The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe
Two hours later, the inn was silent as the winter night, and Eliza was warm by the fire in her small room. She hadn’t undressed, but she’d rung for the maid to bring the water for washing so the servants would not be waiting on her. She’d have to find a way to undress herself or sleep in her stays.
She had been sitting and waiting for him too long, that was all. He was on her mind. It wasn’t as though she desired him. Very much.
In truth, she missed him. She missed their discussions of everything from flowers to politics. She missed hearing about all of the clerical sorts of things he’d done each day and telling him about her latest success with a new pistol that looked like a lady’s fan. She missed having him in her life.
And, oh very well, she missed having a man hold her, having him kiss her, feeling the weight of his body beside hers. On top of hers.
Of course, Moneypence chose that moment to tap softly on her door. Pulling it open, she yanked him inside and shut it again.
“Did anyone see you?” she asked.
She touched her cheeks. They were indeed warm, probably because of the direction of her thoughts just a few moments ago. “I’ve been sitting too close to the fire.”
“Am I correct in assuming you wished to speak to me?”
His eyes were dark and his light brown hair flecked with snow. She’d forgotten what it was like to be this close to him. His scent, bergamot mingled with the clean fragrances of hay and fresh snow, made her heart beat a little faster. Her gaze dipped to his lips. Would his mouth be warm or deliciously cool against her hot skin?
He sounded impatient for her to continue and brushed snow off his sleeve to punctuate his annoyance. “About this mission. I’ve changed my mind.”
“You’re going home?” he said with a hopeful tone.
“No.” She flicked a piece of straw from his hair. “We should work together.”
But he didn’t speak.
“I was making a list of our suspects,” she said, “and between the two of us, we would generate such a list more quickly. You spoke to people I did not at dinner.”
“I see. And what if I don’t want your help?”
Slowly, he unwound his scarf from his neck. “You can’t keep changing your mind.”
“I haven’t changed my mind. I have only reconsidered this one point.”
“How do I know you won’t change it again?”
Frustrating man. Why did she feel as though he was speaking about more than this mission? “I won’t, but if you don’t want to work with me—”
She’d waved her arm at him, and he caught her hand in his. His skin was cool, giving her a little shock. “I didn’t say that. I merely wanted to make certain I understood where we stand.”
“We’re colleagues working together on a mission for the Barbican group,” she said. “Nothing more.”
He looked down at her hand.
Heaven help her. She was making little circles with her thumb on his palm.
“I beg your pardon.” She tried to pull her hand away, but he didn’t release her. She didn’t try very hard to free herself either.
“There’s nothing to apologize for. I’ve missed your touch.”