Elizabeth opened one eye, aware of persistent beeping on her side of the bed. Of course; the alarm. Moaning in protest, she reached for the clock. Then, the dreadful sound silenced, she snuggled back against William. With a deep, rumbling sigh, he draped an arm over her.
“Was that the alarm?” His voice was husky and thick with sleep.
“No,” he groaned. He tightened his arm around her, his hand seeking her breast and soon finding its target. “Don’t go.”
“I’m not leaving yet. I set the alarm early.”
“Mmm.” The hand massaging her breast drifted lower, and she drew in a quick breath as it again found its mark. By now, he knew her body—particularly its sensitive spots—intimately. But it was no wonder, given the energy and enthusiasm he devoted to exploration whenever an opportunity presented itself. She giggled at the thought.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing. I’m just happy.” Her words dissolved into a little moan as his seeking hand found a spot that sent a quiver of sensation rippling through her. Suddenly wide awake, she turned to face him.
“You really set the alarm early?” he muttered between avid kisses.
“Mm hmm.” Her hands began to seek their own targets. It occurred to her that she knew his body almost as well as he knew hers.
“How early?” The words were muffled as his lips moved against her throat. He pulled her lower body tightly to his, removing any lingering doubt about his intentions.
“Early enough,” she replied.
“Good.” He rolled onto his back, taking her with him.
An hour later, Elizabeth stepped into the shower in her fourth-floor guest room. After a delicious interlude of lovemaking, she had almost drifted back to sleep in William’s arms. But much too soon, a second alarm—the one she knew she had to obey—had issued its shrill command. It hadn’t been easy to leave their warm nest, but she had resisted the temptation to curl up against him and surrender to sleep again.
Although she had no regrets about spending the night with William, she had no desire to publicize it by meeting one of their housemates on the steps while tiptoeing back to her room, clad in her nightclothes and sporting a serious case of bedhead. Thanks to the insistent alarm clock, she had reached her room before anyone else awoke, and also before Georgiana showed up for their early breakfast together.
She showered and dressed, and then stepped onto her balcony. It was a chilly morning, with the sun obscured by a heavy blanket of clouds. The view had little to recommend it, as the arrival of spring had not yet awakened the small garden far below. Still, the fresh air might help clear the cobwebs from her head, and she welcomed a few minutes of contemplation before what would no doubt be a stressful day.
William’s larger balcony was visible directly below hers, complete with a chaise lounge and a small table with two chairs. Perhaps on some sunny morning in the not-too-distant future, they would share breakfast there. She closed her eyes and imagined herself smiling at him across the table as they talked about the day to come. It would be a good way to start every day, for the rest of our lives.
She still wasn’t sure why, after resisting his entreaties since before Christmas, she had finally decided to spend the night in his room. But during her tour of his palatial closet—really, a dressing room—she recognized that she had begun to consider herself, not a guest, but a resident of the townhouse … even a member of the family.
Was it the result of the past days of crisis? Her growing bond with Georgiana? Perhaps so. And perhaps this change of status—in her own mind, at least—also explained her ease in gaining the upper hand with Rose the previous evening by insisting on postponing their private meeting. It had been only a tiny victory, but a meaningful one all the same.
“Elizabeth?” She heard Georgiana’s voice, muffled through her bedroom door, and hurried to answer it. Despite still wearing her Gryffindor tee shirt and flannel pajama pants, Georgiana looked far more awake than Elizabeth felt.
“Sorry, Georgie,” Elizabeth said, stifling a yawn. “I was on the balcony. Have you been knocking for long?”
“Not really. Though maybe I should say that I’ve been knocking for so long that my hand is sore.”
Chuckling, Elizabeth led the way to a comfortable sofa in the sitting room adjacent to her bedroom. “Should we have breakfast up here? Last night we talked about doing that.”
Georgiana agreed, and they called Mrs. Reynolds on the house phone. After refusing an extended menu of breakfast items—Mrs. Reynolds’s short-order cooking skills were on a par with everything else she did for the family—they settled on a simple breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and coffee. Within five minutes, the faithful housekeeper was at the door with their breakfast tray, which also held a basket of muffins that filled the room with the aroma of apples and spice. “They’re fresh from the oven,” she explained. “You two deserve a treat on your first morning back home.” They offered their thanks, and the housekeeper turned to go.
