"The matter is settled, Genevieve." Haydon was adamant. "I have no intention of permitting anyone to jail Charlotte, and no intention of letting you go down to that courthouse alone. We will deal with this matter together, and we will see that Charlotte is brought home safely. Is that understood?"
His face was harshly cut in the flickering firelight, a rough sculpting of shadows and light. The lines between his dark brows were deep, as were those creasing his forehead and webbing the skin beneath his eyes. There was pain there, and a rawness of emotion that surprised her, for although she had sensed that Haydon had grown fond of Charlotte, she would not have expected him to be so agonized over a child he had only known for over a week.
As she stared at him, she suddenly sensed that he was reacting to something that had happened long before he had ever come to Inveraray. Something that had wounded him deeply. There was so much about him Genevieve didn't know, yet in that hushed, firelit moment she felt she knew him better than he perhaps even understood himself. It made her want to lay her hand against his cheek and feel the heat of him beneath her palm, to trail her fingers along the dark bristle shadowing his jaw, to lean close and feel his warm breath upon her skin, just as she had during those long nights when he had solely belonged to her.
Unable to restrain herself, she leaned into him and pressed her mouth to his.
Desire shot through Haydon. It was just an uncertain little kiss, he understood that, an inexperienced pressure of one mouth to another, but he could not remember ever having been so aroused by one simple touch. Of course he had been impossibly stirred by Genevieve during all the long hours she had tended him and bathed him, soothing every inch of his aching body with her skillful caresses and unbearably soft hands. His body was aching now, but it was with the rigid need to be touched again, to be stroked and kneaded and clutched, not gently, but with desperate, gasping hunger. He fought to control himself, struggled to endure the sweet graze of her mouth and the clean scent of her hair and the feathery brush of her fingers against his clenched jaw. If she would but pull away he might be all right, might be able to maintain the tightly shackled control he had been exerting over himself every time he saw her, or thought of her, or inhaled the lingering summery fragrance of her after she had left a room. But she did not pull away. Instead she increased the pressure of her lips, as if she was trying to elicit a response from him and was not quite sure how to go about it.
With the fragile uncertainty of a woman who had never been properly kissed, she parted her lips ever so slightly, inviting him to taste her.
Haydon groaned and crushed his mouth to hers, wrapping her in his powerful arms as he dragged her against him.