Why fight attraction?
You'll find out why...read on. :-) And thanks for joining in! Muah, Jessica Nelson
The cool February breeze nipped at Elizabeth's cheeks as she and the Baron stepped onto her lands. The sprawling keep and its surrounding countryside were in fine condition, a fact for which Elizabeth could claim partial responsibility. Despite the chilly wind that played with her kirtle, the clear skies and bright sunshine roused warmth to her bared head and she was suddenly thankful she hadn't worn her kerchief. She stayed inside far too often and 'twas time for fresh air. Even if it meant bearing the company of an arrogant Baron too fond of his own words.
"The farther we move from the keep, the more your icy façade melts. Why, indeed, I believe I spot a smile twitching the corners of your lips." The Baron's expressive eyes twinkled in the sunlight and Elizabeth couldn't decide whether to laugh or scowl, for he did possess a charming demeanor.
Despite his lacking character.
Icy façade, her wimple.
"Don't be deceived. My mouth often twitches when I am exercising restraint."
"Perhaps it is a word you are unfamiliar with." She paused to let the barb sink in, for his silly smiles and playful words suggested a personality long used to being spoiled. "However, I must use restraint often. My aunt believes me overly forward, but I am of the mind that a woman's brain is as useful and strong as any man's."
"And so your mouth is twitching in an effort to hold back your opinion of me? Such a lovely mouth should not twitch so."
Elizabeth eyed him. "First I must not scowl. Now I must not twitch. I daresay you are not happy unless you are telling a lady what to do."
"Come now, a lady knows such things are prohibited. But perhaps you are not a lady?"
And yet a traitorous urge to laugh tickled her. She forced a stern note into her voice. "Do you always jest so?"
"Only when the mood is upon me. Are you always so serious?" His head tilted. They had stopped walking at some point, and now faced each other. His hair was rather wild, dancing around his handsome features.
An odd pang pulled at her heart. "Not always, but I have been finagled into something I detest and it has sullied my good will." She grimaced.
"That twitch must cease at once." Baron Drake leaned forward as if to wipe it from her lips.
She reared back, alarm and some other strange, heady emotion hammering through her body in fierce beats. Patrica admired this man. She longed to know him. Elizabeth had no right to feel anything toward him but curiosity. The Baron straightened as though he'd never meant such an uncouth action but though his mouth still tipped in that lazy, mischievous way of his, the awareness in his eyes dared her to speak her thoughts.
Elizabeth swallowed hard, surprised at the dryness of her mouth.
"You do not strike me as a woman who is finagled into anything," he finally said.
She wet her lips and glanced at the parapet. Was Patrica watching? "It is the Feast of St. Valentine's and I'm to arrange the couples."
A great gust of laughter broke from him. The pleasing sound shimmered through her in undulating waves, much like the surface of a lake in moonlight. Again, she felt that unnerving curiosity or perhaps something worse, liking. She adjusted her cloak, wrapping it tightly around her as if to ward off his charm.
"As I am to arrange the couples, should I add your name in? If you are leaving in the morn..."
"Do not add me. I've no mind to be shackled to any woman." Though his eyes crinkled, a forlorn note crept into his voice. Or perhaps she imagined it. 'Twas a surprise to hear her own sentiments flowing from his mouth.
"I quite understand," she said.
Their eyes met and an unlikely sense of kinship stirred beneath her breastbone. This man, for all his light ways and lax manners, held hidden depths. She could not allow him to draw her in. A man could only threaten the tidy and secure future she planned for herself.
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth!" The frantic cry reached them at the same time. They turned to see Patrica racing toward them, panic twisting her pretty features. "Come quickly, 'tis Aunt Jane."