Friday, November 30, 2012

The Temptation of a Kiss ~ Chapter 4 and 5


 
Chapter 4

 

 

   Grams and Sarah gasped and the men chuckled. Landon then walked away.

   Brook sat on the ground for a moment in disbelief. “That was utterly childish Landon,” she shouted at him.

   Landon made his way to the bar. “We are all children Brook. Is that not what the good book states?”

   Brook rose from the floor and brushed out the silky purple material of her skirts. “I think you read from the bad book. The book called, “An idiot’s guide on how to live without manners”. In fact I think you wrote it.”

   Landon laughed hard. “Well don’t pout Brook. You lost and I won. If you didn’t want-

   “Stuff a map in it already Landon,” Brook snapped.

   Devon nudged Quentin and they both walked over to Landon at the bar. “Perhaps it will be safer in my study for a while. Besides I have to discuss something of importance with you,” Devon said.

   As the men left the room, Brook took a seat in a chair that faced Sarah and Grams. The two women were chit chatting away. Brook found herself lost in her own thoughts.

   What kind of a man does that to a woman? I was not the one to encourage the exchange between us. God he was so close. I wonder if he would have kissed me again if we were alone. His lips were so soft and warm that night. Firm but yet gentle. What would they feel like on my neck? I wanted him to-

   “Brook!” Grams shouted.

   Brook shook her head slightly. She then gazed at the two with a blank stare.

   Quentin started a fire in Devon’s study. Landon took a seat in a club chair next to the fireplace. Devon had excused himself for a moment to retrieve a document.

   “Is it now customary for you to drop beautiful woman on the floor?”

   Landon looked at Quentin. “She’ll be fine once she is done being cross with me.”

   Quentin sat down across from Landon. “I think she is going to hang you on one. That is not a woman I care to mess with.” Quentin paused then said, “She has interest in you. Clearly you can see that can you not.”

   “What gives you that impression?” Landon asked.

   “I see you both sharing an equal awareness with each other shall we say,” Quentin said.

   Devon just then entered the room. “I have a disquiet feeling concerning Lester McMay.” He handed Landon the letter McMay had addressed to Sarah before he escaped prison. “He was seen around town yesterday.”

   Two months ago, Devon never finished reading the letter from McMay.

   Landon began to read the letter aloud.

 

To my brother's child,

 

You have stolen what is rightfully mine by birthright. You should have died that night. Your last breath should have been done and gone like your father's and Devon's father was. They both paid for their mistakes with their lives and so will you Sarah.

I want what is mine. All of you will suffer. I will make you watch me kill everyone whom you dragged into this. And in the end, when you are alone surrounded by your dead friends, I will kill you slowly as I did your father.

He died by my hands and so will you Sarah. I will hunt you, follow you, and seek you until I find you. You will forever as long as breath moves through your body, look over your shoulder.

Upon the birth of your first child, I will take it. You may never close your eyes at night and not see me there Sarah. You, your child, Devon and everyone else are all going to die.

 

   Landon looked towards Devon. “What are we to do with the women while the authorities search for him?”

   Devon ran his hand threw his hair. “It concerns me to be honest with you and I do not know what we are to do. The letter targets everyone. None of the women are safe with McMay at large.”

   “If I may offer a solution,” Quentin said. “I had invited the women earlier this night to visit my country estate. McMay, I assume, has no knowledge of me.”

   Devon and Landon looked to one another and smiled. Landon said, “We accept.”

 © copyright 2012

  

Chapter 5

 

   Grams and Sarah stared at Brook waiting for her answer.

   “My dear child are you alright?” Grams asked.

   Brook’s expression was blank. “I am fine.” She stood quickly and crossed the room to the bar and poured herself a glass of wine.

   Sarah cleared her throat. “We were wondering if you care to have a picnic with us tomorrow in the orchards. We could have some games and contests for the men.”

   “Yes that sounds lovely,” Brook said. A picnic with Landon. I will find an excuse tomorrow not to go. Maybe I could plant the seed I am beginning not to feel well before I leave tonight.

   Richards entered the room and walked over to Sarah. He held out a silver try in front of her with a pill and a small glass of water. “Lady Sarah it is time for your medicine.”

   Sarah gazed up at him with confusion in her eyes. “I feel fine Richards.”

