Excerpt from Lizzie’s Rake by Hazel Statham
“Indeed you have, my dear,” he said earnestly, and she raised her eyes quickly to his face. He moved away as if the look discomfited him and there existed a silence between them, only the stamping of the horses’ hooves as they moved restlessly in the stalls invading the moment.
Suddenly turning and coming to stand before her, St. Ive asked quietly, “Do you still think of me as an intruder, Elizabeth? Am I still not welcome in your home?”
“Maxim…” she began, and would have turned away, but immediately his arm detained her, drawing her back to face him.
For a long moment his searching gaze devoured her face until, tilting back her chin with his free hand, he bowed his head and kissed her. As the gentle kiss turned more demanding and he drew her tightly to his chest, he became aware that her soft lips remained frozen beneath his and she held her delicate frame rigid within his embrace. The fear in her eyes cut through him and immediately he released her from his arms.
“Why?” she demanded, the instant she was set free, bewilderment heavy in her voice.
“Why?” he repeated softly, almost as if he spoke to himself, a slight smile on his lips, and after the briefest hesitation he said flippantly, “Because you have rain on your face, my dear.”
“Odious, detestable man,” she cried angrily, running out into the night, not even pausing to take up her lantern.
He stood watching as the dark downpour devoured her.