Suddenly, Georgiana jumped up from the sofa. “Wait, Mrs. Reynolds?”
Georgiana approached her. “I wanted to—to apologize.”
“Yeah. I … I shouldn’t have left for Washington without telling anybody. You were probably worried, and Sonya told me that you and Allen spent hours driving around looking for me and ….” Georgiana seemed to run out of words. She shrugged and said, “And I’m really sorry.”
Marcia Reynolds, living up to every warm thought Elizabeth had ever entertained about her, enfolded Georgiana in a fierce hug. “Well, of course I was worried! We all were! We would never want anything bad to happen to you. But I know how upset you were about the horrid lies that woman was spreading about your mother. I’m just grateful that you’re home safe.” She looked past Georgiana to Elizabeth. “And that you had such a wonderful guardian angel.”
Mrs. Reynolds departed, and Georgiana and Elizabeth sat down to their breakfast, starting with the oven-warm muffins. “How do you live here and not weigh 300 pounds?” Elizabeth asked. “At college, they talk about gaining the Freshman Fifteen, but I’m well on my way to the Townhouse Twenty.”
Georgiana grinned. “A lot of Gran’s weekend visitors say stuff like that. But … I don’t know. I guess I don’t really have a big appetite most of the time.”
“Do you think we could swap appetites for a while?”
“Fine with me.”
After a short silence during which they finished their muffins and moved on to the fruit, Elizabeth said, “I guess we’d better talk about your conversation with your grandmother.”
“My showdown, you mean,” Georgiana muttered.
“Now, now. You know our mantra!”
Georgiana snickered. “Okay, okay. I won’t give up hope.” She pulled a sheet of paper out of her pocket.
Elizabeth listened while Georgiana shared her thoughts. She interjected occasional questions but mostly let the girl set the pace; it was a useful skill she had learned from conversing with William. Georgiana had done some genuine soul-searching overnight, but like her brother, she needed time and space to articulate her feelings.
Georgiana returned the list to her pocket and fixed a look of entreaty on Elizabeth. “What do you think?”
“I think I’m impressed, and I think your grandmother will be, too. May I make one suggestion?”
“I like the way you’re thinking of wording your apology. Unlike Mrs. Reynolds, she’s going to expect it, and she’s going to pay attention to the details. However, rather than leaving it to her to decide how to respond to what you did—”
“My punishment, you mean?”
“Well, yeah. That’s exactly my point. Why do you think she restricted your activities so much after the shoplifting? And before you answer, put yourself in her position. What if you were responsible for a teenager who’d just been caught shoplifting for the second time?”
After a short silence during which she sipped her coffee, Georgiana said, “Well, okay. I’d want them to stay where I could see them, to be sure they didn’t do it again.”
“Me, too. So maybe she didn’t make you stay home just to make you miserable, even though I know you were. Maybe she did it because she didn’t know how else to keep you from getting out of control again.”
“But it didn’t work.”
“No, it didn’t. So, let’s think about it—what would work, going forward? Are there things you could offer to do that might set her mind at ease? In fact, should we role-play it a little, like I suggested last night?”
Georgiana grimaced. “No, I’d feel stupid. But I get what you’re saying. Like, maybe if I promise to check in with her more often and not ignore her phone calls, she won’t feel like she has to keep me locked up.”
“That’s a good start.”
“So, now, how do we get her to listen to me in the first place?”
Elizabeth smiled, feeling more than a little triumph. “I think I have the perfect plan.”
After breakfast, the family—including Eleanor, whom Rose had asked to attend—assembled in the library. Rain streamed against the windows, but the room was brightly lit. A large vase of red and yellow tulips sat on a table near the piano, contributing a cheerful note.
William dropped into a chair, stifling a yawn. He clutched his large mug of coffee, grateful for the infusion of caffeine, though he noted Rose’s slight frown when she saw it. Elizabeth and Georgiana, sitting side by side across from him, were drinking their coffee from the delicate china cups Rose preferred that they use when visitors were present.
Almost as soon as they were seated, Mrs. Reynolds escorted Spencer Hamilton, the family’s lawyer, into the library. He was accompanied by Victor Rossi, Georgiana’s attorney for her shoplifting arrest. Rose introduced them to Elizabeth, and they exchanged greetings with the others.
