“No! Pierce, no!” Evelyn shouted as she threw herself into him.
Pierce fell against the door and grabbed onto Evelyn before she could hit the door with her shoulder. “Move!”Evelyn fought to get in front of the door. She wasn’t sure why the other men hadn’t tried to get through the door by now. Her best guess was they could hear their argument, which was great because she didn’t really want the world knowing what that man had tried to do to her.
“I need you, you idiot!” Pierce stopped and stared at her blankly for a moment.
“What did you say?”
“Pierce, I need you. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you, so you can’t do whatever it is you want to do,” Evelyn told him softly.
God, those eyes. He was powerless against those beautiful pools of green. He could drown happily in their depths. He took several deep breaths to help clear his head.
As he came back to his senses he realized a few things. Evelyn’s hair had fallen during their dash and struggle at the door. Her gown was also in disarray, which meant her gown was barely covering her decently.
Pierce ran a hand through his hair. He blew out a breath before turning to the bathroom. A few minutes later Evelyn heard the sound of the water running.
Well that was unexpected. He bite her head off, dashed for the door, and now he was drawing her a bath. Evelyn shook her head softly. The man was maddening, but she knew it was quickly becoming the little things that endeared him to her.
Evelyn walked into the bathroom. Pierce was adding lavender to the water. “Do you need help with your dress?”
“If you could loosen the laces, I can get undressed without further assistance,” Evelyn shyly answered.
“What about your hair? Do you need help washing it?” Pierce asked as he moved behind her.
Evelyn laughed lightly. “Are you offering to help bathe me?”
Evelyn regretted her words the moment they left her mouth. She had meant them in jest. However, Pierce’s warm breath tickling her neck as his fingers grazed her spine to loosen the laces sent tremors of awareness through her.
She could feel Pierce’s breath move from the back of her neck to ear, sending goosebumps all over her. “I was going to call for Jessica. I would never help you bathe, then I would be forced to marry you.”
The harsh bite of his words crushed Evelyn. “Of course, I was only jesting. You are dismissed.”
Pierce stiffly walked from the room. Evelyn followed behind so she could close the door. She finished getting undressed and then got into the bath. Her hands were trembling as she reached for a cloth to bathe with.
Tears slid down her face into the water below. What had she been thinking joking like that? Of course Pierce was going to reject her! Just because they had shared one kiss didn’t mean he actually shared any of her affections.
Although Robert had hinted Pierce was attracted to her, she needed to get a grip and realize attraction didn’t mean affection. She had misread everything. Evelyn washed her hair before pulling herself together. She didn’t want to give Pierce the satisfaction of knowing she had been crying.
She was tired of men. They never wanted her! It was her money, title, crown, body, or whatever, but it was never her. Evelyn stared at herself in the mirror.
Maybe it was the color of her eyes, or possibly her hair. There was something about her, some hidden flaw that repelled men. Some flaw that made them assume they could treat her like a possession. A flaw that made them see her as less than a person.
Whatever the reason, she could now add the man she was falling in love with to the list of men not interested in her. She could feel her heart breaking as the backs of her eyes burned.
Evelyn got herself dressed, braided her hair, and squared her shoulders to face Pierce.
She walked into the room, but no one was there. “So much for not leaving my side,” Evelyn mumbled to herself. Disappointment bitterly settled into her heart. When would she learn she was the only person she could rely on? She was the only person who could save her.
Evelyn sighed and climbed into bed. The room was cooler than normal, but that was because no one had stoked the fire before she had gotten to her room.
Evelyn debated with herself for a moment before drawing the curtain around her bed. She would be warm enough as long as the curtain was drawn. Besides, if she froze to death in the night, then Pierce would have one less thing to deal with.
Pierce softly knocked on the balcony door. He had been working on getting the men in place for the night, as well as making inquiries into how Prince Philip had managed to get off the ship.
He waited a few moments, but when Evelyn didn’t answer, he let himself in. The night air was chilly, fall was definitely here, however, he was surprised Evelyn’s room was so cold.
The fire was nothing more than embers. Pierce cursed under his breath. He had forgotten no one had been allowed in her room, which meant no one had added wood for the night.
Pierce built the fire up again to warm the room. He then pulled back one side of the curtain to check on Evelyn. She was curled up in a ball under her blankets. It was clear she was shivering.
It was going to take a while for the fire to warm the room. Pierce weighed his options before kicking off his boots, taking off his jacket, and crawling under the blankets with Evelyn.
The moment she felt his warmth, Evelyn bolted upright. She looked next to her, and was going to scream, but stopped. “Pierce?” Her voice was thick with sleep.
“Yes, it’s me. Go back to sleep,” he whispered.
“Why are you in my bed?” Evelyn moved closer to his warmth, her eyelids closing.
“Because I forgot about the fire and you’re freezing. Now go to sleep.”
Evelyn nodded against his chest, sleep over taking her as she cocooned herself next to Pierce.
Pierce sighed. It was going to be a long night. He was annoyed with himself for forgetting the fire, he was annoyed with being in Evelyn’s bed, but most of all, he was annoyed with himself for wanting her.
After the kiss they had shared, he craved more. She drove him to distraction, so much so, he had forgotten about Prince Philip. How could he forget about the one man, the one man, who had hurt her so profoundly?
He didn’t know how to tell Evelyn what he learned. He had to tell her in the morning, but she wasn’t going to like it.
Evelyn snuggled deeper against his chest. Pierce gave in and held her in his arms. He was sinking quickly where she was concerned. However, he just couldn’t find it in him to care at the moment.
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