explained.â Loren unfolded her legs, threw them over the edge of the bed and rose to her full height.
Barefoot, the top of her head barely even reached his shoulder, and dressed as she was she gave an almost childlike impression. But there was nothing childlikein her demeanor, nor in the very female brand of dissatisfaction reflected in her eyes. He was reminded of the times heâd upset his mother. Never one to raise her voice, sheâd only needed a look such as this to put him in his place.
âI would have been there if I could.â Alex softened his tone. He should have made more effort to be at the arrival hall. He realized that now. Heâd tried to make things easier for both of them, but instead heâd made matters worse. Still, the situation wasnât beyond salvaging and now he was determined to recover as much ground as possible.
âI have been looking forward to seeing you this evening,â he said, his voice low.
He saw pleasure light her eyes and felt an inner relief as her full lips curved into a smile.
âSo have I,â she said shyly, dropping her gaze.
âSo, you will dress for dinner and come down to share our repast?â
âOf course I will. Iâm sorry I was a bit cranky. Iâm never at my best when I first wake.â
Alex allowed his mouth to relax into a smile. âIâll make a special note to remember that for after weâre married.â
She laughed, a delicious liquid sound that penetrated the last remnants of his temper and scattered them to the corners of the room.
âIt might pay to.â She smiled. âNow, tonight. What time and where? Iâm assuming your family still dresses for dinner?â
She must have been half-asleep already when Giselle told her, he decided.
âYes, we change for dinner. We meet for drinks inthe salon usually about eight and dine at nine. Late, I know, if you arenât used to it anymore.â
âOh, donât worry, Iâll acclimate. Will you take me down?â
âYou no longer remember where the salon is?â He cocked a brow at her.
âOf course, I donât imagine the castillo has changed all that much. I justâ¦â She worried her lower lip with perfect white teeth. âNo, donât worry. Iâll meet you there at eight.â
Alex dropped a chaste kiss on Lorenâs upturned face and moved away before the disappointment he sensed in her encouraged him to take more. Now that she was here and they were on the verge of achieving his goal of settling the governessâs curse, there was no need to rush into anything. There would be plenty of time to kiss her the way he wantedâafter they were married.
âGood girl. Iâll see you there.â
Loren watched her door close behind Alexâs back and she fought the urge to stomp her foot in frustration. Now she was here heâd reverted to treating her like a child. Gone was the attentive lover whoâd wooed her back in New Zealand. In his place was the old Alex she remembered so well. Slightly indulgent and full of the importance of his role as eldest son.
Well, sheâd show him she was no infant to be coddled. Her body still hummed with her reaction to the soft kiss heâd pressed in her palm to wake her. Just one small caress and sheâd shot to full wakefulness, her joy in seeing him only to be dashed by his reminder of her duty to be at some formal dinner tonight.
She knew they still adhered to the old ways, ways sheâd taken for granted until moving to New Zealandwith its more casual approach to lifestyle and mealtimes, but sheâd hoped for a private dinner with her new fiancÃ©. It wasnât so much to have expected, was it? Surely Alexâs grandfather would have granted them this first night alone together?
There was nothing for it now, though, she reminded herself as the chime from an antique ormolu clock in her sitting room chimed the half