How Long Can You Resist Ch. 03byoohsexypenguin©
Author's Note: Thank you for all the encouraging and positive feedback! It's very much appreciated.
They rode from the market and out towards the rolling green hills in the distance. Elizabeth looked at the sky and noted that it was an unpromising shade of gray. What if it rains? she wondered, beginning to feel a little uneasy.
She watched the scenery pass her by. There was a slight breeze, and the tall grasses swayed gracefully as Lucifer made his way at a gallop to the crest of a hill. "It's so lovely out here," Elizabeth said over her shoulder. "I don't believe I have been out this far before."
Gerard had been caught up in the sensation of having her resting against him. He could smell the scent of lavender wafting from her hair, and the curve of her neck was so tempting. He wondered what it would taste like, if it would be as sweet as it looked. He started a bit when she spoke, then answered, "Yes, it is quite lovely. I dare say, it is nearly as lovely as you."
Elizabeth could hear the smile in his voice, and she could not help but blush. Immediately she was annoyed with herself. What is wrong with you? she asked herself. Do not let the words of a playboy affect you so! "You are kind, Mr. St Claire, but you flatter me."
Gerard felt her stiffen slightly and wondered what he had done that was so wrong. Couldn't she accept a compliment? Feeling a bit irritated, he frowned and said, "As I have said, Miss Winshaw, please call me Gerard. And I am not flattering you if I speak the truth."
Elizabeth heard the undercurrent of hurt in his voice and instantly chided herself for being so ill-tempered. It was one of her greatest faults, though she hadn't known that she was capable of hurting such a confident man's feelings. "I apologize, Gerard," she said, turning her head to look at him. "I thank you for your kind words." Then she smiled a small smile and once again faced forward. I suppose I can at least be gracious, she thought, biting her lip at the prospect of it.
The dark cloud that had begun to hang over Gerard's head lifted in that moment. "Apology accepted," he said, pulling on the reins of the horse. "Shall we stop here and rest a moment?" he asked as Lucifer came to a stop. "I brought a blanket in my pack, we can sit on that. And the view is nice."
Elizabeth hesitated. Once more she wondered why this man had brought her out here, and she wasn't sure she wanted to stay long enough to find out. She felt him move off the horse, and he offered his hand to help her dismount. Looking down, her eyes locked onto his. Blue met gray, and for a moment time seemed to slow. She searched his face, seeing in his eyes an openness and sincerity that made her regret her suspicions.
Gerard was also doing some searching of his own as he studied Elizabeth. Her eyes were so blue, and dark in this lack of sufficient sunlight. He saw her brow crease, and he wondered what she was thinking. This girl was so untrusting, and Gerard wasn't used to a woman resisting his charms. Somehow, though, he felt deep inside that she would come around, and he knew he could be patient enough to wait around for her to do so.
Elizabeth took his hand and came down off the horse. She watched Gerard unfurl the blanket from the pack strapped to the horse and lay it on the ground. Gesturing, he invited her to take a seat. She did, and he followed suit. At first they didn't say anything, and Elizabeth tried not to meet his eyes. She knew he was looking at her, and she couldn't help feeling uncomfortable. At the same time, though, she felt a great warmth flood through her. Her skin heated and her breathing shallowed. She shivered, and it wasn't because of the wind.
"Are you cold, Miss Winshaw?" Gerard asked, looking concerned. You twit, he berated himself, you should have thought to bring a coat. "No," Elizabeth reassured him. "I am perfectly fine. And," she added, "if I am to call you Gerard, it is only fair that you call me Elizabeth."
"Alright, Elizabeth," Gerard said, smiling. Elizabeth's breath caught, and she quickly looked away. Why am I so nervous? she wondered. It's not like I've never seen a man smile before. But there was something about this man, Gerard St. Claire, that was unlike other men Elizabeth had known. He was so refined, yet so darkly masculine. He was almost brutish looking with his black hair and tanned skin, yet nothing but a perfect gentleman. Elizabeth couldn't decide whether to leap into his arms or run as far as she could in the other direction, and such a feeling confused and vexed her.
