Quote from Danelle Harmon

She didn't realize she was weeping until the...

2018-05-01

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She didn't realize she was weeping until the brother's pained whisper broke the choking silence. "Are they for me?" Her nose was running now. She sniffed, sniffed again, flashed a smile that was too quick, too false. "Are what for you?" "Why, your tears, of course." Oh, Lord. She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak for fear she'd give in to the great, wracking pain that threatened to burst from her. This man, suffering so quietly, so bravely, did not deserve to see tears; he needed hope, comfort, encouragement from her, not an appalling display of weakness. She suddenly felt selfish and ashamed — and guilty, too. After all, the tears were not even for him, poor man. They were for Charles. "I'm not crying," she managed, dabbing at her eyes with the back of her sleeve and staring out the window to hide the evidence. "No?" He gave a weak smile. "Perhaps I should see for myself." And then she felt them; his fingers, brushing her damp cheek with infinite softness and concern, tracing the slippery track of her sorrow. It was a caress — achingly kind, gentle, sweet. She stiffened and caught his hand, holding it away from her face and shutting her eyes on a deep, bracing breath lest that dam of her self-control break for good. She managed to get herself under control, and when she finally dared meet his gaze, she saw that he was looking quietly up at her, at her distressed face and the tears she was trying so valiantly to hold back. "Is there anything I can do to help?" he asked, gently. She shook her head. "Are you quite certain?" "Lord Gareth, you're the one who's hurt, not me." "No. That is not true." His eyes searching her face, he touched her other cheek, the one the highwayman had cuffed, his whole manner one of such gentle, selfless concern that she wanted to lash out at someone, something, for this injustice that had been done to him. "I saw that … that scoundrel strike you. If I could kill him all over again for that, I would. Why, your poor cheek still bears the mark of his hand...." "I am fine." "But —" "Dear heavens, Lord Gareth, must you keep at it so?" The words had come out angrier than she intended. She saw the sudden shadow of confusion that moved across his eyes, and a sharp pang of remorse lanced her heart for having put it there. Her anger was not for him, but at the fates that had taken first one of these dashing brothers and would now, most likely, take another. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. And here he was worried about her cheek, her silly, stupid cheek, when his life's blood was oozing all over her skirts and onto the seat, and his flesh was feeling colder and clammier by the moment. She wanted to cry. Wanted to put her head in her hands and bawl until all the grief and pain and rage and loneliness still locked inside her was purged. But she did not. Instead, she took a deep breath and met his questioning gaze. Same romantic eyes. Same kindness in their depths, same concern for other people. Oh, God ... help me. "I'm sorry," she murmured, shaking her head. "That was unfair. I didn't mean to snap at you. I'm so sorry...." "Please, don't be." He smiled, weakly. "Besides, if those tears are for me, I can assure you there is no need to waste them so. I shall not die.

Danelle Harmon
Danelle Harmon in "The Wild One"

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