   Richards gazed at her for a brief moment than said, “Very well Lady Sarah.” As he left his gaze locked with Gram’s gaze.

 

 

   Devon grabbed a road map and laid it out across his desk. Landon and Quentin planed out the route to his country estate. Devon walked over to the painting of a ship at sea hanging on the wall behind them. He pulled the painting open like a door. Behind it was a safe set inside the wall. Devon pulled out four guns and set them on top of the map in front of the men.

   Quentin glanced at Devon. “Are these truly necessary?”

Landon picked up one of the smaller guns. “You did not see Sarah when Devon found her in the cellar of McMay’s estate. I have never seen such-

   Landon immediately shut his mouth when he saw Devon’s painful expression in his eyes as he was telling Quentin the story.

   Quentin looked back and forth to Landon and Devon. “Why do we not just hunt him down ourselves? From what you have said he is broke and wanted. It shouldn’t be that hard to find him. We have enough resources between the three of us.”

   Landon said, “It is not that simple Quentin. I wish it were. He has many bad friends and contacts. The women are not safe with anyone but us. This man will stop at nothing to fulfill his goal.”

   A knock at the door drew their attention. Landon pulled the map over the pile of guns.

   “Enter,” Devon shouted.

   Richards opened the door holding a silver tray.

   Devon looked relieved at the sight of him. “I was about to fetch you. We are planning to go for a trip in the country and needed to get organized concerning McMay.”

   “Ah I see Sir.” Richards looked serious. In a low hushed tone he said, “I need a moment alone with you.”

   Devon walked with Richards into the hallway. He glanced down at the tray. “Again?” He looked at Richards after he asked.

   “I’m afraid so Sir.”

   Devon took the tray from Richards’s hands and walked down the hallway to where Sarah was sitting. He left the tray on a side table outside the room.

   “Sarah,” Devon said softly in the doorway to the sitting room.

   She turned and smiled at him. “Yes.”

   “May I have a private minute with you?”

   Sarah stood and walked toward Devon at the doorway. “What is it Lord Price?”

   Devon pinched his lips together at her use of his proper name. Since the attack by her uncle’s assistant, Sarah’s memory was missing large gaps of time, including the fact they fell in love and were now engaged.

   He gently took her hand in his and walked a few steps back into the hallway. He gazed at her with kind sweet eyes and in a soft voice said, “Sarah you have to take your medicine every day.”

   “I-I do not need medicine Lord-

   “Sarah we are engaged and you had an accident. Because you were hurt you now have to take this medicine,” Devon said.

   She stared at him trying to figure out what was going on. And then it sparked. Tears began to whelm up in her eyes. “How could I not remember this Dev? You, us, the accident?”

   Devon took her in his arms and whispered, “You will sweetheart. It is just going to take some time.” He pulled her away from him and smiled. “Now take this before you forget again.”

   “That is not funny Dev,” Sarah said as she rolled her eyes.

   He handed her the pill and water with a smile. “Yes it was and so are you.” He kissed her head.

 

 

   Brook took a seat across from Grams in a chair. She sipped her wine and then downed the rest in her glass. Grams chuckled at her.

   “What seems to be troubling you Brook?”

   “I am fine really,” Brook said with a smile.

   Grams smiled back. “So you have said but your face tells a different story my child.” She leaned forward and continued, “It has been my experience that when a boy is unkind to a girl it is for no other reason than he likes her. And from the way he stares at you my love…I would say very much so at that.”

   Brook looked away from her. “We are merely friends Grams and neither of us care to be anything more.” Brook wished Grams words did not bother her as much as they did. She had no idea what he felt for her. He kissed her and both of them acted like it had never happened. If she was to be truly honest with herself, she wished that kiss had lasted longer. Even worse, she wished he would kiss her again.

   Brook stood up and poured another glass of wine from the bar. Sarah came back into the room. Brook was relieved hearing Grams quickly engage in conversation with Sarah.

  

 

   Quentin handed Landon back the gun. “I have no need for this Landon.”

   “I’m aware you are not fond of guns but it may come to the point where it is necessary to use one. Just hold onto it. No one is saying you should use it,” Landon said.