"May I ask why you are so quiet, Elizabeth?" Gerard said softly, ducking his head to try to meet her downwardly cast eyes. She is such a puzzle, he thought. In London he never had such trouble getting a woman to open up to him; in fact, he had the opposite problem. Women frequently threw themselves at him, and to be honest he had never rejected them. He enjoyed his bachelorhood to the fullest and didn't regret a thing.
Elizabeth, however, posed a challenge. She was alternately fiery and cold, and he found it intriguing. He longed to know the thoughts in her head, and to know what every look that crossed her face meant. He found himself wanting to know more about her than he had about any other woman, and that fact surprised him.
"I am sorry, Gerard," Elizabeth said. "You'll have to excuse me. I am, after all, out in the middle of nowhere with a man I don't really know." She smiled, and Gerard chuckled. "I appreciate your honesty," he said, sitting back and resting on his hands. "Why not let's get to know each other, then?"
Elizabeth smoothed the skirt of her dress, beginning to relax a little. He is harmless, you ninny, she scolded herself. "What exactly do you wish to know about me?" she asked, cocking her head at him. Gerard shrugged, saying, "Anything you want to tell is good enough for me."
"Well then," Elizabeth said, leaning back on her hands like Gerard. He noticed that the position threw her breasts into full relief, leaving her back arched in a most attractive manner. He swallowed roughly, feeling a surge of heat pass through him. She is so tempting and she doesn't even know it, he thought. It was a nice change to be with a woman who wasn't so openly coquettish.
"My family raises sheep," she said, looking Gerard in the eye. "That is how we make our money. We sell the wool." Gerard nodded. "I gathered as much," he said. "That wool, by the way, is very high quality. Do you sell a lot of it?"
"No," Elizabeth said, frowning a bit. "I'm afraid wool isn't the most popular item to sell at market these days." She looked away, then at him again. "What brings a sophisticated man such as yourself to the country?" She grinned, obviously teasing him.
She's quite charming when she wants to be, Gerard thought, grinning back at her. "My mother and I are in Brackley visiting a great aunt," he said. "She doesn't live too far from the market, actually." Elizabeth nodded, running her hand over the blades of grass near the blanket. "What about your father?" she asked.
Gerard's mood quickly turned sober. "He died a few years ago," he said. It was his turn to look away, and Elizabeth regretted the question. "I am sorry, Gerard," she said, placing her hand on his arm by way of comfort. "I did not mean to pry."
"Please, don't apologize," Gerard said, placing his hand over hers. Despite the sadness that had come over him at the thought of his father, he felt a tingling in his arm as her hand rested there. It felt warm and reassuring, and wholly pleasant.
Elizabeth blushed and pulled her hand away. That was quite forward, she thought, staring at her lap. Clearing her throat, she asked, "May I ask how he died?"
Gerard sighed, sitting up. "Father was an avid horseback rider. He taught me how to ride, and on days when the weather was good we would head to the countryside and ride together for hours." He stared into the distance, beginning to feel a tightening in his chest. He never talked with anyone about his father's death, not even his mother; he was surprised at himself for opening up so quickly to Elizabeth.
"One day we were out riding when his horse got spooked. I still don't know why." Gerard looked down and noticed that his hands were gripping his knees. "Father was thrown from the horse. He broke his neck and died instantly." He looked at Elizabeth. "And I witnessed it."
Elizabeth raised her hand to her mouth, horrified for Gerard. "I can't even imagine what that must have been like," she said, feeling such pity for him. Gerard shrugged, the sadness in his face replaced by peacefulness. "It was hard, to say the least," he said. "But at least he died doing something he loved."
Thunder resounded in the sky, and the first few drops of a cold rain pelted them. "Oh no!" Elizabeth cried. "We have to get back to the market!" The rain proceeded to come down in a torrent, effectively soaking the pair as they scrambled to gather the blanket and get back on the horse.
