Chapter 13, Part 2

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There will be a third part to this chapter, hopefully by Sunday. Thanks for reading...


  "Your lady appears troubled. You should say something to her, and with {some} degree of pleasantry."

 It was a reprimand, but Simon was not surprised by it. Several times in the past few days, his father had spoken of Evelyn with much fondness. It seemed he had a tender spot for her. Now he was displeased by what he considered to be cool disregard. Simon spoke in defense of his actions.

 "I am merely thinking of formality, father. One must keep a sense of decorum when in the presence of their host."

 Basil's tone lost none of its edge. "Yes, but you might at least grant her a friendly look. From the way you hold yourself, one would assume you did not care for her at all."

 Simon sighed deeply, saying nothing.

 But his father's assumption could hardly have been more wrong. In truth, it took great discipline not to look at Evelyn. Each time he saw her, she seemed to grow more beautiful. In this morning's light, she looked so regal. It was difficult to remember that she was still a young maiden. She was still an innocent, and he had to behave in the proper fashion.

 If only she didn't make it so difficult. Just a few days ago, he had thought himself the most disciplined of men. But just a short time in her company was proving otherwise. Last night, he had admitted to himself his concern for her feelings. He cared for her a great deal already. And there was not so great a shame in that. After all, she would be his wife, and it was his duty to protect and honor her.

 But he had not counted on being so attracted to her.

 Kissing her had ignited a fire within him. It had taken every ounce of his will not to pull her closer and press himself against draw her deep into a kiss that would leave no doubt of the passion he was starting to feel for her.

 But, somehow, he had managed to refrain.

 Until they were wed, he had to maintain a certain distance. They could walk together, talk together...even share an occasional tender moment. But he could not allow himself to be swept away by feelings that, even now, were threatening to break his self-control. He spoke to himself, repeating words from the code as he fought to strengthen his resolve.

 {In giving and receiving love's solaces, let modesty be ever present.}

 He would not be controlled by his baser masculine instincts. And what was a tour of the grounds, after all? They would be on horseback, which would keep them a safe distance apart.

 His father's voice, again spoken in a quiet but forceful way, broke his thoughts.

"Decorum is one matter. Deliberate indifference is another."

 Simon felt a nagging at his conscience, knowing his father spoke the truth.

Finishing the last of his ale, he pushed back from the table. He was aware that he was being watched as he approached Evelyn's chair. As he paused just at her side, she looked up at him.

 {Sweet heaven. Those eyes.} His senses reeled at the beautiful blue clearness...and the anticipation he read there.

 "My lady," he said. He offered her his hand.

 Her soft palm graced his without hesitation. As she rose to her feet, decorum dictated that she place a light hold on his arm. But for a brief moment, he could not relinquish her hand. A pulse of heat flowed from where their palms touched. Looking into her eyes, he could see that she felt it too. Somehow, he managed to release her hand. He placed it where it ought to have been, resting on his sleeve. As he guided her from the hall, he found that her presence...warm and close by his side...was already working its magic on him. He wanted something more than politesse allowed.

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