How Long Can You Resist Ch. 02byoohsexypenguin©
"Elizabeth met a man today!" Theodore called as he and his sister walked through the front door that evening. Elizabeth rolled her eyes, wishing her younger brother were a more reserved person.
"What?" their father said as he took his seat at the table for dinner. Rupert Winshaw and his wife had worked the farm all day, and both were more than ready to settle in and have a good meal. "What is this, Elizabeth?"
"Ignore him, Papa," Elizabeth said, kissing her mother on the cheek. "He has no idea what he is talking about." She hoped her father would let it go, but knowing that the subject of marriage had been a particularly sensitive one as of late, it wasn't likely.
"Oh Elizabeth, do tell us your brother is speaking the truth!" Mrs. Winshaw said, clasping her hands to her chest. Elizabeth rolled her eyes again, helping herself to some of the beef stew sitting in front of her. It had been a long day, and she just wanted to eat and go to sleep. "Alright, Mama," she said, giving up as she took a bite of her food. "I met a man today."
"Lovely!" Mrs. Winshaw said, smiling warmly at her daughter. "It's about time, my dear. You are getting older, you know." Mr. Winshaw nodded in agreement. Elizabeth stifled her annoyance; her parents were obsessed with marrying her off, and it was almost too much to take.
"Tell us about him, dear," Mrs. Winshaw said. "Well," Elizabeth began, "first of all, I didn't meet him so much as he came to our table to look at the wool." She poked at her plate with her fork, finding that she had suddenly lost her appetite. She could once again feel a fluttering in her belly, and it wasn't hunger. "He stared at me the entire time. He bought a bundle, although what someone like him would want with wool is beyond me." Elizabeth pushed a wisp of hair out of her face and looked her mother in the eye. "He made me uncomfortable, Mama. He looked at me as if I was some sort of... I don't know, but it was disconcerting."
"I think he likes her Mama," Theodore inserted, grinning with his mouth full. Elizabeth scowled at him, wishing once again for him to keep his mouth shut. "He couldn't possibly like me, Teddy" she said. "He doesn't even know me." She paused, then added, "He wouldn't like me anyway. He is obviously very wealthy, and I obviously am not."
"Wealthy, you say?" Mr. Winshaw said, lifting his head from his meal. "Yes, Papa," Elizabeth said. "The way he was dressed made that very clear. And he paid us more than enough for the wool."
"So what difference does it make?" Mrs. Winshaw said. "He took a liking to you, and it does not hurt that he comes from money. Do you realize what that could mean for this family if you did end up marrying him?" She stood to clear her dish, then asked excitedly, "When are you going to see him again?" Elizabeth sighed, answering, "He said he would see me tomorrow at the market. I wish he wouldn't. I do not want to give him false hope..."
"Do not say such things," Mrs. Winshaw interrupted, frowning at her. "You have a duty to this family, daughter. You'd best remember that." She then smiled once more, saying, "Now bring me your blue dress. It looks the nicest on you, and it could use a bit of mending."
"Yes, Mama," Elizabeth murmured, getting up from the table and going upstairs to her room. It looks like it doesn't even matter what I want, she thought to herself, sighing and taking her blue muslin dress from the wardrobe. To them, I am nothing more than another sheep.
The next day:
"I wonder when that man will be coming back," Theodore said, his eyes raking over the people milling around the market. It was an overcast Sunday, and it looked like it might rain at any moment.
"I do not know why you care so much, Teddy," Elizabeth said, straightening the bit of lace that trimmed her neckline. The dress was freshly pressed and mended, and it looked fetching on her. "I doubt he'll return. He probably didn't mean a word he said. Men like him flirt with the women for the pure sport of it." Her words sounded false to her, though, and she couldn't help joining Theodore in scanning the crowd for Mr. St. Claire. In her heart of hearts she did not think she would get along with someone like Gerard, but that did not mean she thought him unpleasant to look at. She remembered his dark hair and his piercing gray eyes. Eyes that had bored into her, making her feel as if she were standing in front of him without her clothes on. Eyes that looked right through her, that glowed...
