An Honorable Wish (A Lady's Wish 2)
Nathaniel had swum there as boys in the heat of summer. Fed by a spring, the water was always icy cold. Large boulders surrounded it, creating natural places to jump off and into the deep water.
    Juliet walked to the edge of a large rock. “This is beautiful. How did I not know this place existed?”
    “I came here when I was younger,” Tony said as he removed his gloves and put his hands in the water. It was cold, just as he remembered. “Come, rinse your hands.”
    Her eyes widened, but she stepped to the edge of the pond and knelt down. She placed her hands in the water and shrieked. “It’s so cold!”
    He grinned as he knelt by her side, taking her hands in his. He washed the dirt from her hands. She had blisters on her palms from the work she’d done. “Where were your gloves?”
    “I don’t have work gloves and my regular gloves are too fine.”
    Her voice was breathless and he couldn’t stop himself from looking into her deep brown eyes.
    He tightened with desire. He’d been able to resist all the ladies of London, but he couldn’t resist this wisp of a girl who was fiercer than a lion. He quickly looked down at her hands. “I think you have half the garden on your hands.”
    She tried to pull them from his. “I can do it myself.”
    “I want to.” He pushed up the sleeves of her plain dark dress with his wet hands. He brushed his thumb against the red marks Bartleby had left on her wrist. “Why did Bartleby treat you that way?”
    “I shouldn’t have taunted him,” she said quietly.
    “That was still no excuse.” He gently rubbed at the dirt around her nails.
    “I think the fact that Horneswood has changed hands is causing him to worry,” Juliet said. “He’s the younger brother of a viscount. He has no choice but to either work or marry money. If he loses his position . . .”
    There were many such men in England. Hell, he’d been one of them two years earlier, thought Tony. Only he’d found another, less honorable method to survive.
    Having seen the state of the Williams farm, Tony could understand why Juliet wanted to help. Mr. Williams was a broken man. If Tony was going to own the land, he’d take care of the tenants. “You don’t have to marry him, Juliet.”
    She pulled her hands from his and shook them dry. “I don’t plan on marrying him, but I’m afraid he’ll use my friendship with Miss Williams as leverage.”
    “I won’t let that happen.”
    Tony helped her stand up. Her head came to just his shoulder. Her foot slipped on the rock and she grabbed his arm.
    “Steady,” Tony said with amusement.
    Juliet looked up at him, her eyes sparkling. “We almost landed in the pond!”
    “It’d be a cold swim this time of year.”
    “Tony, there is something I would ask of you.”
    “Certainly.”
    Color flared across Juliet’s cheeks. Her eyes met his. “Would you kiss me?”
    “Pardon?”
    She looked away, staring out at the pond and beyond. “I don’t want my first kiss to be from Mr. Bartleby. There is a meanness in him.”
    Women had always wanted Tony to kiss them, usually followed by wanting even more. But Tony had never been anyone’s first kiss.
    “I won’t expect you to marry me or anything like that. It’s just a kiss,” said Juliet.
    “I didn’t think you would.” Tony’s hands enveloped her face, his fingers sliding underneath her bonnet and into her soft hair. “Are you sure?”
    She nodded slightly and closed her eyes.
    His mouth brushed against hers. Gentle, easy. He brushed a thumb across her pursed lips. “Relax your mouth, Jules.”
    Juliet’s mouth softened and he kissed her again. She tasted of ginger biscuits. Of spring and home. Her jaw was fragile beneath his hand, her skin warm against his cold hands. He deepened the kiss slowly, letting her scent and taste fill his head with impossible temptations. Impossible dreams.
    Juliet’s hands released their tight grip on his arms to find their way around his shoulders. She stepped closer,

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