Read Chaste Kiss Online

Authors: Jo Barrett

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Ghosts, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Contemporary Fiction

Chaste Kiss (7 page)

BOOK: Chaste Kiss
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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She liked it. She liked it a lot. “It's about time you noticed."

"Aye, I am noticing a great deal. But I fear if I do not put something between us, I will surely be condemned to Purgatory."

It took a brief second for her to understand what he meant, but once she caught his meaning a heated coil in the deepest part of her unfurled. He wanted to touch her, and he wasn't insinuating a friendly handshake.

Isabel took a generous step backward. Loosing him was not an option. He meant far too much. More than she'd first thought. With a mental shake, she pushed the dangerous feelings aside. Nothing could be done about it. Now or ever. Even if he did want to touch her and said she was beautiful, they could never be like normal people.

Refusing to let the weight of her thoughts ruin their time together, she said, “If not a game of chess, perhaps you'll sit with me while I eat.” She motioned to the little table.

William nodded and pulled out her chair, then stepped around to the opposite side and seated himself. She lifted the bottle of wine and struggled with the cork.

"Allow me.” He took the bottle from her grasp, careful to avoid any chance of a casual touch, and easily removed the cork.

"Thank you.” She nibbled on a piece of cheese as he poured her a glass of wine. “William, I was wondering. You can see me, hear me, and you can touch things. Even open a bottle, but can you taste and smell as well? Do you have all your senses?” She lifted her glass to take a drink.

William mentally groaned as he watched her rosy lips part and touch the glass. As her dainty tongue darted out to catch the stray droplet of wine, he squeezed his eyes closed.

His world had shifted the moment he appeared by the chamber bed and found her standing before the window, the light of the waning sun surrounding her in an ethereal glow. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

Her burgundy curls fell wildly across her shoulders, brushing lightly against the swell of her breasts. He ached to feel the silkiness of her tresses and cradle the soft globes lying beneath them. The sparkle in her emerald eyes flashed brilliantly, holding none of the mischievous nature she had as a child, but the sensuality of a woman. A very desirable woman. A woman he could never have.

Blast his lusting soul! ‘Twas the very thing that brought him to such a miserable existence.

"William, are you all right?"

Jarred from his mental torture, he strived to cover his unexpected yearnings. “Aye, I am well. You asked if I could smell and taste.” He shook his head. “Nay, I cannot. As for the others, I only know that I do."

"Oh."

He watched her face fall as she dropped her gaze to the wineglass in her hand, her slender fingers stroking the stem. A most unsettling movement.

"Why does this make you sad?” he asked.

Isabel smiled, but falsely. “Oh, I just thought that maybe you could smell this fabulous wine, the cheese—my perfume,” she added, continuing her intensive study of the wineglass.

"Describe your scent to me,” he begged softly.

She lifted her head, her cheeks a pleasing shade of pink. “I guess it's sort of a light musk with spices in it. I've never been fond of flowery perfumes."

With ease, William imagined the fragrance she described. A heady, drugging scent that would fill his aching soul and fuel the burning need growing inside him. “Nay. A floral scent would not suit you."

Several silent moments passed between them as he battled the direction of his thoughts. “I believe you challenged me to a game of chess."

She took a hefty gulp of wine. “Yes. Yes, I did. Are you up for it? You know I plan on pulverizing you.” She cast him a teasing grin.

"We shall see, mistress. We shall see."

The hours passed and he was in truth pulverized, but by his own desires, not their game of chess. He could not tarry much longer in her presence. His willpower was rapidly failing. With every motion of her hand, every tilt of her head, he was inundated with images of her lying beneath him, her hair spread out against the crisp white linens, and the rapturous look upon her face at the culmination of their joining.

The time had come to leave. “The hour grows late and you have bested me, sweet Isabel. I must bid you good night and pleasant dreams."

He rose from his chair, quickly placing it before him. As impossible as it seemed, his breeches had grown uncomfortably tight. Yearnings not experienced since he lived laid siege to his being.

Isabel frowned. “Don't go yet. I've gotten so much rest I'm sure I won't be able to fall asleep for hours."