“Spencer, you didn’t mention that you were bringing Mr. Rossi,” Rose said, bringing a short interval of small talk to a close. “I thought the matters related to Georgiana’s … legal troubles were handled.”
“We’ll get to that,” Spencer Hamilton replied. “But first, let’s discuss the situation with George Wickham.”
At Rose’s request, Elizabeth described Wickham’s emails, her meeting with him at the Tidal Basin, and Catherine de Bourgh’s identification of Georgiana’s biological father. When she was done, Georgiana briefly described her meeting with Wickham at his Washington office. Finally, William added some remarks about Wickham’s past dealings with the foundation. Throughout the discussion, Spencer asked a few questions and took occasional notes on a legal pad.
Once explanations were complete, Rose said, “Tell us, Spencer. What can we do to force this man to leave Georgiana—and the whole family—alone? A restraining order, perhaps?”
“I’m afraid not. He hasn’t done anything that would form a basis for such a request. He wasn’t bombarding Georgiana with unwanted messages; he merely responded to her emails. He may not have been completely honest and objective in what he told her, but it didn’t rise to the level of libel. He didn’t ask her to come to Washington, and when she appeared there, he did nothing more than speak to her briefly and tell her to go back home. And although he made some unsavory remarks in his conversation with Elizabeth, he didn’t threaten her, or anyone else, with physical harm.”
“Are you saying that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves from this predator?” Rose asked in her haughtiest tone.
“I’m saying that if a pattern of stalking begins to emerge, we can take action, but we have no basis at present.” He turned to Georgiana. “Has he contacted you since you left Washington?”
She nodded with obvious reluctance, staring into her coffee cup. “He emailed me yesterday.”
William sat forward, instantly on guard. Georgiana hadn’t mentioned that in their conversation the night before.
“What did he say?”
“Just that he was sorry about what happened, and he wanted us to stay in touch, but that I shouldn’t come to Washington to see him again.”
“Have you answered him?”
Georgiana glanced at Elizabeth and then shook her head. “I don’t think I should talk to him anymore.”
“Good. Don’t answer him, no matter what he says.” The attorney rose to refill his coffee cup. When he seated himself, he continued, “In fact, I’d recommend not even reading his emails if he sends more. Forward them to my office, and we’ll monitor them for anything that’s a concern.”
“But what if he demands a paternity test?” William asked.
“Why would he?” Eleanor sat forward in her chair, speaking for the first time. “He asked for a million dollars to do it; he’s not going to want to do it for free.”
“He might see it as a way to cause trouble, once he figures out we’re not going to play his game,” William said. He eyed Spencer. “Does he have grounds to do that?” He rubbed his forehead, trying to dislodge the harrowing scenarios filling his mind.
“I doubt he’d be successful,” Spencer said. “He’d have to present some sort of evidence that he and Mrs. Darcy had been lovers during the right time period; a judge isn’t going to be impressed by 15-year-old unsubstantiated rumors. There’s also the problem of the amount of time that has passed. Why ask for the test now? It might be different if he hadn’t known about Georgiana’s existence until now.”
Rose nodded. “Then we will count on you to deal with any such requests. But should we contact him? Tell him we don’t want a paternity test, and that he should stop emailing Georgiana?”
Spencer shook his head. “Let’s see what he does. If he hears nothing but silence from the family, he may realize he’s lost his influence with Georgie and decide to cut his losses.”
“But he threatened to write a tell-all book about my mother if he didn’t get his way. What about that?” William thought the others were entirely too calm about the whole matter. Wickham was dangerous.
“Unfortunately, we can’t stop him if he decides to do so. But you have ammunition you can use if he moves in that direction. Even though the statute of limitations expired years ago for the fraud he committed, he wouldn’t want you talking about it in public.”
“And I don’t see how he’d find a publisher,” Eleanor added. “Your mother’s been gone for over fifteen years.”
“He could self-publish, just to hurt us,” William shot back. He intercepted a sympathetic look from Elizabeth, and wished he were sitting beside her.
Spencer nodded at William, his usual dispassionate expression softening slightly. “I understand that you’re concerned. But from what Elizabeth said, it sounds like he’s bigger on threats than on follow-through.” His gaze swept the assembled group. “If he contacts any of you, simply refer him to me. A sternly-worded warning on our letterhead might cause him to lose enthusiasm for anything he’s thinking about doing.”
