When we eventually pulled away, both gasping for breath we could only stare at each other, neither sure what to say.
‘Can I see you again?’ Lucian asked uncertainly.
‘I have to see you again,’ I replied. ‘If I don’t I think I might die.’
‘But what about your father? Will he be able to find out about us?’
‘Send your messages through my sister and she can give them to me. I trust her with my life, she wouldn’t betray us.’
‘I hate it that we have to do this. What’s so wrong with you choosing who you want instead of your father’s choice?’
‘I’m a woman Lucian. I always make the wrong decisions.’
‘That’s not fair,’ he whispered, putting his forehead against mine.
‘My life isn’t fair.’
He didn’t have any words to respond to that so gently pressed his lips against mine, soothing and gentle.
An unwelcome knock at the door threw us both out of our private world.
‘I have to go,’ I said.
‘I wish you didn’t have to go. I wish I never had to watch you walk away from me.’
‘Then don’t look,’ I said, kissing Lucian one last time before turning around and walking out of the stables.
Helena immediately grabbed my arm and walked me away from the stables, almost dragging me behind her she was walking so fast. As soon as we were a reasonable distance away Helena stopped and turned to look at me.
‘Well? What did he say?’ Her face looked at me eagerly, eyes wide and questioning.
‘He told me he loved me,’ I said, feeling the rush of warmth all over my body as I remembered his words.
‘What did you tell him?’
‘I said I loved him too.’ I was suddenly crushed in a gigantic hug from my sister who had thrown herself at me.
‘My baby sister is in love,’ she whispered in my ear. ‘I can’t believe it.’
‘I wouldn’t say it too much,’ I said back. ‘You never know who is watching. Father probably has his spies on me right now.’
‘For once I don’t care. My little sister is in love and nothing is going to spoil this moment, not Mother or Father or spies or Duchess Elisabeth di Sylsey. This is your moment, enjoy it.’
‘I still can’t quite believe it,’ I breathed. ‘I didn’t think he liked my that much.’
‘How could he resist a girl like you?’
I spent the rest of the day before the ball wandering around my room with a massive smile on my face. Duchess di Sylsey couldn’t work out what had happened to make me so cheerful and when she couldn’t get any information out of me she became increasingly frustrated.
I couldn’t have been happier. The memory of Lucian’s kiss sent shivers through my body. I remembered everything, the slightly salty taste of his lips, the mixture of tenderness and urgency with which he kissed me, the pull of his hands on my waist and the pressure of his body against mine. Every thought of our bodies touching sent waves of heat flooding over me, overwhelmingly strong. All I could think about is when I would see him again.
‘My lady,’ Elisabeth’s voice cut into my daydreams. ‘You have a visitor.’
‘A visitor?’ I inquired excitedly, my thoughts immediately thinking of Lucian.
‘Yes miss. May I show them in?’
‘Of course Duchess, right away.’ I stood up from me seat on the windowsill, smoothing down my dress and tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear to prepare myself for what I thought would be Lucian’s entrance.
But when I turned around my heart sank.
Instead of Lucian striding across the threshold, my mother was standing in the doorway.