Arms of Love
let him, and he felt a stirring in his soul, like the wind before a storm. He let his eyes drift closed; he wanted to be gentle, wanted her to remember with tenderness and not regret . . .

    Lena knew she should not allow what was happening, knew it in the very core of her being. She would only hurt more later, only compare his kiss with that of any other man in the future. Yet she couldn’t stop, did not want to stop. His mouth moved on hers. Tentatively she returned his kiss, breathing in the scent she knew to be Adam, and she heard him make a small sound of approval that sent shivers down her spine. She was, at once, both lost and found—the war, her mamm’s death, everything seemed to drift to a fuzzy haloed background as she touched him with her lips, her fingers caught in the linen of his shirt.
    When he pulled gently away, she felt bereft. She looked up to find his gaze shuttered, unreadable.
    “What is it?” she asked, realizing she sounded like a little girl who’d had her sweet taken away.
    “Lena,” he said. “I cannot . . . You yield, and I am lost. Remember your anger toward me, for it will keep you safe. Danki for the kiss—our last in truth, for I cannot trespass upon your honor further.”
    “You lie,” she said. She crossed her arms in front of her. “You do not care about honor, not mine, nor even your own. You used me now, and I will not allow it again, to be sure. I know you, Adam. I know that you desire me as much as . . .”
    “As you desire me? Ach , Lena. You make me forget myself, forget everything that is noble and good.”
    He swooped like some careening hawk, and part of her melted with the familiarity, the feel of him, until she realized that she was returning his savage kiss with all of the mixed-up passion in her young soul. But then, it was as if he remembered that his lips had touched hers only moments before with tenderness, and his mouth gentled. She felt his frantic intake of breath drop to a low hum of satisfaction as he pressed his mouth against hers, and she was swept away into some simmering place of sensation and yearning and . . . peace.
    She drew back at her traitorous thoughts, and he let her go so fast that she nearly stumbled. He steadied her arm, and her hand slashed out with instinct, slapping his cheek hard. She drew a sobbing breath at her action, knowing she’d never before struck a living soul.
    He lifted his hand to touch the spot where she’d slapped him, looking puzzled, searching, as if he saw right through her. Surely her blow, for all its fury, did not hurt him to such an extent that he should appear dazed.
    “Adam.” She reached to touch his sleeve. “Adam . . . I’m sorry. Are you all right?”
    He shifted his weight from one long leg to the other and stared down at her.
    “All right,” he murmured. “It will be all right.” He swayed a bit from side to side, almost as though he sought to soothe himself.
    Tears welled in her eyes. “Adam, I’m sorry for striking you. Please forgive me.”
    He smiled then, an odd, intense look, and she felt an eerie disquiet.
    “ Ya , forget it—forget something . . .” He trailed off and rubbed at his cheek and then at his temple as if his head ached.
    “Adam, sei se gut . . .” She frowned in frustration, wanting to break the strange moment. “Adam, come. Let us go to town quickly . . . for my father’s sake.” She reached for his hand, her palm still stinging from her attack. His fingers closed on hers in almost a desperate grip. He thumbed the soft contours of her palm, rubbing again and again at the still sensitive spot. She took an instinctive step backward as a wash of sensation flowed from her hand to her mind. He held her hand—only her hand, but it was as though he were touching her everywhere.
    “Please, Adam. I think that you aren’t well. Let us go from here.”
    And then he was back. She knew it by the way he straightened up and by the mocking glint that fired his former vacant gaze.

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