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Synopsis: Emotionally ravaged by the murder of her parents, a young daughter vows on their graves to avenge and wreak justice on their killers. Sprinted away to her Godparents’ home, she never counted on falling in love with their son. His attempts to dissuade her strong infatuation soon turn into obsessive longing and need. A steamy relationship ensues, hindering her vow and creating stormy conflicts.
Envisioning Bonnie and Brent pressed naked against each other, Rianne wondered what it might feel like to be in his arms—like that. She had felt his hardness pressed against her, when they were in the entrance hall and again at the stable when she had hugged him. Not fully understanding the physiology of a man, she had not let it disturb her. She liked Brent’s closeness, and oddly, it brought strange stirrings inside her, heating her blood until her face grew hot.
Unfortunately, he had drawn a line and informed her she was not to cross it. A young woman, he had said, or young women, should not throw themselves into a man’s arms.
With a shrug, she went back to her room and rang for Mertice, her maid. “Have Aunt Margaret and Uncle Richard come out of their suite yet?” she asked.
“Aye, they just went downstairs to the library. They said dinner would be at the usual time.”
“Then get my bath ready, and I wish to wear that yellow gown tonight.” Rianne tilted her chin stubbornly.
“But you told me yourself the yellow gown is too revealing. Are you sure you wish to wear it with the men folk present?”
“Mertice, if I need a mentor, I will consult Juliette. Please do as I ask and quit harping on things that aren’t your concern.”
“Yes, Mum,” Mertice replied, feeling slightly subdued and a whole lot unsure of the choice her mistress was making. She pulled the yellow gown out and hung it on the door of the wardrobe, a frown creasing her forehead. She hurried from the room lest Rianne, in a sour mood, reprimanded her again.
“Did I hear my name called?” Juliette asked, peeking around the edge of the opened door.
“Come in, Juliette, and tell me what you think of the yellow gown I plan to wear tonight.” She took it from the wardrobe door and held it in front of her.
“It’s a lovely gown and looks very nice on you, but it leaves nothing to the imagination. The décolletage is much too revealing. It doesn’t seem fitting for someone as young as you.”
Rianne threw up her arms. “Why is everyone so concerned about my age? Some think I am too young, some thing I am too old. Why can’t I just be me without my age being referred to in everything I do?”
Juliette went back and closed the door. “Rianne, you need to get hold of yourself. You have been in a state of excitement and upset ever since Brent arrived home. You can’t continue like this or you’ll make yourself sick before he leaves again.”
Rianne plopped down on the bed and gazed with despair at Juliette. Then her gaze turned into glassy pools of liquid that rolled down her cheeks. She hung her head dejectedly.
Juliette pulled up a chair and sat down close to Rianne. “Will you tell me what is bothering you, Rianne?”
Rianne shrugged and let her shoulders droop. “Brent has changed. I don’t know him anymore. He treats me differently. He thinks I am too old to hug him. He doesn’t want to spend time with me.”
“He is right, Rianne. A young lady does not throw herself into the arms of a man, not even one she has known for many years.”
“But he is my brother. Surely it cannot be wrong to hug one’s own brother?”
“He is not your brother. He is your godparents child and no kin to you. He is a man and you are a woman. Aren’t you knowledgeable about what happens between men and women?”
“I know what happens. I have seen the animals mating, but that is not in my mind. Why should it make a difference if I have no thought of it?”
“Perhaps he does have a thought of it. A man’s yearnings are quite different from a woman’s inasmuch as he has less control over his physiological processes.”
“Are you telling me, Juliette, that he is interested in me for reasons over and beyond friendship? Surely, you cannot mean that. He is my brother. Even if we are no blood kin, he is still my brother. He would never think of doing those kind of things to me.”
“Rianne, I imagine he stopped being your brother when the two of you outgrew childhood, and I must repeat myself; a man’s sexuality is very different from a woman’s.”
“Must I stop loving him as well, Juliette? I have always loved him. Is it wrong to feel that sort of affection for him?”
“It depends on what you expect of him, Rianne. If a brother is what you desire, then you must treat him like a brother. If you seek a husband then your attitude will be different. Either way, you must use discretion in your approach toward him.”
“Husband! Marriage? To Brent? That is sacrilegious. It is preposterous. I cannot stop thinking of him as my brother.”
“Then you must respect his feelings if he is to respect yours.”