This week’s theme is I need a hero. Ain’t it the truth! Recently I began re-releasing the very first books I ever wrote from the June Girls series. One of those books, No Regrets, will become available this weekend! It’s up at Amazon and Smashwords now. Still waiting for it to hit Barnes and Noble.
“What the devil are you doing?” A deep, angry voice asked from behind her. Startled, Vee felt herself beginning to sway.
“Oh, no!” She teetered, arms flailing briefly before falling backward off the chair and into the arms of an extremely vexed Lord Benjamin Sinclair.
“Oops.” She joked, hoping to erase the furor she saw in his eyes.
“I will repeat, what the devil were you doing up there?” His face was mottled red, and his black eyes had gone even darker if such a thing was possible. He looked ready to do her the bodily harm he’d just saved her from.
“Cleaning?” she said softly, suddenly aware she was still in his arms. He gave no indication of putting her down anytime soon.
“Cleaning,” he repeated heatedly. “Cleaning what?”
“My room?” She struggled, trying to escape his hold. “You can put me down now.”
“I’ll put you down when I’m ready.” To prove his point, he tightened his grip.
“But I’m too heavy.” She was uncomfortable with the idea of him discovering how much of her there truly was.
“You weigh practically nothing. What do you mean your room?”
Their faces were too close this way and she realized that up close he was far more handsome than she’d previously thought. His eyes were coal-black and his hair was magnificent. It wasn’t merely inky black, but an amazing array of colors as she noticed dark auburn and chestnut highlights blended in and a smattering of silver at the temples. She had no idea there could be so many different, subtle shades of color in one head of hair.
Briefly, she wondered about his age. In his thirties, she imagined. His tanned skin showed off the whiteness of his perfectly straight teeth and there was the most endearing cleft in his strong chin. Dear God, the man was entirely too attractive for his own good. And strong. Goodness gracious, but the feel of his muscular arms holding her was enough to make her swoon, if swooning was something she did, which of course she didn’t know.
And once again, I look like a street urchin.
Her dirty dress and hands couldn’t hold a candle to her straggly hair. Even now she could feel the strands that had escaped her inexpertly braided hair matted to her cheeks with a day’s worth of sweat and hard labor.
Lord Benjamin cleared his throat, and her face flushed when she realized she was staring at him far too intently.
“I didn’t feel c-comfortable staying in your room anymore, while you were s-sleeping on a couch, so I convinced Mrs. Henry to let me clean up a room for myself.” Her voice betrayed her discomfort in his arms. She sighed in disgust for sounding like such a weakling.
“You’re not a servant, and I don’t expect you to clean my house.” He was oblivious to her uneasiness and still angry.
“Ben, I mean, Lord Benjamin—”
“Ben,” he interrupted gruffly. “You’ll call me Ben.”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate. I mean you’re from the nobility and I—” She struggled for release once again before giving up. “I don’t think I am.” She was anxious for him to put her down so she could assume a more comfortable distance.
“It is perfectly appropriate to call me by my given name if I give you leave to do so, which I have. Several times.”
“Very well, Ben,” she answered, secretly relieved. Lord Benjamin was a mouthful. “I simply wanted to make myself useful. You and the Henrys have been so kind to me and I wanted to help. I know you’ve been working hard to make this house nice, and I thought perhaps I could repay your thoughtfulness by chipping in. Doing something of value.”
“And you thought you would chip in by placing yourself in peril by climbing upon that chair upon that table?”
Yep, he’s still mad.
“I couldn’t reach the top of the curtains,” she replied with a sheepish grin.
“Need I remind you that you’ve a serious head injury? What if I hadn’t been here to catch you when you fell? You could have injured yourself again even more seriously.”
“Well, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t startled me, and let’s face it, you can only lose your memory once.” She hoped humor would relieve some of the tension in the room.
His eyes narrowed at her response. “You will not clean anymore rooms while you’re a guest here.”
“But, Ben, I—”
“I will not change my mind on this.”
“Please, put me down,” she said, annoyed by his haughty attitude.
“No.” For the first time, she sensed his anger had abated and he was now toying with her. “It would appear I cannot leave you unattended without worrying about what peril awaits you. You have a knack for injuring yourself. This seems to be the only safe place for you.”
His words suddenly made her feel less safe than if she’d climbed on twenty chairs stacked upon each other. His eyes fell to her lips, and she had only a moment to react before he kissed her. She marveled at the tenderness behind the kiss. His lips pressed against hers with the lightest of touches, yet she was overwhelmed by the impact of it. It was an amazing kiss, as far as kisses go, and it made her entire body tingle, even her toes. As quickly as it began, it ended.
Ben slowly released his hold on her, and she swayed slightly as her feet touched the ground. Raising her gaze to his, she noticed he was now the uncomfortable one. Confusion swamped her as she wondered what possessed him to kiss her, what caused him to stop and what she could do to make him kiss her again. She couldn’t recall if she’d ever been kissed before, but something told her if she were knocked on the head a thousand times in the future, she would never forget his kiss.
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