She stood at the window watching Byron Ellsworth walking on the grounds with Eliza Forrester. They stopped under the window and talked. He said something and Eliza threw back her head, her chestnut hair bouncing about her shoulders and laughed. It was then that she looked up and saw Kiara. She stopped laughing and said something to Byron who looked up. Feeling embarrassed, Kiara moved away from the window.
How she wished they hadn’t seen her. She didn’t want Byron to think that she was watching him. She had been admiring the view from the window when she spotted him with Eliza. They made a very attractive couple. He was tall, athletic and handsome while she was of medium height, graceful and stunning. They had a lot in common. They attended the same schools, mixed in the same social circles and shared the same tastes in the arts, music and theater. She wondered if they would eventually get married. Why did the thought disturb her so? She shouldn’t care what Byron Ellsworth did with his life, especially not after what she overheard him say to his grandmother a few weeks ago.
She was standing outside of the library, about to open the door and go in when she heard her name. She didn’t mean to stay there and listen but curiosity got the better of her. “Byron, I notice that you are spending far too much time with the Lewis girl. I hope you are not developing an interest in her.”
“Grandmother, you are mistaken,” was Byron’s curt reply. “I’m not interested in Kiara. She’s not my type.”
“That’s good, then. You need to remember that as an Ellsworth, you cannot give your affections to someone who is not of the same social status as you. I daresay, Miss Lewis is a decent young woman but she is not suitable for you. So, I strongly advise you to limit the amount of time you spend with her and turn your attentions elsewhere.”
“You mean Eliza Forrester?”
“Yes, her breeding makes her a far more suitable match for you.”
Humiliated, Kiara turned and hurried down the corridor, almost running, desperate to get away from there as fast as she could. After that she avoided Byron as much as possible or she made sure that they were never alone together.
Now she waited in the drawing-room for Miranda, Byron’s sister and her friend. They were going to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool. She felt a bit self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit, especially with Byron around. Maybe he had left with Eliza. Jealousy coursed through her at the thought and she closed her eyes in frustration.
Her eyes flew open when she heard his voice. He was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms folded. Her heart began to pound as she saw his gaze travel over her. She was wearing a white tee shirt and a denim skirt. Her fingers tightened on the strap of her bag as she tried to remain calm. “I-I didn’t expect you to still be here,” she said.
“Where did you expect me to be?” he asked quietly as he moved away from the doorway and walked slowly and deliberately over to where she was. He stopped a few feet from her, his eyes focused on her face, making her very nervous.
“I thought that you might have gone out with Eliza,” she said sounding a little breathless. “I—I saw the two of you earlier walking.”
“I know because I saw you looking out of the window. Where are you off to?” his gaze dropped to her bag.
“Miranda and I are going to spend the afternoon by the pool.”
“Maybe, I will join you,” he said alarming her. “It has been a while since I went for a swim.”
“What about Eliza? Wouldn’t you rather spend the afternoon with her?” She wondered if the panic she felt was evident on her face.
“Why are you so anxious to get rid of me?” he asked, moving closer.
“I’m—I’m not,” she denied, feeling all flustered. “I just thought that you would prefer to be with someone who’s more your type…” her voice trailed off when she realized that she had said too much.
“So, I was right,” he said. “I thought I heard a sound outside the door. It was you.”
Her mouth tightened. “I wasn’t eavesdropping,” she retorted. “I was about to open the door because there was a book I wanted to return when I heard your voices.”
“So, you heard what I said and that’s why you have been giving me the cold shoulder.” His eyes darkened on her face and he moved closer. “Kiara, let me explain—“
“There’s nothing to explain. You’re not interested in me because I’m not your type. As far as I am concerned, your grandmother and Eliza have nothing to worry about.”
She would have walked past him if he didn’t reach for her hand. His fingers closed round hers as he pulled her back in front of him. His eyes were stormy as they met hers and a muscle was throbbing along his jawline. Her chest was heaving now and a myriad of conflicting and very strong emotions were splayed across her face. “Please let go of me,” she said.
“What if I don’t want to,” he muttered thickly.
Just then, they heard quick footsteps down the hall and then Miranda’s voice before she appeared in the doorway. Relieved, Kiara tugged at her hand and Byron let it go. She almost ran from the room, thankful to get away.
Miranda frowned as she looked at her. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
Miranda looked past her to where Byron stood with his back to them. “Are you going to join us, Byron?” she asked.
“No. Thank you” was the quiet reply.
The afternoon at the pool passed uneventfully but Kiara couldn’t stop thinking about Byron and what happened between them in the drawing-room. He had assured his grandmother that he felt no attraction for her and yet, she had seen something on his face which she hadn’t expected to see and she didn’t know what would have transpired if Miranda hadn’t interrupted them when she did.