“Yes, I agree,” Rose said. “It’s long past time to put that man behind us once and for all.”
“All right, then. That’s our plan.” Spencer turned to his fellow attorney, who had sat in silence through the discussion of Wickham. “I’ll turn the floor over to Victor.”
Victor Rossi nodded, turned to Georgiana, and addressed his remarks to her. “Georgie, Mr. Hamilton called me when he heard what happened last weekend. I won’t beat around the bush. Are you aware that you violated your probation by going to Washington?”
Georgiana’s eyes flickered, and her brows drew together. “No. At least, I didn’t think about it.”
“You went to Washington without your grandmother’s permission, and you went alone. You’re supposed to stay in New York City unless your grandmother approves of a trip and you’re accompanied by a family member, as you were when you went to California.
Elizabeth winced. “I’m not a family member yet.”
Victor shook his head. “You’re close enough; besides, as I said, Georgiana had permission from her legal guardian to go with you. That’s what really matters.”
William shifted in his chair. The last thing poor Georgiana needed was more trouble. “What’s going to happen?” he asked.
“It depends. The Family Court judge could order a more severe sentence for the original charge. But I think, if we explain the extenuating circumstances and the emotional duress Georgiana suffered, we can probably succeed in pleading for leniency—perhaps just some more frequent check-ins with the probation officer, and maybe a few other temporary restrictions that wouldn’t be too onerous.”
“Like what?” That was better, but William was still concerned.
“A curfew, maybe. It’s hard to say exactly.” Victor paused for a moment. “However, I should warn you that it could also be seen as an indication that Georgiana isn’t adequately supervised, which could lead them to question the appropriateness of this environment for her.”
“You mean, send me away, like, to juvenile detention?”
“It’s unlikely, but it’s not impossible.”
Georgiana’s eyes focused with desperate intensity on Elizabeth, who grasped her hand. William grabbed the arms of his chair, nearly jumping to his feet. An involuntary glance at Rose, who was normally so unreadable in public, showed her unable to conceal her distress; her mouth hung open and her eyes were glued on the attorneys.
Before anyone else could speak, Spencer Hamilton took charge. “Now, I know it sounds bad. Victor’s giving you the worst case. But we feel that he can argue that Georgiana’s emotional distress was extraordinary, and that the circumstances are unlikely to repeat. However, if we do that, the court might recommend—or even order—that Georgiana see a therapist.”
Rose frowned, but before she could speak, Georgiana said, “That’s okay. I want to.”
The surprise he felt must have registered clearly on William’s face, because Georgiana addressed him. “Really, Will, I mean it. Elizabeth and I talked about it this morning, and Aunt Maddie—Lizzy’s aunt, I mean—mentioned it to me when I was at her house. They both said a therapist could help me figure some things out.”
“Well, good,” Victor said. “Then we’ll volunteer that information.”
“How would the probation officer even find out that Georgiana went to Washington?” Rose set her teacup on the table beside her.
“Because we’re going to tell her,” Victor replied.
“And why would we do that?” Rose’s words dripped with hauteur.
“Rose, you’re suggesting a dangerous approach,” Spencer said. “If the probation officer found out some other way, the consequences would be much more severe.”
“Besides,” Elizabeth said, “doesn’t that set a bad example for Georgie? That it’s okay to break the rules as long as you don’t get caught?”
“Excellent point,” Eleanor remarked, and William saw the smile she sent in Elizabeth’s direction. Rose, for her part, sat back in her chair, her face devoid of expression. She retrieved her teacup from the table and took a long sip, a delaying tactic he had often seen her use over the years.
“Then, like, who tells her?” Georgiana asked. “I’m supposed to call her tomorrow. Do I tell her then?”
“I think we should do it together,” Victor said. “I’ll call her and make an appointment for us to go see her.”
With that business complete, the attorneys rose to depart. William was surprised to see Elizabeth stand and follow them. But his attention was soon diverted by Georgiana, who approached Rose. “Gran,” she said, “I have something I need to ask you.”
“We need to talk. About a lot of things.”
“Yes, we do. Perhaps if William and Eleanor would excuse us—”
“Not right now, and not here.” Georgiana gulped and licked her lips before she continued. “Would you go to tea with me this afternoon, at the Plaza?”
“Tea at the Plaza?” Rose’s eyebrows elevated.
