Home > A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)(5)

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)(5)
Author: Tessa Dare

She stared at him.

“Don’t concern yourself, miss. It’s nothing.” His gaze darkened with some mysterious intent. “Nothing a little kiss won’t mend.”

And before she could even catch her breath, he pressed his lips to hers.

A kiss. His mouth, touching hers. It was warm and firm, and then . . . it was over.

Her first real kiss in all her five-and-twenty years, and it was finished in a heartbeat. Just a memory now, save for the faint bite of whiskey on her lips. And the heat. She still tasted his scorching, masculine heat. Belatedly, she closed her eyes.

“There, now,” he murmured. “All better.”

Better? Worse? The darkness behind her eyelids held no answers, so she opened them again.

Different. This strange, strong man held her in his protective embrace, and she was lost in his intriguing green stare, and his kiss reverberated in her bones with more force than a powder blast. And now she felt different.

The heat and weight of him . . . they were like an answer. The answer to a question Susanna hadn’t even been aware her body was asking. So this was how it would be, to lie beneath a man. To feel shaped by him, her flesh giving in some places and resisting in others. Heat building between two bodies; dueling heartbeats pounding both sides of the same drum.

Maybe . . . just maybe . . . this was what she’d been waiting to feel all her life. Not swept her off her feet—but flung across the lane and sent tumbling head over heels while the world exploded around her.

He rolled onto his side, giving her room to breathe. “Where did you come from?”

“I think I should ask you that.” She struggled up on one elbow. “Who are you? What on earth are you doing here?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” His tone was grave. “We’re bombing the sheep.”

“Oh. Oh dear. Of course you are.” Inside her, empathy twined with despair. Of course, he was cracked in the head. One of those poor soldiers addled by war. She ought to have known it. No sane man had ever looked at her this way.

She pushed aside her disappointment. At least he had come to the right place. And landed on the right woman. She was far more skilled in treating head wounds than fielding gentlemen’s advances. The key here was to stop thinking of him as an immense, virile man and simply regard him as a person who needed her help. An unattractive, poxy, eunuch sort of person.

Reaching out to him, she traced one fingertip over his brow. “Don’t be frightened,” she said in a calm, even tone. “All is well. You’re going to be just fine.” She cupped his cheek and met his gaze directly. “The sheep can’t hurt you here.”


“You’re going to be just fine,” she repeated.

Bram believed her. Wholeheartedly. At the moment, he was feeling damned fine indeed. He had a road cleared of sheep, a functioning leg, and a fetching young miss stroking his brow. Why the devil should he complain?

Granted, the fetching young miss thought he was a blithering idiot. But that was a mere quibble. Truth be told, he was still gathering his wits.

In those moments following the blast, his first, admittedly selfish thought had been for his knee. He was almost certain he’d ripped the joint apart again, what with that ungainly rescue attempt. Before his injury, he would have managed to scoop this girl off the road with more grace. She was lucky he’d been standing to the side of the lane and not down the hill with the others, or he never could have reached her in time.

Once a few moments’ assessment and a trial flex or two had assured him his knee remained intact, his thoughts had all centered on her. How the irises of her eyes were the same blue as . . . well, irises. How she smelled like a garden—a whole garden. Not just blossoms and herbs, but the juice of crushed green leaves and the rich, fertile essence of the earth. How she made the perfect place to land, so warm and so soft. How it had been a stupidly long time since he’d had a woman under him, and he couldn’t recall one ever caressing him so sweetly as this.

God, had he truly kissed her?

He had. And she was lucky he hadn’t done more. For a moment there, he’d been well and truly dazed. He supposed the blast was to blame for that. Or maybe it was just her.

She sat up a bit further. Wisps of loosened hair tumbled about her face. Her hair was a striking shade of gold, touched with red. It made him think of molten bronze.

“Do you know what day it is?” she asked, peering at him.

“Don’t you?”

“Here in Spindle Cove, we ladies have a schedule. Mondays are country walks. Tuesdays, sea bathing. Wednesdays, you’d find us in the garden.” She touched the back of her hand to his forehead. “What is it we do on Mondays?”

“We didn’t get to Thursdays.”

“Thursdays are irrelevant. I’m testing your ability to recall information. Do you remember Mondays?”

He stifled a laugh. God, her touch felt good. If she kept petting and stroking him like this, he might very well go mad.

“Tell me your name,” he said. “I promise to recall it.” A bit forward, perhaps. But any chance for formal introductions had already fallen casualty to the powder charge.

Speaking of the powder charge, here came the brilliant mastermind of the sheep siege. Damn his eyes.

“Are you well, miss?” Colin asked.

“I’m well,” she answered. “I’m afraid I can’t say the same for your friend.”

“Bram?” Colin prodded him with a boot. “You look all of a piece.”

No thanks to you.

“He’s completely addled, the poor soul.” The girl patted his cheek. “Was it the war? How long has he been like this?”

“Like this?” Colin smirked down at him. “Oh, all his life.”

“All his life?”

“He’s my cousin. I should know.”

A flush pressed to her cheeks, overwhelming her freckles. “If you’re his cousin, you should take better care of him. What are you thinking, allowing him to wander the countryside, waging war on flocks of sheep?”

Ah, that was sweet. The lass cared. She would see him settled in a very comfortable asylum, she would. Perhaps Thursdays would be her day to visit and lay cool cloths to his brow.

“I know, I know,” Colin replied gravely. “He’s a certifiable fool. Completely unstable. Sometimes the poor bastard even drools. But the hell of it is, he controls my fortune. Every last penny. I can’t tell him what to do.”

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