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She stiffened and shoved at him, and with clear surprise he moved off her. Quickly she scooted back and then got to her feet, pulling her bodice back into place with short, shaky jerks.
He remained on his side, propped on one elbow, his gaze roaming over her face. A battle of expressions--perplexity, frustration, and finally the familiar coldness--crossed his features.
They stared at each other. Strands of loosened hair blew into her face and she brushed them aside. His eyes left hers and followed the impatient movements of her hands.
She detested the betrayal of her body, hated that she reacted so strongly to him. But even with the knowledge that he would soon give her to another, the urge to lower herself to him and let him resume his lovemaking made her tremble.
Finally Alex stood, but did not approach. His throat moved as he swallowed. Several times he seemed about to speak, and then finally declared, "I was only being flippant with my suggestion to leave by the ledge. You seemed fool enough to try."
She was more of a fool for allowing him to seduce her. She looked around for her slate to write a terse message concerning her intention to never again let him near her.
"Gone," he said, shrugging. "Fallen over the ledge, as you almost did."
Realization dawned on her, and with it confusion. He had held and kissed her like a lover. She needed to know, right now, his feelings.
Carefully, she edged to a spot on the ledge that still held a bit of stone balustrade, and peered down. Somewhere far below her slate lay, most likely in pieces among the crumbled gray stones.
She felt him at her shoulder, and the urge to lean back into his arms wasdisconcerting. She hastened back toward the winding stone staircase, feeling the wind lift her loosened hair and toss it about her shoulders.
"Since you do not find my presence pleasing, I'll be sure to remain distant from you whenever I can," he said from behind her. "I wouldn't want you to suffer more than necessary until you leave here."
She stopped and wheeled toward him, greatly wishing to give him the quarrel of his life, to tell him exactly what she thought of him, how she wanted him--no, didn't want him--and demand an explanation of the past.
Unexpectedly, he was very near. His white cravat had come loosened, and blonde curls peeked from the open neck of his shirt. If she leaned forward and stood on her toes, her lips would meet the beckoning hollow of his throat.
Then, she looked into his eyes and saw the desperate need beneath the mockery. Flustered, she dropped her gaze to the stone floor.
Alex--Lord Drayton--placed a finger under her chin and lifted her face. His touch lit another warm flush inside her, and as his eyes dropped to her lips and lingered there, she thought for a dazed second that he would kiss her again.
To her mortification, she knew she would welcome him.
But he took a deep, ragged breath, and seemed once again to battle for his words. "Listen to me," he finally said in a voice gruff with emotion. "If your suitor refuses you, nothing will happen between us. You will make no requests of me or think of me as anything but your guardian. You may eat at my table and sleep in my house. Beyond that, my deepest wish is to find you a husband and get you out of my life."
Oh, such vile words, and from lips that had kissed her so fervently only moments ago.
Katherine jerked away before he could see her tears.