|Publisher:||Epicenter Press, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)|
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An odd, pained expression crossed Dvorak’s face. “You heard Milord Essex. I am not welcome in my own country. I had nowhere else to go,” he said, and his voice sounded hollow. Strange, he thought, that Kat’s opinion should matter. She was of no importance to him, merely a silly wench he’d met at a state funeral. He grabbed her wrist with his other hand, pulling her so close that her breasts brushed his doublet. It would do no good to try to shake sense into the chit. She was too obtuse, too self-righteous, too English. “I told you,” he said curtly, “you don’t understand.” The black eyes glittered with anger, and for a brief moment Kat thought he might actually strike her. Instead, his lips came down on hers in a crushing kiss. Kat reeled with the sensation of that hard mouth on her lips. This was not at all like Henry’s gentle embrace, soft and sweet as morning rain. She tried to escape, but his arm was at her back, holding her captive. In the pit of her stomach, an alien sensation welled up, muddling her brain and stirring her senses. Kat was afraid, and at the same time exhilarated. She wasn’t entirely aware that her lips were responding to Stefan’s as if they had a will of their own.
Abruptly, with the anger still in his veins, he let her go. Kat momentarily lost her balance, falling backward against a stone wall. Stunned, she searched his face, hazily noting that while his annoyance hadn’t faded, the dark eyes had softened. With a sigh of vexation, Stefan shook his head.
“Excuse me. That was a foolish action. A good shaking would have served as well.” He was aware of the rough edge in his voice and inwardly cursed himself. Impulse was not his way with women; passionate interludes were carefully calculated, based on mutual consent. Stefan felt like an unruly schoolboy.
Kat swallowed hard and tried to regain her composure. “I’m not a trifle,” she declared, sounding quite lame. “My upbringing has not accustomed me to such … dalliance.”
For a brief moment Dvorak looked as if he might smile, but he did not. “No,” he said flatly. “That’s clear.” With a little bow, he strode away from her, up the path toward the palace.
Kat stayed in the garden, not wanting to follow for fear of further confrontation. Stefan Dvorak had no right to kiss her, especially in anger. Indeed, no honorable man should kiss any virtuous woman except as part of courtship. His behavior was as inexplicable as it was unsettling. Along the torchlit path, Kat felt the first soft drops of rain. She must go in, as soon as Dvorak was out of sight. Tentatively, she touched her mouth. It felt bruised. It felt wonderful. Kat didn’t understand the conflicting emotions. Slowly, she walked up the path, shivering with cold. Yet inside she felt quite warm.