Georgiana nodded. “Elizabeth suggested it. She said you and she had tea there once, and it was a good place to talk about serious things. I invited her to come with us, too.”
Despite his distress over Georgiana’s future, William barely restrained a snicker, remembering Elizabeth’s stressful tea with Rose the day after Thanksgiving. He suspected that this time, Rose would be the one at a disadvantage.
Elizabeth, as was her habit, was lurking outside the door to William’s sitting room while he practiced. Usually she managed to stay out of sight and simply enjoy the music, but today he had left the door open. He must have noticed her in the hall; he stopped playing and called out, “Come on in, Lizzy.”
“Sorry; I didn’t mean to disturb you.” Although he never seemed to mind when she inadvertently interrupted him at the piano, she knew he preferred to practice in peace and solitude.
“You’re not disturbing me, not at all,” he replied with a smile, extending his hand.
She approached him, accepting his invitation to share the piano bench. “Are you okay?” she asked, studying his face. “I know you were upset by what they said about Georgie.”
He sighed, shaking his head. “She’s been through so much. The last thing she needs is more trouble.”
“Let’s not give up hope.” She rose from the piano bench, grinning at her own use of the mantra she often asked Georgiana to repeat. She moved behind him, doing her best to massage the tension out of his shoulders. “The lawyers think it’ll be all right.”
“I hope so.” He settled back against her with another sigh, this one more relaxed.
She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “And Georgie is doing so much better. That’s something to be grateful for.”
“Grateful to you.” He smiled up at her. “By the way, you should have seen Gran’s face when Georgie invited her to tea.”
“I’m so sorry I missed it.” Elizabeth couldn’t stop herself from smirking.
“Don’t mess with Elizabeth Bennet,” he said, sounding more cheerful now, “because she’ll get even, maybe with a little sauce for the goose.”
“No, seriously, I thought your grandmother might be more amenable to actually sitting and listening in a formal setting like that. Georgie has some things she wants to say and she deserves to be heard. But, yeah, after that intimidation session in the tea room at Thanksgiving, I’m glad the shoe is on the other foot.”
He smiled, and then abruptly changed the subject. “When the lawyers left, were you just escorting them out?”
“No. I … I wanted to talk to Mr. Hamilton for a minute.”
Elizabeth hesitated. During the meeting with the family, the lawyer had mentioned that, to insist on a paternity test, Wickham would need to offer evidence that he’d slept with Anna, something they all assumed he couldn’t do. But if Catherine’s suspicions were correct, Wickham might in fact possess such evidence—perhaps an unusual birthmark only a lover would have seen. If so, it was evidence gathered after Georgiana’s birth that had no bearing on paternity, but it could impart a false impression. Elizabeth had followed Spencer Hamilton to the door to tell him that, should Wickham claim to have intimate knowledge of Anna, they should talk further.
She could see no benefit—and a potential for great harm—in telling William about the suspicions Catherine had made her promise not to reveal. Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary. “I just told him that if he ever needed more detail about what Catherine told me, I’d be happy to meet with him.”
“But he wanted to discuss something with me, too. With us, really, but I said I’d talk to you.”
She took his hand and pulled him to his feet. “Let’s sit in your chair.”
Smiling, he dropped into his chair and drew her down to sit crosswise, her legs draped over one chair arm. “Like I said last night, I don’t mind at all that there’s no sofa in here.”
“I’m sure you don’t.” She kissed the tip of his nose.
“Now, what is this topic we need to discuss?” He wrapped his arms around her.
“Remember the part about how the probation officer might question the adequacy of the supervision Georgie gets here?”
“Of course. That was harsh. I could tell it upset Gran, too.”
“The lawyers think the probation officer—and the court, if they get involved—might be more amenable to giving Georgie a second chance if she had a new legal guardian.”
“Who did they have in mind?”
William stared at her in silence. She couldn’t tell if his frown registered disapproval, bewilderment, or contemplation, so she plowed ahead, speaking quickly. “Mr. Hamilton said that he and Mr. Rossi thought it would signal a fresh approach. He didn’t want to suggest it in front of everyone for fear of offending your grandmother. But it could look to the court as though Georgie doesn’t respect her authority, or as though nobody’s keeping track of what Georgie does.” She paused and took a deep breath. “And, really, I can’t blame someone who would draw those conclusions from everything that’s happened since last fall.”
