Ch 3/ Part 2

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Emboldened by that unspoken invitation, Henry gladly took over. He touched his eager lips to her cold, rigid ones. As he moved and coaxed, she started to relax. But just when she determined his kiss wasn't that bad, he began seeking entrance into the soft, sweet recess of her mouth.

 Elaine couldn't do it. She froze. Her mind recoiling from ceding him such clear sign of a woman's first surrender to a man she loved. And that was the problem, she didn't love Henry.

 He must have sensed her strong reluctance, since she felt him breaking the kiss.

 He smiled down at her as if in complete understanding. "I think we will save the rest of the kissing, too, for our second date." Then added, "It has to improve with my charm, honey," more to valiantly console himself.

 Elaine cringed inwardly at the endearment. She wasn't ready for it. Maybe she shouldn't have agreed on another date. But guilt from earlier still tugging at her conscience wouldn't let her cancel. And she had promised Damian, she would give Henry a fair chance.

 Perhaps that was it, she merely needed to allow herself to get used to all this.

 Noting the lines of deep contemplation etched on her forehead, Henry enquired, "Is it Damian? Trust me, he has no issues with our dating each other. I have already spoken with him."

 Elaine wanted to give a very unladylike snort at that. If only he knew how much in favour of their being together Damian actually was. He had called her back from Scotland so this meeting between Henry and herself could take off without delay.

 But did Damian tell Henry the truth about her orphaned past? It wasn't a well-kept secret, but she wanted nothing hidden.

 "Henry," Elaine moved her eyes down to her worrying hands. "Has Damian said anything of my-"

 She didn't even need to finish her question before Henry gaged what she wanted to ask.

 "Yes, as much as he knew. But I was wondering how you felt coming to a big house? A wealthy and distinguished family? Must have been scary for a young girl, intimidating?"

 Most in Henry's place would have considered an orphaned girl only to be too happy and fortunate to have found herself in the lap of luxury, not intimidated. But Elaine had had seen far too many of these girls return from these adoptive homes more broken than ever.

 "Yes, it was frightening, and overwhelming." She looked out the windshield as if the dim moonlight there gave her a glimpse into the past. But she kept a tight rein on her emotions from reflecting on her face.

 "Trevor took instant dislike to me. Though Damian, at twenty-six, shouldering the weight of McBain Industries for eight long years as their father's legacy, was too sophisticated and proud to be spiteful of a teenage girl only fifteen. Good thing was, nearly twenty-one and in college, Trevor was rarely home. But on the occasion when he was.."

 Talking about Trevor was enough to unsettle her composure. And if she continued, there was no guarantee how much of their stormy history her traitorous tongue might spew, and Henry was too astute to miss anything. She decided it was better to steer clear of mentioning him again.

 "I think Damian decided I didn't exist for him." Elaine turned her guarded eyes to meet Henry's, pleased to find amusement there rather than pity for her. "However, when their mother passed away two years later, he, albeit grudgingly, acknowledged me as yet another addition to his ever burgeoning load of responsibilities. Still considers me as one." She ended with a shrug.

 "But can't he see you need no looking after? You're no longer a hapless orphan child." Henry said emphatically. "You're smart, independent, beautiful young woman."

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