"The rain is too strong to be riding all that way in right now," Gerard said, speaking loudly enough to be heard in the noise and pulling Elizabeth onto the horse. "We should find shelter until it passes, and then I will take you back."
"But what about Teddy?" Elizabeth asked, straining her throat in her desperation. She was worried about her brother. I knew I shouldn't have left him alone, she said to herself.
"I'm sure he'll be safe," Gerard said, slapping Lucifer's haunch. They galloped back down the hillside. Gerard yelled, "I know of an abandoned barn nearby. We can wait out the storm there."
Elizabeth sighed, worrying about her brother. Gerard bent as much of his large frame over her as he could, trying to protect her from the brunt of the rain. The abandoned barn came into view. Most of its roof was missing, but all they needed was a dry corner and they'd be fine.
Once they reached the barn, Gerard helped Elizabeth dismount. They hurried inside, Gerard leading Lucifer along with them. The horse whinnied his discontent. "Shh, old boy," Gerard said, leading him to one corner of the spacious room and stroking his snout. "It's just a little rain."
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her shivering body and watched as Gerard calmed the horse. He was so gentle with the animal. It was endearing, and she couldn't help but smile.
Gerard noticed that Elizabeth was soaked and shaking with cold, and once again chastised himself for not thinking to bring a coat. A sense of protectiveness overcame him; he strode over to her and without a word wrapped his arms around her, hoping to warm her with body heat.
Elizabeth stilled, feeling her heart speed up in her chest. Gerard was quite tall; her head came only to just the top of his chest. His arms were thick and strong. She raised her head to look at him and they locked eyes. She felt warm immediately, but it wasn't just because of the body heat.
Gerard didn't know what he had been thinking, taking her in his arms like this. It was inappropriate on many levels, but it felt amazing. Her shivering stopped, and he could feel the length of her pressed up against him. Her breasts were flattened against his frontside, and he silently prayed that he could keep his nether region under control. Again he smelled the lavender. He felt her begin to warm up as he stared down at her, and she slowly unwrapped her arms and rested the palms of her hands on his chest.
What am I doing? Elizabeth shouted at herself. She couldn't seem to think clearly. Her body was reacting with a mind of its own. Her breathing was coming in short bursts, and she was dizzy. They continued to stare at each other, many emotions passing in their gazes. In his eyes she saw... lust. Lust that he was clearly struggling to hold at bay.
Gerard was fighting a losing battle. He was drawn in by her sapphire eyes. In them he could see a mixture of things. There was fear, apprehension, confusion. And then he saw it: desire. It was fleeting, but it was enough to cause him to lower his head and touch his lips to hers.
She started when their lips met. She had never been kissed before, and at first she didn't know how to react. Gerard's jaw was stubbly, and he smelled like musk and rainwater. His wet raven locks dripped water onto her face, but she didn't care. The kiss deepened, and Elizabeth found herself melting.
She tastes so Goddamn sweet, Gerard thought, suppressing a moan as he lightly ran his tongue over her lips. Her mouth was hot, and it seared him to the bone. She relaxed into him and parted her lips a little, allowing him access. He took his arms from around her and cradled her face in his hands, kissing her with all the passion he'd tried so hard to restrain. She whimpered, and this time Gerard couldn't suppress his moan.
He ran his hands from the sides of her face down to her neck, over her shoulders, down her arms and to her waist, pulling her more closely to him. The rain had made her dress cling to her every curve, and it was almost as if he were touching her without clothes on. This kiss, these sensations were nothing like Gerard had ever felt before. It was almost as if he was kissing a girl for the first time.
Elizabeth was mindless, lost in the feelings rushing over her. She felt so warm, and goosebumps were raised as Gerard's hands roamed over her lower back. She moved her hands over his chest, up to his neck and then into his hair, curling it around her fingers. He moaned again, and she felt a thrill knowing that she was causing him to react this way.
A particularly loud roll of thunder sounded, and Elizabeth, startled, breaking away from Gerard. It was a harsh snap back to reality as she realized what she had just done.