   Quentin smirked at Landon. “Then I have no need to carry one to begin with my friend.” He slid the gun across the map to Landon. “A simple stick can be just as deadly as a gun…and much quieter.”

   Landon laughed. “This is true Quent. I believe you could make a weapon out of a mushroom.”

   Quentin patted Landon’s back. “Only if it were poisonous.”

   Devon entered the room and walked over to his desk. He pulled out a book and jotted down something in it and put it away quickly. “I was thinking we should pare up into three groups when we go to Quent’s estate. That way if we are followed it may be easier to lose them.”

   Quentin shook his head. “It has been my experience that there is safety in numbers Devon.”

   “I agree,” Landon said. “If we split up there is a danger of only one of the carriages being pursued. Our strength is in our numbers. We must stay together Devon.”

   “I would have to agree as well Sir,” Richards said.

   Devon turned away and walked to the fire place resting his palms on the ledge. After a moment he said, “I want to make it clear to everyone in this room that if I get the chance to kill McMay I will.”

   Landon walked over to Devon and placed his hand on Devon’s shoulder and said, “Do not think for a moment that I will not do the same Devon. We…you nearly lost Sarah at the hands of that man and his assistant.”

   Devon gazed at Landon and the look in his eyes was unsettling to him. He saw pain. A deep pain coming from somewhere in his friend and in that moment he understood that he did not know of the love Devon carried for Sarah. He did respect it though and for that reason alone he would do whatever needed to be done for him.

  

 

   Still standing at the bar top with her back to the women Brook was now on her fourth glass of wine. She had decided she was not going to turn around until it was requested of her to do so. She quietly slid on top of a bar stool.

   Brook closed her eyes tight and drank another full glass without hesitation. An image of Landon’s smile flashed in her mind. The low devilish sound of his words of promised wickedness rang in her head. So vivid and real she shuttered from the sound. Brook squeezed her eyes shut tighter. “Get out of my head,” she mumbled.

   “Who?”

   “You. Now go away already,” Brook answered softly out loud.

   “What is it exactly am I doing in there and I want details Red,” Landon said in a low hushed tone in her ear.

   Brook’s eyes flew open. Oh dear god. Panic began to wash over her.

   Quentin walked over to Landon. “I was wondering where you had run off to. I thought I might find you here.” He glanced over at Brook.

   Landon did not move his gaze from Brook and she remained staring straight forward at the shelves full of bottles lining the wall behind the bar. “Quent I seem to be here there and everywhere at the moment. Would you not agree Brook?”

   “Quentin my boy. Come tell us of your estate. It has been years since my last visit,” Grams asked.

   Quentin walked away leaving Brook and Landon to their acquired moment.

   She took the bottle of wine and emptied the remainder of it into her glass and drank half of it.

   “Thirsty are we Red? Perhaps I shall join you and you can fill me in on what I’m doing inside your pretty little Irish head.” Landon poured himself a splash of scotch. He lifted the glass over to Brook’s and clanged them together.

   She refused to make eye contact with him. Could someone die of embarrassment? She wanted to slither away in a corner and disappear. The room was growing warm and she needed fresh air. Brook picked up her glass of wine. She slid herself off the bar stool but when her feet hit the floor her legs felt like wet noodles. Her body spun around and landed in the arms of Landon.

   He could see she was flush. Brook grabbed his shoulders and her glass went tumbling to the floor.

   “Are you alright?” he asked. His hands were around her waist holding her with a tight grip.

   Brook shook her head as she gazed up into his deep green eyes. She found herself leaning in a little closer to him. The warmth of his breath drew her closer and then closer.

   Landon closed the gap between their lips and kissed her. He did it without thinking. The way she was looking at him captivated his every thought. It was his only thought. Her lips were so close.

   Brook felt the room begin to spin. She squeezed Landon’s shoulders harder. The kiss was brief as Brook pulled away from him. “I don’t feel very well Landon.

  He opened his eyes and she looked of a greenish color. “Brook are you going to be-

   Brook shook her head yes and Landon grabbed the ice bucket and dumped it on the floor with force. As soon as he handed it to Brook she used it right there.

   The loud noise from Brook’s activity caused everyone in the room to turn.

   Brook knelt to the floor and Landon stood by next to her. “Do we have another bucket? This one seems to be filling up quickly,” he asked. He bent down and took up Brook’s hair for her.

