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Picking up her skirts, Dorcy sped up the stairs. Shoving in front of Gareth, she beat on the door with both hands. "Help! Help! Don't leave us here! Come back! Inspector? We're down here! Please, please don't leave us here!"
Her cries hung in the air, fading away as though she called to the wind. Disbelieving the horror of being shut away in the cold and darkness, she slumped against the wood, tears of fright burning her eyes. No! No! Who could do this? Who could walk away and leave me here--with Gareth!
Terror squeezed her heart and strength drained from her knees. But at the touch of his hand on her shoulder, she reacted like a cornered animal. Twisting around, she flailed out with her arms, knocking him off balance. He dropped the candle, grasping both railings just in time to keep himself from falling backwards. Momentum pulled Dorcy forward and she fell on top of him, landing against his chest. Momentarily stunned, she made no movement. With his candle snuffed out on the cellar floor, the kerosene lamp on the table below provided the only light. Its dimmed glow silhouetted Gareth's face, and Dorcy blinked as she realized their noses almost touched. Disconcerted by how her body pressed so intimately against his, she hurried to disentangle herself, striving to ignore the flush that melted the cold from her limbs.
"I didn't mean to startle you." Gareth apologized, his voice husky. He stepped to a lower stair, dropping his height so that his head became face level with hers. "But try not to worry. We'll be found soon enough."
She feared at being shut away with him. But to compound the worry of trying to save her life was the added strain of the cold anddarkness and--and the remembered feel of his chest under her hands and his thighs--her emotions twisted like a spinning top out of control. What am I thinking? Am I mad?