Book 2 of the Owl Manor trilogy, coming next month!
The minute the doors closed behind us, I breathed a sigh of relief, calmed by the fresh, wintry air. Sounds became muted, the parlor and its inhabitants faded. I shivered from the cold, and Victor took off his jacket and draped it around my shoulders, his fingers lingering.
All at once, I was intensely aware of him.
This man who made me feel like strings on the violin I had attempted to learn to play in New York—tight, quivering, vibrating. His touch, his smell…it was all too much.
I jerked away, then said, “Thank you…for rescuing me.”
“I confess, I did it for myself.”
There was that flutter in my stomach again, that feeling that I was standing on the edge of a cliff. I looked up at him. He stood with his back to the doors, his face in the shadows, but the moonlight shone on fragments of his cheekbones, his chin, the glint in his eyes. He looked fiendishly handsome, I thought, swallowing the hysteria that surged in my throat. It had to be the brandy.
“I do not know what you mean, Mr. Highmore,” I murmured.
“Victor,” he said.
The strings on the violin became tighter and tighter, as though they would snap at any minute and collapse in shreds. Shaken, I looked away toward the moon, hovering in the sapphire sky above the dark fir trees in the foreground, and the massive, sleeping giants in the background, with their crests of snow.
When I looked back at him, he had come closer. Our bodies were mere inches from each other, but not touching. I wanted to turn and run back into the parlor, but I was swept up in the current of something undefinable that throbbed in the space between us. I had no will of my own.
“Do you not feel it, Abigail? The thing between us?” Victor whispered. My head swam. I stared mutely up at his shadowy face. “You can’t deny it. I can see it on your face.”
“I…” My voice wavered and I paused to steady myself. “As I said before, Mr. Highmore,” I said, trying to be severe, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You’re afraid,” he said, still inches from me, still not touching. I felt the warmth of his breath on my face, the heat coming from his body. The scent of him was heady, intoxicating. “What are you afraid of, Abigail?”