An Unlikely Love

An Unlikely Love by Dorothy Clark Read Free Book Online

Book: An Unlikely Love by Dorothy Clark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy Clark
it. I learned to swim in a small pond on our property when I was four years old.”
    â€œSo young?” She halted and looked up at him. “Weren’t your mother and father concerned for your safety?”
    That deep chuckle rolled from his chest. “They no doubt would have been, had they known about it.” A grin slanted across his mouth. “I fell in the pond.”
    She gasped, pressed her hand to the base of her throat. “Who saved you?”
    â€œNo one. My wild flailing and kicking eventually got me to the bank. After that I dove in the pond on purpose.” He laughed, tucked her hand back through his arm and started walking again. “I can tell by your horrified expression you’ve not had any similar experience.”
    â€œI should hope not, Mr. Winston!”
    â€œThere are no lakes or ponds for swimming where you live?”
    Not after we moved from the farm.
The thought sobered her. She closed her mind to the memories. “No. I live in Fredonia.”
    â€œAh. Then it is more likely that you are surrounded by vineyards than lakes or ponds.”
    â€œOur home is in the town.” The answer was curt, bordering on the impolite, but she wanted no questions about her home. And no conversation about vineyards!
    He stopped, looked down at her. “I hope you won’t think me overly forward, Miss Bradley, but I sense that these two weeks at the Chautauqua Assembly are different. People have come from all over the country, and we must make friends quickly. Thus, strict rules of etiquette have to be relaxed. Would you do me the honor of addressing me by my given name—in private, only if you choose?”
    â€œWhy, I—”
    â€œI would not ask such freedom of you, but for the special circumstance of Chautauqua. My name is Grant.”
    There was sincerity in his voice and in his eyes. Dare she defy propriety?
She caught her breath and nodded. “Very well. Because of Chautauqua...Grant.” Her cheeks warmed. She looked away.
    â€œThank you, Miss—”
    â€œMarissa.”
Forgive me, Mother.
She made herself look up at him, to read what was in his eyes at her boldness.
    â€œMarissa...”
    The
Colonel Phillips
blasted its horn.
    She jumped.
    He looked at the steamer at the end of the dock, frowned and looked back at her. “The gangplank’s being set in place. I have to go.” He released her arm, stepped toward the dock, then returned to her. “I will be back for the science class tomorrow evening. May I see you when it’s over, Marissa? If you will tell me where you’re living—”
    The steamer’s horn gave its last warning.
    â€œThere’s no time for directions.” He trotted backward toward the dock. “Will you meet me at the hotel? At dusk tomorrow?”
    She swallowed the last of her inhibition and nodded. “Yes. I’ll be there.”
    â€œUntil then!” He smiled, turned and ran up the dock and onto the steamer.
    She stood rooted to the spot, shocked by what she’d done. But when he’d looked at her...
    â€œThere you are, Marissa.”
    She started, glanced over her shoulder.
    Clarice walked up beside her and looked toward the steamer. “Was that Mr. Winston?
    â€œMr. Boat Man.” She laughed and hastened to change the subject, lest Clarice start taking notes for her story. She’d embarrassed herself enough. Her plunge from the rules of society would remain her guilty secret. “Are you through working for the day?”
    â€œI am. Until I get back to the tent and put my notes in order.” Clarice waved her hand back toward the hill. “Shall we leave the throng?”
    â€œYes, of course.” She glanced back at the lake. The
Colonel Phillips
was rounding the point. Grant was gone. Until tomorrow night. Her pulse skipped. Her guilt swelled. She composed herself, lifted her hems and followed Clarice up the hill.

Chapter Three
    H

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