   Grams sent Sarah for some water and a few rags. “Oh the poor dear. It sounds painful. Do you think her to be sick with a bug?”

   “I think she was enjoying her wine tonight is all,” Quentin said.

   “Perhaps all of you would like to regather in a different location for the evening,” Landon said over Brook’s vocal activity.

   Grams stood up. “Yes I would agree that is best. If you need us we will not be far my boy.”

   As the group was leaving Richards entered the room with a few supplies and placed them next to Landon. “When you are able to move her Sir I will have a room ready for her in the east wing of the house. It will be the chamber at the end of the hall on the second floor. No one is in that wing so she may have her privacy. Shall I call for a maid Sir?”

   “Yes that will be good Richards,” Landon said.

   “I will have two waiting in her chamber Sir,” Richards said.

   After another minute Brook lifted her head out of the bucket. Landon gently wiped her face with the cool water. She had no color in her face at all.

   “I’m so sorry,” she whispered to him.

   “Do not think anything of it. I myself have had many nights like this very one,” he said.

   Brook closed her eyes and fell backward to the floor. Landon picked her up and carried her to the chamber on the second floor at the end of the hall. He laid her on the bed and the two maids began to remove her shoes.

   “I will be outside the door when you are finished,” Landon said.

   One of them said, “It will be a bit Sir. We have to clean her up.”

   Landon gave the woman a quick nod and shut the door behind him as he left.

   He strolled up and down the long hallway. It was dim with only a single candle on the table next to Brook’s room.

   Landon started to replay the moment in his mind before Brook had kissed him. The way she had gazed into his eyes was no way any other woman had before. He wanted to somehow feel the way she was looking at him. But what was it exactly? Desire to be kissed? A feeling of fascination? No it was something else entirely. He did not understand it; he only knew he had felt it.

   Perhaps it was the wine? She did have a lot. Although she was not laughing as most women do when they were in their drink.  She was staring. She was waiting. She was speaking to me with her eyes. Those gray blue beautiful eyes. She didn’t blink. She had parted her lips slightly as she had leaned in closer.

   “Sir,” the maid said.

   The sudden sound of her voice startled Landon and he whipped around. He walked to the doorway of her room.

   “Will you need us further tonight Sir?”

   Landon said to them both. “No I will handle it from here.” He entered the room and shut the door behind him. She was laid out in the bed with the covers up to her neck.
 © copyright 2012
 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Temptation of a Kiss ~ Chapter 3


Chapter 3

 

 

   Quentin saw the exchange-taking place between Landon and Marcy. He quickly made his way through the crowd with three drinks in his hands. “Ah here you are Landon. Our party is waiting for us to return with their beverages.” He placed himself between them. Quentin could see the fury within Landon’s eyes. Quentin turned and faced Marcy. “That will be enough for tonight thank you Lady Offensive who dwells in the town of Wicked.” He then turned to Landon who looked as if he was going to remove Marcy’s head from her body. “Time to go Landon.” Quentin nudged Landon to turn away from her. He was grateful when Landon did.

   “I will have my reprisal Landon. You cannot ignore me and think no more of me than a rejected dog,” Marcy shouted.

   Quentin stopped and faced her. “Even a discarded dog is looked upon with some degree of kindness. You have fallen well beneath a lowly dog. Your heart is truly hollow Lady.” He turned to join the others. He had wanted to say those things to her years ago.

   The group could see what had just taken place. Devon was glad Quentin had made it there when he did, if not, Devon knew he was going to have to intervene. Devon could not stand the manipulating dishonest woman.

   “Who was that Landon was speaking with?” Sarah asked Devon.

   “No one who you would care to meet my love,” Devon said.

   “There is a horrid story with them, but now is neither the time nor the place for such things,” Grams said. “She is an awful woman and I will fill you girls in later.”

   Brook wanted to know who that woman was. She gazed at Landon as he walked to the group. Their eyes locked and Landon concentrated on Brook’s face. He could see the questioning confusion in her eyes.

   The two men came up and sat down with the group. Everyone was trying not to stare at Landon, but they all were. Landon drank his drink quickly. The group remained quiet for a long time.

   Landon stood up and said, “Does anyone care to take our party elsewhere?”

