"…One might think you were purposely tempting me Emma."
It was with the slip of her name that he noticed her sharp intake of breath, and for a moment his smile faltered, briefly he wondered why that would affect her enough for her to momentarily drop her unyielding facade. Not allowing himself the necessary time to dwell on it, he recovered quickly and continued walking—his shoulder just barely touching hers as he brushed by. He had just passed her, a sense of relief settling over him, when abruptly a gentle hand reached out, lightly gripping his arm and nearly burning him through his heavy coat, stopping him in his tracks. Turning towards her questioningly, he glanced down and followed the length of her arm, up her slender neck, across her smooth jaw, lingering on her reddened lips, before meeting her stormy eyes.
And again they didn’t say anything—she wasn’t big on talking and he usually said too much.
With the cool morning breeze lifting the ends of her sun kissed hair, they fell into a tense and telling silence, her unblinking stare, thankful and appreciative, conveying everything she wanted to say…and perhaps so much more. He knew that if he looked deeper, if he dared to search that heartbreakingly wounded gaze, he’d find secrets she wasn’t yet ready to reveal.
Secrets he wasn’t yet ready to learn.
And looking away from her, he backed up slowly, offering her a small genuine smile—no smugness or ulterior motives laced within the quick tilt of his lips.
He was just a simple man smiling at a pretty girl.
Noticing the way the corners of her mouth lifted upwards in answer, the barest hint of a grin pulling at her lips, he studied her hard— needing to remember the way her features gentled with the action and her eyes became somewhat lighter. With the pleasant image firmly implanted in his brain, he turned from her, continuing on his way towards the docks, the loss of her warm fingers as her hand dropped away from his arm immediately registering in his brain.
And as he walked away, knowing full well her eyes were on him, burning and branding, marring him with her knowing gaze, he felt his heart clench painfully in his chest. The protective walls he had built up around himself, the barriers he had worked so hard at keeping in place for centuries on end, threatening to shatter completely—breaking his resolve and leaving him defenseless.
Defenseless to a stubbornly broken lass with golden hair, eyes as stormy as the sea, and a soul nearly as wounded as his own.