"What did you bring me out here for?" she asked, outrage evident in her voice. She stared at Gerard, breathing heavily as she backed away from him. Gerard was taken aback. After what they had just experienced, he had no idea how she could be so angry and cold to him so quickly. "What do you mean by asking that, Elizabeth?" he said, feeling his own anger rise to the surface. He didn't know yet what she was implying, but he knew he didn't like her tone.
"Did you think that you could bring me all the way out here and have your way with me?" Elizabeth spat at him. She was ashamed at how wantonly she'd allowed him to kiss her. Looking down, she noticed how her dress hugged her body, and she crossed her arms and blushed. "I don't know what you do or who you do it with in the city, but I'm not a whore."
Her words hurt him. Gerard stared at her, unwilling to believe that someone who could kiss the way she did could use that same mouth to spit such venom. "Do you really believe that of me?" he said, walking over and standing right in front of her. She tried to look away, but he wouldn't let her. "Do you, Elizabeth?" he asked again. "Look at me. Tell me what you're thinking."
She met his eyes. Gone was any vestige of desire he had seen in her earlier. She looked confused and doubtful, and he felt his heart sink. "I don't know what to think, Gerard," she said softly.
"Well, I do," he said, swiping his hand through his hair to push it out of his eyes. "I think you make me feel like I've never felt with anyone. I think I'm really beginning to like you." He placed his hands on her shoulders, then said, "I also think you're beautiful, and charming, and one hell of a good kisser."
Elizabeth blushed at both the compliment and the language. Gerard sounded so sincere, and he seemed so desperate to have her believe him. She sighed, then said, "It looks like the rain has stopped. Will you please take me back to the market?"
Gerard sighed as well, dropping his arms and backing away from her. "Alright, Elizabeth," he said, walking over to Lucifer. Mounting, he trotted over to where Elizabeth stood and helped her onto the horse. Leaving the barn, they made their journey in silence.
They reached the market as it was shutting down. Gerard dismounted and once again helped Elizabeth off the horse. He wanted to say something, but thought it best not to. It didn't seem like anything he said would change her mind about him, anyway.
Elizabeth turned to go, and Gerard took his seat on the saddle. Turning Lucifer in the direction of his great aunt's house, he was about to leave when he heard "Gerard!"
Elizabeth ran up to the horse, looking up at the sullen man holding the reins. She paused, trying to put a finger on what it was she really felt about him. "I apologize for accusing you of trying to take advantage of me," she said. She looked him in the eye, and Gerard knew she truly meant what she said. "I wanted you to know that I regret what I said. You have given me no reason to distrust you."
Gerard smiled slightly, saying, "And I apologize to you, Elizabeth, for putting you in a compromising position." He bent down towards her, and in a voice only she could hear, said, "But I do not apologize for the kiss. It was wonderful, and I would never take it back."
His words sent a rush through her, and for a moment all she could do was stare at him. Gerard chuckled at her speechlessness, then straightened and took firm hold of the reins. "I hope your brother is alright," he said. "You should go check on him." He dug his heels into the horse, and Lucifer took off at a canter. "I shall be seeing you again soon!" he called over his shoulder. As he rode off, leaving Elizabeth standing open-mouthed in his wake, he was full of renewed determination. I'm going to make her mine yet, he decided. And I think I'm in for the fight of my life.
Elizabeth shook her head at the audacity of that man. What did he mean, "I shall be seeing you again soon?" She turned and walked toward the market, seeing the table with all the wool still on it. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her brother sitting on the stool behind it. Theodore looked like he'd received a good soak, and as he caught sight of his sister he gave her a mischievous grin. "Did you have fun?" he asked, winking.
"Oh, hush," Elizabeth chided. "That's none of your business anyway." Theodore laughed, and Elizabeth frowned at the obvious enjoyment her brother was getting out of this. As they packed up to leave, she couldn't help but think about Gerard. I wish I'd never met him, she thought to herself. And yet she knew, despite her best efforts, her dreams were going to be filled with him tonight.