   “Yes,” everyone replied at the same time. It drew some attention from the crowds around them.

   Without thinking, Landon stood in front of Brook and offered her his hand. She took it and smiled at him with warmth. He then took her hand and placed it on his arm to escort her out to the carriages.

   “Quentin how did you arrive this evening my boy?” Grams asked.

   “By horse my Lady,” Quentin said.

   “Do you care to ride in one of the carriages?” Grams asked.

   Quentin looked to the sky. “It is a fare night. I thank you but I think I shall ride. I assume we will all re gather at your mumble abode?”

   “I do believe so unless anyone has another suggestion,” Grams said. She waited for someone to say something. “Well then, it is off to the Price Estate.”

   Devon helped the women into the carriage, making sure Sarah was last. Before helping her in too, he kissed her on the lips and whispered something in her ear. Sarah giggled and then entered the carriage.

   Devon took a seat in the second carriage across from Landon. “Are you alright?”

   Landon continued to stare out the window. “I truly loath that woman Devon. She made reference to Brook as slumming.”

   Devon took a deep breath in. “We all know what kind of woman she is Landon. Do not allow her to drag you in. It is what she wants after all.” Devon shifted in his seat. “Did she bring it up again?”

   Landon was still staring out the window. “Ya she did. Cold heartless bitch.”

   Devon raised his eyebrows. He was not use to hearing Landon speak that way. “It seems to me she has gotten what she wanted tonight.”

   Landon looked at Devon. “What do you mean? I hardly exchanged words with the woman.”

   Devon leaned forward. “Think about it Landon. What are you doing right now? Thinking about her? She is doing what she does every time you see her. Making you leave and think about her for the rest of the night.”

   Landon said, “You are right. She is not worth my time or energy.”

   Shortly after the carriage pulled away from the ball, Grams dove right into the nights events.

   “Marcy Croft was Landon’s fiancĂ©e a few years back. It was an arranged marriage by both parents. As beautiful as she is, the woman is pure evil.”

   “What happened?” Sarah asked.

   “It started with the parents of both of them. The two families had wanted to join their bloodlines for years. When Landon was still a mere child it was told to him that he was to marry one of the Croft girls. Upon the birth of Lucy, Marcy’s sister, a contract was drawn up for the promise of marriage between Landon and Lucy.

   Brook interrupted. “So how was it then that he was engaged to Marcy?”

   “While in the last stages of their engagement, Lucy was found to be with child. Landon refused to raise another man’s baby so the engagement was broken off by Landon himself.”

   Sarah asked, “So the family then had intended Landon to marry Marcy?”

   “Yes and they were engaged for nearly a year. Landon kept putting the marriage off. Dates were set then cancelled and then set again. My true belief is that Landon will never marry unless it is for love. Well anyways, a month before the last date was set Marcy’s family announced she was with child.”

   Sarah gasped and then covered her mouth with her hand. “Landon has a child?”

   “No no no my dear. He insisted the child could not be his. Marcy was eight weeks with child and Landon said they had had relations only once 5 months earlier.”

   Brook felt numb all over. She didn’t want to hear anymore of the story.

   Grams continued. “Marcy ended up losing the baby and said it was due to the stress Landon had caused her by breaking their arrangement.” Grams gazed up at the roof of the carriage and placed both hands over her heart. She shook her head slowly back and forth. “That poor poor boy. He held himself responsible for quite some time after that.”

   Sarah said, “Why, it was not his child? He had every right to refuse the marriage. Lady Croft has no one to blame other than herself.”

   “I could not agree more my dear. Marcy takes each opportunity to remind Landon of that tragic year when they see one another,” Grams said.

   In a soft voice Brook said, “That is probably the reason he decided to travel the world.”

   “I believe you to be right Brook,” Grams said.

   The carriages arrived at the Price Estate. The door opened to reveal Landon and Devon standing there. Devon helped Grams down and then Sarah.

   Landon approached the carriage smiling at Brook. She emerged from the carriage and placed her hand in his. Landon cradled Brooks hand within his.

   “Quentin has not yet arrived?” Grams asked.

   “You know Quentin Grams. He most likely became side tracked. I am sure he will show up before the night has ended,” Landon said. He strolled over to Grams and offered his free arm to her.