His frown deepened but he still didn’t reply.
“Now, don’t get angry. I’m not criticizing your grandmother, or blaming her. She stepped up to take care of you and Georgie when you needed her, and I know how much that means to you. But she and Georgie ….” Elizabeth pressed her lips together, searching for the right words. “I think it’s hard for a woman of her age and lifestyle to relate to a modern teenager.”
“So they should just throw in the towel, and never speak to each other again?” His frown deepened, and now she could tell that it indicated disapproval—or at least annoyance.
“Of course not! They need to repair their relationship. But it might be easier for us, or maybe even Eleanor and Robert, to understand Georgie’s world and to make good decisions where she’s concerned.”
He stared across the room, still frowning, but she sensed that he had moved from annoyance to contemplation. At last, he said, “I see your point. Gran’s out of touch with the world outside of—what did you call it last fall? My bubble?”
“And I’m not blind to the impact that’s had on Georgie. But it’s been hard to do anything about it. I know I should have gotten more actively involved, but on the admittedly few occasions when I tried to talk to Gran about it, she didn’t listen. So I guess I stopped trying.” He fell silent, but she could almost see the thoughts percolating in his brain, so she waited. “It’s been different for me,” he continued at last. “I defer to Gran when I’m able, but I don’t have to do what she says when I think she’s wrong—”
“Like when you decided to marry me.”
He eyed her, his lips pursed but smiling. “Exactly like that. Best decision I ever made.”
“Same here, big guy.” She kissed him, which led to another kiss, and another. Then she sat back and touched his cheek. “So what do you think? Should we offer to do it?”
The frown returned, but this time it was clearly the result of deep thought, not emotion. After a pause, he said, “We were planning to travel together, at least sometimes. Would this mean you’d have to stay home with her while I was away?”
Elizabeth was glad she’d had time to think about this question. “I don’t think being her guardians would mean we had to be with her every hour of every day. We’d be responsible for making sure she had the guidance and attention she needs. Yes, occasionally I might have to stay home. Other times, as I said last night, I’m hoping she can travel with us. But I also think, with all the family who live in the city, we can get some help. I know Eleanor and Robert would be willing, and I bet Richard and Charlotte would, too.”
William scoffed. “Now there’s a good influence.”
“Oh, come on, lighten up. They’re unconventional, sure, but they behave themselves around her. And Charlotte is smart and perceptive; she’d be a good sounding board for Georgie. And, by the way, your grandmother would still be around; she just wouldn’t be the decision maker.”
“And you’re really willing to do this? To start off our marriage as instant parents to a teenager?”
Elizabeth lifted his hand, toying with his long fingers before twining them with her own. “Is this what I envisioned for us? No. I’d rather have the chance to focus on just the two of us. But I think we can still do that, at least some of the time, and I also think we can make a big difference in Georgie’s life.”
He kissed her forehead and then her lips. “Every time I think I couldn’t possibly love you more, you prove me wrong. I know you’re making this sacrifice for my sake.”
“Not really. Of course, I know how much Georgie means to you, but, Will, she means a lot to me, too.” It was hard to explain the bond that had grown so quickly between them. “And she’ll be going off to college in just a couple of years. I want her to be happier, more confident, and better prepared by the time that happens.”
“All right, then. Let’s offer to do it. But how do we broach the subject with Gran? She’s going to see it as an attack on her parenting skills.”
“I thought we could ask Eleanor to help. I caught her in the hall before she left and told her what Mr. Hamilton had suggested. We only had a moment to talk, but she was in complete agreement with the idea. In fact, she said she’d been thinking of suggesting it herself.”
“Do you want to talk to Gran before her tea with Georgie this afternoon?”
“No, I think it’s better to wait and prepare. As you said, your grandmother may see this as an attack, and I don’t want her to feel like she’s being pushed out of the family.” Her stomach punctuated that statement with a loud groan that made them both laugh.
“I take it you’re hungry?” he remarked, smirking.
“Yes, I am. I’m going to go downstairs and see what Mrs. Reynolds is fixing for lunch. And, anyway, you need to get back to practicing.”
With his assistance, she rose to her feet. He stood as well and reached for her hand. “But before you go ….” Rather than finish his sentence, he drew her into his arms. She closed her eyes and leaned against him, luxuriating in the warmth of his kiss.
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