Upon Your Honor – Excerpts
More for your weekend reading enjoyment! Excerpts from Upon Your Honor by Marie Lavender.
When she swung about, it was too much to bear. The horses came fast. There was no time. She put her hands up in defense. Before she knew it, she was sprawled on the ground. Waiting for death to take her, she closed her eyes. The absence of pain roused her.
Hands searched her. “Chloe?”
She opened her eyes. Gabe was holding her in his arms. “Gabriel? What happened?”
He shook his head. “A runaway carriage, that’s all.”
Assessing her body, she glanced back at him. “How?”
He frowned. “There was only time to push you out of the way.”
With a sigh of relief, she buried her face against his chest, blinking back tears. When she felt his lips move over her temple, she lifted her head. The kindness there in his eyes was too much. She lifted her mouth to his without a thought. He kissed her deeply, thoroughly, until they were both breathless. When he pulled away, he didn’t offer an apology and she was more than grateful. She could not have borne it.
He helped her to her feet. “Come. We should get back to the ship.” He flagged down a cab, paid the driver. He gave the man instructions. When Gabriel went to help her in, she shuddered. He squeezed her hand. “It’s all right.” She nodded and allowed the service. When she was safely inside, he joined her.
She rested her head against the seat and closed her eyes. When he put his arms around her, she lifted her gaze, questioning, to his.
“You’re shaking, chérie.”
She realized she was. What had just happened was far too much to take. After all of the other close calls, she was still suspicious that Lamonte’s men were involved. A runaway carriage was common enough, but what if it was only meant to look that way?
He removed his finger from her lips. “Shall we get back to the festivities?”
“Yes, I suppose,” she managed, though her throat was dry as dust.
“Reluctantly, she agreed,” he quipped.
She laughed and took his arm. “Do I look presentable?”
His eyes darkened. “Always, Chloe.”
The assurance was enough. As they reentered the fray in the ballroom, she felt the stirrings of regret. She should not have lost her head back there. She should not have let him kiss her. Every time he kissed her, she felt closer to him. She fell more in love with him. Chloe doubted that would ever change. It was not simply the passion he invoked in her, but Gabriel’s care, his near reverence as he kissed or held her. It was all too appealing. And what woman wouldn’t fall under that kind of spell? The hypnotic way he watched her with those dark eyes. She shivered.
Gabriel halted, looked down at her. “Cold?”
She shook her head. They returned to the table where his sister sat. Chloe found it sweet when Gabe filled out his sister’s dance card, and took the first dance. Watching them move so fluidly around the floor reminded her of the ball in Nassau. How lovely it had been in his arms then. Oh, but it always was.
Chloe looked down at her own card, saw the empty slots and was struck by such a moment of melancholy that she was blind with it. Tears filmed her eyes, and her chest felt constricted. She brushed it off as panic. She knew her separation from Gabriel was inevitable. She would go to live with her grandmother, and she would have to live with all of these regrets.
She should never have enlisted Gabe’s help. She should never have submitted to his kisses. And most of all, she should not have let herself fall for him. There was only misery at the end of this road. Not happiness. She was a fool for believing otherwise, even for a second.
She sent a strained smile to Tante Lina and Gabe’s mother, for they had come back to the table after visiting some friends. When Gabriel returned with Adrienne, they were both laughing. It was a beautiful sight to see him so happy. Her heart felt squeezed in her chest.
“This clumsy oaf stepped on my slipper,” his sister cried, slapping his chest.
“I did not,” he denied.
“You most certainly did.”
His lips quirked like he was trying to hide a smile. “If you did not try to lead, it would not have happened.”
“Oh, chère, I thought we taught you how to dance,” Fara Hill moaned to her daughter.
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