a little more charming, a little more...friendly. Perhaps it had been the occasion of their meeting, something in the suspense and tension of murder that made her take notice of him. But she doubted that.
The pull was intrinsic. She could feel that much. There was something in Nathan Black that spoke to her. Her stomach churned, not wanting in the least to find out what it was.
She stepped back, lifting the alcohol soaked rag from his shoulder. Nathan was still stared at the fire, not noticing that she had moved. His dark hair fell across his forehead. The light did not touch the recesses of his eyes, making her wonder what color they were in the firelight.
He was so tall and broad, that she had not dared look at him before. She had looked past him, over his shoulder, making it appear as though she looked through him. But looking at him now, she found he was quite...pleasing in his make up. His shoulders easily spanned the width of the chair back, and his large hands rested casually on either arm of the chair. His legs were stretched before him, too long for him to sit comfortably without stretching them thusly. His clothes were of fine quality but not quite as fine as that of a gentleman of the realm. But he had said he was the son of a duke. An illegitimate son. The notion opened many questions, but she did not dare to ask a single one of them.
His mouth was relaxed, tiny lines framing it. She had a sudden urge to run her fingertips over his lips, across his jaw, and along his cheekbones, to feel the scrape of his skin along hers. She wanted to touch more of him, see if all of his pieces felt the same as the skin of his arm. She wanted to know what it would feel like for him to touch her.
She stepped back so quickly she smacked into the table she had set the medicine box on. The whole thing shook, sending the lantern light swinging recklessly across the room. Nora grabbed for the latern first. The last thing she needed tonight was to set the study on fire. The other clean rags fell off the table to the floor; the lid of the medicine box tottered shut with a snap. Steadying the lantern, she turned her head, knowing Nathan had heard the racket.
He had turned his head as well, but otherwise looked exactly the same, completely relaxed and calm.
"Skirts," Nora said, "They tend to get in the way."
"I can only imagine." His voice was soft with the slightest infliction of mockery.
She turned her head back to the lantern and bit her lip. She was slowly losing her mind, assuming she had not lost it already. First, she wanted to run her fingers all over his face and then suddenly when he had teased her, she had wondered what it would feel like to kiss him.
"Are you finished with me?" Nathan said behind her.
Nora bent and retrieved the fallen rags before turning back to him. "Yes, you will be fine."
But she very much doubted she would be equally as fine. This man was doing things to her she had never imagined any man could. And then he stood, and her stomach made a motion inside of her that had never occurred before. He towered over her, and it was not fear that she felt. It was an inexplicable tightening, an uncontrolled spasm deep within her.
"Excellent," he said and stepped toward her.
She would have stepped back, but that would have meant running into the table again. She knew her mouth had fallen open, and she probably had meant to scream, but it stuck in her throat. But no, that did not feel right. She was not afraid of him any longer. She was the very opposite. Something about him pulled at her, wanting him to come closer, wanting him to touch her.
And then he did, and the air rushed from her lungs.
Nathan reached for her. No, he was reaching around her, and the sudden feeling of loss that the near touch sent through her left her reeling. He picked up a clean rag and dipped