-Please Angell, Stay-
Third person's POV
She smiled solemnly. “You’re being kind.” He smiled back, appreciating her uncertainty. “Kindness isn’t part of my makeup, Miss Mimi. I just say it as I see it.” He wished she’d get on with it any longer in this private situation and he might be inclined to take advantage of the fact that he’d never be back. Both were silent a moment, Mimi looking into the fireplace, Angell studying the curve of her cheek. He wanted to touch it, run one finger down her skin and see it bloom with that blush she got whenever he touched her. She would be wasted on a man who didn’t know what to do with that passion. He suffered a vision of Lucas Archerson’s pasty fingers on a perfect, imagined breast and felt his chest tighten.
“Mimi,” he said urgently, before thinking. She turned, her eyes luminous in the last flickering of the firelight.
He took a deep breath. “Do me a favor.”
She looked at him with an unfathomable expression, one he could get lost in, so intimate it seemed.
He forced himself to laugh. “Don’t marry Lucas Archerson. He’s the worst kind of fop, worse than Matthew even and he doesn’t deserve you.” well Matthew is a handsome fair-skinned man in his 30's though.
Mimi didn’t return the laugh and the heat in the room seemed to intensify. Her eyes studied his face and he had the uncomfortable urge to look away or say something stupid.
“I won’t,” she said finally. I don’t think I’ll marry at all.” He nodded deeply and hated the pain the words gave him. He briefly imagined pulling her into his arms and demanding that she marry him. Instead, he said,
"that’s kind of the way I look at things." Her eyes dropped. He let out an unconsciously held breath.
"Rather a waste, isn’t it?" She said quietly. He wasn’t sure which waste she meant-marriage or lack of it, so he kept silent. He knew what he would have meant but that didn’t bear bringing it up.
“So I guess you won’t be needing me around anymore huh,” he said, a little too loudly. She looked up quickly, then glanced at the door.
“Oh, no,” she said in a hushed voice. “That’s just what I thought you’d be thinking. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, We need to keep this up a short while longer until Matthew talks to father which can’t be for at least a week. You see, he has to wire his grandmother in Manhattan. It’s a long story, but he’s due to inheritance and if he gets it now, it might sway father somewhat. It’s not a lot, but he’s not destitute. So you see, you’re still needed and you’ll still be rewarded for your time and effort and of course, you can keep the clothes.”
With that last added a bit, Angell couldn’t contain a bitter laugh. As long as I get to keep the clothes, he imagined saying sarcastically but he kept it to himself because this was the way it had to be. He could love Miracle McCarthy but only from afar. For him to want or expect anything more was ludicrous. He ran a hand through his hair and gave her a smile. “Don’t look so glum, Mimi. I knew that was coming. Hell, I wanted it to come. This deal was too good to be true from the beginning.” He paused, but couldn’t bear the way the bitter tone of his voice hung in the air. “So. . .all’s well that ends well, eh? He finished lamely.
Mimi put a fist to her mouth and looked away. "Good lord," he muttered, running a hand through his hair again. “Look, I know that sounds harsh but I knew this would happen Everything’s much better this way.” Mimi didn’t move. She had turned so he couldn’t see her face but the trembling of her shoulders sent foreboding through his veins.
“Hey,” he said softly, moving towards her. “You’re not crying, are you?” He reached the place where she stood before the fire and could not resist taking her arm. She turned easily towards him, lifting huge wet eyes to his face.
“But I don’t-” she stopped herself, then forced the words out in a tortured voice. “I don’t want you to go.” Angell felt the lump in his chest move upwards to his throat. “Oh, Mimi.” He pulled her into his arms, his hands flattened on Her back as she clutched his shirt. He stroked the curve of the spine. There was little between his hands and her skin and as his palms traveled the length of her back, he squeezed his eyes shut. The heat of her body through the silky material swallowed his senses and he pressed his lips to her hair.
She trembled against him, her face pressed into his shoulder. “Please,” she said, in a tiny voice. He wondered if he’d misheard her. Please, what- stay? She pulled back and looked up at him. She said nothing but her eyes spoke volumes. Angell groaned and captured her lips with his. She melted immediately into him, her arms moving up to his neck to pull him closer. The unexpected strength of her compliance sent a thunderbolt to his loins and the desire that swept him was uncontrollable. His hands moved up to her hair and tugged at the loose bun at the back of her neck. Hairpins clicked to the floor and the thick mass of hair cascaded over his hands.
“Mimi, let me look at you,” he said, pulling her back with his hands at the back of her head. Thick, honey hair framed her flushed face, her lips were wet and parted from his kiss, her eyes shadowed and pulsing with the same desire he felt throbbing in his blood.
“Mimi. . . .think. Is this what you want?” She looked steadfastly up at him and said nothing. He pulled her forward and kissed her hard, punishing her for the mistakes he was making, unable to contain the glorious pounding of his heart as she responded in kind. Her lips parted, her tongue sought his, her hands roved over his back with undisguised hunger. Images entered his mind as he kissed her-the way her face had glowed pale from the hood of her cloak the night they left Missouri, a demonstration she’d made of a courtly bow during one of their dancing lessons; the elegant commanding way she’d entered the lounge car on the train where he’d sat was beautiful, she was quality and she wanted him. The danger of it struck him hard in the gut with every ounce of strength he had, he moved his hands to her shoulders and gently pushed her back. His pulse roared in his ears and he could not meet her eyes. 'Damn it,' he exclaimed. He dropped his hands from her shoulders and closed his eyes, his head bent. “Mimi, i- we can’t do this.” He glanced up to see her hands pressed to her mouth. For a long moment, she was silent.
“It’s wrong-for you, I mean-”
“I know. I’m sorry,” she interrupted quickly, her voice breathy and muffled. She lowered her hands. “I only wanted to ask you to stay. I didn’t intend. . .” He swallowed. “I’ll stay. I’ll play the thing out-but then I’ll go.” She nodded vigorously and looked at the floor. “I understand.” A short laugh escaped him. “You don’t, not really but I can’t explain it.” She turned and moved quickly towards the door.
“Mimi?” She stopped.
“I’m sorry. I’ve-pushed you- made you do things maybe you didn’t want to do. I’m sorry.” She looked back at him.
“And I’m sorry I called you a snob,” he continued.
“You’re not. You’re a good, decent person.”
She smiled slightly. “No, Angell. You were right the first time. You were right about everything.” With that, she slipped out the door, Angell was left to wonder what it all meant and how it was he had ended up in a position to take what he wanted when he was clearly not meant to have it.
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