Truce: The Historic Neighbor from Hell, Page 22R. L. Mathewson
Elizabeth turned around, sighing happily, in her chair and pushed aside his papers. “If you don’t mind, Robert, you’re in my light and probably in Mr. Jenkins’s light as well. If you want the poor man to be able to work, then you should really move. ”
When he didn’t respond she got nervous. She looked up slowly to see him practically shaking with rage. She gulped. Giving him a tentative smile she asked, “Too far?”
Slowly, he nodded.
“Oh dear. ” She jumped to her feet and ducked just as he reached for her. For some reason she always went too far where he was concerned. It really couldn’t be helped though, it was simply too much fun to pass up.
She hiked up her skirts and ran as though her life depended upon it. With one look over her shoulder she realized that it just might. He was chasing after her. She shrieked, but didn’t stop. Her father stepped out into the hall in front of her, flanked by James and Lord Bradford.
“Elizabeth?” he asked, looking stunned.
“Too far!” she said as if those two words would explain why a grown man was chasing his daughter. Evidently they did, because all three men laughed and nodded knowingly. She didn’t stick around to see if her father was going to help her. There was a madman chasing her after all.
“Beth!” Robert roared.
She yelped as she ran through the kitchen. “Stop him!” she pleaded to the servants. One look at Robert had them all stepping back.
She was out of breath and admittedly frightened. Robert as a boy was a formidable opponent. Robert as a man was deadly. She scooted around the long oak table, hoping to keep him on the other side.
“Leave us,” he ordered in a cold voice.
“No, don’t!” Elizabeth pleaded.
They weren’t stupid. They fled. She would have too if he’d given her the option. Hmm, perhaps he was. She ducked and tried to join the fleeing servants. His hand came down on her shoulder just when she thought that she might be able to sneak away.
“Oh, not you, Elizabeth. ”
She laughed nervously. “Well, you weren’t specific. ” She ducked away from him.
“You went too far, Elizabeth. ”
“I-I know,” she stammered as she went back around the table. He followed at a predatory pace. This man was frightening. Why hadn’t she noticed that in the orangery?
He stopped suddenly and looked to his left. “Oh look, it’s laundry day,” he noted in a deceptively bored tone.
She didn’t want to move her gaze away from him, but her eyes wouldn’t listen to her. Of their own accord they followed his gaze to the large laundry tub full of water, clothes and soap.
Before she knew what was happening he had her scooped up in his arms. She tried to squirm her way out of his hold, but there was no give. “Let me go!”
“Of course, my Lady. Your wish is my command,” he said pleasantly before he released her.
Her words were cut off by an intake of cold soapy water. She gasped as she pulled herself up. She was suddenly soaked to the bone and freezing. The large fire several feet behind her did nothing to chase away the chill.
Robert’s smile slowly faded as his eyes narrowed on her dress. She looked down to discover that her light blue gown was now sticking to her and was see through! Her ni**les were hard from the cold and were poking against the wet material. She watched as Robert hungrily licked his lips.
She scrambled to get out of the tub and away from that hungry look. She grabbed a dry, crumpled sheet from the pile near the tub and wrapped it firmly around herself, tucking it in above her br**sts. He stepped forward almost as if he couldn't stop himself and just as she prepared herself for the worst, his mouth came down on hers.
* * *
She tasted of soapy water and minx. Instead of slapping him like he’d expected, she pulled him closer and kissed him back. Their mouths moved in a perfect dance. His tongue traced her lower lip requesting entrance and she gave it.
Afraid the servants might return at any moment, he opened his eyes to make sure that they were still alone as she turned them around. He still couldn’t believe that she was kissing him after what he’d done to her.
“Anyone coming?” she mumbled.
“No, no one,” he murmured against her lips.
“Good. ” She ran her hands down his chest to his waist where she began to undo his trousers. Alarm and joy shot through him. “Minx?” he asked breathlessly as she deepened the kiss. Good God, they were going to make love in the kitchen, he realized with a possessive growl as he took over the kiss.
He felt his pants drop down around his boots the same moment that he felt something hard bump against the back of his legs. She pulled back, smiling seductively up at him. Her hands traced back up to his chest where they flattened.
“I think you need to cool off,” she said as she shoved him.
Thanks to his pants around his ankles and the edge of the barrel behind him, he lost his balance. He landed in the ice-cold tub of water with his pants around his ankles, making it difficult to climb out.
“I believe now, sir, that we are even,” she said with a curtsy.
“ You brat!” he roared.
She stepped back, biting her lip nervously. Perhaps just dumping him in the water would have made them even. Dropping his pants might have been too much. After a short struggle, he managed to climb out of the tub and yank his wet clothes up with great effort. He quickly fastened his pants just in time too since their fathers stormed into the kitchen seconds later. They took one look at the both of them and started laughing.
“Run,” he said in a harsh, cold voice.
“Exactly my thoughts on the matter,” Elizabeth said as she turned and bolted past her father.
“Too far?” her father asked, laughing.
“Yes!” she squeaked.
Robert watched her leave. If he took one step after her, he was sure that he was going to kill her with sex. Even after an ice cold bath his excitement for her wouldn’t diminish. God, she was wonderful and he was going to enjoy getting back at her, he decided.
“I don’t like that smile, Robert. Just promise me that you won’t kill her,” Richard demanded, still looking amused.
“I promise, my Lord,” he said. That was the only promise anyone would get from him where Elizabeth was concerned.
His father slapped Lord Norwood on the shoulder. “At least our time here won’t be boring. ”
Richard laughed in agreement as they left the room, leaving Robert to plan his revenge.
* * *
“That’s lovely, my Lady,” Jane, her maid, said.
Elizabeth looked her dress over. The neckline was low, but not too low to cause a scandal. She liked the color, light green. It reminded her of Robert’s eyes, which was not the reason she chose to wear this dress, not at all. She hated the man after all.
It was his fault that she’d been forced to hide in her room for the last week, pretending to be sick. She would have stayed longer if her father hadn’t put his foot down and called her a coward. She was not a coward. She just wasn’t foolish enough to come out and face a madman waiting to kill her. Self-preservation was at fault here.
She had to go out tonight anyway. It was the Blackward’s annual ball and her mother would never forgive her if she missed it. It was one of the more popular balls, and only the elite were invited. No one dared miss it, or they risked being snubbed next year.