A Match Made in Mistletoe(7)By: Anna Campbell
Giles had always been something of a mystery to her—this was the longest time they’d ever spent alone together—but his reaction now was particularly cryptic. His marked eyebrows drew together, more in consideration than disapproval, she thought. “You know, perhaps I could help.”
Her lips turned down. “How?”
She had the uncanny feeling that he waged some battle with himself. When he met her eyes, she drowned in the dark depths. “I could show you how to kiss a man.”
Serena hardly heard. Blood pounded in her ears, and she felt giddy. She had the oddest urge to lean forward and rest her head on that broad chest. Just rest.
Which was mad, when Giles had always been too disagreeable and difficult to be a comfortable companion.
“I’m sorry.” Avoiding her eyes, he picked up his hat. “I shouldn’t have suggested it.”
“Suggested what?” She blinked, forcing herself back to the real world where she wanted Paul, and Giles was just an annoying interloper. “I didn’t hear you.”
“So what did you say?”
When the raffish Lord Hallam turned charmingly sheepish, her heart performed another of those bewildering little skips. “I offered to be your tutor, to help you cultivate the skills to bewitch the gallant Sir Paul.”
“I offered to kiss you.”
Her heart slammed to a stop. Good heavens above. Giles was talking about kissing her. How astonishing.
She should be offended. Or angry. Instead the idea lodged in her mind, and wouldn’t shift.
The more she thought about it, the more appealing it became. Would it really be so disgraceful to kiss Giles? Serena had long been curious about what a kiss was like. She’d always imagined Paul would be the first man to kiss her. But it might be best to get her clumsy first attempts out of the way with someone whose approval didn’t matter quite so much.
Perhaps this was the meaning behind that bizarre, unsettling dream. That Giles was to be her path to Paul. If she’d stayed in the dream longer, maybe Paul would have appeared to oust Giles from the central role.
“Here?” She glanced around the empty church, decorated with green boughs and walls of memorials to long-dead Talbots.
Wonder lit his face. “You agree?”
“Yes, I think I do,” she said thoughtfully. “I have a feeling you’re quite good at kissing.”
A tilt of those expressive eyebrows. “Only quite good?”
Some hitherto unrecognized female instinct was convinced that if Giles set his mind to the task, his kisses would burn her to ashes. But that same instinct warned against sharing that insight. “Don’t push your luck.”
With a grunt of laughter, he stood. “Never.”
She frowned up at him. He was so tall, taller than Paul or Frederick who were both at least six feet. As a boy, he’d been all gangling awkwardness, hands and feet too big for his lanky limbs. A nose too large for his face. And those swarthy, heavy features were too striking for a child’s face to carry with any conviction.
But somewhere in the last few years, he’d grown into all that character and strength. For the first time, she understood why the London ladies were mad for him. He’d never be classically handsome but, by God, he was interesting and vivid and compelling.
“Giles, if you were teasing about teaching me how to kiss, I’ll never forgive you.”
“Perish the thought.” Attractive self-mockery twisted those full lips. “How the devil can I resist turning you into another man’s dream lover?”
Memories of that disturbing dream washed over her again. Staring at Giles, Serena had a sudden discomfiting suspicion that, despite knowing him most of her life, she didn’t really know him. And that accepting amorous lessons from him mightn’t be altogether wise.
The cynical tinge faded from his smile. “Second thoughts?”
* * *
Serena sucked in a deep breath of cold ecclesiastical air and told herself not to be a ninny. She always responded to a challenge—and the idea of kissing Giles was sinfully appealing. “I’d be a fool not to take advantage of your expertise.”