Authors: Lauren Royal
It was difficult to see over the bundle in front of her, but it was a short ride.
The cottage was unlocked, and the highwayman made short work of tethering their horses before depositing the pipes inside and returning for the bundle. After handing it to him, Kendra slid off Pandora slowly…so slowly…and a second later he was back, and his large, strong hands were spanning her waist as he eased her to the ground.
His fingers rested on her waist a little longer than necessary, and she felt their warmth through her habit. She looked up at him. He had a wide mouth, the full lower lip perfectly straight across the center bottom edge. She wanted to touch him, just there.
Her eyes locked on his, and her breath caught in her throat.
A crash of thunder rent the air, and big raindrops started pelting to the earth. He jumped back, motioning her to follow him inside.
She should leave. Now. But it was pouring…
The cottage looked more like a well-appointed hunting lodge, warm and cozy and very masculine. He shut the door behind them and wandered to a leather-upholstered couch, throwing his long form onto it with a surprising grace. "Close, aye? Five more minutes, and my hats would have been ruined. I thank you for your help."
"You're welcome," Kendra said from just inside the door where she still stood in a daze. She couldn't believe she was in a hunting lodge with this dangerous man. It was incredible—and, all of a sudden, incredibly scary. She couldn't remember ever having been alone with a man, save her brothers. And she didn't know the first thing about this one—except that he was a criminal.
The fear must have shown on her face, because he sat straight and patted the cushion beside him. "Come here—I don't bite. You'll stay till it stops raining, aye?"
"Aye—I mean, yes." Criminal or not, she loved the way he talked, the words slow and melodic. Though her heart was pounding, she screwed up her courage and moved to sit gingerly beside him. "I'm Kendra. Kendra Chase."
"Trick?" she echoed, startled. She turned to him, forgetting for a moment that he was supposed to be frightening. "What kind of a name is Trick?"
"Ah, and that's a story." He smiled at her, a wide white smile that lit up the cottage and belied the dreary day. Leaning forward, he reached out a hand and placed it on her wrist, just lightly, but a tingle raced up her arm and throughout her body, warming her in the strangest way. Something snapped inside her, and the sense of unreality was gone.
She was here, really here, with the amber highwayman—no, Trick, she corrected herself—alone, and he wasn't scary at all.
Well, not very.
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