The Dream of Love: Episode 8


Adam was going to kiss her!
Remi wanted to close her eyes, but at the same time wanted to keep them open to see what he was doing and learn from it. She had dreamed of him kissing her in a moonlit garden, but here by the river, in the sunshine, under a light breeze with birds chirping in the trees, could not be more perfect.
Except she was soaking wet, having slipped by the edge of the water and fallen under completely. No one said she had to look perfect to be kissed.
And this was more true to her nature, for she had never been the biddable, sit-in-the-parlor-and-behave-like-a-proper-lady sort of girl.
Adam cupped her face in his hands and smiled at her.
Even if this was the only kiss she would ever receive from him. Even if he regretted it and never spoke to her again... well, no, she wanted them to speak again. She wanted him to marry her and kiss her endlessly, but she’d worry about that later.
She closed her eyes, deciding he was less likely to change his mind if she couldn’t see him. Besides, she was growing cold in these wet clothes and feeling the breeze against them. She wanted him to kiss her before her lips turned blue.
“Remi,” he said in an aching whisper, the one raspy word starting a little fire in her body that chased away her chill. He cupped the back of her head and circled his arm about her waist to draw her up against him.
He was getting his front all wet.
He didn’t seem to care.
His lips came down on hers, pressing against her mouth with surprising ardor, his kiss confident and deep. This was not a polite kiss, by any means. Nor was it too rough, just filled with smoldering heat and overwhelming tenderness.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and returned his kiss with equal intensity. She could be no other way with him. His lips were warm and his tongue felt delicious as it licked along the seam of her mouth. He did no more than lick lightly, perhaps not wishing to scare her with his passion. He was holding back, not giving his urges free rein.
That he felt any urges with her was rewarding enough.
“Remi, stop thinking,” he said in an amused whisper against her lips. “Just feel the kiss. Let it flow through you.”
She wanted to tell him to do the same, for he was the one hiding from his feelings. Hers were so open and exposed, it was at times humiliating. But she wasn’t about to lecture him, not while she was wrapped in his hard, muscled arms, her head resting again his hard, solid chest, and her lips hungrily probing and tangling with his.
She was trying to reach into his soul.
He may only have been thinking of her body.
Not that she minded surrendering her body to a fiery whirlpool of desire. Her senses were heightened, eager to take all of him in. The look of him, splendid, of course. Masculine and hot. The scent of him, sandalwood and rugged outdoors. Hot and hotter. The taste of him, of the strawberry jam he must have eaten this morning and washed down with his coffee. Insanely hot.
He growled low in his throat, the sound possessive and sensual as he ended the kiss. “Remi, I can hear your mind racing.”
“No, Adam. You’re mistaken. You’ve left me mindless. I’m feeling each sensation. I’ve gotten through the first four senses, sight, taste, hearing, scent. I was just getting to the sense of touch, but you ended the kiss before I was finished.”
“You’re still in my arms. How does my touch feel?”
“Do you really need to ask? I’d stay in your arms forever if I could. I’d hold on to you and love you all the days of my life if you’d let me.”
She recognized her mistake at once. She’d made mention of love. He stiffened and drew away.
Now out of his arms, she began to shiver.
He glanced at her and noticed she’d wrapped her arms around herself. “Bollocks. You’re shaking.”
“From cold,” she assured. “I’m not about to cry because you don’t love me and won’t be the one to marry me. But I have no intention of lying to you or to myself. If the choice were mine to make, I’d choose you. I wouldn’t be choosing you for your good looks, although we all know how stunningly handsome you are. I’d be choosing you for your kindness. For your strength and compassion. For your ability to think for yourself and stand up for what’s right.”
He removed his jacket and wrapped it around her. “Let me take you back to the manor house. The wind is cooling. You shouldn’t stay out here much longer. Lord, you look like a drowned, little water rat.”
He was staring at her, with that stony, expressionless look she detested, even more so at this moment. He was hiding his feelings again, retreating behind that massive wall around his heart. As for her, she had never built any walls.
No, she was completely defenseless. Step right in. Trample my heart. Stomp on it. Stomp on it harder. Leave it in tatters.
“Remi, I–”
“If you dare tell me our kiss was a mistake, I vow I shall punch you in the face.” She curled her hands into fists, not that he would notice. His jacket was far too big for her and the sleeves fell below her hands.