The sun was setting when she decided that it was time to go home. As she walked around Miranda’s car to climb into the passenger side, she glanced up and her heart lurched when she saw Byron standing at the window, watching her. She quickly looked away and got in the car. Moments later they were heading away from the mansion.
Several weeks passed before she saw Byron again and during that time, he was constantly on her mind. Then one afternoon she was walking back to her flat when she saw him. He was standing on the pavement, leaning against the post, hands in pockets watching her. His stance was casual but the tense expression on his face betrayed him. Heart racing, she walked up to him. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I had to see you,” he said quietly. “I have waiting here for half-hour.”
She couldn’t stand there on the pavement talking to him because people were passing and looking at them–actually at him. He looked so handsome in the dark blue jacket, striped tee shirt and dark jeans. If he wanted to, he could have been a model. He had the looks, height and appeal. She could just imagine the women undressing him with their eyes. Like you are doing right now? Abruptly, she looked away. “Let’s go,” she said and started to walk away.
He followed her. Even in her heels she felt very short beside him. They walked in silence and all the way up in the lift. She could feel his eyes on her as she unlocked the door to her flat. She opened it and locked after he followed her inside. “You have a very nice place,” he commented, looking around.
“Thank you,” she said as she slipped off her shoes before removing her jacket. She saw his gaze travel over her white strapless dress.
“Where did you go all dressed up like that?” he asked.
“I went to the Marie Curie Autumn Lunch. It’s a very worthy cause. They raise money for their nurses and hospices so they can help people living with terminal illness and their families.”
“Did you go alone?”
“Yes.” She walked into the living-room and after laying her jacket on the back of the sofa, she went over to the window to draw the curtains aside. She stood there for a moment, looking out. She didn’t know that he was behind her until she felt him pull her back against him and his mouth press against the nape of her neck. Trembling, she closed her eyes as desire coursed through her. Then, she felt his hands turning her around and she tried to push him away as the memory of what he said to his grandmother came back to her, “What do you want from me?” she groaned.
An expression of intense longing came over his face and he muttered, “This is what I want,” before his head swooped down and his mouth sought hers hungrily, devouring it like a mad man. Overwhelmed by her own feelings, she kissed him back. The hands that tried to push him away were wrapping themselves around his waist.
Several minutes passed as they exchanged passionate kisses and then she pulled back to gaze up into his flushed face, her heavy breathing mingling with his. “What about Eliza?” she asked. “She’s the one you should be with.”
He shook his head. “No. You’re the one I want to be with,” he declared.
“But what about what you said to your grandmother about me?”
“What I said to her was partially true,” he said. “When I said that you weren’t my type, I was telling the truth but I was lying when I said that I wasn’t interested in you. I said that just to get my grandmother off my back.” His eyes darkened on her upturned face. “I was attracted to you from the moment I saw you. That’s why I was always hanging around you. My grandmother noticed and decided that she would put a stop to it. That’s the conversation you overheard. I ended my relationship, if you could call it that, with Eliza the day after you and I had our little encounter in the drawing-room. I knew right then and there, that I couldn’t continue seeing her when I wanted to be with you. Last night, I went to see my grandmother and told her that I was in love with you and that I was going to ask you to marry me if you would have me.”
She stared at him, hardly able to believe what he was saying but she could tell from his expression that he was dead serious. “What did your grandmother say?”
“After she recovered from her shock, she told me to pack my bags and leave the premises immediately. She also told me that she was going to change her will so that I will be left with nothing. So, I was evicted and disinherited all in one week. I stayed with Miranda until I found a flat of my own. I had to look for a new job with a much higher salary. That’s why I haven’t been to see you before now. I have been busy trying to put my life back in order. So, I’m no longer a rich heir but a regular bloke.”
She blinked as the tears sprang to her eyes. “I’m sorry to be the cause of the rift between your grandmother and you,” she said. “She wanted what was best for you and in her opinion, it wasn’t me.”
“I too want what’s best for me and that’s you, Kiara,” he said huskily. “I love you and I want to marry you.”
“I love you too,” she said. Her breath caught in her throat when he got down on one knee and pulled a box from the right side pocket of his jacket. He opened it and took out the most exquisite ring she had ever seen. It was a white gold diamond ring.
“Will you marry me, Kiara?”
She nodded, “yes,” she sobbed, the tears falling down her face now. He gently and carefully slipped the ring on her finger. Then, he stood up and cupping her face between his hands, he kissed her.
Source: The Marie Curie Autumn Lunch; LDN Fashion