Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Is it still a matter of trust? An Excerpt from A Perfect Escape

A Perfect Escape by Maddie James
Resplendence Publishing
http://www.resplendencepublishing.com


From Chapter Nineteen....


“Why won’t you accept any help from me?”

The sudden anger in his face alarmed her. She answered him quickly. “It’s not your problem.”

“What if I want to make it my problem?”

“You can’t.”

“Why?”

“I won’t let you.”

“Won’t let me, or you don’t want me to? There’s a difference. Am I not good enough for you? Perhaps you’d rather have a man in a suit after all.”

Angered now, Meg thrust her hands in the air. “Let you, Smyth. That’s what I said, that’s what I meant. Who you are? And the fact that you don’t wear a suit doesn’t even enter into this. I think that’s your problem, not mine. Obviously that ex-wife of yours did a number on you or something. I don’t care what you wear or what you do for a living. I simply am not going to drag you into this. I can do it on my own.”

“Can you?” he returned sarcastically.

Meg felt the breeze off the ocean warm her, or perhaps it was her blood pressure rising. Suddenly, she grew tired of playing games, with Smyth or anyone else. Stepping closer to him, she stared straight into his fuming eyes and wondered if hers reflected that same anger. Her pulse pounding, her heart swelling, she knew it was now or never. She had to lay it all out on the line. And she had to be honest with him. It was the only way.

“Look,” she huffed out. “I’m so tired of making up excuses and alibis. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t want you killed. I couldn’t live with that. If Bradford ever does catch up with me, there is no doubt in my mind that he would kill both of us. I can’t knowingly put you in that position. We’ve already risked too much.

“If I let you help me get out of this situation, then that means I’m going to get close to you. I don’t know if I can handle that right yet. It’s too soon. I’ve just come out of one hellish nightmare and right now every single one of my emotions is laid bare for the world to trample on. I don’t know you well enough to lay myself open to that, even though I’m severely tempted.”

Meg forced out a deep breath and went on, slightly unnerved at the flare in his eyes at her last statement. She had to get it over with.

“And the more I’m around you,” she continued softly, “the more I feel I’m falling for you and I’m afraid you’ve got problems of your own to deal with. I don’t know how well I could handle falling in love with you and then have you turn around and leave me.”

Knowing she’d revealed a whole lot more than she really wanted, Meg felt like running, but her feet were frozen to the spot. She shook her head and looked away.

“How do you know I would leave you?” he returned blandly.

Tossing her gaze right back at him, she immediately felt the hurt in his voice. “No,” she returned on a whispered breath, “you probably wouldn’t. I would end up leaving you and breaking both our hearts.”

His expression unmoving, Smyth clutched at her hands and pulled her closer. “It’s too confusing right now. We need to figure out where we’re both coming from. We need time.”

Meg nodded. “Confusing isn’t the word for it. Right now, I’m not even sure I should be here. I’m so mixed up. I don’t know what’s happened to Rudy. I’ve been worried about Becky ever since you mentioned the possibility of them finding her. I don’t know if Bradford's thugs tailed me here. And I don’t have any inkling of what’s going on in your head. So I really think that the best thing you and I can do is stay away from each other until the next boat comes, or whatever, so I can get off this island and away from you because I honestly don’t know what will happen if I don’t. It scares the hell out of me.”

Meg huffed out a quick breath and looked toward the village, tears aching to spill from her eyes. Not meaning to bare her soul so completely, she wished she could take back about half of what she’d said.

First, she felt his warm hands snaking up her arms, raising the goose flesh on her skin. When his fingertips grazed her shoulders, she shivered and vowed she wouldn’t look at him, but as his palm smoothed over her neck and under her jawbone, she was drawn to him like a magnet. Turning to look into his face, she felt all self-control wash out of her as her gut tightened and then seemed to melt into molten liquid. His eyes, deep brown and filled with desire, searched her face. His gaze finally rested on her lips. A craving to be close to him swept over her body in an instant, making her suddenly alert to every molecule of testosterone oozing from his body.

Her pulse pounded in her ears and every defense she thought she possessed had cut out underneath her like a dangerous ocean riptide.

“I’m scared, too,” he whispered as she watched the slow movement of his lips. “I’m afraid the best thing that ever happened to me is going to fade away before I have a chance to make it work.”

Tears slipped over Meg’s lower lids and slid down her cheek. Her lips trembled as she started to speak. “I...I can’t be the best thing that ever happened to you. Things are so uncertain. There may be no future.”

“There’s today.”

Her eyes met his and suddenly it all made sense. He was right. All they really had was today. As one hand slipped around her back, pulling her closer, the fingers of his other threaded into the hair at her nape. Meg closed her eyes and waited for his lips to capture hers.

She didn’t have to wait long.

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Interested in taking a stab at the trivia question from yesterday? Hint, the picture provides a clue.

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