He laughed and his gaze turned tender. “No, I would never say that. What I was going to say before you turned Valkyrie on me and threatened to beat me to a bloody pulp was, would you come help me at the vicarage tomorrow?”
She inhaled lightly. “Yes, of course. Why?”
“The church council wishes to plan something for midsummer’s eve. You’re more creative than I’ll ever be. Why don’t you come along and have a listen? Maybe offer a few suggestions.”
She wasn’t certain why he’d asked her, but she had only a few days to figure out her life and already knew that Adam had to be in it. If he wanted her at the vicarage, she’d show up promptly at the scheduled time, dressed demurely, but not so demurely he wouldn’t notice her body and perhaps ache a little over it. “You’re asking for my ideas?” She grinned at him. “They might be outrageous.”
“I’m fully aware. I’m counting on it. You’ll offer something fun for all. Every year it is a stodgy, holier-than-thou event that everyone must suffer through to prove how pious they are. As you know from the kiss we just shared–”
“Did you like it, by the way?”
His smile melted her heart. “Yes.”
“I’m glad. I liked it very much, too.”
“I know.” He nodded toward the bench where the book and her stockings were still perched. “Midsummer’s Eve is a pagan holiday, which is why the council wants everyone praying in church instead of out in the fields, stark naked and howling at the moon.”
“That sounds ever more fun.”
He caressed her cheek. “It would be with you. But the thought of all my parishioners stripped down to nothing, their pasty arses flapping in the moonlight...” He gave a mock shudder. “It would haunt my dreams.”
“And they’re already haunted, aren’t they?”
His face drained of color in that moment.
“Adam, I’m sorry. I’ve opened my big mouth again. Don’t be angry with me. I’ve already told you that I want to make a life with you. I’ve told you that I love you. I’m not taking it back and will never deny it. Never. If we married, which would be a holy miracle, I know. But if we married, I would never withhold anything from you. I’d never lie to you. I’d confide in you because I trust you and value your opinions. I know you’ll always tell me the truth and always protect me. You’d be my friend and protector, just as I would be yours.”
He stalked to the bench, picked up the book, her stockings, and her shoes, then marched back to her and dumped them in her hands. Was he going to leave her and tell her to make her own way back?
He answered by lifting her in his arms and carrying her toward the manor house. “I merely invited you to a council meeting,” he said with a growl.
“No, you didn’t. You invited me into your church. Into your sanctuary, which is a metaphor for your heart.”
“Amazing. You discerned all that from a simple invitation?”
“Yes.” She rested her head against his shoulder, her ear against his steadily beating heart. “You want me in there.” She touched him lightly, her palm flat against the beating organ for a moment before she drew it away. “You’d just like those walls to come down a little slower, allow me to remove a stone here and a stone there. But you’re wondering if you can let me in without showing me all of you.”
“Can I?”
She nodded. “Yes, I will not push you. When you are ready, I know you will tell me. And if you are never ready, that will be all right, too.” She glanced at The Book of Love. “I told you I’m an avid reader and a good student when I want to be. This book isn’t a magical book of spells, it’s a pathway to the magic that happens when you open your heart to love.”
He grumbled, but was still listening, so she continued. “This is why several chapters are devoted to exploring one’s senses. We have to be taught to look and listen, to touch with kindness and speak with truth. I wish I could give this book to my father, but he’d toss it into the fire and burn it. Anyway, it isn’t mine to give away. I’ll return it to Poppy before the party.”
He did not look pleased at the mention of a party.
Good. She wanted him to be possessive and apelike when suitors came forward. She wasn’t certain any would, but several men might ask her to dance. Hopefully it would be enough to rile Adam. She wanted him in that piss-in-the-corners-to-mark-his-territory state of arousal. She wanted him to pound on his chest like a barbarian and declare no one but he would ever touch her.
Well, she was exaggerating quite a bit.
Neither of them spoke as they made their way back until Adam suddenly broke the silence. “I had four older brothers.”
She inhaled lightly. “Any younger brothers? Any sisters?”
“So only the four older brothers. Are they all in Inverness?” She asked the question warily, afraid she’d scare him off if she asked more. But she wanted to know about his family, his childhood, anything he would share with her.
“Yes... I suppose one could say that.”
“Wait, you said had four. Adam, I’m so sorry. Is this the reason you aren’t with your family now?”
She could hear the turmoil in his silence.
“What happened to your brothers?”