He found it difficult to resist her pleas, but had to remove himself before he was lost forever. The need to touch her soft skin, to taste her sweet lips was far too great. Damn the old hag for leaving him his manly yearnings. No doubt, ‘twas what she intended.

"Even a ghost wearies, mistress,” he said. “I have expended too much energy this e'en and must rest. Until the morrow.” He bowed and vanished.

"Good night, William."

Isabel felt like her date had just left her unceremoniously on the doorstep. Not all that unusual, it happened rather frequently before Chad. She shook her head at her choice of words.

She'd referred to William as her date. Not good. Not good at all. He was a ghost, for pity's sake, not her lover. But her mind and body continued debating their different points of view. It was more than enough to give her a headache.

Groaning, she walked into the bathroom and got ready for bed. Did ghosts really get tired? Perhaps he was just tired of being with her. Maybe he was bored like all her other dates.

After performing her nightly routine, Isabel crawled beneath the sheets and put all her efforts into having an uneventful sleep. She didn't think she could handle any more dreams about William. She had to think of him as a friend and nothing more. Maybe she should've left their relationship alone.

No, that wouldn't have worked. Eventually he'd have realized she was a grown woman and not a little girl lying in his bed.

His bed
. “Great, just the kind of thoughts you don't need,” she muttered, clamping her eyes closed.

* * * *

The next day dawned bright and sunny, pulling Isabel outside. She slowly walked the formal gardens, remembering her evening with William. She hadn't felt his presence when she woke up and started to get a little worried. If he'd hurt himself somehow because of her, she'd never forgive herself.

Trying to push aside her anxious thoughts, she pictured her uncle and Constance at breakfast. She nearly laughed out loud at how they sneaked glances at one another, neither catching the other in the act. It wouldn't be much longer before they got together.

Isabel sat on the stone bench in the garden and leaned back on her hands. Closing her eyes, she tilted her face to the sun and soaked up its warmth while inhaling the sweet fragrance of spring, all the while praying that her spectral friend was all right.

"You look verily rested."

She let out a heavy breath, at the sound of William's deep voice. Lifting her lids, she smiled broadly at the sight of him in his solid form. “I feel rested. And you?"

"I am well. I ask that you accept my humble apologies for leaving you so abruptly last e'en."

"That's okay. I understand. I didn't know ghosts could get tired. I guess I figured your energy, or whatever, was infinite."

"Nay, not infinite. Would you care to walk with me, mistress?"

"I'd love to,” she said, relieved he wanted to still spend time with her.

It occurred to Isabel he had yet to call her little one or poppet since he appeared at the foot of her bed the night before. Their relationship had definitely changed. She only hoped it was for the better.

"Hey, wait a minute.” She stopped abruptly on the path. “I thought you couldn't go far from the chamber bed, that the manor was your limit."

"This is the farthest I have ever ventured. I saw you from the window and decided to test my boundaries. This is the first time I have been outside in years."

"Well, let's not take too many chances. We'll stick to this level of the garden. I wouldn't want you tossed into oblivion all of a sudden."

"Agreed. But the bed will warn me if I begin to venture too far."

Silently, they strolled through the gardens, concealing William's presence behind the large hedge. She'd have a great deal of explaining to do if her uncle or Constance saw her strolling around the grounds with a handsome Renaissance man. She giggled, imagining the look on her uncle's face as she explained that her friend was actually a ghost and could probably entertain him for hours with first hand knowledge of the sixteenth century.

"What do you find so amusing?” William grinned down at her.

"I was just thinking about Uncle Jerome and how he would act if the two of you ever met."

"Do you think he would find me frightening?"

"On the contrary. He'd probably do his best to keep you by his side at all times, drilling you with question after question about your life. Constance, on the other hand, would probably faint.” She laughed.

"Aye, that she would. She nearly did so upon our first encounter."

"Encounter? You mean she knows you're here?"

"Nay, not in the way you know of my presence.” He looked somewhat chagrined as he continued. “I tormented her, somewhat, when she attempted to sleep in the chamber bed. I hope you are not angry with me."

