Her fingers tightened about the door handle.
“It would be wrong of me now to concern you further with my affairs,” she said evenly, “you, who must despise me my contempt.”
“I do not despise you,” Darby replied levelly.
“Your manner suggests otherwise.” She heard his tread draw near, and steeled herself against the intensity that was him.
“To retain my sanity,” he said his voice taut, “I cannot allow myself to think about something I cannot have.”
The reflection in his voice pierced deep into her heart, and a small cry bubbled forth from her lips. Her heart had been closed to him, yet he’d found a way to unlock it, throwing her emotions once more into confusion. Why must he tell her this? She could feel his warmth around her drawing her to him like a blanket. Their blanket.
Mustering her strength, she stepped deeper into the room and distanced herself from him. “It didn’t occur to me that you were sincere in your feelings for me,” she said her voice scarcely above a whisper.
“I gave you no reason to believe it,” Darby admitted.
He moved again towards her, but she stared ahead of her, her manner determined. She didn’t wish to be reminded of the time she could never know again.
“You owed me no consideration, my lord,” she replied, “nor did I expect it. We shared a strong attraction for each other, and I, too, am guilty of what happened between us.”
“Guilt? Is that why you refuse me? Is that why you run from me?” His breath stirred her hair. Celeste closed her eyes and clasped her hands tightly against her stomach. The simplicity of his questions conveyed the anguish from which they’d been expressed. She turned slowly to face him. His uttered words still lingering in the air, his vulnerability laid rather unexpectedly bare to her.