She wants to love him, but first she must overcome her past before she is free to raise her hopes.
Sidney Ferguson has one objective when he arrives in Bath, England. He plans to leave his daughter with relatives before returning to the United States to embark on a dangerous mission for the Union Army.
An encounter with the beautiful Belinda Ferguson strikes like lightning at his heart, but she doesn’t give her love or attention freely. Belinda’s past makes her cautious about placing her trust, especially in a man who must leave her to complete his task.
Despite the separation his work requires, Sidney convinces her to risk loving him and she dares to raise her hopes.
Belinda barely made it twenty paces outside the Hazel’s door when Sidney came alongside her and fell into step. He didn’t reach for her arm as she expected, but he was close enough that they bumped shoulders.
“I believe it was my job to see you home this evening,” he said as they crossed the center of the square.
“You’re undoing years worth of work on my part.” She tried for a light, breezy tone as if his presence were entirely superfluous.
“I’d finally convinced Benjamin that I didn’t need an escort. After you return to the States, I’m sure he’ll go back to walking me home and I shall have to start all over again.”
“My apologies, but there’s an obvious difference between his intentions and mine.”
“Is there?” she questioned. “The walk is the same.”
“I’m sure Benjamin does not wish to kiss you as I do.”
“Mr. White.” She stopped in the glow of a street light and faced him, trying to formulate a firm rebuff and control her rapidly beating pulse.
“Please, will you call me Sidney?”
“No, I don’t think I shall. You may turn back now. I can see my gate.” She resumed walking. Any man of sense would cease following her.
“Do you dismiss Mr. Barth in the same way? Or is he allowed a kiss and entrance past your door?”
“My relationship with Mr. Barth is not your concern. Please leave me or I shall have to assume Benjamin’s ill opinion of you is correct and my hasty judgment a few nights ago was erroneous.” She tried for a haughty tone to use as a weapon against him, but as usual it failed her. Being too nice could be a curse at times. “Perhaps you are a rogue after all,” she finished, slightly breathless, with one hand on her gate and the other held out in a gesture meant to stop him.
Brushing by her upraised hand, he closed the distance between them. “I hate the thought of proving my brother-in-law correct,” he put a finger under her chin and tipped her face up, “but some things are worth the risk.”
His lips were soft, yet demanding, as they met hers. She wanted to resist, to seal her lips tight, but the stirring of passion she felt in him under the controlled surface matched hers. When his arms circled her, she placed her hands on his lapels not to push him back, but to touch him, to have the impression of his strength on her fingers.
He broke the kiss she’d been unable and unwilling to resist and mercifully stayed silent while her world righted itself. No man other than Heath had ever kissed her, held her like this. She’d evaded Mr. Barth and he was too nice to press her. This man was different. He had no fear of demanding what he wanted. She had every fear of giving in to his demands.
“Goodnight, Belinda,” he whispered close to her ear.