"Miss Winshaw, may I say that you look beautiful this Sunday morning?" A rich masculine voice interrupted her thoughts, and she immediately turned her attention to Gerard St. Claire. He was unaccompanied today, and wearing a pair of dark trousers and a white buttoned up dress shirt that was open at his collarbone. He had on riding boots, and his hair looked wind tossed. Needless to say he looked quite handsome, and Elizabeth silently cursed him for it. How she was supposed to ignore the advances of a man who looked like that was beyond her, but she was going to try.
Beautiful is an understatement, Gerard thought to himself. He found himself staring like yesterday, captivated by the picture she created. Her hair was again in a bun, and she was wearing a dress that was the same blue as her gorgeous eyes. Gerard felt a tightening in both his stomach and his breeches. I need to get a hold of myself, he thought as he took in the vision before him.
"Thank you, Mr. St. Claire," Elizabeth said, and she dropped a slight curtsy. She watched him through her eyelashes, noticing how confident he looked as he stood there. He borders on being arrogant, she thought, immediately feeling irritated. "Please, call me Gerard," he said, bowing. "And hello to you, Theodore," he said, extending his hand to her brother. "I wonder, young man, if I may borrow your sister for a little while?"
Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow, wondering what in the world this man had in mind. Theodore nodded, grinning slightly. "You may, sir," he said, pushing his sister forward. "I can manage here for a bit."
Elizabeth stood agape. "Teddy, I do not think it's a good idea for me to just leave you here by yourself..."
She was cut off by Gerard as he took her hand and placed it in the crook of his arm. "I am certain he'll be fine," he said as he began to walk away from the table. "Join me for a horseback ride. I promise I'll be the perfect gentleman."
Elizabeth jerked her arm back, anger evident in her pretty face. "Now wait just one minute, Mr. St.... Gerard," she said. "Do not think you can simply order me around. Your technique may work wonders on other girls, but I see right through you and it will not work on me." She stood with her arms crossed, and her cheeks were slightly pink from frustration. Gerard thought she looked even more stunning when she was angry. I have a live wire on my hands, he thought. He could not help the smile that came upon his face.
"Miss Winshaw, I assure you that I have nothing but good intentions. All I ask is your company, for I do so wish to get to know you better." He offered his arm again, saying, "I do apologize if it seemed I was giving you an order. I will refrain from such wording in the future."
Elizabeth, for once in her life, had nothing to say. She frowned. She didn't know what to do with this man. She was not used to such attention from men; what little attention she had been shown, it had dwindled very quickly afterwards. She supposed it had something to do with her fiery temper. But this man was utterly nonplussed by her words. In fact, it seemed he actually enjoyed her even more when she was agitated.
She sighed, then took his arm. They walked out of the market and came upon his chestnut steed. "What a beautiful horse," Elizabeth said, reaching out to stroke its neck. Gerard watched her, finding that his heart fluttered a bit as a look of serenity came over her face while she petted and cooed to the horse. "This old fleabag? I suppose he's alright looking," Gerard said as he straightened the saddle. "His name is Lucifer, and I think he likes you." Lucifer nudged Elizabeth's shoulder with his snout, and Elizabeth couldn't help but laugh. "Yes, it appears that he does," she said, turning her smile to Gerard. He felt short of breath. Her smile will be the death of me, he thought.
"Well, shall we?" he asked, cutting short his thoughts. He mounted the horse, then reached down to help Elizabeth. She hesitated a moment, then took his hand. She took her place in front of him, and as his arms came around to take the reins she had a sharp intake of breath. A warmth washed over her as she sat nestled against him. Her back was to him, she could feel the firm plains of his broad chest and the strength of his arms. Heaven help me, she thought as she closed her eyes. What am I getting myself into?