or just too busy with your life to think of me."
"I'm sorry." His expression softened. "I had hoped to avoid the cool look in your eyes just now."
Exasperated, she let out a quick breath. "You're infuriating."
"So I've been told."
She crossed her arms and struggled to keep her crumbling battlements up. He had a lot to explain. The candlelight cast dark, almost satyr-like shadows over his chiseled face. If his explanation made sense, she'd will her heart to believe him. "So, Anton, how do you explain your absence? I thought I'd found a friend."
He paused and drew in a deep breath. His eyes grew translucent. "I am sorry. I had a lot to think about. I thought you would understand. I wanted to give you time to mourn your husband properly."
"I also wanted to clear my head."