Isabel quickly hid her smile. “I'm shocked. I don't know if I can ever forgive such an infraction."

"Isabel,” Jerome called from the other side of the garden hedge.

"You are teasing me, sweet Isabel. I shall not forget it.” He smiled broadly and disappeared.

"Over here,” she called to her uncle.

Jerome appeared around the hedge and stepped up beside her. “Susan's here to see you. She's in the library.” He looked up and down the garden path. “Who were you talking to? I could have sworn I heard voices."

"Oh, uh, just talking to myself. Come on. I don't want to keep Susan waiting.” Quickly taking her uncle's arm, they headed for the house. She and William would have to be more careful in the future.

The minute she entered the library, Susan pounced.

"Isabel, when I heard, I almost died.” She placed air kisses near each side of her face.

"How nice to see you, but you shouldn't have come all this way.” Isabel moved to the edge of the antique settee and sat down, immediately sensing William's presence beside her.

His image became clearer as the sunlight shifted behind the curtains. She forced her attention back to her guest, realizing how silly she must look smiling at nothing.

Pacing the room with her cigarette held aloft like a beacon, Susan searched for an ashtray. Her long blonde hair, pulled neatly back, barely touched the collar of her designer dress. Her model figure and mile long legs always made Isabel groan.

In comparison, they were as different as night and day. Susan's tall, thin frame drew men like a magnet, where Isabel's short, somewhat fuller figure only garnered a few interested glances.

"If I could smell, I am certain I would not care for her scent,” William whispered in Isabel's ear.

She bit down on her bottom lip, holding in her laughter. That was the most wonderful thing she'd ever heard.

Okay, so he was a ghost and probably wasn't up on what was popular with men in her century, but he wasn't captivated by Susan as so many others were.

She watched him covertly as his gaze followed Susan around the room. The look of distaste on his face was a salve to her womanly pride, or what was left of it after Chad. She couldn't help feeling a little joy in sitting next to the most handsome man—ghost—she'd ever seen, who wasn't interested in her old college roommate.

And they say miracles never happen, she thought with a smug grin.

Finally locating an ashtray on her uncle's desk, Susan stubbed out her cigarette before turning her crystal blue eyes on her. “After talking to Chad the other day, I just had to see how you were holding up. I'm so sorry, darling,” she drawled.

The massive bookcase lining the wall behind Susan was the perfect backdrop. If Isabel hadn't known better, she would have thought she'd planned her wardrobe with the coloring of the library in mind. The deep red and brown tones served to make her soft pastel dress stand out, as she always did, no matter where she went.

"Thanks for your concern, but as you can see, there was no real damage done,” Isabel replied.

Susan glided around the corner of the desk and flounced into the nearest chair. “Oh, your accident. Yes, Isabel, you look nice as always, but I was referring to your falling out with Chad. I hope you didn't suffer too much. He's such a dear, really."

William growled.

"Do you have a dog?” Susan asked.

"Hmm, no. That was my stomach. What exactly did Chad tell you?"

"Why, that he had thought things over and decided your relationship wasn't going in the right direction. He's feeling so guilty for breaking things off with you. I just had to console him. Then I realized how devastated you must be and rushed right over."

"Really.” It was difficult hiding her skepticism, but Isabel managed—barely. “And when did you see Chad?"

"At Mary Beth's party the other night. We both happened to show up without an escort, and he was kind enough to see me home. It was just one of those little coincidences.” Susan twittered annoyingly as she displayed her perfect, white teeth.

"Not bloody likely,” William grumbled.

"What?” Susan asked.

"I said, that is so like him,” Isabel hurried to say.

William tensed. “Do not dare to defend him, mistress."

"I'm sorry, darling, but you keep mumbling,” Susan said. “What did you say?"

"Oh, it wasn't me. My uncle probably has the television on or something. The sound carries oddly in a house this size.” Isabel couldn't figure out why William was allowing Susan to hear him. Whatever his reason, she wish he'd stop. “You, um, don't need to worry about me, Susan. I'm holding up just fine. Chad and I had a nice thing going for a while, but it's over."

William fidgeted.

BOOK: Chaste Kiss
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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