“Your dress picks up the moonlight. You look like a fairy. Or a moon goddess.” He wrapped a hand about her waist, pulling her close. “Do moon goddess’s take night walks on the beach?”
“You are a silver-tongued devil, you know that?” While her insides warmed, her mind hesitated. He’d thrown her off guard again, just as he’d done earlier. She felt off balance, hot and giddy. The sensation swirling through her both delightful and worrisome.
He chuckled drawing her close, his breath tickling her ear. “I had no idea.” And then he drew her toward the path.
She hesitated. “You said you wanted to talk. We can talk up here.”
He stopped, turning toward her. “Are you worried?” His touch softened. “Don’t be. I know who you are and I won’t compromise that.”
She grimaced. “You already have.” And that was the truth. Being alone with him demonstrated a definite social gaff that could have dire consequences, but when she was with him, she forgot to worry about such things. She’d never allow one of her sisters to participate in such behavior.
“Adrianna.” He brushed his fingertips down the back of her arm. “That’s it exactly. I want you to tell me who you are and what you want. Perhaps I can help you.”
“Help me? Help me to what?” Tingling raced up and down her spine.
“You want to help your sisters in the marriage market? Find a husband for yourself?” He drew her a bit closer. “That is definitely something I can aid you in.”
Was he considering proposing? She allowed him to pull her closer. “How? Why?” Her body came into contact with his, warmth radiating from every
spot their bodies touched.
“Because I like you. Because you helped me today and because everyone needs help sometimes.”
“Oh,” she murmured, but she didn’t say more.
He took her hand and started down the path, his words easing her trepidation about being alone with him in the dark of night on the isolated beach. Yes, she’d wanted more time with this man and certainly she’d wondered where this was building, but moonlight walks seemed more like the behavior of a rake and less like a gentleman wishing for her hand. But if he were doing this to help her as a friend, then that was entirely different.
They made their way down to the beach as the wind whipped at their clothes. She shivered and he slipped an arm about her, pulling her against his chest. “Did you say there was a shelter down here?”
She nodded, placing her arms about him too. “This way.”
As they moved together, he lightly kissed the top of her head. Somehow, the intimacy in his gesture further relaxed her. Surely rakes were not so tender as that?
Was she being a fool? Part of her worried she was.
Luke held Adrianna close as he breathed her in. Damn, this woman felt so good against him.
She led him toward the cliff and in the darkness he didn’t notice that one section jutted out, wrapping around the rock face and creating an open-sky shelter until they were nearly upon it.
He stepped inside, looking about him as the rock immediately cut the wind and the temperature warmed considerably. He stepped on something soft that shifted differently from the sand. Looking down, he realized there were several blankets strewn about. “What’s all this?”
Adrianna chuckled. “Ophelia and Rathmore had a picnic here. Remember? I told you of it earlier. We’ve been so busy, we forgot to clean up.”
After letting go of Adrianna, he reached down and felt about the sand until he grasped a wax pillar. “Candles?”
“One hundred of them, I believe. Rathmore used them to propose,” she said as she dropped down next to him.
He heard the catch in her voice. She found that romantic, did she? “And you want that too? A proposal by candlelight?”
“Oh. I don’t know,” she said softly, her voice sighing over his skin. “I’d be happy with any sort of proposal so long as the man cared for me.”
“Too bad we didn’t bring a lit candle down. We could have restarted some of them.” He could try to start one with his flint but finding dry enough material would prove challenging on the beach.
“A candle would have never made it down here tonight. Too windy,” she murmured.
“Well.” He reached for her hand, bringing it to his lips. She wore no gloves and his lips caressed her silky skin. He threaded his fingers through hers. “You are interested in getting a proposal from a man who cares about you. I can help you with that.”