   “You have been keeping me waiting all night for the slightest touch of your delicious teasing hand onto me. You know how it drives me mad. Why do you tease me so?” Landon said to Grams.

   Grams let out a loud laugh. “How else am I to keep you on your toes and at my feet?” Grams replied while still laughing.

   Sarah giggled with Brook. “I do not think I will ever become use to the way you two talk to one another,” Brook said. “Can you imagine what the ton would say if they heard the two of you carrying on in this manner.”

   Devon chuckled. “What makes you think they haven’t Brook?” Devon pointed to Landon and said, “He loves to make a spectacle of himself as much as Grams does. Two years ago they caused an elderly woman to faint.”

   “Lady Huntington is her name,” Grams stated.

   “Yes well, the two of you were quite proud with your accomplishment for the evening,” Devon said.

   This caused a roar of laughter from everyone as the group entered through the front doors. Devon led the way to the large sitting room at the front of the house off to the right of the front doors.

   Landon and Devon both moved behind the bar to pour drinks. The women took their usual places on the sofas.

   Devon gazed up at the women. “I never imagined two months ago I could be this happy. I feel so alive and alert. Life is good Landon.”

   Landon said, “Of course it’s good, you’re in love.”

   “It is more than just that. I have close friends, a growing family, and Sarah. It is if I was wondering around missing half of me and I was not even aware of it.”

   Landon chuckled. “You sound like a buffoon Devon. Wait! You are not going to faint are you? If so, I need a warning.”

   Devon popped the cork out of the bottle of wine. “Someday Landon you will meet a woman whom consumes your every thought. When that day arrives, come find me and we’ll talk. When I say Sarah is my everything…I truly mean she is everything.” Devon smiled and walked over to the women.

   Landon shook his head at his foolish friend. Love. Everything. Come on. A mere fancy that will fade and then where will he be. Trapped is what he will be. Landon laughed to himself.

   Sarah turned to Brook and asked, “Do tell us Brook what happened on the dance floor with you and Quentin?”

   “I kept looking to my feet and forgot the steps,” Brook said,

   “Yes but then Landon swooped in and you looked as though you had been dancing since you could walk,” Sarah said.

   Grams let out a giggle.

   The sound of the front doors closing turned everyone’s head in that direction saving Brook from answering a question she was not ready to answer.

   “I am here please remain seated,” Quentin said as he entered the room and bowed with dramatic fashion.

   Sarah said to Devon. “Your friends are silly.”

   “Silly? That is no way to describe a man Sarah,” Landon said.

   “Have you seen one in the room?” Brook asked.

   “Seen what?” Landon replied.

   “A man,” Brook answered.

   Landon stood from his chair and asked, “What is it you believe makes a man a man?”

   “Strength!” Grams shouted.

   Landon held his arm up and popped his bicep muscle.

   Sarah added, “Wit.”

   Landon then moved his hand to cover his chin as if he was thinking hard.

   Brook said, “Impressive dance moves.”

   Landon stepped forward and pulled Brook to her feet. He held Brook against the length of his body and began to dance with her in his arms. He maneuvered them to the open area in the large room. Landon twirled her and moved with her about the room.

   Brook was giggling until he dipped her low. As he did, he pulled up Brook’s right leg to his hip.

   “Am I impressing you now, Red?” Landon asked. His words were slow and deep.

   Brook did not answer. Instead, she allowed her arms and head to fall back. This caused her body to be at his mercy within his arms.

   Landon was so close to her breasts. Brook O’Brien you are sinful.

   “I believe you have mastered the art of teasing Brook.” Grams turned to Devon and said, “You see I have rubbed off on her my boy.”

   “Oh Grams, in more ways than we can count,” Devon replied.

   Landon slowly lifted Brook to face him while still holding her in the dip. He was mere inches away from Brook’s lips. Landon softly whispered, “Little girls who play with fire always get burned.”

   Brook gave him a devilish smile. “You do call me Red…do you not?”

   Landon leaned closer and said softly, “The kind of burn I will deliver onto your sinfully seductive body will scare you, Red.” Landon then held her gaze for a moment longer just long enough to watch her lips part with wonder and then dropped her to the floor on her bottom.
 

© copyright 2012